Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [30th March],
That this House will immediately resolve itself into a Committee to consider the said Acts,"—(Mr. Gladstone:)
And which Amendment was,
To leave out from the word "House" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "while admitting that considerable modifications in the temporalities of the United Church in Ireland may, after the pending inquiry, appear to be expedient, is of opinion that any proposition tending to the disestablishment or disendowment of that Church ought to be reserved for the decision of a new Parliament,"—(Lord Stanley,)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.710
§ MR. ROEBUCK
Sir, As I hold very definite and what are called in the cant phrase of the day "advanced" opinions on this subject, I shall be very plain and explicit in my statement of them. From the time that I entered political life I may say I have held steadfastly one opinion about Established Churches—I have always believed that they are a mischief; and therefore, Sir, impelled by no personal object, whether of power or profit—impelled neither by party considerations nor yet by any purposes of ambition—I shall vote for the right hon. Gentleman's Resolutions. I believe that a Church Establishment is a bad instrument for teaching religion. A Government when it undertakes to teach religion must, of necessity, undertake to teach some particular religion, and by so doing must necessarily give offence to a great number of persons in respect to subjects which they believe to be of the greatest possible importance. Moreover, I believe that Churchmen, and especially Church dignitaries are very unfit to be legislators; and therefore I should be very much pleased to see any departure from the House of Lords of any Church dignitaries. These being my opinions on the Main Question before us, I still wish to address to the House some considerations upon the manner and the arguments by which these propositions have been supported on the present occasion, and also, I may say, of the aim and intentions with which this proposition has been brought forward. One argument advanced in support of this Resolution has been that the present Established Church of Ireland is a badge of conquest as regards the Catholic population of Ireland. Now, this is a proposition that I utterly and entirely deny. The conquest of Ireland — the Norman Conquest of Ireland—was made when England and Ireland were Catholic, and if there be any badge of conquest resulting from the transactions of that time, it is the Catholic Papal Church of Ireland; for, as the right hon. Gentleman himself said, at the time of this conquest Ireland was not in connection with the Papacy, and therefore the Norman conquest, which led to that connection, established as a badge of conquest the Papal Church in Ireland. And, accordingly, I say it is misleading the people of Ireland for us to allege that the present Established Church of Ireland is a badge of conquest. No man would be more ready, and has been more ready, than I to state my utter abhorrence of the 711 mode in which England has governed Ireland. No man has been more ready to find fault with those terrible penal laws, which were the curse of Ireland and the disgrace of this country. But those laws have been repealed, and now there remains no possible grievance in Ireland except that Established Church which, is now complained of. Since the year 1829 this House has pursued one steady course of legislation with regard to Ireland. Day by day, year by year, we have erased from the statute book one enactment after another, which drew a line of distinction between the Irish people and the people of England. And now, at this present moment—I challenge contradiction of the statement—there is no difference between the situation of an Irish Catholic and an Englishman in England before the law. Well, then, if we have done that, have we not done much that ought to have conciliated the people? But we are told that we have done nothing until we have disestablished the Irish Church. Now, Sir, the quarrel between England and Ireland is not a quarrel of religion; it is a quarrel of race; it is a quarrel of conquest. ["Laughter."] Aye, of conquest. We have no quarrel with Scotland, because we did not conquer Scotland. We have even now a quarrel with Wales—as everybody knows who knows anything of the country—because in the days of Edward I. we conquered Wales. It is one of the most curious phenomena of man's nature that a circumstance like that should rest in the recollections of a people; but it does, and the Irish people will not, to the latest hour of their existence, forget that they were conquered in the reign of Henry II. Now, that may appear to be a paradox; but search the history of the world over, and you will find it to be true. But we are told, and we were boldly told by an hon. Member behind me, that, disendow the Irish Church, arrange the land question as you will—even in the fashion which the Irish people want it—still you will not have done that which the Irish people demand, and without which they will not be satisfied. What do they want? They want separation from England. We may hide it as much as we please from ourselves, but the fact remains, that until you have separated Ireland from England, and made her independent, you will not have satisfied the wishes, the intentions, or the projects of a great portion of the people of Ireland. So much, then, as to 712 the statement that the Irish Church is a badge of conquest. Now, next, as to the Irish Church being a tax upon the people of Ireland. Let us understand that matter clearly. We are told that the tithes belong to the Irish Papal Church. My answer is—a very small portion of them only. And, moreover, I claim for this Parliament the power of changing the appropriation of public property, and devoting it to whatever purpose it pleases; and if this Parliament decides to disendow the Irish Church, it has perfect power to do so, and all the talk about the sacredness of her property is to me utter nonsense and rubbish. But, Sir, this cuts both ways. Do not talk to me of the Church property belonging to the Irish Roman Catholic Church, because I assume at once that Parliament has power to divert the public property. It has diverted the Church property, and so far it has gone to the Irish Church. There is no sacred right—none of any sort connected with human affairs. What to-day is law, may be to-morrow repealed; and there is nothing this House has established which tomorrow it may not disestablish. Now, let us understand this doctrine of tithe, because it was one of the statements made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire that the Irish people maintained a Church to which they are opposed. I deny that entirely. They do not do any such thing. The Irish farmer when he takes a farm takes it subject to tithe; he therefore takes it at so much less rent, and he does not pay the tithe. The landlord when he buys an estate buys it charged with tithe; he buys it at so much less, and therefore he does not buy the tithe. It does not belong to him. To whom does it belong? It belongs to the State, which may apply the tithe as it will. Therefore, the real question at issue is this—Is the property now held by the Irish Church so employed that it may be said to be employed in the best way for the Irish people? I think I am putting the case in the fairest way possible. Well, I do not think it is, Sir; but, at the same time, I think much may be said in its favour for the way it is applied, and that is not taken into consideration by those who speak and talk on the subject. First, I think I have established that neither the farmer nor the landlord pay the tithe. Therefore, it is no tax upon the people of Ireland. Now comes the question as to its application. This first step in the application 713 of tithe is a thing that requires consideration. As it is now applied, it places in every parish of Ireland an educated gentleman and his family. That, I say, is a matter of the greatest possible importance to any country; but more especially to Ireland. That is the first application of the funds of the Irish Church at present. Now, I am perfectly willing to say that far too much of the proceeds of the Irish Church are applied to the dignitaries of that Church, and that I should like the hard-working clergy of the Irish Church to be far better paid than they are. But still I return again to the view that there are an educated gentleman and his family in every parish in Ireland; and I ask any Gentleman connected with that country, or at all acquainted with it, whether the greatest possible benefit does not follow from that fact? I am quite sure I am speaking the truth when I say that if, in any locality or parish, there are a few resident gentlemen, among the most esteemed and respected of them is the clergyman of the Established Church. Further, I believe that the greater number of these men spend more money than they ever receive from the Church while they live in the parish in which they serve. Therefore, I say to right hon. Gentlemen on the front Opposition Bench, is this the moment at which you propose to disendow the Irish Church at one blow? You ought at least to recollect the fatal effect it will have in taking from every parish in Ireland one man who is bound to be resident there throughout the whole course of his life. So much for that; but there is yet another thing which you should take into consideration. Now, I think it is unwise to hide from ourselves the actual state of the case as regards the mind of the people of Ireland. If you were to poll the people of Ireland to-morrow, the large majority would be found hostile to English connection; but there is a body to be found in Ireland who are heart and soul in connection with England. They are loyal—they are enthusiastically loyal. Who are they? Why, they are the Irish Protestants. The Irish Church with them is a matter of strong feeling—they love their Church; and they believe their Church does them good, in which I think they are mistaken. But they believe it; and you are about to run counter to that strong feeling of the Irish Protestant people when you take away from them that Church which they hold in such great 714 veneration. I do not hold that feeling which I have just expressed with regard to the Protestant Church in particular. I tell the Roman Catholics that I feel exactly the same with regard to their Church, and I do not think it at all a benefit to the population. Therefore, Sir, I am quite ready to disestablish and disendow any Established Church which I can lay my hands upon. But still, Sir, there are times for all things, and I want to know is this a time we should select for the disendowment of the Irish Church and making ourselves unpopular with that small portion of the Irish people who are really heart and soul with us? This is a consideration which a statesman should weigh well in his mind. I can imagine men so vivid, so vehement, so energetic in their course, and so desirous of personal aggrandizement, that they forget everything connected with the Irish Church. I can imagine such men; I do not pretend that I can see them—I can imagine them; but he is no statesman who at this time and in this peculiar contingency proposes to disendow the Irish Church. I have known many years when it might have been done. I advocated its being done in 1835; but the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) opposed it then as far as we went. The Resolutions of Lord John Russell were supported by myself and the great Radical party at that time; and we attained the end for which those Resolutions were proposed. We ousted the Tories from power, and no sooner was that happy consummation attained, than all the recollections of those Resolutions were forgotten, and we were left with our mouths open and our eyes staring to look at the sudden gyration of the great Whig party. That was not the only time at which we were so served. Sir Robert Peel came into power, and the last time he presided over the councils of this country he did great good for England. He did away with the Corn Laws; he improved trade, and established a financial state of things such as was never before known. But what was the immediate return made him by the Liberal party? They turned him headlong out of office, and upon what? Upon a proposal to protect life and property in Ireland, which proposal was supported by the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who turned Sir Robert Peel out as soon as they themselves got in. Again, Sir, in the same way, when Lord Derby was in power in 1859, Resolutions on the subject of Reform were brought 715 in by that eminent Reformer Lord John Russell, who, when he found that "finality" would not get the Whigs into office, turned Reformer. It was proposed to oust Lord Derby; and I took the liberty of saying that the persons whom the Liberal party were about to bring in would never carry a Reform Bill. I said that Lord Palmerston might propose, but never would carry a Reform Bill. Again, what happened? Lord Derby was ousted, and Reform slept as long as Lord Palmerston lived. Again the thing occurred in 1866, and the Tory party came again into power, and immense exertions and vehement attempts were made to turn them out; but luckily, Sir, there were more men of my opinion than there had been in 1859. We kept the Tories in and we got a Reform Bill. And now I want to say one word to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire. I hope the same trick is not to be repeated—for tricks I call the things I have been describing. I hope there will be no Motions of that kind; but that these Resolutions, which are bold in their utterance, will be as boldly carried out, and that if we are to oust the Gentlemen opposite, as I suppose we are, there will be no halting, no shuffling, no trickery, but that the thing will be done. I hope there will be no saying — "This is so difficult; we did not contemplate the thing before us; we have grown wise men by time and experience; we must let the thing drop; we are here, and will stay here." I hope nothing of that sort will happen; but that when we have carried these Resolutions—for they will be carried—I hope the right hon. Gentleman will steadily adhere to them, and by no apparent juggling, (pardon the phrase), twist or turn, evade the passing of these Resolutions. There are some things which are curious in them, with regard to addressing the Sovereign. As I am not an official person, I will not touch on that point, though I think it is one which might engage the attention of a legal official; but, if we carry these Resolutions, I hope the right hon. Gentleman is prepared with a Bill; and that these Resolutions have not been framed as a mere cast upon the waters to attain a particular end; but framed by persons who have carefully considered what they wish to attain, how it is to be attained, and means at their hands to attain it; and further, that when the right hon. Gentleman comes before the people of England with his Bill he will be prepared to stand or fall by his measure. 716 I said at the commencement of my remarks that what I was about to say I would say plainly, and I think I have done so. There can, I imagine, be no misunderstanding as to what I have said, and, above all, I would ask hon. Gentlemen to believe that I have no desire to express anything disrespectful to the Catholics. Many of my dearest friends are Catholics, and I entertain so much respect for them that I hope nothing I may have said will be construed as disrespectful to anything they believe in or hold in reverence and respect. I cannot, however, help feeling that the Catholic population of Ireland is hostile to English and Imperial rule. I regard this question not as an Englishman, not as an Irishman, not as a Scotchman, but as an Imperial Englishman. I know not what other phrase to employ, for I detest the word "Briton." I use the phrase "Imperial Englishman" to signify a subject of this Imperial country, and we all must perceive, from the numerous indications around us, that no great Empire was ever brought together but by separate pieces. And we are told and taught, and must believe it, that at this time no small Empire can exist. The mere fact that there is such a steamship of war as the Warrior, costing £500,000 proves that no small country can maintain itself at this time without the aid and assistance of great nations around it. Cut off Ireland from England and you cut off her right arm. As long as I have a voice in this great Assembly that voice shall be raised in maintenance of the Imperial rule, whenever that rule is called in question. No sentimental talk about oppression to Ireland, and, indeed, nothing on earth, shall move me from that position. Whatever comes, our Imperial rule must be maintained, and, whatever disputes may occur, nothing ought to induce this House to do anything to dissever one portion of the kingdom from the other. And now, Sir, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite and the right hon. Gentleman on this side of the House not to forget in their strife this Empire. Let not place, let not ambition so blind them as to induce them to rush headlong into courses which, in their quieter moments, they must know to be dangerous to our greatness. They have in their hands the destinies of this great Empire, and I implore them never to forget in the conduct of their warfare the comfort and the happiness of the people.
I can assure my right 717 hon. and gallant Friend (General Peel) (who had risen at the same time) that I shall not stand long between him and the House, and that I should not have done so at all if I had not heard the Speaker distinctly name me. The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just closed his address (Mr. Roebuck) has, I think, put this question on the very strongest grounds. He says he will do everything in his power to maintain the Union, and that as an Imperial Englishman, and looking at the matter from an Imperial point of view, he will do everything he can to prevent the right arm of England being cut off. Now, I agree with him in that, and I think it is not unfair to examine the proposal before us, in order to see how it bears upon that branch of the question. One of the Resolutions proposed by the right hon. Gentleman embodies a principle, and another a question of time. I shall briefly address myself to both these questions, and first of all I will take the question of time. The right hon. Gentleman who has brought this matter before the House has by his statement saved us much trouble. Some of us might have otherwise thought it was a Motion brought forward because certain parties were not in power. My opinion of the character of the right hon. Gentleman forbids my having any such opinion. It might, perhaps, have been thought that he had been impelled to take up this question by the amount of crime and distress in Ireland, or else by a general sense of justice to the nation. The latter supposition, however, I am obliged to put aside, because, if there had been any strong sense of that in the breast of the right hon. Gentleman, it is impossible that for twenty-five years he could have remained silent and quiescent under such circumstances. Then we come back to what I think the right hon. Gentleman himself said—namely, that he had been induced to bring this question forward because the Government of which he was a Member, and subsequently the present Government, had been obliged to repeal the Habeas Corpus Act on account of the Fenianism which existed. The right hon. Gentleman told us that steam had bridged the Atlantic, and that this fact caused Fenianism to assume a different shape from what it might have assumed under other circumstances. Being now carried to America, one is naturally led to ask what "platform" it was that the Fenians chose when they came to this country. I 718 think their first and broad proposition was "Ireland for the Irish." The next was to get rid of all priests and parsons of every sort, creed, and description. At least, this was said of them, though whether truly or not I do not know. I suppose these great friends of liberty, the Fenians, considered all persons whose business it was to persuade them to do right, or dissuade them from doing wrong, were enemies of the human race. In the next place, the landlords were to have their throats cut as a simple way of getting rid of the land difficulty. Now, all these were very plain and simple questions, and they were straightforward also; because if a man says he will cut my throat, while I have an opportunity of cutting his, we can square the matter, and there is an end of it. With regard to the land question we have the proposal of the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill) and that of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright). Both these hon. Gentlemen proceed by somewhat violent modes—one of which may perhaps be designated as rape, and the other by the gentler phrase of seduction. But the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for South Lancashire says, "Do not trouble your heads about either of these methods; but endeavour, with me, to do away with the Irish Church, after which you will have the land at your disposal, and you can try your experiments in that direction." Now, it seems to me that in the course of the debate the right hon. Gentleman has almost earned for himself the name of a "compound Fenian," for, by the way in which he blends the violent and the gentle together and proposes a scheme of spoliation on which they can work their wicked will, he seems to be a joint actor in favour of the Fenian movement. ["Oh! oh!"] The Fenian movement is to dissolve the Union. "Ireland for the Irish" means nothing less than that. You may turn the phrase about as you like, but that is what it means. Now, is the matter which we have now in hand likely to strengthen, or is it likely to weaken, our power of opposing the Fenian movement? That is the point which we must look at and decide. Did the party which sought for a dissolution of the Union twenty years ago, when the battle of the cabbage-garden was fought, ask to have the Church disestablished? I do not think you can find that it was, and if it were not, and if you are not going to conciliate the party which now wants to dissolve the 719 Union, by doing away with the Irish Church, why should you thereby offend that section of the Irish people on whom you have been almost always obliged to rely in times of trial, difficulty and danger whether in Ireland or elsewhere, and who have always stood firmly by our institutions? What will be the feelings of these people if you wantonly offer a great affront to them and do them a great and permanent injury? The right hon. Gentleman has told us in his most beautiful language something about the nature of this Establishment. He said something about the piety of those who had gone before, in setting apart a portion of their property for the maintenance of those who were to come after them, and for the promotion of their best and greatest interests. That was the substance of what he said. But the right hon. Gentleman described one side of the subject as being ethereal and the other as being earthy. I confess that whether it be ethereal or earthy, or a compound of both, I think that those who in years gone by—more years than I could enumerate—set aside in all Christian countries this portion of property for religious purposes did a great good. I do not want to say anything now upon the origin of this appropriation. I believe that may be disputed. But I know that for a long series of years this property has been so set aside, and that it has been confirmed by a long series of enactments in its present channel. But this I must say, that every word that was uttered by the right hon. Member for South Lancashire, every word that fell from the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), and every word that fell from the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) against the Establishment of the Irish Church—every word so uttered goes against all Establishments. The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just spoken said he was not disinclined to disestablish anything anywhere. This confirms my opinion that it is not merely a question of disestablishing the Irish Church, but a question which strikes at the root of all Establishments. The hon. Member (Mr. Bright) drew a vivid picture of what was going on in various parts of the world, endeavouring to show—quoting, I think, Lord Aberdeen—that the Establishment in Scotland was an injury to that country. I think we may couple the expression of the right hon. Gentleman three years ago—that the possibility of acting on this subject was a "remote" one—with the 720 statement of the hon. Member (Mr. Bright) that he would be a rash prophet who said anything as to the time the English Church would last as an Establishment. [Mr. BRIGHT: If that was agreed.] If three years ago was a remote period with regard to the Irish Church, how long will it be before the time of the English Church comes, provided you once enter upon this course? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) said the Irish Church was only a Parliament Church. But what security have you for anything except Acts of Parment? What security have you for the Funds? It rests on the national faith; and can anything be more strongly pledged than our national faith was at the time of the Union with Ireland? It is impossible that we can have anything more strong. And is that all? What happened in the Act of Union with Scotland? There again you recited the fact of the maintenance of the Established Church. I say, if the Irish Church is a Parliamentary Church, so is the English, so is the Scotch Church. You can draw no difference between them. It is the principle of endowments you are attacking. You say that the Irish Church is small in numbers. I do not know whether the figures of the right hon. Gentleman are accurate; but he was not able to show a material difference between the relative numbers of Protestants and Catholics in Ireland now and at the time of the Union. On this ground, then, how would it be just to alter now that which it was just to stipulate for in a solemn treaty then? There is another point to be borne in mind. Will anything that we can do on this subject have a chance of pacifying Ireland? From what section of her people have you had any such assurance? Well, fi it is not certain you will do that, why attempt to do what will be a great wrong, and break a solemn treaty, pledging the good faith even of your Sovereign to the maintenance of the Establishment? It seems to me that you are going to ask us to do this great wrong wantonly, and without any security for the future. I feel strongly upon this matter. The right hon. Gentleman said he sympathized with those who had a strong feeling for the Establishment. I am one of those. I feel that the Establishment is a great benefit and blessing to the country, and therefore I have a strong feeling in its favour. I wish I had the right hon. Gentleman's vote instead of his sympathy. For twenty-five years he has been carrying 721 the Irish Church in his belly; yet now he comes forward on a sudden to cast her off and destroy her. Now, many a man in this House, who is a loyal subject of the Queen, might say, "Abstractedly I do not defend monarchy upon principle." I do not know whether there is any such individual; but I can conceive that there may be; and so with regard to the Irish Church Establishment. At all events, I defend the Establishment upon principle, believing it to be the duty of the State to set apart funds for the maintenance of that which the governing Power in the State believes to be the truth, and to support the truth and see that it is taught to the people. I think the question presses in another way. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck), says this country is strong. I admit that power and right are two different things; but we should remember that we are now called upon to exercise that power in breaking a treaty made for the benefit of the weak. You made this treaty; you took away from those with whom you made it the power of exercising a voice, except in a very limited and inefficacious degree; and, recollecting this, I say it would be unjust and ungenerous to do what you are about to do. Believing, Sir, that, unconsciously it may be, you are playing into the hands of those who want to dissolve the Union between this country and Ireland, I can only say that if I were to vote for this measure, I should feel that I was a traitor to my Sovereign, my country, and my God.
