§ SIR JOHN GRAY
said—Sir, I rise to propose the Motion of which I gave notice some time since, for the purpose of asking this House to give its earnest attention to the subject of the Irish Church Establishment. I am conscious, Sir, that it involves many collateral questions, each one of which is of deep importance, not only to the Irish people, but to the English people, and possibly not very remotely to the Empire at large. No man who reflects upon the condition of the Church question in Ireland, affecting so large a number of the subjects of the Queen, can feel otherwise than that it is an important question to have considered, and one upon the decision of which much of the future of that country, and possibly something of the future honour of this country, must depend. The social position of the great mass of the Irish people is largely affected by that question. There is a large money question involved in the consideration of the revenues; but; that is as nothing compared with the great broad principle which is at stake—a principle which involves that which English-men have always held most dear, the right to worship God according to their consciences, and the right of being perfectly free and unfettered because of religious opinion. That right and that liberty I hold to be altogether inconsistent with the existence of the ascendancy of one class of religionists over another. In venturing to bring this question under the consideration of the House, I feel that, though there are important financial details to be considered, the great and paramount question that lies at the root of all is the ques- 974 tion of equal citizenship as evidenced by perfect religious equality. It rests with this House now to determine shall we or shall we not have an united people, a sympathetic people, a people in thorough and hearty unity, the one with the other, because of the existence of equal laws, equal rights, equal liberties, civil and religious; or shall we have a great surging mass of discontent created, fostered, and rendered active by the continuance of unequal laws—of laws which, if they do not actually injure the person, affect the social position and the future progress in life by putting the brand of degradation and of inferiority upon one class, and giving an odious and hateful ascendancy to the other. I feel, Sir, that there are so many large considerations, analogous to those I have indicated, involved in this Church question, that I could wish some person better qualified to deal with it had charge of the subject, and that the humble position of supporting him by-my vote alone remained for me. But it is a question to which I have given much attention during a very long period, and I feel so strongly upon it that, however conscious I am of my own incapacity, I do not shrink from discussing it, feeling that there is in this House a spirit of indulgence and forbearance to which I will not appeal in vain, especially when I tell the House that I bring it forward not for the purpose of creating any unpleasant feelings or any acrimonious discussion either inside of this House or outside of it. On the contrary, I hope sincerely that during this discussion, and I certainly promise, so far as I myself am concerned, that not one word calculated to give offence to the most delicate sensibilities of a single Member of the Irish Established Church, either inside or outside this House, shall fall from my lips. I and my Colleagues from Ireland are not here to-night to assail individuals, but to assert a principle. We war not with the ecclesiastics, but against a system, and for that principle, and against that unjust system, we intend to contend strenuously, and earnestly, and continuously. And though we may not he as successful on each successive effort for redress as we could wish, our cause must finally triumph. I believe I speak the sentiments of those who act with me, when I say that we are fully determined never to let this question rest—never to let this question rest until Church ascendancy is abolished, and until perfect religious equality is established in Ireland. If any man 975 here were asked to-day—even the most earnest advocate of the Irish Church Establishment—if he were asked to-day would he block out a system analogous to that State institution which now exists in Ireland, I believe even the youngest statesman on the Opposition Benches would say decidedly no. The only pretence upon which a continuance of the Establishment is defended is that an old wrong, an old injustice, an old abuse, has continued for so lengthened a period that there would be serious difficulty in removing that injustice now, that there are, in fact, certain established rights of injustice, and that these rights of injustice must be preserved and conserved because of their long continuance. This question has been so often discussed in Parliament, so fully discussed, and by men of great ability, that I am aware it is impossible for me to hope that I can present before you any very novel views of the case. But inasmuch as this is a new Parliament, and the form of the Notice which I have given asks this House to consider the question, I feel it necessary to place some facts and figures before the House as the grounds upon which I ask the House to adopt the declaration contained in my Motion, that the State Church is unsatisfactory, and that Parliament should carefully consider what remedy should be applied. Every man in Ireland, excepting those immediately connected with the Establishment itself, admits that the Established Church of Ireland has failed most signally, failed as to every one of the purposes for which it was imported into that country. It has failed polemically, for it has not increased in numbers save by importation and natural increment. It has not brought into religious communion with it any large portion of the people, amongst whom it was planted for the purpose of their conversion. It has failed politically, for it has not succeeded in producing that amount of sympathy and union of opinion, of hope, of feeling, and of sentiment between the people of Ireland and the people of England, which were expected as the fruits that would spring from the importing, planting, and endowing that Church in Ireland. And now, after you have tried that experiment for three centuries, and proved it to be a failure, we ask you to try it no longer. That experiment, permit me to say, was your experiment, and has cost England more treasure and more blood, and has produced more of heart-burning, of sorrow, and of misery 976 both to the families of English settlers in Ireland and to the native Irish race than resulted from the greatest war in which England was ever engaged. It is your duty, then, as well as your interest, to abandon a policy which is insulting to Ireland and dishonouring to you. Whatever may be thought of the terms of the Resolution which I have placed on the Notice paper, I do believe that upon a just and full consideration of the question—a consideration which I trust this House will not refuse to give—there will, of necessity, crop up these questions. Are you prepared to continue that fatal experiment, or are you prepared to admit that it has been a failure and a blunder, and that the time has at length come when the abolition of an ascendancy Church as a State institution must take place? If the failure be disputed, there are several modes by which we can test the question as to whether or not that State institution has been a failure. Perhaps one of the most simple, as it, is the most obvious, is to deal with the official Returns of the numbers of the several religious denominations of the population of Ireland. I will take the figures as to the population of Ireland at present, and ascertain whether or not the Established Church in Ireland has succeeded in accomplishing one of the two great objects for which it was introduced into and forced upon the people of Ireland. It was, professedly at least, designed to accomplish the conversion of the Irish people, and to root itself in the hearts and affections of that people. I will not go into the details of figures that belong to the past, but I cannot avoid comparing with the figures of the present time some that were quoted in the course of last year by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer when discussing the question of the Irish Church. It was then stated by him (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), upon the authority of Sir William Petty, that the respective numbers of Catholics and of Protestants in Ireland in his time stood thus—800,000 Catholics and 300,000 Protestants of all denominations. According to the computation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—and I am sure this House will willingly accept his calculations as correct—if the proportion represented by these figures had continued unaltered to the present time, the number of Protestants would now stand at 2,400,000. Now, let us test by these figures, and the computation based on them, whether or not 977 the Church established by law in Ireland has succeeded in gaining over such numbers of the Catholic population of Ireland as to justify its continuance as a State instrument. If we find it has not, let us then ask, has it even succeeded in maintaining its own position as to relative numbers? The total population of Ireland, according to the Census of 1861, was, in round numbers, 5,798,000, Now, omitting the millions altogether, even the odd hundreds of thousands exceed the number of the members of the Church established by law. The odd thousands are 798,000, and there are only 693,000 Church Protestants, while there are 599,000 Dissenters, and 4,505,265 Roman Catholics. That series of figures must give to the mind of reflecting and unprejudiced Members of this; House a most conclusive answer to the question—has the Established Church succeeded in increasing its proportionate numbers, and in winning over to it the Catholic population? Comparing the figures that were given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer with the Returns of the Census of 1861, the answer to that question must be that it has miserably failed in winning over the Catholic population, and has as shamefully failed in holding its own. I know that Gentlemen who strenuously advocate the claims of the Established Church in Ireland to an entire and absolute monopoly of the Church revenues of that country, may tell this House now, as they have told a former Parliament, that to take the aggregate of the population of Ireland does not give a just and accurate estimate of the true relative conditions of the Protestants and Catholics in that country, but that you must take the country in the divisions of north and south; and that if you look to the Returns for what has been called the Protestant North, you will find such a modification of the relative proportions as will indicate great Church strength in the prosperous district of Ulster To meet that argument, I have taken the relative numbers in Ulster and in the other Provinces. When in former debates the champions of the Church Establishment spoke of Ulster as the great stronghold of Church-of-Englandism, they ought in fairness to have stated the peculiar condition of Ulster, past and present. They ought to have explained that the soil of Ulster, every broad acre within its limits, was confiscated; that every Catholic proprietor in Ulster was driven from his homo and from his lands; that, a colony was imported from England, and another 978 from Scotland, to be planted in Ulster, and placed in occupation as owners of the lands from which the Catholic proprietary had been expelled. No words that I could use would tell you more expressively the sad story of that process than the mere repetition of the phrase by which that process is known in English as well as in Irish history, "The plantation of Ulster"—the planting therein of a Protestant garrison imported from England and from Scotland, and the expelling of the Catholic proprietors from the broad lands of that entire province. If, under such circumstances, and with the additional fact before your minds that the persons so imported and planted in Ulster got their lands upon the express condition that they should not alienate or otherwise transfer any of them to any person who did nut conform to the Church as by law established, and that no tradesman should take an apprentice except the certified son of a certified conforming Churchman—if, under such circumstances, there were no such tiling to be found within the boundaries of Ulster as a Roman Catholic, you could not, and would not, be surprised. What, however, are the facts? Did the State Church, established by those means, and aided by all the terror of the law in its special operations, and with all the advantages of that large Protestant importation and plantation to which I have thus briefly alluded, did it succeed in keeping out Catholicism—did it succeed, as was intended, in trampling it out, or, to use a phrase common of late in this House in reference to a malignant plague, did it stamp nut Roman Catholicism? Look to the Census Returns from Ulster for an answer. The Church population are in the proportion of 20–42 per cent, while the Nonconformists, including Catholics, are 79 58 per cent. But it may be said the "Nonconformists" include a large number of Protestants, although Nonconforming, and that the figures I have stated do not fairly indicate the position of the State Church in that province in relation to the Catholics, Well, then, I will take the case of Ulster in another form to meet that plausible objection. The Church of England Protestants are 20.42 per cent. The Catholics are 50.44 per cent, showing that even in that province where it was attempted to stamp out the Catholic population, and with them the Catholic faith, by the confiscation of the land, and the expulsion of the Catholics, and the granting the lauds to the imported Protestants upon 979 the express condition that they should not alienate or assign to any person who did not conform to the Church as by law established—that even with all these advantages and all these appliances designed to stamp out "Romanism," the State Church has not been able to hold its own, while the Catholics, in that very province so "planted," have so increased as to be 2½ to 1 of the Church population. In speaking of the Church, I wish it to be distinctly understood that I draw a broad line of demarcation between the Church as a church simple, and the Church as a State institution. In this Assembly, consisting of men of all creeds and persuasions, it is not my desire to enter into anything like a polemical discussion. I therefore confine myself in dealing with the Church Establishment to considering the State institution, and altogether exclude from consideration the Church as a church per se. That State institution which was established in Ireland as a State instrument for the double purpose of evangelizing the Catholics and anglicizing the Irish, failed, as you have seen, in the Church province of Ulster to the discreditable extent represented by the figures I have just quoted. Let us look now to the figures as to Leinster, Munster, and Connaught. I find that in Leinster, the especial province of the "Pale," the State institution members are equal to 11.89 per cent, while the Nonconforming population are 88.11 per cent. In Munlter the Church population dwindled down to 5.10 per cent, while the Nonconforming population are equal to 94.90 per cent. In Connaught the Church population is still less, the proportion being only 4.25, and the remaining 95.75 being, with a fractional exception, all Catholics. I know from the course taken on former debates, and from the many very able and brilliant speeches delivered outside of this House by some of the right hon. Gentlemen who took part in those debates, that we shall probably be told that in giving these figures I have taken the civil and Dot the ecclesiastical divisions of the country, and that if I had taken the ecclesiastical there might be a different result. Having met with that observation, I felt it my duty to examine the facts by taking the figures for each Church of England diocese as given in the Returns of the Census Commissioners. There are now twelve dioceses in Ireland, and I will classify them into two divisions. Taking as the first group the four dioceses which 980 contain the largest Church populations—namely, Armagh, Down, Derry, and Dublin—I find that these four taken together, although the most State Church of the twelve dioceses contain a Church population only equal to 19.03 per cent, the Nonconforming population being equal to80.97 per cent. So that whatever way we take it—whether you take it in provinces, or take it in the aggregate, or in the ecclesiastical divisions of the Church itself, you still find the Church has failed, most signally failed, in producing conversions to its opinions, or winning over the Catholics to its fold. In the remaining eight of the twelve dioceses of Ireland the failure is more marked, the Church population being only equal to 5.95 per cent, and the Nonconforming population amounting to 94.05 per cent. Perhaps it would be well to give some reason why Dublin stands amongst the four dioceses in the group of which the Church populations attain the percentage of 19.03, which is so seemingly large when compared with that of the other group. Dublin was the chief city of the Pale, and a large number of the English settlers did conform to the Church adopted as the national Church in England when it was imported into Ireland; and, accordingly, I find that in the year 1644, so largo was the number of Protestants in Dublin belonging to the State Church, that, in Dublin city, they were to the Catholics in the proportion of more than two to one. A certain amount of that strength of numbers has continued ever since, but still so steadily and continuously decreasing that in 1861 the Church population of Dublin was 1904 per cent, while the Catholic population was 77.2 per cent. So that, whether you examine it in globo or in detail, the one condemnatory result is always ascertained, that the State Church has most signally failed, and, speaking of it in a religious sense, has most shamefully failed in the mission for which it was imported into Ireland. It may be said tonight, as it has been said before, and repeated in every form, that in point of fact, taking the aggregate of the population, the proportion of Church Protestants in 1834 was but 10 per cent, whereas it is now 11 "7 per cent, and that, therefore, there has been from 1834 to 1861 a gradual relative increase of State Churchism, showing a progress sufficiently satisfactory to induce Parliament to continue the experiment for some time longer. I do not think it is creditable to the Church Estab- 981 lishment to advance such an argument. The naked statement of the fact that the Church proportion has relatively increased from 10 to 11. per cent would seem to give some colour to the allegation that the experiment has proved somewhat more effective as to results for the last thirty-years than before that period. But when you come to examine the facts, and when you discover the fallacies, you find, by taking the whole Church population in 1834, and the whole Church population in 1861, that, instead of there being an absolute increase as would be indicated to ordinary minds by the statement of those stereotyped percentages, there is, on the contrary, an absolute decrease in the number of Church Protestants to the extent of 114,000. It is true that there has been a large decrease in the numbers of the Catholic population. But has that decrease been the result of conversions from the Catholic Church to the State Church? No. It has been the undoubted result the distinctly consequential result, of the system pursued towards Ireland during the 300 years of the experiment of which the maintenance of this very Church Establishment was the leading feature—an experiment which you will doubtless be asked to-night by the Church champions opposite to continue. The Catholic population has diminished, Sir, not by conversion, but by the operations of famine, and of pestilence, and of emigration. What produced that famine and that emigration? What were the causes that compelled so many Irish Catholics to leave their native land and seek a more hospitable home in a foreign soil? These evils originated in the continued application by England to Ireland of the principle of rule which produced the establishment of this State Church and the plantation of Ulster, and the driving to and imprisonment of Catholics in Con naught. [Cries of "No, no!" from the Opposition Benches. I repeat they arose as the natural consequence of the enforcement of the principles that suggested an ascendancy Church and the Ulster plantation. If you go into Ulster, and inquire amongst the tenant-farmers of that province, as I have done, they will tell you that they attribute the existence of their tenant-right and the recognition of the rights of industry amongst them to the fact that they are the descendants of the farmers who were planted in Ulster by the undertakers, and that they consider they have a species of title to remain upon the 982 soil. The tenant-right is now in Ulster extended to all classes, but there are still some landlords, descendants of the undertakers, who must have Protestant tenants and no other. The old "plantation" feeling survives the memory of the event, and the condition of the Catholic tenantry of the other three provinces—without leases and without tenant-right—is the traditionary result of the spirit that induced penal laws and confiscation, while the secure condition of the Ulster tenantry is the traditionary result of the Ulster plantation and the other encouragements given to what is called the "Protestant interest," for the purpose of sustaining the Church. I am therefore, I submit, justified in saying that Church ascendancy lies at the root, of the bind difficulty in Ireland as it does at the root of all the discord and discontent that exist in that country. There will be hardly any question raised as to the fact of the failure of the Church after the figures I have put before you, but a question may be raised as to what have been the causes of the failure these figures demonstrate. It may be of interest to Gentlemen who have to defend the Church to know some of the causes assigned, not by Catholic writers, but by Established Church ecclesiastics "I believe that the Church as a State institution was implanted in Ireland fur political purposes." That avowal was made a few months since by no less an authority than the Rev. Dr. Butcher—one of the senior fellows of Trinity College, Dublin, and Regius Professor of Divinity in that institution. At the recent Church Congress in Norwich he stated that a twofold purpose was in the minds of those who implanted the Church Establishment in Ireland—the political purpose and the religious purpose—and though his position prevented him from stating the facts in terms, it is plain that he felt that the political was at one time considered the more important purpose of the two. I think the course pursued in the earlier stages of the Establishment indicates that the religious I was not looked upon as the more important purpose, and that the imported bishops; and clergy thought so too. In 1593–8, Spencer, speaking of the then clergy, thus; described their course of conduct, which; does not exhibit much zeal for religion—They neither read the Scriptures, nor preach to the people, nor administer the Communion.What, then, do they do if they serve no clerical functions? Spencer tells us— 983Only they take the tithes and offerings, and gather what fruit else they may of their livings, the which they convert as badly.That is his description of the clergy at that time. God forbid that I should suggest, even inferentially, for if I did I would be suggesting what is contrary to my own convictions, that that description represents, or would be at all applicable to, the State Church clergymen of the present day in Ireland. I have the pleasure of knowing many of them personally, and I respect all whom I do know. I would he exceedingly sorry to be understood for one moment as indicating, even indirectly, that one word of what Spencer wrote of the State Church divines of his day applied to the educated and honourable men who constitute the present Irish Protestant ecclesiastical body. I have given you Spencer's description of the imported clergy, or the native clergy of the imported Church. But what were the bishops—the overseers of the flock? Were not they of a different class? Here is his description of the bishops of his time—Some of them whose dioceses are in remote parts, somewhat out of the world's eye, do not at all bestow the benefices which are in their own donation upon any, but keep them in their own hands, and set up their own servants and horse-boys to take up the tithes and fruits of them, with which some of them purchase great lands and build fair castles upon the same.If that was the mode of proceeding pursued by this Church, by its bishops, and by its clergy, and if rapacity and confiscation signalized its members, I ask any Gentleman, no matter what his religious opinions may be, but I especially ask Gentlemen, who, like myself, are members of the Church of England, do they believe it was possible for persons administering after that fashion—neither reading the Scriptures, nor catechizing, nor preaching, nor teaching, nor doing anything whatever to instruct the people—to win converts and gain the confidence of the native race? If the bishops instead of overseeing the clergy and inducing them by example to perform their allotted duties, signalized their religious zeal by retaining the benefices, and sending their horse-boys to scour the country for the collection of the tithes and the rents of their episcopal territories, which they applied to the purchase of lands and the erection of mansions for themselves and their families and their descendants to enjoy, and possibly come in here to defend the Church as in duty and gratitude bound, must not failure result? Could there pos- 984 sibly be any other result from such a course of conduct than signal and discreditable failure? But I have more than the authority of Spencer. Sir John Davies, the Attorney General of his day, writing in 1607 an account of his visit to Ulster, says of the Bishop of Kilmore and Ardagh, Robert Draper, who was appointed by King James I.