HC Deb 28 April 1868 vol 191 cc1466-534

Acts considered in Committee.

(In the 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 rights of property."—(Mr. Gladstone.)

Amendment proposed, 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."


said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire had exercised a very wise discretion when he advised the House to keep as near as they could to the question of the Irish Church. Other Gentlemen, however, on that side of the House had made use of language which, in his opinion, was out of place in a great debate like this; but he trusted he should not full into a similar error, although in the course of his remarks he should have to advert to the speech delivered last evening by the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman). He should endeavour to establish that it would be an act of gross injustice to the Protestants of Ireland if the Church in that country were wholly disestablished and disendowed. No doubt there were many important measures before the House this Session; but he would ask the Committee whether the question of the disestablishment and disendowment of the Established Church was not the most important of them all? The Opposition and not the Government had brought forward this great question; and if many Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House were, not unnaturally, anxious to address the House on the subject, he was sure there was no desire on their part to delay the division on the Resolutions proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Member for Stroud distinctly stated that the Committee had to decide between the policy of the Government, which was a policy of upholding the Establishment and levelling upwards, and the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, which was a policy of levelling downwards. Now he, in common with many who sat on that side of the House, did not take that view of the matter, but was perfectly willing to raise a straightforward issue on the question whether the connection between Church and State should be maintained both in this country and in Ireland. If the Irish Church were disestablished and disendowed, the attacks on the English Church would come faster than the right hon. Member for South Lancashire seemed to suppose. The right hon. Gentleman had set the ball rolling, and where it would stop he did not know, nor did he perhaps care. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) had on one occasion compared the Members for Stroud and Calne to a Scotch terrier, so covered with hair that one could not tell the head from the tail; but they were quite distinct enough now, and resembled two dogs of a different kind, who barked at every one, and when at- tacked sought refuge under the skirts of the right hon. Member's (Mr. Gladstone's) coat. The right hon. Member for Stroud, having been Chief Secretary for Ireland, surely ought to have given the House some information about the Irish Church; but in his speech he did not mention a single grievance caused by the existence of that institution. He believed, however, that during the time the right hon. Gentleman was in Ireland he did nothing but amuse himself; and the people, in their generosity, said that "His Honour was a good fellow, for he could ride well across country." For his own part, he believed that the Irish Church had been of great benefit to the country. He had often asked the peasantry, both in the North and South of Ireland, what they thought of the Establishment? and the reply was invariably that they were well treated by the clergy. They professed to have a liking for a gentleman, and he never heard any other remark beyond that in Ireland. He did not say that there were not others who said a great deal against the Establishment; but he denied that the mass of the people were discontented with the Church. At the time of the famine disturbances he was quartered at Cork, and had consigned to him from England various large sums of money for the relief of the existing distress. The money was distributed among the clergy, and he found that at that time there prevailed the greatest unanimity with regard to the acknowledged disposition of England to help them. But were there no other causes that stirred up the people of Ireland against the Irish Church? Had those men who were bound to instruct the people done their duty? He was not going to censure the Irish priests; but he would affirm that if they had instructed the people in that loyalty which it was their bounden duty to inculcate, the result would have been different; but, taught by their priests, they had learnt to keep rankling in their breasts feelings which happily did not possess the peasantry of this country. In the North of Ireland Protestant and Roman Catholic would be found living side by side harmoniously—excepting, perhaps, a fraction, who indulged in Orange displays and other little disturbances occasionally. Otherwise they were perfectly quiet, prosperous, and happy; and he would ask whether the influence of the Protestant Church and people had not had something to do with the state of tranquillity which prevailed in the North? He would ask whether the Protestant people in the North of Ireland had not during the whole of these Fenian disturbances, and on every occasion, done everything in their power to promote between England and Ireland that union which was so essential to the well-being of both countries? Why was there so different a state of things in the South of Ireland? Why was Belfast flourishing and increasing from day to day and from year to year? Why was Cork stationary, if not going backward? Why were there no new buildings to be seen there as in Belfast? Why, but because that life was safer in the North than the South; and because no capital would go there for employment till the people had learned not to take the law into their own hands. It was said, though he did not altogether endorse it, that Ireland laboured under three curses, demagogues, priests, and poverty. As to demagogues, they had always existed, and still existed. As to the priests, history would say whether they had or had not done their duty. He had certainly met many priests who were well-educated and well-affected men; but he had met with others who were disposed towards everything that Englishmen considered wrong with respect to the Union. With regard to poverty, he presumed most hon. Gentlemen would admit that poverty was passing away. Every one acquainted with the country must be familiar with the progress it had made since 1843, as exemplified in the better cultivation of the land, the improvement of the houses, and the increased comfort of the poorer classes. It was obvious that the demagogues had been fostering the discontent which prevailed. But what was the remedy for the grievance complained of? He was sure of this, that if the right hon. Gentleman had taken the vote upon the land question, and not upon the Church question, he would have found a hundred who cared for the former for one who cared a single farthing for the latter. But the right hon. Gentleman had taken up the cry of the Church, because it was popular with hon. Gentlemen on the other side. He (Colonel Bartelott) could perfectly understand such a course on the part of the hon. Member for Birmingham, who had all along avowed himself an advocate of disendowment and equality. They were now about to try their hands upon the Irish Church, and the question arose, Was the Church part of the English Church or not? No doubt it was, and this was admitted on the opposite side when it suited the purpose of the party to say so. He contended that they were going to perpetrate an act of gross injustice, and to offend the feelings and prejudices of a large portion of Her Majesty's subjects; and before taking such a step would it not be well to pause and well consider it? But was that all? The people of the North of Ireland had been accustomed for centuries to pay tithes and receive all the benefits of an Established Church without paying more than their tithes. These people would have a right to complain if that privilege were now taken from them. Was there no other way of getting out of the difficulty than by disestablishment and disendowment? He ventured to think there was—namely, by the removal of anomalies and defects of the Establishment, which he, for one, was not prepared to deny prevailed in certain portions of Ireland. Supposing Parliament were to reduce the Bishops and deans and clergy who had no cure of souls, that would go a certain way, at all events, to reduce the grievances complained of, without inflicting the gross injustice of severing the Established Church from the State. Would it not be possible to allow the proprietors in Ireland to buy up the tithes at a certain amount, and the funds secured by this means might be applied to some useful purpose, such as the general education of the country, which he thought would be doing no great harm. In conclusion, the proposal before the Committee was one of a ruthless—he would not say dishonest—character, and he was glad to know that Gentlemen on his side of the House would show, as a body, that they were determined to stand by that Church which, whatever faults she might have, had been a great blessing to this glorious and great country.


