§ Order for Committee read.
§ Acts considered in Committee.
(1.) Question again proposed,
That it is necessary that the Established Church of Ireland should cease to exist as an
Establishment, due regard being had to all personal interests and to all individual lights of property."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ MR. WATKIN
—who had placed the following Amendment on the Paper:—After the word 'That,' insert 'while this Committee considers that the future position of the Established Church in Ireland should be finally decided upon by the Reformed Parliament, to be convened at the earliest period after the Electoral Revision of the present year, it now resolves that' "—said, an independent Member who proposes an Amendment to a Resolution which partakes more or less a party character, generally places himself in a dilemma, for he obtains the disapprobation of his friends, and the more dangerous approbation of his opponents. He was fortunate in having, since giving Notice of the Amendment or rather, preface to the Resolutions, heard the speech in which the right hon. Gentleman extended the scope of his Resolutions. The Resolutions seemed to indicate that the disestablishment of the Irish Church would be a settlement of the Irish Church question. He did not concur in that view, and he thought the House would be misleading the country if it expressed such an opinion. But the right hon. Gentleman in his speech said he meant to put an end to all endowment out of the funds of the State for the support of any sect or religion in Ireland. That was a distinct issue explicitly put, and the country would have to settle it. He had voted with the right hon. Gentleman the other night because there was nothing he could quarrel with in his Resolutions, except that they might have been more explicit; and if the right hon. Gentleman's speech could have been put from the Chair, a larger number of Members might vote for it than for the Resolutions. He had always looked upon the Irish Church as the greatest of all dangers to the English Church; for the one a logical reason could be offered, for the other there was no argument but the power of a minority to preserve it. The substitution of the voluntary system for the Establishment in Ireland would be a powerful means of starting afresh the Protestant religion in that country. A great Churchman and a great man—Dr. Arnold, of Rugby—used these words—Whether Ireland remain in its present barbarism, or grow in wealth and civilization, in either case the downfall of the present Establishment is certain; a savage people will not endure the insult of a hostile religion; a civilized one will reasonably insist on having their own.1340 And in his works, speaking of the Irish people, he said—They see a Church richly supported by the spoils of their own Church Establishment, in whose tenets not one-tenth part of the people believe. Is it possible to believe this can endure?He (Mr. Watkin) believed with Dr. Arnold that it could not endure. But then comes the question—how far the right hon. Gentleman can proceed under present circumstances? Household suffrage will make a far wider and wiser settlement of the whole Irish question than this Parliament can accomplish. This Parliament ought not to be kept alive to serve any party purpose. And the country would not be satisfied unless an assurance be given by either the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister or by the right hon. Member for South Lancashire—who may be Prime Minister in a few weeks—that the Reformed Parliament shall be called together at the earliest possible period next year, in order to deal with the whole question of Ireland. His proposed addition enforced this condition. He did not believe any Minister will commit the mistake of dissolving this Parliament on the question. The House will no doubt pass the Resolutions, and he desired to throw no impediment in the way; and as the hon. Baronet (Sir Frederick Heygate) has given notice of an Amendment which will raise the whole question of Establishments, he (Mr. Watkin) would not move the Amendment of which he had given Notice.
§ MR. GORST
said, he did not think this could be treated as an Irish question. It was one which deeply affected the people of this country. He did not wonder at the Irish Roman Catholic Members looking on this, as they did on all other questions, from a peculiarly Irish point of view. They said, that the Irish Establishment was an heretical one; that it did no social good to the people of that country, and that the whole mass of the Irish people were against it. If Ireland were a separate country, they would not attempt to disestablish the Irish Church, but would simply change its religion and make it Roman Catholic. The line of argument adopted by those Members was straightforward; but he would point out to hon. Gentlemen that a civil war must take place before the Roman Catholic Church could be made the Established religion of Ireland. He objected in toto to the assumption that this ought to be treated as a purely Irish question. By doing so, indeed, the House would not 1341 be going against the Act of Union, which they had power to repeal if they chose; but the House would be acting in opposition to the spirit of the age. He yielded to no man in his admiration of the Irish character, which was high-spirited and generous; but it was impossible to resist the revolution which railroads were making in Ireland as well as in England. In a country which could be travelled over from one extremity to the other in twenty four hours, it could hardly be doubted that men and institutions would become alike; and he would ask hon. Gentlemen, who were acquainted with Ireland, whether it was not rapidly losing its distinctive character, and becoming English. If, then, there were a tendency to uniformity of character thoughout the United Kingdom, was it not a reactionary stop to create an anomaly by having an Established Church in England, and in Ireland a Government with no religion whatever? Was it likely that such an anomaly could be maintained permanently? The great mass of the Liberal party knew full well that it could not and did not intend that it should; but they supported the present Resolutions, not for the purpose of destroying the Establishment in Ireland, but for the purpose of laying hands on the Establishment in England. If he had held such views he should have raised the real question at issue in a manly, straightforward way, instead of following the example of some Liberals who had had the falseness to deny that they were aiming at disestablishment of the Church of England. Some Liberals talked as though they were advocating reforms in the future; not because these reforms were in themselves right and good, but for the purpose of punishing the Conservative party for its obstinacy. It was the hon. Member for Birmingham who began that way of talking. They all understood that it was his fun, but there were plenty to follow him seriously in these opinions. Now, he maintained that those who brought forward this question ought honestly to avow their intentions; but the reason the Liberal party had not done so was because the people of this country, and especially the poorer classes, were firmly attached to the Established Church. He had no doubt that many mistook the voice of a few persons out-of-doors and of a few newspapers—a voice put forth merely for the purpose of ascertaining public opinion—for that of the people of this country. Would the hon. 1342 Member for Birmingham allow him to give one reason which seemed to him to be above all others that which led the people of this country to uphold the Established Church? It was because, of all our institutions, it was the most democratic. Although a great Reform Bill had been carried, there still existed in the State, distinctions between the rich man and the poor man, and between males and females. [Laughter.] That laughter convinced him that the latter distinction was likely to be long maintained. [Laughter.] Of course, he was merely speaking of distinctions in the State. In the Established Church, however, no distinction was made between classes, but all alike could enter the churches and partake of the ceremonies. And not only so, but the ceremonies were the same for all. A marriage might be surrounded with every pomp and luxury, but within the Church the ceremony was the same for the wealthy as for the poor. A general might be buried in a cathedral, but the ceremony was the same as for the poorest man. For his own part, he had never held that it would make a great difference to the Church, whether it existed as an Establishment or as a voluntary association, although he did not share in the desire entertained by some advanced Churchmen of separation of Church and State. He thought, however, that the State would be the great sufferer from disestablishment. It could not be expected that England could be governed like America, or the Colonies, where no monarchy was established; and it should be borne in mind that the national religion was bound up with all the traditions of the country. There had been periods in our history when the national Church was the great safeguard of the liberties of the people; and her services were not yet forgotten. They could not, in his opinion, disestablish the Church in any part of the United Kingdom, without striking a great blow at true religion. It might be that philosophers could conduct themselves and their affairs without religion, and that for them enlightened self-interest was a sufficient guide; but common and unphilosophical men, who were now supreme in this country, would hardly be able to govern themselves justly without the principle of religion embodied in public affairs—in other words, without the principle of an Established Church. After all it was of no use attempting to decide a question of this kind by reason; for it 1343 did not depend upon argument at all, but upon feeling and sentiment, and as long as the people of this country were strongly attached to the Established Church, so long should we have Church and State united. The battle would be fought, not in the House of Commons, but in the Streets of our great towns. On the one side were arrayed clergy, ministers, and virtue; and, on the other side, the vice and wickedness out of the gaols and workhouses; and when the latter prevailed, and people ceased to be attached to the Church, it would go, and the House could not save it, although it might break the fall. The Liberal party—taking advantage of this state of things—was trying to educate the people into willingness to destroy the Church, and it did not scruple to ally itself for this object with people of bad character, and opposed to religion. It would be far better plainly to avow the intention, and let the world know what was aimed at, for the destruction of the Irish Church was a step towards the destruction of the English Church. But the conduct of the Liberal party was reasonable, judged by their own principles. What, however, should be said of the union between the Irish party, which sought the separation of England and Ireland, and the anti-Church party, in a common onslaught on the Irish Church? ["No, no!"] Of course the leaders of the Opposition treated his opinions with disdain. But perhaps they would like to know how the matter struck an outsider, who did not expect to hold Office. Before Parliament met it was said Ireland would be the question of the Session; but in the speeches of the Leaders of the Liberal party he could find no suggestions, and no proposals were made save the impracticable ones of the hon. Members for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) and Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill). It was said that something must be done; but no one knew what. Then there was a great debate in the House, and nothing turned up for Ireland, but something for the Liberal party. It appeared to be possible that if certain Gentlemen would change their opinions, and adopt a new line of conduct, the great Liberal party might just for once be re-united. There was courage in the attempt; but they had been obliged to make very serious admissions, such as that the Irish Church was not a real grievance, and did not injure any one in purse or person; that its abolition would not remove discontent; that the question 1344 must be remitted to the reformed Parliament; that it prevented the completion of the Reform scheme of last Session; and that the Liberal party was stultifying itself, as it had proposed nothing during the twenty years it directed the Government of the country. In the face of all these admissions, they had to say why they opened the question now. Their supporters out-of-doors bluntly said it was because they were out of Office; of course, it would not be decent to say so in the House; but the reason given was, that there was discontent in Ireland, and it was desirable to remedy a sentimental grievance. The right hon. Member for South Lancashire said this was felt as a grievance in Ireland, and that it was desirable to remedy it. He (Mr. Gorst) would admit that it might be desirable to remedy a real grievance in the midst of an insurrection, but not a sentimental grievance. He held that, however discontented a nation might be, justice ought to be done at whatever cost. But he also held that if a sentimental grievance, which did not injure any one either in his money or person, were redressed in the middle of discontent and insurrection, the conduct of the redressors would be put down to fear, and would do no good whatever. It was quite clear that if the Irish Church grievance was to be redressed, it ought not to be redressed when Ireland was in a state of insurrection, or, at all events, of discontent. Now, while it was very good policy to cure a real grievance in the midst of discontent and insurrection, it was bad policy to remove a sentimental one; because your conduct might be attributed to fear, and for that reason might not do the slightest good. Why was not the question brought forward during the fifteen years of contentment that preceded 1865? Unless a good reason could be given, people outside would impugn the conduct of the Leaders of the Liberal party. A distinct issue was raised by the Resolution, which in terms spoke of the Irish Church; but in reality was aimed at the existence and welfare of the English Church. The attack united the Irish Catholic party and the anti-Church party, and those two great parties were marshalled for the attack by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, whom he might call deserters from that (the Government) side of the House, and who hesitated not to stultify themselves in their efforts to get into office. The Conservative party could meet the Resolution only by a direct 1345 negative, and, whatever the House might do with it, he was quite sure that course would be approved in the country.
§ SIR FREDERICK HEYGATE
said, he did not insist upon the Union of England and Ireland being an insuperable obstacle to the disestablishment of the Irish Church. As long as there was a Parliament in existence it must have power to consider all questions. The Act of Union was one of the most solemn Acts of Parliament, and he did not believe the Union it established would be maintained if there were different religious arrangements in the two countries. You could not have a voluntary system in one country and continue an Established Church in the other. The fund for the support of the Irish Church was described as being out of all proportion to its real wants. So long, however, as you treated the country as one united Empire, you were bound to look to the case of the Church in every part of the kingdom. Now, the Church statistics of Ulster had never been given in this House, and he should like to call attention to them. The total Church revenue in Ulster arising from rent, glebe-lands, tithe rent-charge, sums paid by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and value of the Bishops' sees, was £211,234; the number of clergy in Ulster was 684, and of the Church population was 401,392. Dividing the emoluments of the Church by the number of the clergy the income of each clergyman appeared to be £308, certainly not an excessive income considering the large size of the parishes. Dividing the number of the Church population by the number of clergymen, the average flock of each clergyman was 586 persons. He believed that if such a comparison were made in England, excluding certain large towns, the remuneration might be something like the same, but the average number of the flock would not be. In many communities in Dublin and in other counties the case was quite as strong as in Ulster. Then, again, the interest of the 500,000 Presbyterians must be considered, for their Regium Donum would be stopped. He was convinced that if you swamped Ulster in the whole of Ireland yon must go a great deal farther. You could not separate one country from another in religious matters and maintain a union in all others. The prevalent religion of a country was its very spirit, forming its character, and controlling all its conduct and its relations, foreign and domestic. If you abrogated the Union, 1346 a result to which this measure would, in his opinion, lead, the foreign policy of the country would hardly ever be in accord with that of England, and then the question of education would face you. When once you meddled with this question of the Irish Church, only two courses were open to you—the voluntary system, or the endowment of all religious denominations. Now, as it was absurd to talk about the voluntary system in a poor and thinly populated country like Ireland, though it might succeed in large towns. The voluntary system had been well described by an old writer, who said—That he was not aware of any other Scriptural authority for this system than that derived from the period when every man did that which was right in his own eyes.And, again—The voluntary system if it be understood to intend the exclusion of national and parochial provision for the support of religion, is only another phrase for the wish of the Devil, who is content that much should be professed to be done, so long as little be really done, to overthrow his kingdom.Though the voluntary system had been much praised, the evidence was that, while in the large towns of America it answered very well, in the country it amounted almost to a closing of places of worship. The other alternative was the endowment of all religious denominations. But it would be impossible to persuade the people of England or of Scotland to endow the Roman Catholics; and if you endow all denominations you must endow Mormonism. What was called religious equality was nothing but the equality of truth and error. Between Protestantism and Popery antagonism prevailed, well expressed in the words of Old Evelyn—The emissaries and instruments of the Church of Rome will never rest till they have crushed the Church of England, as knowing that alone to be able to cope with them, and that they can never answer her fairly, but lie abundantly open to the irresistible force of her arguments and the antiquity and purity of her doctrine.It was asked why, if the voluntary system, answered among Roman Catholics in Ireland, it could not answer among other denominations. But there was an enormous difference between the spirit and the working of the two creeds. An omission of religious duty on the part of Roman Catholics was punished in this world. It was punished by a suspension of the offices of the Church, and the charges made by the Roman Catholic clergy under the so-called voluntary system were really compulsory. The hon. Member for Birmingham said 1347 that the process of disestablishment would be easy and gradual. Easy it undoubtedly would be—Facilis descensus Averni.Sed revocare gradum, superasque evadere ad auras,Hic labor, hoc opus est.The Protestants in Ireland might, perhaps do without so many Bishops as they now had; the few cathedrals might do without deans and canons; though these were not paid as such, as was generally supposed, but in almost every instance were simply the clergymen of neighbouring parishes, with parochial duties. But if the clergyman of the parish died the "gradual" process would be this—His life-interest would be respected, but on the day of his death, even though the church was well filled, it must be closed, and there could be no more services unless an appeal were successfully made to the voluntary system. This was what was called gradual disestablishment. But the effects of these proposals were already perceptible, and he for one would prefer that the disestablishment, if it were to take place, should take place at once. He did not at all approve of postponing the matter for the consideration of another Parliament. Few, if any, would stand up for the anomalies which existed in the Established Church of Ireland; but this was not a question of anomalies. He had letters without end from all parts of the country, many of them from Roman Catholics, and throughout but one idea appeared to be prevalent. One writer said, "The Romish population about here are beginning to exult at the prospect of becoming the Established Church." A Presbyterian clergyman, who, he might add, was a Liberal, and had voted against him at several elections, writing to him lately, said that the Presbyterian Church in Ireland regarded the withdrawal of the endowments from the Established Church as a heavy blow, and a discouragement to Protestantism in the country, and a great triumph for Roman Catholicism. The writer said it was moreover feared that at no very distant day we should witness the Establishment of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. And this enormous change was to be made to secure what he regarded as a purely imaginary result—peace. The hon. Member Birmingham held out the prospect of the disendowment leading to the inauguration of an era of peace for Ireland. That result he regarded as so desirable that he would 1348 make any sacrifice short of abandoning principle to secure it; but he could not see how the hon. Member could prove the prospect which he held out was anything but imaginary. He had listened attentively to the speeches which had been made in the House, but he had failed to find that any corroboration had been afforded by the Roman Catholic Members. He thought it a somewhat remarkable fact that no Liberal Member connected with Ireland—and several had spoken—had referred to the proposal as likely to promote the result suggested by the hon. Member for Birmingham. The Roman Catholic Members, though they had not taken part in the debate, had significantly enough voted for the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He would ask these Gentlemen whether, in their opinion, a more peaceable condition of the country would ensue upon the adoption of the course proposed. They knew, and the fact was generally recognized by the Roman Catholics, that the question of education was of far greater importance to them, and its great importance was recognized, too, by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Calne, who had changed many of his opinions on Irish matters, some of those changes having resulted from sitting on Select Committees. Among other important questions, too, which demanded consideration were the law of Mortmain and the land question. But another object that was desired was what was called the overthrow of Protestant ascendancy. He desired, however, to ask the hon. Member for Birmingham, whether, in his opinion, Protestant ascendancy would be destroyed by this course? The hon. Member, as he understood, proposed to leave the church, the glebe, and the residence of the minister untouched, so that where an "obnoxious minister" previously resided, that obnoxious minister was to be maintained by voluntary contributions, still continuing his former duties and trying to persuade the people of the country to change their religion. There remained the fact that so many of the owners of land belonged to the "obnoxious" religion. There was, in his opinion, no means of getting rid of the Protestant ascendancy in Ireland short of the absolute banishment of the present race of Protestants in Ireland. He would pass over the remarkable comparison in this debate by the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray), in which he compared the Ulster settlers to the planters of the Southern States of Ame- 1349 rica, and threatened them with a similar fate. Such threats in an assembly of men whose ancestors for the most part were also the ancestors of those maligned Ulstermen, who had been originally largely sent from this City of London, much against their will, and forced by Royal authority to contribute funds to buy land, might well pass for what they were worth. That industrious race, both of English and Scotch descent, had, at any rate, made Ulster what it is, although it was now sought to confiscate the endowments of their religions, which had been guaranteed them. He denied that the loyalty of the Irish Protestants would depend upon the issue of this question. He believed there was no gentleman in Ulster who would be disloyal, whatever loss of security there might be to the institutions of the country by such proposals as this. Their loyalty sprung from a principle that was far deeper. But we were told that the object which the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his supporters had in view would be the result of an easy and a gradual arrangement. The moment, however, that these Resolutions passed, the Church of England as a ministry and a profession would lose its independence, and the standing of the clergymen under the new order of things would be very different from what it was at present. Their position would be something akin to that of the domestic chaplain in Esmonde, who, as Thackeray told them, was expected to say grace at table, to baptize the family, get the eldest sons out of their scrapes, train up the young hopefuls, and, in fact, to make himself generally useful. So far from the adoption of these Resolutions tending to promote peace, he thought we should find that there would be less peace than before, which would represent the withdrawal of confidence and countenance from the old form of Faith. In fact, they were so regarded in every quarter. Let them not be deceived. This was nothing less than the reversal of the policy of 300 years—the withdrawal of the countenance by England of the old Reformed Faith—triumphantly known to be so by all the Roman Catholics of Europe and Ireland. If they cared so little for this question of the Established Church, and would have none of its endowments, and despised its hold on the world, why should they so rejoice at the perils that environed her? Had Archbishop Manning written nothing? And the Roman Catholic papers in every country in Europe? Do the Irish hierarchy feel 1350 no joy at the downfall of their rival—no secret anticipation of their enthronement in its place? On every ground he opposed these Resolutions. They were fatal to the principle of the Union between the two countries; they treated England and Ireland as distinct nations; and they proposed no disposition of the confiscated endowments. In the case of Ulster and some other parts of Ireland, as appeared by the statistics he has given—which he quoted on the authority of Dr. Lee, whose ability and labours deserved every commendation—there was no case. He wished, indeed, to see the Presbyterian ministers raised to a position of greater independence, and the utmost religions freedom professed by every denomination. Instead of promoting the stability of Ireland, the Opposition had thrown the apple of discord in the very midst of the people, and had set on foot a war of race against race, embittered by religious rancour.