—He doth live here now in these parts where he hath two bishoprics; but there is no divine service or sermon to be heard within either of his dioceses.In two whole dioceses the bishop appointed to the charge of both applies himself in receiving the espiscopal revenues and enjoying the episcopal property, and instead of appointing clergymen to the several benefices under his control who would apply themselves to the catechizing and instruction of the "benighted" people who were to be "converted," he keeps the benefices in his own hands, collects all the tithes as well as all episcopal profits of the sees, and uses the several parishes as other draw-farms for his own gross love of gain—parishes in which there was, in the language of Sir John Davies, "no divine service or sermon to be heard "in either of the two dioceses. Perhaps it will be said there was a better state of things in the Irish metropolis. I have stated on these authorities the system that prevailed in Ulster, the pet province of the Church. Bishop Bramhall, writing some forty years after to Bishop Laud, gives a description of the state of affairs in Dublin, the centre of the State Church operations. [Lord ROBERT MONTAGU: What time?] 1633. The passage I am about to read is from a letter of Dr. Bramhall, who was at one time Archbishop of Armagh, written in August, 1633, from Dublin Castle, to Bishop Land, giving the result of a visitation of certain districts. He writes—First for the fabrics, it is hard to say whether the churches he more ruinous and sordid, or the people irreverent, even in Dublin, the metropolis of this kingdom and seat of justice; we find one parochial church converted to the Lord Deputy's stable; a second to a nobleman's dwelling-house; the choir of a third to a tennis court, and the vicar acts as keeper. In Christ's Church, the principal church in Ireland, whither the Lord Deputy and Council repair every Sunday, the vaults from one end of the minister to the other are made into tippling rooms for beer, wine, and tobacco, demised all to Popish recusants, and by them and others so much frequented during time of Divine Service, that though there is no danger of blowing up the assembly above their heads, yet there is of poisoning them with the fumes. The table 985 used for the administration of the Blessed Sacrament in the midst of the choir made an ordinary seat for maids and apprentices.The descriptions given by these ecclesiastical authorities show that the divines imported into Ireland to constitute the State Church did not endeavour to establish it by preaching the Gospel, by catechizing the adults or the youth, or by reading the Scriptures to the people. How, then, did they try to effect the great object they had in view? I will not quote from any Catholic authorities for the purpose of showing you the course they took, but, I will quote from Mosheim, the Church historian, whose ecclesiastical history is the text-book in Trinity College, Dublin, for divinity students. I will give you his description of the mode in which it was attempted to convert the Irish people to the State Church—The Irish Romanists had been reduced by various confiscations, and by intolerant statutes to protect a new race of proprietors, to a state of abject vassalage and degradation. In the reign of James I. the whole province of Ulster was confiscated. When Cromwell's power was consolidated by victory, the native Irish received orders to remove into Connaught, and were for bidden to repass the Shannon under pain of death. Their estates were divided amongst the conquerors, as were those of every one who had beer engaged in the rebellion, or who had acted as a partizan of the exiled Royal Family. In Ireland there were circumstances that prevented the gradual amalgamation of the pillaged and the pillagers.I would hardly venture, in describing in this House the reformatory process adopted, to use such strong language; but when I find one of the highest Protestant authorities using such language, I think it right to tell this House that it expresses what is the feeling in Ireland—the feeling that the State Church and its partizans were the pillagers, and the Irish Catholics were the pillaged. Mosheim goes on to say—William's Parliament, in addition to the English enactments against Romanists, disarmed them, banished their priests, forbade their marriages with Protestants, would not allow them to act as solicitors, or even as gamekeepers, and allowed any Protestant discoverer of a horse in their hands or power, to seize it under a magisterial warrant, and retain it on payment of £5 to its owner. Under Anne, Romanists were disabled from purchasing any of the for feited lands, and even from taking any lease of them beyond two acres. They were also rendered unable to purchase, inherit, or take by gift any lands in the hands of Protestants, and all their own lands were made descendible in gavel-kind, but if the eldest son embraced the established religion, his father was reduced to a tenancy for life, without power to sell or mortgage, or even to 986 provide, except under the control of the Chancellor, for his younger children. A similar invasion upon domestic comfort to made by another Act, which enabled the Chancellor to call on the Romish parent of a Protestant child to declare upon oath the value of his whole property, and to make such assignment out of it to the Protestant child as he should think proper. The conforming wife of a Romanist might also obtain from the Chancellor as a jointure the full extent of any settlement that her husband could make upon her These with other such measures designed for extermination, reduced the Romanists to such a pitiable situation that the common feelings of humanity came to their relief.Now, Sir, that is a summary of the Penal Code established in Ireland for the establishment and maintenance of the Church a summary given, not by a Roman Catholic authority, but given on the authority and in the words of the historian whose history is the text-book for divinity students preparing for the service of that very Church. But it has been said recently, and will, no doubt, be said again, that these were laws enacted by the Irish Parliament, controlled by the English Privy Council, and that the Established Church in Ireland is in no way responsible for the special means adopted to promote the Reformation in Ireland. An eminent divine, Dr. Wordsworth, Archdeacon of Westminster, whose lectures upon the Irish Church have been thought of so much importance by those who are anxious for its sustainment, that they have recently, even since this Notice was placed on the books, published an abridged addition to meet what is called the crisis, and have had it largely circulated for the advantage of what used to be called the "Protestant Interest." He says, speaking of the failure of the State Church in Ireland—The Reformation has not been rejected by Ireland, for it has never been fairly offered to Ireland. The Reformation has not failed in Ireland.… But those persons failed who managed its concerns in Ireland. England failed, morally failed, in her duty to God's truth and to Ireland at that time.… To serve her own worldly interest, she was untrue to God, to Ireland, and to herself. She made severe but abortive laws against Irish Roman Catholics, which made them more obstinate, but she did little to win them by milder measures.Thus the whole blame of the persecuting system, and of the failure that followed, is, with gross ingratitude, placed upon England, by the men for whom she long played a wicked and cruel part in this terrible story. The defenders of the Church and the palliators of its failure will tell you that for the Penal Code, a summary of 987 which I read for you, the English Privy Council and the English and the Irish Parliaments are responsible, and not the Church. I join issue with them on that assertion, and I state, as I think I can state, upon the most definite and distinct authority, that, however blamable England was, the State Church is directly and specifically answerable for some of the worst portions of that cruel code. No man would be more unwilling than I am to take off England any portion of the blame connected with that infamous code which will and ought to rest upon her until she sets herself right by abolishing this ascendant and condemned institution, and establishing religious equality in Ireland. Every portion of the blame that Archdeacon Wordsworth places upon England she deserves—richly deserves—though in a different sense from that stated by him; but I hope this Parliament will adopt a course which will enable the Irish people to say that England is no longer to be blamed, but has at length done her duty to justice and to the cause of religious liberty. But when the whole blame is put upon the English Council and upon the Irish Parliament as being the originators of these penal laws, I think it right for one to protest against that, knowing it not to be true, and to state to the House that which is unquestionably the fact, that the Irish Church is responsible, and that she framed by the hands of her bishops the worst of these penal laws. I assert that, not upon vague authority of some casual historian who may possibly write history according as it may suit his purpose—I state it not upon Roman Catholic authority, not upon Nonconformist authority, but upon the confession of the criminal himself. There is a name which was long respected in Dublin because of some munificent acts which marked the career of its owner. One of the most valuable libraries in Dublin is known by the name of Marsh's Library; and there is extant and published, not in Roman Catholic collections, not in Nonconformist collections, but in the Church History of Ireland, published by Dr. Mant, the late Bishop of Down and Connor, a letter from Dr. Marsh, Archbishop of Dublin, taking credit to himself for having been the framer of portions of the Penal Code. I wish that there may he no misunderstanding about this; and in order to satisfy Gentlemen who may be disposed to doubt the fact, I give my authority. I quote from page 72 of the second volume of Mant's History of 988 the Church, published in 1840. Dr. Marsh says, writing to his friend the Rev. Dr. Smith—We, having Parliaments but seldom in Ireland, it might be supposed that there is occasion for many Acts to be passed when we do meet, all which are prepared in this Council and sent to that in England before they can be brought into our Parliament to be passed into laws. And my Lord Primate, being above eighty-seven years old, and almost deprived of sight and hearing, you cannot imagine but that the weight of business to prepare Bills to be passed into Acts of Parliament for the Church, which nobody but Churchmen will mind, hath lain, and still doth lay, heavy upon me, insomuch that for four months past I have not been able to command almost a minute's time from public business. And I thank God I have a great many Bills prepared for the good of our Church, whereof some are already passed, and the others I hope will suddenly be passed into laws for the better establishment of this poor distressed Church.Dr. Mant, referring to this letter, describes Dr. Marsh as the framer of certain Acts, and then gives a summary account of the laws which were passed in the Parliament referred to by Dr. Marsh in his letter as the laws which were prepared by him and the other Churchmen who alone assisted him. I will give you Dr. Mant's summary of the enactments, and you will see how exactly they coincide with the Acts of William III., the Acts principally spoken of in the passage from Mosheim. Referring to the letter of the Archbishop of Dublin, he describes him as "the framer" of the laws referred to, and adds—The following statutes, passed in the Parliament of 1697, were manifestly intended by the foregoing communication.Amongst the provisions of the statutes which Dr. Mant states to have been the Acts framed by the Archbishop and the Churchmen, who alone of the Council would give up time to aid him, he gives the following summary:—It was enacted that 'all Popish archbishops, vicars-general, deans, Jesuits, monks, friars, and other regular Popish clergy, and all Papists exercising any ecclesiastical jurisdiction, should depart out of the kingdom before the 1st of May, 1698, on pain of imprisonment till transportation, and that returning after transportation, they should be guilty of high treason.'The penalty of high treason consisted at that time of the mild process of hanging and disembowelling, and this was the process suggested by "the Church" for the reformation of Irish priests—Any Popish ecclesiastic not actually in the kingdom was prohibited to come in on pain of twelve months' imprisonment, to be followed by transportation, and of high treason if returning after being transported.989 Any person who should "harbour, relieve, conceal, or entertain such Popish clergy" was subject to a fine of "£20" for the first, "£50 "for the second offence, and "the forfeiture of lands and goods for life" for the third offence—All justices of the peace should, from time to time, issue their warrants for apprehending and committing all Popish ecclesiastics whatsoever that should remain in the kingdom contrary to the Act, and for suppressing all monasteries, friaries, nunneries, and other Popish fraternities and societies.Dr. Mant omits to say that any informer could receive £100 fine from a negligent justice—Any 'female' marrying a person not certified to be a Protestant, was by law declared to 'be incapable of holding their estates or interests, and the property pass to the next of kin, as it the heir were dead.'Any Protestant marrying a woman not certified to be a known Protestant, should be deemed a Papist or Popish recusant, and disabled from being heir, executor, administrator, or guardian, or from sitting in Parliament, or bearing office or employment, unless he should, within one year after such marriage, procure a certificate that his wife had renounced the Popish religion, and become a Protestant.'Any Popish priest or Protestant minister who shall marry any soldier to any wife without certificate of her being a Protestant, should forfeit £20 for every such offence.If any common labourer, or other servant retained, shall refuse to work upon any other day than the several days mentioned, or than such days as shall be set apart by order of the King or chief governor, shall forfeit 2s. fir the poor of the parish.Dr. Mant forgets to say that if he refused to pay the 2s. he was liable (for I have looked at the clause of the statute) to be publicly whipped. These enactments Dr. Mant describes as "not being penal statutes against the Romanists," but "protective." Protective of what? Not of the Crown, not of the English interest, not of the Constitution, but "protective of the National Church." I think, Sir, that if language can express anything distinctly, we have in the letter I have just quoted to you a confession, or rather a boast, by Dr. Marsh, that for four consecutive months he was so busy preparing the penal statutes of William "for the protection of the Church," that he could not attend to even the writing of private letters to his friends. He tells you, moreover, that no person in the Council except Churchmen would give their attention to the subject. Then, Dr. Mant, writing nearly 160 years after, records that letter in his history of the Irish Church, and tells you that the statutes 990 which were penned and framed by Archbishop Marsh, assisted by Churchmen, were those statutes which I have read, and, I think, under the circumstances, it is rather hard—though possibly not harder than the English Government of the time deserved—that the whole blame of these statutes should be placed upon England, and that the defenders of the Irish Church should tell us, which no doubt they would do if the letter of Archbishop Marsh had not come to light, that the Church had nothing to do with those enactments It may, however, be said that is only one instance, and that although Dr. Marsh, from some peculiar idiosyncracy of his own had a taste for hunting priests in that way, yet that ecclesiastical heads of the Church were free from it. Thai is equally inaccurate as a matter of history. I find that in the time of Charles I., the English Lord Deputy called together the loading men of the country, irrespective of religious opinions, held a council in Dublin Castle, and announced to the assembly that it was the intention of the Government In England to mitigate she penalties against Catholics, and permit them the free exercise of their religion. This announcement so made by the Lord Deputy very soon became generally known, and the Church took alarm. Archbishop Ussher immediately called an assembly of the prelates. The whole body of the prelates came together, and they adopted a document which they called, not a resolution, not a protest, but the whole "judgment" of the Church. It is a curious fact, and was commented on as such by the historian, that the judgment was signed by twelve prelates, and that he number of prelates at present in Ireland is twelve. The bishops who attended the meeting were unanimous in adopting the judgment, and all of them signed it. This judgment states—The religion of the Papists is superstitious and idolatrous; their faith and doctrine erroneous and heretical; their Church, in respect to both, apostatical To give them, therefore, a toleration, or to consent that they may freely exercise their religion and profess their faith and doctrine, is a grievous sinAnd ends by beseeching the Almighty to cause all in authority to beZealous, resolute, and courageous, against all Popery, superstition, and idolatry. Amen.When Dr. Marsh stated that he, as Archbishop, acting on behalf of the Primate, assisted by all the Churchmen in the Council—for none but Churchmen would give 991 their attention to that business concerning what was called "the poor distressed Church"—was engaged in the preparation of penal statutes, it may be said that was their own individual act, and not an act by the Church as a Church. But it cannot be said this "judgment" of the prelates was of such a character. It was the act of the prelates of the State Church, sitting in council for the purpose—it was an act of convocation—a general council of the Church, issuing their declaration that no toleration, no freedom should be allowed to those whom they called the Papists in the free exercise of their religion, which was characterized as superstitious and idolatrous. But the results of that judgment are even far more significant than the judgment itself. For, what course did one of these prelates take with reference to the "judgment?" He went to Christ Church, where the Lord Deputy attended service on the succeeding Sunday. He preached from the pulpit of that Church, and in the course of his sermon he read this judgment against the English Lord Deputy, denouncing him and the English Crown as committers of sin and offenders against God for daring to think of giving toleration to the Irish Catholics. I gave you a while ago the figures as to the population of Dublin about that period which will account for the remarkable conduct of the prelacy at that time. The Protestant population of Dublin at that time numbered more than two to one of the Catholics, and, stirred up to fanaticism by the prelates and clergy, they assembled in the Church to control the Government, and the Bishop of Down and Connor, writing so late as 1840, records with the utmost complacency and pride the fact that the announcement of that judgment was received in that Cathedral of Dublin with shouts and plaudits. The result was that the prelates who held their convocation, or synod, or whatever else you may please to call it, brought out the mob of Dublin. They also assembled their clergy from the different parts of the country, and they so overawed the Lord Deputy and the English authorities in Dublin Castle that the promised graces were withdrawn, and in a few months after that same Lord Deputy, under the compulsion of the Church established by law in Ireland, issued a proclamation closing up all Popish "mass-houses." [Mr. BERESFORD HOPE: Who was the Lord Deputy at that time?] Lord Falkland. I give you these facts as illustrative of Sir John Gray 992 the general principle. I asserted that not only was the Church responsible for these penal Acts, but framed the Acts, and boasted of them as great services rendered to religion; and the most recent historian of the Irish Established Church glories in the fact that such things were done. I will give you another illustration of the fact. It is an illustration afforded by a letter of Primate Boulter, written under similar circumstances. I fear I have already trespassed too long upon you, and I will, therefore, not occupy time by reading the letter, but simply state the substance. Primate Boulter, writing some few years after for the purpose of inducing the then Duke of Newcastle to assist him in the hurrying through the English Council, for the purpose of having it speedily passed by the Irish Parliament, the Act known as the "Six Clerks' Act," speaks of "the Bills we have been preparing." This Bill was intended to shut out from becoming solicitors or Six Clerks Catholics, pretended converts, who were forced by the penal laws either to abandon all hopes in life or to assume the garb of Protestantism. He says he hopes this Bill "will be granted us, or the Protestant interest must suffer extremely here," and thus concludes—I should flatter myself that as in this Bill we have not meddled with Papists, but only with persons professing themselves Protestants, the Foreign Minister cannot, with any reason or decency, make any application to his Majesty against this Bill.Such being the facts with regard to the State Church in Ireland, having possessed itself of vast wealth, having secured for its votaries every place of power and emolument, having excluded the Catholics from every position and office, deprived them of the right to have or to hold land, of the right to inherit, of the right to act as executors—having given to the Catholic son, who would abandon the faith of his fathers and become a Protestant, he power to take unto himself the property of his Catholic father, to deprive his younger brethren of their birthright, and his mother of the right of dower—I think you will say that when it is known and felt in Ireland that those were Acts procured by the influence of the Church, framed by the bishops themselves, and passed in the interest of the Church, it was impossible there could be any success for that Church in Ireland, and that it is utterly impossible it can ever be submitted to by the people of Ireland, Having given you this brief 993 summary of the mode of evangelizing adopted by the imported Churchmen, as shown by the history and working of the Church, I come now to the question of its present revenues with a view to ascertain their actual amount. This question has been so mystified—I will not say wilfully misrepresented, but it has been so mystified that it is impossible, without a great deal of investigation, to arrive at an accurate conclusion as to the real amount of the revenue. The London Clerical Journal, in a leading article on the subject, says seems strange that no accurate account has yet been given of the value of the Irish benefices. The gross and net value of the benefices are so confusedly put in the Returns furnished, that it would be a task of weeks to compare the figures and compute the true amount. However, as I desire to avoid all chances of contradiction, I will state no figures as the result of any computation of my own, but will give you a calculation, the figures of which are taken from the highest ecclesiastical authorities. To exhibit the discrepancies in The statements put forward, I will give you a few of the contradictory computations. The Rev. Dr. Lee, the Dean of Connor, represents the net income of the beneficed clergy as £393,833; Lord Dufferin, speaking recently in another place, represents the income as £420,000. I have taken the figures of the various items which constitute the Church revenue from different authorities, and totted them together to arrive at the sum total. The Rev. Dr. Trench, Archbishop of Dublin, gives, in a schedule attached to a charge recently delivered by him, the gross income of the benefices as £506,368, and he gives the gross value of the present Episcopal Sees as £80,059. These two items—the revenue of the bishoprics and benefices—amount to the sum of £586,427. I may state that the table adopted by the Archbishop is one of great value, which was prepared by one of the best informed, most liberal-minded, and accomplished clergymen in Ireland, the Rev. Dr. Brady, who has taken an active part in the discussion of Church affairs with a view to the best interests of the Church itself. The Lord Primate, Dr. Beresford, in a charge of his, represents the funds in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners available for various Church purposes as being £93,650. The salaries and other office expenses amount to a total sum of £10,085, which, added to the figures previously given, amount to £690,162 as 994 the probable gross revenue of the Established Church in Ireland. That £690,000 ought to be supplemented by a sum of about £21,000, which the Lord Primate represents as the difference between the fund available from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and their gross receipts communibus annis. Deducting £5,209, private funds, there will be a gross total of £707.953, as the cost of the Church to the public. I may say the total sum is, in round numbers, £700,000, so far as can he ascertained from the imperfect data given in the clerical Returns. These figures are substantiated by another ecclesiastical authority. Archdeacon Stopford, who gives the available income of the whole Establishment as £510,000, but if his figures are properly analyzed they make the gross income £700,390. But this does not represent, the total of the property and money given to the ascendancy Church. There is, in addition, to be considered the great wealth of Trinity College, given also to sustain Protestant ascendancy in Ireland. There are the revenues of the Royal and other endowed schools, and the grants to the charter schools, and for the building of churches, and the million loan which was remitted. All these grants are fairly to he considered as for the purposes of the Established Church, so that £700,000 a year may be taken as being considerably under the total amount of public property applied for the sustainment of the ascendancy represented by the Established Church It is worth stating, even at the risk of being a little tedious, the distinction drawn between net and gross income by the parties who take upon themselves to defend this institution. I will give an illustration of the manner in which the gross is reduced to what is called the net income. A parish in Limerick was represented by the diocesan registrar as having a gross income of £1,033 a year, but be made deductions for two curates, £180, and a series of other analogous deductions, which, no doubt, reduced the fund available for the purposes of the incumbent himself and his family, but these cannot be regarded as deductions from the fund available for Church purposes. The net income, therefore, does not represent the sum available for Church purposes, The salaries paid to curates, the fees paid to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and: for other purposes, are fairly to be considered as forming part of the sum given; to the Church by the public. I now pro 995 ceed to deal with a question of much more importance—the question of the allocation of the revenues. I find by the two charges I have just referred to—the charge of the present Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Trench, and the charge of the Primate, Dr. Beresford—that the total number of benefices in Ireland is set down as 1,510, including perpetual curacies. A distinction is drawn by these authorities between a benefice and a parish. The Census Returns represent 199 parishes as being devoid altogether of any Church residents. That is, there were in Ireland 199 parishes, in not one of which was there to be found a single member of the State Church. That was a fact that was not agreeable to parties interested in the maintenance of the character of the Church, and they took a good deal of trouble, and displayed a deal of ingenuity in endeavouring to get rid of that fact. A very remarkable pamphlet has been published by the Rev. Mr. Lee, Dean of Connor, in which he endeavours to set aside that fact by stating that, whilst there are 2,428 civil parishes in Ireland, there are in fact only 1,510 benefices, and that there was a broad distinction to be drawn between benefices and civil parishes. He adds—If we remember this important fact (that there are more civil parishes than benefices), the statement of which we have lately heard so much, that there are 199 parishes in Ireland without any Church population, loses all its significance. For whilst it may be perfectly true that there are some portions of benefices in this state, there is but a single benefice in all Ireland to be found, and that one particularly circumstanced, in which there are not several Members of the Established Church.Now, that statement is very distinct and emphatic, and I have no doubt the Dean of Connor would not have made it if not perfectly satisfied that it was correct. But it unfortunately happens that the statement is not correct, although it has been published and re-published in every possible form for the purpose of giving the most extensive and most explicit contradiction to the allegation that there was such a large territory as that represented by 199 parishes in Ireland without any Church resident. The Dean of Connor makes the statement positively, but not more so than it is made in the charge delivered by the Lord Primate to the clergy of Armagh and Clogher in 1864, and published in 1865. After dealing with the civil parishes, he says— 996Thus, then, we find the formidable statement that there are 199 parishes belonging to the Established Church in Ireland without any members of that communion, met, upon examination, by the undeniable fact that there was but one parish, in the ordinary sense of the word, in that position in all Ireland.And, not content with that emphatic denial, he gives tables of thirty-two "parishes," of three "parishes," and of eighteen "parishes" to support his denial, and then says—One Established Church 'benefice' in 1861 contained no Member of the Established Church, the income of which was payable to the incumbent.He admits there was one; but asserts, as positively as Dr. Lee does, that there was but one "benefice" in that condition. Now, amongst the many pamphlets published for the purpose of meeting this crisis of the Church, as it is called, there is one published by the Rev. Philip Dwyer, vicar of Drumcliffe, in the diocese of Killaloe. It has been published within the last four or five days, and was written for the purpose of sustaining the cause of the Church. In one of his concluding sentences, the reverend writer says—There is no ground for appropriation clauses, and far less for the revolutionary and sacrilegious process of spoliation and confiscation.I read that sentence to the House not for the purpose of expressing any opinion upon it, but to show the animus and intentions of the writer, to show that he is a writer upon whom I may safely rely as an unquestionable Protestant and Church authority. I think that a gentleman who speaks in the terms which I have read of any attempt to deal with what is called Church, property, may fairly be regarded as such an authority. He speaks of the distinction which has been for the last three or four years drawn between benefices and civil parishes, and under the head benefices with a net annual income of £500 and more, he gives one benefice in which there is no Church Protestant. That so far corresponds with the statement positively made by the Primate and by the Rev. Dr. Lee. In another table, given in the Rev. Mr. Dwyer's pamphlet, who, I may observe, represents the net income as being 20 per cent under the gross income, there is one benefice, the net income of which is £300 a year and upwards, without any Church Protestants. In the table of benefices whoso net income is from £200 to £300 per annum, he gives five without any Church population.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