said, nothing had astonished him so much in the debate as the unparallelled weakness of the arguments by which these Resolutions had been encountered. Surely the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government must be ashamed to march through Coventry with such a ragged regiment of reasons as those which had been put forward on his side of the question. First of all, there was what he might call the Lord Plunket argument. They had been deluged with quotations from speeches of Lord Plunket, Lord Ellenborough, and others, as if they at this day were to be deterred from their purpose by the ipse dixit of some of the most arrant Tories of an age that was past and gone. Then there was what might be called the garrison argument — the argument that if they laid their hands on the Irish Church, it would affront those who were the true props and pillars of our dominion over that island, and perhaps they would leave us in the lurch. It was almost inconceivable that any statesman should dare to use such an argument as that. Was it possible to suppose that Her Majesty's Government was to take a partisan side with one of the factions by which Ireland was unhappily rent asunder, with the view of keeping down by their aid the majority of the nation? It was difficult to think of such an argument with patience. Then came the argument, scarcely less preposterous, that they had no right to interfere with the settlement made at the time of the Union, just as if the Parliament of the United Kingdom was to be restrained from doing that which, in its wisdom, it might deem right, just, and politic, because, forsooth, of some imaginary agreement between some unknown parties severity years ago. Such an argument was not worth wasting one's breath upon; it could only show the barrenness of the cause on behalf of which it was put forward. And yet these three most futile and frivolous objections—for he scorned to touch the one about the Coronation Oath—all but exhausted the list of those that had been alleged on behalf of the Government. There remained, however, one more; the only one that it was possible to treat with the smallest show of respect. That was the argument that, in thus dealing with the Irish Church, they would be setting a precedent that would almost inevitably be followed afterwards on this side of the Channel. He admitted that this argument, and this one alone, had in it some decent respectability. But even to that one there was an obvious, decisive, overwhelming reply. The answer to it was that the disestablishment of the Irish Church was an act of justice to that country; and they could have no right to refuse justice to Ireland, because in doing so they might have to encounter some inconvenience or danger to themselves. They were bound to do to Ireland that which was right and good for her people. They could have no right to perpetuate the infliction of wrong upon them, or to maintain abuses among them, because in tearing them down they might endanger our institutions at home. No one could deny for a moment that were Ireland an independent and self-governed land the Protestant Establishment would long since have ceased to exist. No one could deny that it was only because Ireland was bound up with Great Britain that the Protestant Establishment had ever lived at all, or had not long ago been swept into the sea. The eyes of the people of this country were at last opened to the iniquity of forcing upon a sister nation a religious system which the vast bulk of them abhorred; and happily they might be sure that England would not be induced to reject the demand for justice to Ireland by the plea—the base and mean plea—that to do so might damage our own interests. So poor, so barren, were the arguments of those who would keep things as they are. But, now, was there more force in what those on his own side had to allege? The right hon. and gallant General opposite (General Peel) put this question to the House—and he read the words themselves, for nothing was so easy as to dispute a general statement as to expressions which had been used. "Upon what grounds," he asked, "are we called upon to sever the connection between Church and State in Ireland?" What was the true answer to the gallant General's question? On what grounds, in very truth, did they demand that severance? They demanded it upon the ground that this Church is alien from the heart and soul of the Irish people. They demanded it upon the ground that she was repudiated by the nation as a nation, and therefore that her position as the so-called national Church was a falsehood and a sham. They demanded it upon the ground that the continuance of her supremacy in connection with the State was a sign of conquest—a reminiscence of oppression—a last remnant of that infamous system that used to glorify itself under the name of Protestant ascendancy. So long as by our superior force we maintained the supremacy of a Protestant Establishment over a Roman Catholic country we were treating the people of that country as a subject people. Let us cut that artificial—that arbitrary bond between the Church and State, and then, indeed, we should give all our Irish Roman Catholic brethren the proof which they had a right to require at our hands, that we regarded them as our equals, our fellow-citizens; that we renounced once and for evermore utterly the idea that formerly gave shape to England's policy towards them, and rendered it the scandal of the world—the idea of treating them as conquered aliens. And was there indeed anything so novel, so strange to our policy in taking such a step as this? Had we not, in Canada, in Australia, in our other colonies, laid down, with the consent of all parties, the principle, and carried it out to the extreme, that there should be no union between Church and State, where it would be opposed to the feeling of the nation? And how could there be anything irreligious, as some seemed to pretend, in Abolishing that union? The Church herself might have something in her holy, something divine; but her political position, as a State Church, was wholly the creation of law. It was altogether determined by laws passed by fallible men—possibly, as in the case of Ireland, by men who were known to have been scoundrels—and there could be nothing profane in the repeal of these laws by later legislators. What Ireland really required at our hands was to do justice and mercy. He would fain say a word or two on the personal aspect of the question. Scarcely a single speaker in the whole six nights' debate had refrained from bitter attacks on his opponents; and he must acknowledge that some of the satire that had been heard had been of the most brilliant character. The speeches of his right hon. Friend the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) and of his right hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) especially had been exquisite specimens of sword play. But might we not say, Ohe! jam satis est? They were surely weary, or, at any rate, those persons, if such existed, who read their debates must be weary of these interminable vituperations. There was a homely, but sensible saying—"'Tis an ill bird that fouls its own nest," and he confessed that he had too much esprit de corps, as a Member of that House, and too profound a reverence for Parliamentary self-government, not to perceive with keen regret that, in thus bandying Billingsgate against each other, they were lowering their self-respect, and were injuring at once the reputation of their public men and of Parliament itself. And these recriminations had not, in his opinion, even the poor merit of being true. As regarded, for example, the course taken with regard to the Irish Church by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, how could any man who looked at it not as an advocate, but as an impartial judge, deny for one moment that, in the debates on this topic in the last three years, the right hon. Gentleman and the Liberal party had shown in the plainest way that they were prepared to grapple boldly with the Irish Church as soon as the public mind should be ripe for action? Well, during the last year the Fenian insurrection arose. That woke the English nation from its lethargy; it deeply stirred the heart of this nation; it turned every thinking mind to the question whether, indeed, there did still remain any wrong, any grievance, in the treatment of Ireland by her sister kingdom. It was the almost unanimous reply of the English people that the State supremacy of the Protestant Church was in very truth an insult and an injury to the Roman Catholic people of Ireland. The demand for the reparation of that wrong—for the removal of that injustice—arose from one end to the other of the country. It would have been a dereliction of duty on the part of the right hon. Gentleman as the Loader of the Liberal party; it would have been a declaration of duty on the part of their representatives in this House; it would have shown a feebleness of purpose that certainly was no part of the character of the right hon. Gentleman, had he and they refused to respond to that great call; and he was sure that when the passions of the moment had sunk into rest, every man who was not blinded by partizanship would be ready to admit that the Liberal party had done right to lose not a day in assaulting the stronghold of that monster grievance. On the other hand, might he say one word that might, perhaps, be somewhat unpalatable to his friends on that side of the House? They had been deluged with floods of talk about the inconsistency of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and he could not refrain from saying that he, for one, should feel it to be neither grateful nor generous to keep making those interminable taunts against those who had, as they (the Liberal party) believed, conferred a boon of inestimable value on the country. And, more, he was at a loss to conceive how any man who sought truth alone could find the least difficulty in placing himself in the position of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and understanding how men, even of the severest principle, and of the most stainless honour, could well have thought that it was a sacrifice demanded from them by patriotic duty to retire from the ground on which they had formerly made their stand, and avail themselves of the power that had passed into their hands to meet the overwhelming necessity of the time by effecting a settlement the least dangerous and the most lasting that could be devised of the question of Reform. Now, in his opening speech of this debate, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) quoted with regard to the Irish Church the superb lines of HamletWe do it wrong, being so majestical, To offer it the show of violence; For it is, as the air, invulnerable, And our vain blows malicious mockery. Now, it appeared to him that this question was one of no ordinary majesty, and that they did it wrong in making it a stalking horse for party vituperation. He was well aware that, in a party sense, it might seem to be in the highest degree imprudent to make any such admission; but he was not afraid to tell the truth, and the whole truth: and, as an individual independent of party considerations, he did not scruple to own his profound conviction that this debate was indeed a momentous epoch in the political career of this country. Depend upon it, they were standing by the meeting of the waters of two mighty streams of human thought. They were witnessing—though as yet in a narrow arena—they were witnessing, they were sharing in the victory of the still young but Herculean principle of religious equality over the principle, hoary with antiquity, crowned with the reverence of a thousand years, now truly in its decay, but fraught in its prime with unnumbered blessings—the principle of the union of Church and State. And if it were not presumptuous in one so humble as himself, he would fain appeal to the men of genius who sat on the right hand and on the left of that House to remember that, in the words of Shakespeare— Spirits are not finely touched, But to fine issues; and to consider, whether it was indeed worthy of them, in presence of so vast a conflict—should he say between truth and error—should he not rather say between the spirit of the days that were passing from them and the spirit of the days that were to come—whether it was worthy of them to turn aside from the height of that great argument to mean personalities and vindictive recriminations, which, were they false, and still more if they were deserved, must give unmingled pain to every patriotic bosom, to every generous and gentlemind?