To leave out from the first word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "so long as the Union between Great Britain and Ireland continues to exist, it is just and consistent that the principle of the Established Church should be maintained in Ireland, and its endowment on a scale suitable to the wants of the population,"—(Sir Frederick Heygate,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Resolution."
— Sir, the Amendment of the hon. Baronet the Member for Londonderry (Sir Frederick Heygate) as it appears to me is precisely tantamount to a direct negative. He wishes the House to affirm that, as long as the Union exists, the Established Church in Ireland should exist also; but on this side of the House we wish the Union to exist for ever and the Established Church to disappear at once. The hon. Member for Cambridge, though he wandered over a great deal of ground through which it is unnecessary that I should follow him, did not fail in accordance with the never-failing tactics of his party to refer the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman for the disestablishment of the Irish Church and the support which it receives on this side of the House to causes with which it is going out of the way to suppose that they have any connection, and this is the more singular because the course is not far to seek from which they naturally and inevitably flow. Is it possible that hon. Gentle- 1351 men opposite can have forgotten the debate which took place at the commencement of this Session upon the Motion of the hon. Member for Cork; is it possible that they can have forgotten the long speech made on that occasion by the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland, the satisfaction with which he dwelt upon certain statistics by which he proved that this is not the worst period of Ireland's adversity, the candour with which he admitted that notwithstanding this, throughout large districts of the country and large masses of the population there was a prevalent sympathy with Fenianism, and then the deplorable announcement which he made that Her Majesty's Government thought it best, upon the whole, to preserve a dignified neutrality in presence of the raging contest between a tendency to improvement and a tendency to decay? It seems to me Sir, that both the Liberal party and their Leader would have been faithless to the great interests confided to their care, if they had pretended for a moment to sanction such a policy; if any time had been lost by them in seizing upon the most salient point in the Irish difficulty and bringing it before the House in such a manner as not only to involve a discussion of its merits, but also to compel a decision upon its principle. But hon. Gentlemen opposite say that the great mistake has been to select this question of the Irish Church. They argue that if the Irish Church were disestablished to-morrow there would not be one Fenian the less, and though the assertion is sweeping it is not necessarily inaccurate. I am inclined to believe that even if the Church were disestablished to-morrow the active and actual Fenians in their very limited numbers might still remain undiminished. It is but indirectly that a Resolution of this kind can attempt to deal with the active organization of Fenianism; but I think it will be admitted that even that active organization will have received its death-blow when we can reach that smouldering sympathy with rebels so freely admitted by the Chief Secretary, that passive organization of Fenianism, founded upon a sense of wrong which has its depôt in the hearts of the people. I apprehend that to reach that is the object of those who wish to disestablish the Irish Church; and let me remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that an argument which they are in the habit of using, even if it had any foundation in fact, would not be conclusive against the possibility of attaining that end by these means. Their argument is 1352 that the disaffection of the Irish to our rule does not proceed from religion but from national antipathies. Time will not permit me to give this argument a very comprehensive refutation; but I will at least remind hon. Gentlemen that there is no antipathy so inveterate as not to require sustentation, that there is no antipathy so rooted but it may be expected to yield to the influence of softening suggestions from a friendly and respected source. And I will ask them to consider first, the enormous power for good or for evil which is vested in the Roman Catholic hierarchy; secondly, the course which we can pursue with the greatest probability of throwing its weight into the scale of order; and thirdly, the grave responsibility assumed by those, who pursuing a course diametrically opposite, risk the indefinite prolongation of a state of things which common sense and common humanity compel us all equally to deplore. And now let me turn to another argument which is also very popular with hon. Gentlemen opposite. They say that union between Church and State in Ireland rests upon the same principle as union between Church and State in England, and if either can be said to rest upon any absolute and well-defined principle, so far I agree with them; but upon this premise they build the conclusion that a blow struck at the one is a blow aimed also at the other, and that if the dissolution of the one be effected the dissolution of the other must follow in its wake. From this conclusion Sir, I entirely dissent. Union between Church and State as it appears to me is an admirably wise but purely political arrangement entered into for the general well-being of a nation. So long and in so far as it procures that end its maintenance is clearly advantageous and its disturbance would be a national calamity; but what is the wisest method of avoiding a calamity, which, from the very nature of the arrangement, some persons must always be striving to bring about?—surely, Sir, to restrict that arrangement within the sphere of its beneficial action, not to press it to a point at which ample experience has taught us that it becomes subversive of the very objects which it was devised with consummate sagacity to attain. In England this arrangement, this union, has been fraught with blessing; in Ireland it has produced nothing but a curse. If it be true, as has been more than whispered, that its origin was unhallowed, all the more reason why its end should be unregretted, Sir, for many years it was the custom to 1353 characterize religious inequality complained of in Ireland as a sentimental grievance; and a sentimental grievance truly it was, cutting a sensitive and enthusiastic nation to the quick. Let me ask any hon. Member in this House, whether, if he had a friend of a sensitive and enthusiastic temperament who might be useful or who might be noxious, there is any extremity he would not rather face than put him in possession of a sentimental grievance? Hon. Gentlemen have at last discovered the fallacy of that unlucky sneer. More than once in the course of these debates it has been turned upside down and used as an argument to prop the falling fortunes of a hitherto favoured minority. There is one more argument which, if the Committee will bear with me, I should like to notice before I sit down; it is an argument in which the sentimental is used for the practical to a degree which approaches if it does not touch the verge of political probity. It is the last of a long array by which, not so many years ago, Protestant ascendancy seemed surrounded and ruined. One by one they have melted away before the expanding mind and conscience of this country, and now there remains but this one alone—this garrison argument. It warns us to beware lest our mad veneration for justice should cost us loyalty with which we can ill dispense. It points to a minority numerically small, but financially and intellectually powerful, which has hitherto faithfully guarded our interests; and again, it warns us that if we alienate their hearts all government in Ireland will become impossible for the future—all government at least except that of the bayonet. Truly a terrible alternative if we needed no bayonets now. My answer to that argument is that our dependence upon that minority in the past is a real dependence. I do not dispute it to have been vicious in principle; it has broken down in practice, and that it is time for them as it is time for us to give heed to the warning of the present and the lessons of the past. But having said thus much in reply to an argument used by others, I feel bound to add that the very use of it involves a weight of accusation which I should never have ventured to originate, and the truth of which I am quite unprepared to assume. I have confidence enough in a body of my countrymen, so wealthy, so intelligent, and so loyal as the Irish Protestants to believe that the sacrifice which they are called upon to make will not deprive them of the will any more than 1354 of the power to do good service to the State. I am fully pursuaded that both the clergy and the laity will rally all the closer round the standard of a creed whose emblems are love and peace. I have confidence enough in the Church of which I am a member to believe that she fears no rivalry upon equal terms; and I have confidence enough in my own knowledge of human nature to feel sure that her doctrines will have fuller play and a fairer chance when the exponent of Protestant truth, dissociated from the representative of oppression and conquest, can gain free access to the minds of a warm-hearted and unprejudiced population through his virtues as a minister and his qualities as a gentleman. But even if this were otherwise, the alternative of right or wrong, of justice or injustice, drawing as it does so unpleasantly harsh a line between the two great parties in this House would still remain untouched. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are the consistent advocates of Protestant ascendancy at any time, because it exists and because they think "whatever is is right;" for this side of the House I hope and believe there is no disposition to violate the sanctity of long existing lights, provided they can shelter themselves even in the shadow of justice: but when such claims as these of Protestant ascendancy in Ireland are dragged into the light and proved, as in my opinion they have been proved, incompatible with justice, insulting to a nation, and injurious to the interests of the Empire; when, moreover, Ireland hard pressed in the struggle for a decent and orderly existence cries aloud to us to send religious equality to her aid, I think it would be wrong, morally and politically wrong, to stand by with folded arms and let her fight her battle as she may.
§ MR. DYKE
said, he had listened carefully to the speech of the hon. Member opposite (Captain Grosvenor), but failed to discover in it any clear argument proving that the Roman Catholics were suffering from present injustice. Looking back upon some of the arguments which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) had used in former years, and contrasting these with his more recent utterances, he had been altogether unable to discover in his modern views any sufficient answer to those which he formerly entertained. This was peculiarly the case with a speech made in 1835 upon the Appropriation Clause. The right hon. Gentleman no doubt would say that the speech was made some time ago, and 1355 that times had changed since then; but lapse of time made no change in the clearness of the argument. The right hon. Gentleman said—If the Protestants should ever happen again to be in a minority in that House, he, for one, avowed his conviction that a return to the ancient appropriation would be the fair and legitimate consequence. Until that should be the case—until the Legislative Union should be dissolved, until the representatives of the Roman Catholics constituted the majority in that House—he, for one, should raise his humble voice as a Protestant against the principle involved in the Motion before the House. The great grievance complained of in Ireland was that the Protestant Establishment there was paid for by the Roman Catholic inhabitants. Was it so paid for? Were tithes paid for that purpose, or were not tithes rather a part of the surplus profit of the land, which went, not to the cultivator of the soil, but to the owner of it? Tithe was paid by the landlord, and the grievances on this point complained of by the people of Ireland were rather in theory than in reality." [3 Hansard, xxvii. 507.]The House was now invited to deal with this question not in a comprehensive manner, but by affirming, blindfold as it were, the principle of disestablishment, leaving the vast ulterior difficulties of the question to be dealt with in a future Parliament. Only three years ago the right hon. Gentleman stated that "no sooner did you approach this question practically than you met a whole nest of problems of the utmost political difficulty;" and the difficulties certainly had not disappeared in the interval. The hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill) had one plan for disposing of the revenues of the Irish Church; Lord Russell, till the other day, had a different plan of his own, but he appeared to have relinquished it at a meeting which he attended in St. James's Hall. A question was addressed the other day to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire with regard to the Regium Donum, and also with regard to the Grant to Maynooth—the latter especially being one of considerable moment among the Nonconformist population—but the right hon. Gentleman had given no distinct pledge with regard to the future. On the contrary, he seemed to find himself between the Scylla of Nonconformity—the dislike of all endowments—and the Charybdis of Roman Catholicism, which might succeed after all in overcoming his present scruples with regard to endowments. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) treated all objections to disestablishment as so many hobgoblin arguments, having nothing substantial about them. But, for his 1356 own part, he could not discover those securities and safeguards supposed to exist in such abundance. In a quarter which ought to be well-informed as to the views with which agitation was raised, in the great Liberal newspaper in Dublin, The Freeman's Journal of March 26, he found passages such as this—The debate will be one of the most memorable on record, and the issue will involve not only the fate of a Ministry, but the fate sooner or later of the dominant State Church, not only in Ireland, but in England. The great Liberal party are determined to deal a deathblow at all State endowments. The Irish Church, as the most vulnerable in structure, must be the first righteous victim.After that, he supposed they would be told in this country that there was no need to be alarmed. See, again, how the matter was viewed upon the Continent. He took from a foreign paper, expressing strong Ultramontane opinions, this extract—We applaud the fall of the Irish Church—first of all, because it is a barrier to the development of the Catholic faith, an outpost of the Anglican Establishment, which is the fortress of Protastantism in Europe. Once the Church has fallen, the sect will crumble away.A few nights ago the hon. Member for Birmingham said, he should not be surprised if the same conversion took place in Scotland, and that disendowment were asked for there also. All these things indicated that disestablishment would not stop at the Irish Church. It was not shown that any actual grievance is now felt by Roman Catholic clergymen or laymen; but hon. Gentlemen who sought to make a case against the Irish Church went back sixty or seventy years and referred to the Penal Laws and other such things, which we all, whether Irish or English, Protestant or Roman Catholic, now regarded with horror. He believed that no class of men had worked with more honesty and with less of bigotry against those who were opposed to them in religion than the Irish Protestants. The other day he received a letter from one of them, asking him to vote against the Resolutions. In that letter the reverend gentleman, referring to the Roman Catholic people of a parish in which he had lived for same years, made these remarks—When they found I was anxious for their good, as well as that of my own Protestant people, we were soon on the pleasantest terms, spoke in a friendly way on practical religious duties, avoiding irritating subjects: they came to me for advice, or relief in sickness; they trusted me with their letters, money, and affairs, and my leaving the parish was occasion for much lamentation among them. I quote words used by one when saying good-bye. 'How shall we all get on when 1357 you leave us, sir?' 'Why, just as you did before I come.' 'Sure, and we didn't get on at all thin, your honour.'Were these Resolutions to have a prospective effect on a Parliament? If not, it appeared to him the House were wasting a Session by a proceeding of a vague, factious, and party-serving character. If the Resolutions were prospective, would not the House, in passing them, be doing a great injustice to the Members of the next Parliament, by denying to them the right of having any part in legislation which struck at the foundation of the religion which the people of this country professed, and which they desired to uphold. In 1866, when the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland was proposed by the late Government, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire found out no crisis which was to terminate in the destruction of the Irish Church. In the twenty-five years during which the Liberal party had been in power, and during which, according to the hon. Member for Birmingham, the sword had seldom been out of the hands of the governing party, they had never discovered an Irish crisis; but with the coming in of the present Government the Liberal party seemed to be endowed with the keenest vision, and almost with microscopic eye they were now able to detect the cause of Irish discontent. From the large constituency which he represented he had received representations of the most earnest nature on the subject of these Resolutions; and, however humble and ineffective his voice might be, he could not give a silent vote on what he conceived to be hasty, untimely, and party-serving Resolutions, affecting a Church of which he was a supporter, and a religion which he felt himself bound to uphold.
§ MR. DILLWYN
said, he believed that the existence of the Established Church in Ireland was an injustice to the people of that country; and he would support the Resolutions, because he thought that, in removing an injustice, we took the first step towards ameliorating the condition of a Country. The House could not doubt what the verdict of the United Kingdom would be, for during the last three weeks in England, Scotland, and Ireland public opinion had pronounced itself singularly favourable to the propositions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone). ["Hear, hear!" and "No, no!"] Well, he had stated his opinion. An attempt had been made to 1358 raise the "No Popery" cry, but the country had refused to take it up. Seeing that the Roman Catholic hierarchy and the Roman Catholic laity did not ask for a State endowment for their Church, he thought the endeavour to get up that cry was a very unwise one. Another means by which it had been sought to defeat the Resolutions was by alleging that the case of the Established Church in this country was identified with that of the Irish Church. The section of the Established Church who put forward this statement were, in his opinion, acting foolishly. The two Establishments stood on such different bases that there was no comparison between them. The connection between Church and State in any country was a practical rather than a theoretical question. If he understood the matter rightly, the State represented the whole community viewed in regard to its material interests. The Church again did not represent any section of the community, but the whole of the community, as far as their spiritual interests were concerned; and when a community agreed to delegate certain powers in reference to religious teaching and administration to the governing body, the connection between the Church and State arose. That connection would be maintained as long as it was sanctioned by the whole body of the community, as was the case in England, where the majority of the people belonged to the Established Church. In this country, too, there were many persons who, disliking strict observance on the one hand, or sentimental ritualism on the other, nevertheless were in favour of the State Church because they thought it prevented religious intolerance and persecution. The Roman Catholics and other small sects also accepted the connection between Church and State in this country, because they felt that it afforded them a protection which they would not otherwise have. The Dissenting bodies, indeed, were opposed to the connection, though not violently, for they objected to the Church with regard to matters of form and discipline rather than of doctrine. In this country it should be borne in mind the vast majority of the people were united by the common bond of Protestantism, and this would probably prevent any violent assault being made on the Established Church. In Ireland none of those conditions existed, and therefore he regarded the connection between the Church and State in that country as a fallacy. There the people were not united by the 1359 common bond of Protestantism. The great mass of the people, being Catholics, regarded the State religion as a dangerous if not a fatal heresy, and as a badge of conquest. Until that badge of conquest were removed Ireland could not, in his opinion, be governed in a satisfactory manner. There was no justification for this anomaly and injustice, for as a missionary Church the Establishment had signally failed. He sincerely rejoiced that this question had been at last taken up by the Liberal party. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire had been very much assailed for change of opinion upon this question. Now when he (Mr. Dillwyn) brought forward this question in 1865 the right hon. Gentleman urged him to withdraw the Resolution, and he was so well satisfied with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman—knowing his character—that he withdrew it. Subsequently, when the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) gave notice to bring forward the same question he (Mr. Dillwyn) advised him not to bring it forward in the form of a Resolution, but to be content with having raised the question, and then to leave it in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman, because he was confident that the right hon. Gentleman would in due time carry out the intention of which he had given an earnest to remedy the great injustice of the Established Church in Ireland. He sincerely hoped that the Liberal party, in or out of Office, would not give the subject up, and that no Government, calling itself Liberal would be content to remain in Office without securing the same justice for Ireland in religious matters that this country enjoyed.