No; five benefices. One is in the archdiocese of Armagh, another is in the archdiocese of Dublin, and three in the diocese of Killaloe. [An hon. MEMBER: Does he give the names of the parishes?] He does not, but he sets them out in tables, as I am giving them to the House. In the table of benefices whose net income is from £100 to £200 per annum, he gives seven benefices without any Church population.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
I will rend it again for the hon. Member. [Cries of "Hear, hear!"] I am glad that the House will permit me to do so.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
In the table of benefices whose net income is under £100 per annum, the Rev. Mr. Dwyer gives five benefices in the same condition, making altogether eighteen benefices without any Church population. It was positively stated by the Primate in his charge, and by the Rev. Dr. Lee in his pamphlet, which was represented as containing nothing but facts, and both which important documents had been extensively circulated, that there was only one benefice in Ireland which had no resident member of the State Church within its limits. The Rev. Mr. Dwyer, however, shows by his tables—tables prepared in support of the Church—that these eighteen "benefices"—not parishes, but "benefices"—were in that condition. He shows, too, that the incumbents had some £500 a year net income, some £300 a year net income, some £200, and some under £100 a year, these incomes being paid to incumbents for doing nothing. [Cries of "Oh, oh!" An hon. MEMBER: When was that published?] The pamphlet was published last week. The Primate, in discussing the subject of civil parishes, uses a remarkable passage with reference to the 199 civil parishes which are returned by the Census Commissioners as not having any Church Protestant residing in them. His Grace, in drawing a distinction between the civil parishes and the benefices, says of the former—Some are the sites of ancient monastic buildings, as St. Doologes in Ferns, which is only forty yards square, and the parishes of St. John of Jerusalem, and St. Dominick of Cork, one of 998 which is covered by a brewery, and the other by ! a flour mill.Well, now if appears to be a very sad upset to the argument based upon the Returns of the Census Commissioners to have these 199 parishes described by so high an authority as the Lord Primate as being of such a character that they are fairly represented by parishes, one of which is forty yards square, another of which is covered by a brewery, and the third covered by a flour mill. But what are the facts? Not one of these three parishes so described by his Grace is included in the 199 returned as having no Church Protestants in them. One of these three parishes, St. Doologes, had two Protestants residing in it, and some hundreds of Catholics, and, so far as I can learn, the other two are not parishes at all, and are certainly not named as Cork parishes in the Returns. They could not, therefore, be included in the 199. I will not be understood as imputing any intentional inaccuracy to Dr. Lee or to the Primate. I am sure both are above the possibility of trying to mislead; but this shows how inaccuracies will be published, and get circulation upon eminent authority", and be relied upon as facts, although they are not facts. There are 2,428 civil parishes in Ireland. "Civil parishes" is a new phrase, specially adopted for drawing a distinction between the benefices and the parishes, which used to he called in other times the benefices of pluralists. Some of them have been united so as to make but one benefice, while there is really a plurality of parishes yielding tithes to the incumbent, who is said, however, to have only a benefice, The 199 of the civil parishes without any Church population represent one in twelve of the whole number of parishes, but an impression would be produced by the passage I read from the Primate's charge, that these 199 parishes were small in point of extent, and were analogous to the fanciful pictures of parishes drawn by his Grace, one of which is forty yards square, another of which is described as covered by a brewery, and the third by a flour mill, but which descriptions I have shown to be mythical, and neither of the three districts are included in the 199 parishes referred to by the Census Commissioners. I have already shown that these three parishes are not at all included in the 199, and I have now to state that the 199 parishes, which it was sought t represent as of insignificant importance, actually contain a Catholic popu- 999 lation of 98,017. What is the proportion of these 98,000 Catholics to the whole of the Protestant population? They are in the proportion of one to seven of the whole Protestant population of Ireland—that is, these 199 parishes which were represented by Dr. Lee and his Grace the Primate—unintentionally I am sure by both of them—as being of such a character that they were fairly described to the public by the fancy sketches I have spoken of, actually contain so large a population as 98,000 Catholics, equal to one-seventh of the whole Protestant population of Ireland, while these same parishes are only equal in number to one-twelfth of the whole of the parishes of Ireland, and do not contain a single Church Protestant. I may state that in the diocese of Ossory, in which the city I represent is situated, no less than twenty-three of the civil parishes, as they are called, exist, all of them having large Catholic populations. Some of these parishes in, Mayo have as many as from 2,000 to 3,000 Catholics in each of them, numbers which show that they comprise large territorial districts. Respecting the question of allocation, I find that of the 1,510 beneflces in Ireland there are 615, the Church population of each of which is 200 or less, giving an average population, taking them in the aggregate, of seventy-seven Church Protestants in each—615 not civil parishes, but benefices, or united parishes, including more than 1,000 parishes. The average Protestant population of each is seventy-seven, some of course having more, and some less. The Rev. Mr. Dwyer gives the number of benefices which have a Church population of 200 or under as 781; but I do not take his figures, although they would be more favourable for my views. I have preferred to take the figures which I know to have been carefully compiled, and on which I can rely as being perfectly accurate. The Church revenue for these 615 benefices is represented by £257,000 per annual. If you divide the Church revenues amongst the Church population, deducting of course the families of the ministers and the clerks who are paid for their services—[Mr. T. B. POTTER: But the clerk has a soul to be saved.] No doubt he has, but he is paid a salary for assisting in the saving of the souls in the parish, including his own, and I do not think it reasonable therefore to include him and his family amongst resident Protestants of the parish in estimating the cost per family of five persons to the coun- 1000 try. The Church revenue of these 615 benefices, containing the average Church population I have stated, and making the deductions I have mentioned, is equal to £31 per family per annum. I will now take another series of benefices, which puts the case of the Church in even a worse light. There are 229 benefices in Ireland having an income of £83,071. I deduct from the average population of these benefices the families of the incumbents and of the clerks, who are officials paid for residing there, and who are brought there for that purpose, and ought not to be estimated in the list of persons ministered to. Having done this, I find that the total amount of income apportioned to the remaining families gives an average of £131 12s. per family per annum as the cost for religious ministrations to the Protestant population for 229 benefices, Clone-seventh of the whole territorial extent of Ireland, assuming each benefice on au average to be of the same size. There is another calculation so astounding in its results, that I will not venture to give it to you upon less than a high ecclesiastical authority, the Rev. Thomas Hincks, Archdeacon of Connor. In a synoptical table of the Established Church in Ireland, published by him in a folding sheet, he describes 114 benefices as being in the condition that the largest Church population in any one of them does not number more than twenty-five. He also gives the net income of the incumbents of those benefices, but we have seen that the net income is something more than 25 per cent below the gross income. As we are not dealing here with personal or family matters relating to the incumbents, but dealing with the cost of the Church in Ireland to the public, I take the gross income in my calculations, and not the net income. Giving to these 114 benefices, in addition to the gross income, their fair proportion of the episcopal charges—for I think that if they are entitled to incumbents, they are equally entitled to the advantages of episcopal supervision—the total cost to the public of the charge for these 114 benefices is £36,365. In ascertaining the rate per family in this instance, I will not ask the House to deduct the clerk, as it is probable, from the paucity of the Protestant population, that some relative or domestic of the incumbent acts as clerk. I will merely deduct the family of the incumbent, and, making this deduction, there will remain a Church population for these 1001 114 benefices of 1,019 persons, or 204 families; and, distributing the total Church revenue amongst them, I find that every family costs the country £178 per annum for its religious ministration. In that calculation I did not deduct the family of the parish clerk, but I really do not see on what principle the clerk should receive a salary for his services, and be then entitled to have £1.78 a year allocated for religious ministrations for his own benefit; and, therefore, if I take his family from the Church population of each benefice, we arrive at the extraordinary result that the total number of Church Protestants in the 114 benefices are not quite equal to one family for each benefice, and the total revenue apportioned amongst them represents £400 per annum per family. I ask, is there not something very gross in that state of things? Is it not utterly indefensible? Is there any Gentleman who will stand up to defend the continuance of such a system? If the House feels it cannot be defended, I ask you in the name of common sense, in the name of everything fair, just, and reasonable, will you refuse to assent to my Resolution, declaring simply that the position of the Established Church in Ireland is such as to demand the consideration of I Parliament? I do not presume to ask the House to adopt in haste any declaration in favour of any particular plan or course, All I ask you to do is, looking to the facts I have placed before you, to deal with them as facts, or to prove them not to be facts if you can; but until yon have done so, I ask you to deal with them as facts, and to say, are not these facts sufficient to warrant the moderate Resolution I place before you? As I have already stated, I have taken scrupulous care that every fact I have put before you should be on the I authority of eminent divines of the Established Church—eminent not merely for their abilities, eminent for the purity of their lives as most of them are, but men eminent also as defenders of the Church Establishment-—divines who have placed themselves in the van as the champions of the Church. With these facts before you, can you say that a case is not made out calling for the serious consideration of Parliament? I know there are those who think that Parliament is not the place to deal with great questions affecting Ireland; but I thank God that there is growing up in Ireland a spirit which recognizes the propriety of looking to Parliament as the place where redress is to be sought and 1002 may be found. I ask you to encourage and strengthen that feeling in Ireland, by showing that when a case is made before you which is reasonable, and which is sustained by facts, that you are ready to listen to it and give it consideration. I do not call on you to adopt the views which this man or the views which that man may put forward, but merely to give a serious and attentive consideration to the subject, and to deal with it as practical men, honestly and sincerely anxious to create in the Irish public confidence in the justice of Parliament It has been said, and perhaps it may be well to remind the House of it, that the Church question is beyond the reach of Parliament. I do not belong to those who think so. I believe Parliament can deal with it. I believe this Parliament contains men capable of dealing with even larger questions than that of the Church. I repudiate the doctrines of those who say that Parliament is not competent to deal with it. It has been stated that the only mode of dealing with this subject is by revolution. I do not hold that doctrine, although it has been promulgated openly; aye, and even promulgated in this House. Even in this House it has been stated that the case of the Irish Church is beyond the reach of any power for its settlement, save that of revolution. I will not paraphrase, but will give you the words of the eminent individual to whom I refer, in order that you may yourself judge of their meaning and import. The right hon. Gentleman said—That dense population in extreme distress inhabited an island where there was an Established Church, which was not their Church, and a territorial aristocracy, the richest of whom lived is distant capitals. Thus they had a starving population, an absentee aristocracy, and an alien Church, and, in addition, the weakest Executive in the world. That was the Irish question. Well, then, what would hon. Gentlemen say if they were reading of a country in that position? They would say at once—the remedy is revolution; but the Irish could not have a revolution, and why? Bo-cause Ireland was connected with another and more powerful country. Then what was the consequence? The connection with England thus became the cause of the present state of Ireland. If the connection with England prevented a revolution, and a revolution were the only remedy, England logically was in the odious position of being the cause of all the misery in Ireland. What, then, was the duty of an English Minister? To effect by his policy all those changes which a revolution would do by force. That was the Irish question in its integrity.… The moment they had a strong Executive, a just administration, and ecclesiastical equality, they would have order in Ireland, and the improve- 1003 ment of the physical condition of the people would follow.I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman who uttered these sentiments to carry them now into effect—to carry them into effect to-night by his vote. I do not ask him to go even so far as he went in his speech from which I quote. I do not ask him to declare that a revolution is necessary to establish ecclesiastical equality. If he wants time to consider the remedy, there is time given by this Resolution, which merely asks that Parliament should declare that the subject ought to be considered—considered with a view to do that which is just. I ask him to support the Resolution in furtherance of his own principles, so strongly expressed in that speech. I would ask him to do so if he would avoid the giving cause for revolution, or attempt at revolution in Ireland, and if he would desire, by the conduct of this House on this question, to defeat those who tell the people to have no faith in Parliament, but to look to the hope of revolution. [Several hon. Members here called out for the name of the Member who had spoken the words just quoted.] I name the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire. I fear I have already trespassed too long on the patience of the House. ["No, no!"] I feel that I have, and therefore I will not read some extracts from the statements of eminent persons on this question, but I will give you the substance of a very few. Dr. Whately, the late Archbishop of Dublin, declared in the most distinct and emphatic manner that it was the right and duty of Parliament to settle this question, and that he and his clergy would gladly support any measure for its final adjustment, rather than continue the Church in its present odious position. I would appeal to some Members of Her Majesty's Government, who have also expressed themselves strongly on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade said—Do what they would for Ireland, so long as the Establishment remained there, it must be looked on by the bulk of the population as a badge of conquest and degradation.… How could they expect peace or harmony while they deliberately degraded a large portion of the community? There must be religious equality.The right hon. Secretary for Ireland the Member for Louth (Mr. Chichester Fortescue) expressed within the last year a 1004 strong opinion that no religious establishment in any country could be justified unless it were rooted in the hearts of the majority of the people. Nothing has occurred since then to alter the condition of the figures with respect to the Church in Ireland, except, indeed, that it has been said, and may be repeated, that there has been a large number of conversions. But what do these boasted conversions represent even upon the statement of the most zealous friends of the movement? The Rev. Dr. Hume, of Liverpool, who has been eulogized by the hon. Member for Oxford as one to whom the Church in Ireland is deeply indebted, in his work on the Irish Census states that the total number of converts made for the last thirty years, as the result of all the united efforts of the various societies, is 3,090. The same figures are given by the secretary to the West Connaught Mission Society, the Rev. W. C. Plunket, as the absolute figures, though he supposes there were 6,000 converts in all. That is the total produced by the labours of ten different societies. No other change has taken place, except the unfortunate change so often boasted of by Gentlemen supporting the Church—the change of the proportions caused by the diminution of the Catholic population. But there has been also an absolute diminution of Protestants to the extent of 114,000. It is a cruel and heartless thing for men to defend the position of the Established Church in Ireland by arguments based upon the reduction of the Catholic population by the agencies of famine, disease, and emigration. It is, in effect, calling on these agencies to do that which the penal laws failed to do. I ask Protestants, who are apprehensive of the effect that would be produced upon their religion by the abolition of the Church Establishment, to look to the results of the voluntary system, and banish their fears. In bringing forward this Motion I repudiate the idea of seeking to have any portion of the Church revenues appropriated to the Catholic Church of Ireland—such an idea never entered my mind. I advocate nothing that would seem to savour of such an arrangement. I totally repudiate it in the words of the 160,000 of the people of Ireland who petitioned this House for the disendowment of the Established Church. I and my Colleagues from Ireland unite in repudiating it in the name of the Municipal corporations of Ireland; in the name of the corporation of Dublin, 1005 in which Protestants once preponderate, and which has sent this day to the Bar of this House a deputation to present a petition praying for the disendowment of the Church Establishment. In the name of all these I repudiate the intention that me single sixpence of Church property should go to the Catholic Church, I ask Protestants who doubt their own Church, and I do not doubt it, to have faith in it—to believe in its power. I believe then is an innate power in anything sincere, honest, honourable, and upright, that will sustain it and make way. I ask Protestant Gentlemen, if they have faith in their Church, not to be afraid of the results arising from its disendowment; if they believe that it has the faith once delivered to the saints, let them depend upon that faith. There are twenty-three voluntary churches in Dublin in connection with the Church of England, and within the last four or live years these voluntary churches have furnished to the Established Church no less than three bishops, one selected by the Gentlemen on the opposite Benches when they were in office, and two others selected by the present Government. I should state that within the last six weeks there have been published a series of valuable articles in the London Review, containing a mass of information well worth the while of Gentlemen who wish to understand this question to read, and to read with care. More carefully prepared and more accurate statistical information it would be scarcely-possible to find than is contained in that series of articles. If my right hon. Friend the late Member for the University of Dublin and late Chancellor of Ireland were here, I would appeal to him as one of the worshipping members in one of these voluntary churches in Dublin, whether they are not crowded, while the parochial churches generally are almost deserted. With reference to this subject, I will mention a matter which will serve as a curious illustration of the state of Chinch affairs in Dublin. There is well known in that city a rev. gentleman, named Tresham Gregg. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin knows him well. He is celebrated for his controversial encounter with the well known Father Tom Maguire; the discussion which took place between them is familiarly known in every household in Ireland. The Rev. Mr. Gregg is the incumbent of a parish in the immediate vicinity of St. Patrick's Cathedral, which has been 1006 lately restored by the princely munificence of an hon. Member of this House. The Rev, Mr. Gregg is set down in the Ecclesiastical Directory as having a net income of £150 a year from the parish of St. Nicholas Within. Some time since there was a controversy in the Courts with respect to this parish. Mr. Gregg claimed to have been properly appointed by the votes of the Protestants, while another clergyman claimed the appointment, alleging that the Catholic inhabitants of the parish were entitled to vote, and they had given him a large majority. Upon legal investigation it appeared that a pious Catholic bad left the funds which produce the income of the benefice, on the condition that there should be a celebration of masses for his soul on I every Sunday. It was declared by the, Courts in Dublin that the pious purposes for which the money was left were superstitious; that the Catholic inhabitants were; not entitled to vote, and that in fact the; Rev. Mr. Gregg was virtually entitled to pocket the amount annually, and to disregard the conditions of the bequest. That rev. gentleman now receives the income; and so far from performing the conditions I attached by the testator, he spends nearly all his time in publicly denouncing the mass as superstitious, damnable, and idolatrous. Referring to this reminds me of a remarkable passage which I was sorry to see in the charge of the Primate, Dr. Beresford—who is, by the way, an ecclesiastic almost by birth. His family have reaped I more advantages from the Established Church than perhaps any other family in; Ireland. I believe it is recorded that at one time there were living members of that family who had amongst them netted over a million of money from Church property. This right rev. Prelate, in speaking of the title of the Church to her present properly, made an assertion, the truth of which I will not discuss, but which is not very unlike in its principle the conduct of the Rev. Mr. Gregg. His Grace describes the tithes at present claimed by the Church in Ireland as part of the splendid bribe for acknowledging the Papal supremacy. [An hon. MEMBER: As what?] As part of the splendid bribe given by Henry II. for the purpose of inducing the Church to acknowledge the Papal supremacy. Yet he who prides himself upon denying the Papal supremacy claims those tithes as his legitimate and rightful property. He says it was given for recognizing Papal supremacy, yet he and his brethren pocket the pro- 1007 ceeds, and never cease to deny the Papal supremacy. I ask the House to pardon me for having trespassed so long upon its forbearance. ["No!"] I feel I have drawn more largely upon its patience and indulgence than I should have done, and am deeply indebted for the kind and generous courtesy with which I have been heard, I ask you to remember that this question is looked upon in Ireland as being at the root of all the evils of that country. It is at the root of the education difficulty in Ireland. The bishops and clergy of the Established Church have laboured strenuously from time to time, and are labouring still, to keep Catholics from the advantages of education and office. It is at the root of the land question, for we find that the laws enacted to sustain the Church prevented Catholics from holding land, from being tenants of land—prevented Catholics from getting leases, and thereby engendered a habit in the country of granting no leases; so that you find that the Catholic tenants of the south and west of Ireland are practically without leases, while in the north, that was planted with Protestants, leases have been the rule, and tenant-right exists to preserve the rights of industry. In fact, the Catholics were looked upon as slaves and serfs by the landlords who were planted in that country after the expulsion of the Catholic owners, and out of all this a spirit of hostility was engendered, which has been since fostered by the continuance of the Establishment in Ireland. That Establishment, well described as an alien Church, never did, and never could, take root in the land, introduced and maintained as it has been upon such principles as I have exhibited before you. The Catholics of Ireland trace to that Church Establishment all the evils under which they suffered, and the social degradation and brand of inferiority imposed upon them as Catholics. I ask you to deal with this not simply as an Irish question, but as an Imperial question, as one affecting the interests of England hardly less than it affects the interests of Ireland. Your honour is involved in it. You are the dominant country, and if you have inflicted much suffering in trying to establish the Anglican Church in Ireland, you have also lost much of character, because of the means you sanctioned for attaining that object. You are bound now to redeem your own reputation by putting an end to that Church ascendancy in Ireland. I do not ask you now to adopt any specific plan, 1008 but simply to declare by your vote that you are ready to give a fair, full, and just consideration to this important subject. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Resolution.