said, he was glad to see that the hon. Gentleman duly estimated the gravity of the subject; but he complained that there was no measure before the House by which the value of his arguments could be estimated. They had no measure before them upon which they were called upon to express an opinion. As far as the hon. Gentleman had given any grounds for any opinions which he was prepared to support, he (Mr. Adderley) could only trace them through a catalogue of pungent phrases used by men who found declamation easier than practical measures. What he (Mr. Adderley) complained of was this—that the House was now called upon, in the third debate on this subject, to vote upon a general abstraction, without any definite feature upon which the opinion of the House could fairly be taken: just the sort of general proposition which enabled a number of Gentlemen to vote together, who, if there was the slightest appearance of a plan carrying out that proposition, would be dispersed at once to the four winds of Heaven. The author of this Resolution carefully avoided the production of a plan; and when he had once fallen into the error of indicating any definite policy he had been warned by the murmurs around him that he had better avoid treading on dangerous ground. It was said that we had here a basis for legislation; but surely the House was entitled to ask for something like the outline of a measure, some proof that the author of the Resolution had a measure in his own mind upon the subject? We are asked to disestablish the Irish Church by a phrase coined for the purpose, and which the right hon. Gentleman had never attempted to define, and which no two Members would agree in defining. We are called upon to disendow the Irish Church without even a phrase, but merely by inference. There was to be a "due regard to existing interests," and it was reasonable to suppose that when salvage was provided a wreck was implied. He recalled to the recollection of the Committee that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), upon the Motion of the Hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) laid down this good rule. He said, on the subject of the Irish Church, that no Minister of the Crown, not even an expectant Minister, would be justified in dealing with so grave a subject unless he could, at least, satisfy the House that he was prepared with a measure. What indication of the sort had he given the Committee? The Resolution was a simple wish. It was a curse upon the Irish Church. Delenda est Ecclesia Hiberniæ. That was all that the majority of 60 had voted. They expressed no opinion upon any mode of effecting that desire, and would be dispersed to the winds at the apparition of any scheme for affecting it. That this anathema should be uttered was the extent of their agreement. It was a declamatory Resolution—a declaration by the Committee that, if it only knew how, it would get rid of the Irish Church Establishment. That seemed to him to militate against the rule which the right hon. Gentleman had laid down for himself, and it was not a decent way of treating one of the gravest subjects which could be thrown into the arena of debate. The right hon. Gentleman had trusted to the eager following of men of ulterior views below the gangway who were enemies to all Church Establishments. There were many honest men who took that view; but in this case, under cover of a vague Motion simply denouncing the Irish Church, the Leader had enlisted partizans of much further design. These were the men who have cheered him, who had been his private counsellors, and had enabled him to carry by so large a majority the first step towards their extreme views. If there was any doubt about the spirit of those who supported the Resolution it was only necessary to refer to the speeches which had been made. It was clear from these that the old champion of Church and State was at the head of a raid against Church Establishments wherever they exist. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) said that, much as he disliked this mode of dealing with the Irish Church, so much was he convinced that all Church Establishments were wrong, that he intended on that ground to support the Resolutions. Not only was the right hon. Gentleman supported by the enemies of Church Establishments in general, but he had himself expressed the belief that the Irish Church would be safer and stronger if it were an unendowed and purely voluntary Church; he had taunted the Government with inconsistency in opposing his Motion at the time it was proposing to disendow the West Indian Church. In the first place, the Government were not proposing to disendow the West Indian Church, but to remove its charge from the English Consolidated Fund, and to throw it, for its greater vigour, upon its own resources. [Opposition Cheers.] In explanation of that cheer he would say that the right hon. Gentleman knew very well that he had supporters around him who intended to force on that proposition to the extent of appealing to the West Indian Government to disendow their own Churches. That proposition, he believed, was to be submitted to the House by the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). If that had been the Government proposition Ministers might with justice have been charged with inconsistency, opposing and advocating the disendowment of Churches at the same time. But all the references of the right hon. Gentleman, throughout those debates, to the colonial Church clearly showed that his standard of a vigorous Church in its best condition, wherever it might be, was a Church stripped of all endowments, and with purely voluntary support. That might be the right view; but, whether it was so or not, the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman, illustrated by these speeches and expressions, were clearly intended to strike a blow at all Establishments, and were in effect aimed at the English just as well as the Irish Establishment; and the eagerness of those who supported him was accounted for in their surprise and delight at having such good ground to work from at starting as the anomalous state of the Irish Church, and their extraordinary good fortune in being led by the late champion of Church and State. The last speaker seemed to uphold the colonial Church as the model for the Church at home; the right hon. Gentleman had shown by his cheers that he approved the sentiment, having begun by his attack upon the Irish Church, he would soon, no doubt, become as violent in opposition to the Established Church in the rest of the kingdom. The hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Coleridge) had taken very much the same line; he had wasted a great deal of time in pointing out what every one knew, that the Church and the Church Establishment were two different things—that the Church was anterior to and independent of the Establishment and its connection with the State. That, no doubt, was perfectly true; but the statement had no relevancy here, except to point out more clearly that, however safe the Church might be, there was, no doubt, that the Resolutions were aimed at Church Establishments. That being the case, what became of the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that his Motion was not aimed at the English Church; and what was the statement of the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) worth, that no attack on the English Establishment could result from the disendow-of the Irish Establishment unless both Churches were in exactly the same position? It was true that the Irish Church was in an anomalous condition which did not attach to the English Church. There was no analogous disease; but the mode of treatment was infectious. No one disputed that fact. Hon. Members opposite had during this debate laboured under two entire delusions. They supposed they had been discussing a measure when they had really no measure before them; and they fancied themselves the only people who saw that a measure was required, whereas everybody had allowed that for years past. The difference between the Opposition and the Government was, not on any question whether there was an anomaly to deal with in the Irish Church, but in the practical and justifiable mode of dealing with it. The treatment proposed would not only shake the institutions of the sister country, but would very possibly render attacks on all our institutions more frequent and more powerful for evil. What needs a remedy is this — that in Ireland the national Church and the nation were not coincident, and that the provision for the religion of the country was unequally and unwisely distributed. That was no discovery; no one had disputed it. If wishes were remedies, then a Resolution that this anomaly should cease would suffice. Then, what was the proper remedy? The most natural would be either to bring the nation to the Church or the Church to the nation. An attempt to bring the nation to the Church might have been made at the time of the Reformation, and the neglect to do so had allowed circumstances and race to make it impossible to-day. The alternative suggestion to bring the Church to the nation by establishing and endowing the Roman Catholic Church was out of the question, because neither Parliament nor the country would permit it, and because the Roman Catholic Church would, so far from preserving the national Church, be less national and more alien than the present Establishment—it would be the Church of Rome in Ireland—and because the Roman Catholics themselves refused to be endowed. A right hon. Member opposite (Mr. Lowe) had likened the Churches in Ireland to Dives and Lazarus. The proposition was that because Lazarus refused to accept the clothes of Dives, the rich man should be stripped, in order to equalize their condition. This is the idea of religious equality. Was such a request ever before made? Not even in the day of bitterest animosity between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Ireland had it been proposed to destroy the disputed Church property; this had been reserved for the right hon. Gentleman. The Roman Catholics shrank from the alienation or secularization of the property of the country which was dedicated to its religion and civilization. Was the right hon. Gentleman sure that the interests of religion and civilization could afford to lose this property? What would be said when applications were made to hon. Members to make good from their private purses this money, which it was proposed recklessly to divert to other purposes? The right hon. Gentleman thought he could trust to the private spirit and religious zeal of the country to supply the deficiency to be occasioned by the dispersion of that property. No doubt, a Free Church when so set up in the first instance in a country, as was the case in some of the colonies, would be capable of raising resources by the zeal of its congregations. A Church which was in rivalry with another, as in the case of the Free Kirk of Scotland, might be able to depend for its support upon the rivalry and emulation of private individuals; but a Church that would, under the guidance of the right hon. Gentleman, deliberately throw to the winds the large provision which had been made for it, could scarcely expect to find people willing and ready to supply even for its most needful and beneficial purposes what had been so ruthlessly and recklessly thrown away. And the right hon. Gentleman had propounded no scheme for securing any provision for the Church; and hon. Gentlemen who were inclined to support his Resolutions should remember that, though the right hon. Gentleman had said that three-fifths of the property of the Church would, somehow or other, be saved, the right hon. Gentleman had hitherto failed to give a satisfactory explanation of that statement. There was not one Member in the Committee who could attach any rational meaning to that statement. As far as could be understood from his last explanation, it would appear as if he had capitalized the property of the Church, and had found that the life estates which he was