§ MR. WALROND
said, that he must put aside the appeal that had been made to them to limit their view of this great controversy within the narrow scope of Irish prejudice, and apply to it the broader considerations of sin Imperial policy. The expression of a not unreasonable fear, that a successful attack on the Church in Ireland would give a base for future successful attacks on the Church in England, had been met by the simple assertion that the position of the Church in England and in Ireland are so different that the fate of the one cannot influence that of the other. The hon. Member who had just sat down talked of the position of the Church in Ireland as being isolated and independent; but it was a misnomer to call the Irish Establishment the "Church of Ireland"—it was, 1360 in fact, a portion of the "United Church of England and Ireland." If one part were destroyed, the other must be endangered. If one member suffers, the other member must suffer with it. It was not reasonable to say that the health of a body would not be endangered by the paralysis of a portion of it. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Exeter had told them to look at this question from an Irish point of view. It was just this narrow Irish view of Irish interests which was the bane of Ireland, and a heavy cloud of adversity would hang over her until Irishmen would consent to view Irish questions in the broad clear light of Imperial interests, then she will, it was to be hoped, share fully in the general prosperity of the Empire. To limit thus the question of the Church necessitated the recognition of a separate nationality. For if the State, as the embodiment, concentration, and development of the feelings and conscience of the majority of the nation maintained a connection with a Church Establishment, in conformity with the feelings and conscience of this majority, it must be of the majority of the whole Empire, and not that of any special district in it. Any such district, before it can claim a different principle of legislation, must first prove its claim to a separate nationality. And it was in truth this sentiment that underlay all so-called Irish grievances. If it be not allowed to Ireland, how did she differ from any well-defined district in which the members of any one creed may outnumber the members of the Established Church? In each case they would be but the majority of a minority. If allowed, it is impossible to recognize it more fully than by acknowledging the justice, not of an equality only between the Churches, but an equality secured by the destruction of the Established Church. It justified the claims of the celebrated "Declaration" for a separate Legislature and a national divorce. In it was repudiated the efficiency of any measures an English Parliament could pass. By it was destroyed all hope that any such concession as was proposed would accomplish the end at which it aimed. Yet thus forewarned, they were asked to sacrifice in a hopeless experiment what many of them deeply and ardently cherished. They had been referred by the right hon. Member for South Lancashire to Mr. Burke, and he felt grateful for the reference. But Mr. Burke's policy was not that of the right hon. Gentleman. He begged to read 1361 an extract to the Committee. In his letter to his son he wrote—If ever the Church and the Constitution of England should fall in those Islands (and they will fall together), it is not Presbyterian discipline, nor Popish hierarchy that will rise upon their ruins; it is not the Church of Rome, nor the Church of Scotland, nor the Church of Luther, nor of Calvin. On the contrary, all these Churches are menaced, and menaced alike; it is the fanatical religion of the 'rights of man,' which rejects all Establishments, all discipline, all ecclesiastical, and, in truth, all civil order, which will triumph and lay prostrate your Church.Again—I will say that not one of the zealots for a Protestant interest wishes more sincerely than I do, perhaps not half so sincerely, for the support of the Established Church in both these kingdoms. It is a great link towards holding fast the connection of religion with the State, and for keeping these two Islands in a close connection of opinion and affection. I wish it well, as the religion of the greater number of the primary land proprietors of the kingdom, with whom all Establishments of Church and State, for strong political reasons, ought, in my opinion, to be firmly connected.But they had been told that a great crisis demanded a great sacrifice—a crisis arising from an Aggregation of circumstances, no one of which, it was acknowledged, would justify it. But there was no novelty in these circumstances, taken in the aggregate or in the mass. Fenianism was the chief, which seemed to possess a chemical affinity to the morbid state of Irish political life. But Fenianism was new in name only; those who in former years preached the rights of man and the wrongs of Ireland were as much Fenians in doctrine and in practice as any modern Irish American adventurer. They were enemies to all religion, all Establishments, all order, and such were opposed by the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian clergy — a very good reason for strengthening all religions, but hardly for withdrawing from the Church of England the sanction and protection of the State. The right hon. Member for South Lancashire had thus described the positions of the three Churches in Ireland. "The English Church had little work and much pay; the Presbyterian Church much work and little pay; and the Roman Catholic Church much work and no pay." And how did he propose to rectify this inequality? The Roman Catholic Church, the object of his special sympathy and legislation, he left precisely as he found it, except that he took away the Maynooth Grant, and so got the vote of the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley). 1362 The Presbyterian Church he left with its much work and little pay; and the English Church he disestablishes and disendows. The most ingenious legislation could not more effectually secure injury to all, and good to neither. Hitherto concessions have implied a benefit to be acquired; but now was conceded only the right and the power to attack. It is this which gave satisfaction to the Romish Church and her advocates; they hailed it as the great Roman Catholic triumph of the century. He did not deny the policy of relieving a "sentimental grievance," but the remedy proposed shifted only the "sentimental grievance" from the majority of the district to the majority of the Empire, adding a substantial grievance on the minority of the district. But they had been told that the Church when destroyed was to be tenderly dealt with; that vested interests were to be respected; so the dead body of Cæsar was to be respected. His funeral was to be honoured with "all due pomp, and lawful ceremony"—It will advantage more than do us wrong.But the lifeless and wounded body lay before the conspirators—Look! in this place ran Cassius' dagger through;See, what a rent the envious Casca made;Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb'd;And, as he plucked his cursed steel away,Mark how the blood of Cæsar follow'd it;As rushing out of doors, to be resolv'dIf Brutus so unkindly knock'd, or no;For Brutus, as you know, was Cæsar's angel.The vested rights of the clergy and the patrons of livings were to be considered, but not those of the Church, nor of the Protestant landlords. True, they bought their land with the rent-charge on it, and gave less for it on that account; but they bought it with the distinct understanding that they had secured to them an equivalent for that rent-charge, of which they would be now deprived. The Knight of Kerry had placed this so clearly in a published letter, and so confirmed this view of the case, that he begged leave to read an extract to the Committee. He wrote in his letter to The Times—The landlord has no right to put the amount of the tithe rent-charge into his pocket; but is it equally clear that he has no just claim or right in the application of it? … I think the case may be made more clear by excluding the ecclesiastical element for a moment, and treating it on ordinary principles of business. Suppose, for example, that all the estates in this county were 1363 liable to a charge, of say 1s. per pound, for the maintenance of some necessary local institutions, the County Hospital, for example—which we will suppose, moreover, had for centuries been supported from this fund, and this fund alone—would not all the landowners of this county have just cause of complaint if an Act of Parliament seized the above fund for the public Exchequer, and left them either to support the hospital out of their own pockets, or to allow it to collapse? I confess it does seem to me that a serious injustice would be done in this case, and I cannot possibly see where the parallel fails.The Union between England and Ireland was at all events so complete as to render different principles of legislation an inconsistency—so complete as to disqualify the Roman Catholic clergy from taking the position they assume. Their advocates in the House took a degrading rather than a high position. They placed themselves in the position of a professional beggar, who insisted that his neighbour, better clad and with more outward show of wealth, should cast aside these evidences of prosperity—which he will neither assume, nor share, nor receive an equivalent for, for in them he cannot beg, and so he insisted that both should wear the same garb, and both be beggars together. This was the monstrous position of the "levellers down"—in it the right hon. Gentleman opposite would maintain them, and he is supported by those Nonconformists who will not see that our Established Church is the most efficient obstacle to Roman Catholic development. The Roman Catholic hierarchy are well aware of this, and so they press earnestly for its disestablishment; but it seemed to be a natural law that common grievances united men more closely than common interests. Was there one who objected more strongly than another to the errors of the Church of Rome, it was the hon. Member for Peterborough; one who had a greater aversion than another for her political and social influence, it was the hon. Member for Birmingam, yet both would unite with that Church in all her attacks upon our Establishment; still he would be the last man to suggest that either hon. Member was a Jesuit in disguise. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire has borne honorable testimony to the general absence of personal attacks on the change in his opinions; but he made a scarcely fair exception in his allusion to the "few stones cast by the Home Secretary out of his own glass house." It appeared to him (Mr. Walrond) that the remarks of his right hon. Friend were addressed less against the 1364 consistency of the right hon. Member than as a proof of how thoroughly unprepared had been the country by the right hon. Member or the Liberal party for the great change proposed; and on this was based the argument that it was unfair to lay on this Parliament, especially under its peculiar condition, the responsibility of legislating on such an important matter. The Constitution had provided for a somewhat analogous case; and he was surprised at the observation that had been made that the argument was a thoroughly unconstitutional one, and that it was anarchical and democratic. When a Member of this House took high office under the State, he was sent back to his constituents to receive their sanction, and it was for them to justify his appointment. The Member was chosen for a general service; a special duty being added to it, he must obtain the sanction of his constituents. This Parliament was elected for purposes of general legislation. An unexpected change of policy imposed on it a special and unexpected responsibility, should it not seek the opinion of the constituency? And now as to the alternative policy forecast by the Government. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had characterized it as Pantheistic. No one had a greater facility for applying a hard word than the right hon. Member. [Mr. GLADSTONE intimated that he did not originate the epithet.] At all events, the right hon. Gentleman adopted it, which would serve his (Mr. Walrond's) purpose equally well. Well, whether it be applied to Ireland only, or used as a precedent for future legislation in England, if he was compelled to choose between the Pantheistic policy attributed to the Government or the atheistic policy of the right hon. Gentleman, he should unhesitatingly choose the former. It was far more in accordance with the spirit which inspired Mr. Burke, to whom he must ask leave again to refer. He wrote thus, alluding to the necessity of giving such education to the Roman Catholic clergy as should make them good and serviceable parish priests, in his Letter on the Penal Laws—I speak on the supposition that there is a disposition to take the State in the condition in which it is found, and to improve it in that state to the best advantage. On this idea, an education fitted to each order and division of men, such as they are found, will be thought an affair rather to be encouraged than discountenanced.Again in his Letter to Mr. Smith—My decided opinion is that all the three religions prevalent more or less in various parts of 1365 these Islands ought all, in subordination to the legal Establishment, as they stand in the several countries, to be all countenanced, protected, and cherished; and that in Ireland especially the Roman Catholic religion should be upheld in high respect and veneration, and should be, in its place, provided with all the means of making it a blessing to the people who profess it.Again—I am the more serious on the positive encouragement to be given to this religion (always however as secondary), because the serious and earnest belief and practice of its professors form, as things stand, the most effectual barrier against Jacobinism"—the Fenianism of the present day. But they were told that the day for this policy was past; it was never too late to do that which is just and right, but always too soon to do that which is unjust and wrong. It may be said that to propose any exceptional legislation for Ireland deprived him of all argument founded on a common nationality; but he had used none which could be applied against such principles as are involved in the maintenance of an Established Church, nor so used any that they could be applied against such modifications in our legislation as might be demanded by the special necessities of Ireland. No Member had risen from the Treasury Bench who had given them reason to believe that the Government was satisfied with the present relative position of the Churches in that country; or to doubt that when the requisite data were before them they would deal with the question in a "truly liberal" spirit, truly liberal because truly just, not only to the Roman Catholic but to the Protestant population, and, therefore, in their hands he should willingly leave the interests of Ireland, and of the Empire.
said, he thoughtThe force of fancy could no farther gothan the hon. Member's (Mr. Walrond's) comparison of the Irish Church to the body of Cæsar, and his attempt to crown the right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) with the laurels of Brutus. He wished that those who spoke on this question could agree to confine their speeches within a period of ten minutes, because it appeared to him that hon. Members were only reiterating over and over again the same arguments, and nothing new seemed likely to be said. He desired, however, to say a few words from the stand-point of Protestant dissent. He believed he was representing a not uninfluential body of Dissenters, when he expressed 1366 an opinion in favour of the disendowment of all religious sects in Ireland. That body did not believe in the necessity of applying the public money to any religious purposes. The question before the House was one of simple justice. It was absolutely unjust that a Church of the small minority in the sister country should be the Established religion of the country. To endow one Church and not another would be an injustice—to endow all Churches would be an outrage upon religious truth. He wished hon. Members would keep the question of the Protestant Church separate from mere questions of power, pelf, and position. He would certainly be no party to any attack upon the Protestant Church. But the Protestant Church was one thing; the exclusive right to the loaves and fishes was another. It was his sincere conviction that the Protestant religion in Ireland would make infinitely more progress if it were cleared from the trammels of the State, and enabled to advocate freely the glorious doctrines which it upheld. Although Edmund Burke was an exceedingly able man, he (Mr. Gilpin) should much prefer the opinion of Dr. Chalmers on this question. That learned divine said—What have all the enactments of the statute book done for the cause of Protestantism in Ireland? And how comes it to pass that when single-handed Truth walked the land with the might and prowess of a conquerer, no sooner was she propped up by the authority of the State, no sooner was the armour of intolerance given to her, than her brilliant career of victory was for ever ended? When she took up the carnal and laid down the spiritual weapon her strength went out of her, she was struck with impotency. In giving up the warfare of principle for the warfare of politics she lost her power. Reason, Scripture, prayer, ought to comprise the whole armoury of religion, and by these alone the battles of our faith are to be successfully fought.…. I want truth and force to be dissevered from each other; the moral and spiritual not to be implicated with the grossly physical means. Never will our cause prosper, never will it prevail in Ireland, until it is delivered from the outrage and contamination of so unholy an alliance. It is not because I hold Popery to be innocent that I want the removal of these disabilities; but because I hold that, if these were taken out of the way, she would be ten-fold more assailable. It is not because I am indifferent to the good of Protestantism that I want to displace these artificial crutches from under her; but because I want that, freed from every symptom of decrepitude and decay, she should stand forth in her own native strength, and make manifest to all men how firm a support she has on the goodness of her cause, and on the basis of her orderly and well-laid arguments.He (Mr. Gilpin) believed that the cause of Protestantism needed no help from any 1367 earthly power or authority, but was better without it. He hoped that the principles of justice would be triumphant in that House, and that all sects in Ireland would be put upon the same level, so that they might each of them prosper according to the truth that was in them.
§ MR. SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, that having listened to many speeches, some with surprise and many with regret, he felt he could hardly reconcile himself to give a silent vote upon a question of so much gravity. He was desirous of raising his voice in unison with those who held the Established Church in Ireland as a sacred institution, and who were determined to use their utmost endeavours to maintain in its integrity the connection of Church and State which they believed to be necessary to the stability and welfare of their country. Whatever might be said of the political consistency of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) the Resolutions he had submitted to the House gave no uncertain sound. They were clear, distinct, and unmistakeable. They constituted the weapon with which the right hon. Gentleman intended to strike the first blow at the Established Church of both countries—the wedge driven in with which he hoped to uproot those institutions in this country, of which, unfortunately for so long, many have believed him to be the eloquent advocate and champion. They were now asked by the right hon. Gentleman to disestablish and disendow the Irish branch of the Establishment, with the assurance that all vested rights were to be preserved, and that the fabrics and residences of ministers were to be maintained. They were told if they consented to the right hon. Gentleman's proposition they would pacify Ireland, destroy Fenianism, and unite in reality the two countries. Now, if he could even be induced to believe that such results would follow the proposition before the House, he might hesitate even though some of our old landmarks had to be surrendered, in opposing the Resolutions. But what grounds had they for believing those statements beyond the more assertion of the right hon. Gentleman; what grounds for believing those assertions rather than the experience of those persons who, whilst willing to amend all that was capable of improvement in the condition of Ireland, were nevertheless determined to oppose to the utmost this attempt at revolutionizing our country, at the bidding of men who, 1368 under the cloak of "justice to Ireland," aim at returning to that priestly supremacy, which, since the days of the Reformation, had, happily, been unknown in this country. It had been asserted that the disestablishment of the Irish Church would tend to destroy Fenianism. It had, however, been abundantly proved from the statements of the Fenians themselves that it was not the 5th Article of the Union to which they objected, but the Act of Union itself. Their demand was "Ireland for the Irish." By acceding to the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman they would be only giving the Fenians another lever to work with. What it was really proposed to do was to sacrifice the interests of a portion of the population which was undoubtedly loyal, to the interests of another portion, which, however loyal, still did not attempt to deny that they owe a higher allegiance to another earthly Sovereign than our own. But would this proposition satisfy even the Roman Catholics themselves? He denied that it would. There was no ground for any such supposition. If once they disestablished the Church in Ireland a state of things would be created which would give rise to endless questions of the most serious character. What would they do with the land question, for example? How long did they think they could maintain the mild treatment, so much dwelt upon by the right hon. Gentleman, after the Church had been disestablished? And how long will it be before the cry is raised for the fabrics and the glebe residences to be given up. How did the enemies of the State Church propose to divide their sacrilegious plunder? Were they going to hand over the proceeds to the priests of the Roman Catholic Church? Or did they propose to devote it to secular purposes? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, in 1865, upon the question of the Irish Church raised by the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn), distinctly declared himself to be opposed to any such project. Did the right hon. Gentleman and his supporters intend to devote this fund to educational purposes? And if so, was the education to be thus supported to be of a religious or of a secular character? He (Mr. Selwin-Ibbetson) could not but think that those difficulties would only have commenced when the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentlemen were carried. Lastly, he would ask whether this was really the proper time to deal with this question, con- 1369 sidering the important business which must yet be transacted by this Parliament? Every argument they had heard went to show that this question should be transferred to another constituency and another Parliament. Might they not fairly ask whether this proposition had not been brought forward now as a mere party move, with a view to rally once more the scattered remains of a discontented and dispirited section of the House? He opposed the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman, because he believed that by disconnecting the Church and State in Ireland they would be paving the way for the adoption of the same course in England. He opposed it because he believed that by disconnecting Church and State anywhere, they would be doing away with one element in Government which, in all ages, has strengthened and upheld it; and he opposed it further, because he believed that the last days of an expiring Parliament is not the proper time for a question of such gravity to be submitted to the House. He would conclude, not in the words of vengeance of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?" but in words which the right hon. Gentleman would remember follow immediately after—words which, from being tempered with mercy, he preferred—Let it alone for this year also, till the Royal Commission you have appointed has dug about it, and dunged it, and if it bear fruit, well; but if not, then after that will be the time to consider whether you shall cut it down.