In seconding the Motion of my hon. Friend I feel the difficulty of the task which we have undertaken. I know the prejudice which exists on this subject, and the disinclination of the House to deal with it—but it is one of such vast importance, and so nearly affects the well being of Ireland, and therefore the security of the Empire, that I am sure I shall not ask in vain for the kind indulgence of the House while I venture to make a few observations. I agree with the late Sir George Lewis, who states in his work on the Irish Church, that this is not a question of degree but one of principle. The objection is that provision should be made out of the public funds for the support of the clergy of the minority, while no provision is made for the clergy of the majority. The right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) said, last Session, that Ireland was the Question of Questions—and that she was bound to us by a tie which we would perish rather than allow any one to break. If that be true, as I doubt not it is, then surety it must be admitted that it is our doubt to remove all impediments to her prosperity which have been created by us, and to endeavour to place her in as good a position as other more favoured portions of the Empire. As a Protestant, a member of the Church of England, I rejoice to think that I am not precluded from taking part in this debate by any oath to which I have subscribed, and I hope the day is not far distant when it will be out of the power of even the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) to say that any Member of this House, be his religious creed what it may, is debarred from taking part in our deliberations on this subject. I hope that ere long we may all take the same oath at that table with equal rights and equal responsibilities. Irish Members have often been challenged to point out the grievances under which Ireland labours. The Irish Church Establishment is a grievance. Our most eminent statesmen have, with wonderful accord, admitted it, and have used, some of them, very strong language on this subject. Now, what is the state of Ireland as to Ecclesiastical matters. You have the Church of England, established by law, in the exclusive enjoyment of the whole 1009 Ecclesiastical revenues of the country, while it numbers within its communion but one-tenth of the population. The Presbyterian body, numbering another tenth, receive an endowment from the State of £40,000, voted annually by this House-under the name of the Regium Domini. The remaining four-fifths of the population are Roman Catholics, whose Church has no endowments whatever, and no share of the Ecclesiastical revenues, and is, to all intents and purposes, as much ignored as if it did not exist. Can this state of things be deemed satisfactory? We are often asked why the Irish people should have any greater reason to complain of the Established Church than the Dissenters of England. I beg here to say that we are not now discussing the Established Church of England, but the Church Establishment in Ireland—a very different thing. But in reality there is the greatest difference, and for this reason—The Reformation in England was the work of the nation, It was embraced by the people; and the Dissenters left the Church, long after its establishment, for causes which they deemed sufficient, and into which it is not necessary that I should enter. So with the Free Church in Scotland, who left the Presbyterian Established Church of Scotland on a question of patronage But the case was far different with Ireland, There you made the people Dissenters in their own country from a religion which they never professed. If any one doubts this, I do not wish him to take it on my statement alone. Fortunately, we are not left in ignorance on this point; for I can cite the words of one who will be acknowledged an authority by this House. Mr. Hallam, in his Constitutional History of England, has distinctly told us how and why this was done. He says that the Protestant religion was introduced compulsorily, at a time when erroneous opinions prevailed upon this as on other subjects, and when it was supposed that the State had a better right to order what doctrine the people should believe than they could have to choose for themselves—when it was held that the interests of Ireland should be made subservient in all respects to the interests of England. But those maxims, according to Mr. Hallam, involve a principle so essentially unjust that they have enormously aggravated the calamities and the disaffection of Ireland. We invite you to assist us in removing a cause of calamity to Ireland, and the constant source of her disaffection, 1010 To be of advantage to the community where it exists, an Ecclesiastical Establishment should be the means of teaching religious truth, and should promote good order and virtue, but to do this effectually it must be the religion not of the State but of the people among whom it exists. What is the good of maintaining an Establishment within whose walls the people will not enter, and with whose presentation of the truth they will have nothing to do? Various remedies have been suggested for this stale of things. Amongst others, one mode of settling this question that has been, and still is, advocated by many persons, is the payment of the Roman Catholic clergy out of funds to be provided by the State. I confess that I am entirely opposed to such a course, which, besides, I consider impracticable. No one who reads the spirit of the times aright can imagine that Parliament will make a grant for such a purpose. The tendency of the present day is rather to take away all religious endowments so far as is practicable, and the payment of the Roman Catholic clergy would be undesirable for many reasons.
1st. They refuse it. It is impossible for them to accept the money of the State. They would lose caste if they did. It would diminish their influence with the people, and it would be a misfortune if their influence were lost; because, when the Irish people cease to have respect for the authority of religion it will not be long before they throw off the authority of the State.
2nd, It would give rise to a renewal of those unfortunate debates in this House which we all recollect to have occurred Session after Session with respect to the increased grant to Maynooth, in which occasion was taken to hold up to odium the doctrines and discipline of the Roman Catholic Church, and which being read, as those debates are, by every one almost in Ireland, did more to engender a bitter feeling of hostility towards this country than you can imagine.
3rd. Because it is unjust that the people should be taxed to pay the clergy of any denomination in Ireland, where the Ecclesiastical revenues, if properly and fairly applied, would suffice for the religious requirements of all. And in this view I am borne out by the noble Lord at the bead of the Government Earl Russell. In the Introduction to his work on the English Government and Constitution, 1865, he says—The measure introduced in 1835, granting a portion of the Church revenues of Ireland to pur- 1011 poses of education, was unpopular in England, and was not carried in the House of Lords. But it is hardly possible that a Church Establishment should be preserved undiminished for about one-ninth of the population of Ireland. When England shall examine this question dispassionately, it may be expected that, although the State will not entangle itself with the support of a Roman Catholic clergy, as Mr. Pitt projected, the whole people of Ireland will be allowed to derive some benefit from so large a revenue. National education and public improvements of various kinds might receive at least a portion of the revenue raised from the land for the benefit of the people.Well, then, is the present state of things in Ireland to continue for ever, because you will not establish the religion of the majority, and because you cannot pay this clergy by an endowment from the State? Is there no other course that you can adopt? The Irish are a quick and intelligent people, and now well educated, thanks to the national system of education, and when they look abroad to see what is done in other countries of Europe, where there is a mixed population of Roman Catholics and Protestants, as for instance in Würtem-berg, Bavaria, Prussia, they find their Church the acknowledged Church of that portion of the people who belong to it. But England is a rich and powerful country, having possessions in every part of the world, and when they examine how you treat your dependencies they find that you have no scruple of conscience in upholding the Roman Catholic religion as the established religion of Malta. That in your Australian colonies you leave them free to settle those matters themselves, and in Cape Town and Natal you acknowledge that your letters patent creating Bishops are null and void. But when they regard Canada, that country which now engrosses so much attention, and which from being the most turbulent is now the most contented and attached, perhaps, of all your colonies, they find a state of things the very opposite of what prevails with them. In 1853 the Government of Lord Aberdeen introduced the Canada Clergy Reserves Bill, and if it had done nothing more it would have deserved well of the country for that Act. That Bill, somewhat shorter than the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act, consisted of but two clauses. One enabling the Canadian Legislature to deal with those reserves, which had been devoted to the exclusive support of the Protestant clergy, as they thought fit. The other guaranteeing to the clergy the enjoyment of their stipends for their lives. It was introduced into this House on the 15th of Feb- 1012 ruary, 1853, by the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Frederick Peel), who said—Regarding the Church of England as a body of individual clergy in that country, we have taken ample guarantees for their continued enjoyment of the stipend now allotted to them, and we have the full concurrence of the Legislature and the Executive of Canada in doing so.… But looking at the Church of England not as a collection of individual clergy but as an establishment, as an incorporated institution; if you ask us to maintain a Church Establishment in Canada against the wishes of the people of that country, I, for one, would shrink from such an undertaking. If you were to engage in it, I undertake to say that you would never issue from it with either credit or success. I am convinced, Sir, that we are taking the right course even in the interests of the Church of England herself."—[3 Hansard, cxxiiii. 143.]Now, are not these words applicable to the Church Establishment in Ireland? Are we not maintaining in Ireland a Church Establishment against the wishes of the people, and which does not administer to their religious requirements? Well, then, how can the Parliament of this country, which has passed that Bill into a law, insist upon maintaining in Ireland an establishment of precisely the same description? The Imperial Parliament passed two Acts, one to empower the Canadian Parliament to alter the constitution of the Legislative Council, and the other the "Canada Clergy Reserves Act," and in the very next Session of the Canadian Parliament, the Governor General, Lord Elgin, on the 6th September, 1854, addressing that Parliament on its opening, said—The other Act of the Imperial Parliament removes the restrictions which have for some time past prevented the Provincial Legislature from dealing with the Clergy reserves. From an early period in the history of Upper Canada this provision, which was originally intended for the support of the Protestant faith, has been a source of discord and agitation in that section of the province. It is most desirable, in the interest of religion and social harmony, that a final and conclusive adjustment of this long pending controversy should take place without delay.Now, do not these words also apply to the condition of Ireland? Is it not true that a provision intended for the support of the Protestant faith has been a source of discord and agitation in Ireland? And is it not most desirable in the interest of religion and social harmony that a final and conclusive adjustment of this long pending controversy should take place? And what has been the consequence as regards Canada? You are now reaping the advantage of what you have done in the af- 1013 fection and loyalty of the Canadian people. At this moment, when a most wicked and unwarrantable attack was contemplated by American citizens of, I regret to say, Irish birth, upon a peaceful and unoffending country, and when the Governor General made a call upon the people, in twenty-four hours there arose a force of 10,000 armed men for the protection of then native land. Now, not many years ago Canada was a source of great trouble to this country, and if Ireland is now a source of trouble, is it not reasonable to suppose that, if we had pursued the same policy towards Ireland that we pursued towards, Canada thirteen years ago, we should now be reaping the like fruits? Instead of being obliged to proclaim the country from one end to the other, instead of taking away arms from the people, and pouring in Scotch and English regiments to keep them down, instead of suspending the constitution and taking from Irishmen the dearest rights of British subjects, we might say to them, "Come forward and defend the Constitution, in which you have a shave as well as your Protestant fellow-subjects," and I undertake to say that we should not have in any part of the Empire a people more ready to defend with their lives the institutions of this country than we should have in Ireland.
In one respect I differ from my hon. Friend who introduced the subject, and who called this an Imperial question. I prefer to consider it as a local question, and hope the House will look upon it as an Irish Parliament would, and deal with it in like manner. It has been often said that the Irish Church Establishment has existed for 300 years, and, therefore, Parliament cannot interfere with it, But Parliament had already interfered with it—and even supposing that it had not, the same objection would apply to every improvement which has been effected for years past, and thus the beneficent effects of recent legislation would have been entirely lost. Again, it was said that great stress was laid upon the argument that the Articles of the Act of Union forbade the House of Commons to deal with this question. But I do not think there is any statesman on this side of the House, and hut few upon the other, who will cite that Act as a bar, because Lord Derby, when Mr. Stanley, under Lord Grey's Government, had charge of a Bill which interfered most extensively with the position and property of the Established Church in Ire- 1014 land. By the Act of 1833 you suppressed ten Bishoprics, two Archbishops, and abolished vestry cess. By the Act of 1834 you suspended numerous dignities and benefices. By the Act of 1838 you extinguished 25 per cent of the tithes, and since then you have got rid of minister's money. It is idle, then, to talk of the Act of Union as a bar. I, for one, refuse to look upon that Act, passed in an unreformed Parliament, at a time when men sold their country for place, for patronage, and for money, as more sacred than any other Act. We sit here as the supreme council of the nation, and we have a right, nay more, it is our bounden duty to take into consideration the petitions of the people, their wishes and requirements, and so to amend the laws as to give additional strength to the Empire, and happiness and contentment to the people.
We are often told, in justification of the present state of things, that the majority of the landed proprietors of Ireland who pay the tithe are Protestant, and therefore it is no hardship on the people. It should be borne in mind, however, that the land is held subject to the payment of tithe, and that it is not the property of the landlord, but at the disposal of the State for the benefit of the community. But such an argument is ungenerous when we consider the extensive confiscations on account of religion which forced the land into the hands of the Protestants, and the enactment of those cruel penal laws which deprived the Roman Catholics of all hopes of acquiring any property, thus taking from them the greatest incentive to industry, and condemning them in their own land to remain hewers of wood, and drawers of water.
My hon. Friend has alluded to an alien Church and an absentee aristocracy. Well, if there is any force at all in the argument that the tithe is no burden upon the people, it comes to this—that we are determined to maintain an alien Church for an absent aristocracy. We bear it often said that the Puritanical feeling of Scotland will not allow of any change being made. I do not believe it. I am sure the Scotch Members will assist us in obtaining for Ireland that justice which they have obtained already for themselves, and to which so much of their prosperity is due. They have not forgotten the memorable words of their distinguished countryman, once an ornament of this House, now no more, Lord Macaulay, who said, speaking of England and Scotland— 1015For all the ends of government the nations are one, and why? The nations are one for all the ends of government, because in their union the true ends of government alone were kept in sight, The nations are one because the Churches are two.These were the words of Lord Macaulay in reviewing a work by Mr. Gladstone on Church and State. Might it not be said of England and Ireland, on the other hand, that the nations are two, because the Churches are one? The Government had said that they wished to be judged by the spirit they evinced, and the mode in which they treated Irish questions as they arose, and Parliament had been told that while the interests of each part of the Empire should give way to those of the whole, the opinions and wishes of one portion should not be allowed to override the opinions and wishes of the other. If Ire-laud had a Parliament of her own, no one could doubt what the result would be. The truth is, that Ireland at present has all the disadvantages of Colonial Government without any of its advantages. She has a mock Court. Not that I would say one word against the nobleman who now fills the arduous office of Lord Lieutenant, and who, I am bound to admit, has, at a period of very great difficulty, acted in such a manner as to acquire the confidence and support of every loyal man in the country. But I object to the system altogether. The question is not one of religious faith at all—but of reason and common sense, and justice, of doing to others as we would they should do unto us, and of not forcing upon others a religion against their will. The consequence is, that Ireland is in a chronic state of disaffection and discontent, so that when any trouble arises she becomes England's difficulty. But if Parliament did justice to the Irish people, as it had done justice to Canada, what would be the result? You would save the £40,000 annually voted for the Regium Donum, and the £30,000 voted for Maynooth. You might do away with the Lord Lieutenancy and save £30,000 there. If Ireland were like England and Scotland, Parliament might do away with the resident stipendiary magistracy, which cost £50,000 a year. Many of these functionaries are utterly unfit for their posts, and the result of appointing them is, that the local magistracy will not act. You might also get rid of the necessity of maintaining so large an army. There are now near 30,000 troops in Ireland, and it is not too much to say that if they could be dispensed 1016 with the country would save £1,000,000 a year. Let Parliament, at all events, give Ireland the trial, and deal with her as with England and Scotland. A state of things the very opposite of that which now prevails would be the result. The Irish Members will never cease to agitate until they obtain justice for Ireland, and they appeal to the Liberal party in the House to help them. The Irish Members have assisted the English Liberals in obtaining free trade and other Liberal measures, and they now ask for assistance in return to enable them to obtain a satisfactory settlement of this question. The representatives of Ireland have faith in the Imperial Parliament, and they now appeal constitutionally to it to remove this stigma from England, and this injury and cruel infliction from Ireland.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the position of the Established Church in Ireland is a just cause of dissatisfaction to the people of that country, and urgently demands the consideration of Parliament."—(Sir John Gray.)
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
Sir, my position on the present occasion as representing Her Majesty's Government is very different from that of the hon. Mover and Seconder of this Resolution, who have placed their views on this vital subject so ably before the House. It is also very different from the position of those hon. Gentlemen who will follow me in this debate. The hon. Mover and Seconder have brought this subject forward in the shape of a Resolution, as has been done on other occasions, and as they were fully entitled to do—a Resolution which in their hands is an instrument proper and legitimate for raising a discussion in this House, and ascertaining the amount of Parliamentary support which their proposal is likely to obtain. But a Resolution of this kind, however carefully it may be worded, would, if adopted by Her Majesty's Government, become not an instrument of discussion, but of immediate action. It would be contrary to the duty of the Government to take such a Resolution into their hands unless they saw their way to use it for the purpose of action, and of bringing about an important change in our institutions, if not immediately, yet within a brief period, and with a distinct view not only of what should be undone, but of what should be done—not only of what is to be pulled down, but also of what is to be built up—and with a distinct knowledge of the state of public opinion no only in England and 1017 Scotland, but also in Ireland itself, as being sufficiently strong, powerful, and mature to enable them to bring their decision to some practical issue. That is the distinction between my position and that of those hon. Gentlemen. My hon. Friends have with great ability urged upon the Government and upon the House a vital change in the institutions of Ireland upon grounds of principle, of equity, and of permanent policy. I confess that I approach the Resolution personally with feelings of sympathy and concurrence. Ever since I entered public life I have felt dissatisfied as a Protestant, even more perhaps than Roman Catholics could have felt dissatisfied, with the position of things to which the first part of my hon. Friend's Resolution relates. And while, as I have said, my responsibility is different from that of my hon. Friends, I must yet decline on my own part, and I think I may decline on the part of the Government, to oppose this Resolution on any principle of abstract equity or justice, or upon any ground of lasting and permanent policy. In fulfilling my duty, and in declining on the part of the Government to accept this Resolution, and take it into their hands, I base that refusal solely, so far as I am concerned, upon considerations of common sense, possibility, time, and circumstance. Few, I think, will blame Her Majesty's Government if they have not reached the point, at which it is possible for them, consistently with their duty, to take into their hands a Resolution such as this, which would be binding on them as a matter of immediate action. Few will blame them, because I think few will maintain that public opinion has attained so clear and so ripe a state on this subject as would enable the Government to know, first of all, what is possible; in the next place, what would be most acceptable to those who are most interested in the matter,—namely, the people of Ireland, and especially the Roman Catholic people of Ireland; and lastly, what would be the best mode of effecting the great object in view, and the one involving at the same time the smallest possible amount of that which inevitably must follow—of conflict and passion on either side. Now, what is the object in view? The object in view, whatever the methods to be pursued in attaining it, I conceive to be this—that all classes of the people of Ireland should for the future be placed, in the matter of religious and ecclesiastical endowments and privileges, upon that same footing of ab- 1018 solute equality one with the other which they already occupy in other respects. In other words, the result to be aimed at is that which is commonly and intelligibly described as religious equality. It would not be necessary for that purpose that Parliament should bind itself down to any rigid arithmetical allocation of the religious endowments of Ireland, provided the great end which I have mentioned is obtained—namely, that the treatment of the people of Ireland in this respect on the part of the Imperial Legislature should be so substantially equal and just as to remove that sense of wrong which has long rankled, and which still rankles, in the minds of a great part of the population, and as to bring about that state of equal citizenship which infers an absence of all ascendancy on the one side, and of irritation and indignity on the other. The question is—and it is not one upon which it is my duty to-night to enter at any length—in what way shall we attain that great object, and what shall be the nature and the amount of the change? Upon that point I confess that the able and elaborate speech of the Mover of the Resolution has not much enlightened the House or myself. I do not blame him for that, for I believe that he intentionally omitted to deal with that portion of the subject; but I gathered that he, differing, I think, considerably from my hon. and gallant Friend who followed him (Colonel Greville), in the able speech to which we have just listened, would recommend to us a very simple remedy—namely, the total suppression of all endowments for religious purposes in Ireland—the total and absolute disendowment of the Anglican Church Establishment, and the handing over of its revenues, not—as has already happened, unfortunately, in regard to some portion of them, to private individuals but for some public purposes wholly alien from those of religion. Now, I confess that that is not my own view of the policy to be pursued. My own general view of the subject, supposing the day to come when so great a change shall be accomplished, would be something like this—that the Irish Established Church should make up its mind to part with a certain portion of its endowments, and to depend to a certain degree—as so many other Churches already do, and as, indeed, every Church that has ever existed when in a small minority, and when not protected and sustained by some external power must do—upon the voluntary contri- 1019 butions and the zeal and attachment of its own adherents. Such a course of proceeding would enable the State to obtain a very considerable fund, which, to ray mind, should not be diverted from those religious purposes and uses to which the piety of earlier times set it apart, but which would form a substantial assistance and benefit to that great disendowed and unassisted Church of the majority in Ireland. That substantial assistance and benefit to be drawn from the religious and ecclesiastical funds of the Irish nation itself—which I take to be the real morality of the case—ought not, I should say, to be given in the shape of payments to individual clergymen of the Roman Catholic Church, so as in any way to put them in the position of what are sometimes called pensioners of the State, but should be placed in the hands of some body fairly representing the Roman Catholic Church as a whole, to be used as they should think best for the benefit of their Church, At the same time, it certainly would not be of such an amount as to withdraw the clergy of that Church from that connection with their flocks which they themselves would not wish to see disturbed, but would still leave them to depend to a considerable extent upon the voluntary support of their people. That, speaking generally, is my own idea of the policy to be pursued in future on this subject. But in whatever way the object in view should be attained, I think there can be no doubt as to what that object should be—namely, the attainment of substantial equality among all classes-of Irish citizens in this respect as in all others. And, Sir, I must express my conviction that it is hardly possible for this House to set before itself a greater or more important object. I am not one of those who can think or speak lightly of the fact that the Established Church being the Church of the minority, should possess the exclusive enjoyment of the ecclesiastical revenues of Ireland. I never have looked upon this as a mere sentimental grievance, as if in these matters injustice were not worse than injury. I never have looked upon it as a grievance the removal of which would not contribute in any material degree (as is asserted by some) to the promotion of peace and goodwill in Ireland. On the contrary, Sir, it is my belief that there is no part of the Irish question which underlies so completely and radically, and which pervades so extensively, the whole condition of Ireland as the fact which may be 1020 embodied in the word "ascendancy," and which, if it does not now press hardly in its daily effects upon the peasantry and farmers of the country, yet influences and colours every subject of public discussion, and most deeply affects the minds of the most educated and intelligent portion of the community. I decline, therefore, Sir, on my own part, to maintain and defend in my place in Parliament that condition of affairs, as I have said, upon grounds of abstract equity and permanent policy. It is indeed my duty, speaking on behalf of the Government, to refuse to bind ourselves by the Resolution which is now offered to us, and that upon the ground of the great difference of opinion shown even to-night in the speeches that we have heard, and also evinced in all the discussions upon this subject, as to the mode to be adopted for obtaining the object in view; and, above all, upon the ground that public opinion not only in England and Scotland, but in Ireland itself,, has not yet become so strong, so clear, and so mature as to support and justify the Government in binding themselves on a question of this kind to immediate or early action. But in so declining to adopt this Resolution, I must say I cannot resist it upon grounds on which some have resisted it. For instance, I cannot resist the Resolution on the ground that the Irish Church, meaning the bishops and clergy of the Irish Established Church, are the descendants of St. Patrick. This is a favourite ground now-a-days, an alleged ground with which many of us are familiar—based, I believe, on a historical fact, but one which, in my mind, has no connection with our duty in relation to this question—namely, that the bishops and clergy of the Irish Church did, for the most part, at the period of the Reformation, conform to the new religion and went over to the Anglican Church, but were not followed by their people. Again, I decline to resist such a Motion as this, and permanently to support the present state of Church temporalities in Ireland on a plea which is often used—namely, that although the Anglican Church in Ireland is in a minority there, yet, taking the three kingdoms, her members are in a great majority. On the contrary, Sir, I hold that for the purposes of this argument, and in connection with this subject, Ireland, as has been properly said to-night, ought to be treated by us as a separate country. I do not go quite as far as my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Greville), 1021 who appears to think that you are to look at this as though it were simply a local, find not at all an Imperial question, but I do maintain that you cannot fairly shut out from your view what is due to Ireland as a body politic, what Ireland as a body politic is entitled to, and what Ireland might and would do for herself on such a subject, I cannot, for purposes of argument, do what we see done every day—take the figures of the population and the revenue, and so on, and throw them together into a sort of arithmetical hodge podge, and then assert that the Establishment of the minority in Ireland is fair and just, because it is connected with the majority of the United Kingdom. If common sense and justice oppose such a line of argument, surely history will as strongly condemn it. It is hardly possible for an Irishman to deal with this question without turning his eyes, as he does on many other subjects, with pain and envy to the happier sifter kingdom—happier in the history with which Providence has blessed her, and in the treatment she has received from this country—I refer to Scotland. I must say that I trust our Scotch friends in dealing with this subject now, or on any future occasion, will not forget what happened in their own case—how happy they were when able to shake off a prelatical Establishment to which they were strongly opposed. Again, I must decline to resist such a Motion as that now before the House on another ground. We frequently hear it urged that the Established Church in Ireland is to be looked upon as a sort of outwork of the Church of England; but I hold a contrary view—that it is perfectly consistent, nay, that we are imperatively called upon, in taking a fair view of the facts of the case, to draw the broadest line between the conditions of the two branches of the Church. I speak now, of course, of nothing hut the worldly aspect of the Establishment—the claim for the exclusive possession of temporal-endowments. The fact is patent to everybody who has examined the subject that the arguments which support and justify the existence of the Established Church in England condemn the existence of the Established Church in Ireland I cannot help adding that in any ordinary case the questions of political justice and expediency connected with this matter could not even arise; because, except where a country is subject to some foreign or external compulsion, the exclusive endowment of a minority is simply an impossi- 1022 bility. I trust that the discussion which has been so properly raised on this great subject to-night will not be without some good effects, and that it will conduce to the final settlement of the question. I, for one, am greatly rejoiced that the discussion of this subject is gradually increasing, and that it is being taken up more and more by Members of both Houses of Parliament, and by the ablest and most intelligent organs of public opinion in the press. I am also exceedingly gratified that the subject has lately been brought forward for discussion in the other House by a noble Friend of mine (Earl Grey), who can never be suspected of taking up the subject for party purposes. The motives and character of that noble Earl must command the respect of all who know him; and I may add that he is one of the last men in either House of Parliament to be suspected of any indifference to the true interests of religion in general, or the true interests of that Church in particular of which he and I are members. I trust, without being able, must confess, clearly to see the date at which this great and beneficial change will be brought about in Ireland, or the precise mode and direction which that change may take, that the discussion we are conducting this evening will contribute to that end. It has been my duty, on the part of the Government, upon such grounds only as I have ventured to lay before the House—and I concur in the resolution they have taken—to decline to bind ourselves by the Resolution proposed; but I have not felt it my duty, as far as my contribution to this debate goes, to take any course which would hinder the progress of this cause, or throw any obstacle in its way. I wish it well; I wish it God speed. I hold that the day when a just and permanent settlement of this great question shall be brought about will be the happiest that for many years has dawned upon Ireland, and that such a settlement would of all events be the one that would most contribute to the social, political, yes, and the religions interests of that country.