going to save were in value three-fifths of the whole. But was that any consolation to the Church? It was just as much consolation as if he were to tell the tenants in tail of an estate he was about to confiscate that the lives in being before the estate was confiscated were equal to three-fifths of the fee-simple. But the right hon. Gentleman also proposed to give to the Church another boon, as arbitrary, as fatal—the retention of their churches and parsonages. But what advantage would that be to the Irish Church? If the right hon. Gentleman had his property destroyed and his estate confiscated, and Resolutions may come "that certain kinds of property should cease to exist," what advantage would it be to him to have his country house left to him? It would only give him the appearance of possessing property, and would deprive him of any excuse for appealing for support on the score of destitution. Better be stript altogether than retain a share of property without the means of supporting it, or the alternative of an appeal to charity to other quarters. Not a hint had been given of the rest of the plan. There were two steps in an act of plunder—abstraction and appropriation. They had not any indication as to the second of these steps, unless they were to look upon the hint given to the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), that an experiment might be tried in his socialist scheme of re-distributing land out of the plunder of the Church. Cromwell sequestrated a good deal of Irish Church property, and transferred the plunder to his Puritan soldiers; but the right hon. Gentleman improved on Cromwell's plan, for he threw out indefinite hopes of plunder to be scrambled for among his followers. They were called upon to vote that the Irish Church Establishment should cease to exist; but they had not been, in the least degree, informed as to the mode in which the scheme was to be carried out. It appeared to be something like one of the South Sea bubbles of former days, after faith had ceased in all divulged propositions — a scheme was advertised to be stated after the lots were drawn. The followers of the right hon. Gentleman rejoiced in their double delusion; for they not only boasted of their measure on the Irish Church question, but they also thought that they were the only people who knew that any measure was needful, and what the anomalies were which ought to be redressed. That side of the House as much as the other acknowledged the evils that existed, and the necessity of such a re-distribution of the property of the Irish Church as would make it correspond to the demands of the nation. But they, on his side, proposed to wait for that information which all admitted to be necessary. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were the first to recognize the necessity for further information, and now they were as eager to rush on without it, so confessing their recklessness openly. To deal with so grave a subject without having either the necessary information or a measure in view betrayed the agitator and not the statesman. Indeed, he thought that the function of the Whig party was always to agitate, and not to produce measures. For many a year they had agitated the question of Parliamentary Reform; but, if the present Government had not come into office, would any Parliamentary Reform have been passed? Now, hon. Gentlemen opposite were vexed that the question, of which they claimed a monopoly, had been settled by their opponents, and they were eagerly trying to get up another rallying cry—a further dash at Reform—without waiting for the completion of that Reform for which they professed they were so desirous. The question of the Irish Church stood in the way of Parliamentary Reform, and of Education, and of all the important measures of the Session, merely that the party opposite might recover the lead in agitation which they had lost, and that they might be able to unfurl a fresh Reform flag round which their followers might rally. Everybody knew that no practical measure could follow these Resolutions, and that they were proposed for the sake of agitation only. With a small part—a very small part—of his scheme the right hon. Gentleman said he was prepared, and that was to stop the increase of vested interests in the Irish Church. Was the right hon. Gentleman certain that he could carry even that small part of his plan? If agreed to there, what chance was there of its passing the other House? Nothing could follow from these protracted debates, except mischief from premature and ineffectual agitation. When the right hon. Member for Stroud contrasted the policy of the two parties, he tried to depict us as obstructive, and his friends in the march of Reform. But the summing up of all his oratory on Irish Church Reform was that, "somehow or other," it must be effected. The real contrast was between the one side rushing in, where the other feared to tread. The sense of responsibility, no doubt, made the difference, and if parties were transposed, Gentlemen opposite would wait for the Repor-of their own Commission, and for the preparation of some effective measure upon it, before flourishing the abstract cry that the difficulty should cease to exist. The Government should do their utmost that as little mischief as possible may follow this reckless agitation, and be ready, as soon as materials are available, to deal effectively with the question themselves.


said, he believed that hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House were fully aware of the meaning and purport of these Resolutions. Among the many extraordinary arguments that had been put forward in defence of the Church Establishment in Ireland, none had astonished him more than that which fell from that very good Churchman the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Gorst), when he declared that the Church of England held its place in the affections of the people because it was a democratic Church, in which rich and poor worshipped together. But the same argument applied with equal force to every other Christian body in this country. If he were advocating the claims of the Church of England, he should base them on such grounds as those stated by Hampden, who said on his death-bed, that he believed the doctrines of the Church of England were for the most part consonant with the words of Holy Scripture. He was very much surprised to hear it said that, on bringing forward this Resolution, the right hon. Member for South Lancashire was acting in a manner inconsistent with his previous character; for though he was aware that the right hon. Gentleman had published a certain book many years ago, he had always understood, and the men of the North of England understood, that when the right hon. Gentleman was turned out of his seat for the University, it was not because he was unsound in regard to the English Church, but because he was considered unsound in regard to the Irish Church, and would reduce the franchise lower than was desired by his then constituents. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Horsfall) had brought down an old well-thumbed copy of the book of the right hon. Gentleman, and quoted two or three passages; but the hon. Member forgot to remind that House that the book had been reviewed by a most eminent statesman—Lord Macaulay. At the close of that review there was a passage which he (Mr. Pease) begged to read to the House— But if there were in any part of the world a national Church regarded as heretical by four-fifths of the nation committed to its care—a Church established and maintained by the sword—a Church producing twice as many riots as conversions—a Church which, though possessing great wealth and power, and though long backed by persecuting laws, had, in the course of many generations, been found unable to propagate its doctrines, and barely able to maintain its ground—a Church so odious that fraud and violence when used against its clear rights of property were generally regarded as fair play—a Church whose ministers were preaching to desolate walls, and with difficulty obtaining their lawful subsistence by the help of bayonets—such a Church on our principles could not, we must own, be defended. We should say that the State which allied itself with such a Church postponed the primary end of government to the secondary; and that the consequences had been such as any sagacious observer would have predicted. Neither the primary nor the secondary end is attained. The temporal and spiritual interests of the people suffer alike. The minds of men, instead of being drawn to the Church, are alienated from the State. The description of the Irish Church in that review held good to the present day. The hon. Member for East Sussex (Colonel Barttelot) had spoken of the friendly feeling of the people of Ireland towards the clergymen of the Established Church; but was not every Englishman who visited Ireland struck by the fact that party spirit entered into everything there? It entered into the municipal elections, into the room of the Boards of Guardians, on to the County Bench, and the Grand Jury room. What was the cause of that? It was because the minority supported by the law were placed in an insulting position in respect of the majority who had not that support. That disintegrated the whole body of society, and instead of finding the judicial axe in Ireland supported by a band of rods firmly bound around it and giving strength to the grasp which held it and adding weight to its fall, it was surrounded by unloosened sticks; in fact, by faggots which blazed into fire and lit up into a blaze when the fire of the incendiary was applied to it. The Protestant Church in Ireland was not a missionary Church, and throughout the world the free Churches had ever been the missionary Churches. In the North of England the free Churches of the Methodists had long been the pioneers of missionary enterprize as compared with the Established Church, which did not, until late years—when urged by the House and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners—become a missionary Church. If the Irish Church was planted as a missionary Church to support English influence it had signally failed. If it had been planted to draw the hearts of the Irish people to England it had failed. If it had been planted to take away the hearts of the Irish people from England and from the English people it had succeeded beyond all praise. There was now very little in Ireland that was different from England except this State Church; and as it caused Ireland to be a source of weakness to them instead of a source of strength, it was time for them to deal with it. It had been said that the feelings of all the Protestants of Ireland would be found with the Established Church in this matter; but he found that, at a large meeting in Belfast, that was not the case with the Presbyterians, and he believed that the Presbyterian ministers in synod assembled had pronounced against the injustice of maintaining the Established Church in Ireland. The Coronation Oath and the Act of Union had been several times referred to; but he would remind hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side that in 1833 the present Lord Derby introduced a measure which reduced the number of the Irish Bishops from twenty-two to ten. If it were competent to Parliament to touch one Bishop it might touch any one Bishop, and if any one then every Bishop on the Bench; and if it could touch one of the Bishops it could touch every clergyman of the Established Church in Ireland. There was, therefore, ample precedent for the step before the House. The question had been long a cause of difficulty, and the Resolution before them would enable them to get rid of the difficulty in a satisfactory way. The loyalty of the people of Ireland would be much strengthened by this measure. Feeling that by these Resolutions, if carried, private interests would be preserved, and that they will create peace and harmony, he should cheerfully follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire into the Lobby.