§ MR. AGAR-ELLIS
said, he considered that the time for discussing the question had passed, and that the Irish Church was doomed from the time the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) put his Amendment upon the Paper. He had at first refrained from voting on the subject because he did not wish to have a hand in pulling down the Established Church in Ireland; but since Members on both sides of the House had resolved on the work the only question now remaining was who should do it, whether the present Prime Minister whose policy was simply expediency, or the right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone). He believed it would be the latter, whose ability and earnestness were equally undoubted, and he accordingly appealed to him to be merciful in dealing with those to whom he must needs be just; that he would consult their prejudices and deal gently even with their foibles, so that their ex- 1370 aspiration might not produce from the ashes of the Protestant Church a priesthood proselytizing and rancorous.
said, that a considerable portion of his constituents being Protestants, he wished to enter his protest against the spoliation of the Irish Church. He had heard no reason assigned that would justify the abstraction from the Irish Church of property to which it was legally entitled, and which it might be said it held as trustee for the religious instruction of the poor. Great stress has been laid on the Roman Catholics of Ireland being the majority of the population; but this House does not legislate for one part of the Kingdom only but for the whole, and in this view of the case the Roman Catholics are a minority of the whole population of the United Kingdom. It has been attempted to connect the Fenian conspiracy with this Church question; but the deeds of these misguided men have not apparently been guided by religious motives. But if the assumption were true, I would ask, is it the time to parley or conciliate when a man holds a pistol to one's head? No, Sir, the better plan is to knock him down if you can; and if that is managed, conciliation is a much easier task. The hon. Member for Birmingham said that if the Protestants of Ireland were disendowed, they would be no worse off than the other sects in the country; but that was an argument which would be equally forcible in support of a measure proposing the confiscation of any private person's property. It might be said in such a case—"As long as he is not made poorer than his neighbour, we shall be doing only justice in taking his money." He fully concurred in the opinion of the right hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel) when he said that if this measure were adopted it would not conciliate a single enemy, and would alienate the affections of the msot consistent supporters of the Union.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, the circumstance of his not being enabled to address the House till that late period of the debate would be productive at least of one advantage, that, being indisposed to travel over the ground occupied by previous speakers, he should not think it necessary to trespass at any length on its indulgence. Indeed, were it not for the allusions which had been rather pointedly made to Catholic Members by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge (Mr. Gorst), and the hon. Member for Londonderry (Sir 1371 Frederick Heygate), he doubted if he should have addressed the House at all. The hon. Member (Mr. Gorst) said that that was not an Irish question. He agreed with him, it was not alone an Irish question. The people of England and of Scotland must have learned by that time that the discontent existing in Ireland, and the necessity of considering it in that House, operated injuriously on Scotch and English interests, and interrupted the course of legislation requisite for that portion of the Empire. Until a system of legislation was entered on for Ireland, founded on truth and justice, hon. Members must expect discontent. And it was because he (Sir Patrick O'Brien) believed that the Irish Church was a bar to social union, and operated in effecting a complete separation of classes, that he was there to oppose its continuance. He had ever entertained the opinion that sectarian and religious differences were the curse of Ireland. He did not thereby mean to say that a man was to repress his religious opinions or to be deprived of his full religious freedom; but he did assert that the existence of the Establishment created an idea of superiority in the minds of the middle class and poorer Protestants especially, which was a bar to that thorough union of all classes in Ireland without which there could not be prosperity. He repudiated the notion, no doubt in error put forward by the Member for Cambridge, that in supporting those Resolutions Catholics were attacking the religion of Protestants, and were assaulting their theology. Nothing could be further from his intention, and he might say from the intention of all Catholics with whom he was acquainted? What was the social position of the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland at that moment? He believed that they were as separate and distinct as they were fifty years ago. They met, no doubt, in public fairs and markets, purchased cattle, or entered into commercial transactions together, but there their intimacy ceased. They had no intimacy in one another's houses, especially the female members of their families, one with another; and this arose from the feelings of superiority generated by the profession of a State religion. He appealed to Protestant Irish Members opposite if this were not so, and if it were he asked the House was this a state of things that should exist? He had no ill will, he need not say, nor had the mass of his fellow Catholics, to the members of the Protestant Church in Ireland 1372 nor to their clergy; and it was to induce a better spirit, remove asperities, and advance mutual conciliation that he advocated the removal of the barrier of the Established Church. He must confess he was astonished to find the Roman Catholics accused of entering into a confederacy with the High Church Ritualists. He, as a Catholic, was there to deny such a charge; indeed, he should rather retort it on its authors. He had known of an attempted confederacy to catch the Irish vote, and by its influence to trample upon Liberalism. He had felt its effects, and could speak feelingly on the subject as regarded his own county. The hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench had been asserted to be, par excellence, the supporters of Catholic interests. A union had been attempted to be proved between those whom the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury now designates as the Ultramontane Catholics and the Orangemen, by means of such a coalition to resuscitate what was called constitutional Conservatism in his own county. Persons who were afterwards Ministers of the Crown had advised such an alliance. He always thought and expressed his belief that to maintain for any time such an alliance would be futile. His opinion had turned out true, and now they had the Government who had formerly tried to creep into power by the Catholic vote endeavouring to maintain Office by a cry of "No Popery." He was happy to observe that there was growing up in England among Protestants a new school of politicians, strongly Protestant in their religious opinions, but who were freed from the slightest taint of bigotry, and preferred to see an enlightened policy pursued towards Ireland. As a type of them he might mention the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Butler-Johnstone), who by his speech in that House, and by a pamphlet which he had written, had exhlbited a liberality worthy of all honour. He had alluded in his pamphlet to the fact that the people in England were too much given to ignore the feelings of the Irish people, and to regard nothing of importance that did not affect their material interests. It was the vice of the school of mental philosophy of the last century to regard every human motive to be founded on considerations of utility, and that vice we were too much disposed to put in practice there, and to disregard, as Mr. Johnstone said, all Irish sentiment. It was this sentimental feeling, as he said 1373 before, which kept Irishmen apart, and a feeling of this kind, be it sentimental, or be it material, must in the interest of the country, command attention in that House. There had been three defences usually made for the retention of the Establishment—that it was the Apostolic, that it was the united, and that it was a missionary Church. To be the Apostolic would be inconsistent with its being the united Church, for the Church to which it was united, created as it was by Act of Parliament, could not claim to be Apostolic. As regards its being the united Church, it was strange for an united Church how jealous the clergy in Ireland were of English appointments being made there; and as to its doctrine, it could be considered as Anglican only by virtue of its union with the State. He need not speak of it as a missionary Church. Burke had said, if Ireland were Hindoo there would have been no Church Establishment, but in India, composed as it was of populations professing Bhuddist, Hindoo and Mahomedan doctrines, he saw that the British Government of India allowed none of its officials to meddle with the religion of the people; and could it be contended that what we did not permit in India we were to allow in a country like Ireland, separated from England but by a narrow sea. The anxiety to preserve this Establishment existed alone in the higher classes. He had that evening been credibly informed in that House that seven-eighths of the Presbyterian clergy were against the continuance of the Establishment. He could well understand members of some leading families in Ireland, traditionally connected with Toryism, being anxious to preserve it. The representation of the North of Ireland was preserved to the Tory party alone by shaking this rag of ascendancy in the faces of the Ulster Protestants. Were religious distinctions no longer to exist an Ulster Protestant would in politics be like his co-religionist in Scotland or in the North of England, he would not say a Republican, but a very advanced Liberal, and political loss would ensue to the Irish Conservatives. It might, however, be said that the genius of Catholicity being Conservative, there might be a gain in the opposite direction. He (Sir Patrick O'Brien) did not care if it were so, but he might be allowed to say, with the mass of Irish Catholics, that the very submission to authority which was imposed upon them by their religion in matters of faith they felt left them by 1374 the very contrast the freer liberty in matters political. Irrespective of political consequences he wished for peace and harmony in that country. He did not look on the disestablishment of the Church as a cure for Ireland's grievances, but he did regard it as the first stone in a future temple of concord. He would appeal to Irish Protestant gentlemen to accept what was inevitable. They for years had possessed wealth, education, and position; when religious prejudices were removed they would give them advantages in the race for political distinction, and without, as now too often was the case being obliged to coerce an unwilling tenantry they would find themselves voluntarily elected to seats in that House. He said this much, being anxious as a Catholic to reply to the questions that had been put to the Catholic Members in that House as to the grounds on which they supported the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman.
said, he had listened with much pleasure to the interesting speech of the learned Serjeant who had just sat down. [Laughter.] Well, had the hon. Baronet chosen the legal profession he could hardly have failed to attain that distinction. The hon. Baronet had said that to accede to the first Resolution would be to take the Irish question out of hot water. But, if so, how did it happen that the Irish question had been kept in hot water so long? Why had it not occurred to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) that it was necessary to propose such summary and stringent Resolutions before? He would shortly state his objections to the Resolutions. The first Resolution must be considered by the Committee either by itself or in connection with the second and third, and what was that Resolution? It was a declaration by one branch of the Legislature alone, which was not intended to be followed up by any action whatever. Now, in a judicial body, and in that House, too, it was contrary to all rule to give opinion to expressions which were not to be followed up by action, and that rule prevailed even where the body could give effect to such expression of opinion. How much more strongly, then, would it hold good of that House, which was fluctuating in its nature, and a great part of which must be changed before next Easter? Even if this were to be the House of Commons which would sit next year, it would be contrary to all the views 1375 and practices of Englishmen to pass a Resolution which would be mere brutum fulmen. But to the first Resolution taken in connection with the second and third there was a still more serious objection. The second Resolution in itself was open to the same objection as the first—it was not a declaration of opinion by the Judges who were to pass sentence, but by a body, many of whom would not be in that House next year. But were they to declare in favour of the disestablishment of the Irish Church—in other words, were they to give the Reformed Parliament a hint as to the view it ought to entertain on a question so serious, so momentous, involving so many questions running into one another, as it were wheels within wheels, that he believed younger Members than himself would never see the end of it? But even if the first and second Resolutions were carried, and a Bill introduced to give them effect, in spite of all the able speeches he had heard on the subject, he felt still a difficulty in understanding the third Resolution. That Resolution recommended an Address to Her Majesty, praying that She would be graciously pleased to place her interest in the temporalities of the Irish Church at the disposal of that House. Now, he did not attach much weight to the objection derived from the Coronation Oath. It was imposed by Parliament, and the same power which tied the knot could untie it. If hon. Gentlemen thought that before August next the House of Commons would pass a measure which would be accepted by the House of Lords and by Her Majesty the thing might be done. But he was not sure that hon. Members recollected the words of the Oath. They were to this effect—that Her Majesty was bound to the utmost of her power to maintain the Reformed Religion established by law, and to preserve unto the Bishops and clergy of this realm and the churches committed to their charge all such rights and privileges as by law appertained to them or any of them. By one of the Articles of the Act of Union the Church of Ireland and the Church of England were made one and indivisible, under the title of "The United Church of England and Ireland." By that Article the preservation of an endowed Church in Ireland was maintained. Now, the first two Resolutions, if taken without the third, would lead to nothing—they were merely abstract. As regarded the third, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, knowing that an 1376 Act of Parliament on the subject during the present Session was impossible, called on the House to address Her Majesty to take a step which would prejudice the whole question that was to come, not before this Parliament, but before a Parliament which, to a great extent, was certain to be differently constituted from the present one. He submitted that the House ought to stop the proceeding in limine by saying that the time had not come for taking this question into consideration. He spoke with great deference, because he knew that his right hon. Friend the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) would say again, as he said before, that the time had come and the man. For himself he knew that, if a few years ago, when he was asked to go down to Oxford to vote for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, not as a Liberal candidate, but as the best of two Conservative candidates, he could have supposed that in 1867 the right hon. Gentleman would bring forward such Resolutions as were now before the Committee, he should have asked a question or two, and have hesitated to give him (Mr. Gladstone) his vote. The constituencies of England would have to make up their minds on this question, and he had no doubt they were considering it now. At present he should content himself with saying that the hour was not come, and that the place for deciding on the fate of the Irish Church was not this present House of Commons.
§ MR. ALLEN
said: I felt anxious to say a few words in the course of this debate, looking at the matter from that stand-point which I think a member of the English Established Church may fairly take. And I feel bound to give my vote in favour of this Resolution, because I am fully convinced of the justice and necessity of the Irish Church ceasing to exist as an Establishment. For although a Churchman myself, I regard the Irish Church as an anomaly which ought to exist no longer, and indeed as an anomaly which never ought to have existed at all; that in a country with a population of 5,500,000, the Established Church, with its great revenue of £450,000 per annum, should be the Church of a small minority of 690,000 people. Now this is a state of things with reference to an Established Church to which, I believe, no parallel can be found in the history of Christianity; and it is a state of things which I hold it would be unwise and unjust in this House to allow to exist any longer. 1377 There can be no question that as a missionary Church, as it has been termed in the course of this debate, it has been a failure; and, indeed, I believe it has caused the Roman Catholics of Ireland to look on Protestantism with hatred and disfavour, and has naturally prejudiced them against it, when they have seen the Church of a small minority placed in the position of a richly endowed Establishment, to which they have been compelled directly and indirectly to contribute. Protestantism has thus been constantly presented before them as the religion of ascendancy; it has been daily presented before their eyes as the richly endowed religion of what they considered a conquering race, and it is no wonder that they have rejected it. Instead of coming before them as a faith which was trying to win its way with the meek and earnest zeal of a missionary Church, depending alone for support on the devotion of its own adherents, it has come before them with all the pomp and stale of a richly endowed Establishment, with a long array of Archbishops, and Bishops, and deans, and canons, with large incomes, and, unfortunately in many instances, scarcely any duties to perform. Many of these have been excellent and holy men—men who would have adorned any Church, but they have been placed in an entirely false position; Protestantism has itself been placed in a false position; and the consequence has been that in Ireland it has been a failure, and the efforts of its teachers have been paralyzed. In fact, speaking myself as a Protestant, I can come to no other conclusion than that the Irish Church Establishment has been one great barrier to the spread of Protestantism in that country. I will put it to any Protestant Gentleman in this House, if here in England, where the Roman Catholic Church being as it is, the Church of a small minority, were nevertheless the Established Church, supported by great revenues and endowments, whether it would not render the Protestants of this country much more hostile to Romanism than they are at present; because it would then always be presented before their eyes as a Church which was based on, and supported by, a great act of injustice? Now there are two ways of dealing with this question: the one is the plan of disestablishing and disendowing the Irish Church, and in time reducing and taking away the Maynooth Grant and the Regium Donum, or, as it is termed, levelling downwards; the other, which is the plan of 1378 hon. Members opposite, and has been frequently hinted at in their speeches, is, instead of disendowing the Irish Church, to endow the Roman Catholic priesthood, to found a Roman Catholic College, and to raise the amount of the Regium Donum, or, in other words, to level upwards, by endowing all alike. But how supremely ridiculous and costly this scheme would be. In the first place, in order to do justice, you would have to give the Roman Catholics—being eight times as numerous—just eight times as much endowment; in the second place, you would have to largely increase the Regium Donum; and in the third place, you would have to offer endowments to the other Protestant sects, who would most probably have too much good sense to accept them. Now do you for a moment believe that the Protestant feeling of this country would allow you to do this, more especially as the Irish Catholic priesthood do not ask for endowment, and even declare they would not accept it, and when, moreover, many of the most enlightened Presbyterians are of opinion that the Regium Donum does them more harm than good, by checking the flow of private liberality? Now this being the case, there only remains one way, and that is the plan recommended in these Resolutions, and I honestly believe it is the only wise and just course we can pursue. But then it is said that the disestablishment of the Irish Church is only the first step towards the disestablishment of the English Church: but this I deny altogether; the condition of the two Churches is essentially distinct: the one is the Church of a small minority, existing in the face of, and opposed to, the wishes of a large and hostile majority; the other is the Church of the majority, and even many of those who do not belong to it agree with most or all of its doctrines. The disestablishment of the Irish Church can never be used as an argument for the disestablishment of the English Church, till the situation of the two Churches becomes identical; so long as the English Church is the Church of the majority it will stand, and when it ceases to be the Church of the majority it must fall, because then its existence as an Establishment will be opposed to the feelings and wishes of the majority of the nation. There is a vital difference between the existence of a Church as an Establishment and its existence as a teacher of truth and religion; its existence as the former can only be maintained while it is the Church of the majority of the 1379 people; as the latter it may exist, though its members are few and only a very small minority; the one is a mere State arrangement, depending on time and circumstances; the other depends on the truth of the faith it teaches, and the zeal of its adherents. As a Protestant, and as a Churchman. I hold it just and right that the Irish Church should cease to exist as an Establishment, opposed as it is to the views mid wishes of a vast majority of the Irish people; while, as a teacher of truth and religion, I believe it will still survive, and live a more vigorous life, and flourish more than it has ever done before.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he thought the House ought to be grateful to the hon. Member for the King's County (Sir Patrick O'Brien) for his statement that the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman would not be a panacea for the people of Ireland. That was not the only time the hon. Baronet had made that significant statement, for at a meeting of the Liberation Society, held in December last, he said that the Irish Church was no serious grievance; but they had still higher authority to the same effect from Archbishop Manning in his letter to Earl Grey, who said—I will not shrink from venturing even upon the land question, because it is the chief condition on which the peace of Ireland depends. … In comparison with it all others are light. It is the question of peace or social war.If that were so what became of the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman? What did the right hon. Gentleman himself say was the primary cause of his bringing forward the Motion? He said it was the intensity of Fenianism. But Fenianism existed while the right hon. Gentleman was in power, and how, on his own shewing, could he justify himself for not then endeavouring to deal with the question? The right hon. Gentleman addressed his constituents last December at Ormskirk, and did he say anything about disestablishing the Irish Church? He said he wished to establish in Ireland the principles of religion. [Mr. GLADSTONE: The principles of religious equality.] That did not involve the necessity of passing such Resolutions as were now proposed. The fact was, it had not then been settled by the governing body of the so-called Liberal party that such was to be their policy. If it had, Earl Russell would not have written his letter to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth (Mr. Chichester Fortescue). The principles 1380 embodied in that pamphlet were not those now advocated; and, moreover, the right hon. Gentleman in speaking on the Motion of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) did not venture to express an opinon that if the Irish Church should be disestablished and its property confiscated tranquillity would necessarily follow. This was the first time of late years that it had been proposed to confiscate the property of the Church to appease Irish discontent, and the same arguments that were now used for the disestablishment of the Irish Church would ultimately be applied to the Church of England. The action of the so-called Liberal party would prove this position. The hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Coleridge) had lately declared that there could be no such thing as a principle of Establishment. Again, the meeting at which a noble Earl, at one time Leader of the Liberal party, now the follower of the right hon. Gentleman, did penance in a moral white sheet and with a moral candle in his hand, and the meeting at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, crowded with persons, who did not care about the Irish Church, but went to see the Member for Birmingham as they would have gone to see Garibaldi, the late King Theodore, or the Pope of Rome, had any of those worthies mounted the rostrum, showed that the destruction of Establishments was the end sought to be attained. The object of the meeting at the Tabernacle was especially to declare hostility to the Church of England, and to the same effect was the letter from Mr. Spurgeon read on that occasion, and applauded to the echo by the audience. It was fair to admit that a section of the so-called Liberal party denied these conclusions. He had observed that at the meeting which was recently held in Willis's Rooms to present a testimonial to a right hon. Gentleman, the latter stated that he was an attached member of the Church of England, and that nothing would ever induce him to part with any of the property belonging to it; and he (Mr. Bentinck) had no doubt there were many others on the same side who entertained similar sentiments. But if in their hearts they were true Conservatives, how could they vote for these Resolutions? Nay, more, how could they place confidence in the right hon. Gentleman as a Leader? Was there a single question on which the right hon. Gentleman had not changed his opinions? He very well remembered the contest at Oxford in 1852, 1381 when the right hon. Gentleman first joined the Ministry of Lord Aberdeen. He had always thought that the right hon. Genleman would come to his present condition of opinion, and, although a Cambridge man himself, he had subscribed a small sum in 1852 to assist in displacing him from the representation of Oxford University. At that period the hon. Baronets, the Members for Oxford University and North Devon, were the right hon. Gentleman's chief supporters, but as time went on the right hon. Gentleman forced his old friends to leave him one by one, till at last he was defeated. He then hastened to South Lancashire, where he announced to the electors that he stood before them "un-muzzled," by which expression he intimated that if they would return him, he would bring all the artillery of his unrivalled talents to bear against his former friends. He (Mr. Bentinck) considered, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman had thus fully justified the opposition against him at Oxford. It was clear from the letter addressed by the right hon. Gentleman in 1865 to a dignitary of the Church in Scotland, and lately cited and published, that the right hon. Gentleman had only recently adopted his present views with regard to the Irish Church; for the reference in that letter to the 5th Article of the Union, and to the position of the Irish hierarchy was conclusive that "disestablishment had not then entered his mind." The right hon. Gentleman's mode of escape from his difficulty was curious. He said, "That was my idea at the time, but I have abandoned it." The right hon. Gentleman would remind the House of Touchstone, in As You Like It, who, after explaining the "retort courteous," the "quip modest," and so forth, showed how the "lie direct" might always be avoided with an "if"—so the right hon. Gentleman always avoided a position he had formerly taken by saying, "That was my idea, but I have abandoned it;" and if this Resolution was agreed to, he might use the same phrase next year against the protection of vested rights and personal property, which he now disclaimed any intention of attacking. The support of the thirty Roman Catholic Members, probably, gave the right hon. Gentleman his majority on the eve of the Recess; but he was at a loss to understand that support when he remembered that the two cardinal points of the Roman Catholic policy all over Europe were the maintenance of the temporal power of the Pope and religious denomina- 1382 tional education, and called to mind what had been the language used by the right hon. Gentleman in reference to both these points. He would quote for the benefit of Roman Catholic Members the last opinion which the right hon. Gentleman had uttered in the House with reference to the temporal power of the Pope—The doctrine upon which the Papal Sovereignty is supported is so intolerable that the Roman or Italian who could acquiesce in it would be nothing but a worm fit to be trampled under foot.And after referring to the doctrine of M. Montalembert, that every one of the 200,000,000 Roman Catholics has a vested interest in the maintenance of the Papal Sovereignty, the right hon. Gentleman proceeded to say—Therefore the people who inhabit the States of the Church have not so much hope left as this, that if the Pope and the Cardinals are favourable to them, they may have some chance of relief. No! every Roman Catholic in the world is to presume to deal with their feelings and destinies and to assert a political right to dominion over them. This appears to me a doctrine more monstrous than that upon which the laws of Draco were founded.He (Mr. Bentinck) last week read this passage to a distinguished prelate of the French Church, and asked what he thought of it. The prelate said, "Very bad indeed." He then asked, "Can your Lordship believe that your co-religionists are at this moment fighting under the banner of the Gentleman who made that speech?" The prelate replied. "I could not believe it; it is very wrong indeed; they ought to be good Conservatives." And so they ought. But the right hon. Gentleman did not stop there; when General Garibaldi visited this country the right hon. Gentleman was his humble servant. Now, General Garibaldi was admitted on all hands to be, not only the determined enemy of the Pope, but also the type of anti-Christianity; indeed, he did not believe it was on record that the General while in this country visited any place of worship. The right hon. Gentleman not only patronized and entertained him, but actually visited him on one occasion at nine o'clock in the morning in order to induce him to leave this country. [Cries of "Question!"] That fairly applied to the question, which was how Roman Catholic Members, when the cardinal points of Catholic policy all over the world were to maintain the temporal power of the Pope and to keep up Establishments, could follow the Leadership of the right hon. Gentleman, who was so 1383 hostile to them upon every material question in which they were interested. The so-called Liberal party contained men of every shade of opinion; and it was a sad result that if ever an independent voice was heard among them it was stifled directly, either by the tyranny of the Whips, or by the pressure of political influence. The unfortunate individual who raised the voice of independence was pressed down, sank, and was carried away by the torrent of official despotism. When the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. B. Osborne) rebelled against Lord Palmerston he was expelled from the quiet southern constituency which he then represented, and was obliged to take refuge in a rougher atmosphere in the midland counties; and though not long ago he advocated the retention of ecclesiastical endowments, the pressure had been put upon him and he had been brought back to the fold. So it was with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), who, when he endeavoured to follow an independent course, was attacked by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) and compared to a Scotch terrier, and who now, under the pressure of the so-called Liberal party, had assumed a humble position and sat just beneath the hon. Member for Birmingham. The Resolution of the right hon. Member for South Lancashire was nothing more than a mere contrivance devised for party purposes, and he should give it the strongest and most determined opposition.