The vote which I shall give upon the present occasion will be governed entirely by the opinion I have formed upon the effect of the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman upon the Constitution of this country. It will have no reference to that other issue which may govern the votes of many Gentlemen opposite—namely, whether the right hon. Member for South Lancashire or the right hon. Member for Bucks shall sit upon the Treasury Bench; but I cannot help expressing my regret that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) should have thought it necessary to make the destruction of the Protestant Church in Ireland the war-cry by which, I will not say to rally "the rabble" around him—for, notwithstanding the high authority of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bouverie), I do not think that is a respectful way of speaking of hon. Gentlemen opposite—but in order to induce 722 those "followers who will not follow" to follow him into the Lobby, and that he should not only make the destruction of the Protestant Church in Ireland that war-cry, but should do so upon such scant notice as would hardly be decent or respectful in the case of a Railway or a Turnpike Bill, and should ask this House by an abstract Resolution to do two or three such little things as repeal an important Article of the Union and the Coronation Oath, and destroy the Established Church of Ireland. Now, what are the grounds on which the House is asked to go into Committee to express an opinion that the Established Church of Ireland should cease as an Establishment? I wish to argue the matter fairly, and to consider the ground put forward by the highest Roman Catholic authority (Cardinal Cullen), who says in a letter—"It is now admitted that the Established Church is an injustice and an insult to the people." Sir, in considering whether it is an injustice, I put aside altogether, as the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield did, the assertion which is often made by some—that it is a great act of injustice that Roman Catholics should be called on by the payment of tithe to contribute to the support of a religion to which they do not belong. I think the answer to that was put so well in the pamphlet of Sir George Lewis, from which we have all seen copious extracts lately, that I need not dwell upon it. He says, in point of fact that the Catholics pay nothing—that tithe in Ireland is not in the nature of a tax, but is a reserved rent that never belonged either to the landlords or tenants. If that be so, I cannot see the injustice of calling on the Catholics to pay that which never belonged to them. As to the title of the Protestant Church to the endowments which it possesses, I rely entirely on the highest legal authority in this country—the Lord Chancellor. He proved in his speech on the 24th of June last the perfect validity of that title. I will not repeat the quotations he made from the speeches of Lord Plunket, Lord Macaulay, and other friends of the Catholics, who all admitted that there was no title equal to that of prescription, and which was just as valid for Church property as any other kind of property. I have never heard that questioned, except by Dr. Moriarty, who, I believe, is a Roman Catholic Bishop. He says—The Catholics acknowledge no prescription 723 in this case. There is no Statute of Limitations here. The right is in abeyance, but unimpaired.Now, I am no lawyer; but I can conceive no right being "in abeyance and unimpaired" on the part of those who have admitted the title of those who are in possession, and that they did so the Secretary of State for the Home Department proved the other night, for he quoted their Bishops to that effect. I am one of the few Members of this House who took part in the debates of 1829; and I must take leave to draw attention to the contrast that exists between the Resolution which was passed in the Committee on which the Bill then brought forward was founded and the Resolutions about to be submitted to the House. The Resolution passed in Committee on the 6th of March, 1829, was this—That it is expedient to provide for the repeal of the Laws which impose civil disabilities upon the Roman Catholic subjects of His Majesty, with such exceptions, and under such Regulations, as may be required for the full and permanent security of the Establishments in Church and State, for the maintenance of the Reformed Religion, established by Law, and of the rights and privileges of the Bishops and of the Clergy of this Realm, and of the Churches committed to their charge."—[2 Hansard, xx. 892.]I venture to say that without that Resolution there would not have been ten men who would have voted for the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire says that Catholic Emancipation was extracted from us through fear of the Catholic Association. That, at all events, did not decide my vote. I said at the time "That I believed the very worst kind of legislation was that which submitted the law to a power which was opposed to the law;" and therefore I voted in the minority, and from that moment I have never seen any reason to regret my doing so. On the contrary, subsequent events have proved that the opinion I then expressed was founded in truth. I may be told that the admission of Roman Catholics to this House might be expected to lead, as a necessary consequence, to such a measure as this. That was the view I took, and I so stated it at the time. I have no objection to Roman Catholics as individuals—I have no objection to them as a body—nay, I stated that I had no objection to the Roman Catholic religion so long as it did not interfere with the Protestant Church. I never joined in the cry of 724 "No Popery." On the contrary I look with the greatest possible respect on the Roman Catholics—with far greater respect than upon those half Roman Catholics and half Protestants whose service, if not contrary to law, is certainly contrary to the spirit of our religion. And though I would not write up "No Popery" on the outside of our churches, I would wish to see it inscribed on the inside. I can assure the Roman Catholics that if any endowment or any property of theirs was attacked I would object as strongly against any spoliation of it, as I would against the spoliation of the property of the Protestants. I wish to see justice done. Hon. Gentlemen opposite said, "Justice was refused to Ireland." My opinion of justice to Ireland is, that we ought to pay the same respect to the rights of property in Ireland—whether the property is that of the Church, of a corporation, or of an individual—as to the like rights in England. I, for one, will never consent to pass a law for Ireland the principle of which will not apply to to this country. And if I wished to give any proof of my anxiety to do them justice, I would remind them that after many years of Liberal Government it was left to me to do justice to the Roman Catholic chaplains in the army, by placing them on the same footing as the Protestant and Presbyterian chaplains. I was for levelling up, not for levelling down. I was quite certain that the securities offered at the passing of the Emancipation Act would be swept away, and ever since I have had a perfect horror of securities. I said on that occasion that the Roman Catholics never would be satisfied until they had the property of the Irish Protestant Church. I was replied to on that occasion by a Member for whom I had the greatest respect—Sir Francis Burdett, then Member for Westminster, who, I have every reason to believe, spoke the sentiments of that constituency. That long-tried friend of the Roman Catholics said, in reply to what I had stated—The hon. Member who had spoken last had fallen into the strange notion, which had been lately brought into notice, that nothing less than the subversion of the Established Church could content the Catholics. Such an idea was so injurious to the persons to whom it attached, and so utterly out of their contemplation—an idea which he trusted none of them dreamed of—that it was creating feelings in their minds which they never thought of, to suggest this objection."—[2 Hansard, xx. 876.]725 But perhaps it may be said the hon. Baronet did not represent the feelings of the Roman Catholics. I will, then, give you what was said by the representative of a Catholic constituency (Limerick) in reply to Mr. Daniel Whittle Harvey, then Member for Colchester, who had stated that the ground on which he supported the measure for the relief of the Roman Catholics was that it would lead to a combination between the Catholics and Dissenters for the purpose of making a joint attack upon the Establishment of the Protestant Church. And now you shall hear what the calm man of Limerick of those days said. Mr. Spring-Rice said—If this measure were likely to endanger the Protestant Church, or at all to trench upon its constitution, then he should think Catholic Emancipation a measure attended with danger."—[2 Hansard, xx. 812.]He concluded by saying—If the question were to go to a division on the grounds stated by the hon. Member for Colchester, there was not a friend to the Catholics on the Opposition side of the House, and, he hoped, not a friend to the Established Church on either side, who would not unhesitatingly refuse his support to it."—[Ibid. 813.]Well, then, the Catholics accepted the relief on the terms it was offered to them — on the Resolution providing security for the Protestant Church. But then I am told that times have changed since then, and no doubt I shall be accused of belonging to that party which the present hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill) called "stupid," who never keep pace with the times. Well, the times have changed; but that is exactly what I predicted, and surely it is no proof of stupidity in foreseeing what has occurred; at all events, I was wiser than the hon. Member for Westminster of those days, who said it never would occur. But the times are now going at such a rapid pace, and that not only without any control, but with a rivalry on the part of the Leaders, on both sides, who shall outstrip the times, bringing us so suddenly to such dangerous and unheard-of changes, that if any sensation novelist could have ventured to anticipate them, they would have appeared incredible. I will not venture to predict what they will not do; but this I will say—if these Resolutions be carried, the inevitable result will be the separation of the Church from the State in this country, and the repeal of the Union with Ireland. We are told that there are great masses of the Irish people dissatisfied with the Government; 726 do you think you are going to purchase their affection by adopting these Resolutions? I am going to leave the use of flattering words to others, and to say that which I believe to be true. You ask me what I believe to be the cause of the dissatisfaction which exists among the Irish people? and my reply is—It is the result of what you yourselves have done — it is the result of the sympathy you have shown for revolution elsewhere — to the moral support, as it is called, you have given to popular movements on the Continent. Have we not heard some of those, who ought to have the greatest sense of the responsibility resting upon them, say that the majority of a nation is entitled to decide upon whatever form of Government it thinks the best? And, if that be true, no doubt the Roman Catholics in Ireland are entitled to the benefit of the argument. I have said that I have never joined in the cry of "No Popery!" I never had the least sympathy with Orangemen or Orange Lodges, as long as there was no attack made upon their religion — as long as their demonstrations could only be considered as offensive to their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects — and as long as they were acting on the offensive, instead of on the defensive. But I regard their assembling now, in order to protect their religion, as the proper discharge of their duty as members of the Irish Protestant Church, and as affording an example which Churchmen in this country would do well to follow. Members of the Established Church, in all parts of the country, should endeavour, by petitioning and by every constitutional means in their power, to put a stop to the progress of these ideas. It has been stated that this question can only be decided by a new Parliament, to be returned by the new constituencies. Now, I have always objected to the practice of constituencies extracting pledges from candidates with reference to the course they would pursue upon a particular political question on which their opinions might be altered by argument. But this question of the Irish Church is one of principle—it is a question of the Constitution of the country, of the Throne, and of the State; and I should advise every Protestant elector in both countries not only to extract from his candidate a statement as to his present feeling upon the subject, but also a pledge that he is not to be "educated" so as to change them. I have lately 727 been invited to join a new party, who, I think, call themselves Constitutionalists, who profess to stand by the principles laid down in the now famous letter of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, addressed to Lord Dartmouth. And by the principles enunciated in that letter I hope that the writer will strictly abide. But, Sir, when I ran my eye over the list of the vice presidents and members of the association which I was invited to join, I found that it consisted of only my old friends the Conservatives under a new name. Now, I do not like changing names. I am always suspicious of persons having a great many aliases. When I found that my friends the Constitutionalists were the very people who, in my opinion, destroyed the Constitution last year, I had no wish to enrol myself among them. No, Sir, if I am obliged to go back and change my name, I would much rather go back to that under which I was brought up—that of the good old Tories. They, I believe, were the best Constitutionalists, and the best supporters of our Constitution, both as regards Church and State. I was not in the least surprised at the warmth and energy with which my noble Friend near me (Viscount Cranborne) opposed the Amendment brought forward by the Government as explained by the speech of the noble Lord who moved it. It is difficult, if not impossible, to know what that Amendment means. It might mean nothing; it might mean anything; or it might mean everything. The way I read it was this:—That the Cabinet was not yet entirely converted; that the party behind them was not sufficiently educated; and that the proposal of the Government, as explained by the noble Lord, was this: "Go thy way this time; when I have a more convenient season I will call for you;" and that the destruction of the Irish Church might prove hereafter to be one of those Conservative triumphs which the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury promised the party. But I was quite relieved from that impression by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. As long as that right hon. Gentleman sits upon that Bench which he adorns—and I hope that he will continue to sit there for a very long time—I shall feel perfectly safe, because I know that no Government of which he is a Member could propose the disestablishment of the 728 Irish Church. It is suggested that the issue of this debate may be to bring in a Liberal Government; but I say to the Protestants of the Established Church, "By no means give way to despair; be strong and of good courage, and be not dismayed; you have the examples before you of 1835 and of 1859." The Liberal party have been referred to as the "engineers" and "pioneers" who clear the road; but I rather look upon them as guide-posts which point out the road—and a very bad road it often is—but who never advance one inch themselves. It may be said that I am about to raise the old cry of "No surrender," and as far as the connection between Protestant Church and State in Ireland is concerned I join most heartily in that cry. Upon the subject of the "modification of the temporalities,"—whatever that phrase may mean—I do not believe that there is one man in a hundred who would not be inclined to do away with the anomalies mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire. But I think it will be quite time enough to decide that point when we see the Report of the Royal Commission now sitting to inquire into the subject. We can easily decide what shall be done with any surplus revenue not required by the Irish Church when we have ascertained what that surplus is. I am guided on this point by the opinion of Sir Robert Peel. In the course of the debate upon the Appropriation Act of 1835 the then hon. Member for Derbyshire quoted from Captain Macheath, whereupon Sir Robert Peel turned round and said, "He was a much cleverer man than you are, for he never appropriated his surplus until he ascertained that he had got it." I am content to act upon that principle, and to wait until I hear the Report of the Royal Commission. Meanwhile, I shall meet both the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman opposite and the Amendment of the noble Lord with a direct negative.