said, that in addressing the Committee upon this important question, he trusted they would treat him with leniency, considering that he had only once before trespassed upon their attention. Upon so important a question as that before them, he thought the fullest opportunity ought to be afforded to the representatives of the various classes and interests in that House of expressing their own opinions, as well as those of their respective constituencies. From the first moment of the broaching of this proposition by the right hon. Gentleman, he (Viscount Royston) had endeavoured to make himself fully acquainted with all its bearings. He confessed he could not concur with the charges made against the right hon. Gentleman of inconsistency in this matter, nor could he share in the astonishment which they said they felt at the course which he had adopted. Because the very first time he (Viscount Royston) had attempted to address his constituency—a few years ago—he stated in reference to this question that if the Church in Ireland were ever to be seriously attacked, he believed that the right hon. Gentleman opposite would be the man who would be found to submit the proposition to the House of Commons. He was, therefore, not by any means astonished that the right hon. Gentleman should think it right and proper to propose a Resolution for the disestablishment of the Church in Ireland. The Government were now in a somewhat critical condition. But after the efforts which they had made last year to carry out a measure which they believed to be desired by the country, he thought that they deserved a little more gratitude than had been shown them on that occasion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) had said that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire was the man for the hour. Now, in respect to the man, he admitted that no one could be better fitted than the right hon. Gentleman to propose a question of this kind. As to the hour, the supporters of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme pressed that the only plea the Government could urge against the adoption of the Resolutions was that the time was ill chosen. As regarded the disestablishment of the Irish Church, the Government contended that, even admitting that some improvement in the position of that Church was necessary, the present was not the time for considering so great a measure. The time, however, he believed would come—whether in this or the next Session he knew not; that depended very much upon the conduct of hon. Members opposite—when this question must assume the form of an appeal to the country at large, with the view of ascertaining the opinions of the public generally upon it. He spoke advisedly when he said he believed that there was a strong and growing feeling throughout the United Kingdom in regard to the Irish Church. To any person not biassed by other convictions, he frankly admitted that the Irish Church and its Establishment must appear to be a great and gross anomaly. He believed that the hon. Member for South Durham was a true Christian. Whilst differing from him as to some of his views, he (Viscount Royston), as a Churchman and an ardent supporter of the national faith, believed that the Established Church was a great benefit as regarded the general government of the country. He thought, then, that the best thing that could be done was to maintain the old principle of endowment; and thus enable the clergy to support their social position with that respectability becoming their calling, and to discharge their sacred duties with that zeal and ability which had ever characterized the ministers of the Protestant Church. He did not think it at all fair to make this a party question. He did not think it was a party question. It was one involving deep religious feelings, and therefore, being so, it was not fair for hon. Gentlemen opposite to come down to that House for the purpose of bearing hardly upon the Government, whom they knew were in a minority. They came, as it were, holding a pistol at the heads of the Church party, and saying that they must, at the present moment, take up the question of the Church Establishment in Ireland, without permitting them to submit to the country the force and wisdom of their policy. What the upshot of all this was to be he, of course, could not tell. As to the future, if this proposition was ever carried, he had no doubt that the feelings of the country would go with the right hon. Gentleman; because he did not believe upon such a grave question it would be possible for any Minister, whoever he might be, to pass a measure like this without the concurrence of the public at large. What he meant to say was this—that a measure which touched so acutely the religious feelings of Englishmen could only be carried by the general concurrence of the nation. Therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman opposite was determined to pursue that policy which he had indicated by his Resolutions, and if there should be an adverse vote—and he (Viscount Royston) sincerely hoped a division would be taken that night—then he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would condescend to inform them what course he would take in regard to the Bill which he supposed would follow. In 1799, on the occasion of the Message from the King in regard to the state of Ireland, Mr. Pitt said he was not content that that country should have certain benefits as a part of the British Empire; but he proposed that Ireland should partake of all those blessings which England enjoyed. It would be admitted that it was a great blessing to England to have an Established Church. If they wished, then, in Ireland to legislate for the general benefit of the country as united to England, it was a wrong and false proposition to say that it was necessary to have separate legislation as regarded the Church in that country because the bulk of the population did not profess the faith of such Church. They were all trying, though not as yet with much success, to legislate for the benefit of Ireland. He did not think that the disestablishment of the Church in that country would tend to the advantage of Ireland. The very fact of the members of that Church being in a minority in Ireland was, in his judgment, a strong and sound reason for its maintenance. What was the state of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland? Its endowments in 1755 were valued at £68,514 annually, whereas now they amounted to £190,000 a year. He had been recently in Scotland, and had mixed in a society there in which, politically speaking, he ought not to have been found; but from the inquiries he had made, he was satisfied that the State Church of Scotland was the result of a wise and efficient measure. He could understand the feelings of the Roman Catholics towards the Established Church in Ireland; but for the life of him he could not understand how it could be argued that the panacea for all the suffering and discontent of the people of Ireland was the disendowment of the Protestant Church. He, for one, was unwilling to taunt the right hon. Gentleman opposite with the change of his political opinions. Public men changed their opinions sometimes when they felt that they had good reasons for doing so. He did not think that the interests of the country could be damaged by such changes. He looked forward to some years as a Member of that House, and expected to learn wisdom as well as experience from the utterances of great and learned men. He should, therefore, be sorry to bind himself down for ever to certain opinions. For example, some twenty years hence he might be exposed to the remark of a person saying that though he had formerly advocated the continuance of the Church in Ireland, with its establishment and endowments, he was then expressing the opinion that the same Church should be disestablished and disallowed. He could readily imagine that at least twenty-five years would elapse before they saw the Established Church in Ireland done away with. That, at all events, was some consolation for those who thought as he did. There was nothing so likely to give solidity to a great act as great thought. He believed that this question was now only about to be thought about. He believed—nay, he knew—that amongst the Conservatives of the country this question had not been sufficiently thought about. It was a somewhat new question, which had never before been brought into the House of Commons in the manner in which it was then submitted to their consideration by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for South Lancashire, and had never until then been fostered by the cry of men of such distinguished ability as he saw before him. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for South Lancashire held a great position in the country, and consequently everything emanating from him deserved the gravest consideration. Under this aspect they were bound to view this all-absorbing question. How, then, were they to account for the extraordinary apathy which existed amongst the friends and supporters of the Church Establishment? The right hon. Gentleman's Resolutions were supported by large meetings in various parts of the country. They were told that crowded meetings had been held at the Tabernacle of Mr. Spurgeon and at different halls in the kingdom. The proposition of the right hon. Gentleman was no doubt supported by demagogues and all those who lived by spouting from platforms; but he denied that those meetings represented the opinions of the general population on this subject. He did not not believe that the course of legislation upon this subject could be so rapid as to force them to swallow the bitter pill prepared for them by the right hon. Gentleman opposite before they were able to judge of its effects. It appeared to him that the sooner the question was submitted to the judgment of the public the better, and it was only fair and just that every facility should be given for ascertaining the opinion of the people of the United Kingdom upon this grave and momentous subject. He thought it right that the House of Commons should raise obstacles to the passing of Resolutions such as those before the House. He would say, "Pause in your rapid legislation." The Resolutions were placed on the table at a time when the Government were engaged with Reform Bills and other important measures. Did hon. Gentlemen opposite want to have a hand, after all, in the Reform question? Did they want to settle the Boundary Bill? Did they want to be in power at that critical moment when the dissolution came? He did not join in the accusation that had been so often thrown in their teeth—that they merely wished to displace the present Government. That was a sort of low "chaff" which was unworthy of the House. Last night a right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Horsman) addressed the House at great length; but did he adduce any argument to show the advantage of disendowment? No, he did nothing but make a personal attack upon the Government. He really must quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman for the language he used. Positively he spent an hour and a half in simply trying to irritate the charming good temper of his excellent Friend the Secretary of State for Home affairs. He (Viscount Royston) naturally looked up to Members of such eminence for lessons in Parliamentary decorum; but he was astonished at the language which was used to some extent, he must admit, on both sides of the House, but chiefly on that of the Opposition. The Government were told, forsooth, that they were courting defeat. Well, what else could they do, when they had taken Office with a minority of 60? And yet, by the extraordinary tact, wisdom, and good-nature of the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister, the country had been benefited by a Reform Bill. [Laughter.] That laugh explains more fully than words the feeling of hon. Gentlemen opposite with regard to the Reform Bill. What was it that the Opposition wanted? He could tell them. They wanted the Conservatives to do their dirty work for them. The Government had carried a measure which the Opposition believed would be a benefit to the country. It was said, indeed, that they had done it only from an interested motive; but such an imputation could only proceed from a mind that he should be sorry to have in his body. The Government had been defeated once, and no doubt would be defeated again. If, however, the House wanted to get rid of them, why not propose a Resolution stating that it had not the smallest confidence in them? That