said, he thought that the House would agree with the hon. Member for King's County (Sir Patrick O'Brien) that the settlement of the Irish Church question would not settle the land question or any other question; but he believed that the majority of the House would be of opinion that a satisfactory settlement of the Church question would remove a very great grievance, and go a long way to convince the people of Ireland that there was a growing anxiety in that House to deal fairly with questions of vital interest to their country. Under ordinary circumstances a Motion far the disestablishment of the Irish Church would have attracted no more attention than was bestowed on any of the frequently recurrent topics of the day. The subject to which the Resolution of the right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) referred was familiar to the minds of hon. Members and to the country, and the object which the Resolution sought to attain was 1384 one which had been sought through many hopeless years by those who loved religious equality for its own sake, as well as by the millions who had to endure the pressure of ascendancy. But in the hands of the right hon. Member this threadbare subject was re-habilitated and arrayed with new and essential qualities derived from the right hon. Gentleman's character. For the first time in the history of Irish politics a great statesman, the Leader of a powerful party, and the representative of that enlightened opinion which must control the destinies of the people throughout the Empire, had come forward to propose an Irish policy based on and demanded by justice. The Motion had brought the Irish nation and an ascendant minority face to face. It was just such a one as might have been made in an Irish Parliament by Grattan or O'Connell, and it would have been resisted there as it was resisted in that House by a party who were the representatives, not of the Irish people, but of Protestant ascendancy. The success of such a Resolution in an Irish Parliament would have established the triumph of the principle of religious equality; and its success in the English Parliament would do that and something more, for it would show that the sympathy of the House of Commons, and of the English people — more liberal than the House of Commons — was with the nation, which sought for religious equality and the extension of popular rights, and against a minority whose guiding policy was religious ascendancy and resistance to popular demands. A measure of justice, free from alloy, was now proposed. Former attempts to settle Irish questions of national importance had been so interwoven with qualifying proposals that, though nominally some changes were made, yet for all practical purposes things were left just as they were. Thus, when Roman Catholics were again permitted to sit in Parliament, then, as a set-off to that concession the 40s. freeholders were disfranchised, and every Roman Catholic favourable to popular claims was left to depend for a seat in Parliament on landlord influence, or, in other words, Protestant influence. The Tithe Commutation Act of 1834 was little more than an alteration of the manner in which the tithes were collected. Those were the days of half measures, or, more accurately speaking, of sham measures. They were now going to try a remedy pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury twenty-four years ago; but they 1385 were going to try it in a sense and spirit very different from that contemplated by the right hon. Gentleman. The impartial treatment, in every respect, of Protestants and Catholics was a matter of course in France, Prussia, Belgium, Switzerland, and the United States. Legislation in accordance with the wants and wishes of the majority was the rule almost all over the world; but the recognition of that principle would amount to a great revolution in Ireland. Viewed in that light, the Resolution of the right hon. Member for South Lancashire was a revolution, but, unless evil be preferred to good, it was a revolution which must command the sympathy and support of every man not carried away by party spirit or selfish interest. Nothing had astonished him more than the reckless assertion that the Irish farmers neither felt nor had any interest in the settlement of the Church question. Could it be denied that the money with which the tithes were paid was produced by the labour of the Irish farmers? When the farmer paid his rent he also paid the tithes, the landlord acting as collector. And could the farmers then, as reasonable men, be indifferent as to the way in which that money was expended? Take a district in which there were twelve farmers, all of whom paid tithes, but only one of whom was an Episcopalian Protestant, and he alone derived any benefit from the expenditure of the tithe money; and was it reconcilable with human nature to suppose that his eleven neighbours could be contented while he enjoyed this monopoly? But though at present the Irish Roman Catholic farmers obtained no value for that money, the case would be different when the ecclesiastical revenues, now misappropriated by a small minority, were applied to national purposes. There were three parties in the House on this question—first, those who were of opinion that the State Church must cease to exist; secondly, the Gentlemen from Ulster, who said it must be maintained; and lastly, others who supported a compromise which would remove some ecclesiastical inequalities. Now, to defend the Established Church as it existed would be a plain and manly course; but a compromise was the last resort of a tottering Administration. If the Government could obtain a majority they would maintain the Established Church, flatter the Orangemen, scout the idea of a compromise, and hold Office in defiance of the most solemn appeals for justice. This was what they intended to do now that 1386 they were in a minority; but he ventured to predict that, if they attempted to defend the Irish Church on its merits, they must fall before the onward march of the majority. If, on the other hand, they attempted to save their places by sacrificing the Established Church, many of the props which sustained them would be rudely withdrawn by the infuriated zealots of Ulster. English Protestantism and Ulster Protestantism were two different things. The former wanted the inflaming recollections of the Boyne, the slapping of the gates of Derry, the cracking of the boom, and the exploits of the immortal Walker. The Catholics had done everything to conciliate these Protestants. They had refrained from irritating allusions, political or otherwise, and had even made a joke of the exaggerations about Orange prowess. Notwithstanding this, there was as wide a gulf between the Irish people and Orangeism as there ever had been. If the first Lord of the Treasury could induce the Orangemen to abandon their principles in order to save his Administration, he would deserve the gratitude of mankind, and no one would then care to criticise his motives. To say that the House of Commons was unable to deal with this question was a device as disingenuous as it was weak. It was an indirect mode of saying that the House was afraid of the verdict of the country. Everybody knew that the question could not be finally settled without an appeal to the country; and everybody also knew that the action of the new constituencies would be less favourable to the Irish Church than that of the old constituencies. If the argument for delay was good for anything, then, on the passing of the English Reform Bill, Parliament ought to have suspended all further legislation except the Irish and Scotch Bills. But it was impossible to show that there were some questions which they might, and others which they might not, deal with. He maintained that, as long as the present House of Commons lasted, they were free to legislate on any question they thought proper to deal with. The conduct of the Government led one to suppose that they had no special policy upon this any more than upon any other question; that, like a sailor without a chart, they were drifting about, having not the least idea where the storm might ultimately land them. During the agitation of such a question everybody knew that an appeal would be made to anti- 1387 Irish and anti-Catholic prejudices; but nobody would have anticipated that such an appeal would have been made by the First Lord of the Treasury. Yet be had not hesitated to raise the cry of "The Church in danger!" and had further declared that the safety of the Throne depended on the maintenance of this alien Church, and that the Ritualists had united in a conspiracy with those to whom the right hon. Gentleman had given the nickname of Irish Humanists. A respect for Parliamentary decorum prevented him from characterizing this Parliamentary fiction in adequate terms; in charity, it must be supposed to be the product of the right hon. Gentleman's heated imagination. The hostility of the Irish people to the Protestant Church had nothing whatever to do with doctrinal points, as was shown by the relations between Catholics and Presbyterians; it was directed solely against that political and religious ascendancy which were inseparable from the position of the Protestant Church as an Establishment. But although the appeal of the Prime Minister to prejudice and passion might create some turmoil and agitation, it could not postpone for any lengthened period the satisfactory settlement of the Irish Church question. There was at length to be religious equality in Ireland. The Protestant Establishment was to be disestablished and disendowed. For many long years justice had been denied to Ireland, and wise and good men who had had to yield upon this question to the superior influence of a favoured faction had gone down to their graves leaving to their countrymen the corroding conviction that injustice was enthroned in this House. The present, therefore, was a moment of triumphant exultation to the Catholics, because the cause of truth and justice was triumphant. It was not, however, exclusively a Catholic triumph, for the Catholics could not have advanced one step but for the aid of their Protestant fellow-countrymen. At every period they had given them a generous and an earnest support. There was not a district in the three provinces where there were not many Protestants, men of great territorial standing, who were, and whose fathers before them had been, fast friends of religious liberty. And he could say with pleasure on the part of the Roman Catholics that they had not been ungrateful, for in those districts not merely the rights but the feelings of the Protestants were scrupulously and religiously respected by 1388 the majority of their countrymen in every rank of life and in every sphere of duty. It had been frequently said that if the Irish Church were disestablished the Irish Protestants would be greatly irritated. No doubt those who sought for exclusive privileges would be irritated, but, fortunately, they were only a small minority. He would say to the House, "Remember that your fears must not overcome your sense of justice. Remember, moreover, that you have nothing to fear if now, although it be for the first time in your history, you put your faith in the Irish people. And remember also that in every province, county, city, and town in Ireland, with only two or three exceptions even in the North, the friends of religious equality are the immense majority, and its opponents an insignificant minority."
Sir, I start now from the point to which we were conducted by the celebrated division on the morning of the 4th of April. I do not think it worth while to speculate on the many causes which tended to swell the majority on that occasion; but I firmly believe that if "all hearts were open, all desires known"—if there were no secrets as to the motives which served to produce that majority, it would be found that the Protestant Church in Ireland had very little indeed to do with it. It was a great party move, and as a means of uniting—at all events for the moment—the fragments into which the party opposite were broken, and of showing the strength of the great Liberal party, I am perfectly willing to admit that it was a great success, and that the concoctors of it deserved great praise in a party point of view. A noble Letter-writer—there are really so many political letter-writers now that it is necessary to particularize them—a noble Letter-writer has remarked upon my having failed on a former occasion to recognize the justice of the comparison which he drew between the Liberal party opposite and the pioneers and engineers of an army. Now, I am bound to acknowledge, after carefully considering these Resolutions, the motives which have dictated them, and the objects for which they are brought forward, that I recognize in them a similarity to one duty which is performed by the pioneers of an army, and that is, that they do all the dirty work. I think this military comparison might be extended much further. I think the political movements of the present day very much represent the manœuvres of skil- 1389 ful generals in the field; that in politics in this House, as in war, every advantage is taken, and everything is regarded as fair. I can easily imagine, Sir, the anxiety under which the Leaders of hon. Gentlemen opposite met to consult how they might best counteract the great success of the able tactician by whom they were last year opposed, who completely turned the flank of their engineers and pioneers, and who seized not merely their guns, but the very great gun, which only the year before, 1866, he had himself pronounced to be dangerous, even with a comparatively moderate and diminished charge, and he loaded it to the muzzle with any projectiles which hon. Gentlemen opposite would contribute towards it, until even the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) who claimed the gun as his own, and who, like many other inventors, complained of the Government having taken his invention without allowing him any reward, declared that it was no longer safe; and I verily believe that hon. Gentlemen had good grounds for coming to the conclusion that there was too much residuum in it. I must confess I think that the very first effect of the discharge of that gun will be to blow the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury and all those who sit beside and behind him, to at all events the opposite side of the House, and that it will also imperil all those institutions which that party, previously to the schoolmaster being abroad among them held, to be of the greatest importance. Now, the Resolutions before us propose two things—namely, the disestablishment and the disendowment of the Established Church. Between those two things there is the greatest possible distinction. The disendowment of the Established Church in Ireland bears upon the matter which a Royal Commission is at present considering; and it will be quite time enough to deal with that question when the Commissioners have made their Report. But the disestablishment of the Church is the severance of all connection between Church and State. It is a refusal on the part of the State to recognize the Protestant Church in Ireland. Upon what grounds are we called upon to do that? Why, to please the Roman Catholics, who say they really do not want its endowments; but that the acknowledgment of that Church by the State is an injury and an injustice to them. And a distinction is drawn between the Protes- 1390 tant Church in Ireland and the Protestant Church in England — a distinction which I, for one, do not for a moment admit. I say they form the one Church of the United Kingdom, of which the Sovereign of the United Kingdom is the head. You may dissolve the Union if you please, but as long as that Union exists there is but one Church, and if you dissolve the union between Church and State in Ireland, the dissolution of the union between Church and State will follow as a necessary consequence in England also. There was a meeting held, I think, on the 16th of the present month at St. James' Hall, of which Earl Russell was the Chairman; and I believe it was the noble Chairman on that occasion who stated that no single argument was ever brought forward by those who opposed these Resolutions. Now, I hold it to be a very strong argument that the necessary consequence of severing the connection between Church and State in Ireland will be the dissolution of that connection in England also. And I am not singular in this opinion. In a debate which occurred in "another place" not long ago with respect to the Established Church in Ireland, one of the speakers said there were the usual three courses which might be pursued, and having talked of the first two he came to the third course, and I appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite whether it is not exactly like the course proposed by the present Resolutions. The speaker in question went on to say—A third course would be to "secularize" the Church funds — that is, to adopt the voluntary principle in regard to the Church in Ireland—to establish no new Church, and to abolish the Establishment which at present exists, giving to education or to any other object of public utility the revenues which are now absorbed by the Established Church in Ireland. Of course, this proposal contemplates securing a life interest to the present holders of benefices in the Church. This is a plan which I have often thought might be realized."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiii. 364.]I need hardly say that is a fair description of the Resolutions now before us. The speaker, however, continued—But it has very great defects in it. In the first place, you immediately destroy, as far as Ireland is concerned, the principle of Establishment. Such an example would hardly be lost on the Dissenters of this country. Although the cases might be very dissimilar, those who strove for the destruction of the Church Establishment in Ireland in favour of the voluntary principle would avail themselves of the precedent to overthrow the Established Church here. I therefore think it would be unwise in us to assent to a Bill embodying that view, even if it came from the House of Commons."—[Ibid.]1391 Well, who was the speaker on that occasion? Why, the very Earl Russell who presided over the meeting to which I have referred. But let me ask why are the Protestants of Ireland to be deprived of the advantage of being acknowledged by the State? Are you ashamed of being a Protestant country? Do you think that the Roman Catholics in Ireland would have a greater respect for you if you professed yourselves to be a Godless State? Do you not think, on the contrary, that those Roman Catholics who would not acknowledge your "Godless Colleges," but insisted on having Colleges of their own, would not be the very first to insist on the religion of the majority being acknowledged as the religion of the State? What they object to, as I before said, is not the endowment, but the acknowledgment by the State, of the Protestant religion. I am perfectly aware it has been said by some that the connection between the State and the Church was dissolved when the doors of this House were thrown open to persons of all religions. I think it was the late Mr. Drummond who observed that if Mr. Speaker went up with an Address to Her Majesty, and Her Majesty chose to ask him, "Pray, of what religion is the House of Commons now?" he would be obliged to answer, "It is of no particular religion, the same religion as other people." Now, I object to these Resolutions. I object more particularly to the time at which they are brought forward; and I think that, except for party purposes, never was there a more inopportune moment for considering this question. Why, we have always been told that everything has been conceded to Ireland from fear. Do not you suppose that as long as a single Fenian exists he will say, and say, at all events, with some appearance of truth, that had it not been for Fenianism these Resolutions would never have been brought forward? We of course know better; they have been brought forward on account of the exigencies of party. But what will posterity think of the statesman who brought forward these Resolutions at a moment when it was utterly impossible for the House to settle this question? You hope by these Resolutions to disestablish the Protestant Church, yet, at the same time, you profess to maintain the rights of individuals. Now under what law, temporal or ecclesiastical, are these rights to be exercised, which, as the right hon. Gentleman told us, may last for nearly a gene- 1392 ration? Take the case of two adjoining parishes. The incumbent of one parish may live thirty years, while the incumbent of the other may not live thirty days. Are the parishioners of the former to go on all that time with endowments while the parishioners of the other—perhaps a poorer parish—are to tax themselves, or go without any minister at all? Under what law, I ask, is the incumbent of the former parish to carry on his duties? There may be no Bishop, or, if there be, he may have no power to exercise any control over him. Such incumbents will be perfectly independent as long as they exist, and I cannot see what provision there will be for their duties being carried on. These Resolutions, brought forward at such a time and for such a purpose, have almost worked a miracle upon me; for they have almost reconciled me to the Reform Bill of last year. I venture to say that no Parliament assembled under the provisions of that Act will ever show such glaring inconsistency as has been shown by this Parliament. Accusations of inconsistency are bandied about from one side of the House to the other, and the other day we heard a Leader of the party opposite reminding his opponents of the adage that they who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Well, it seems to me that as this House is not large enough the sooner it is adjourned to the Crystal Palace the better, for then hon. Members would there be constantly reminded of the danger of throwing stones. I think, too, that the very first Motion which ought to be made in the new House should be that all copies of Hansard and all records of past proceedings should be burnt. Well, now, a moribund Parliament proposes to make a moribund Church. You are either about to carry out the greatest change which has ever been effected in the Constitution of this country, or else you propose to leave on record your opinion that this ought to be done, whereas you have no power to prevent the agitation which must occur before another Parliament meets. An hon. Member behind me suggested the other evening that some pieces of old china should be secured for the British Museum. Now, I would suggest that a still greater curiosity should be secured for that institution. I think the Treasury Bench should be removed and handed over to the British Museum, with the inscription, "This is the Bench, for the honour of sitting on which all other honour, all consistency, 1393 and all statesmanship have been sacrificed."