§ MR. LOWE
I have listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) with great pleasure, for two reasons: first, because he promised us his vote; and, next, because I derived additional conviction of the strength of our case from finding that his feelings in our favour are so deeply rooted that he is about to give us that vote in despite of every argument that he used against us. I will not occupy the 729 time of the House in commenting upon the speech of the hon. and learned Member, because he entirely answered himself, and sometimes even went so far as to answer his own answer. I wish to draw the attention of the House rather more directly than has been done by recent speeches to the subject before us. If we take the Census of 1861 as our guide, we shall find that every 100 average Irishmen are divided in this manner—seventy-eight will be Roman Catholics, who have no assistance at all towards the support of their religion; twelve will be members of the Irish Church, as it is called, who receive State assistance towards the support of their religion; nine will be Presbyterians, who receive an endowment or bribe, in order to induce them to acquiesce in the existence of the State Church; and 1 per cent will consist of waifs and strays made up of other and minor sects. There is a simple eloquence about these figures which goes to my heart when I mention them, and the most elaborate argument can scarcely add to their force. They do not however, by any means state the whole case against the Irish Church. The 12 per cent who belong to the Established Church are, upon the whole, the richest part of the Irish community, and are therefore the best able to maintain an Establishment of their own, while the 78 per cent who belong to the Roman Catholic Church, and who receive nothing, form the poorest part of the Irish community, and are the least able to maintain a Church of their own. It is impossible to recur to these facts without being reminded of Dives and Lazarus; only Lazarus was allowed to eat of the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table, while the Irish Lazarus gets nothing whatever. The case, however, goes still further; for this inequality, instead of being smoothed over, is greatly exaggerated by all the external manifestations that are possible. The Church of the 12 per cent is not only endowed, but it is Established. The Queen is its head—its Bishops sit by rotation in the House of Lords—it has Ecclesiastical Courts established and maintained at the public expense to decide ecclesiastical questions arising among this small body; and it has an Establishment altogether so superfluous and so monstrous as if it was intended to point and give sting to the inequality that already existed. Just look at the difference between the state of things in this country and in Ireland. Look at the 730 difference between the numbers of the members of the Church of England in this country and in Ireland, and then recollect that there are twelve Bishops belonging to the Irish Church. I am reminded, in pointing attention to these facts, of the lines—If, in England, for three million souls 'tis concededTwo proper-sized Bishops are all that is needed;'Tis plain, for the Irish half-million who want 'cm,One-third of a Bishop is just the right quantum.If the Irish were to have Bishops in the same proportion as the English, they should, instead of twelve Bishops, have one-third of a Bishop, or something like that. People talk of the danger of trusting the Church in a country like Ireland to voluntary efforts. Why, Ireland is, par excellence, the country of voluntaryism. What can be a stronger instance of that principle than a country in which 78 per cent of the people pay every shilling that is raised for their religion? It is not because you insult that voluntaryism by placing side by side with it this pompous and overgrown Establishment that you alter the real feeling of the community; and, do what we will, it will remain a country of voluntaryism. The question before you is, whether you will consent to go hand and hand with that feeling, or will strive to overshadow it by the pomp of the Irish Establishment? Then I suppose that the use of the Establishment must be to make people better. Can anyone, can any reasonable man, believe that the Irish Establishment is calculated to make anyone better? What good qualities is it to educe? Is it likely to make the Catholics better when they feel that it has been taken from them; if not as a badge of conquest, certainly as a badge of re-conquest? They must be more than human if they do not compare with feelings of discontent the poverty and homeliness of their own worship with the pomp and splendour of the worship of the minority. Is it the Protestants whom you expect to make better, by accustoming them to the selfishness and the disregard of the feelings and rights of their neighbours, which are inseparable from the condition of a dominant minority. Then is it a wise thing that such an Establishment should continue to exist? Is it wise that, after we have one by one struck off the fetters of the Irish Roman Catholics, we should leave these last two or three to gall and 731 jingle, so as continually to remind those whom we wish to conciliate of the sufferings they formerly endured? Is it wise, by a constant reference to the date of that Church's birth, to recall to the recollection of the Irish Roman Catholics a period when those without the pale were regarded by the Protestants as creatures scarcely human, and when the Church was imposed upon them, without the slightest regard to their wishes, their feelings, their traditions, or their devotion? I can scarcely imagine any course more imprudent, if we really desire to conciliate Ireland, than to stand, as the right hon. and gallant General (General Peel) recommends us to do, doggedly by this Establishment. We may rely upon this, that, by whatever means we may attempt to conciliate the Irish Roman Catholics, it is a conditio sine quâ non to our success that we should fully acknowledge that they are our equals in political status, a thing which they never can feel while this Establishment is maintained. The proportion of Protestants and Episcopalians to the Roman Catholics in Ireland is pretty much the same as if with two-and-a-half millions of Catholics, two-and-a-half millions of Englishmen were Roman Catholics, and that the Pope, or some foreign Power which we could not resist, forced upon us an Establishment surrounded with every circumstance of pomp and power for the benefit of those people, and that the Protestants were left to provide for their own religion. We should say that nothing but main force should induce us to bear it, and if we submitted to any other means we should deserve and receive the contempt of the world. This being the state of the case with regard to the Irish Church, we are asked with an air of triumph why this side of the House has moved in this matter now? The question should rather be, why have we not moved long ago? I have never entertained a doubt on this subject, and never shall. There have been those, however, who have led this party who have thought differently. But the times have changed. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) deplores the changes that are coming. But what is this change? The shadow that has fallen over you in this matter is created by the fire you kindled last year. ["Oh, oh!"] Do you suppose that you can meddle with the institutions of the country without its producing its natural effects? Do you 732 think that after what was done last year, in the cause ef equality, you can have recourse to your old stock arguments, and go on evoking our sympathies as you have over and again attempted to do for a pampered minority—a minority pampered at the expense of a poorer majority, and that we should listen to arguments which appear to ignore the existence of any Irish beyond the pale of the Church? But there are other circumstances, I think, which justify us in the course we have adopted. We have got a new Government, and a new Government that do not come to us in the guise of a Conservative Government, but as a truly Liberal Government. Now, the Chief Secretary made this observation in his speech with regard to the Protestant Church. He dealt with two subjects, one was that of education and the other was the Church. Now, this is what he said, and this is what is given us, the Liberal party, as a truly Liberal doctrine with regard to Ireland—The Question must be dealt with in a very different spirit from that which advocates entire abolition."—[3 Hansard, exc. 1393.]He continued—Confiscation is the worst proposal that can be made, either as regards the Church or the land."—[Ibid. 1394.]I am not canvassing the justice of the noble Lord's statement. I merely wish to show you what the manifesto of the Government was on the Irish Church Question. Then he says—The despoiled, if confiscation were agreed on, would feel much more sorely than those to whose position they were brought; and I am sure that the statesman who proposed to give peace to Ireland at the expense of the Irish Church, would create few additional friends of British rule, and would not fail to alienate a large and influential party to whom we are bound by every tie that is snered."—[p. 1394.]I do not deny that he spoke in that respect the language which hon. Gentlemen opposite have been accustomed to hear and cheer on this subject, language that goes home to their feelings, and I am not now arguing against the justice of what he says. But what I maintain is, that in this language and in this speech hon. Members on this side will not recognize what they have been accustomed to regard as truly Liberal sentiments. And when the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government appeals to us to support his Government on the ground that it is truly Liberal, and when we are furnished with this as a specimen, we are challenged to 733 show what truly Liberal sentiments really are, and to declare that we can not for a moment accept as such the opinions which were expressed by the noble Lord. Then we have the only other thing that has been wanting—"The hour has come, and the man." We have at last a Leader who does not shrink from this question. The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn endeavoured to show that the Resolutions were bald and meaningless; that there is no effect in them; that he could not gather what they meant; but, at the same time, he told us in his speech that they had been received with rage and resentment in Ulster. So that apparently their meaning was understood by the people of Ulster, and the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary appeared to comprehend their meaning when he took them for his text the other evening, and dealt with them in a manner which showed that they were not the absolutely meaningless phrases which they were held to be by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn. It certainly appeared as if the noble Lord had prepared a speech on the hypothesis that the speech of my right hon. Friend would not explain the Resolutions. Indeed, it reminded me of the guns in the Bosphorus, built in the wall, which would blow a vessel to pieces if it would only be kind enough to pass exactly in front of them. But, if it did not, the guns will not traverse, and their contents go into empty air. We, at all events, have not shrunk from discussing this question. We were challenged by the noble Lord the Chief Secretary, and we have, I rejoice to say, taken that challenge up. The question has been fairly raised, and it must be decided. Then, what is there to be said against the proposal of my right hon. Friend? It is said that we are giving tip the Act of Union. I should like to ask any hon. Gentleman, legal or non-legal, whence the Parliament of 1800 derived the power which enabled it to bind all future Parliaments, or why it possessed such paramount authority that we should have lost a certain amount of our power, which has been taken away from us and all succeeding Parliaments by the Act of the Parliament of 1800? We claim no power to bind our successors; and, while the Government are endeavouring to impress upon us the fact that we cannot by our action control the next Parliament, we are told that we cannot interfere with what was done by the Parliament of 1800. 734 Then, Gentlemen talk of a compact; but who were the parties to that compact? How many Roman Catholics sat in the Parliament at that time? The Protestant Parliament of Ireland makes, or is bribed to make, a compact with the Protestant Parliament of England, purporting to exclude Roman Catholics for ever from rights which are, as I say, inherent in every Roman Catholic. We have nothing to do with, and are not bound by, such a compact as that. This notion of a permanent law, and the power of one generation to bind another, would be ridiculous, if it were not so mischievous. In that respect, at any rate, we may take a lesson from America. The Americans have always acted upon the doctrine that the present generation is lord and master of the destinies of the generation; and it has been that pliability of their machinery which has enabled them to carry on their Government under many difficult circumstances. Then there is the Coronation Oath. I will not say much about that, because there is no man who will say that the Coronation Oath binds the Queen in her legislative character. To maintain that it did would be to say that the Parliament of William III. had power to veto the action of Parliament for all time to come in matters that might be of vital importance to the State. In that case, if a law of the first necessity had to be passed—and it was impossible that the Sovereign should give her assent to it—the result would be that the country would be forced into a revolution. And that is always the fate of permanent laws. Such ideas as these are bugbears in the times of peace; but at other periods they are scattered like the dust before the wind, because the only alternative is revolution. Besides, I should like to ask whether the duties of the Sovereign are not the same before as after the Coronation Oath has been taken; and, if so, whether, before the Oath, the Sovereign is bound to assent to no measure disestablishing the Irish Church? Then there is another argument—the argument of vested interests. A vested interest must be vested in somebody; and, if there is a vested interest here, it must be either in the Church, the clergy, or the laity. It cannot be in the Church, for this simple reason—that a vested interest means, as I understand it, a right to compensation for a reasonable expectation—for a right which can be ascertained in property, or something in the nature of property. Now the Church has 735 no property at all; it is not a body politic or corporate; it is incapable of taking property—it cannot receive it or take it; property cannot be conveyed to it—it cannot own it, and therefore can have no vested interest. On the next point, I take the Secretary for the Home Department as my authority, and he says—As for the clergy, we can easily get rid of them with condensation. They are merely there for the benefit of others; they are public employés, who can be dealt with as easily as any others.It remains, then, as my hon. Friend the Secretary for the Home Department says, that the vested interest, if it exists at all, exists in the laity. Now, if it exists in the laity, and you take it away, as he says with great truth, you cannot compensate the people at all; you cannot compensate the laity for the withdrawal from among them of the Established Church; it is an injury to their feelings, and causes them inconvenience; but these things cannot be estimated at money value. Then, my right hon. Friend says, that you must not disestablish the Irish Church, because you cannot compensate the people for the loss of it. If that be so, there is no injustice existing in the world of which you can get rid, because people have only to seize upon something which is now the property of the whole community, and you are in this difficulty — you cannot compensate him by raising from the rest of the community the sum required. So that the community lose by the resumption just as much as they gain. Therefore, I apprehend, if you want to perpetuate a system of injustice, you have only to set up that question of compensation to the laity. Then there is an argument called "the garrison argument." It is said we must keep up the Protestant Church in order to keep up the Protestant influence—in order to keep up a garrison in Ireland. The answer to that is very short. We are strong enough in Ireland at present to enforce a gross injustice on a majority of the people. Do not let us be afraid that when we have the majority on our side we shall not be able to force the minority to do justice: we shall have a better garrison than we have now—the hearts of a grateful Nation. Having referred to these arguments seriatim, I will make one criticism on them as a class, and that is a very important one. When we argue, in order to persuade a person, we ought to start from a common ground; we should get at a principle which we admit, and which he 736 admits. If you start from what you believe, but your antagonist does not agree to, your argument is manifestly futile; it is what is known as "begging the question." Is there any argument adduced in the course of the debate, or can any argument be adduced by human ingenuity, in support of the Irish Church, which will be at all likely to convince a Roman Catholic? Can any one say that the Roman Catholic is obstinate or wrong-headed because he does not consent to the foundation of the arguments brought forward? I know of no argument which can be brought forward that a sincere Roman Catholic can acquiesce in. You must start from a principle to which he will assent; otherwise, if he refuse to be convinced, it is not his fault, but yours. Would you maintain a system which you cannot prove to those who suffer by it to be indispensable? You cannot justify the possession of what you have obtained by bare force; then how can you hope to keep peace in a country in which the most permanent institutions are secured by bare force; how can you imagine, under such circumstances, the possibility of reconciling the mass of more than three-fourths of the people? I now proceed to another part of the subject, and that is the conduct of the Government; and dealing with this I ask the indulgence of the House, because the Government has contrived by a kind of zigzag policy to make the subject excessively complicated. However, I hope I have succeeded in getting at the bottom of it. I invite the House just to follow me as I briefly run through the history of these transactions. I start with a point to which I have already alluded, and that is the declaration by the First Minister of the Crown that the policy of the Government was to be a "truly liberal" one. These were very re-assuring words for Ireland, and no doubt they had their effect. The second step I have also alluded to; I refer to the statement made by the Chief Secretary for Ireland—that the Government would not listen to any plan for disestablishing, or, indeed, for making any serious changes in the Irish Church, except internally. But, at the same time as the noble Lord said that, he also made another statement regarding Irish education; and that statement, proposed we should grant a charter to a University, to be mainly under the control of the Roman Catholic Bishops, for the purpose of educating the Roman Catholic laity. I am not going to 737 enter into that question now; but I will say this, that every sincere Roman Catholic—certainly every Roman Catholic ecclesiastic—is an enemy to the Protestant Establishment in Ireland; yet, at the same time, as the Government professes undiminished affection for the Protestant Establishment, it proposes to hand over the education of the middle and upper classes of the Roman Catholics—the great majority of the population—to persons to whom it is no discredit to say that they are necessarily, by their situation and creed, the bitterest enemies the Establishment can possibly have. That is zigzag the first. The next one was still more striking. I allude to the letter of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, which I think has not received the consideration it deserves. The right hon. Gentleman says in his memorable letter that he had formed a Ministry "by the command and with the approval of Her Majesty." I do not know whether those words are merely formal; but if they are more than formal, I think they might just as well have been omitted. The right hon. Gentleman goes on to say, referring to a memorial—Such expressions of feeling on the part of influential bodies of my countrymen are encouragingly opportune. We have heard something lately of the crisis of Ireland. In my opinion the crisis of England is rather at hand; for the purpose is now avowed, and that by a powerful party, of destroying that sacred union between Church and State which has hitherto been the chief means of our civilization, and is the only security for our religious liberty.Observe the words, "now avowed by a powerful party, of destroying that sacred union between Church and State." What Church, and what State? Of course, it is perfectly clear it is an inference of his own that the right hon. Gentleman has put forward here. What we avow is our intention to break the connection between the Irish Church and the English State. [Sir STAFFORD NORTHCOTE: What Church?] The Irish branch of the English Church, and that is represented as if this influential party had avowed its intention of breaking up the union between the Church and State altogether. There is no qualification whatever. Then the right hon. Gentleman speaks of "the sacred union between Church and State." Why, Sir, the sacred union, as it is called, was effected in the year 1800 by the Act of Union; it was not obtained by sacred means at all. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman opposite will take a note of this, and in due time 738 prove how a thing which did not exist before the Union and was created by the Act of Union, can possibly be sacred, and whence the inspiration came. He possibly knows something of the influence under which that Parliament acted; but I do not think he will call it sacred. But we will pass from that expression to consider "the chief means of our civilization." What is that? The Church of Ireland? The right hon. Gentleman actually tells us that our chief means of civilization is the Church of Ireland; and that the only security for our religious liberty is this very Church of a small minority, which religious liberty, unable any longer to endure so great an injustice, has risen up against, resolved to see its end. That letter was, no doubt, intended to serve a purpose, and far be it from me to say it will not do so. It was intended to assure a certain party that their interests were safe in the hands of him who, in his time, has played many parts, and now stands forth as the great Protestant champion. The experience that the right hon. Gentleman has had of mankind has taught him to rely much on their gullibility. I am sorry to say I have contributed a little to his opinion of mankind. With the Amendment moved by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn in one hand and the charter for the Roman Catholic University in the other, he is going, by means of these three remarkable lines in this letter, to establish himself at the head of the Protestant and No Surrender party, and to persuade them to retain him in office. But for once he has over-estimated the limits of their gullibility. Well, this step can hardly be called a step. The Catholic University has hung fire: it hangs fire still; and I do not believe we are to hear any more of it. I took the liberty to say it is a pyrotechnical display, and I believe it is. It may be described by the lines of Virgil—Liquidis in nubibus arsit arundo, Signavitque viam flammis, tenuesque recessit Consumpta in ventos.It shone for a moment; it was dissipated by the first breath of opposition, and we shall hear no more of it. Well, the next step is the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn. You will observe the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government has been going very far; he appears as a very high Protestant indeed, and, in accordance with the zigzag policy which guides the Government, the noble Lord has been going a little bit the other way. The 739 memorable letter appeared in The Times one morning, and on the very same afternoon, so necessary was it to take a little relaxation after the extraordinary pitch of religious zeal to which the right hon. Gentleman had wound himself up, that the noble Lord gave notice of his Amendment. It has been described as being "obscurely-worded," but I am bound to say it is by no means obscure. I think I understand it perfectly, and I will state what I think it means. It has two propositions. In the first place, it admits that considerable modifications in the temporalities in the Irish Church are—["No, no!"] I beg pardon—"may be" expedient. "Scandals" was the word used by the Secretary of State for the Foreign Department. Then, what do these words mean? I have no doubt as to their meaning Whether it makes for or against my argument it is quite clear that they refer to the pending inquiry. We all know what that was. It was an inquiry into the administration and revenues of the Irish Church and how they could best be improved. It was attempted to add to the scope of that inquiry by the addition of words relating to a more equitable distribution of the revenues; but these words were rejected, and accordingly there can be no doubt that the Amendment only contemplates a certain re-adjustment within the Church. That is a fair construction—I do not care which way it makes—of the wording of the noble Lord's Amendment. I daresay you might get rid of some scandals, but I doubt whether that would improve matters much; because the "educated" gentleman, of whom we heard to-night, would probably be needed more in a parish where there were only a few Protestants than where there were a great many. I do not enter into that. All that the words do is to pledge the Government to deal with internal reforms of the Church; and then it adds that any proposition tending to the disestablishment or disendowment of the Church ought to be reserved for the decision of the new Parliament. We had no comment upon these words from any hon. Gentleman who spoke from the Benches opposite. But, what do they mean? I apprehend that when a man says, "I have got a box for the play to-night, and I have reserved a seat for you"—that constitutes an invitation for me to go to the play with him; and when he tells me, 'I have got a dinner party, and reserved a seat for you" that he 740 thereby invites me to dine with him; and, in like manner, that the proposal to reserve this question of the Irish Church for the decision of the new Parliament means, "I invite the new Parliament to deal with it." That, then, is the construction of the Amendment. The first part pledges the Government to immaterial alterations within the Church; the second invites the new Parliament to deal with the Church as it chooses. And when I look to the speech of the noble Lord as explanatory of the Amendment I find that, speaking for the Government, he says—We have made up our minds to two things; the first of these is that an alteration in the status," the temporalities of the Irish Church "is inevitable.The noble Lord, speaking on behalf of the Government, goes on to say, "That will be the first business of any Government when the new Parliament assembles." Therefore, I say that, no doubt, is the meaning of the Amendment of the noble Lord. I do not blame it for obscurity; but I blame it, if he will allow me to say so, for a want of good sense. ["Oh, oh!"] Why should we make any alteration in the Irish Church; why should we pull it about and transfer its funds from one part of the country to another if we do not intend it be permanent and enduring? If we do anticipate that it will be permanent and enduring, why reserve it for consideration in the new Parliament? It is like saying, "I approve spending large sums of money this year in beautifying and planting Hyde Park, reserving for the consideration of Parliament next year whether it will not be better to cut it up into streets and build upon it." I come now to that part of the speech in which the noble Lord introduced his Motion. That speech, I think, has been very ill-treated by his own party, and for this reason. I really do not see how, if such a Motion was to be proposed, it could have been supported in any other manner than it was. I have endeavoured to give a fair and honest construction of what the Motion meant. And how on earth was it to be supported? It was very easy to make such a speech as my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made. But he spoke against the Amendment. Nothing was easier than to do that. But the noble Lord was under the melancholy necessity—from which the Home Secretary felt himself to be quite dispensed—of supporting his own Motion. We really should make allowance for Gentlemen in such difficulties. And if this Motion was 741 a right and proper Motion, the speech of the noble Lord was a right and proper speech in support of it. Look to what the Foreign Secretary said—and the importance of the statement rises beyond the immediate question and goes to the very root of responsible Government—he Spoke with a desire—That the ideas and intentions of Her Majesty's Government objecting to the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman shall not be misconstrued or misunderstood either here or out-of-doors."—[3 Hansard, cxci. 495.]Therefore, you have the noble Lord's own word for it—and nobody can doubt it for a moment—that in what he said he was not merely the organ of the Government to the extent of moving the Amendment, but that, as the organ of the Government, he gave vent to the opinions which he expressed in the course of that speech. Let us see what some of those opinions were—Probably there is not one educated person in a hundred who will stand up and pretend that the Irish ecclesiastical arrangements as they exist are of altogether a satisfactory kind."—[3 Hansard, cxci. 498.]You may say that relates to internal arrangements; but see what follows:—"If you alter the present application of the endowments"—that might mean, perhaps, transferring them from one place to another, but mark the end of the sentence—"what will you do with them?" The noble Lord admits that he is puzzled what to do with them, as many other persons have been and will be puzzled what to do with them. I will not enter into that question. I am pointing out to you that your organ—the second man in the Government—comes forward and tells us he speaks on your behalf, and that he is determined there shall be no mistake as to the meaning of Her Majesty's Government in the words which he uses and the sentiments which he expresses. He enumerates five different plans which have lately come under public notice, and of the last of these he says—Lastly comes an idea which finds great favour, I believe, among a portion of Irish Churchmen, although I am bound to say I do not think it is one that a reformed Parliament is likely to adopt—the scheme, I mean, of leaving untouched the Protestant endowments as a whole, but re-distributing them so as to get rid of the scandal which everybody admits to exist—of sinecure livings and empty churches."