MR. PEEL DAWSON
said, that some years ago he expressed his opinion at length upon the subject before the House, and he would now reiterate his determination to sustain in its integrity the position of the Church of England and Ireland as now established by law. The views to which he gave utterance on the occasion he referred to had been confirmed by the ex- 1023 perience of subsequent years. It was not upon any grounds of general expediency, or from a fear of disturbing the present system, that he found reasons for the defence of the Church in Ireland, but he took a wider and more exalted basis. He desired the extension of true religion, and the strengthening of that social connection which bound together the two distinct portions of the United Kingdom. If the attacks which had been made upon the Church in Ireland were to be successful, he could not hold at much value those securities which were supposed to environ the Church in England. Both branches of the Establishment were assailed by the same inquiries, and ought to be defended by the same friends. In the words of the Latin poet—Quo res cunque cadent, unum et commune periclum,Una salus ambobus erit.The hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) had alluded to the anomalies in the Irish Church; but he would like to ask whether anomalies were confined to Ireland? It was only the other night, upon the second reading of the Church Rates Abolition Bill, that he heard, upon no less authority than that of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), that in the Principality of Wales, while the Church congregations numbered only 21 per cent of the population, the Nonconformists were rated at 75 per cent. How could numerical anomalies be avoided in free countries, where there were great opportunities for emigration, and where the seats of commercial enterprize were continually shifting? A number of philanthropists, among whom was his hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire), were now engaged in the laudable undertaking of planting manufactures, and promoting the cultivation of flax in the southern and western counties. He hoped they would be successful, and that the movement would have the effect of re-placing the population which for so long a period had been leaving the country. If the theory of the re-distribution of clerical incomes were to be carried out, it would lead to the adoption of the congregational system, which he thought was objectionable on many grounds. It would be easy to imagine that a church might be effectually performing all its duties, and yet from an unusual fluctuation in the population not be able to point to satisfactory results. Although emigration had been peculiarly severe upon the Roman 1024 Catholic population, it had yet carried off many thousands of Protestants. The Church in Ireland during the last thirty years, notwithstanding an annual loss of revenue to the extent of £200,000, had shown a great amount of vitality, Within that period 133 new incumbencies had been formed, 306 new churches had been built, and 171 enlarged; and the total number of non-residents had decreased from 368 to 150. He had himself, he might add, known instances in which pluralities had been willingly and conscientiously given up by the incumbents; while, taking the tithe rent charge in Ireland at £400,000 in round numbers, he found it was paid in proportion of £355,000 by Protestants to £45,000 by Roman Catholics. In the dioceses, too, with which he was best acquainted—those of Down and Derry, and especially in the former—the Church was manifestly advancing; parishes had been sub-divided, and chapels of ease were becoming rapidly erected. In the town of Belfast alone arrangements had been made for building five new chapels, for the endowment of which £17,500 had been subscribed. But while he was happy to be able to inform the House that such was the case, he was one of the last to desire to widen religious differences. His wish, on the contrary, was to soften down all asperities in connection with religion. When such questions as that under discussion were raised it was, however, impossible to ignore altogether the vast amount of industry by which the northern and Protestant province of Ulster was characterized as contrasted with the misery and insolvency which so largely prevailed in the south and west of Ireland. Nor must the police establishment be left out of consideration in dealing with the subject, for in connection with the facts which he had mentioned, it spoke volumes for the usefulness of the Church in Ireland, that the number of police required for the county of Londonderry was less than one-half that found necessary in the western county of Limerick, which was about the same size. If a Church Establishment was to be maintained at all in Ireland it must be Protestant. He had yet to learn that the Church in Ireland was regarded with dissatisfaction by the people at large, or that it was the object of any well-grounded expression of complaint. That such was not the case was proved by the smallness of the number of petitions against it, and of those petitions he might observe in passing that they 1025 were for the most part got up by the National Association, the signatures to them were known to be in many instances in the same handwriting. But be that as it might, he had never heard the question satisfactorily answered what was to replace, if the Church Establishment were abolished, the loss even in a single parish of the clergyman brought up and educated as a gentleman who, with his family, contributed to the relief of the distressed population, and was their adviser in the time of trouble. He believed, for his own part, no adequate substitute could be found; and he would not therefore, for the prospect of any problematical advantage which might be offered, consent to incur the risk of such a fatality as the promoters of the present Resolution sought to bring about.
§ MR. POLLARD-URQUHART
* Sir, I have heard the speech of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland with mingled feelings of pleasure and regret—of pleasure, because I see that he is fully aware of the importance of the Motion before the House, and of the magnitude of the evils arising from the existing state of Ecclesiastical Endowments in Ireland—of regret, because he holds forth no hopes to us of the Government of which he is a Member dealing with the question. The right hon. Gentleman has said, indeed, that public opinion is not sufficiently ripe to enable any Government to take it in hand. Why, Sir, what progress could our legislation ever make if Government were never to deal with any question till they thought public opinion ripe for it? We have heard in old times of Governments incurring a vast amount of unpopularity by endeavouring to remove great abuses which were still upheld by a considerable force of public prestige, and declaring they would stand or fall by their success. This was the way in which the old Whigs dealt with the question of free trade in 1841. True, public opinion was not prepared for the measure at the time, and they wore obliged to give up their places in consequence; but, nevertheless, they have since met with ample reward, for public opinion very soon took a turn in their favour—wafted them back to office in 1846—and has kept them there with a very slight intermission for a period of nearly twenty years. Such were the rewards of honesty and courage then, and depend upon it such would be the rewards of a similar display of honesty and courage now, even though it might involve temporary loss of power. 1026 Now, Sir, with respect to the question before us, I recollect once hearing a person who was tolerably well acquainted with this House saying that there were two subjects on which no one should attempt to speak who had been more than two years in Parliament—namely, Poland and the Irish Church Establishment—for that as there wore no two themes concerning which it was easier to utter specious generalities and fine sounding platitudes, in every way well suited for maiden speeches—so on the other hand there were no two subjects on which it was more difficult to find anything new—and I certainly do not now rise with the expectation of being able to say anything fresh about the iniquity of, or mischief arising from, the Establishment that is now the subject of discussion—indeed, it would be difficult to state either in a more forcible manner than was stated by the noble Lord who is now Prime Minister when he led this House, in the time of Lord Melbourne's Government, and when he declared with so much truth that there never was anything like it in the world, except Scotland in the reign of the Stuarts—and I, for one, cannot help thinking that it is a matter of deep regret that the conduct of some of the great leaders on this question—taking it up and throwing it aside for party purposes—has given too much appearance of truth to the allegation now so frequently set forth by mischievous men, that it was in vain to look to Parliamentary action for redress for any of the injustices of Ireland; and it seems to me not unlikely that if the same ecclesiastical policy had been continued in Scotland that unfortunately has hitherto existed in Ireland, it would have been the destined point of attack of any mischievous marauding expedition got up by the enemies of England in the New World, and possibly tiny might have met with more encouragement there than they have received in Ireland. I would now, however, address a few words to my brother Protestants on both sides of the House, who believe that by maintaining the existing state of religious endowments in Ireland, they are doing any service to the form of Christianity which they and I believe to be true. I would therefore seriously put the question to them—Does the experience of the past—does the state of religious feeling of the present moment justify them in the belief that by upholding the present institution they really are promoting Protestantism? Take the very first argument 1027 that is be frequently put forward by the defenders of this institution—namely, that the existing Protestant Church in Ireland is the identical old Catholic Church established there long before what we call the Reformation, and in ancient times the Church of the majority of the people. Why, Sir, admitting this to be the case for argument's sake, and only for argument's sake, for I for one do not believe in it, what does it show? Simply this, that this old Establishment has alienated the majority of the people from it, driven them away to the Church of Rome, from the Catholic and Apostolic Church, which is said to be identical in doctrine and authority with the Church of England. "Oh," say some in reply," you are only referring to what has been its effects in corrupt times now long gone by. No doubt such may have been its effects in the times of Primate Boulter and Primate Stone, and such, too, may have been the effect of the Church at the time its heads were so notoriously bad, that Dean Swift said, that he firmly believed that the Bishops who had been actually appointed by the English Government had been waylaid at Hounslow Heath by robbers, who had pulled them out of their coaches, and sent in their places chosen men out of their own bands to personify them in Ireland; but now the Bishops and the Pastors of the Church are quite different from what they were in the last century." Especially during the last thirty years it is asserted they have been animated with a zeal which cannot fail, if proper time be allowed it, to produce great effects. I, for one, cheerfully bear testimony to the high character, the zeal, fervour, and untiring industry of the present clergy of the Establishment in Ireland; such certainly has been their character during, at least, the existing generation? But have they with all their zeal, piety, and industry, succeeded in sensibly altering the proportion of Protestants and Catholics? Has not the Census of 1861 shown how very little that proportion has altered during the last quarter of a century—and this too during a period which has pressed with great severity upon the lower orders in Ireland, who were almost exclusively Catholics? Why, Sir, I recollect when this subject was brought forward in the year 1853, the first Session that I had the honour of a seat in this House, the leading journal in England remarking that it was very unwise to open the question of Ecclesiastical Endowments in Ireland, at a sea- 1028 son when all circumstances seemed to indicate that the Catholic Celt was likely to disappear from the land, and become a tradition of the past. Well, Sir, in spite of the high character and the zeal of the Protestant clergy, in spite of the disappearance of large numbers of the Catholics and Celts, the religious proportion remains almost unaltered. Can it be said, then, that the Established Church in Ireland has answered its purpose? Can it be said that it seems likely to answer its purpose? The late Sir Robert Peel in discussing this subject, argued it should be recollected that England did show a preference for Protestantism. Can it any longer be defended on the ground of preference for Protestantism? Why, Sir, where is it that the Irish Celt really becomes a Protestant? Is it in Ireland where a Protestant Establishment for the benefit of a small minority exists? No! Is it in England where it exists in unison with the religious feelings and sentiments of a majority? No! But he does become a Protestant in the United States of America, where there is no Established Church. The hon. Member who preceded me has spoken of the vitality of Protestantism in some parts of Ireland. We constantly hear zealous Protestants appeal to the large number of churches that are or have been recently erected in Kingstown, and other places in the vicinity of Dublin. But pray how are these new churches erected, and how are the clergymen generally paid? Is it not to a great extent by voluntary contributions, in some form or other, either by direct subscriptions—or by pew-rents—or by the funds of the Additional Curates' Society? One more fact will I mention to show how mistaken the friends of Protestantism are, in imagining that the existence and extent of their religion depends on the Church Establishment. I have taken it from the religious Census of 1851. I will not trouble the House with figures, but the facts are simply these:—While the Church of England, in England, has more nominal members than all the other religious bodies put together, yet, the number of attendances at Church services by the latter, is greater than the number of attendances by the former. Do not these facts read a plain lesson to those friends of Protestantism who believe the connection with the Establishment to be beneficial to their religion? Do not they Bay, as plain as facts can say, "the Establishment has failed, 1029 try what you can do by the infusion of a little more of the leaven of voluntaryism." Sir, I know that one of the most common objections to dealing with this question, made use of by the defenders of the existing system is—What will you do with the revenues which you propose to alienate? We must verily have come to a strange pass, if we are at a loss how to make some good use of that which undoubtedly is national property. Nor do I think that much doubt can exist as to the best and most appropriate mode of turning them to account. The property was originally meant for the religious services of the nation: let it still be applied to the religious services of the nation. How much better would it be that both the Maynooth Grant and the Regium Donum were paid out of it, than out of Imperial revenues. Let part of it, if you like, go to aid the voluntary efforts made by the Episcopalians in Ireland, in the same manner that the Regium Donum now aids the voluntary efforts made by the Presbyterians. And let a fair share of it go in aid of the voluntary efforts made by the Roman Catholics to support their Church. I am aware, of course, that the Roman Catholic clergy, as a body, have expressed great repugnance to accept any stipend from the State, and many are of opinion that by trying to force any such salaries on them we should greatly diminish their useful influence with the people. Now, Sir, when we recollect that twice within a recent period—namely, in 1848 and at the present crisis—we have been indebted to the peace maintaining power of the Roman Catholic clergy, for having been able to quell what would otherwise have been most formidable insurrections—almost without bloodshed on the former occasion—and entirely without bloodshed on the latter—we should be very foolish if we were to attempt to place them in a position that would in any way weaken their power over their flocks; but surely, no considerations of this nature could apply to a grant for the erection, maintenance, and repair of places of Catholic worship, or even to providing the parochial priests with glebes; and, I do not believe there would be on their part any objection to availing themselves of State assistance for these purposes. With respect to the working Protestant clergy themselves, I am strongly of opinion that the majority of them would, by some such arrangement as that which I have indicated, be placed in a position of greater comfort and independence than they occupy at 1030 present. Sir, I firmly believe that as regards their incomes, no body of men have ever been more hardly dealt with by legislation during the last forty years than the parochial Incumbents in Ireland. Though I am no friend of the Establishment, yet I think justice should be done to all individuals connected with the Establishment; and I think that but a very scant measure of justice has been meted out to them. Take all the measures affecting them that have been enacted during the period I have named—the Tithe Commutation Act, passed, I think, in the year 1826; the deduction of 25 per cent made from their incomes on putting the rent-charge on the landlords in the year 1836; the subjecting their incomes thus diminished to the whole of the poor rate, which since the year 1846 has in some places occasionally amounted to another 20 per cent; and finally, the deduction made from it by the income tax—take the conjoint effect, I say, of all these laws, and I think it is no exaggeration to say that in many instances the incomes of individual clergymen who have remained in possession of the same benefices during the whole of this period has been diminished in some cases 50 per cent and I believe in no case less than 30 per cent—a serious deduction from any income, but especially from one that is regarded by the recipients more or less in the light of a fixed annuity, out of which the recipients naturally would make arrangements to provide for their families—and falling on a class of men subjected to more calls in proportion to their incomes than most others. Now, Sir, I think it is evident that the reason why they have been thus hardly dealt with is this:—many of their friends have felt that there was something strangely anomalous if not indefensible in their position, and have recommended them from time to time to make compromises in order to maintain their existing status, which compromises have ended in their incomes being cut down from 30 to 50 per cent. How much better would they have fared if the whole question had been faced on its merits long ago, and some settlement arrived at based on equity and justice, in which, of course, due consideration would have been shown for the life interests of individuals? But to proceed from the past to their present position and their future prospects, I believe I am rather overstating than understating the net incomes of the working clergy of the Established Church of Ireland, if I put it at £200 per an- 1031 num. Now, Sir, can any one believe that if some such arrangement as that which I have suggested were made, their net incomes would not be at least as much as they are at present? And as regards future prospects, if the law remains as it is now, their incomes will remain stationary, no matter how much the prosperity and wealth of the country may increase, unless, indeed, the price of grain should rise very much; indeed, with the present tendency of prices, it is possible they may receive less than they do at present, for wheat is falling, while the other things are becoming dearer, so that under the present law it may come to pass that their incomes will he diminished while the expenses of living increase. How different would their prospects be if they were paid by an arrangement partaking as much of the nature of voluntaryism as that which I have ventured to propose? for then their incomes could not but increase with the progressive wealth of the community.
Sir, of course I do not mean to say that the observations I have made about the incomes of the working clergy in Ireland would apply to the great prizes of the Church. Possibly, some may point to the many illustrious men by whom these prizes have been held, and may say—"Would you do away with an institution which has brought the virtues and talents of men such as these to light?" Sir, I for one hear willing testimony to the high character of many of the prelates, both past and present, of the Irish Church. I believe there never was a man more respected by all classes than the late Archbishop of Armagh, and, according to all accounts, he has found a very worthy successor. Perhaps, too, it will be difficult to find two men of higher reputation for talents and attainments than the late and the present Archbishop of Dublin. But, in bearing this willing tribute to their merits, I for one cannot but think that it is a matter of deep regret that such excellent and eminent men have been placed in a decidedly false position. I have very little doubt but that their virtue and their talents would have raised them to a high place in any branch of the Established Church, or in any other profession they had embraced—where they would, doubtless, have had equal scope for the exercise of their faculties, without being weighed down by the many disadvantages which a connection with an undeniably vicious institution must necessarily entail. Now, Sir 1032 this is no singular notion of mine. Every reader of Dr. Arnold's Life must have been struck with his remarks about one of the eminent Divines to whom I have just alluded, who was one of his most intimate friends; I mean, of course, the late Archbishop Whately. His words are as follows—Where is the knowledge—where the wisdom—and where the goodness which combine to form a great man? I know of no man who approaches to this character except Whately, and he is taken away from the place where he was wanted, and sent where the highest greatness would struggle in vain against the overpowering disadvantages of his position.Perhaps there are some other eminent Archbishops of whom their friends might now write in the same strain.