§ MR. HORSMAN
Amusing and characteristic as was the speech of the gallant General, it offered no exception to the most remarkable feature of the debate, that every conceivable argument has been urged against the disestablishment of the Irish Church except the one which was most needed, and which alone could have weight. We have heard from the gallant General about the Act of Union, and the union of Church and State, about waiting for the Report of the Commission, and the danger as to the English Church, which is sure to follow if the Irish Church is disestablished. We have heard, too, in the able speech of the hon. Member for Londonderry of the irritation which the measure will cause in Ulster. The changes have been rung over and over again upon these objections; but, strange to say, no speaker on either side has thought fit to urge that which would be the only valid objection to the Resolutions—namely, that the Established Church in Ireland has fulfilled the conditions for which alone an Established Church could ever be intended, or ought to be permitted to exist. The Government and their supporters, not having a word to say upon the merits of the Established Church, having no argument whatever upon the case against the Resolutions of my right hon. Friend, are mindful—the hon. Members for Cambridge and West Kent especially—of that which is the great rule in Courts of Law, when you have a bad case abuse the plaintiff's attorney. Leaving their own lines undefended, they have turned their battery upon their opponents, whom they accuse of inconsistency, insincerity, and factious motives. "See," they say, "how inconsistent you are. Why, when you were in Office you would not touch the Irish Church, and now, when you are in Opposition, you will not let it alone. You change your sentiments with your seats in this House, and you unsay on one side of the House what you were vehemently saying on the other. "In fact, they accuse us—and nothing could be more disagreeable or severe to my mind—of doing exactly what they did themselves last year. "We wonder," they say, "you are not ashamed of yourselves; and there is your Leader exactly following the tactics of our Leader. Why, we wonder how you can follow him." Now, this charge would be a very unpleasant one if it were not ridiculous. The Reform Bill 1394 of last year was carried by such means that even the hon. Member for Birmingham declared that the country was paying a high price for it. Is it possible that the Liberal party are carrying the disestablishment of the Irish Church by like means, and are thus lowering the character of public men? Now, do not let us take refuge in ambiguity and evasion. Let us in that respect eschew the example of the Government. Let us meet the charge openly and fairly; show what it is the Government charge us with, and what is our answer before the country. The gallant General, following up the speeches of the hon. Members for Cambridge and West Kent, brings these charges against the Opposition. He says,—"You were twenty-six years in Office, with full power of dealing with the Irish Church, and you refrained from exercising that power; but now, when you are in Opposition, you raise it for a party cry suddenly and unreasonably. You bring it forward solely for party purposes at an inconvenient time, in the last Session of a dying Parliament, when you know it cannot be dealt with." Then, again, we are told, "Your Leader has also being inconsistent. He has changed his opinions; his language and policy have undergone a sudden and surprising change. Three years ago he expressed opinions directly the reverse of those he is expressing now, and only one inference can be drawn from it, that he is anxious to regain Office." Now I think I have stated your accusations fairly; let me see whether I cannot meet them fairly. Is it true that the Liberal party were twenty-six years in Office with the power of dealing with this question? Why, at the earlier part of that period, at the time when the high tide of popularity which followed the passing of Lord Grey's Reform Act had not receded from the Whigs—when they were more powerful than they have ever been since—they attempted more than once to deal with the question. And why did they fail? They failed because the Tory Opposition was too strong for them. Since that time parties have been so evenly balanced, the opinion of the country has been so divided that I am sure any hon. Gentleman opposite will admit that any Liberal Minister attempting to deal effectually with the Irish Church would have been rushing upon his own destruction. In those twenty-six years we could not even abolish church rates; we could not carry the admission of Jews to Parliament, nor any one of these ecclesias- 1395 tical or religious questions upon which the Tory party always rallied as one man, with the House of Lords to back them. When we could not even carry a small question like the abolition of church rates, how could a Liberal Minister have dealt effectually with the Irish Church? But the moment the Tory party came into Office these vexed questions were all settled; and why? Because the conduct of the Liberal party in Opposition was directly the reverse of that of the Tory party in Opposition. Why, it has been the practice of the Liberal party—to their honour be it remembered—to assist their opponents on getting into Office to carry those measures which they had obstructed in Opposition, and for which the mind of the country had been prepared by the efforts and sacrifices of the Liberal party. How was Catholic Emancipation carried in 1829? How was Free Trade carried in 1846? How was the Reform Act carried last year? On all these questions the well-disciplined Tory party had one unvarying consistent rule of conduct. As long as they were in Opposition they held to the pass; as soon as they got into Office they sold the pass. Now, what they had dune upon other questions they might have attempted with the Irish Church, and what we have done on other questions we were ready to do with the Irish Church. We were ready to give them the facilities they refused to us, and enable them by our assistance to do what we have always found it impossible to accomplish in the teeth of their determined hostility. Well, but if that charge, that we hive been twenty-six years in Office without dealing with the Irish Church be unfounded, what shall we say to the second charge brought against us by the gallant General, that we have been the first to obtrude this question upon Parliament, and press it this Session to the obstruction of other and more important measures? But is that the case? Is it the Liberal party that first brought this question forward during the present Session? ["Hear, hear!" from the Ministerial Benches.] Is that what you say we have done? ["Hear!"] Do you again repeat it? ["Hear, hear!"] When did my right hon. Friend give his Notice? On the 23rd of March. Had the Government done nothing before that to make the Irish Church the most important question of the year? Was it not authoritatively announced in the Recess that this was to be an Irish Session, and that the Government had a great scheme of Irish policy in 1396 which the Irish Church was to be included? ["No!"] Were not the Irish Members told that their demand for religions equality was to be conceded in the course of the present Session? ["No!"] Did not the Government themselves indicate an intention of establishing that equality? What was the meaning of the speech of the noble Earl (the Earl of Mayo), and of the policy he announced in placing the different religions in Ireland on a footing of equality by "levelling upwards?" Who was it that proposed to give a charter and endowment to the Catholic University? ["No endowment."] Who declared an intention of elevating the status of the Catholic Bishops? Who was it that promised to give a large increase to the Regium Donum, and endeavoured by all these measures to commit Parliament to an endowment of the Roman Catholic Church? The Government knew very well when they proposed these vast and sudden and startling changes that they must give rise to long and animated discussions; they were not deterred by the consideration that we were in the last Session of what the right hon. Gentleman calls a moribund Parliament, with Scotch and Irish Reform Bills to pass, and with a Boundary Bill and a Bribery Bill still to come before us. It was only when their aggressive policy of "levelling upwards" was met by our defensive policy of levelling downwards, and when it was found that throughout England, Ireland, and Scotland our policy was approved and their policy universally condemned, then it was we were told that the Irish Church was not a fit question for a "moribund Parliament" with two Reform Bills to pass. Why, Sir, they ought to have reflected on that before they threw down the challenge we were compelled to take up. If a "moribund Parliament," with two Reform Bills to pass, could endow three Churches in Ireland, surely it was able to disendow one. If a moribund Parliament with two Reform Bills on its hands could grant a charter to the Catholic University in Dublin, assuredly it could withdraw an endowment from the Roman Catholic College of Maynooth. And if a moribund Parliament could charge a large addition to the Regium Donum on the Consolidated Fund, assuredly it was competent to say that all religious charges whatever on the Consolidated Fund should cease and determine. No, Sir, it was the Government itself and not the Opposition that interposed the Irish Church between this House and the Reform Bills. It was 1397 our "No Popery" Premier who deluged us with those propitiatory offerings to Popery, and who was prepared to be the humble servant of the Pope as long as he thought the votes of Irish Romanists were to be ensnared. But when the Government find what a blunder they had made, then they throw on us the responsibility of obstructing public business, and call on us ignobly to retreat from a discussion into which they themselves were the first to force us. But I hope we shall not retreat. We have not raised this question, but being once raised by the Government for their own purposes, I trust we shall not let it rest until the battle is fought out, and that there shall be no truce and no quarter until the outworks at least are carried. It would be a pitiful proceeding for the Liberal party if, when the Government had delivered this question into their hands, they were to suffer you to leave that Chair until by passing all the three Resolutions they had protected themselves against the taunt of having obstructed Public Business for the mere mockery of passing an abstract Resolution, and did not show their sincerity and their courage by giving effect to the principles which they profess. I think, therefore, I am justified in maintaining that both the charges brought against us—the first, that we had the power of dealing with this question for a quarter of a century and did not do so; and the next, that we have been the first to raise the question in the present Session—are both unfounded. I do not know whether it would be worth while, or whether my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) might not think I was taking too much on myself, when in appearing to defend him I was in reality defending myself, if I were to allude to the charge brought against the whole Liberal party of following a Leader, who, upon this occasion—as it is said on the Other side—has shown inconsistency—and a sudden change of opinion and policy. In answer to that I can state that, with my vivid recollection of the events of 1865, I heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary the other night with great amazement. I really felt, while he was speaking, that either he or I must have been dreaming, for I never heard a speech which—every word of it—was so entirely contrary to the facts as I remembered them; and it was not until I referred to the speech the next morning that I was assured my ears had not deceived me. My right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. 1398 Gathorne Hardy) is always an agreeable speaker; but never so agreeable or powerful as when he descants on the subject of inconsistency. When he comes forward as the champion of consistency his dislike of inconsistency is carried to an excess which is almost a weak point in his character. Then he is impressive, then he is even severe. Turning to my right hon. Friend the Member for South Lancashire, he said, "You are the Last man who should move these Resolutions, because only three years ago you expressed opinions diametrically the reverse of those you are expressing to-day. Your change has been a surprise to the House and the country, and above all to the Press." And he added, "Those very organs of the Press which are now supporting the policy of the right hon. Gentleman are expressing their surprise at his change of opinion." Then he went on to say, "After the exposure I have made of this flagrant change even those who have expressed confidence in the right hon. Gentleman must now"—
§ MR. HORSMAN
If the right hon. Gentleman will refer tomorrow, as I have referred, to the report of The Times, he will find that language attributed to him.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
I must request the right hon. Gentleman to quote from some authority on which I can rely.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
I never repudiated any report. I have repudiated what the right hon. Gentleman says.
§ MR. HORSMAN
I am so challenged by the right hon. Gentleman that I hope the House will give me its indulgence while I join issue with him on points upon which I would not otherwise trouble the Committee. Did he or did he not say that my right hon. Friend had made a speech in 1865 in which he indicated a policy the reverse of that which he is now pursuing? [Mr. GATHORNE HARDY: I said nothing of the sort.] Did he say there had been a change in my right hon. Friend which was very sudden and very surprising? Do you repudiate that? Did he say that the organs of the Press, even those who were now supporting his policy, were expressing their surprise at the suddenness of the change? I am thankful I have got the right hon. Gentleman to admit one thing. 1399 Now, I affirm that if I am capable of understanding language, or if the newspapers to whose reports we attach most importance are capable of reporting a speech correctly, I have accurately described the statements attributed to the right hon. Gentleman. He repudiates them, and of course as I have not at hand the evidence of what I have stated I at once put that aside. But I have got this point admitted—that the right hon. Gentleman said that the Press of this country, and especially those organs which now support the policy of my right hon. Friend, expressed surprise at the suddenness of his change. But what did these newspapers—the newspapers which are now stated to be expressing amazement at the suddenness of this change and the novelty of those opinions—say the morning after the speech of 1865? I can give the right hon. Gentleman some of the criticisms that were made on that speech. Here is a short opinion of one of the leading organs of the party to which the right hon. Gentleman belongs. It is only about half a dozen lines—No lover of his country can look forward without something like terror to the day so confidently predicted, when Mr. Gladstone is to hold the chief place in the national councils. That day will inaugurate an era, a new system of Government, in which many good things and true, many institutions, time-honoured and cherished, among which the Established Church of Ireland will be perhaps the least, will be destined to fall before the march of popular enlightenment, as understood by Mr. Gladstone.Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that that newspaper now expresses astonishment? ["Name!"] Why, it is the newspaper in which the right hon. Gentleman gropes for extracts—The Morning Herald. It is the right hon. Gentleman's own organ. Here is the opinion of another Conservative organ—The debate on the Irish Church Establishment exhibited Mr. Gladstone in a light which strangely foreshadows his future career. His speech, beyond doubt, was the political event of Tuesday evening, and it reached to a point of Radicalism, threatening danger, should the right hon. Gentleman ever assume the chief responsibility of Government and Legislation in this kingdom.…. We can understand Mr. Dillwyn and Mr. Bernal Osborne—but when Mr. Gladstone, a Member of the Cabinet, speaking in the name of others than himself, assails the constitutional position, denies the efficiency, questions the rights, and would litigate upon the trusts of a great national Establishment, at what point are we to pause? Mr. Gladstone advocates a confiscation of endowments; he would carry an act of religious devastation through every diocese 1400 and district of Ireland.…. He would give up the Irish Church to be devoured, and what then becomes of settlements, bequests, property, peace, loyalty, liberty, and order? for they are equally imperilled by his doctrine.That is from another Conservative organ—The Standard. Now, does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say he was justified in telling this House that the Press of England was now expressing surprise at the suddenness of the change and the novelty of the conversion of my right hon. Friend? You may say that these are exaggerated opinions of opponent journals, but I could give you, if necessary, the opinions of journals of the opposite extreme in politics, such as The Morning Star and The Nonconformist, all putting precisely the same construction on the speech, only they praise what the others censure. I may say that I should not have ventured to read these extracts had it not been that the right hon. Gentleman repudiated everything else, and compelled me to produce the only evidence I had. I will now read a few sentences from a neutral organ, a weekly paper—and I say this because I am not endeavouring to defend any particular Leader, but the whole of the Liberal party, from the charges in which we are all implicated.
§ MR. DODSON
I may remind the right hon. Gentleman that he is not at liberty to quote extracts from newspapers referring to debates which have taken place in this House.