—[3 Hansard, cxci. 500.]What does that mean? There are five schemes which he passes in review; upon 742 four of them he expresses no opinion whatever, all of them being different plans of disendowment, and when he comes to the fifth, which is a scheme involving no disendowment, that he discusses with a sneer as an idea which will find no favour with the House. And then the noble Lord says, with great simplicity, having enumerated all these different projects, "and it is into this great chasm that you invite us to plunge." That the Government should actually be compelled to give a clear opinion upon the Irish Church—what misery, what horror! There was a time when it was considered the duty of the Government of England to give its opinions clearly to the House of Commons; when the Government trusted the House in return for confidence reposed by the House in the Government; when frankness in the communications of the Government was the correlative of trust given by the House—when the Government guided, led, directed, and moderated the opinion of the House of Commons. But we all know those days are past and gone. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister will be known at least for this — that he and the Government of which he is at the head have thoroughly inaugurated a new era, and that the notion that a Government is bound to plunge into such a chasm as would be involved in its really committing itself to a bold, clear, outspoken policy on the Church of Ireland is never again to be looked for. The noble Lord says—We affirm two propositions, one of which I conceive to require no proof—namely, that some modification"—this is the thing which is so self-evident that it requires no proof at all—That some modification, be it what it may, in the status of the Irish Church Establishment is to all appearance inevitable."—[Ibid 506.]What does "status" mean? What is the status of a woman? Married or single. What is the status of a Church? Whether it is Established or not. Then the noble Lord winds up in this manner. He says—Then it is asked, 'Why not meet the Motion by a direct negative, or by the Previous Question?' Simply for this reason: either one or the other of those courses would imply, or might possibly be considered as implying, that we objected to this question being dealt with at all, in any form or at any time. And that is a misconstruction against which we reasonably desire to guard."—[p. 506.]What question? The status of the Irish Church Establishment, and the appropriation 743 of its endowments to other purposes than that of the Establishment. So that we have the authority of the noble Lord for saying that the reason this peculiar course was taken was from the fear lost it might be concluded that the Ministry really meant to stand by the Irish Church. The same night we had the speech of the Solicitor General—not a Member of the Cabinet certainly, but still Counsel for the Government, and as such speaking in some manner on behalf of the Government as a whole. And I must make this remark, both upon the speech of the noble Lord and that of the Solicitor General, that they seemed to have been prepared with very peculiar deliberation and accuracy; and that whatever errors they committed were certainly not occasioned by too rapid or careless improvisation. The Solicitor General speaking after the noble Lord, but in the course of the same evening, said—He would never consent to leave the Protestants of Ireland without an Established and an endowed Church," and declared that "he would be no consenting party to a policy which carried to the extent to which the right hon. Gentleman carried it, must result in a religion betrayed and a country ruined."—[3 Hansard, cxci. 551.]That was pretty plain speaking. Of course the policy the hon. and learned Gentleman referred to was the policy proposed by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), and not opposed by the noble Lord opposite. That is the way the Government treats this question. Then, the next night my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary spoke, and if there had been any doubt left as to the extraordinary proceedings of the Government his speech must have removed it. From beginning to end he never noticed the speech of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn. He never said a word about it. But every single position that the noble Lord took up he most emphatically denied and denounced. Let anyone on the other side who thinks I do not say the truth say "No." He began by denying the truth of some observations which had been made about the conduct of the Government upon the Reform question last year, and he gave a short but most admirable reason for their conduct. He got rid of all the difficulty as to which some invidious observations had been made by my noble Friend below the Gangway by the statement that it was not a matter of principle at all. Well, I think that was a capital answer. It was a matter of degree, he said; of a little more or less. Whether 744 we should continue to live under an aristocracy, which he had always fought for and prayed for and approved; or under a democracy which he had always derided and denounced, it was only a matter of degree! Then we come to this: he says—Supposing we had met these Resolutions by a direct negative—which, as far as I am personally concerned, I should be, and am, perfectly prepared to do."—[3 Hansard, cxci. 580.]This, the House will observe, is a latent censure on the noble Lord's Amendment as strong as words can imply. He then takes upon himself—and I do not blame him for it—to answer for the Government. He says—I will give the right hon. Gentleman no other pledge than this, that we will act in accordance with the former part of the Amendment. … But it you ask us to 20 further, I will say, at least, for myself, as I have upon former occasions, that I will not be a party to a measure for disestablishing the Irish Church.—[Ibid, 597.]Now, what is that but saying "I will go with the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn as far as the first part of the Resolution, and I will oppose to the utmost of my power the second part of it?" I am not making any comment as to who is right or who is wrong; but I want to show the House the way in which the Government meets the case. I have now finished reading these extracts, which, I am sure, will be a great relief to hon. Gentlemen opposite, I ask the House to consider what all this amounts to. Here you have the Government acting in the most inconsistent manner, setting up at one moment zeal for the Church, and the next moment willing to intrust the education of the young—one of the most sacred of charges—to the hands of its bitterest enemies. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government comes forward with a letter which out-Herods Herod in the extraordinary height to which it carries the principle of an Establishment; and the very next day we have the noble Lord proposing an Amendment which virtually gives up the principle of an Establishment altogether, or which reserves the principle for the next Parliament, leaving it to that Parliament to decide what is to be done. But, as if that was not enough you put up another Minister, who takes a different part. First, you have the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, who argues the question in the spirit of the Resolutions before the House; the next day you have the right hon. Gentleman 745 the Secretary for the Home Department, who gets up to deny everything the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary said—to deny what he asserted on your behalf, and to assert on your behalf what he denied the day before. And that is the manner in which you think it right, and decorous, and worthy the dignity of the House of Commons to treat this question! It is nothing new to us to observe these things—to see the Government change its attitude—to find that there should be a complete change in the attitude of the Government in this House. We now find that the Government, instead of initiating measures, throw out, like the cuttle fish, of which we read in Victor Hugo's novel, all sorts of tentacula for the purpose of catching up something which it may appropriate and make its own. First one thing is thrown out, and then another; and when anything does not take, it is withdrawn immediately, and the Minister repudiates it, and disavows those who brought it forward. Consequently, in the political vocabulary, we have a new sobriquet introduced, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire's "ninepins." But you were not content with the inconsistency which I have pointed out to the House. You could not exceed the inconsistencies of last year. You have done your best this year, but you are not able to come up to your inconsistencies of last year; the nature of things does not allow it. You have initiated a new idea in Parliament. It is the first experiment of the kind, and I certainly hope it will be the last. You have recently taken to do this—to put forward successively two Gentlemen holding the highest offices, except one, in the Government, to contradict each other and state contradictory lines of policy to this House. The one says you are in favour of making any modification in the Irish Church; and the other says you will not listen to any such proposal; so that those who like may vote with the Foreign Secretary, and those who do not like to vote with him, may vote with the Secretary for the Home Department, the question before the House being the same all the time. The House of Commons has endured a good deal of this kind of thing. We have been all lowered by it. The Government has been lowered by it; the House of Commons has been lowered by it; and the estimation in which public men are held by the country has, I fear, been irretrievably lowered by it. I rise 746 to denounce as strongly as I can these Innovations. I think it was enough to have the ground of the Government shifted from the letter of the right hon. Gentleman to the Amendment of the noble Lord in one day—to go from one pole to the other in a single jump—I think that was enough; but the right hon. Gentleman is a man of daring genius, and has reached his culminating point of audacity. In his letter he puts forward the connection between Church and State as sacred; but in the Amendment he expresses his willingness to invite the attention of Parliament to the propriety of abolishing that connection in Ireland. He has been guilty of many inconsistencies; but inconsistencies do not satisfy the right hon. Gentleman. He must soar a little higher; and actually two Members of his Cabinet come forward with two absolutely contradictory lines of policy on one of the highest and most important subjects that can engage the attention of Parliament. I can add nothing on this subject. I lament all this more than I can express; because, without speculating very closely on the future of a new Parliament, of this I am certain, that the vessel of the State is going to enter on stormy waters, and should enter on them in good trim. I think that the peril which is to be attributed to the conversion of right hon. Gentlemen opposite last year, has been immensely aggravated by their manner of conducting the business of the House. I see from it the most disastrous results. Everyone says that there is no honesty, and that no institution is secure for a moment. [Ironical cheers.] Those Gentleman who voted so steadfastly for household suffrage last year do well to cheer. These things come—no doubt rightly—before the time of the Parliament to which your Vote of last year will give rise, and which appears to us now only by the shadow which it casts before it. Why have they been antedated? Because, since the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues have adopted this line, every one feels that when institutions are attacked, which the Executive Government ought naturally to defend, the Government will not step forward to defend them, but will even endeavour to wrest out of the hands of others the carriage of the question in order to more effectually destroy those institutions. Therefore it is that, not only changes are made and will be made, but will be made with violence, rapidity, and 747 an unthinking haste, which would not be possible if this House were under the control and guidance of an Executive Government which really felt its responsibility. Naturally the garrisons of such institutions are intimidated by knowing that they have no support from the Government. They know that our institutions are like Jericho—the moment the trumpet is blown the walls fall to the ground. All these things, and many more of the same kind, arise from the rotten policy which the Government has introduced for the last two years, of seeking, under whatever pretence, to get possession of questions with the idea of having the popularity and credit of settling them. All this bodes no good to the country. I expect no good from such a policy. I prognosticate that no good can come from such a policy. It is founded on a trafficking on the meanness, pettiness, and the selfishness of mankind, which never rises to the inspiration of any great and noble principle, and seems incapable of devotion, even for a moment, to a great and noble cause. If those who are actuated by such feelings should be betrayed for an instant into a transitory sentiment of attachment for what is high and noble, no sooner is this entertained than it is repented of in sackcloth and ashes. As it is with this Government, so it is with the Irish Church. It also rests on a rotten foundation. You may call it sacred; you may unite it by Acts of Parliament to the English Church; you may, like Mezentius, link the dead to the living body. He tied the dead to the living body, because his object was to kill, and he knew the corruption of the dead body would destroy the living one. Your object is to save, and yet you adopt the same process—you tie the living Chinch of England to the dying Church of Ireland. Why are you so anxious to unite the cause of the English Church with that of the Irish, since they differ in almost every particular in which Churches could be identical? Why, because machinery is put in motion which may destroy the Irish Church, do you seek to involve the English Church in the ruins? But rely on this—all your efforts are in vain. You may do your utmost, but you will not save the Irish Church; nor will the country allow you to enjoy the blessing of destroying her. You will not be able to play over again the game which you played last year. The net of the fowler will not entice birds who have been once caught. The Irish Church 748 is founded on injustice; it is founded on the dominant rights of the few over the many, and shall not stand. You call it a missionary Church. If so, its mission is unfulfilled. As a missionary Church it has failed utterly. Like some exotic brought from a far country, with infinite pains and useless trouble, it is kept alive with difficulty and expense in an ungrateful climate and ungenial soil. The curse of barrenness is upon it; it has no leaves; it bears no blossoms; it yields no fruit. "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?"
§ MR. HORSFALL
remarked that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire had carefully abstained, in the speech with which he had introduced these Resolutions, from speaking of the United Church of England and Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had throughout spoken of the Irish Church, or the Anglican communion in Ireland. Now, in his judgment, things ought to be called by their proper names, and therefore he called the Church the United Church of England and Ireland. This was a matter of considerable importance; because if merely the "Irish Church" were spoken of, and legislation went according to numbers, there could be no doubt that the Roman Catholics of Ireland formed the large majority of the population, whereas, if the term "United Church of England and Ireland" were used, it was equally certain that, in the two countries taken together, there was an overwhelming preponderance of Protestants. As to the object of bringing forward these Resolutions at the present juncture, he would trouble the House with a short extract from a letter addressed by Earl Grey to the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright). Earl Grey said—We hear it openly avowed that this move was wanted in Older to re-unite the Liberal party. Those who compose that party are, it is said, so divided in their opinions that something of this sort was absolutely necessary to bring them together, and that a flag has thus been raised under which they will all rally. I would venture to ask you whether you really think that this is justifiable? Is it right that Ireland should wantonly be made the battle-field of parties?A large portion of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire consisted of a defence of his policy during the last five-and-twenty years: and he quoted Burke, Pitt, and others in support of that policy. He, 749 however, would quote an authority which, in his mind, was of more weight than any of those which had been cited—he meant the right hon. Gentleman himself. He did not intend to quote from Hansard, because speeches were often prepared in haste, and delivered without due deliberation; but from the right hon. Gentleman's treatise on The State in its Relations with the Church, published in the year 1838. The right hon. Gentleman, it would almost seem, must have had a prophetic vision of what was coming to pass, for the words of the introduction to the Work were perfectly applicable to the events of the present day. The right hon. Gentleman said—Probably there never was a time in the history of our country when the connection between the Church and the State was threatened from quarters so manifold and various as at present. The infidel, with sagacious instinct, following out all that tends to the general diminution of religious influences; the Romanist, who, in order to erect his own structure of faith and discipline, aims first at the demolition of every other, and who seems in general to deem us so involved in fatal error, that we must pass through the zero of national infidelity in order to arrive at truth; the professor of political economy, who considers this connection as a visionary theory, only mischievously known by its tendency, when obtruded into practice, to interfere with what he deems the substantial interests of mankind; the democrat, who naturally desires to strip Government of all its highest duties, and leave to it the performance of no more than mechanical functions; of all these it was, perhaps, on the whole, to be expected that they should unite upon any seemingly favourable occasion to press for their common object; and they have so united.The following passage was still stronger, and the argument comprised in it was, in his opinion, unanswerable:—A common form of faith binds the Irish Protestants to ourselves, while they, upon the other hand, are fast linked to Ireland: and thus they supply the most natural bond of connection between the countries. But if England, by overthrowing their Church, should weaken their moral position, they would be no longer able—perhaps no longer willing—to counteract the desires of the majority, tending, under the direction of their leaders—however, by a wise policy, revocable from that fatal course—to what is termed national independence—Or, in other words, the repeal of the Union. The right hon. Gentleman failed entirely in his speech to show wherein the necessity existed for our separation from the Protestants of Ireland. He would not impute to the right hon. Gentleman that he had any doubts as to the truth of the Protestant religion, though he was afraid he had been too ready to believe some of 750 the exaggerated statements which had been put forward on the subject of the Irish Church. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman was aware that there were two classes of parishes in Ireland — namely, civil parishes and ecclesiastical parishes. The number of civil parishes was 2,428; of ecclesiastical parishes, 1,510. The civil parishes sometimes comprised three, four, five, or six ecclesiastical parishes. Now, it had been stated that there were no fewer than 199 parishes which did not contain a single Protestant. This was no doubt true as regarded civil parishes; but there was but one ecclesiastical parish which did not contain a single Protestant, and even that parish contained a church which was attended by Protestants from the adjoining parishes. Then the revenues of the Church had been incorrectly stated. The net revenue of the Bishops and clergy in Ireland was £447,670; the number of Bishops being twelve, of incumbents, 1,510, and of curates 622—making a total of 2,144. Taking, therefore, the incumbents alone, and the net income of the Church payable to incumbents, and dividing it among them, the result would be that each incumbent would receive a stipend of £259 6s. 8d. The number of members of the Established Church was 693,357, so that on the average each incumbent had charge of 452 souls. Some parishes extended for a distance of twenty, thirty, or even sixty miles; some contained between 40,000 and 50,000 acres, and some even 200,000; acres. The right hon. Gentleman had stated, he knew not on what authority, that there were two parishes in Ireland in each of which there were only two Protestants.
§ MR. HORSFALL
said, he had not yet received the detailed information he had expected on this point, and therefore he would not further refer to it. To the objection of the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) that the Church of England was a missionary Church, he replied that the Church of Rome was also a missionary Church, and in support of his statement he would mention the case of a Roman Catholic priest who was sent to establish a Church at Bodmin, although there were no Roman Catholics in the place. The project in that instance failed, and the Church was now shut up. Looking 751 at the views propounded by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, and to the probability of his being again Chancellor of the Exchequer, he almost feared the right hon. Gentleman might, at some future period, propose to take the property of the Church for supplying the exigencies of the State. We had seen in other countries what had followed the disendowment of Churches. They hardly knew yet what would be the effect of the confiscation of Church property in Italy; but they knew that many years ago the same thing occurred in France. The Government of that country said on that occasion, "We will take care to provide for the clergy—if we confiscate their property we will make provision for them." What provision did they make? He did not know whether they gave them churches and residences; but as regarded incomes, in the case of large parishes the sum allowed was £80 a year, in middling parishes £60, and in small parishes £48. Would that be the provision made for clergymen of the Established Church in Ireland when it was disendowed? He did not see how the principle of disendowment could be carried out in Ireland, unless they also adopted it in Wales, where the Established Church was in a minority. When the Church went in Ireland and in Wales we might tremble then for the Church of England. The right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member opposite had done justice to the labours of the Irish clergy; and there was a letter in The Times of to-day from the Knight of Kerry, in which he said—Assuming absenteeism to be an evil, and believing that one of the most real and tangible wants of Ireland is that of resident men of education and position, especially in the more remote districts, it is well to remember that, putting aside for a Moment the religious aspect of the case, you have, as matters stand now, in the Protestant clergymen an educated gentleman, with a certain income, residing in every parish in Ireland. Those who are acquainted with the poorer and less civilized parts of this country, and who remember the sad years of the famine, will bear me out when I say that it would not be easy to exaggerate the amount of good done at that trying time by the Protestant clergy.He, too, should be sorry to see the poor of Ireland deprived of the services of the Protestant clergy. It was a very common thing for the poor to remit their money to the savings banks through the medium of Protestant clergymen. He trusted the Government would accept the challenge thrown out to them by the right hon. 752 Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire. He would ask them, "Do you mean to take your stand on the Irish Church? Then do so, and go to the country upon that question." He had had the honour of presenting a petition signed by 10,000 inhabitants of Liverpool, and another signed by eighty-five clergymen in that town against the disestablishment of that Church, and he knew that in various parts of the country a very strong feeling existed against such a policy. He believed that if the Government went to the country, either now or in January, it would support them. The Home Secretary had quoted from a speech of Sir James Graham in 1835, and he (Mr. Horsfall) had, as a stranger, listened to a speech of his upon the same subject, and he would make a part of that speech his own. That right hon. Gentleman said—If the Irish Church is doomed to fall, happier is the man who shall perish in its ruins than he who survives the fall.
§ MR. CLIVE
said, he would stand but a very few moments between Irish Members and the House. The House would not suspect him of wishing to recapitulate the arguments of this debate. Indeed, he had been able to get up but little enthusiasm on the subject. There were, however, one or two speeches which he must notice. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Horsfall) said, that in the event of the Irish Church being disestablished, the Northern Protestants would be for the repeal of the Union. Now, his experience was entirely at variance with this conclusion, and he disbelieved it entirely. Moreover, the hon. Member reproduced the argument of Dr. O'Brien as to the area of some of the parishes in Ireland. Kilcommon was his instance. A great portion of that parish belonged to him (Mr. Clive), and he could answer for it there was little there for a clergyman to look after. There were grouse and snipes, but no roads, except those which he had made, and which, by the way, had given a great deal of employment to the people, thereby proving that landlords were not altogether so bad as they were represented to be. Well, then, the hon. and learned Member for Sligo (Mr. Serjeant Armstrong) told them on that side of the House that there was a great aversion towards the Protestant clergy, on the part of the Roman Catholic population. Now, he had known Ireland well for twenty year, before, during, and since the famine, and 753 he could undertake to say that the statement had no foundation whatever, and that no body of men ever did their duty more conscientiously than the Irish clergy. The only fault found with them was that they belonged to the Church of the minority. He thought but little of some of the arguments used. He cared nothing for the Coronation Oath; he was not excited by the 5th Article of the Union. On the other hand, he did not believe that these Resolutions were a panacea for the so-called woes of Ireland—woes in which he hardly thought Gentlemen below the Gangway implicitly believed, and which he was sure were grossly exaggerated. If hon. Gentlemen would take the trouble of going through the evidence taken before the Committee of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire), and before the Lords' Committee, they would find that his (Mr. Clive's) statement was true; and more particularly if they would study the evidence given by the hon. Member for Cork himself. They would find it eloquent and impressive; but of proof there was nothing. Great English and Irish landlords were really doing all they could. Some small resident landlords there were in Ireland, as elsewhere, who might not perform their duties, but their number was rapidly decreasing. At the time when Sir George Lewis published his work on Irish disturbances, and ever since, he had been of opinion that perfect religious equality should prevail in Ireland; that the Church, as Established and privileged, should cease to exist; and therefore the first Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman he was prepared to support. But disendowment and the absence of all pecuniary assistance were very different things. To the voluntary system he entirely objected—first, because in the older creeds, in the words of Sir George Lewis, such as the Greek and Roman Catholic, it led to superstition, in the Protestant to fanaticism. Hence we had the anxious sect, the camp meetings, and the revivals of America. Again, he objected to the voluntary principle because he held it to be entirely inapplicable to a country where the population was thinly scattered over a large area. He did not quite understand the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman or the explanation in his speech as to the manner in which he intended to provide for the offices of religion or the support of the ministers He said that three-filths, or perhaps two-thirds of the revenues might remain to the 754 Protestant Church; but he (Mr. Clive) was unable to comprehend how this was to be brought about, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would explain his views on this point. One word as to the Irish Church Commission. He knew well that the Commission had nothing to do with the question of the establishment or disestablishment of the Irish Church; and assuming that the first Resolution was carried, all the further arrangements might well come from that body. He was quite satisfied that the statistics, which would be put in a convenient form, would show that a half or two-thirds of the revenues might be saved, that the staff of the Church might be very much diminished, and that there would be ample funds for all the religious bodies in Ireland, if they would accept them. He did not know himself why they should not accept them; but he did not wish to leave the Protestant Church without endowment or pecuniary assistance, and he thought if it were so left it would be the worse for the country. In expressing these opinions he spoke as a resident, and as one who passed a great deal of his time in Ireland.