Sir, I believe that there are those who will say that the existing state of Ecclesiastical Endowments in Ireland is after all only a sentimental grievance, and that Ireland has too many physical and material evils to take any thought about sentiment. But I should like to know when was there yet any great moral grievance that was not a prolific of material ills. Take the very subject now on which the people of Ireland complain most, and which I believe is to form the subject of special legislation this year, the existing system of land tenure in that country. We have the evidence of Dr. Keane, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Cloyne, to the effect, that he does not believe there would be any necessity for special legislation on that subject, if it was not for the want of confidence that had arisen in consequence of the former political treatment of Ireland. And depend upon it, as long as you maintain a great moral, or sentimental, or Ecclesiastical grievance, in any part of the United Kingdom, you will continue to have an abundant harvest of practical evils requiring special legislation. How is it that landlords and tenants have managed among themselves to arrange a suitable system of land tenure in Scotland? And how is it that Scotland has so prospered since its union with England, while Ireland has not? Scotland labours under many of the disadvantages which are complained of as impediments to the well-being of Ireland; representation by a small number—smaller indeed than those allotted to Ireland, in the Imperial Legislature—the drawing away to London of a great deal of the wealth, society, native talent, and native energy of that kingdom—immediate contact and competition with a rich country; 1033 how is it, I say, that Scotland has flourished under the identical disadvantages to which so many people are inclined to attribute the languishing state of Ireland? What other reason can there be, except that in the former country no violence has been done to the religious feelings of the people by an unsuitable system of Ecclesiastical Endowments, whereas a church, regarded by three-fourths of the nation as heretical, has been maintained at the cost of so much ill will in the latter? I know, too, there are many who look upon the Irish Church as an establishment utterly indefensible per se, but consider it as being so united with the Church of England, that the two institutions must flourish or fall together. Sir, I cannot but regard this as very short-sighted policy on the part of the friends of the Church of England. Depend upon it that those who adopt it so far from strengthening, take the very surest means of undermining their Church. Let those who revere the Church of England—let those who look upon it as an institution very much in consonance with the habits and affections of a large portion of the English people, and as contributing in no small degree to the stability and permanency of our social system, beware how they connect it with an unsound branch which must soon come down, and may, if maintained too long, drag down the parent tree in its fall. Par better preserve the parent tree by lopping off the unsound branch.—immedicabilc vulnusEnse recidendum est ne pars sincere trahetur.Sir, I recollect a former occasion when this subject was brought before the House the noble Lord who is now Prime Minister saying, from the Bench below me, that, while he admitted the present state of things to be unsatisfactory, he would not attempt to remedy it in consequence of the influence that had been exercised, or attempted to be exercised, by the Roman Catholic Church in this country. Well, Sir, whatever the noble Lord might have thought of the exercise of this influence at that time, he will not say much against it now, for during the past winter and spring it has been exerted entirely in defence of law, order, and property. Without the exercise of this influence we should most likely have had a sanguinary insurrection. The Government has, therefore, an opportunity of dealing with an admitted abuse, which many great and wise men have wished for, and wished for in vain Let them not 1034 neglect the occasion. Let the noble Lord now add to his many great achievements the facing of a difficulty which many believe is an indispensable step towards the future tranquillity, prosperity, and social advancement of Ireland.
said, he had listened with a great deal of pain to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, because he had anticipated, after the statements which had been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Government would have taken a very different course on this subject. But be now found that Her Majesty's Government had no more intention of dealing with the grievance of the Irish Church than those Governments with which we had recently been blessed. Last year when his hon. Friend the Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) made a Motion analogous to that they were now discussing, he (the O'Donoghue) had endeavoured to treat the Irish Church in a manner the most fair, practical, and intelligible, and at the same time to avoid all topics which were either irrelevant or calculated only to embitter the conflict of opinion. Now, as then, he approached the question with a certain amount of reluctance, because he was aware that many of his countrymen regarded the proposed interference with the Irish Established Church almost as an attack on themselves. On the other hand, it was consolatory to reflect that never was there a period when sectarian animosity prevailed less than at present; and, consequently, there never was a period when the public mind was more favourably disposed to consider and adjudicate on this question, which was most important in itself, and was well-known to excite the absorbing sympathies of millions. There was a growing predisposition to discuss the question of the Established Church in Ireland and dispose of it in some way or other. This, no doubt, on the whole, was a most cheering symptom; although, in his mind, at least, it was qualified by the reflection that it might be so disposed of that it would be much better to leave it for some time longer in its original position. He felt it, therefore, incumbent on him to declare that his object in dealing with the Irish Church Establishment was twofold—he was anxious not only to settle the question, but to settle it in the only way that could be satisfactory to the vast majority of the Irish people, and the sincere advocates of religious equality among Her Majesty's sub- 1035 jects of all creeds. The position of those who were opposed to the maintenance of the Protestant Established Church seemed to be so strong and unassailable as almost to render argument unnecessary. He would ask the House to look back for a moment at the religious history of Ireland, and recall to its recollection the fact that the ecclesiastical revenues were originally granted to those who ministered to the spiritual wants of the people; whereas they were now enjoyed by persons who were not the pastors of the people, and who did not minister to their spiritual necessities. There were other historical questions which would, perhaps, form the subject of controversy till the end of time; but this was a fact, the authenticity of which was universally recognized, and it was sufficient of itself to stamp the Irish Church as one of the most extraordinary and incomprehensible institutions in the world. He might safely challenge any one to produce a parallel to it in any quarter of the globe. Those, therefore, who opposed the Irish Church had an easy task, for they were backed by justice, common sense, and universal practice; while those who sought to justify and uphold it, were driven from the field of reason and logic, and were obliged to take refuge behind every kind of sophism. He would state the case against the Establishment in this way. The Roman Catholics of Ireland numbered something over 4,500,000; the members of the Established Church numbered something over 600,000; and the revenues set apart for ecclesiastical purposes amounted to about £580,000 per annum. If a person unacquainted with this anomalous institution heard these figures for the first time he would naturally conclude that the ecclesiastical revenues of the country were possessed by the Catholics, or, at any rate, that they were shared in due proportion between Catholics and Protestants. If he were then informed that they were monopolized by the small Protestant minority, he would account for this by supposing that the Catholics were rich and able to support their clergy by voluntary contributions, while the Protestants were poor and could not dispense with State support. If this stranger were told that the very reverse was the case—that the great Catholic majority being very poor, and the small Protestant minority immensely rich in comparison with them, and if he were further told that these revenues were originally granted to the pastors of the people, but that they had 1036 been appropriated by persons who were not their pastors, his amazement would be greatly increased. He would naturally ask for an explanation of so unprecedented an arrangement; but no explanation could be given that did not aggravate the anomaly. If people could not see that such a state of things was flagrantly unjust and absolutely indefensible, their powers of comprehension must be strangely defective. It was a fact worthy the attention of the House that no one could be cited as a defender of the Established Church who was not or had not been interested in its maintenance. Intelligent and impartial men condemned it the moment they became acquainted with the facts of the case, and for any one to prove its unjust and anomalous character would be about as equivocal a compliment to his auditory as to prove that two and two did not make five. Under these circumstances, the course taken by the supporters of the present Irish Establishment depended mainly on the individual cast of mind; but there was one point on which they showed remarkable unanimity, and that was in keeping wide of the real question at issue. Some adopted the theological and controversial line, others the mere pettifogging line, and others one which, though apparently more comprehensive and statesmanlike, was really quite as untenable. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University (Mr. Whiteside) did not attempt to argue that the Established Church was in a majority, for the statistics were beyond dispute. Neither did he attempt to argue that it was ever likely to attain a majority, for the experience of 300 years had shown it as a missionary Church to be a failure. The right hon. Gentleman, however, was of a controversial turn, and on all occasions of this kind, his practice was to go back to the days of St. Patrick, and endeavour to prove that St. Patrick was a Protestant. His next position was that in the early ages the Irish Church did not recognize the supremacy of the See of Rome; and then, coming down to the time of Queen Elizabeth, his assertion was that the Irish bishops embraced the doctrines of the Reformation. [Mr. WHITESIDE: Hear, hear!] The right hon. Gentleman said "hear, hear!" but even if all these assertions were true—which he (the O'Donoghue) was far from admitting—they would not in the slightest degree affect the merits of the question. For the purposes of this argument it did not matter whether St. 1037 Patrick was a Protestant or not, whether the early Irish Church repudiated the supremacy of the Pope, or whether the bishops of the Elizabethan era embraced the doctrines of the Reformation, The fact was perfectly incontestable that the Irish people did not embrace, and never had embraced, those doctrines; and from that time the clergy ceased to be, and have never since been, the pastors of the people, and have forfeited all right and title to revenues which were granted to them in that capacity. The simple question, therefore, for the House to decide was whether those re venues should be possessed by the Church of a small minority, and they were bound to decide this question as they decided all others, in accordance with justice and common sense. The views of St Patrick or of the early Church had no more to do with the present question than what was taking place in China or Timbuctoo. With the remembrance of former debates on this subject in his mind, he had braced up his nerves against the horrors which were invariably predicted by the champions of the Establishment as the certain consequence if Parliament refused to provide future generations of parsons with those nice incomes which had been hitherto enjoyed by the Irish clergy with little or no accompanying labour. Those incomes, no doubt, had been a source of comfort and consolation under the most discouraging circumstances; for there was nothing profane in the supposition that many a zealous Anglican divine would have succumbed in despair at the sight of his empty church and at the extreme rarity of neophytes, had not his spirit of Christian meekness and resignation been sustained by those material comforts to which even the most exalted beings could not be altogether insensible. Still, while rejoicing at the alleviation of suffering in any form, the fact remained that the ecclesiastical revenues of Ireland were intended for those of whose ministrations the people availed themselves, and the inevitable deduction from this fact was that persons who did not answer this description, were they never so amiable or estimable, could have no title to the enjoyment of these revenues. The domestic felicity of the clergy was not, he believed, among the contingencies for which the founders of these revenues provided; and if the Legislature should resolve to devote them to other purposes on the demise of their present possessors the obvious result would be that the Protestant clergy would 1038 have to depend on other sources for their income, in the same way as the clergy of other denominations in England, Ireland, and other countries. There would then be an opportunity of judging whether the Protestant Church possessed sufficient vitality to exist without State aid. For his own part, he believed that it did so. Many of the supporters of the Establishment predicted the occurrence of calamities and social convulsions, too dreadful to contemplate, and which would reduce society to a state of primeval chaos should they be daring enough to lay their hands upon the temporalities of the Irish Church. They were warned that in such an event there would be no security for individual property; that every man's estate would be torn from him by his neighbour, or that the State would seize it in order to appropriate it to charitable purposes, and that unruly millions would finally rush in and bear down all social landmarks, and would divide among themselves the good things of the earth. It was true that there was no attempt to show the connection between the cause and the effect; but, perhaps, it was thought that a little mystery would tend weight to the argument. It was unnecessary for him to point out the absurdity of such arguments, or the weakness of the cause in whose defence they were put forward; and he would therefore only remind the House that the Irish Church had already been deprived of a portion of its temporalities, and that none of the threatened horrors had resulted. But he should not stop at refuting such arguments—he took a higher ground, and declared that the title of the Irish Protestant Church Establishment to the ecclesiastical revenues of Ireland was bad, and that in justice it could not stand. If there were any other corporations with titles as bad they ought not to stand, and further, he would say, they would not stand if they were brought under the cognizance of Parliament. The ecclesiastical revenues of Ireland were the property of the Irish nation. No statute of limitations could bar the nation's claims or diminish the original injustice. There were acts of confiscation perpetrated in former times of which time had obliterated the injustice or made it impossible to atone for them: the man who should now attempt to disturb the settlement of property in Ireland in order to assert his claim to lands which he supposed his family formerly held he would hold to he a crazed visionary or a dangerous public enemy. But the nation's claim to 1039 the ecclesiastical revenues of the country were of quite a different character. The nature of the claim was universally known, and was universally acknowledged to be just. The claimant was one, the Irish nation, whose identity no one would dispute; all competitors were immeasurably dwarfed, and its claim rested upon principles so manifestly just that they were strengthened by every attempt to question their validity. That claim might be withheld now, as it had been heretofore, by the attempt to uphold a petty ascendancy; but if that were so, he declared, though more in sorrow than in anger, that this could only be done by an injustice that might one day prove fatal to the peace and the prosperity of the Empire. He had lately observed on the part of some of the more distinguished friends of the Established Church a disposition to get rid of the individuality of that Church, and to persuade the people of England that the Protestant Establishment of Ireland was the Protestant Church and something else. They heard much now of the United Church of England and Ireland j and they were told that they were united by some inscrutable bond of union, and that by some mysterious decree of fate they were bound to stand or fall together. He thought the attempt to defend the Established Church on that ground was a distinct admission that it had no merits of its own, and that it could only be maintained by the sympathies of the English Protestants being enlisted in its favour. What was the logical inference from that argument? Why, that the Protestant Establishment must be maintained in Ireland though there was not a single Protestant outside of these who were in possession of its benefices. There were already several clergymen without congregations; why might there not be a whole hierarchy and clergy in a similarly unfortunate position of having nothing to do and being well paid for doing it. How could the Church of England depend upon the Church of Ireland more than upon the Church of Canada, or of Australia, or of New Zealand, or of Scotland. The reality of that union was not assumed on religious grounds, but only in order that the clergy might pocket the temporalities. It was said that the safety of our institutions required the union of Church and State; and the interpretation of that sounding phrase, so far as it related to Ireland, was that the authority of the State was strengthened, and 1040 loyalty fostered, by the existence of an institution which was the source of profound discontent to a population of four millions and a half out of a population of little more than five millions and a half, of an ecclesiastical system which was considered by the majority of the people of Ireland as a huge State engine of proselytism, and as a degradation imposed upon them to which they must submit as a homage to the peculiar religious views of England. These were some of the extraordinary advantages conferred on Irish society by the maintenance of a Protestant establishment. They were so extraordinary that no one could thoroughly understand them who was not a man of great genius, of intelligence, and Christian feeling. Now, how was the question of the Irish Established Church to be settled? In the first place, the question must be approached in a spirit of justice, moderation, and brotherly love to all our fellow-subjects, with a determination to do what justice and the interests of the Empire required, and to avoid as far as possible inflicting the slightest injury on any individual. Speaking as a Catholic, if it were necessary for the settlement of the question to deprive those in possession of office and emoluments, he would say let it be postponed until they could be otherwise provided for. It was erroneous to say that there was anything vindictive in the character of the opposition to the Established Church. The Protestant clergy were esteemed as men of piety, learning, and charity; and in the south of Ireland if any persons were foolish and wicked enough to molest them the whole Catholic population would rally for their defence. Amongst the Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Wesleyans, the members of the Society of Friends, the Protestant clergyman would pass on unnoticed, were he not conspicuous as an object of State patronage and reward for doing infinitely less than his professional brethren, who were the real pastors of the people. It was this glaring injustice of which they were perpetually reminded, and its disastrous consequences that they protested against, and not against the Protestant clergyman—who, as a general rule, was the most unobjectionable of men, though his religious opinions were agreeable only to a small number of the people. In Ireland, the only way in which the question of the Irish Church could be settled was by placing all Her Majesty's subjects, irrespective of any creed or the number of its adherents, on a 1041 footing of perfect equality. It was clear that could only be accomplished by gradually doing away with all State endowments having for their object the support of the clergy. There were some people who would rather do anything than see the Protestant clergy relax their hold upon the temporalities—who would agree to any compromise, even in opening the purse of the State to those who disseminated the errors of Popery. He could not but regard any proposal to pay the Catholic clergy with distrust and adversion It would complicate the disease for which a remedy was required. It was a proposal contrary to the spirit of the age, and especially contrary to the spirit of the people of England. And further, it was a proposal which could not be justified by the plea of necessity. The people of Ireland did not want to have their clergy paid by the State, They would not accept a State endowment. He had no authority to speak on their behalf, but the opinion which he expressed was the result of impressions derived from the closest intimacy with many of them. He was quite sure they would refuse a State endowment, not from any spirit of disloyalty, not from an apprehension that their capacity for mischief would be weakened, but from a conscientious conviction that their power of doing good would be impaired, and that the interests of religion would be injured. Whatever course the Catholic clergy took would be dictated by zeal for religion and devotion to Ireland, They were not afraid to face popular displeasure when they thought the call of duty rendered it necessary for them to do so, and he was certain they would never do anything likely to weaken their influence over the people, which was the best ground for the preservation of religion, domestic peace, and public tranquillity. What the clergy of Ireland wanted was not State aid, but religious equality for all; without that there could be no enduring peace, and no brotherly union amongst Irishmen, Let it be once established, and the Catholics would have no reason to complain that they were the less favoured children of the State, and Protestants would be divested of those undue privileges which were the obstacles to their making common cause with their countrymen. Let the ecclesiastical revenues of Ireland, which were national property, be devoted to whatever purposes the wisdom of Parliament might devise. That was the prayer of the Irish people, and they were supported in making it, not merely 1042 by their co-religionists, but by the lovers of religious equality throughout the world. They prayed for it as an act of justice and a recognition of one of those distinguishing marks of Irish nationality which it was worse than folly to ignore They sometimes heard from the defenders of the Established Church language which sounded to his ears like the language of menace. They seemed to wish to convey to the Parliament of England that the Protestant Establishment must be maintained in its present position. They spoke about the Throne, and the Constitution, and loyalty. Was it of a constitutional loyalty—a loyalty which was to be co-existent with the existence of ascendancy? The Catholics of Ireland used no threats, direct or indirect: they rested their case upon its merits. They appealed with confidence to their English brethren. All they demanded was simply religious equality, equal rights and privileges for all, and in return for justice they offered the loyalty of a nation.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
I have listened, Sir, to this debate with great interest, and I have been especially pleased with the speech which we have just heard. It was manly and it was distinct. The hon. Gentleman by whom it was delivered fairly and honestly claimed the property of the Church in Ireland for what he calls national purposes, irrespective of any law which exists to the contrary; irrespective of anything in our history or in our legislation. He is of opinion that no law ought for a moment to interpose between the just demands of a nation and their satisfaction, I quite understand him. Nobody can mistake his proposal, and I place it at the outset of my remarks in pleasing contrast with the speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chichester Fortescue) on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, The right hon. Gentleman has laid down the doctrine this evening that it is not the duty of the Government to defend the institutions of the country, but to show how. on the eve of an important discussion, a vote may be obtained from Gentlemen who have a vote to give and who, if they follow the Ministerial advice given them by the right hon. Gentleman, and "agitate, agitate, agitate," may ultimately succeed in attaining the object of their wishes. This is undoubtedly a new policy to be initiated by the Ministers of a great country. The right hon. Gentleman, in effect, says, "My sympathies are with the Motion; my feelings are in accord 1043 with those of its Mover; I should delight to see your wishes accomplished:—but I am one of Her Majesty's Ministers, and therefore I must evade—I must avoid the subject for the present; and although personally my feelings and opinions are with you, as a Minister of the Crown I must shirk the question and leave its settlement for another day and for a better opportunity." Sir, until to-night I have always understood that a Gentleman differing from the policy of the Government of which he was a Member ought, if unable to carry out what he honestly and conscientiously holds to be right, at once to quit an incorrigible Ministry, go into opposition, and there to advocate his opinions with effect and with success. But according to the doctrine enunciated by the right hon. Gentleman to-night, the duty of a Minister is to yield nothing, to contradict nothing, to deny nothing, to promise nothing distinct, but to say something of this kind—"If you will only be quiet and will trust to me, on some future occasion a Bill—that never, indeed, may see the light—may be drawn up and laid upon the table," to do something which the most careful attention to the subject has not enabled me to comprehend or even to conceive. That I understand to be a part of the Ministerial programme for the Session. We are now dealing with both the Church and the State. To-night we despatch the Church, and on Thursday we are to consider what we can do for the State. These questions, indeed, have always been connected. It is natural enough that when a great organic change is intended in the Constitution it should be carried out thoroughly in both Church and State. I quite understand the object of the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue). He wishes to carry out the proposal made some ten years since by Mr. Miall, formerly a Member for Rochdale. That gentleman proposed that the Church of Ireland should be put up to auction and sold off, and that the proceeds should be applied to what he called works of public utility, such as madhouses and lighthouses. I had never seen any descendant of the Puritans, but that hon. Gentleman, I was informed, inherited the views of the Puritans, who, in former days, were such sincere friends of the Roman Catholics. He called upon the Roman Catholics of Ireland to join in overturning everything in that country which savoured of ecclesiastical endowment, and he appeared to me to doubt 1044 whether we ought to be allowed to retain even the fabrics of our churches. Now, it is not my business to utter what he was pleased to term threats; but still, I must say that if the Rochdale Puritans come to our part of the world to carry out their notions, they must expect to meet the reception they deserve. Now, under what circumstances is this Motion brought forward? The hon. Gentleman the Mover of this Resolution (Sir John Gray) said that this was an Imperial question. The hon. Member for Longford (Mr. O'Reilly) saw the mistake into which the Mover had fallen in treating it as an Imperial question, for that at once disposed of nine-tenths of his argument. If it was an Imperial question, the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. O'Reilly) saw there was nothing to argue in it, because, as an Imperial question, the Mover had no case; therefore, said the hon. Member for Longford, that is a mistake—we are to argue the question as if in an Irish Parliament—as a local grievance, a local Church, and then we are to do all those things which an Irish Senate might be disposed to do with regard to the Church, whatever they might do with regard to the State afterwards. These are awkward opposing opinions; but the result of the discussion is that the Mover has no plan to submit to the House—nothing but a vague abstract Resolution. But while the hon. Member for Longford would desire to treat this matter as a local question, the hon. Member for Tralee, more comprehensive in his views, claims the property for that portion of the nation which consists of Roman Catholics. [The O'DONOGHUE: No, no; for the whole nation.] Then, if the hon. Member spoke of the whole nation there was a part of it for which he had no authority to speak. But what is the nation? I have heard "the nation" spoken of in Ireland in this way. Ignore two-thirds of those who follow any intellectual pursuit in Ireland, ignore five-sixths of the landed gentry, the greater portion of the aristocracy, forty-nine out of every fifty of the manufacturers; and ignore, also, all the skilled artizans, and then you have "the nation." I admit that the majority of the peasants and small farmers are Roman Catholics, but I deny that the country, as a nation, is a Roman Catholic country. I have always understood that the intellect of a country—its property industry, and intelligence—formed some part of the nation; yet one hon. Gen- 1045 tleman who spoke to-night ignored all those in Ireland who could lay claim to respectability or had been successful in life. He says the Protestants are rich and prosperous, I regret that the same prosperity does not extend to all parties in the country; but I believe the absence of that prosperity in certain quarters is the effect of this constant agitation and the forcing of those fancied grievances on the shoulders of other parties, instead of relying on their own exertions. May I ask the House to reflect on what has made the Protestants rich and prosperous? Because they are industrious, because they are inventive, because they produce something, and because they do something; and this much maligned Church has not, under the greatest agitation, been fortunate enough to produce a single conspirator or traitor in the late disturbances, But what is the cause of this Motion being submitted to us at the present time? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilkenny, I say, represents the hierarchical party of the Church of Rome in Ireland On the occasion of a meeting of the recently formed National Association of Ireland, the eminent Prelate, who is, I believe, the Papal Legate, made the very Motion which the hon. Gentleman has introduced to the House. His first notice of Motion was revolutionary, and I imagine he must have listened to the advice of some discreet Member, who recommended him to withdraw it, and substitute in its place a vague and indefinite Motion which would enable a Minister of the Crown to make a vague and indefinite response. But it is in vain for the hon. Member to cloak himself in words; we judge of him by what he has proposed to us, and we offer to him our unqualified resistance; we make no compromise, and offer no terms; we close up our ranks and present an unbroken front to the hon. Gentleman in his revolutionary career, which, by the way, is a very bold one for a man to begin who is only six weeks a Member of Parliament. It was absurd for him to deal with petty details when he had shown us it was not internal reform, but the complete destruction of the Church which he aimed at. So I will have nothing to say to his details, save to remark that if he will add up the number of benefices and the number of Churchmen he will find 459 worshippers of the Church of England for each of those benefices. He will find that larger than the proportion 1046 in very many parishes in England and Wales; and therefore the hon. Gentleman's arguments tell as much against the Church here as it does in Ireland. But, what was his first Motion? He asked us to declare—That the Church Establishment in Ireland is a grievous wrong to the people of that country; and its continued maintenance prevents them from having confidence in the justice or in the wisdom of the Imperial Parliament.I say that notice possesses the advantage of distinctness, and therefore I prefer it. Such a proposal goes to the root of the whole matter; and my complaint is that the hon. Gentleman withdrew it, not for the purpose of placing the subject fairly before the House, but endeavouring to conceal the object he has in view by substituting an indefinite proposition, which asserts—That the position of the Established Church in Ireland is a just cause of dissatisfaction, and urgently demands the consideration of Parliament.Now, what was the Resolution agreed to in the meeting of the Association of which, I believe, the lion. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) is the organ in this House The Resolution proposed by Archbishop Cullen ran thus—We demand the disendowment of the Established Church in Ireland as a condition without which social peace and stability, general respect for the laws, and unity of sentiment and of action for national objects can never prevail in Ireland.What is the meaning of that Resolution? I conscientiously believe it to be this:—If we can get rid of the Established Church, we will so disgust and incense the Protestants that they will turn round and join with us in pursuance of national objects. I leave it to the sagacity of every hon. Gentleman to say what he thinks the national objects of those eminent persons may be. Would they be favourable to England and your power? Are you satisfied that if the Church was struck down in the present state of Ireland there would be an end of national wrongs and national demands? Do you not believe that what is aimed at in the Resolution is national independence? Now, Sir, the hon. Member fur Birmingham gave the weight of his character, his talents, and political sagacity to this new Association, which is described as an association for constitutional agitation, whatever that may mean. It was natural to call upon him to join the movement in Ireland, because it might be equally successful in England 1047 at a future time. Accordingly, the hon. Gentleman being, I suppose, unwilling in stormy weather to cross the sea, addressed a reply to the Lord Mayor—I do not know whether it is the functionary who came before us to-day—in which he pointed out that the policy of the Association should be as follows:—My dear Lord Mayor,—I am glad to see that an effort is to be made to force on some political advance in your country. The objects you aim at are good, and I hope you may succeed. On the question of landlord and tenant I think you should go further, and seek to do more" (no doubt they will follow that advice). "What you want in Ireland is to break down the laws of primogeniture and entail.Good! Down with the law of entail; down with primogeniture; down with the aristocracy, which, by the way, is the great—[Mr. Bright: I did not write that.] The hon. Gentleman wishes me to read the whole letter first. I will proceed then. Having advised them to break down the laws of entail, he goes on to say—So that in course of time by a gradual and just process the Irish people may become the possessors of the soil of Ireland.Now, the policy of the Fenian movement in Ireland is not directed against the Church. Its promoters have too much good sense to think that a revolution could be accomplished by agitation with respect to Church grievances. I am surprised at those hon. Gentlemen who come from Ireland smiling at this statement, especially when they know that the Fenians have determined to despoil all the leading Whigs in the first instance. One of the best men in the country—the Duke of Leinster—is marked on the ground that he has 70,000 acres of land, and that is an intelligible reason for getting rid of him. But the hon. Member for Birmingham does not advise violence; he objects even to the word "defend." He means to make the Irish people possessors of the soil by eloquent declamation, by Parliamentary manœuvres, or by his friends in the Ministry. The Fenians, who are more direct, say they are tired of speech-making, and think it better to accomplish their plans by the revolver and the pike; but the common object is to break down the laws of primogeniture and to make the people the possessors of the soil. He proceeds—A legal security for tenants' improvements will be of great value, but your true remedy for your great grievance is to base the laws which affect the land upon sound principles of political economy.1048 Now for the Church—With regard to the State Church, that is an institution so evil and so odious under the circumstances of your country, that it makes one almost hopeless "—(Oh! quite so)—"almost hopeless of Irish freedom now that Irishmen have borne it so long.That is the programme. Now for the promise—The whole Liberal party in Great Britain will doubtless join with you in demanding the removal of a wrong which has no equal in the character of a national insult in any other civilized and Christian country in the world. If the popular party in Ireland would adopt as its policy 'free land and free Church,' and would unite with the popular party in England and Scotland for the advance of Liberal measures, and especially"—(now, of course, we know what is coming)—"and especially for the promotion of a honest amendment of the representation of the people, I am confident that great and beneficial changes might be made within a few years.He is setting out his difficulties and embarrassments, situated as he then was, before he captivated the Chancellor of the Exchequer—"We have on our side numbers and opinion, but we want a more distinct policy and a better organization, and these, I hope, to some extent your meeting may supply." Wanted, a programme! wanted a policy! "Upset the Irish Church, overthrow the law of primogeniture, and then let us advance together for a Democratic Parliamentary Reform;" that I understand to be a very simple and good exposition of the spirit in which the programme was drawn up that has been acted upon as we have seen to-night. The hon. Gentleman who introduced this Motion (Sir John Gray) spoke of the state of Ireland. He described himself as an attentive observer of political affairs, said that he had studied politics as his profession, and that he was well acquainted with the condition of Ireland. The views of the hon. Gentleman, therefore, as disclosed in a remarkable document which has come into my possession, the answer of the hon. Member to a criminal information filed against himself, for publishing the Pastoral of Archbishop Cullen reflecting on the Fenians then untried, cannot fail to interest and instruct the House. The description which he gives I believe to be strictly accurate; it is both painful and alarming. He deposes that in Ireland there exists a conspiracy—[Cries of "Date!"]—the document is dated within the last few weeks, and begins by describing his own position, the fact that he is the proprietor of a very respectable vehicle of public information, and the hon. 1049 Member proceeds to explain that the Fenian conspiracy has for its object the accomplishment of certain purposes by civil war, by the destruction of property, and by the spoliation of the fortunes of parties opposing its designs. He says there is no doubt the Members of the Fenian Brotherhood have these designs in view, and judging from their writings, which he says he has read, and judging also by what he has seen of their proceedings, he believes them to be anti-social, anti-Christian, opposed to the Monarchy and Government of the country, and to be persons whose views tend directly to civil war, to massacre, and bloodshed. Such is the account given by the hon. Member of the Fenian conspiracy, and I believe the account to be true. But, then, I wish to ask him this question, in the answer to which, as Irishmen, we are both interested—Where at this moment in Ireland is there a party able to resist the revolutionary party that he describes in his deposition in such fearful terms? The hierarchical party, which he represents, by the very publication which the hon. Gentleman gave to the world, acknowledged their inability to control the masses. The Archbishop said and wrote truly that the multitude contained in that conspiracy had broken away from the authority of the Church, and that the heads of that Church were able to control them no longer. If that be the case with the hierarchy—in our country, as in every other country, a highly respectable party—where am I to find the party of resistance? It is ludicrous to think that by fiddling with the transfer of Church property you can check the progress of stern Republicans, who want to be the possessors of the soil, who object to the whole framework of society, Queen, Lords, and Commons, and seek to overthrow the fabric of the body politic. You cannot govern by the police. The aristocracy, generally, are the same as the aristocracy of any other country: you never find them exciting these attacks upon the most Conservative institutions in the State. I repeat it. Where are the names of Roman Catholic Peers to further this recent wretched agitation, got up to withdraw the attention of Parliament and of the English people from the true state and condition of Ireland? The Whigs, again, are a small but highly respectable party in Ireland, and every member of that party is as useful in his station as a country gentleman as the highest Conservative in Ireland. But I think moat persons will agree 1050 with me that the Whigs do not influence the masses. If, then, the hierarchy, the aristocracy, and the Whig party are unable to oppose this revolutionary element, I see no other able to control and keep it in check except the Conservative party. What does this Conservative party include? It I includes all the better part of Ireland. It includes the whole Protestant part of the; nation, the more respectable part of: the Roman Catholic nation, all the men of property and rank without any distinction whatever. And of all the Conservative institutions of Ireland the most; Conservative is the Church. Why? A great political philosopher, who certainly had no unkind feeling to the Roman Catholics—of whom his mother was one and his wife another—Edmund Burke, ascribed the maintenance of the Church in Ireland in a degree to its connection with the land and the proprietors of land. Every powerful nobleman in Ireland, and; almost every gentleman of great estate, be-I long to the Church of England; the announcement, therefore, boldly and honestly made by the Member for Tralee, that the Church is to be struck down will be resented, and ought to be resented, as a direct attack on the property of the country. Furthermore, looking at the quarter from which the Motion emanates, and at the fact that this Resolution comes directly from the hand of the Papal Legate, I say it will be considered, and ought to be considered, as a direct attack on the Protestantism of the country.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has a right to make statements which, if he had taken the trouble to make any inquiry, he would find to be totally adverse to the facts. The Papal Legate, as he is pleased to call him—["Order, order!"]
§ MR. WHITESIDE
The hon. Gentleman misconceives. I read in his own journal that the Resolution, the terms of which I have given to the House, was proposed by Archbishop Cullen himself. I am not inaccurate in that statement, because I always look into the highly respectable journal with which the hon. Member is connected, the reports of which are most precise and copious upon any questions of this nature. I will merely assert that the Motion so proposed was unanimously adopted, and I am sure the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Billon), whose very dashing speech in the association (which did not mince matters as to the Church, or, in- 1051 deed, as to any other existing institution) I had lately the pleasure of reading—will not deny that one of the objects of the Association from which this Resolution emanates is to demand the disendowment of the Established Church in Ireland. I appeal to every hon. Member in this House—and if a Christian community should decide against me I would appeal to the whole heathen world for a verdict in my favour grounded upon the facts I have to state. I have heard the words "public honour" spoken. It is true that the Roman Catholics were for a long time excluded from the Legislative Assemblies of this country—and what were the difficulties in the way of admitting Roman Catholics to the House of Commons and the House of Lords? Those difficulties might be summed up shortly thus—First, it was stated that if they were admitted to Parliament they would make an attack on the property of the Established Church; secondly, it was stated that they would endeavour to establish an ascendancy for the Roman Catholic Church; thirdly, it was stated that they would pursue an aggressive Papal policy as against England. How were these allegations met? Names have been mentioned to-night by hon. Gentlemen who, I think, are not very deeply read in history but I will mention the names of men whose statements on the part of the Roman Catholics those hon. Gentlemen would do well to study. Lord Plunkett, who was selected by the Roman Catholics to speak their sentiments, stated—not once or twice, but many times—that, if Catholic Emancipation was carried, he would give an undertaking on the part of the whole Catholic body—whom, let it be remembered, he then represented—that the property of the Established Church would never be assailed. Arguing the great question intrusted to him he said—I further feel that the Protestant Establishment in Ireland is the very cement of the Union. I find it interwoven with all the essential relations and institutions of the two kingdoms, and I have no hesitation in admitting that if it were destroyed the very foundations of public security would be shaken, the connection between England and Ireland dissolved, and the annihilation of private property must follow the ruin of the property of the Church.Who authorized him to make that statement? The Roman Catholic body. He made it again and again; and with the assistance of other statesmen of matchless eloquence and commanding genius, he effected the object he had in view. Mr. 1052 Huskisson was not a rash man, but a very sagacious one. That statesman also argued the question; and when the point was made, as it always is made, of danger to the Established Church, he said—True, the Established Church in Ireland does not carry with it the majority of the people of that country, but it is interwoven with the State, and it is a safeguard of the Union.And to this extraordinary length does he go. He says—The Catholics are demanding admission to a Protestant State. I will admit them; but if they combine to overthrow the institutions of the country, I am prepared to re-enact the Penal Code.That was a strong expression; but it would appear that at that time there was an anticipation of the argument which we have heard to-night—that it may be possible to touch the property of the Established Church, not for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Church, but for general purposes. And what did Lord Liverpool, who was then Prime Minister, say of that argument? He said—The evil which he apprehended from such a Bill passing would not be immediate, but it would be inevitable, and would come upon the country in a manner little expected. It was not the immediate object of the Catholics to possess themselves of the property of the Established Church. They were too wary to proceed openly and directly in any such design. No, their object was in the first instance merely to diminish the property of the Church. What was the language held out by one of their great authorities, Dr. Doyle, upon this very point, 'that he did wish to decrease the magnitude of the possessions of the Church,' but he wished it not as a priest, but as an Irishman? Was any man so blind, was any man so deaf, was any man so lost to all the benefit of experience, as not to know what such language really means? Was any man so thoroughly ignorant of the course of human actions as not to know that when once the property of the Church was violated under any such pretence it would soon be seized upon, and that such was the real object of Catholic cupidity? The most invidious way in which the Catholics could possibly set about their work was to say—' Take the property of the Established Church and give it the public for the general benefit of the country.' For when once the property of the Protestant hierarchy was invaded and impaired by such an artful attack, it required but little wisdom to foretel what would befal the remainder of its rights and possessions.The argument that the property of the Established Church may be taken, not for the Church of Rome, but for some other purpose, has been answered by anticipation. It may be interesting to the House to hear what was said by the predecessor of Archbishop Cullen on this point. There was a difficulty in satisfying Parliament as to the 1053 opinions entertained by the Roman Catholic body on the settlement of property, and the Roman Catholics of Ireland decided that they would send over the heads of their Church to give evidence. Accordingly, Archbishop Murray was examined before a Committee of the House of Lords. I will read a short extract from his evidence, and then I will ask the House whether the Resolution proposed by Archbishop Cullen is fortified by the evidence of his predecessor. The following are a few of the questions put to Archbishop Murray, and his answers to those questions:—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?—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 that may be required of them?—Not the least.That is the evidence of a Roman Catholic Archbishop. He swore truly, and acted on his oath while he lived. He stated that in seeking admission to a free State—and it is not the lees free because it is Protestant, but the more so on that account—the Roman Catholics would undertake not to interfere with the property of the Established Church. That amiable Prelate swore, not only on his own part, but on that of his Church also. After some reference to the opinions held by French divines, he was asked this further question^—With these tenets, how is it possible for a Roman Catholic clergy to engage for the maintenance of a Protestant Establishment? The witness answers—'They engage for the maintenance of the temporal Establishment such as it is made by law, and as citizens they deem it a duty to support the law.'That was in effect saying that, though the Roman Catholics did not admire the Church of England they agreed to respect her temporalities in Ireland. ["No!"] Well, what is to be said of the course taken by the University of Maynooth. At the time of the inquiry into education by Sir Frank-land Lewis important evidence was given by the Professor of Theology and Canon Law. I would direct the attention of the hon. Member for Kilkenny to that evidence, for I hope that when he has read it he will withdraw his Motion and make an apology. Being asked what were his opinions in respect of the property which 1054 formerly belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, but which for more than two centuries had been transferred to the Protestant Church, which transfer the Roman Catholics had submitted to in swearing to maintain the institutions of the country, the Professor answered "that he considered the present possessors of the Church property possessed a lawful right to it; for, in the first place, though the Catholics considered the original transfer to have been unjust, they must hold that, as it had been sanctioned by the Government and became law, it was necessary for Catholics to recognize that which the law had sanctioned; secondly, as bonâ fide possessors for such a time as brought in the law of prescription—which, according to the Church of Rome required 100 years—he considered that the present possessors possessed the property bonâ fide; thirdly, on the principle that those who might be supposed to have any claim to the property had repeatedly declared that they ceded any right they had, or might be thought to have, to the same, such declaration having been repeatedly made by the heads of the Catholic Church, speaking for their Church, he held that, according to any law in existence, the title to the property of the Church in the Church was complete and inviolate." With all this evidence before Parliament—with the testimony of Bishops, Archbishops, and Professors of the Roman Catholic Church that the property of the Established Church should be respected, and with that testimony believed—would the House listen to the successors of those witnesses when they asked for the disendowment of the Church and the spoliation of its property. There was one person examined whose opinion will have considerable weight with the lion. Member for Tralee—namely, Daniel O'Connell. He was examined on a matter which I venture to say he understood better than any man living at that time—namely, as to the validity of the title to Church property derived through the Act of Settlement. He told their Lordships that if they believed that any man would disturb the Act of Settlement they never ought to admit him to political power. Nothing, he said, but insecurity of titles and civil confusion and anarchy would result from disturbing that Act which secures the property of the Church and of the State. And then he told a story to the Committee. He said that he could inform their Lordships that his brother had purchased a portion of the abbey lands; "and 1055 do you think," he asked "that the Catholics would ever disturb the Act of Settlement when I tell you that my brother owns these lands at the present moment?" Now the abbey lands were, I believe, the only distinct portion of landed property which belonged to the Roman Catholic Church. That property, I admit, was spoliated. King Henry VIII. gave the abbey lands to the Roman Catholic Peers and the gentry of Ireland, and told them to hold their tongues about the Pope, and to maintain the supremacy of the Crown; but he hinted that if they did not behave themselves they should be hanged. He governed upon scientific principles, and I agree with Mr. Froude that during the last seven years of his reign Ireland was tranquil. But the property which he disposed of was the kind of property, the low post Bedford level, which the House of Russell have enjoyed, and which they will continue to enjoy, though they write essays against the property of the Church. Now, upon such evidence Parliament was persuaded to agree to Catholic Emancipation, and by no one more than by Bishop Doyle. I think he was a national and a patriotic man, and there is a report in Carlow that he died a Protestant. Well, Bishop Doyle did not attack the Church Establishment, which, as every man who knew how to read was aware, professed the ancient creed of the Catholic Church in Ireland. ["No, no!"] I really regret to find that hon. Gentlemen have never read their creed. It is a very awkward thing to confess. Well, Dr. Doyle wrote a remarkable essay, which will be found among his writings, in which he proposed terms of reconciliation with the Church Establishment. That essay was written by a man who knew how much truth there was in the Church Establishment. You ask constantly and boldly, "Why does the State connect itself with the Church of the minority in Ireland?" Did you ever hear of the law of self-defence? Do you believe in it? The State connected itself with the Church in Ireland that was loyal and domestic, and that never failed in its allegiance to the Crown or in its attachment to the English people; and not to the Church that was governed by a foreign Power. The reason of this was stated by Bishop Doyle. He let out the fact which has since been commented upon by Mr. Fitzpatrick in his life of that prelate. The heads of the Roman Catholic Church after the battle of the Boyne never acknow 1056 ledged the Crown of England. They never acknowledged Queen Anne, King George I., King George II., King George III., nor King George IV. until the old Cardinal York died at Rome. That fact was well known to the English Ministers, and Mr. Shiel said that the money and influence of England never were able to induce the Roman Catholic Prelates to waver in their allegiance to their legitimate Sovereigns. So that, in fact, while the King sitting at Westminster appeared outwardly King of England, their King was at Rome. Dr. Doyle let out the truth when he was asked the question. I believe that if a national Bishop such as Dr. Doyle were Archbishop now instead of Dr. Cullen, the Motion before the House would never have been made. I understand that Dr. Cullen had not a single vote of the parish priests in Dublin. To return, however, to Bishop Doyle.' He was asked—Was the right of appointing to the Roman Catholic Bishops ever practically exercised by James II.?His answer was—Yes, I should think it was; and also by Mary, previous to the accession of the Stuarts.To the next question—Do you think it was exercised by James II. before his arrival in Ireland?The reply was—Yes, during the entire of his reign.He was next asked—After his abdication do you think he practically exercised that right?The Bishop replied—I am sure that after his abdication or expulsion from these islands he did recommend, while in France, individuals to the Pope, which individuals were appointed to bishoprics in Ireland; and not only he but his son after him.Now, indeed, English politicians are styled narrow-minded and intolerant, because they are of opinion that if there is to be an Established Church in connection with the State it ought to be in Ireland that branch of the Christian Church which is attached to the State, and not with a Church the heads of which refused to acknowledge the title of the Crown of England. Bishop Doyle afterwards said he was sure that the Pope would not interfere with the appointment of bishops, and that the person who was elected by the clergy would always be chosen. Now, that has not happened since, as the national system 1057 of choosing a bishop has been set aside. The hon. Gentleman asked—Why are not the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church provided for?Irrespectively of their refusal to accept anything, there was another difficulty which Earl Grey omitted to notice in the course of his speech in another House. The noble Lord aimed at making provision for the Roman Catholic clergy, but then came the question—"What is to be done with the regulars?" A Roman Catholic Bishop was asked—If we provide for the parochial clergy the regulars may come into some parishes and become more popular than the parish priests; so that you would have the same evil over again.He answered, "That such might be the case, and said that there was no limit to the power of the Pope to send any number of regulars he thought fit into the country." In fact, the Pope could send a whole army of regulars if he pleased, and consequently he might create a difficulty which never could exist in the Established Church. That was another reason why the State should not connect itself in Ireland with the Church of Rome. With regard to the Catholic Emancipation Act, I may remark that it contains a clause which distinctly enacts that the Episcopal Church of England and Ireland shall be the Established Church hereafter in Ireland as the Presbyterian Church of Scotland shall be the Established Church in Scotland. Therefore, if we look to the arguments, or the testimony, or the Act of Emancipation itself, we may trace the principle that the Roman Catholics were to be estopped from disputing hereafter the title of the Protestant Church. I admit that afterwards—in the year 1835—two remarkable speeches were made against it by Earl Russell. Sir James Graham abandoned his party and the Ministry—which is the course which a Minister ought to pursue when he differs from the policy of his colleagues—and he declared that it was with pain and grief that he separated himself, perhaps for ever, from his friends and political associates, rather than yield to the Motion then made to disturb the settlement of property in Ireland by meddling with the property of the Church. That speech was a very able one, and I would ask hon. Gentlemen to read the constitutional arguments of Sir James Graham in opposition to Lord John Russell's attack upon the Irish Church. Then there was another Gentleman at that 1058 time in Parliament—a Gentleman as eloquent as Lord John Russell, perhaps more eloquent, equally learned—perhaps more learned—and equally enthusiastic on behalf of the Church. That was Mr. Gladstone. The speech which he delivered in 1835 was a masterpiece of logic. It was full of research, of argument, of feeling, and of truth. Now, what was the gist and effect of that speech? I rejoice that Mr. Gladstone took the course he did, and opposed Lord John Russell's project, which at that time the right hon. Gentleman deemed a visionary one. He proceeded from the first principle, there ought to be a Church in Ireland connected with the State, and that after the Union there was but one Church in the country—namely, the United Church of England and Ireland. Indeed, he pushes it to the extent of saying that the effect of meddling with the property of the Church would be fatal to all property. A more complete and triumphant argument against the Motion of Lord John Russell it would be impossible to find. I rely upon the ability of the right hon. Gentleman, and I am certain that he spoke every word of that speech in the firm belief that he was uttering opinions in accordance with constitutional principles. We find that the attempt to appropriate the property of the Church in Ireland failed, and broke up Ministry after Ministry, who were defeated in their intentions and designs. The right hon. Gentleman who succeeded on that occasion has done more for the Church than speak that speech. When he quitted the University of Oxford, enriched by knowledge drawn from the pure sources of true religion, the right hon. Gentleman consecrated his talents to the composition of a work upon the relations which subsisted between Church and State, and in that work he argued this very question with extraordinary ability, and I can not help thinking with a little touch of enthusiasm, so far is his tone above that of frigid cynicism practised in debating this great question in another place. The Irish branch of the Church, according to his view, seems to be the weak part of the system; but upon us, he exclaims, "rests the glory of defending the principle of truth;" and we now defend the Church in Ireland as we do the settlement in Soot-land, because each of them rested upon legal compact and upon fundamental statutes, establishing an incorporate union upon terms with each country. Finally, he ascends to the question, What is the 1059 truth? and he says that the State has always connected itself with the religion of the truth, with the Episcopal Church, which was unchanged at the Reformation, which was the same corporate body, which was the same institution, having its property as before, which went with the State. I am rather surprised to hear in an assembly of Protestant Gentlemen that, because the bishops in Ireland refused to acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope and rejected the Council of Trent, and with their Sovereign went with England and with truth, therefore the property given them for the maintenance of truth is to be spoliated now. I now come to the manner in which hon. Gentlemen have dealt with the Act of Union.