was what the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) said in his Tabernacle speech. He said, "The Government are not worth having — turn them out." Well, turn them out. For his own part, he was not certain that if they they were turned out they would not be in a better position. [Laughter.] This question is too grave to be treated by laughter or jest. If they held the Irish Church to be rubbish, it was useless to think of keeping up Church Establishments in England and in Scotland. The Churches might not suffer from the disendowment, but the State might. He said, "Remove anomalies." he said, "Educate freely." But let them not educate with any missionary object—he hated the word missionary. Why take away the Grant to Maynooth and the Regium Donum? He never heard a word against the Church as a spiritual body; and by passing the Resolutions the House would be throwing itself into an abyss, the bottom of which they probably might never reach. [Laughter.] That is perfectly possible—because it may be an abyss so deep, that death might come before the bottom he reached. He believed that the right hon. Gentleman will be content with simply establishing the principle of disendowment this year; for he did not believe that the right hon. Gentleman has mercenary views; and those absurd, vague charges made against him by infatuated writers, in even more infatuated portions of the Press—had no foundation. It is likely that, on this question, the Government will again be in a minority; but is that to be accepted as an ignominious defeat? If it means that—he was speaking without knowing what course would be pursued by the Government, and supposed he should not commit himself—but if it means that, we should naturally say, "The only chance we can have as a party is to go to the constituencies." Nothing would give him greater pleasure than to go to his constituents—although certainly his last visit was not quite so pleasant or so cordial as one naturally expects. But he knew what the feeling of his constituents was on this subject, and, in fact, nothing but the pressure of his constituents would have made him speak before the Committee to-night. [Laughter]. The hon. and learned Member for Tiverton (Mr. Denman) seems to be excessively jocose to-night. No doubt he is going to occupy the attention of the Committee—and he is always excessively instructive and amusing when he delivers those learned sentences which he knows so well how to command; but he (Viscount Royston) did not see that he had not quite as much right to trouble the Committee as the hon. and learned Gentleman. In this country our Government, our legislation, our constituencies, our Church were all made up of anomalies. Lord Macaulay said that from the pole to the equator such an anomaly as the Irish Church did not exist. But although, as he (Viscount Royston) admitted, the Irish Church was an anomaly, that was no reason why we should do away with it. He said, "Treat the people of Ireland as they treated the people of England and of Scotland," and by such a policy they would promote the interest of good government.


said, the hon. and gallant Gentleman who commenced the debate (Colonel Barttelot) had spoken of himself as having been much in Ireland; but if he had not the fullest reliance on what proceeded from him he should be apt to suppose that his statement was a romance, since the account given by the hon. and gallant Gentleman was so utterly unlike the reality. He (Mr. Bagwell) congratulated the noble Lord (Viscount Royston) on introducing, if not much novelty into the debate, at least a very novel mode of stating things to the House. When tithes were paid in kind, and murders and riots and all kinds of positive conditions of disorganization prevailed, the universal opinion of the people of Ireland was that it was unjust to the people. At this advanced period of the debate it would be very hard to say anything new. Still, he hoped he might be able to say something that might be true. Had any Gentleman on either side of the House ventured to say that if he were establishing a new state of things in Ireland he would establish the Irish Church as it at present existed? No one had ventured to say it, or to write it, aye, or to think it. The great argument in favour of the Irish Church was that it had existed for 300 years. But this was at the same time its strongest condemnation. Tipperary 200 years ago was denuded of its native population, which was entirely Protestant; and in the old leases there was a penalty of five times the rent if any house was inhabited by Papists. He had hundreds of such leases which had once been granted on his estate. Yet what was the case now? Tipperary was the most Catholic part of Ireland, the seat of a cathedral and of a monastic institution. And yet they were told that the Irish Church had spread Protestantism. He spoke as a Protestant when he said that he took issue on that point. It was true that he represented a Catholic constituency; but they thought no worse of him for being a Protestant. The time had arrived when Protestants, must look the question in the face. If they Protestants of Ireland wished to preserve their form of religion, they must do by themselves what the State had hitherto done for them to their detriment; and he believed that, when placed on an equality with their Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen, they would be found equally zealous with them in supporting their own religion; and there would be an end to the acerbity which now existed, and which arose out of the Protestant ascendancy. The only objection he had to the Resolution before the Committee was that it was not the Preamble of a Bill. As the Protestants of Ireland had fully made up their minds to the disendowment and disestablishment of their Church ["No!"]—as they had made up their minds to that which was inevitable—the change would be brought into complete operation soon, so that the system might not be left to die out by slow degrees, as it were by a process of inanition occupying perhaps seventy years. That was a position to which they ought not to be subjected. A plan should be introduced at once, placing them immediately under the voluntary system. Let the members of the Irish Church put their hands in their pockets on behalf of their worship; let them get rid of the feeling of superiority they entertained towards Dissenters, and work together with them for the Protestant cause; and he firmly believed that Protestantism in Ireland would prosper. He trusted there would be no attempt to continue small and paltry endowments. The £40,000 annually granted by the State to the Presbyterians was really prejudicial to their religion; and a Presbyterian minister had told him that the miserable sum of £59 which he received from the Government was a far greater injury to him, even in a pecuniary point of view, than many people could suppose. He thought, however, that the churches—the vast majority of which had been built within the last 100 years, and which were essentially proper places for Protestant worship, being small and otherwise unfit for the use of the Roman Catholics—ought to be left in the hands of the present possessors, as long as they were able to keep them in repair. It would be a great outrage, and it would produce much ill-blood in Ireland, to transfer those buildings to any other body whatever; and the same remark would apply to the parsonage houses. He did not believe that any portion of the Irish people wished to deprive the Protestants of their churches and houses. What was really required was, perfect equality in religious matters; and let the Protestants show, by devotion, morality, find loyalty, that they were determined to maintain their position in Ireland; while at the same time a grievance was removed which had embittered the feelings of the great mass of the people for centuries.


said, that he had been lately in Ireland, and had studied the current of popular feeling; and he believed that, though the Roman Catholics would vote for the disestablishment of the Protestant Church, they were really very indifferent as to such a measure, unless it were the pioneer to fixity of tenure and a repeal of the Union. The Protestant population naturally felt aggrieved at the House having taken so hasty a step without awaiting the result of the important inquiry which was now going on. The numerous meetings against disestablishment that had taken place in Ireland were a proof of the dislike entertained for the proposal by the Protestants. The effect of disestablishment and disendowment would be to place the Protestant Church in a position not of equality with the Roman Catholic Church, but of inferiority to it; for the patronage was now directly or indirectly vested in the Crown, and its supremacy secured uniformity of doctrine and ritual; whereas if this measure passed there would be nothing to prevent the clergy from drifting into ritualistic or other extremes. The Roman Catholic Church, on the contrary, had a central authority at Rome. The Protestant clergy—2,200 in number, with an average income of £175—were necessarily resident, and formed an invaluable link between the yeomanry and the landowners, the withdrawal of which would greatly intensify the evils of absenteeism. The Protestant population, moreover of the South and West would be unable, scattered as they were, to maintain the fabrics, or support their clergy in a becoming manner. The churches, indeed, had already been claimed for the Roman Catholics by The Freeman's Journal, though some of them had lately been restored or erected by private munificence on the faith of the endowments being retained. As to the Regium Donum, Lord Dufferin had undertaken to pay out of his own pocket the quota received by ministers on his estates; but the Presbyterians were too independent and magnanimous to be pensioners on the landlords and thus to barter their independence. It would be only just and reasonable to double the present grant from the State, trusting to their congregations for the remainder of their stipends; but if State aid were withdrawn, they would wish to rely altogether on the voluntary principle. He denied that Ireland was at present a Roman Catholic country; for, though the majority of the peasants and small fanners were of that faith, this was not the case with other classes; but it would become so if a Bill founded on these Resolutions was passed. He thought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire ought to have given a more definite outline of his plan; but since one section of his supporters favoured a certain amount of endowments, while another section insisted on the voluntary principle, he doubtless found it difficult to satisfy both of them. Sons of the first families and some of the most intellectual men in the country now belonged to the Protestant Church, and, through their refinement and unostentatious piety, exercised a most beneficial influence; but he feared that disestablishment would lead to an inferior class of clergy, who, altogether dependent on eleemosynary support, would be obliged to conform to the caprices of their congregations. It could not for a moment be supposed that they could disestablish the Church in Ireland without touching the Churches in England and Scotland. At an influential meeting of Nonconformists at Liverpool it was resolved, if these Resolutions succeeded, to agitate to abolish the Established Church in Wales; and the Nonconformist newspaper said, that the Irish Church question would not be finally disposed of before the public mind would be prepared to entertain proposals with respect to the Scotch Kirk and the Church of England. In the South of Ireland there was a proverb which was as old as the time of the Spanish Armada, and which was in these words—"England's weakness is Ireland's opportunity." In other parts it was couched in this form— He who would England win With Ireland must begin. If they disestablished the Church in Ireland they must soon act in England on the principle of leaving all religions to voluntary support. No doubt Parliament was omnipotent. It could break contracts and could violate the rights of property; but there was always a Nemesis for such wrongs. They might begin by sacrificing ecclesiastical property; but they would continue by plundering corporations and trustees, and in the end they would interfere with individual rights. The present vague Resolutions would not avail those who supported them; but if they should pass a Bill carrying them into effect, then he had no hesitation in saying that private property would no longer be secure.