§ MR. LEFROY
said, at a crisis so momentous as the present he would gladly have left the defence of his Church to abler hands than his own. As, however, the Resolutions proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire materially effected the interests of the constituency which he represented, he felt it his duty to express, as forcibly as he could, his objections to them. He regretted that so much party spirit had been infused into this debate, and should have been much better pleased to hear a matter so solemn and important as the one under consideration discussed in a fairer and more becoming spirit, and with the simple object of ascertaining what was the best that could be done under the circumstances. Ireland on this, as well as on many former occasions, had been made the battle-field of political warfare. He deeply lamented that such should be the case. He felt some difficulty in dealing with this subject; because, if he made any references to the speeches of hon. Gentlemen present, he would be told that he was indulging in the argumentum ad hominem, which was offensive. If he alluded to the opinions of able statesmen who had passed away, he would probably be told that the opinions of public men change now so rapidly, that those of the statesmen of 755 former times would probably have changed also if they had lived in the present times. If he called attention to the ancient history of the Church, he might be told that it was as uninteresting as an old almanack. He objected to the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman as being unconstitutional, unjust, and calculated to produce much mischief to the whole united Empire, as well as to Ireland. The first Resolution, which embodied the attack, was unconstitutional, because it was at variance with the Act of Union. The attack made upon the Irish clergy by the hon. and learned Member for Sligo (Mr. Serjeant Armstrong) he believed to be unjust and unfounded. The Irish clergy were a most estimable body of men, and were never found deficient in the sacred duties they had to discharge. The Resolutions were unjust, because they took by surprise that portion of the Irish people who belonged to the Established Church. No notice had been given them of this attempt to deprive them of their property and rights, and they had no opportunity afforded them of preparing for the crisis. This attack on the Irish Church could not end without inflicting injury upon the kingdom at large. (That the attack on the Irish Church would be more dangerous to England than had been represented in that House was sufficiently proved by a passage which he quoted from a paper, representing, as he said, popular feeling on the subject; and it was also indicated by the tone of the French papers on this debate.) In respect to the Act of Union, whilst he did not, for a moment, deny that Parliament had a legal right to repeal any Act it had passed, he yet looked upon the Act of Union as wholly different from an ordinary Act. That Act was founded on a solemn compact, entered into by the British Government for the maintenance of the Established Church in Ireland, and he contended that the House had no right to deprive the Protestants of Ireland of the benefits of their Church, which were secured to them by that compact. Lord Castlereagh, the great Minister of that day, when the Act of Union was passed, characterized that measure as one establishing one State, one Legislature, and one Church, and said that incorporated with the English Church, the Irish Church would be based upon such a strong and national foundation as to raise it above all fear. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire had also 756 said, according to the letter quoted the other evening by the Secretary for the Home Department—In any measure dealing with the Irish Church, I think, though I scarcely expect ever to be called upon to share in such a measure, the Act of Union must be recognized and must have important consequences, especially with reference to the position of the hierarchy.The second Resolution was of great importance; but it could not be acted upon until an Act of Parliament was passed empowering the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to carry out its principle. He believed, indeed, that if those Commissioners were to act in the way it directed, they would be liable to be brought before the Court of Queen's Bench for not exercising the functions intrusted to them. In the speeches made by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire), the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill) or the many other addresses they had heard on the other side of the House, there was nothing to show that the Church in Ireland presented a substantial grievance to the people of that country generally. On the contrary, The Cork Reporter, The Tablet, and many of the other organs of Catholic opinion, attributed the discontent and disloyalty of the people to far different causes. He admitted that the conduct of some of the Irish Bishops and clergy in the times of Charles I. and Charles II., and even in the reign of George I., was by no means creditable to the Church; but the fault lay with the English Government, which made bad appointments. A vast improvement had taken place within the last century. Churches had increased, the working clergy had increased, and religion had advanced with great rapidity. Within the last twenty-five years the churches in one district had increased by twenty-five, and the working clergy in proportion. The voluntary subscriptions paid into the Ecclesiastical Commissioners' hands, for building, enlarging, and repairing churches, since that Board was established in 1834, amounted to nearly £200,000. In Dublin, Cork, Tuam, Kilmore, Limerick, and many other places, they also witnessed large sums expended voluntarily on the construction of new cathedrals and churches, or repair of the old ones, which did not pass through the Ecclesiastical Commissioners' office; and, as an example, he need only refer to the munificent conduct of one of our most distinguished 757 citizens of Dublin in effecting the restoration of the Cathedral of St. Patrick at an outlay of £130,000. He would have preferred these Resolutions being met by a direct negative, but he would support the Amendment upon the ground that an opportunity ought to be given to the Royal Commission to state their opinion upon the subject before Parliament proceeded to legislate at all on the subject. He objected to the alienation of the funds of the Church; but he should be pleased to see such a re-distribution of those funds as would render the Church more efficient.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
said, the hon. Member for the University of Dublin gave the House an elaborate account of the vast number of churches that had been built, and of the large sums that had been expended in repairing the houses of worship used by the Anglican clergy. The vast expenditure he thus described he used as an argument against disestablishing and disendowing the State Church in Ireland; but he omitted all reference to the fact that these churches were nearly empty on each Sabbath day, and to the not less important fact that, with the noble exception of the unfollowed example set by the Member for the City of Dublin, the sums expended on the building, the extending, and the repairing of Anglican churches in Ireland were paid not by the Anglicans themselves, but from the State funds. ["No!"] He begged to assure the hon. Gentlemen who said "No," that if they took the trouble to investigate the facts they would find that on an average there were more than £50,000 a year paid for the building and repairing of the Protestant, Churches of Ireland by the Irish Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The figures for 1864 were £51,000, for 1865 £52,000, and for 1866 £71,000, and the series of reports would show that £50,000 a year was below the average cost of fabrics to the public; and he was at a loss to know upon what pretence the Irish Church could lay claim to consideration, because of the moneys spent on Church buildings, when all that money was supplied from the national Church Fund, and not by the members of the Anglican faith. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Horsfall), who preceded the hon. Member for Dublin University on the same side, entered into a discussion on the difference between parishes, of which there 2,400 in Ireland, and benefices, of which there were 1,510. 758 The distinction was a just one, but the argument based on it was not tenable. The consolidation of these 2,400 parishes, into 1,510 benefices, arose from the fact that there were no congregations in many of the parishes, and two, three, four, and sometimes as many as nine parishes were converted into one benefice to make up one congregation. The consolidation did not arise from the smallness of the parochial area, but from the absence of Anglican inhabitants, and occasionally from the desire to give a good income to a friend. He would illustrate the question, the discussion of which was raised for the first time in that debate by the hon. Member for Liverpool, by the circumstances of the united dioceses of Limerick, Ardfert, and Aghadoe. There were in these dioceses 183 parishes, and of the 183 no less than 22 had not one Anglican resident. Yet in these 22 parishes, in which no Anglican was to be found, there was a Catholic population larger than the total Anglican population of the three united dioceses. There were, however, parishes in which some Anglicans were to be found, which presented a case hardly better than those in which no Anglicans existed. There were 68 parishes in these three united dioceses in which the total Anglican population amounted to a number that if equally distributed would give just one Anglican family for each parish, not one of the 68 having three families residing in it. He submitted that these 68 parishes out of the 183 parishes of one diocese, no one of which had three whole Anglican families resident, and the aggregate of which gives but one family for each of the 68 parishes, is a far more damaging fact for the Irish Church, than was the fact that there were 199 parishes in Ireland without one, which the Bishops contrived to smother out of you by uniting other parishes into benefices. What is the Catholic population of these 68 parishes? The Anglican population is 360, including all the paid Church officials and their households, and the Catholic population is 76,035. Having said so much for the hon. Member for Liverpool's argument as to the small area of the parishes which have no Anglicans, he would, with the permission of the House, give him a few illustrations as to what Irish benefices as distinct from parishes are. The diocese of Cloyne has its parishes consolidated into 80 benefices. Of these there are no less than 55, in no one of which does 759 the gross Anglican population exceed 12 families. There are 30, in no one of which is there move than 5 families—and, deducting the family of the clergyman, who is in each case paid for residing, the total number of Anglican families in the 30 benefices is 44—and for the spiritual instruction of these 44 families there is raised a parochial revenue of £6,626. He would give the hon. Member for Liverpool another group of benefices with larger Anglican populations. There were 17 benefices in the same diocese, the number of Anglican families in which (deducting those of the clergymen who were proverbial for large families) was 110, and for these 110 the parochial revenue was £7,406, giving for the 154 families a gross parochial cost of £14,032 a year, or in 47 of the 80 benefices of this one diocese an annual payment by the general public, apart from building churches, supplying requisites, and episcopal supervision, amounting to an annual cost of £135 9s. 11½d. He hoped the House would agree with him, after considering these figures, that the benefices with factitious congregations were even worse than the parishes with no Anglican congregations. But, in fact, what was true of the two dioceses he referred to, in order to expose the attempt made to conceal the truth by uniting several parishes into one benefice, was true as to all the dioceses of Ireland. There were 33 dioceses in Ireland, and in 4 only of the 33 did the percentage of the Anglican population amount to 20 per cent; in one only did it exceed 25 per cent, and in that one it did not reach 26. In 9 the percentage varied from a little over 2 to 3 and a fraction. One diocese—Dublin—contained more than one-seventh, nearly one-sixth of the whole Anglican population of all Ireland, and yet the Anglicans in that were not 20 per cent of the general population of the diocese. Yet the Church of which these things are true is the Established Church in Ireland, and is called the National Church, whose revenues are sacred and inviolable. He knew that many other Gentlemen were anxious to address the House, and being desirous not to abuse the indulgence accorded to him, he would not pursue the statistical argument any further, but proceed to deal with an argument pressed that night by the hon. and gallant General (General Peel), and pressed even more strongly by the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs on a previous night— 760 he alluded to the threat that if the House dared to interfere with the Church—to disestablish or to disendow it—the Anglicans in Ireland would become disaffected and rebellious. They were told that the Church was a sacred and holy institution on which profane hands must not be laid, and that it must be sustained intact to keep the light of the Reformation brightly shining amid the spiritual darkness in Ireland. The noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs told them that if they touched the Church the anger of the loyal Protestants would surge into disaffection, and he warned them — he might say, threatened them—that the consequences must be disastrous, since they were the most intelligent and active and the best organized body in Ireland. He went further. He said the Presbyterians would join the disaffected Anglicans, and that their united force, if in a state of disaffection, would be irresistable. The Home Secretary held out nearly similar threats, and, no doubt, on sufficient authority. He (Sir John Gray) did not believe that these serious threatenings were unauthorized. Certainly the noble Lord did not himself conjure up the evidence that such disaffection was to be dreaded; for the selfish and sordid agitators that are now disturbing the peace of Ireland, are labouring hard to create that disaffection which was relied on by the noble Lord as the best practical support of his Amendment. There existed at that moment in London the head quarters of a most pernicious agitating organization called "The Church Institution." The head centres of that organization were the Bishops of the Irish Church. Nine of the twelve Irish Bishops, including the two Archbishops, were on the directory, and they had recently established in every diocese, and in nearly every parish in Ireland, affiliated societies in connection with the central circle. The Anglican clergyman of the parish was generally the president of the parochial circle, and the clerical agitators were generally the leaders on the platform. That the noble Lord and the Home Secretary knew well the extent of the disaffection, almost amounting to treason, spoken at these clerical agitation societies, was matter of notoriety. The speech of the Rev. Mr. Ferrar, delivered at Rathmines, which was more than once alluded to in that debate, was delivered at one of the affiliated circles of the Church Institution. That rev. gentleman talked to his auditory of the attempt 761 that would be made to disestablish and disendow the Anglican Church, and pledged them not to yield up the spoil without a struggle, but to prepare to die as soldiers. At another of the Church Institution circles, held at Newbliss, the rev. Mr. Flanagan, rector of Clones, spoke in a similar strain, recited the old poetic watchwords of the party—Put your trust in God, my boys,But keep your powder dry,and told this House and the Sovereign that the loyalty of the Protestants of Ireland was conditional on the maintenance of ascendancy; and were the Church disendowed, their devotion to the Constitution and their allegiance to the Crown would be at an end. This rev. agitator went further. He had the audacity to send a message from his circle to their gracious Queen, admonishing her that the Crown of her ancestor was kicked into the Boyne, and warning her that the same might be the fate of her Crown if she assented to the disestablishing of the Church and the withdrawal of the State revenues. He cited these seditious speeches to show that the noble Lord was not speaking merely as a prophet when he warned the House against the disaffection of the Anglican party; but, while it was true that the Episcopal and clerical agitators thus proclaimed that their allegiance to the Throne was conditional on the continuation of their stipends, he would ask any Member, no matter on what side he sat, who valued and understood the high constitutional feeling that ought to animate the Commons of England, and who appreciated the duties of a Minister and his responsibilities, was it right or was it proper for the responsible Ministers of the Crown to speak with approval of such sentiments, and to threaten that House that, if they freely exercised their privileges by removing the great monster grievance of Ireland, the skilled and active and organized clerical confederacy, whose allegiance is conditional, might proceed to open revolt? The Queen was warned by the platform orator of these societies that one Crown was kicked into the Boyne because its owner failed to support Protestant ascendancy; and, by inference, the Sovereign was threatened that her Crown might also be kicked into the nearest river if she assented to the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church. Did the Minister denounce the insulting threat as was his duty? Did he not rather countenance, 762 approve, encourage the insolent spouters of treason, and threaten you—threaten Parliament—seek to over-awe its deliberations by telling you of the probability that a great and long-deferred act of justice would be followed by the disaffection of the Orange party. The House is asked to delay—to suspend its judgment—to procrastinate. What is it asked to wait for? Is it to give time to these Episcopal and clerical agitators to cover the island with their affiliated societies, to fan the flame of discontent, to stimulate disaffection, and so to prepare for active revolt, that the Ministers who now threaten disaffection may be able to come down on some future occasion and tell that House the Church Institution, the Bishops, the clergy, the advocates of ascendancy, are in revolt—in arms; and, if you would attempt to meddle with the Church, they may enter this Chamber and sweep you hence. He would not pretend to say what amount of connection there was between the Government and the agitating affiliated societies got up by the Anglican Bishops and clergy to enable them still to retain their public revenues. There might be a more direct connection between them than some imagined; he did not say there was, but he would say that the delay urged by the Government under the plea that they should wait for the Report of the Royal Commission was, in fact, the asking to delay till the Church Institution should report, for the Church Commission was, in fact, the Church Institution. He held in his hand a circular issued by the Church Institution in August, 1867. That circular was a whip for funds to protect the Anglican Church in Ireland from the reforms which this House might deem it right to enforce. That private circular embodies the names of twenty-nine individuals who were put thus before "the faithful" as the promoters of the fund for the several steps subsequently taken to defend the Church, including the formation of the affiliated societies of which the Rev. Messrs. Ferrar and Flanagan are such distinguished members. Amongst the names are the Archbishop of Armagh, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Bishops of Meath, of Tuam, of Ossory, of Cashel, of Cork, of Kilmore, and the Bishop Designate of Dewy. The circular states that—The recent debates on the Irish Church in both Houses of Parliament have dearly shown that one of the chief questions to be determined on the assembling of the Reformed Parliament will 763 be the future status and position of the Church in Ireland.It goes on to say—The Church Institution have therefore determined to solicit subscriptions to a special Irish Church Defence Fund, which will be devoted to diffusing sound and correct information in all available quarters by lectures and otherwise.[Cheers.] He understood those cheers; but he was not yet done with the circular. One of the applications of that fund was the founding of the affiliated societies which taught the sound doctrine of conditional loyalty, and the propriety of informing the Queen that, if she sanctioned any Act of her Parliament for the disendowment of the Church, her Crown would be kicked from off her head. Two months after this circular was issued, the Government thought it time to form their Royal Commission. They appointed nine gentlemen on that Commission; and, though they had all England, Scotland, and Ireland open to them, they selected four of the nine Commissioners from amongst the twenty laymen who, with the nine Bishops and Archbishops, constitute the twenty-nine names embodied in the circular of the Church Institution, which brought the Flanagan and Ferrar doctrines of loyalty and allegiance home to every parish in Ireland. They did not select any of the nine Bishops—that would be too indecent—but they selected the Vicar General of the Ulster province as the representative of the episcopal body, who, with the four laymen, makes the fifth Commissioner chosen from the twenty-nine promoters of the diocesan and parochial agitating circles for the diffusion of sound doctrines and the allegiance due to the Queen and the security of her Crown and person. [Colonel STUART KNOX: Dr. Ball is a Radical; he is not of us.] If Dr. Ball be a Radical, he is the Vicar General of the Anglican Primate of Ireland, and he is the man who was selected by the Primate and re-commended to the Dublin University as the fittest man in Ireland, because of his ability and zeal as a Church advocate, to supplant the hon. Member who spoke last (Mr. Lefroy) in the representation of the clerical constituency of the Dublin University. Five, then, of the nine Royal Commissioners were supplied by the Church Institution; and another is the representative of the Anglican Bishops, whose names are in the Church Institution Defence Fund circular, thus giving the Church Institution 764 and conditional loyalty party a clear majority. Is the House willing to wait for the Report of this Church Institution Church Commission? It would be just as wise and as prudent to accept at once the views of the Irish Anglican Bishops or of their reverend platform representatives. But they were told the present Church property was sacred—could not be touched — that the Church had a prescriptive title, and that Parliament or the Crown had no control, no right to interfere. The men who professed those doctrines must be well versed in the history of the Irish Church and of the national Church revenues. When Henry VIII. ascended the Throne he found all the national Church property of Ireland in the hands of the Catholics; in whose hands it had been uninterruptedly for a much longer period than it has since been in the hands of the Anglican Church in Ireland. He transferred all that he did not keep for himself or his creatures to the Anglican ecclesiastics. Mary restored the remnant of the Church property to the Catholics. Elizabeth re-transferred it to the Anglicans in every portion of Ireland to which her power extended. Cromwell handed it over to the Puritans and Presbyterians. James II. restored it to the Catholics wherever his rule extended; and when William and Mary ascended the Throne they re-transferred it to the Anglicans. Thus the State exercised its power over the national revenues of the Church in Ireland by seven alterations of their destinations within about a century and a half, and each of the seven was equally sacred and immutable. But they were told that it is now really sacred and immutable, for it is now vested in the national Church. He was unwilling at this advanced period of the debate, when so little time remained and so many were anxious to take a part in the discussion, to trespass on the indulgence of the House, but so much had been said about the national character of the State Church in Ireland that he would ask permission of the House to investigate its claim to that character. He would not abuse the concession made to him, and would try to condense what he had to say on the subject. Shortly after Henry sent Browne, the Augustinian friar, to Dublin as Archbishop, he commanded him to induce the Bishops, clergy, and gentry to acknowledge the King's supremacy, and repudiate that of the Pope. A few months 765 trial caused the Archbishop to abandon the hope of inducing obedience to the King's wishes. He wrote to say the attempt imperilled his life, and that no removal of the Papal authority in spirituals could be hoped unless a Parliament was called, and an Act passed to make it high treason for an office holder to refuse to accept the Oath of Supremacy. The Parliament was called, and the slavish assembly of the Pale passed the needed Act. Thus was the Anglican Church introduced into Leinster. He would rapidly sketch its introduction into the other three provinces. The Lord Deputy proceeded to Munster, on a missionary excursion, in the succeeding year, accompanied by a powerful army. He described his proceedings and his success in a letter to the King, and the process may be thus stated. Surrounded by his staff and his army, he summoned the Mayor and Aldermen of Limerick, the chief city of Munster, to his presence, and commanded them to take the Oath of Allegiance. The terrified corporators saw the halberts and the bayonets, and the ample facilities that existed for hanging them if they refused, and the Deputy says they took the Oath, and that he ordered the Mayor to administer it to all the commonalty, and report to Dublin that he had done so. The same day he sent for the Bishop, and commanded him to take the Oath, which he tremblingly did, and was forthwith dismissed, with instructions to administer the Oath to all his clergy. Thus in a day was Limerick converted. The details are thus given in the Deputy's letter to the Royal Master. Munster, through its capital, had thus been converted in less than a week without the aid of any Church missionary, the Deputy doing some effective military services simultaneously in the district. The evangelization of Connaught, and the planting there of the Anglican Church, were not less rapid. Having battered down some castles and churches in Clare, he marched on to Galway, the capital of Connaught, and in his letter to the King from Galway he describes the process of introducing Anglicanism into Connaught. He says, in the quaint style of the day, "Like order as I took in Limerick the same I took in Galway;" and he details how he sent for the Mayor and the Bishop and administered the Oath, which, he says, they "took without grudge," and then he describes that as in Limerick, so in the capital of Connaught, he ordered the Mayor 766 to swear his commonalty, and the Bishop to swear his clergy, and thus within about one week's time Munster and Connaught were brought to embrace the Reformation, and adopt the Anglican Faith. The Deputy proceeded within the same year to Ulster, and there he found them not so timid as in the other provinces. He was resolved; he took Downpatrick, and, anxious that the Gospel light should shine brightly in Ulster, he set fire to the cathedral as the only mode left to him of causing the Anglican Gospel to shine before the people of Ulster; and yet this church, so planted, is called the National Church of Ireland. But it was all in vain. The people would not accept it—the priests refused it, and Ireland was still Catholic. Then came James—the expulsion of the Catholics from the lands, and the plantation of Ulster. The planters were bound under the term of their deeds to plant a certain number of able-bodied men from England or Scotland, well affected in religion, on every lot they obtained. The Catholics were driven to the mountains, strangers were imported, but even yet the Anglican Church did not take root. Cromwell came, and he adopted the terrible transplantation code under which every Catholic in Minister, Leinster, and Ulster, was driven from his home, the troopers of Cromwell planted in their homes, and their former owners driven into the wilds of Connaught. That terrible outrage on humanity is detailed in a most interesting book by General Sir Thomas Larcom, the present Under Secretary of this Government in Ireland. In it many of the details and many of the orders are given, and amongst them was one inflicting death on any Catholic who ventured to return from Connaught without a written pass. No priest was allowed to go with them, and then it was hoped that Catholicity would be stamped out. The hon. and gallant Member for Longford (Mr. O'Reilly) told the House a few nights since that the population of Dublin in 1640 was 2,000 Catholics to 3,000 Protestants. In 1651, eleven years later, the Governor of Dublin, writing to the Executive in London, says that there remained at that time in Dublin but one Catholic. There were in all, a short time before, 751, but all abandoned their priests and the Mass save the one obstinate Papist, and were undergoing proper instruction as Protestants. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire spoke of the gradual 767 change of population, and he showed how the Catholics were moving in this proportion. There are in Dublin now more than 200,000 Catholics, as against this one obstinate Papist in 1651. But even the 750 conformists, coopers, shoemakers, and other artizans were not deemed to be long enough converted to be sufficiently annealed, and they were expatriated a few years after as not having conformed before a fixed date. In my own city (Kilkenny) but forty Catholics were allowed to remain under this code, and they were allowed to remain for the convenience of the Protestant ascendancy. In Clonmel but forty-nine Catholics were permitted to remain, and so in proportion with other towns; and yet we are told that Anglicanism is the national Church and is loved by the Irish people. The Irish Members who sit opposite will not have the term "alien Church" applied to the Anglican Church in Ireland. Like other planters they do not like plain language. I would remind them that the Southern planters of America cherished slavery as they cherish alien ascendancy, but did not call it by its proper name—they preferred the softer name of "domestic institution." Those in power and men in office loved that domestic institution—they cherished it—they encouraged disaffection in order to sustain it—they threatened the American States with dissolution, with Southern disaffection, as we have been threatened during this debate, if they would lay hands on the "domestic institution;" which honest men described as slavery, alien to the genius of a free nation. The Southerns believed that in the men in office they had a guarantee that revolt would succeed. They did revolt, and the South and its "domestic institution," being alien to a free people, are both prostrate in the dust.