§ MR. HORSMAN
I must apologize to you, Sir, for not having explained that the extracts which I am quoting do not refer to any debates which have occurred this Session or during the existence of the present Parliament. A dissolution has taken place since their publication, and the events to which they refer are now historical. The right hon. Gentleman then proceeded to read the following extract:—The first part of his (Mr. Gladstone's) speech was devoted to the establishment of the proposition that the Irish Church Establishment ought to be swept away. … He first laid down, in the most extreme terms, that its present position was a gross injustice to the Roman Catholic population, and that all proposed remedies short of absolute confiscation were hopeless; and then proceeded to explain to the Roman Catholics that this injustice was riveted on their necks by the Protestants of England and of Scotland.["Name!"] That is taken from a neutral paper—at least, I have never known whether it preferred a Leader on this side or that side of the House—The Saturday Review. ["The date."] It was the week 1401 of the debate. But the right hon. Gentleman said that the Government was surprised, and that his Colleagues were surprised. Now, Sir, if the House will permit me, I will read an extract from a speech that was made by one of his Colleagues who sat by him in that debate. Mr. Whiteside described the speech in the following words:—I ask any one to consider what was the meaning of the picture which the right hon. Gentleman drew of the two provinces of Munster and Connaught. His argument, if I understand it, means this—'The property there reserved for the Church is far beyond its necessities.…. That being so, what are we to do with it? It is impossible for me to suggest what should be done with that property. That I leave to the councils of the future. I may hereafter be called upon to say what is to be done with it; but I wish that my speech may be on record in Hansard, showing that my argument was that that property may be abstracted from the Church for some purpose or other, either for the Roman Catholic Church or for some other object; but it is not to remain the property of the Church.' If the argument did not mean that, what did it mean?"—[3 Hansard, clxxviii. 444.]Well, now, Sir, I again ask, whether the right hon. Gentleman was justified in fixing upon this side of the House charges of inconsistency of conduct and great change in policy, and of stating that the surprise which was felt at the change was shared in by the newspapers which had in 1865 indicated and predicted as inevitable that very change? It is with great reluctance that I have read these extracts, but there is one more with which I wish to trouble the House, the more so as it refers to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in complimentary terms, and cannot therefore, be regarded entirely as a one-sided article. It is also from a weekly paper published in the week of the debate, and the article is headed "Hardy v. Gladstone." It goes on in this way—The debate on the Irish Church gave an admirable opportunity to Mr. Gathorne Hardy and Mr. Gladstone to address indirectly that great University constituency, for the suffrages of which they are to compete at the next election, on one of those subjects which lie nearest to his heart. We are afraid we must admit that the able Conservative who represents Leominster has made a great point for himself in the coming contest by the speech which he delivered on that occasion, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the other hand, while raising his reputation as a Liberal politician—nay with thinking men not only as a Liberal politician but as a Churchman and a Christian—by the admirable speech of Tuesday night, has taken another step towards that all but inevitable doom which, if not at the next election, before many years are over, must transfer him from the representation of a learned corporation always in the rear of the political life of England to the re- 1402 presentation of some great city or populous county division which leads the van. Mr. Hardy's speech was a masterly speech considered in relation to his candidature for Oxford University. Mr. Gladstone's speech was a rash and almost a reckless speech considered in the same light; but, considered in relation to the duties of the Liberal party and his own political future, it was a speech to increase our confidence in his wisdom and to raise our estimate of his prescience.I again, therefore, put it to the House—was the right hon. Gentleman justified in fixing upon my right hon. Friend the charge of inconsistency for pursuing a course which at the time was pointed out by the organs of the public Press, and in taunting us with having for some party purposes changed our opinions? Did that speech not express the opinions and indicate the policy now embodied in these Resolutions; and if they had not been brought forward, might not the Irish followers of the Pope—a new appellation for them from the Treasury Bench — have fairly charged him with breaking the pledges to which he had given utterance in 1865? Let the House consider for a moment what are the circumstances which have brought about a more sudden and extensive change of opinion than we have ever known to take place on a question equal in importance to this. What was the feeling of the Liberal party in 1865? When the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) first brought forward his Motion it was a matter of conversation and counsel among those who agreed with him in opinion; and I remember that I strongly deprecated the continual bringing forward of the question. I asked, "What practical object do you expect to attain through the discussion you invite? You know the Liberal party is thoroughly united upon the question; you know our Leaders have spoken out," and I said, "Supposing Lord Palmerstone were to send for you to-morrow, and ask you to draw up a scheme for dealing with the Irish Church, to the support of which he would pledge his Government, even to resignation, could you propose any scheme short of disestablishment?" Their answer was, "We could not." "Then," said I, "what is the use of making speeches denouncing an evil if you cannot even suggest a remedy; because you know, as well as I do, that the disestablishment of the Irish Church is what no Minister is likely to propose in our time?" That was my opinion in 1865, but I was a very short-sighted mortal. There are many of us on both sides of the House who then thought the disestablishment of the Irish 1403 Church very remote; there were also many other questions which we thought even still more remote. I thought the day very remote, indeed, when we should see the great Conservative party wheel round as suddenly as ever any regiment wheeled round at the word of command, and, with one accord, set themselves to unloosen, as one of their Leaders has expressed it, "the moorings of the Constitution." I thought the day was very far distant when they would precipitate that change in the governing power of the country which, up to that very moment, they had one and all sincerely and passionately denounced as revolution. Yes, Sir, we were then all short-sighted mortals, and I put it now to the candour of hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they had been asked in 1865 which change would come first — the disestablishment of the Irish Church at the hands of the Liberal party, or household suffrage at the hands of the Conservative party, what would they have said? They would have answered—"Disestablishment of the Irish Church by the Liberals is possible; but household suffrage by the Conservative party is a sheer impossibility." They would have concluded that no Government calling itself Conservative could have so made merchandize of its principles for the sake of Office, and they would have told us that the outraged feelings of a great and chivalrous party in its dignity and might would have risen as one man to exterminate the Government. Politics has been defined as the madness of the many for the gain of the few. ["Party."] Well, Sir, "party" has been so defined, and I suspect not a few on the other side of the House are now of opinion that that was the saying of a very wise man. But I fear that the lucid interval has not yet returned to the party opposite; for if we may judge from the speeches during this debate, there are Gentlemen on the other side of the House who are still under the delusion that they can enact a revolution and afterwards relapse into a policy of obstruction. They have evidently not yet become acquainted with the cardinal law in our Parliamentary system—that we never go back. A battle once fought out and settled within these walls is never revived: the vanquished join with the victors in giving loyal effect to that change which Parliament has decreed. Therefore, Sir, although I was not one of those who originally demanded the change that has been made, now that Parliament has resolved on it, I accept it as Parlia- 1404 ment intended it—as a boon to be perfected, and not as an evil to be crippled and counteracted. I accept it as my hon. Friend behind me has done, not as the termination of reform, but as the precursor and instrument of other reforms. I accept it in the sense in which it was received by the unenfranchised masses, not as an end, but as a means to be honestly, loyally, and effectively carried out to its just and legitimate results. I can very well imagine a Tory Government—I use that phrase because the gallant Member opposite was cheered by his party when he said he preferred it—I can well understand a Tory Government that in 1866 denounced a £7 suffrage as revolution only to discover in 1867 that household suffrage was high Conservatism — having abandoned their principles and embarked without chart or compass on a new and turbulent sea of legislation—would stand confused at what they had aptly described as their "leap in the dark;" but to those who have been watching the signs of the times, and seen how the horizon has been studded with troublous questions, it has been no "leap in the dark;" they see in that change the creation of a new power that will inaugurate a new future in legislation, and in that future they see the doom of all that has nothing but antiquity to recommend it. Things will no longer be tolerated because they are; changes will no longer be rejected merely because such things have not been; public wants and public duties will be measured by a new standard, and settled by the requirements of a new opinion. Questions that might have been dormant for a generation have been advanced a generation by one year of legislation, and, foremost among them, the Irish Church has been propelled into a front place, to fall under that law of progress and transformation to which hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House last year unconsciously imparted so sudden, so irresistible a new life. Observers have noted that, in England, all great questions rise to their settlement in a day. Mr. Cobden often remarked to his friends that the English mind was only capable of taking in one great question at a time; so it is that when one great question is disposed of another instantly takes its place; and when last year the Reform question was settled, it required no great foresight to predict that the Irish Church question was the next to occupy a front place. Consequently, although in 1865 I believed the 1405 question was very remote; when I was written to last winter on the subject, and asked my opinion of the Irish Church. I said my opinion was that the time for disestablishment had come, and I took the earliest opportunity of expressing that opinion in this House; and before I knew the right hon. Member for South Lancashire had resolved to take action in the matter; indeed, he could not have done so, because the policy of that Government was only made known to him in that debate, At the same time, I certainly should have deprecated any attempt at legislation, or the coming to any resolution of any sort in this Session had it not been that we were driven to it by the proceedings of the Government. When the Government unfolded its policy to the House the right hon. Gentleman very properly propounded his counter policy, and we have now in the Propositions of the Government and the Resolutions of our own Leader that clear and distinct issue which the right hon. Gentleman said he desired. It has been said by the Member for Cambridge that the issue before the House was disestablishment or the existing state of things. That is not the fact; the issue is between the policy of the Government and the policy contained in these Resolutions. The Government policy, as stated by the Irish Secretary, is to establish religious equality in Ireland by levelling upwards; the policy of the Resolutions is to establish equality by levelling downwards. The policy of the Government is to charter and endow a Roman Catholic University as a preliminary to endowing the Roman Catholic Church; the policy of the Resolutions is to disendow the Roman Catholic College of Maynooth, and to leave the Roman Catholic, like the Protestant Church, to its own resources. The policy of the Government is to elevate the status of the Roman Catholic Bishops, and give them the countenance of the State; the policy of the Resolution is to divorce the State from all ecclesiastical styles and dignities in Ireland, and to put Protestants and Catholics entirely on an equality, without countenance or interference of the State. Again, Sir, the policy of the Government is to increase the Regium Donum by a new charge on the Consolidated Fund; the policy of the Resolutions is to relieve the Consolidated Fund from all charges for any religions purpose whatever. In a word, the policy of the Government is to have three endowed Churches in Ireland; the policy of the 1406 Resolutions is to have none. These are the points of difference between the two sides of the House on which we shall go to the country. ["No, no!"] Well, then, if you are afraid or ashamed of them, you are repudiating the policy of the Government. These are the points of difference. ["No, no!"] They have divided the House into two hostile camps; we have already had one clear party division, and what, under other circumstances, would have been a very decisive Government defeat. But in these days there are no decisive Government defeats; the Government are not remarkable for sensibility; they court defeat. Defeat is the element in which they live. And, if they court defeat, they will find us of a very accommodating disposition; and I trust our supply will be quite equal to their demand. The fact is, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government made a slight miscalculation. He had an idea—and it was a very clever idea, if only it was not too clever—that Reform was the stumbling-block in the way of his perpetual retention of power. He did not see what I should have expected so clever a man to see—that, by the settlement of the Reform question and the infusion of so large a popular element into the new constituencies, he raised up a new crop of popular questions that must give a distinctiveness to the fading differences of party, and draw a new line more hard and more impassable than ever. And, so far from Reform being the only question which divided the two sides of the House, it happened to be precisely the reverse. Reform was the only great question that divided, and confused, and perplexed the Liberal party. Ever since I have been in the House there has been this great gulf between the two sections. There has been a section of moderate Liberals that recognized a Leader upon the front Bench, and another section of advanced Liberals that recognized a Leader on the Bench behind me. But the right hon. Gentleman has bridged over the gulf. The one great wave of Reform has merged all small differences upon this side of the House as if they were straws or cobwebs. This one difficulty about Reform, with its bickerings and soreness, petty persecutions and angry recriminations, spread itself into every question on which Reform was a question rather of degree than of principle. The gallant General reminds us of our differences. Let us, who listened to the speech of the noble Lord the Secretary for 1407 Foreign Affairs and then to the reply of the gallant General himself from below the Gangway, remind him that those terms of distinction which have become obsolete in our vocabulary are likely to become fashionable with our opponents. Having made themselves welcome to our measures, they are welcome now to our terms of distinction. On this side of the House we had no more use for them: the right hon. Gentleman had educated his opponents much more effectively than he has educated his friends. I think it was the Secretary for India (Sir Stafford Northcote) who said in a tone of emotion, as if unwilling to prefer so grave a charge against any one of his fellow-creatures — "We know what you are at—you want to turn out the Government — that is what you are at." And then, turning up his eyes, he almost exclaimed like Mrs. Malaprop, "Good heavens! what a wicked world we live in." "But," he added, "you will not find it so easy to do; we mean to die hard; we are at the beginning of a long fight, and it shall not be our fault if we give in before the battle is fairly fought out." I must say that I thought this rather an ill-timed and injudicious bravado. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think the Government had a body of followers behind them who would follow them as the tenth legion followed Cæsar. But I can assure him that, if he had seen the physiognomies of Gentlemen below him and behind him while he was speaking, he would have found these anything but re-assuring. We who sit here have observed for some time past that the prevailing expression on the countenances of hon. Gentlemen opposite has for some time past not been such as those who wish to see the human face divine in its most graceful forms would altogether desire. But I will give the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends some comfort. I assure him sincerely that the friends of disestablishment feel that their work is done for them far more speedily and far more effectually by the Government remaining in Office than by their resignation. Once let us pass these Resolutions before the House with large majorities, and then the three stages of the Bill that will be founded on them, and without those Gentlemen budging from their places; and then what the House of Lords do with the Bill will be of much more consequence to the Lords themselves than to the Irish Church or to the Liberal party. A very weak citadel may withstand a vigorous assault from 1408 without, but the strongest citadel cannot survive an insincere and treacherous defence. From the creation of the world there has been but one test of the sincerity of men or of parties, and that has been the sacrifice which they were ready to undergo for that which they professed to value. The Government are ready to carry their opposition to any extremity, or to make any sacrifice short of imperilling their retention of Office. When they come to that point they stop. Out of nine Members of the Cabinet that adorn that Bench, I believe it is notorious now that no less than eight are in favour of disestablishment. The ninth—the Secretary of State for the Home Department—is much averse to the disestablishment of the Irish Church; but is still more averse to the disestablishment of the Government; he evidently considers that the more valuable institution of the two. And that is a question upon which his Colleagues, without one dissentient voice, cordially agree with him. Therefore they retain their seats with an unanimity, and give to us in furtherance of our measures an assistance which I really think will entitle them to a large share of the honour of carrying the measure. I am sure my right hon. Friend the Member for South Lancashire will not grudge them their due share of that honour, and I venture to say he will be generous enough not to complain when next the First Lord of the Treasury is entertained by his admirers in Edinburgh, and boasts—as he may do without imperilling his character for veracity—that the disestablishment of the Irish Church is the thirty-third great measure of Reform which has been carried with a Tory Government in office, in spite of the obstruction of factious Liberals.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had appeared in the character of the historiographer of the Liberal party during the last thirty years; but if his statements had been as accurate as no doubt they were interesting, he should still have been at a loss to discover their relevancy to the present question. What the conduct of Lord Althorp in 1833 had to do with the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman in 1868 he failed to discover; but his statements were as inaccurate as they were irrelevant. The right hon. Gentleman told them that the Liberal party after the passing of the first Reform Bill made every effort to settle the Irish Church question; but were unable to do so owing 1409 to the opposition of the Tory party. Was this the fact? What Liberal Government had ever proposed in a speech from the Throne to disestablish or disendow the Irish Church. Was it the fact that any Liberal Government or statesman had ever made such a proposition to the House of Commons? In every measure introduced in those days—to quote the very words—"the increased efficiency and permanence of the Established Church" was invariably made the basis of legislation. What became, then, of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the obstinacy of the Tory party had prevented Liberal Governments, with some of which he himself had been connected, from settling the Irish Church question? Again, the right hon. Gentleman told them that, owing to the opposition of the Tory party, they could not even settle the comparatively small question of church rates. Did the right hon. Gentleman forget, or expect the House to forget, that year after year, and Session after Session, the most powerful vindicators of the principle of church rates were Lord Palmerston and Lord Russell, heads of Liberal Governments under whom the right hon. Gentleman had served? Then the right hon. Gentleman told them that whenever the Tory party came into power it was easy to pass those great political and ecclesiastical reforms, as these invariably received the most hearty and generous assistance from the great Liberal party, of which he was so distinguished an ornament. The right hon. Gentleman even had the courage to speak of the Reform Bill of last year. Her Majesty's Government undoubtedly felt greatly indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for the powerful assistance which he rendered to that measure; but if they had not received more effective assistance from other quarters, the large and numerous class of Her Majesty's subjects who now looked forward to exercising for the first time the privilege of the franchise would not be in that position at the present moment. Coming down from remoter periods, as to which the right hon. Gentleman had been thus singularly inaccurate, he next gave a sketch of what he fancied had occurred during the Recess. According to the right hon. Gentleman the Government had declared that this Session was to be devoted to the settlement of all great questions, including that of the Irish Church. The whole thing was a dream of the right hon. Gentleman, and he could only characterize it as being on a par with 1410 that wonderful misconception and mystification of what had been stated by his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The Government knew that a severe and protracted task lay before the House in the completion of the great measure of Parliamentary Reform to which Parliament last Session had given its assent; and though there might indeed be time found for some measures of subordinate importance, who could imagine that, with the supplementary measures of Reform to be carried, the Government would even undertake to submit the great question of the Irish Church to the present Parliament? It was a dream, an invention; and not the only one for which they were indebted to the right hon. Gentleman. It was perfectly well-known that the moment Her Majesty's Government came into power they appointed a Commission to inquire into the subject of the Irish Church; and having taken that step, they naturally concluded that further action upon the matter must be postponed until the Report of that Commission was received. The right hon. Gentleman said that, if the Government had made no other mistake, they made one in their statement on the Motion of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire); and that their Irish policy was such as left the Members of the Opposition no alternative but to raise their banner and propose a counter proposition. The right hon. Gentleman went through a catalogue of errors which he said the Government had committed upon that occasion; but he thought he should not be wrong if he assumed that, in the right hon. Gentleman's opinion, the head and front of their offending was their proposal to grant a charter to a Roman Catholic University. It was true that the question of granting a charter to a Roman Catholic University had been much discussed in the course of previous Sessions; that the late Government had taken a most unwise and unfortunate step with reference to this subject; and that the present Government did not think that granting a charter to a Roman Catholic University was a question raising such enormous issues as would prevent its decision by the existing Parliament. The difference between the treatment of this question by the present Government and the late Government was not one of which the former need be ashamed. The present Government proposed to do openly in the face of the country what they believed would be the best for the country, and 1411 what would bring the question at issue clearly before the House; while the course taken by the late Government was well known to the Committee, and therefore there was no need for him to refer to it more distinctly. Then the right hon. Gentleman went at enormous length into what he was pleased to term the unjust charge which was brought by the Secretary of State for the Home Department against the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, and illustrated his argument with most copious quotations from every kind of newspaper. The right hon. Gentleman misunderstood and misquoted his right hon. Friend from beginning to end. His right hon. Friend never said that the right hon. Member for South Lancashire was inconsistent in 1868, in consequence of the speech he made in 1865. What he did say was that after the speech of 1865, which had undoubtedly produced a certain effect in various quarters, the right hon. Gentleman, in order, as those who sat now on the Government Benches supposed, to mitigate the effect of that speech, wrote a certain letter, in which he stated, that in his opinion, the question of the Irish Church was so remote as really to be beyond the domain of practical politics. The right hon. Gentleman spent a long time in elaborating that simple statement, and in doing so used what was, no doubt, very cutting language, but those who took part in these fights in a free assembly must submit to have imputations thrown upon them which might be unjust, although couched in the most polished language. The right hon. Gentleman told them that a Government placed in a minority of 60 was bound to resign; but he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Government came into office, as was well understood, in a minority of 70. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to think that the course which he now so warmly espoused, but which was so remote during the years when he was the responsible Minister for Ireland, would be benefited by the present Government remaining in office. Time alone would show whether or not the right hon. Gentleman was correct in that supposition; but if the right hon. Gentleman thought that the Government had any other reason for remaining in office than because they believed that the Established Church of Ireland and of England and the union between Church and State would be better served by their remaining in office than by their retiring, 1412 he was most completely and entirely mistaken. When the Government were convinced that the cause of the Established Church would be benefited by their retirement from that Bench, the right hon. Gentleman need be under no apprehension that they would remain there a single instant. Passing from the observations of the right hon. Gentleman, which appeared to him to leave untouched the real question at issue, he would briefly touch upon the Resolutions brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire. In the first place, on what ground did the right hon. Gentleman ask the House to agree to his first Resolution; that ground was distinctly stated in the opening part of the Resolution? Did the Resolution say that it was "just," or that it was even "expedient" that the United Church in Ireland should cease to exist as an Establishment? No. The Resolutions said it was "necessary" that the Established Church should cease to exist as an Establishment. Necessary for what? Was it necessary for the continued progress of Ireland's material prosperity? No one could say that, in the face of the statement that had been made by his noble Friend with reference to the present condition of Ireland. Was it necessary for the suppression of a vile, hateful, and contemptible conspiracy? No; for it was well known that the ordinary forces of the country and the loyalty of the great mass of the Irish people had been sufficiently powerful to crush it completely. Was it necessary to produce a better feeling between the owners and the tillers of the soil? No; for it postponed indefinitely all legislation on that subject. The abolition of the Irish Church might, however, be necessary for one purpose, which had been pointed out by the right hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel) — namely, for the union and the consolidation of the scattered elements of the great Liberal party. In former times, when the great Continental Powers fell out, the inhabitants of the Low Countries or of the Milanese could pretty well calculate upon the battle being fought out on their fertile fields; and in this country during the last twenty or thirty years, when the great Liberal party fell out, Ireland had always been made the battle-field of contending parties. He was sorry to find that the right hon. Member for South Lancashire, in succeeding to the Leadership of the Liberal party, had, unfortunately for Ireland, also suc- 1413 ceeded to its traditional policy. Was the prosperity, the peace, the tranquillity, and the real progress of Ireland to be "whistled down the wind" in order to give the great Liberal party a party triumph on the present occasion? One word as to the phraseology of this Resolution. They had heard from the month of Earl Russell, at a meeting held in St. James' Hall, that the Resolutions were strictly in accordance with those which were proposed by that noble Earl some years ago. On comparing the Resolutions of the noble Earl with those of the right hon. Gentleman it would be found that they differed in a very important particular; for, whereas the Resolutions which the noble Earl moved in 1835 proposed that the surplus revenue of the Established Church "in" Ireland should be devoted to such and such a purpose, the right hon. Gentleman's Resolutions proposed the disestablishment of the Established Church "of" Ireland. Why, in point of fact and of law, there was no such thing as the Established Church "of" Ireland. It was the Established Church of England and Ireland established in Ireland with which the right hon. Gentleman's Resolutions proposed to deal. He (Lord John Manners) submitted that it was not competent for the right hon. Gentleman to misdescribe and misrepresent one of the greatest and most sacred institutions of the country for the purpose of facilitating his attack upon it. It was quite obvious that had the right hon. Gentleman used the proper phrase the eyes of the people throughout the country would have been opened to the inevitable consequences which the carrying of these Resolutions would entail. But he would submit further that if the right hon. Gentleman was at liberty to disintegrate the Church of England and Inland for the purpose of devouring them both the more easily, it was open to the Government to ask the Committee for the same freedom in her defence—Si tibi Mustullon coquus, Æmiliane, vocatur,Dicatur quare non Taratalla mihi.He would suggest that they should carry the disintegrating process one step further, and consider the question provincially. All the right hon. Gentleman's arguments apply to Leinster, Munster, or Connaught, none to Ulster. They were told that they must take this gigantic step — that they must reverse the history of the country and dissociate the Church from the State in order to gratify the wishes 1414 of the Irish people, but how would that principle apply to Ulster? He believed that in the division on the Motion for going into Committee on these Resolutions every single Member from Ulster voted in the minority against the right hon. Gentleman. Well, were the feelings of the people of Ulster as exemplified by their representatives to count for nothing? What were the facts as regarded Ulster? What was the case as to the glebe lands of that province? How had they come into the possession of the Established Church? Everyone knew that they had not come from Roman Catholic sources. They came to the Church at the time of the plantation of Ulster, and he ventured to say that no corporate or private proprietors of property in Ulster held their estates on a better title than that on which the Church held its glebe lands there. He ventured to say also that no corporate or private landlords had more properly fulfilled and discharged their obligations than the obligations attached to the glebe lands of Ulster had been fulfilled and discharged by the clergy of the Established Church. He asked the Committee for a moment to consider the two propositions of the right hon. Gentleman. It had been well said the first Resolution embodied the principles both of disestablishment and disendowment. As regarded the first part of the Resolution, it involved the greatest and gravest revolutionary change ever proposed in this country since the Church and State were united. He did not except even the Revolution in the time of Charles I., for though at that period the prelacy, the peerage, and the monarchy were swept away, the sacred character of Church property was respected. He believed that the first and last statutory sanction given to church rates was during the Commonwealth. They all remembered that in 1862 there was a celebration of the anniversary of the remarkable exodus of the Dissenting ministers at the time of the Restoration, when they yielded up their livings which had been preserved at the Rebellion, to their Episcopal successors. He said, therefore, that the present was the first attempt to separate the Church from the State. On what ground was the attempt made? He could not see that the arguments in its favour could be legitimately or logically confined to Ireland. They had had two main arguments addressed to them by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire. One was 1415 an argument of consolation addressed to the Irish Church; the other was an argument to justify the scheme of spoliation. The argument of consolation was this: he said the Irish Church would still retain three-fifths of its property. How the right hon. Gentleman had arrived at that conclusion he had not exactly explained; and he believed that the estimate was one which still puzzled some of the right hon. Gentleman's own followers. He had further said that when disestablished the Irish Church would have greater liberty—it would be dictated to by no Ministry; it would be able to do what it pleased; and then what a career of power and glory and utility would be open to it! There was nothing in that argument which might not, and probably would not, be applied to the Church in England. The more powerful the Church, clearly the more powerful would be that argument. In a few years hence the right hon. Gentleman would be able to say to the Church of England—"You will have three-fourths of your property when you are disestablished. We shall not interfere with the appointment of your Bishops. Unfettered by Ministers or Monarchs you may appoint to the archiepiscopal thrones of Canterbury and York, and what a career of utility, moral influence, and ecclesiastical power is there not open to you!" Then came another argument which the right hon. Gentleman seemed to rely very strongly on, but which, he (Lord John Manners) ventured to think, would lead to a policy of a very violent and extreme character. He said that for the practical inutility of the Irish Church up to within the last thirty years he did not hold that Church responsible, because the State had so treated it as not to allow it to act on its own responsibility; but that for its failure as a missionary Church during the last thirty years it was responsible, and he would judge it on that experience. Now, in his opinion, to judge a Church which had existed for centuries on an experience of thirty years was a hasty mode of judging. But taking the last thirty years, he would ask had there been no ecclesiastical events of a startling character in Scotland and England during that period which would bring the Established Churches in those countries within the same rule as that which it was sought to apply to the Established Church in Ireland? The last thirty years had witnessed the secession of great masses of the people of Scotland 1416 from the Established Church; and he could see nothing in the present condition or past history of that Church which could save it from the application of the rule which the right hon. Gentleman was endeavouring to apply in the case of the Church of Ireland. Again, on what ground was it that the Bishop of London, a few years ago, called on the people of this metropolis to make a great special effort? It was on the ground that of the 3,000,000 inhabitants of this metropolis great masses were alienated from the Established Church. Tested by the principle of thirty years' experience, he wanted to know how the Established Church of England was to be preserved, supposing a Church was not to remain Established if it did not number in its members a majority of the people? The principle appeared to him to have a common application to all Establishments if it were to be admitted in the case of the Irish Church; and he felt no doubt that if the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman were agreed to by this Parliament and ratified by the next, a demand for the disestablishment of the Churches of Scotland and England must and would follow as a necessary consequence. He now came to the second part of the Resolution before the Committee—that dealing with disendowment. He submitted that it was the duty of the right hon. Gentleman to state what he contemplated doing with the endowments of the Church which he proposed to disendow. Upon that point the House had nothing but a negative assurance. The right hon. Gentleman told them that those endowments should not be devoted to the service of the Almighty God, according to the rites and forms of the Established Church. That was a purely negative proposition. If there had been anything more positive it had been from the hon. Member for Birmingham, who had said that those endowments must be devoted to some purely Irish purposes. "Irish purposes" was, he thought, a rather vague phrase. He thought the House of Commons might press the point and ask what "Irish purposes" might mean. A gentleman who had recently been described as a great and good man, and who, though not in the House now, was still the Leader of the party who were attacking Establishments, stated on one occasion that he would devote the endowments of the Irish Established Church to lighthouses and lunatic asylums. If the representatives of 1417 Ireland were prepared to make that use of endowments intended for religious purposes, he thought they would merit the reproach which 150 years ago a great humourist, Dean Swift, conveyed in an epitaph which by anticipation he wrote for himself—He left what little wealth he had,To found a house for fools and mad;To show by one satiric touchNo nation needed it so much.After the Church had been disestablished and disendowed, could anyone hope that the other great questions which had been referred to more than once in the course of this debate would not be brought prominently forward? The hon. and learned Member for Sligo (Mr. Serjeant Armstrong) said the other night that he regarded the success of this movement much more in the hope of its enabling the land question to be dealt with in a manner satisfactory to the Tenant Right League than on account of the particular results it would bring about, and that evening the hon. Member for the King's County (Sir Patrick O'Brien) had asserted that this was not really the question on which the Irish people had set their hearts. Who, then, could doubt, when this question was removed out of the way and these great international and solemn legislative Acts trampled under foot, that prescription would be shaken and all confidence in property destroyed? Who could doubt that the tenure of land would be attacked with more vigour and success than had been before displayed, and that, as he feared, Ireland would be reduced to a country inhabited by cottiers, and not governed by those who had hitherto directed the affairs of that kingdom? But before we arrived at so lamentable a state of things there was one barrier to be surmounted, and that barrier was one which he trusted would be found insurmountable. The right hon. Gentleman who preceded him had dwelt much on the issue to be decided at the next Election. Now, that issue, in his humble opinion, was not only the particular proposition contained in the present Resolution; but also the great question of the maintenance of the relations between the Church and the State. That was the issue which, in consequence of the action of the Liberal party, would have to be submitted to the new constituencies at the General Election. On that issue the Government would most cheerfully meet the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire and those who acted with him; on 1418 that issue he believed the people of this country would give an unmistakable verdict. That verdict he believed would be in favour of maintaining the immemorial relations between the Church and the State; and should he be so fortunate as to obtain a seat in the new Parliament his voice would be raised, as it always had been, and his vote given in favour of maintaining the relations between the Church and the State in this free, this Christian, and this Imperial land.
I am sorry we are not in a position to close the debate on this Resolution to-night; because the subject, though undoubtedly one of very great importance, has been discussed in two debates, lasting four nights each, which we have gone through in the present Session. As far as hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House are concerned, I am extremely anxious that this question, important as it is, should not be in conflict more than can be avoided with the general progress of business. If, however, it be the decided wish of Gentlemen on the other side of the House to continue the debate to-morrow, I hope we shall at least arrive at an understanding that it shall not be prolonged beyond then.
§ MR. DISRAELI
In reply to the right hon. Gentleman, I wish to remark that this is a subject the importance of which really cannot be described in language which could be accused of exaggeration. It is, indeed, a far more important question than that which has been adverted to so liberally in the course of this debate — the great measure of Reform which we passed last year. And we attach greater importance to this first Resolution than we do even to the second or third. They may involve questions of constitutional and even legal difficulty, but, comparatively speaking, they are Resolutions of detail. This really announces and describes a policy. The preliminary discussion referred merely to the question of going into Committee, and the opinion of the Committee has not been given on this Resolution. ["Oh, oh!" and "Hear, hear!"] That is our opinion, and I would remark—for I think it best to be candid on these questions—that there is on this side of the House a great desire that this Resolution should be distinctly and definitely discussed. Everybody must feel that this is a question which must have ultimately very serious consequences, 1419 and it cannot be considered unreasonable that hon. Gentlemen should wish to have an opportunity of expressing their opinions on this matter. Therefore I could not under any circumstances enter into an engagement that the discussion should close to-morrow night. I wish to convey to the right hon. Gentleman that we consider this first Resolution of greater importance than he gives us credit for, and he must not suppose from anything I have said that we think this Resolution trifling as compared with the others. On the contrary, we regard this as really the first occasion on which the opinion of the Committee can be taken concerning the new policy which has now been introduced to the notice of the Empire, and it is on this Resolution that Gentlemen on both sides of the House — certainly on this side—desire to have their opinions distinctly placed before the country.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, that the right hon. Gentleman could not, of course, engage to bring the discussion to a close to-morrow night; but he wished to impress on the right hon. Gentleman the necessity of exercising all his influence in order to bring the debate to a termination as early as possible. There were many other important questions for consideration, and he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that, as far as the principles of these Resolutions were concerned, they had, in fact, been debated for a great many nights. All sections of the House had stated their views on the subject, and the House had by an overwhelming majority pronounced their opinions upon it. ["No!"] Was it likely that that side of the House, having expressed its opinion by so large a majority, would recede from the position it had taken up? And if it would not, what would be the effect of the Government opposing these Resolutions night after night? They would be persisting in a hopeless resistance to the determination which must ultimately be arrived at, and the delay would be most disastrous to the conduct of the business of the House. It was impossible not to foresee that the position of unofficial Members of the House would be one of the greatest embarrassment. After the lapse of some time all the public questions which had hitherto been kept in abeyance would be hurried on with, and the House would have no opportunity of properly discussing them. In conclusion, he urged the right hon. Gentleman to lend all his influence for the purpose of bringing the debate to a close as soon as possible.
§ MR. DISRAELI
In reply to the remarks of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Tower Hamlets, I must say I think it necessary that the House should have a very distinct idea of the position in which it is placed. We are arriving, no doubt, at a very critical point. The policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) is one which—as all must agree—involves very great changes, and in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government it might lead to very serious consequences. Under such circumstances, it is extremely desirable that the opinion of this House should be taken in a manner which cannot lead to misconception. It has not yet been taken in that manner. Speaking in the interest of hon. Members on both sides, it is desirable that when those consequences are felt by the country, at least it shall not be in the power of Gentlemen to put various interpretations upon the motives and views with which they arrive at their vote. Now the vote before the holidays was not of that clear and unambiguous character. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to agree with me as to the propriety of there being no ambiguity in their vote, but if they were satisfied with such a solution as was arrived at before the holidays, all I can say is, that I cannot agree with them. We wish to have a distinct issue raised on this important policy of the right hon. Gentleman respecting the disestablishment of the Church. We wish to have a distinct issue taken in the House on that subject. Such an issue has not yet been taken, and we look on this first Resolution as one of the greatest importance, and many hon. Gentlemen have intimated to me their desire to express their opinions upon it. If they can do so conveniently in the course of to-morrow evening, I shall not oppose the division. I never yet attempted to protract or prolong a debate unnecessarily; but I rose in order that I might not be misinterpreted as having entered into any agreement that the debate should finish to-morrow night. I have already explained the reason why we attribute to this Resolution so paramount an importance.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he thought his right hon. Friend's Motion had really disposed of the question; because it was not the ordinary Motion that the House should resolve itself into Committee on a distant day to consider Resolutions, but a Motion that the House should forthwith go 1421 into Committee for the purpose of considering certain Resolutions of which notice had been given. In the present instance there had been a clear affirmation of the principles contained in the Resolutions, and the House had in the most deliberate manner recorded its vote by an overwhelming majority in favour of them.
§ MR. WHITBREAD
said, that from the answer of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, it appeared to him not only that he would give the House no assurance that the debate would close to-morrow night, but that he had given them an assurance that it would not close to morrow night. The position of affairs appeared to him to be this—and he spoke as one interested, not only in this Resolution, but in the general conduct of the affairs of that House—that there was a Government in office which, as far as he could understand, had made up their minds, whatever the decision of the House might be upon this subject, to treat it merely as the decision of the majority, and then to proceed to business. Let the House bear in mind that the second and third Resolutions had hardly yet been touched in argument, and there were several very important measures besides these Resolutions to come before them. There was the Reform Bill for Scotland, the Reform Bill for Ireland, and also the Bill for the prevention of Bribery and Corruption, and how was time to be had for discussing these important measures? Those who had spoken to-night had not advanced much new argument; and if they went on in this way there was no human probability of their being able to overtake the other important business of the Session. Unless the Government imported some novelty into the discussion to-morrow, it would be within the competency of the House to decide that the debate should not be further protracted; and he thought that it ought not to be spun out unless there were some argument to be adduced, by which hon. Members could hope to change the opinion which was deliberately arrived at before the Easter Recess.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he had not been fortunate enough to catch the Speaker's eye in the former debate, and he was not disposed to allow an Establishment which had lasted 300 years to be swept away, with as little ceremony as if the question were one of a turnpike trust, without staling his opinions on the subject. There were many points connected with the first Reso- 1422 lution which had not yet been touched upon, and the two following Resolutions had not been discussed at all; he was, therefore, glad that the Prime Minister of the Crown would be no party to prevent hon. Members from expressing their opinions, which were a great deal wider and deeper than many Gentlemen opposite appeared to suppose. If there had been any delay in proceeding with the Public Business, on whom did the blame rest? There were not a few, he suspected, on the other side who had no great desire to see the Reform measures completed. And he did not think it would be decent to pass Resolutions with the haste of the last division. The right hon. Gentleman had only given a week's notice of his Resolutions before he asked the House to go into Committee, and no time had been afforded for hon. Members to consult their constituents. Since he had had a seat in the House he had never known a measure of such magnitude brought forward in such haste and discussed so summarily, he would not say so superficially.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, that there was a growing tendency in some quarters to "job" debates and cheek the freedom of discussion in that House by making arrangements that certain persons were to address the House as they pleased, while less eminent Members had no opportunity of stating their opinions. It was not right that A and B, and perhaps Z, should address the House, and that then it should be arranged that the debate should close. The consequence of the system was that the same persons addressed the House on every subject, and no fresh ideas were presented, because no one, not in a certain category, had any chance to be heard; and he knew an instance of a Member who was told that if he wished to address the House, he had better apply to the Whips. He thought things were come to a strange state, when a Member could not address the House without asking permission of the Whips. He protested against Members being thus silenced or gagged. It was time for the House to take this into consideration, for otherwise the freedom of debate would be practically at an end. When great questions were brought before the House, it was not to be expected that Independent Members should remain silent. The system of terminating debates by arrangement between the Whips ought to be brought within very narrow limits. The right hon. Gentle- 1423 man had brought forward Resolutions which ought to be discussed fully, and he thought every Member should have an opportunity of expressing his opinion on this important subject. They might still find time to discuss the other important measures of the Session.
said, he was one of the humble Members coming under the letter "Z" who had failed to catch the eye of the Chairman. As the representative of an important constituency he thought that their views on this important and solemn subject should be allowed to find expression. He agreed with the hon. Baronet the Member for Dundalk (Sir George Bowyer). If he had the good luck to address the House as often as the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) he should not complain.
The hon. Member for Dundalk (Sir George Bowyer) a little misapprehends the nature of these understandings which appear so formidable. He treats them as conspiracies against the liberty of private Members. They cannot very well be that, when they are made in public, and they simply amount to this: they are appeals to the general sentiment of Members of the House, upon the general expediency and convenience of the case, to judge when they think a question has been sufficiently discussed. It is a mistake to suppose that any understandings of this kind can interfere with the liberty of hon. Members. But I think it would be idle to spend this evening in discussing whether we will close the debate to-morrow night. If the right hon. Gentleman says he can enter into no engagement, I must point out that a sentiment has prevailed on this side of the House that there has been a singular languor, though not in the latter part, yet in a large portion of the debate this evening; and we on this side of the House most reserve our own liberty to judge and act for the best to-morrow night. And especially if we observe a like languor to-morrow, it is possible that we may come to the conclusion that it will be for the general convenience that the debate should be closed. But that cannot be carried even by a slight preponderance of opinion; it must be by a general reference to the sense and convenience of the House.
SIR JOHN HAY
said, that no Member for Scotland had yet spoken on the subject. Having spent part of the Easter holidays among his friends in that country, 1424 he could say they had very strong feelings against any proposition tending to overthrow the Protestant Establishments of the country. They were determined that they would neither be the slaves of a dominant superstition nor the subjects of an infidel State.
§ MR. WHALLEY
said, he regretted that he had not been able to catch the Speaker's eye, as he had wished to elicit some explanations from the right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) with whom he had voted in the late division. In the previous debate he had asked the right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) to explain what course he intended to adopt with regard to certain details of the question before the House, and the right hon. Gentleman promised to give him an explanation, but failed to do so. Under these circumstances, he desired an opportunity of pointing out the grounds on which he voted on the last occasion, as well as those which might reasonably justify the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government in retaining his seat on the Treasury Bench rather than hand over the Government to the right hon. Member for South Lancashire.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
explained, that he had not said that there was any conspiracy in the matter. But what he would say was, that a programme was made of those who were to speak, and he had even heard of the case of one hon. Member anxious to address the House who was told that he ought to go to the Whip on his side and ask his permission to speak. When that was the case he thought it was time to change the system, and for the House to consider seriously whether they ought not to retain the liberty of debate.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress, to sit again To-morrow.