Sir, I am not one of those who, like the noble Lord the Member for Cambridgeshire (Viscount Royston) are "just beginning to think" about the Irish Church. Some thirty years ago I was induced to think of it by hearing its total condemnation from the lips of one from whom all my most cherished political convictions were derived. I soon came to the conclusion, on inquiry and inspection, that the Established Church in Ireland was an institution which ought to have ceased to exist many years ago. The grounds of this conviction were, and are, deep and solid. With me it is no matter of detail. I firmly and sincerely believe that to keep up that Establishment under the circumstances existing in Ireland is a violation of the first principles of justice; that it is a departure from the great commandment of Christianity, which bids us to do to others as we would be done by; that it is a cause of weakness and not of strength to Protestantism, and a stumbling-block in the path of evangelization. This, Sir, being my severe conviction, I own my regret that the arguments which have been brought forward in its favour, and some of those for its disestablishment, instead of being based upon considerations of right, justice, or expediency, have been mainly composed of criminations and recriminations bandied about from side to side of the House. Perhaps, Sir, so far as the arguments of our opponents were concerned this was inevitable; for it is indeed difficult to understand how anyone, except under the influence of an intellect obfuscated by the mists of party spirit, can stand up in this House, at this time of day, and assert that the Irish Church as a State-endowed Establishment ought any longer to be maintained. Sir, I cannot boast of that ignorance of Ireland so candidly confessed by the noble Lord the First Commissioner of Works (Lord John Manners). I have travelled and visited to some extent on more than one occasion in Ireland. More than twenty years ago, judging from the evidence of my own senses, I came to the conclusion that it was an incubus upon the Irish people. Am I then, Sir, to be blamed if, when the greatest statesman of his day boldly and honestly comes forward to do that which ought to have been done long ago—am I to be deterred by taunts and recriminations from giving him my hearty support? You ask why, if this question is so important, the party to which I belong has not dealt with it long ago? But you know full well that vested interests, and ignorance and prejudice, and a love of showing the power of your domination, have been too strong for the boldest statesmen to grapple with. You know that by these agencies the question has been hopelessly shelved for more than thirty years. Now, at length, the time has happily come when it can be dealt with upon its merits, and according to its merits it shall be dealt with by me. Sir, I maintain that the maintenance of an Established Church consisting of a small minority of the people of Ireland, against the wishes and in spite of the feelings of the majority, is entirely indefensible in principle and pernicious in practice. I might content myself with quoting the words of the noble Lord the Member for Cambridgeshire to-night, who said that, "To an unbiassed mind the Irish Church would appear to be a grave and gross anomaly." But, Sir, I prefer to quote a witness of still greater weight. What said Sir Robert Peel as long ago as 1813? On Mr. Grattan's moving the second reading of a Bill for removing the civil and military disqualifications under which his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects laboured, Mr. Peel said this— When Parliament had declared that there was no reason why one religion should have any preference over the other, was it to be supposed that the Catholics of Ireland would consent willingly to maintain the clergy of a religion not professed by more than one-fifth of the inhabitants of that country? How could they—when it was admitted that there were 4,000,000 of Catholics and only 800,000 Protestants—hope to maintain the Protestant ascendancy?"—[1 Hansard, xxvi. 168.] No doubt Sir Robert Peel was all for maintaining the Protestant ascendancy; but it is clear that he felt that the Established Church could only be maintained as part of that ascendancy, and that it would become entirely indefensible as soon as we should admit our Catholic brethren to a like citizenship with ourselves. But the evidence of Sir Robert Peel does not stop here. Again, in 1817, Mr. Grattan made a Motion on the subject of the Roman Catholic claims. Again Sir Robert Peel (then Mr. Peel) made a long and eloquent speech; and now hear his view of the justice of the Irish Establishment. The extract is somewhat long; but it is so pertinent that the House will permit me to read it. Mr. Peel said— You propose to open to the Catholics Parliament, and to invest them with political power; to make them capable of acting in the highest offices of the State, and of bring the responsible advisers of the Crown,"—[1 Hansard, xxxvi. 418.] And after speaking of their progress in wealth and education, he proceeds— Do you then mean bonâ fide to give them in Ireland the practical advantages of the eligibility you propose to confer upon them? Yes, Sir, he speaks of what follows as the "practical advantages" of emancipation, and immediately goes on to treat, as one of the greatest of those advantages, emancipation from the grievance of the Protestant Established Church. He continues— If you do, can you believe that they (the Catholics) will or can remain contented with the limits you assign to them? Do you think that when they constitute, as they must do—not this year or the next, but in the natural and therefore certain order of things—by far the most powerful body in Ireland—the body most controlling and directing the government of it, do you think, I say, that they will view with satisfaction the state of your Church or their own? Do you think that, if they are constituted like other men, if they have organs, senses, affections, passions like yourselves—if they are, as no doubt they are, sincere and zealous professors of that religious faith to which they belong; if they believe your 'intrusive Church' to have usurped the temporalities which it possesses, do you think that they will not aspire to the re-establishment of their own Church in all its ancient splendour? Is it not natural that they should? If I argue even from my own feelings, if I place myself in their situation, I answer that it is natural. Happily, Sir, there is no question now of of the re-establishment of the Roman Catholic Church, but in all other respects this opinion of Mr. Peel must be admitted to be sound and true. Well, Sir, again in 1823 in a debate on the Irish Insurrection Act, I find Sir Robert Peel saying— If the Protestant religion was to be maintained in Ireland as the religion of the State, then Catholic emancipation would not be the basis of tranquillity."—[2 Hansard, ix. 236.] And why, Sir? Obviously because he knew that the Irish are men constituted like other men, that they have organs, senses, affections, and passions like ourselves, and being so constituted, it would be impossible for them to submit without murmur to so monstrous an anomaly as the State-endowed and Established Church of a minority consisting of an eighth part of the nation. Sir, I think I have proved that this Church of Ireland is not founded upon justice. I think I have made out that it is a violation of the great rule of Christian charity. Let me further show that it is not founded on expediency. Again I will call Sir Robert Peel as my witness. Catholic emancipation having been carried in 1829, what said Sir Robert Peel of the Irish Church in 1833? See the testimony he bore to its success! On May 6th in that year, in opposing the second reading of the Church Temporalities Act, he said, "He wanted to see the spreading of the Reformation in Ireland, which he feared as yet had scarcely commenced." Yes, Sir! "scarcely commenced" after—nay, was it not in consequence of—the three centuries of existence of this unwarrantable State Church making Protestantism hateful in the eyes of the people? And since 1833 this Church has made no progress whatever. There is no case for it—no want of it. How many of its churches are mere chapels for some great lord or squire and his servants, who might well be accommodated in the hall or dining rooms of the great man's house? How many of the members of this Church are among the residents of a few great towns? How many of the whole number of our Protestants of Ireland are members of other denominations to whom an Episcopal church is as odious as a Protestant church is to the Catholics? A Church bolstered up with mere money and odious to the great bulk of the population cannot, by the very conditions of its nature, be a missionary Church. I believe, Sir, that far more progress has been made in the evangelization of Ireland by a few clergy lately sent over from this country by voluntary associations, than has ever been effected by the Established Church since the Reformation. So much for the argument that it is a missionary Church. Then, Sir, we are told that this is but a sentimental grievance. Now I look upon this as a cruel and heartless argument. Is a grievance less real because it is sentimental? A gross and malicious libel, social persecution and ostracism are sentimental grievances—but they are as intolerable and may be more unfeeling and unchristian than a blow or any other similar wrong. Some excellent people think that there is something like a