LORD CLAUD JOHN HAMILTON
said, the speech just delivered had proceeded from an Irish Protestant. But the hon. Gentleman was not a fair sample of the Irish Protestants, and if he had been the "garrison" of which they had heard so much would have long ceased to exist. The Amendment moved by the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) had been characterized as vague and indefinite, and if he had wished to meet the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) on his own terms he would have brought forward an Amendment of such a nature. The noble Lord had allowed that modifications in the temporalities of the Irish Church might appear expedient; 768 and surely it was admitted on both sides that anomalies and abuses existed in the fabric of that Church, for it was to inquire into those anomalies and abuses that Lord Russell last year moved for a Commission, which was unanimously agreed to by the Conservative party, in order to place them in possession of those facts without which any sound legislation on the subject was impossible. The noble Lord had been charged with refusing to bind himself to any definite course of policy on that question; but he maintained that a Minister, speaking on behalf of a Government upon a series of Resolutions brought forward at a fortnight's notice and with such indecent haste, touching a national question of the first importance, one of the greatest problems of the age, was not bound to pledge himself beforehand, and in the absence of facts, still the subject of an inquiry, as to what he would do under future circumstances, and in face of fresh events. He confessed, however, that he was not altogether satisfied with the defence the noble Lord had made of his Amendment; but, in common with the other Members for the North of Ireland, he had had complete confidence in the Government on that matter, and he need hardly say that that confidence had been in no way abated since they had listened to the speech of the Home Secretary. Much exaggeration and misrepresentation had for years been practised on the subject of the Irish Church, and, unfortunately, not without effect on the minds of the English people. When the Synod of Cashel in 1172, which was both a national and an ecclesiastical council, accepted the supremacy of Henry II., that King confirmed the revenues of the Irish Church, which, from that time forward was joined to the Church of England. In 1560, when Henry VIII. shook off the Papal authority, the Irish people asserted the supremacy of that Sovereign, and in the reign of Elizabeth they gladly accepted the Reformed Ritual, from which period commenced the existing United Church of England and Ireland under the supremacy of a Protestant sovereign. It was not true that any property to which the Roman Catholics had an original title ever passed into the hands of the Established Church in Ireland at the time of the Reformation. At that period all the property of the monasteries passed into the hands of lay proprietors, but the Reformed Church had 769 none of it. The right hon. Member for South Lancashire said that Church had not answered the purpose for which it was established—the conversion of the population; but, even assuming that to be so, it was not the fault of the Church, but of the disastrous policy of the State to which she was allied, which in former days hindered her beneficent work. The Celtic language was discouraged; and from the Reformation to the battle of the Boyne no version of the Bible in that tongue existed, while all that time the agents of Rome were busy among the people. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had endeavoured to prove that the Establishment had overlaid the life of the Church, and said that the recent endowments, building, and restorations of churches in Ireland were few and far between; but during the last twenty years, in the diocese of Derry and Raphoe, no less than £50,000 had been contributed for building, repairing, and restoring churches, besides £1,000 per annum for their endowment. That property could not be taken away by the State without adding robbery to sacrilege. It had been said the clergy had had in their hands for the purposes of conversion a social leverage which it was difficult to estimate; but it was not at all difficult to estimate the amount of odium they would have incurred had they used that social leverage for proselytizing objects. The speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) contained a fallacy so gross that it was advisable to correct it immediately. The hon. Member stated that for all practical purposes the number of Episcopalians in Inland could not be reckoned as more than 500,000; but in the religious Census Returns of 1861 it appeared that the adherents of the Established Church were 693,000; the Methodists, who had in all previous Returns been included with the Episcopalians, because they always went with them, were 45,000; the Presbyterians, 523,000; and other Dissenters, 76,000; making a total Protestant population of 1,337,000, and giving the outrageously liberal present to the hon. Member of the 337,000, it still left 1,000,000 in favour of the Establishment, because it was notorious that not only the Methodists, but three-fourths of the Presbyterians, were friends of the Established Church. [Mr. BRIGHT: No, no!] I say, "Yes, yes!" Look to the petitions which have come to the House. [Mr. BRIGHT said, he had spoken not of Protestants but of 770 Episcopalians—of persons in connection with the Established Church.] The hon. Gentleman said that not more than 500,000 Protestants were in favour of the maintenance of the Established Church; but instead of that number there were in reality 1,000,000, and 1,000,000 not living in a corner or residing in Birmingham or Manchester, but spread over the whole country, and forming the most enlightened portion of the community. It had been said that the people of Ireland objected to the Established Church. Now, he knew something of the people of Ireland, and it was his firm conviction that a majority of them did not object to the Established Church. He knew many Roman Catholic gentlemen of position and standing who were decidedly in favour of the maintenance of the Established Church, and he had on Monday last presented a petition to that effect, signed by upwards of 1,200 persons, among whom were many Roman Catholics. It was not difficult to know from whom that Motion proceeded. A Church establishment was incompatible with democracy; and therefore the hon. Member for Birmingham, at present the director of the tactics of the Liberal party, might wish to overthrow the Church. Then came the Liberation Society, the atheists and philosophers; next came the weak-minded and vacillating, who, although real Churchmen, were easily misled by the promises of unscrupulous politicians; and last of all, but not least, came the Roman Catholic hierarchy headed by Cardinal Cullen, a Jesuit in the midst of Jesuits. That strange, incongruous, and anomalous body were bound together by an unholy bond for an unhallowed purpose; they had thrown off the mask; but the friends of the Church, fortified by a sense alike of the justice and expediency of their cause, were ready to meet them; and he for one, as long as he had the honour of a seat in that House, would never desert that cause. Their present position might be described in the following passage:—On us this day has fallen—and we shrink not from it, but welcome so high, glorious, but arduous, a duty—the defence, of the Catholic Church in Ireland as the religious Establishment of that country.Whose words were those? They were the words of a former student of Oxford — of William Ewart Gladstone. The fall of that Church would not satisfy the people of Ireland. It would not satisfy those who had signed the other day the declaration 771 of Limerick; for that which they demanded was a repeal of the Union. It would not satisfy the Protestants of the North of Ireland to be robbed of all they held most sacred by the votes of Englishmen and Scotchmen, contrary to the wishes of a majority of the people of Ireland. ["No, no!"] Did the House believe that after that act of spoliation they would look with respect upon the poor remnant of the great compact between the two countries? He said that if they outraged the feelings of the loyal people of the North there was no saying what they might do. And what would be the immediate effect of the adoption of that Resolution? Ireland was at present more prosperous and tranquil than she had been for the last four years. Fenianism was almost stamped out; and the people were contented with a popular and impartial Government. Their dormant loyalty was aroused by the approaching visit of their future King and Queen. But at that very moment, when they had reason to hope for a new era for Ireland—an era of peace and contentment—the right hon. Gentleman threw among them his apple of discord, his firebrand of contention. The hon. Baronet the Member for Clare (Sir Colman O'Loghlen) wished that Her Majesty should have a residence in Ireland; but would the destruction of the Church, which Her Majesty had sworn in her Coronation Oath to maintain, afford her an inducement to go and live in Ireland? And who was it that proposed to commit that great wrong? Why, the majority of seventy elected to serve and support the great Lord Palmerston, whose very name was a safeguard against violence and revolution. The shade of that great man, if he could look down upon their proceedings, would be amazed to see the man whom he had so long known as a Colleague leading the first attack upon the most sacred, the most vital, and the most revered part of our great and ancient Constitution.
§ MR. OSBORNE
Whatever differences of opinion may exist in this House as to the question before us, I think that every Gentleman, on whatever side he may sit, must be rejoiced at the rising talent that has been displayed in this debate. I think no one could have listened to the speech of my hon. Friend and representative the Member for the county of Tipperary (Captain White) without thinking that a very good and promising Member has been added to this House. I will go further, and 772 say that no one could have listened to the clever, bold, but, as I believe, somewhat indiscreet speech of the hon. and gallant Officer who has just sat down, the son of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, without coming to the conclusion that, however the Irish Church may be in danger, this House, at all events, reaps the benefit of much rising ability. No man who has been long connected with or who has been long resident in what is called the sister country but must confess that the noble Lord the Mover of the Amendment was correct when he stated that the ecclesiastical arrangements of that country are in anything but a satisfactory state. Sir, I have no recent conversion to explain; and although late events have gone on with a velocity which has left me almost a comparative Conservative, still I think we may take some credit to ourselves that by Motions brought forward in earlier times we have encouraged those Members to come forward who have hitherto been rather laggard in the race of Church Reform. I have many times brought forward this question without contemplating such enormous changes as are now proposed; and, if I was not called a philosopher or an atheist, I was at least regarded as a revolutionist. I proposed merely to reform the Irish Church — to reduce her revenues—to make that Church congregational and not territorial. And how was I met? I was told by hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side that I was endangering the Church, and by my new coadjutors below me that it was not the proper time for such a proposal. Well, Sir, we have now got these Resolutions before us, and most important Resolutions they are; and so great is the stake involved, and so momentous are the interests in question, that I should regret if this House came to a division on merely party grounds. Sir, I agree with my hon. and learned Friend below me, the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), who was formerly my instructor on the Irish Church, that so great a question as this ought not to be made the subject of a mere tournament of party. Hitherto we know Ireland has gained very little by these party Votes. She has, in fact, been sacrificed to the convenience of this House. What has happened? We have had great debates in past times on this and many other subjects; great issues have been decided here, but very small results have been attained for Ireland. The air on that (the Ministerial) 773 side of the House, particularly on the Government Bench, has been most relaxing to Liberal politicians; the ancient Whigs, always so wakeful in Opposition, were somewhat given to nod in Office. This question has been brought forward and debated many times in this House; it has broken up parties; it has dissolved Cabinets; it has never failed to make a great field-day for the discharge of a quantity of blank rhetorical cartridge; and when it has served the purpose of the hour it is put by in the magazine of political combustibles, and Ireland, after looking on, supposing measures were about to be brought in for her pacification, finds herself left in the lurch, with the miserable reflection that she has merely been used as the occasion for a party struggle. Well, Sir, I am a party man. I am not without my ambitious hopes; but I place party and ambition immeasurably behind this question, and I would not, for one moment, put my ambition or my hopes by the side of the well-being or the welfare of Ireland. Therefore, I say that, whatever may happen in this debate, my object in taking part in it is not to disturb those Gentlemen from the Ministerial Bench, or merely to advance this question by putting the Opposition there. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, in bringing these Resolutions under our notice, touched very lightly on the conduct of the Liberal party in the management of this Church question. I, Sir, am not very solicitous to define the conduct of the late Liberal Leaders; consistency, we all know, at this time of day has become a sort of amiable weakness. No man looks upon it as of any value. Even my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), who described himself to-night as an imperious Englishman, has not been quite consistent in the arguments which he has held upon this subject, and I must say that if I thought as the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield thought upon this subject, I would give a directly opposite vote to that which he proposes to give. But, Sir, I am surprised the hon. and learned Member commenced this evening's discussion by saying that, though the Church was the badge of conquest—[Mr. ROEBUCK: No, no!] The hon. and learned Member said the Norman Church was the badge of conquest.—[Mr. ROEBUCK: No; the Catholic Church.] Well, then, if you said so tonight, what did you say in 1849? I am 774 glad, Sir, that you did not call upon me sooner in the evening, as I have had time to go into the Library to refresh my recollection of a speech made by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield in 1849. What did he then say about "the badge of conquest?" Mark you, he was not speaking of the Catholic Church, and here is what he said—The Irish Protestant Church, as a badge of slavery, must be and will be utterly put down. The national feeling of Ireland is influenced by a sense of injury and of oppression; if you wish to tranquillize Ireland you must remove the badge.',But the hon. and learned Gentleman has been "educated" since then. The schoolmaster has been abroad, and he now finds it is not the Protestant Church, but the Norman Catholic Church that is the badge of conquest. I leave the hon. and learned Gentleman there; he has seen much and gone through many changes; but how he will reconcile his speech with his vote remains for his constituents at Sheffield to see. [Mr. ROEBUCK: Hear, hear!] But I deny that the Liberal party have ever been indifferent to this subject. The Liberal Leaders left the Liberal party in the lurch; but. Sir, from the time of Mr. Hume—who was the great pioneer, not only in this but in every other question which has come before and been passed by this House—the great bulk of the Liberal party has always been faithful to its colours on this question. We have always been told to wait till the proper time comes. But it came in 1833, and in 1833 the Liberal Leaders brought in their celebrated Act. And what did it do? It abolished ten Bishops, varied the taxation on certain benefices, and formed the Eclesiastical Commission. It was a most crude and undigested project. All the anomalies remained; Bishops remained with large salaries and few duties; no care was taken to inquire into the population to see whether there was a Church population in any given district; the fact was that the Bill of 1833 was altogether incomplete, and was passed to answer a temporary requirement not for the benefit of the people of Ireland, but to give security to the Irish Establishment. The measure was never intended to be final. Then came the Appropriation Clause. How was that treated? After five years of constant majorities in this House, majorities which maintained the Church of Ireland as it stood was an injustice, and that its surplus revenues should be appropriated to local 775 purposes in Ireland, what was done? The Whigs got into office, the question was put by on the shelf and remained there for many years. In 1849 I brought this question to the notice of Parliament; in 1856 Mr. Miall, and in 1863 and 1865 the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) also brought this question before the House, and we were then told that the time had not come to deal with the Irish Church. My right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Cardwell) opposed those Motions most vigorously; and an hon. Friend of mine (Sir Robert Peel) who is as remarkable for his talents as for his consistency, completely upset the Liberal party by a speech which he made under the Palmerston Government. Now we are called on to vote for these Resolutions in a party spirit. Sir, there are two distinct questions involved in these Resolutions. First, the question of disestablishment, and next the question of disendowment. I state that these are totally distinct questions. It has been remarked by a writer on the subject that men are so apt to confound their spiritual convictions with their personal interests that an attack upon the property of a Church is always more apt to cause irritation than an attack upon its doctrines. Now, I shall decline altogether to discuss this question as a mere money question, My opinion is that money is quite a secondary element in it. The Protestant clergy of Ireland—and I speak with some experience of that country from having resided there many years,—are not unpopular on account of the tithes they get. On the contrary, the Protestant clergy, so far from being objects of dislike to the people, are objects of pity. And I will tell you why: I do not go with hon. Gentlemen below me or with hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House who take what I call the "country gentleman" line of argument. If they knew as much as I do, they would know the Protestant clergy of Ireland are not capable of acting as country gentlemen. They are a pauper clergy, who have enough to do to maintain their large families. It is true, they have no congregation; but it is equally true that their incomes are so small from the multiplication of small livings and curacies that, so far from being able to act as country gentlemen, they are miserably paid. The worst feature of the Irish Church is an unequal distribution of labour and income. The policy of the Bishops of the present day is, without respect to 776 the congregations, to get as many clergy in the different dioceses as they can, and then they say, "Look at the increase of the churches." But who pays for the increase? It comes out of the Ecclesiastical Fund. The money granted by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners has increased; the clergy and the churches have increased; but have the congregations increased? Not by one man. I am not fond of statistics; but I will just show the House what is the spiritual staff which is in full vigour for these 693,000 Episcopalians. There are 2,428 parishes and 1,510 benefices, the latter being formed by uniting parishes together; and for these 693,000 persons what do you suppose is the staff that is kept up? Why, first of all, there are twelve Bishops, with incomes amounting to £55,000 a year. I include the two Archbishops; but, of course, there ought to be no such things as Archbishops. Very well-paid men these Bishops are. If you want reform, do not begin at the wrong end, with the unfortunate clergy; but cut down with an unsparing hand these men who are feeding sumptuously every day. These twelve Bishops have thirty-three deans, thirty-four archdeacons, twenty-six precentors, twenty-two chancellors, nine canons, 178 prebends, 1,510 beneficed clergy, and 457 curates. Why, Sir, at this rate, there ought to be 240 Bishops in England; for a single English diocese contains as many Protestants as the whole of Ireland. And further, the 4,000,000 Roman Catholics in Ireland have only 3,000 ecclesiastics, and their congregations not only maintain these, but build and support their own chapels. Now, will any educated man in his senses say that this is a state of things which ought to exist for one minute in a civilized country? But the best proof I can give of the state of the Irish Establishment, and of the necessity of a larger reform, is by referring to the diocese in which I reside. The diocese of Waterford, Lismore, Cashel, and Emly, contains less than 14,000 Protestants. These four dioceses were rolled into one in 1833, because congregations could not be got, and this bishopric numbers 13,853 Protestants. I will give them the benefit of even numbers, and call them 14,000, for I do not wish to be accused, like the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), of suppressing Protestants. Of these 14,000 Protestants, I am a humble unit. There is a Bishop kept for me, with £4,400 a year, a dean and 777 chapter, 106 beneficed clergy dividing £31,000 a year, and 40 unfortunate curates, who are paid only £3,414 amongst them. Thus, for these 14,000 Protestants, there is an expenditure of £3 a head. These are figures which cannot be controverted, and the diocese of Killaloe is very nearly as bad. Indeed, there is no diocese in Ireland where you can make out a moderate case for supporting a Bishop, dean and chapter, cathedral, and so forth. With such a state of things before us, is it enough for the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) to get up and talk in the old Tory vein about illegality and unconstitutionality? I now come to these Resolutions, and no doubt they are very strong. Nobody—least of all myself—could have imagined, after the way in which I had been opposed by the Members on that (the front Opposition) Bench, that I should find myself dragged on at their tail at this enormous pace. But how have they been met? I must say I have been very much disappointed at the course which has been pursued on the other side. I am not one of those who are in the habit of casting taunts at a successful man, and I have certainly never heard the present Prime Minister utter an illiberal sentiment or commit himself to the bigotry of any party. I was, however, greatly disappointed at the enunciation of his policy at the beginning of the Session, and still more disappointed at the unpardonable vagueness of the Foreign Secretary. "Unpardonable vagueness" was the term employed by his Law Officer. I may take this opportunity, too, of saying that I condole with the right hon. Gentleman on his Law Officers; for I certainly think they have done his Government more harm by their defence than any attacks that have proceeded from this side of the House. The argument of the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) forcibly reminded me of the old play of Richard the Third. The King asks—What says Lord Stanley? Will he bring his power?And