I will ask hon. Gentlemen to consider what was said elsewhere, and what has been said to-night, as showing the way in which the fact of the Union has been used in argument. I believe that Earl Grey said that the Parliament in Ireland was corrupt—he meant one that ought to be reformed; and therefore he argued that the Act of Union was of no consequence. Let us investigate that statement—if we may presume to investigate an argument used in another place. England wanted to obtain from the Parliament of Ireland the surrender of its separate existence, and England knew, as Mr. Huskisson put it, that that object could never be accomplished without the condition that the Protestant religion should be maintained. England made the bargain, entered into that arrangement in the most express and formal manner; and the argument of the noble Earl is that England is not bound, because the parties with whom she entered into the bargain were very corrupt. I think the immorality of that argument may be soon ascertained. What would be thought of a merchant who made a contract with another, and then said, "I will not perform it because you are an immoral man." I tell the noble Earl he has not read the history of that Parliament correctly. If he had read it from 1782 to the date of the Union, or until the French Revolution broke out and swept all before it, he would have found, as Grattan asserted in his brilliant speech, that during those eighteen years a greater number of remedial measures were carried than had been carried for centuries before. When I bear hon. Gentlemen say that a party, signalized as a faction to Ireland, were unkind to the Irish, towards their fellow-countrymen, might I take the liberty 1060 of asking, Would you have had any liberties at all but for them? Who extorted from that grinding, manufacturing, mercantile party in this country—who wrung from the reluctant, rich, money-loving mercantile classes of England at that time—the rights in regard to trade, manufactures, and commerce, we now possess? Whoever has read the famous speech of Burke to the electors of Bristol knows that it was not his vote on America that lost him his seat for Bristol so much as his vote for Ireland. England was obliged to yield to the demands of 80,000 men who assembled with arms in their hands at Dungannon, and passed a Resolution which obtained for their countrymen all the rights they now possess. Therefore, when you attack and censure the Protestants, please remember that those Irish penal laws relating to trade and to manufactures that even Strafford could not get rid of were repealed in an effective manner by silent eloquence, and were disposed of at a lucky moment when it was impossible for the selfish classes in this country to resist. I know that I am addressing myself to gentlemen of learning, who can understand a legal argument, and I would ask this House to consider the argument of Lord Ellenborough, who says that by the 5th Article of Union it is declared that the continuance and preservation of the United Church as established in Ireland shall be deemed and taken to be an essential and fundamental part of the Union; that "fundamental" has reference to the subject-matter, and to such an integral part of the compact of Union formed between the two kingdoms as is absolutely necessary to support and sustain the whole fabric and superstructure of the Union, and the removal of which would overthrow the political Union, and that the words "Established Church," therefore, import that there shall be only one Established Church. Against the argument of the Mover of the Resolution I set the judicial opinion of the Lord Chief Justice of England. The argument was never better put than by Lord Palmerston on Mr. Miall's Motion. He showed that the Act of Union provides that you can only do in regard to the property of the Church of Ireland what you can do with the property of the Church in England. In regard to Church property, how does the matter stand now? It is true so many bishoprics were abolished; but why? In order to relieve the Roman Catholics of the obligation of paying anything to the Church, 1061 Church cess and ministers money were also abolished, and tithes were commuted, at a sacrifice, into a rent charge. Of the £300,000 of that charge £40,000 is paid by the property of Roman Catholics, and of that £40,000 the greater portion is paid in virtue of property bought in the Incumbered Estates Court, subject to that charge. I believe the money actually paid in lieu of tithes to the Church is infinitesimally small. The lands of the Church are not in the same condition they were formerly. Under the Temporalities Act four-fifths of them have been sold, and you could not touch them without a civil war. What has become of the purchase money? It is in the Bank. You may argue that you may rob the Bank, but you must shape your Resolution accordingly. The interest of the money is applied to pay what Roman Catholics were formerly called upon to pay. The lands are disposed of with the exception of about a fifth, the perpetuity in which may be secured by the tenants. I can tell you why the Fenians do not propose to take the property of the Church. It is because the Church has dealt fairly and equitably with her tenants. There remain to the Church the houses the parsons live in with their glebes. Then, in the interval, what has been done for the Catholics? We hear speeches addressed to this House as if nothing had been done for them. Why, first of all the Irish Parliament never granted more to Maynooth than £8,000—this Parliament has granted £30,000. When Sir Robert Peel, as Prime Minister, introduced the Bill increasing the grant, Mr. Sheil made a speech commending the policy, and stating that what the Roman Catholics wished in addition was the purchase of glebes for their clergy; but he never said a word indicating an intention to appropriate the property of our Church; he said the priests would not take stipends, hut they would be contented if they got what were called glebes. Lord Levesou Grower said that the sum of £250,000 a year would be required to endow the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland, and he carried his Motion for that purpose in the House of Commons. You have granted £300,000 a year for education; of that, the Catholics get £240,000; we get nothing. I do not know that we are likely to get anything, and that is a real grievance. We are too modest and do not get up a con fusion in the country. Meanwhile, the Roman Catholics get £30,000 a year for Maynooth, besides the chaplaincies in the pri- 1062 sons, lunatic asylums, and workhouses and in the army, to say nothing of other advantages; and the response to all this is; that terrific conspiracy described by the Mover of the Resolution as assisted by a vast party in America, and contemplating a descent upon Canada or Ireland, as may be most convenient; and secondly, a Motion for the disendowment of the Irish Church. Well now, with regard to the property of that Church, have Roman Catholic gentlemen ever reflected that they are now about to be made use of by the political children of the old Puritans? Once before they were made use of in that way. When the Puritans wanted to get up a case against Strafford and to behead him, they appealed to certain persons in the Irish Parliament to assist them. Eminent Irish lawyers at that time, Mr. Plunkett and Mr. Darcy, aided the Puritans, and they cut off the head of Strafford, Well, what happened to the same Roman Catholics shortly after in Ireland? You were favoured with a visit by Oliver Cromwell—and a very unpleasant visit it was. His policy was a distinct policy. He openly announced that he would extirpate the religion and exterminate the race of the Irish people; he destroyed or banished the Roman Catholic nobility, he kicked the gentry out of the House of Commons, he exterminated a great part of the population, and when any of the survivors were referred to he said mildly, "Let them go to Hell or Connaught!" Well, that was the policy of your old friends, the Puritans. Were I a Roman Catholic and saw the portentous phantom of an ancient Puritan arise, I would invoke the shade of a pious Cavalier to exorcise the monster. Subsequently, the fortunes of the Roman Catholic nobility and gentry of Ireland were in the hands of the Duke of Ormond. What was the policy pursued by him? It was a policy of restoration to their fortunes, restoration to their estates, restoration to the Houses of Parliament, of the Roman Catholic nobility and gentry, in the hope and in the belief that they would amalgamate and unite with their countrymen so as to make but one nation. Are you aware that when you are asked to disturb the Established Church in the possession of her property you are also asked to overthrow the Act of Settlement—the very statute which O'Connell said if you were to subvert you would upset at the same time the foundations of the whole property of the country? Such is the fact, for when 1063 that Act was passed the property of the Roman Catholics was secured to them ["No, no!"] I say, yes, for the Catholic nobles, and among them such fine old names as Gormanstown, Fingal, and Trimleston, are in the words of the Act of Parliament directed to be restored to their estates without further inquiry. [An hon. MEMBER: To only a very small portion of them.] The hon. Gentleman says it was only a very small portion—perhaps it was as much as they had possessed; but whether small or large, all that existed was restored; and observe, in the very same statute it is enacted that the property of the Church which was torn from it in evil times should be restored to it; and the same great statute also enacts that glebes shall be provided for the clergy, and that the Protestant Church shall be endowed not only with glebes, but secured in all her rights. How can that Act of Parliament be upset? Will you upset that which relates to the Church but not that which concerns private property? Now, on that point the argument of Sir James Graham is quite unanswerable, and it was this—that he was unable to see a distinction between the one kind of property and the other. There is no use in hon. Members saying that they see it; let them prove it if they do. Now, I look upon the conduct of the Clanricarde of that day—a true Catholic—as patriotic in the highest degree. He summoned the Roman Catholic nobility to his house, induced them to take an oath of modified supremacy, and so they were reconciled to the Crown. But what was the conduct of the foreign Church? The Church, through the Legate in Brussels, excommunicated those Roman Catholic laymen for taking the oath, and excommunicated its own priests, too (for several of them had taken it), and from that time, unhappily, an Ultramontane party which looks to a foreign Power exists in the country, while, on the other hand, many of those named as Catholics in the Act of Settlement have since conformed to the Church of England. For these reasons I rely not only on the Act of Emancipation, but on the Act of Union, and not only on the Act of Union, but on the Act of Settlement; and finally, I rely upon that which goes to the root of the whole matter, the Settlement and plantation of Ulster. Now, it has been said to-night by hon. Gentlemen—the hon. Member for Tralee, among others, has said it—that the bulk of the landed property of the Church of England 1064 in Ireland belonged to the Roman Catholic Church in former times. I assure him and the Roman Catholic Gentlemen present that they never in their lives committed a greater mistake than in making that assertion. It is no such thing. When O'Neil lived—and you know what a character he was—a memorial was drawn up by the Maguire3 of Fermanagh to Queen Elizabeth, who was very sparing of her money, asking her to do something to put down O'Neil (which would be attended with expense), for they said that he had swooped down upon the shores of Lough Neagh, and had put to death about 300 women and children in one day. In Froude's excellent history I find this graphic account of O'Neil—My Lord Sydney wrote to Leicester, 'No Attila nor Totila, nor Vandal or Goth that ever lived was more to be doubted for overrunning any part of Christendom than this man for overrunning and spoiling of Ireland. If it be an angel of Heaven that will say that ever O'Neil will be a good subject till he be thoroughly chastised, believe him not, but think him a spirit of error. Her Majesty must make up her mind to the expense, and chastise this cannibal.'Now, here we have a specimen of the fine old Irish chief. O'Neil was a long-headed man, and he wrote an intercepted despatch (it is given by Mr. Froude in his history) to Charles IX., inviting him to land 5,000 men, and promising if he would he would undertake to cut the throats of every man, woman, and child of English descent in Ireland. I hope in referring to O'Neil I shall not offend my hon. Friend who represents the county of Antrim, and bears the name which he unites with the no less distinguished name of Chichester. Well, when O'Neil was overthrown, the policy which has been so often called in question was initiated in Ireland. But I ask you to raise your minds to the contemplation of that policy, and to ask yourselves was there ever a nobler or grander pursued by men who had the highest capacity of statesmen—a policy the fruits of which we behold to-day. They planted England in Ulster—it was vacant—they planted the whole of the institutions of England there; they said, "If we can succeed in placing a sufficient number of men of our race and habits and establish them so that they can maintain themselves, Ireland will be no longer a place from which it may be so easy to attack England"—Ireland being what that wise King James I. defined as—"the back-door from which the enemies of England might enter in and stab her to the 1065 heart." For that reason they planted that settlement there; and what did they do with respect to the lands and glebes of the ancient Irish Church? I hope I shall never hear again that all the moat valuable of them belonged to the Roman Catholic Church. I hold in my hands extracts from State papers and patents which were issued by the Crown, and they contain the reasons upon which the Plantation was made. In one of them, dated the 14th of October, 1608, are the following words:—But if this province of Ulster could be once settled as it ought to be, which would be a Royal act, and a great glory to His Majesty's times, then were all occasions for great revolts quite taken away: everywhere from thence the land would be peopled and improved, the King's revenues in time strained up and increased, and those of his Majesty's other dominions more converted and spent upon themselves.Now, when those men set about granting a charter it was not in the cold, dull, legal phraseology of the present day they conveyed their meaning—they had no idea of a Christian State without a Christian Church; and I find that the glebes which you are now called upon to take away were granted by the Commissioners for the Plantation of Ulster for the benefit of the Established Church—for no one pretends that they had charge of the Roman Catholic Church. The instructions to the Commissioners in 1609 were as follows:—The Commissioners are to limit and bound out the precincts of their several parishes according to their discretion, notwithstanding the limitation of the precinct; wherein they may observe the ancient limits of the old parishes so as the same breed not a greater inconvenience to the plantation; and to assign to the incumbent of each parish a glebe, after the rate of three score acres for every 1,000 acres within the parishes in the most convenient places or nearest to the churches; and for the more certainty to give such glebe a certain name, whereby it may be known, and to take order that there be a proviso in the letters patent for passing the glebes, to restrain the alienations thereof, saving during incumbencies.And I find in one charter various Saxon names to whom these grants were made, such as Symonds, Watson, Richardson, Synge, &c. In that charter I find the following words:—All which lands were lately assigned by the Commissioners for the Plantation of Ulster for the augmentation of glebes and the maintenance of persons having cure of souls; to hold for ever in free, pure, and perpetual alms for all services; with a covenant for the building of glebe-houses.And then it provides that if the lands were 1066 not planted and the glebe-houses built the Commissioners were to resume possession until the covenants were complied with. Well, these covenants were complied with. The lands were built upon and planted; and now, when they have been enjoyed for nearly 300 years, where is the law which would justify you in taking these lands into your possession? By what right do the Irish Society and the corporation of the City of London hold these lands but by patents made by the same authority? And am I to be told that absentee corporators have a better title to their property than a learned and pious clergy, who spend every shilling of their income in the country? There were then no Protestants in the country. Now there are many—a sufficient number of loyal men to preserve the Throne and enrich the land, and make it a country in which those engaged in trade and business were never more prosperous. Is that a failure? I f those who effected this great work are permitted to look down upon the results of their glorious labours they may well be proud of a work which has reclaimed the wilderness and converted it into a fertile and blooming garden. It did not occur to Cecil and Walsingham and Bacon that you could have a State without a Church, They established an Episcopal Church. If these men planted in Ulster had been as reckless and improvident as those who had extended the reign of poverty throughout other parts of the country, they would perhaps have obtained greater respect from a certain party; but because these settlers and their descendants have been provident, thrifty, and industrious, and have kept up the standard of civilization in the country, therefore you say that they have not fulfilled their mission. I say that the conduct and policy of those who established this Plantation were right if judged by the results. I do not believe that the population of Ireland at the present moment is more than 5,000,000. Of these, 1,500,000 are Protestants. Every one of the Wesleyan Methodists, for example—and they number 50,000—is a supporter of the Church. Are their opinions to be taken for nothing? I think I am entitled to represent the feelings of that body, inasmuch as they told me they supported me as Member for Enniskillen, because I was a supporter of the Church. Upwards of 100,000 Protestants have gone from Ireland to Canada; and fortunate it is for the Government of this country at the present time that they have done so. 1067 They have adapted themselves to the soil, and are now to be ranked amongst those who are prepared to resist any invasion of that colony. I am satisfied there is a very large party in Ireland who, if any necessity arose, would act as well as the Protestants from Ulster would behave in Canada. I do not believe the necessity will arise, for Mr. Stephens has finally departed, and it is not likely he will return. I should like to know what you complain of in regard to the Church. It is said, "You have not converted all the Roman Catholics." I deny that that was the exclusive business of the Church in Ireland. One great part of its mission was the instruction of those who belonged to it in the maxims of religion, loyalty, and truth. Has it failed in that respect, or are they not, on the contrary, to be reckoned among the most loyal and devoted subjects of the Crown? It is true that the Church after it was endowed was attacked and struck down; you forget that Ulster was desolated again and again, and that in the time of James II. there were not 3,000 people in what is now the most populous diocese after the conflict with the tyrant was over. It was not until peace was restored under William III. that it was possible for the Protestants again to pervade the whole Province with their industry. That they have done; and there never was a time when they were more contented, prosperous, and happy than they are at the present moment. You have not one atom of a case for adopting the Resolution of the hon. Member for Kilkenny, and if I wanted an additional argument I should find it in what I must call the evasive speech of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I tell him that, as a Protestant, I would infinitely rather he had adopted the policy of the hon. Member for Tralee, and had declared that not one shred of the property of the Church should be preserved, than to take a course calculated to keep this question in perpetual agitation, and to reserve the Irish Church to be operated upon at a more convenient season, when the agitation may be more successful, and when that good work, to which he wishes God speed, may be accomplished. What is that good work? The spoliation of the Church, a continuance of agitation, the taking of property that does not belong to you. The policy of the Minister is this—He says to the supporters of this Resolution, I cannot 1068 accomplish your object for you now, but I hold out a hope to you which you may be certain will be realized at a future day. His speech, however, reminds me of a remark made by a witty Irishman. It was said to him of a speech made by an eloquent declaimer, "That was a beautiful speech." He replied, "Oh, it is but a mouthful of moonshine after all." I do not speak in any spirit of bigotry, but I trust the House will not forget that this is a Protestant State. I am not ashamed to say that it is; and I am fortified by the argument of Mr. Huskisson, by the Coronation Oath, by the Act of Settlement, by the Revolution, and by the presence of the Bishops in the House of Lords. By all that we see and know of the history of the country this is—and I glory in the thought—a Protestant State. What does that mean? That while we respect the antiquity and the authority of the Church, we also assert the right of private judgment and vindicate the independence of the human mind. I trust that a Church which retains the principle of a Christian Church, which teaches the Scriptures and the unadulterated truths of the Church of England, will never be overthrown by a British House of Commons. It cannot be destroyed except by the vote of a recreant Senate and an apostate nation. I do not think the vote will ever be given, and I am sure that there will never be wanting warm, sincere, and enthusiastic advocates for the preservation of the institution and of the truths that have made England free, and kept her happy.
§ SIR HENRY HOARE
would remind hon. Gentlemen who opposed this Resolution that all agitation founded on the principles of justice must eventually succeed, and that the minority of to-day became the majority of to-morrow; and that it was far wiser and more statesmanlike to concede voluntarily that which was due to justice than to yield it at last from fear of consequences. It had been argued that the revenues of the Irish Church were inalienable. But the right of the Legislature to interfere with the disposition of ecclesiastical property had been affirmed over and over again, and that by large majorities. The Irish Church Temporalities Act of 1833 took away about £60,000 from the revenues of that Church, and by the Tithe Commutation Act of 1838 another portion of them was transferred to the pockets of the landlords. So 1069 much, then, for the argument that the revenues of the Irish Established Church were inalienable. Another argument was that the tithe rent-charge was paid by the Protestant landowners of Ireland; but the landowners let their land to the occupiers at a much higher rent in consequence of that impost ["No, no!"] and a large majority of the occupiers of farms in Ireland who were Roman Catholics were thereby burdened. Still less could the Irish Church be defended on arithmetical grounds, such as the preponderance of Protestants over Catholics, He had recently read a most extraordinary speech made by the Bishop of Ossory at a meeting at Kilkenny, in which that right rev. Prelate had defended the position of the Irish Established Church upon grounds which every friend of religious liberty must repudiate; arguing that the State was bound by its duty to God and the people committed to its charge to provide alike in Ireland and in England for all who chose to avail themselves of them the means of public worship according to a pure ritual and to sound Scriptural doctrines, and his Lordship also said that it was plainly the duty of the State alike in England and Ireland to establish a Church which held and which taught the truth alone. One could not read the speech of the right rev. Prelate without asking whether we were living in the year 1866 or some two or three centuries ago. The spirit of bigotry pervading that speech was much the same as the spirit which dictated the Revocation of the Edict of Nantz. Until the great injustice done to their Irish Roman Catholic fellow-subjects was redressed peace in Ireland was impossible, and the contentment of her people a vain hope. Whether the desires of the Irish people on some other matters were or were not visionary and chimerical was entirely beside the present question. The Established Church in Ireland, unlike that of this country, had not grown up as one of its national institutions—it was imposed upon the nation by force, and by force alone was it maintained. It bad been urged that the Protestant Church in Ireland was a barrier against the designs of the revolutionary party in Ireland; but how could that be so when it ordered its subjects to worship in one fashion, and to maintain a Church which was alien to their convictions, repugnant to their consciences, and offensive to their prejudices? He trusted that the Motion before the House would be pressed to a 1070 division; and in that case, believing it to be founded upon justice, he would give it his hearty support.
§ MR. ESMONDE moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ Debate adjourned till Thursday.