the Messenger answers—My Lord, he doth deny to come.Now, what said this "Defender of the Faith," the Foreign Secretary? Why, he said he could not defend the Irish Church; but that this was an electioneering manœuvre. He said it was the scandal of the time; but he reserved his opinion what he would do. In fact, Sir, almost 778 in the words of his great prototype and namesake in Shakespeare, he said to this side of the House—Prepare thy battle early in the morning…I, as I may—that which I would I cannot—With best advantage will deceive the time,And aid thee in this doubtful shock of arms.But on thy side I may not be too forward.The noble Lord says, "That which I would I cannot," and whether he intends to join the camp of the aspiring Richmond or leave the last of the Plantagenets, no man in this House, I venture to say, can really tell. Well, who succeeded him? Why, he was succeeded by a right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hardy), whose great power and manly tone all must acknowledge. He rallied his party round him; but he did so by the utterance of those old Tory sentiments, which I thought had been buried long ago with the hon. Member for Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) in Kensal Green Cemetery. The right hon. Gentleman told us that we ought not to be in a hurry. He was not going to do anything — he was not to be hurried. "The glorious light of the Reformation" — we knew all about that. It was a beautiful passage; but we were to wait and see what is in the Church Commission. Now, that Commission has always been put on the shoulders of Lord Russell, who certainly has done as much mischief in his time to the Liberal party as any man. One word upon this system of Government by Commission. The hon. Gentleman below me, the Member for Rochdale (Mr. T. B. Potter) says the Government sins are sins of Commission; and so they are; but I must say that this system of governing by Commission is an abnegation of all responsibility in Parliament. I heard with considerable alarm, the other night, the announcement of the Chief Secretary for Ireland that he was about to issue another Commission, which he called "a solemn inquiry" into the land tenure of Ireland. Now, what will be the natural consequence of issuing a Commission at the same time that you bring in a Bill? You will create perpetual irritation in Ireland; you will give rise to illusory hopes, and the Bill will not be looked upon as a final settlement. This by way of parenthesis; but what about this Commission? Lord Russell has had to answer for a great deal; but he certainly suggested something else. He proposed to enlarge the powers of the Commission, so that they might inquire how far the revenues of the Established 779 Church could be move equitably applied for the benefit of the Irish people; but that was denied; and what is this Commission sitting for? Has it anything to do with the benefit of the Irish people? No; it was issued, and is about to report, merely for the benefit of the Irish Church and its congregations. When, therefore, we are called upon to await the Report of the Commission, I say the whole thing is a solemn inquiry which will end in a solemn farce. What is the composition of this Commission? There are nine Members, and five of them are already pledged against any material reform in the Irish Church. We all remember Sir Joseph Napier, when, as Mr. Napier, he sat for Dublin University; and we know what speeches University Members are in the habit of making. We all know what a desperate adherent of the Irish Church he was. I could read passages from his speeches which would make your hair stand on end, and which Mr. Flanagan himself, as quoted by the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray), could not outdo. Not content with making speeches in this House, Sir Joseph Napier is also chairman and a subscriber to what is called the Church Defence Fund of Ireland. There are three other Members of the Commission who are also subscribers, and I contend that it was most unfairly and improperly constituted. The hon. Member for Kilkenny, as I came in, took exception to Dr. Ball being upon the Commission. I certainly could not agree with him there, for Dr. Ball is one of the best men who could be appointed; he is a fair and impartial man, and was brought forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) as the Liberal candidate for the University of Dublin. But, on the whole, I say if we are to wait for the Report of this Commission, we shall wait for what will be a mere shuffling of the revenues of the Church among themselves; no real reform, no cutting down of the Establishment. Therefore the argument that we should wait for this Report is one that cannot, and ought not to be, cogent with this House for one moment. What other arguments have we heard in defence of the Church as at present constituted—this Protestant Church which the hon. Member for Sheffield thought was a badge of conquest? [Mr. ROEBUCK: No?] But formerly you did. There is another argument which I have not heard during this debate, but which 780 formerly found favour among hon. Gentlemen opposite—that the Irish Church ought to be looked upon with great respect, because it is undoubtedly the original Church of St. Patrick. Surely at this time of day we shall not have such antiquarian pedantry brought forward, St. Patrick himself being—according to Dr. Todd—a person of whom there is very great doubt whether he ever existed. Very great doubt indeed. As to who or what he was, Dr. Todd is very dubious. We are not discussing this Church upon pedantic grounds. We have got to do with the Church as it is. Everybody knows that the original Church of Ireland had no such thing as tithes or parishes; it was more of an oriental Church, with an infinity of Bishops. Nobody knows exactly what the Irish Church was; but it certainly was very different from what it is now, and, I, therefore, put it aside altogether. Then comes another consideration, which is said to be of greater importance. The Act of Union, it is urged, forbids interference with the Church. I cannot understand anybody at this time of day getting up and saying the Act of Union is to prevent us from passing a great measure for the amelioration and contentment of Ireland. Why, what was the Act of Union? A fraudulent bargain, in which the Protestant aristocracy were bought and Catholic masses were sold. Can any argument more powerful for the destruction of the Act of Union be advanced than to say that, as long as it remains on the statute book, it is to prevent your bringing forward any measure of justice to the people of Ireland? But we are told that the 5th Article of Union is the one of special efficacy. We all know what that 5th Article is; it is the one which says that the faith, discipline, and government [An Hon. MEMBER: Doctrine.] of the Irish Church is to be for ever one with the English Church. How is the 5th Article of Union to be more stringent upon this House than the 4th? Yet the 4th, which undertook to define the number of Members which Ireland should send to this House, was altered in 1832. It was altered for the benefit of the Irish people. Why should not we be equally at liberty to alter the 5th for the benefit of the Irish people? It is a fatal argument towards the Union to say that it prevents you from doing justice to the Catholic people of Ireland. Lord Lansdowne, in "another place," asked this question — Was he to 781 understand that the Established Church existed for the benefit of Ireland, or Ireland for the benefit of the Established Church? That is the question to be answered in the division to which we shall go. I will not weary the House by going into any distinctions—though I could go into them at length, for I have taken some pains upon the subject—by going into distinctions between ecclesiastical and private property—to meet the hobgoblin arguments which are always brought forward to alarm landowners. All the great lawyers who have spoken upon this subject have always drawn a great distinction between corporate and private property. Dr. Arnold has a celebrated passage on this subject; from Sir James Mackintosh and Brougham I could quote probably fifty extracts on this point. Lord Macaulay says—Church revenues are partly public and partly private; an advowson coming into the hands of an individual seems to be as much his property as his house.I cannot understand these arguments being put forward at this time. They have always done duty on these occasions, to be sure. They did duty at the time of Catholic Emancipation, and they did duty so lately as the year 1853, when Lord Aberdeen's Government brought forward the Clergy Reserves Act of Canada, giving the Canadian Parliament power to deal with the clergy reserves in that colony. We were then told that we had no power to deal with the matter—that we could not interfere with the sacred union between Church and State. But what was the wording of that Act?To make better provision for the appropriation of moneys arising from lands known as the clergy reserves, by rendering them available"—what for?—"for municipal purposes.And the 3rd section of the Act begins—Whereas it is desirable to remove all semblance of connection between Church and StateI am not far enough advanced for that; I never attempted, I never have wished, to remove all connection between Church aud State. But when you talk of the United Church of England and Ireland, does not any one who resides in that country know that the name is a mere Parliamentary fiction — a legal phrase — that there is no such thing as a United Church? I hear a great deal of this body of loyal Irish Protestants, well-to-do gentlemen, who are very loyal as long as you keep up their Church for them. I do not know about 782 the North of Ireland; but in the South of Ireland, who are your Irish Protestants there? They are for the most part the descendants — respectable descendants — of an aristocracy, consisting originally of Cromwell's troopers and trumpeters. And these respectable gentlemen, whose ancestors in other days, not only derided episcopacy, but destroyed the monarchy, are now high Conservative gentry. I cannot say that they have any particular reverence for the Thirty-nine Articles; I do not think they know what they mean; but they drink the "glorious, pious, and immortal memory," which is the one great article of their creed. And then we hear that this is the United Church of England and Ireland. I must say that one of the great inconveniences of the present state of political feeling in this House and the country is the system of what I may call gambling in Liberal stock. One Minister is perpetually outbidding the other, till all moderate measures are rendered impossible, all compromises untenable; and moderate men who wish to lead a quiet life, and to see gradual progress, are left completely behind. Now, while I go with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) in a desire to see the Established Church disestablished, I agree with the noble Lord who moved the Amendment — the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who has been so unhappy about home affairs—I agree with him that that Establishment is a mere empty title. Can you do nothing to remedy this without rushing to extremes? You have got at present twelve Bishops. You see what the population of Ireland is. Why not at once, without waiting for the Report of any Commission—for we have quite evidence enough—cut down the number of bishoprics to four? That was the number proposed in 1849, by the present Vice Chancellor of England, Sir William Page Wood. [An hon. MEMBER: Lord Justice.] Cut them down to four, one for each province. He proposed to give them each £1,500 a year: I will go further, and give them £2,000. I will tell you why I take that limit. You have in this country an instance of a Bishop with a population of 52,500 — the greater part of whom are Churchmen — with an income of £2,000 a year, and no seat in the House of Lords—the Bishop of Sodor and Man. He has only one archdeacon. Why not model your Irish Church, if you can re-model it, after the fashion of the Bishopric of Sodor 783 and Man? Why should any Irish Bishop be better off than your Bishop of Sodor and Man? Cut down your twelve Bishops to four, and I will show you how you can arrive at a very handsome surplus. [An hon. MEMBER: What would you do with the Archbishops?] I propose, of course, to do way with the Archbishops. Then, as to deans, and chapters, and archdeacons, that have nothing positively to do, why not reduce all these, and cut down your clergy to the real wants of the congregations, bringing them down to, say 500? [An hon. MEMBER. Too late!] I hear an hon. Member saying "Too late!" but you may depend upon it that we have an enormous work before us. Some hon. Gentlemen seem to think that this question of the Irish Church is to be disposed of by a Vote to-night or to-morrow morning. Why, Sir, I expect this business will last during our life-time. I calculate that the surplus which you might gain from the measures which I advocate would at least amount to £300,000 a year. You may ask me very fairly what I would do with it. I will not follow the example of my noble Friend the Secretary for Ireland, who just hinted what he would do. I have no objection to state my view, though my doing so may very probably cost me a contest. In the first place I view the change with considerable hesitation; knowing Ireland as I do, and knowing the poverty that exists there, I hesitate to come to any Vote that would withdraw £30,000 a year from Maynooth and take away the Regium Donum from the Presbyterians without hearing better reasons for so doing than I have heard yet, and no reasons have been given for that yet. You English Members know so little of Ireland that you go upon hard, broad, and philosophic principles which are disgusting, especially to the Irish; but I would have you to learn that by leaving these people to their own efforts you may produce an ill-will and a feeling of injustice in that country which it will be difficult to allay. What can be more contradictory and unphilosopical than your whole system of governing Ireland? Take the machinery of the Church. Talk of it as a missionary Church! Why, the only mission in that country is one for which the Established Church can claim no credit. The missions in Galway and in other parts of the West of Ireland are voluntary missions from this country, and not missions of the Established Church. I understand that 784 for those missions about £26,000 a year is sent from this country. At the same time that this missionary Church of the Establishment is to convert all the Roman Catholics, this House votes many thousands each year for educating Roman Catholics. What can be more contradictory than your whole system of governing Ireland on philosophical principles? There was one man who probably understood this question better than any one, and what he said in 1792 applies exactly to the present day, and I ask English Members to give ear to this. In a letter to Mr. Wyndham, Mr. Burke said—In England the Roman Catholics are a sect; in Ireland they are a nation. This fundamental difference must affect every reason and every measure concerning them.And he then goes on thus—It is a terrible thing for Government to put its confidence in a handful of people of fortune separate from the rest. A full levy is not a complete garrison, nor the disarmament of a province the destruction of disaffection.And yet we are arguing as if the Roman Catholics were a mere sect, and were not inheritors of a national feeling. Well, it may be said that the Government are waiting for a policy. They are waiting till their Commission reports. Sir, the First Minister of the Crown, in probably one of the greatest speeches ever delivered in this House, gave a true account of the state of things in Ireland, and though he has recently described that speech as "heedless rhetoric from below the Gangway," he acknowledged one thing which I am glad to hear from him. He observed that whatever he might have said in that speech, the spirit of it was right. I am not going now to repeat the trite quotation of the right hon. Gentleman's epigrammatic saying about an alien Church. In the speech, the spirit of which he still says was right, he said—The greatest cause of misery in Ireland was identity of institutions with England; the very primary and most important institution of all—the union of Church and State—was opposed by the Irish people. He ventured to lay down as a principle that the Government of Ireland should be on a system the reverse of England.We now come to policy, and this is no heedless rhetoric. If those Gentlemen below the Gangway could only speak like this now! The right hon. Gentleman said—His principles were Tory, the natural principles of the democracy of England." I believe it. He further said—"They might not be the principles 785 of those consistent gentlemen whose fathers had bled in England for Charles I., and who would now support in Ireland the tyranny established by Oliver Cromwell. Let them recur to the benignant policy of Charles I., then they might settle Ireland with honour to themselves, with kindness to the people, and with safety to the realm. The Church question would be Settled, he had no doubt, upon principles analogous to those which were laid down by a great statesman in 1636.What were the principles, and who was the great statesman of 1636? The principles were those embodied in the Glamorgan treaty in 1644. It was a treaty which no one ever heard of. It was made secretly—is one which Charles I. entered into with the Irish Catholics through Lord Glamorgan. It was made "forever," too, like the Act of Union. The 1st Article of that treaty states—The Roman Catholic clergy of said kingdom shall, and may from henceforth for ever, hold and enjoy all and all such lands, tenements, tithes, &c., whatsoever by them respectively enjoyed within this kingdom, or by them at any time since 23d October, 1641, and such lands, &c., belonging to the clergy within this kingdom, other than such as are actually enjoyed by His Majesty's Protestant clergy.That was the policy recommended by the right hon. Gentleman in the speech of which he says the spirit was right. I ask him, then, why he will bind himself to a policy which he knows in his heart to be wrong? Why will he bind himself to the Establishment of this Church and State, when he knows that it embroils Ireland, and prevents any substantial union between the two countries? But it may be asked, "Will the disestablishment of the Church bring peace to Ireland?" The misfortune of all your remedies—of all your measures for the pacification of Ireland, is, that, they have been passed too late. The consequence is, the difficulty has become so complex, that by no one single measure can you hope to pacify Ireland immediately. You may talk about Fenianism. There is but one class in the country interested in keeping things as they are—and that is the Fenian conspirators. So long as you deny justice to Ireland you will have Fenian sympathizers; and the people who will encourage those who would like to see this Motion thrown out, and nothing done to Ireland, are those very Fenians. I do not think that this or any one measure would pacify Ireland. Time alone; just and impartial measures only will do that. The sins of the fathers are descending to the children. But this I know, that however delay may 786 suit the exigencies of a Government, it is disastrous to the well being of a nation.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
No one can have listened to the speeches made on the other side during this debate without feeling that, at all events, by most of the various speakers, two objects have been held in view. The primary object of these Resolutions and of those who have spoken in support of them has been to rally the Liberal party and put out the present Government. The secondary object has been to pass Resolutions for the disestablisment of the Protestant Church in Ireland. I must indeed except from my description some of the speeches to which we have listened to night, delivered by hon. Gentlemen opposed to our views. I except particularly the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) and the speech we have just heard from the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Osborne). Theses speeches, though we may find much in them to disagree with, have, at all events, been speeches addressed to the merits of the question nominally before us. But I think no one can have failed to observe—especially no one who heard the speech delivered in the early part of the evening by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) — that very great stress is laid on what is assumed to be inconsistency and weakness in the position of the Government, and on the course taken by this or that or the other Member of the Ministry, and that this has been made quite as much the question as that which is nominally before us. Now, we who have been for some time in this House cannot complain if our opponents seek a suitable occasion to rally their party and bring about a change of Government. Nothing, indeed, can be more legitimate or more natural; and it is no matter of complaint on our part that, if they think that can bring about such a change, they should select a subject on which they are of opinion their party is likely to be united. I venture, however, to say that when the battle-field which they have chosen is one of such enormous Imperial importance as this, and when it involves interests of such great magnitude, it was the duty of those who chose that battle-field to consider at all events the nominal subject they brought forward for discussion in a more respectful and a more serious manner than the framers of these Resolutions have done. We have no objection to a great party 787 struggle, nor have we any objection whatever to meet hon. Gentlemen opposite on the Question of the Irish Church. We are not surprised to find them differing from us with regard to the position and the future of that Church; but we do say that it is not consistent with their duty to their country that they should come forward and raise an important issue like this unless they are prepared to raise the issue in a manner which admits of its being fairly tried, and which will enable the country fairly to appreciate this serious question. For many years, according to their own confession and in their own defence, they have been telling us that they abstained from bringing forward this question—which has certainly been as important for many years past as it is now—because they were conscious of the great difficulties that beset it, and because they felt they would have been doing wrong if they raised so vast a question when they had not the mean of settling it. On their own showsing, therefore, they fail in their duty if they now come forward and raise the question unless they are prepared to settle it. I venture to say that these Resolutions have been constructed, not on the principle of finding a solution of the Irish Protestant Church question; but upon the principle of drawing them up in such a manner that they shall contain a minimum of that which need be raised for the purpose of upsetting the Government — that they shall contain just as much as it is possible or probable the Government will not be able to accept, and yet not contain anything which may raise difficulties among their own party. That, no doubt, is a very good system of tactics; but the House ought well to consider those tactics before the division is taken. This system has been adopted for more than twelve months in reference to this subject. We have heard something about the origin of the Commission which is now inquiring into the condition of the Irish Church. Now, what was the origin of that Commission? It was proposed by Earl Russell, the Leader of the Liberal party. Notice was given of his intention to bring forward a Motion for a Commission in precisely the same terms in which the Commission has been granted. Perhaps we may be uncharitable, but we may, without any great want of charity, be allowed to conjecture that the noble Earl in giving that notice may have thought he should thereby cause some little embarrassment to the Government 788 when the question was brought forward. For three weeks the notice stood upon the Police Paper of the House of Lords; but within two or three days of the notice being actually brought forward, it appeared that, in some way or another, the noble Earl had discovered that the Government were perfectly prepared to issue such a Commission as he proposed. The Government had no objection to it; and they have repeatedly stated during the progress of these discussions that is was in entire conformity with their views to institute an inquiry into the present position of the Irish Protestant Church. When Earl Russell learned the determination of the Government, what did he do? He changed the terms of his Resolution, and proposed that the Commission should go further than was originally contemplated, as otherwise it would not embarrass the Government, and that words should be added to empower the Commissioners to inquire into the manner in which the revenues might be appropriated for purposes unconnected with the Established Church. The Government, however, stood firmly on their own ground, and said, "No; if you ask us for a Commission to inquire into the revenues of the Church in Ireland we will give it to you; but if you ask that the terms of the Commission should be further extended in the way you now indicate, we must decline to accede to your request." Accordingly the Commission was issued in the terms originally proposed. I do not dwell much upon this circumstance; but it is, at all events, an indication of the kind of course which has been pursued on the present occasion. We have here placed before us Resolutions which are vague in the extreme. We are asked, in the first place, to consent to an abstract Resolution which anybody may agree to without asking himself the inconvenient questions which may arise thereout. The right hon. Gentleman who brings forward this Resolution has a mind so suggestive that it is unnecessary to suppose that his course has been prompted by any inspiration but his own. Yet I think that occasionally when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer Motions have been brought forward which may have suggested the course pursued by himself on the present occasion. He frequently had to contend against Motions brought forward by independent Members on questions of taxation; but he used to meet them by saying, "It may be all very well to carry abstract Resolutions against this 789 or the other tax; but tell me how you are to make up the deficiencies in the Revenue." The hon. Members who brought forward the Motions retorted—"That is not our business, it is your business." Well, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman now treats the House according to the method in which he himself was treated by his former opponents. He says, "Let us disestablish the Church of Ireland." We say in reply, "What is to be done with the endowments?" Whereupon he retorts, "That is not my business, it is your business." Now, this is not the position in which the House ought to be placed; and if we are to discuss this question, we must do so with a fuller knowledge than we now possess of the nature of the proposals which are by-and-by to be made. And this brings me to the position which the Government have taken in regard to this matter. The Government say—firstly, that the Resolutions are objectionable; and, secondly, that the time for bringing them forward is ill-chosen. I will consider the latter issue first. We propose to challenge the House on the question of time; and if, after hearing the reasons we adduce, you decide against us on that point, we must then meet you on the Resolutions themselves. My noble Friend the Foreign Secretary, whose course in this matter has been so much impugned by hon. Gentlemen opposite, confined himself chiefly, in the first instance, to the question of time. What he said, in effect, was that the present time and the position of the present Parliament rendered it undesirable to enter upon this wide question. Although in his Resolution he has introduced words—and has defended them—showing that we do not object to consider candidly the question of any modifications which may be necessary in the temporalities of the Establishment, yet the gist and point of his Amendment is that, in the present position of Parliament it is inexpedient that the House should enter upon this question. We have been asked whether we have changed our position in regard to this matter. My reply is that our position is not changed in the slightest degree. But when we found from the speeches delivered in this House after the speech of my noble Friend (Lord Stanley) that, in consequence of his raising that issue doubts were entertained as to what our policy would be on the main question, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary rose and explained to the House that if 790 we were driven to the discussion of the question we were prepared to meet them in the manner which he declared to the House. That, then, is exactly our position. When the division is called for we shall be prepared to vote with my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary on the question of time, and, if defeated upon that, we shall then be prepared to go into the general question of the Resolutions. We have been taunted and blamed for disputing the competency of the present Parliament to deal with this matter; but, in reality, we have not disputed its competency to do so. If this Parliament has sufficient time, and if the matter is fairly brought before it, it is of course perfectly competent to deal with the question; but what my right hon. Friend the First Minister said on a former occasion, and what I maintain now, is that this Parliament is under very great disadvantages and difficulties in addressing itself to a question of this sort. What is it that gives to the House of Commons its great strength? It is the circumstance that it represents public opinion. When public opinion on any great question is fairly matured, and Parliament is informed as to the state of that opinion, then Parliament brings public opinion into a focus, and gives expression to it. Legislation then takes place, not hastily, but with a full knowledge on the part of hon. Members of the feelings of the people, and in such a manner that the Legislature will not find it necessary to retrace its steps. Now, what we say is that the present Parliament was elected under circumstances which did not lead it to consider this question as one that was practically or immediately important, and that hon. Gentlemen were returned to this House uninformed as to the wishes of their constituents in regard to this matter. My right hon. Friend referred on a former occasion to the address of Lord Palmerston when this Parliament was elected. On that occasion Lord Palmerston said not a word to indicate that such a question as this was likely to be raised in the present Parliament. My right hon. Friend referred also to a speech made by the right hon. Baronet (Sir George Grey) in 1865, who showed that in the opinion of the then Government it was most extremely improbable that any such question could be raided during the existence of the present Parliament. Only the other night, too, we heard a quotation from a letter written by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), which showed 791 that he also at that time took the same view—namely, that the question was not one immediately pressing, and that it was then beyond the range, of practical politics. This Parliament was elected at a time when the question was not present to the minds of the English people, and it is not fair to legislate until we satisfy ourselves of their opinions. I do not say for a moment, that we are incompetent to deal with a question of this sort; but if we do deal with it, considering that we have been elected, not after a long discussion out-of-doors on this question, but at a period when public discussion had not been begun, it is our bounden duty to our constituents to debate fully and fairly all the issues raised, and to enlighten the mind of the country with respect to them. You may think it a very simple thing to pass a Resolution for disestablishing the Irish Church. Many people may think it a remote question, or they may hardly know what the Irish Church is. Those who, acting on the advice of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe), have not studied history may believe, as he appears to do, that the Protestant Church in Ireland was created at the Union. Such persons may say, "This is a very trumpery matter. We think the Church ought to be put down." But they have not the remotest idea of what this putting down may lead to. Now, what will hon. Members who hastily give a vote upon such a question say when they go back to their constituents? If the House of Commons, in spite of the advice which we tender, is determined to go into Committee and discuss this question, we will meet them in Committee, and shall be prepared to argue it. But, as the hon. Member (Mr. Osborne) said just now, "This is an enormous question," and it will take a length of time before it is thoroughly argued out. We are at the beginning of a long fight, and we have made up our minds that we shall not be doing our duty if we give up the fight before it is fairly fought out. If you take our advice—looking to the period of the Session, the amount of business we have to get through, and the desirableness of an early dissolution—you will hardly enter into the subject this Session. At the same time, if you are clearly convinced that the emergency is pressing, that the subject cannot wait, and that you are ready to deal with it, we on our part are ready to make all the sacrifices of time and of our own convenience which will be 792 necessary for a full and fair discussion. It may be necessary, of course, somewhat to shorten our customary holidays, and prolong the Business of the House; but such questions as these will not weigh with hon. Members if we are to enter into a discussion of such magnitude as this. On one point I hope hon. Members will be determined; they will not allow this matter to be huddled up in a mere abstract Resolution, the consequences of which they cannot foresee, and will insist upon definite answers to the questions the difficulty of answering which has hitherto prevented legislation. There will be much to answer respecting questions of properly, on which a good deal has been said during this debate; and much on the question of Establishment, as to which hardly anything has been said. On the first of these matters we were edified this evening by a good deal of special pleading from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) about what he called vested interests. I do not think that part of his speech commanded the attention of the House quite so much as the more interesting and amusing portions of his speech did. But I hope that hon. Members who heard it will bear in mind some of the distinctions of the right hon. Gentleman, even though we may all feel that he is not upon these points a guide whom the House is particularly likely to follow. We know that the right hon. Gentleman has peculiar opinions of his own about property. We remember his views in former days about musty charters and other matters of that sort; and we cannot expect that he will be extremely tender in dealing with vested interests. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to say that nobody had an interest in this matter unless, perhaps, it was the clergy, whom you could easily dispose of by pensioning them for their lives. As to the Church, that was an abstract idea which the right hon. Gentleman was hardly able to comprehend; and as to the laity, he said they have no vested rights, because you could not compensate them in money. The persons to be compensated are the owners of advowsons; and the laity, whose churches are to be taken away, are not to be compensated at all. The Irish Church, we are told, is an Establishment for the rich. The fact is, that it is supported by tithes derived from property which is in the hands of the rich, but applied to objects in which the rich have no greater vested interest than any other members of the congregation. 793 The rich are, in fact, trustees for the congregation. Now, what is the position of the owner of an advowson? He, does not hold the advowson for his own benefit: he, too, is a trustee for the benefit of the laity, and it is his duty to select a clergyman who shall minister efficiently to the laity. Well, what are you going to do? You are going to take away the money now applied for the benefit of the laity in the maintenance of the clergy and the services of the Church, capitalizing the value of that money, and paying it in a lump sum to the owner of the advowson. And that is what you call respecting vested interests. Very likely the owner of the advowson may be an absentee, and the money now spent in Ireland will in that case be withdrawn from Ireland altogether. I think that when you come to discuss this question arguments such as these will not hold water. There are points which will require a great deal of discussion, and the views which are now so glibly put forward as to the compensation you will give and the vested interests you are going to recognize will be strictly criticized. Then, what are you going to do with the property of the Church? That is the great question which the right hon. Gentleman himself asked in 1865. He has not absolutely answered it now; but, so far as we can glean from his statement, the money is to be devoted to secular uses, or, as he vaguely says, to some Irish object. What in the world does that mean? There is one Irish object which we often hear of. I rather think we are told it is in the Act of Union. It is that the money should be spent upon Cork harbour. Are you going to take the property of the Irish Church, which now supports churches in Connaught or in Ulster, and spend it upon Cork harbour. Then there is an object frequently mentioned in the Committee which sat some years ago upon Irish Taxation, and that is the injustice which Ireland suffers from the high rate of spirit duties. Perhaps if the general benefit of Inland is to be consulted in the appropriation of Church property, some of it will be applied in the reduction of the duty on whisky. This at all events is clear—you are not to give any of this money to the Roman Catholics. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) dislikes the Protestant Church much, but apparently dislikes the Roman Catholic Church still more. Whatever else we are to do with the money, we are to give nothing to them. The right hon. 794 Gentleman probably judges their feelings by his own. The Protestant Church is to be stripped, and he may think that they do not care whether they get a share of the spoil or not. They are not to have any generous assistance for their Universities, for their denominational education, or for any of those objects which I believe they have at heart. "These things are abominations," we are told, "but whatever you do, take away this property from the Church, and for Heaven's sake don't conciliate the Catholics." That is what the right hon. Gentleman calls a truly Liberal policy, and I believe, in the sense in which those words are sometimes used, it is a truly liberal policy—that is to say, it is a policy of being liberal at the expense of somebody else. Ireland says, "You have injured us by bad laws, though that is a thing of the past, and we ask for some compensation." "Give us," some say, "a re-settlement of the land question." "Give us," say others, "some advantages in the matter of taxation, or in the matter of expenditure, or in grants for education." "Give us," says another section, "a denominational system of education for ourselves. Give us a University which will meet our wants." But upon all these questions the great Liberal party are greatly divided. They cannot be brought together on any of these points. All they are agreed on is this; they say, "Take away the Irish Protestant Church;" and, as in former days when two nations were about to make up their quarrel, they propose to cement their union by offering up a victim on the altar of friendship. There was one thing very remarkable in the course of this debate, and that was the difference in the tone of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Take, for example, the speeches of the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) and the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright). In the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham there was an evident desire to tranquillize Ireland, to do something which, at all events, might give satisfaction to the great body of the people. But the tone of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne was quite the contrary. That right hon. Gentleman would only throw in elements of strife; he would not treat Irish dissatisfaction with soothing remedies, but rather by a method of counter irritation. He would not pacify the Catholics, he would irritate the Protestants. And then the right hon. Gentleman talked about the Establishment, and said, "We do not want an 795 Establishment in Ireland, because Ireland of all other countries is adapted for the voluntary system." And he spoke of the Roman Catholics as voluntaries. But I would like to ask Roman Catholic Members, whether they consider their Church a voluntary Church? If an Establishment were merely a money question, I would admit the position of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland is that of a voluntary Church. [Mr. STUART MILL: Hear, hear!] But does the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill) think that money is the only thing involved in an Establishment? Very far from it. That is almost the only point that has been dwelt on in this debate; but there are many others which it will be necessary to raise before we have done with this subject. We must hear, not only about the property, but about the form of worship and the discipline which are necessary for an Establishment, and upon these points not one word has been heard from the right hon. Gentleman who has brought forward these Resolutions. Now, will he tell us when he has disestablished the Protestant Church of Ireland, whether that Church is to continue an Episcopalian Church or not? And, if so, if she is to have Bishops, by whom are they to be appointed? Are they to be elected by the congregations, or appointed by the Crown? To what law are they to be subject, and in what way are you going to insure uniformity of doctrine and worship in that Church? Remember that these are not in the present day mere matters of form; they are very important questions, which will undoubtedly be raised in substance; and it seems to me that one of the great difficulties we have to contend with, and upon which, before this matter is finally settled, we must have a distinct and categorical answer, is, in what position is the Established Church in Ireland to be when it comes to be disestablished with respect to the questions of discipline, doctrine, and form of government? We do not want to have another South Africa in Ireland; and I think that English Churchmen who are apt to look upon this question as a thing apart, and to say that it would rather strengthen than weaken the Church of England if the Irish branch of the Church were disestablished, have hardly pictured to themselves what would happen if this long-established branch of their own Church were destroyed. For, do what you will, these Churches are united. Suppose 796 different articles and formularies were by-and-by adopted by Convocations in that Church—a danger restricted and prohibited by the conditions of an Establishment—and that the Church in England was prevented from following the example of her freer sister, what would be the consequence? I venture to say that there would arise a state of things which in a short time would be found to be intolerable. Suppose, for instance, that such questions sprang up as those that were lately raised in the Ecclesiastical Courts in this country, and that certain decisions were given as to the effect of the Articles of the Church of England which were unsatisfactory to a great number of its members, who, nevertheless, would be precluded from making any alterations in those Articles, and suppose our brethren in Ireland entertaining similar opinions were to alter their formularies, what think you would be the effect of that upon the people of the Church of England? I venture to say that the consequences would be such as the advocates of disestablishment are not altogether prepared for. To certain minds, no doubt, they may seem good, and that this enfranchisement of the Church from the restrictions imposed by the State in Ireland can do no harm; but to me it appears that the effect would be to produce such excitement here as would aggravate and intensify all the evils that we are at present troubled by; and members of the Church of England must make up their minds that in destroying the Established Church in Ireland they are striking at the root of the Established Church in England also. I do not put it now upon the miserable proximus ardet argument. I do not say that, because your neighbour's property is taken, you must look after your own, though the same principles that are recognized as an excuse for taking away the property of the Established Church in Ireland may of course be used with equal effect in England also. I do not put it upon that ground; but I say this—if you open the vents, you let out the waters of controversy between Church and State to an extent you are not prepared for. The discussion we are now upon is, whether it is desirable to go into Committee at this time; and the reason why I have entered upon these questions is to show the House the enormous extent of the ground we shall have to cover if we do go into Committee. For, although the right hon. Gentleman may say, "If you go 797 into Committee, you will merely have to vote my first Resolution, and the others which are to give effect to it," he cannot say that he will prevent these questions from being fully discussed before he embodies his proposals in a measure. Therefore we feel it our duty to warn the House and to take its sense whether it is desirable — when we are approaching the Easter holydays, and the state of business is so little advanced—to enter upon this extensive field of controversy. But if the House, after full consideration, decides to go into Committee, we shall then be ready to enter upon the discussion, and depend upon it these questions shall be fully and fairly argued, and all the collateral issues raised, before the whole matter is allowed to conclude.
said, he wished to make a suggestion with regard to the course of business to-morrow. On ordinary occasions, the usual practice was to take the Motion relating to the holidays before the main business of the evening. Now, although he was sanguine in the hope that nothing would occur to prevent the adjournment for the holydays to-morrow, it was plain that it would not be desirable to settle the matter before the main business of the evening was brought to a conclusion. It would be convenient and satisfactory to the House if the questions could be taken after the main business was concluded, when it might be hoped that that important question would have come to an issue on its first stage, and that they should know something of the mode in which the Government proposed to deal with its future stages.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, that the Government had no other wish than to suit the convenience of the House. He might say that representations had been made to him as much from one side as the other, that Gentlemen were very anxious that the usual holydays should be observed. He had thought of putting on the Paper to-night a Notice to that effect, so that the House might express an opinion upon it. He had no objection, however, to adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, if it was acceptable to the House; but he must express his own opinion that there could be no doubt that the debate would conclude to-morrow.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.