treaty in force which we should violate by disestablishing the Irish Church. Sir, there is no treaty but an Act of Parliament passed at a time when the Catholics of England and Ireland were excluded from the Legislature, and there can be no Act of Parliament—as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Karslake) candidly and properly admits—which is not open to repeal. The same is also admitted of the Coronation Oath by him, and by every statesman or lawyer who has ever deeply considered the subject. My hon. Colleague (Mr. Walrond) told us the other night that he would rather adopt the "Pantheistic" system, as it has been called, of the Government than the "atheistic" system proposed by these Resolutions. These are fine words, Sir, but I cannot for the life of me see how it is "atheistic" to resolve that the Church of a minority of the nation is to be no longer endowed or favoured by the State. My hon. Colleague has certainly shown that he knows the difference between "Pan" and "A" and that he understands the force of the alpha privativa which we used to study in our Greek grammar; but his argument seems to me to come to nothing. You do not make a thing "atheistic" by calling it by that name, So far as the "Pantheistic" system has been described in this debate, it appears to me to be one which will meet with no support. In my judgment that which my hon. Colleague calls an "atheistic" measure will give Protestantism a better chance in Ireland than it has ever yet enjoyed. Such are some of the objections made to the passing of this Resolution. There are others in the nature of mere excuses and dilatory pleas. One hon. and gallant Gentleman to-night said that we only proceed with this measure because it is a "popular cry." Sir, it is a popular cry. But why? Because it is one founded on truth and justice, and therefore I heartily hope it may prevail. What matters it to me whether the cry be popular or unpopular? I am here to do my duty, and if a Resolution is founded on high and noble principles, am I to refrain from voting for them by considerations like these? Am I not rather to rejoice that at length I have so good an opportunity of doing that which I believe to be just and good. One more word, Sir. As an attached member of the Church of England I must protest against one main argument of Gentlemen opposite. I rejoice to say they do not all use it, but almost without exception those of them who sit on the Treasury Bench—those Gentlemen who set themselves up as the champions of the Church of England—use this argument. They say, "Do not disestablish the Irish Church, for if you do, down goes the English Church also." Now, Sir, I assert that those who use this argu- ment are the worst traitors to that Establishment which they profess to defend. In order to gain a party object they do not scruple to furnish future arguments for the Liberation Society—a society to which I do not belong, and with which I do not agree. Sir, I repudiate this argument. I think it is reckless and unsound. I believe that the Church of England and the Church of Ireland—or the Church of England in Ireland, if you please to call it so—it is a mere name—stand on totally different foundations. The one is what I have described — the sooner it is abolished the better; the other, with all its faults—and I do not deny that it has faults—is strong in the affections of her people—supported by a majority of the nation—a great and beneficent institution which — when the Church in Ireland is disestablished—will, I hope and believe, flourish among us for many and many a year.


said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just addressed the House had described himself as a friend of the Established Church and a friend of the Protestant religion. All he could say was "Save me from having friends." The hon. and learned Gentleman told them that the Irish Church was a violation of the principles of Christianity, that it was absurd, that it was wretched, and he likewise informed them that what he meant by disestablishment was destruction. At one dash the hon. and learned Gentleman took off 200,000 of the Protestant inhabitants of Ireland and then talked of the remainder. He had treated the House to a disquisition on Greek grammar and the repeal of the Union. He could not argue about Greek grammar, and the repeal of the Union was not before the House. He had in vain waited to hear a case made out for the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman. On the previous evening he had expected to hear a good argument for the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland from the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue); but having listened to that hon. Gentleman, with the attention and pleasure which his speeches always gave rise to, he had heard nothing from him but what he must call a wild cry for justice. One might have supposed that the hon. Member came from some land of slaves and not from a country which possessed the same laws as those enjoyed by England. They were told that the disestablishment of the Irish Church would be a step to conciliation, but the House had a right to ask how many of those steps to conciliation would they be required to take. He was one of those who regarded it as a great misfortune that questions like this should be brought forward in the manner it had been without due inquiry, not upon its merits, but to suit the exigencies of party strife, and for the purpose of uniting the disintegrated fragments of the Liberal party. He regarded as an unhallowed act the attempt which was being made to sever from religious purposes that which had so long been devoted to religion. It had been said that the Irish Church could not be defended on its merits. He was of a different opinion, and was quite prepared to prove she had fulfilled her mission, and could be defended on her merits. To the assertion that the Irish Church was imperfect he would reply there was no earthly institution without blot or stain. The Irish Church was the National Church. It was an integral part of the United Church of England and Ireland. If they destroyed it, were they prepared to set up in its stead a Church acknowledging a foreign potentate as its head? If the Irish Church is once destroyed attacks will be speedily made on the Church in Wales and England, and preparations are now being made for this purpose. As regards the manner the Irish clergy fulfil their duties, their enemies allow that they are zealous and hardworking, beloved by their own flocks, and respected by those of a different faith. The two Churches could exist in harmony were it not for ecclesiastical as well as political fire-brands, who will not allow their fellow-subjects to live in peace and quietness, worshipping God according to the dictates of their conscience. The property of the Irish Church is two-fold, tithe and glebe lands, and her rights to those are founded on 300 years uninterrupted possession, allowed valid by Roman Catholics themselves, and confirmed by the Act of Union, the Act of Emancipation, and by declarations and oaths of the most sacred character. The tithes amount to about £400,000 a year, of which £356,000 was paid by the Protestants, and £45,000 by Roman Catholic landowners; to the latter the payment of this sum can be no grievance, for it is a rent charge to which the land has always been subject, besides, they receive full compensation by the grant to Maynooth. As regards glebe lands three-fourths are situated in Armagh, and were granted to the Irish Church in the 17th century. The peasantry of Ireland did not feel that the Irish Church was any grievance, and if that Church were disendowed to-morrow not one of them would be a whit the better for the change; on the contrary, they would lose many kind friends and considerate neighbours. If there was no necessity for further inquiry with regard to the Irish Church, why had Earl Russell applied for a Commission to inquire into the subject? The proposal to disestablish the Irish Church was brought forward not for the purpose of benefiting that country, but to meet the exigencies of a disunited party. The friends of that Church were willing and even anxious to remedy all its abuses and to adapt it to the spirit of the age, whereas hon. Members on the opposite side of the House desire, not its reform, but its absolute destruction. The right hon. Member for South Lancashire professed to deal with the question in a moderate manner, and no doubt he was quite sincere; but when he advocated that moderation, there was an ominous silence on the Benches below the Gangway. The fear is that he who has been impelled to forsake the cherished convictions of his youth, as well as the opinions of his maturer years, may be propelled to make further sacrifices on Radical altars. The Resolutions before the House would unsettle everything and would settle nothing; and if they were carried the result would be that sees would be left without Bishops, flocks without pastors, the Church would be pulled down without anything being raised in its stead, while there would be a general scramble for its revenues. Was it for such a purpose as this that men like Primates Boulter and Robinson, and many others, left large sums to the Protestant Establishment? Was it for this that in the last ten years private individuals had paid £101,000 for building churches, besides spending large sums on the cathedrals of Armagh, Kilkenny, Tuam, Cork, and Dublin? The Roman Catholics disclaimed an intention to touch any portion of those revenues; but there was great discrepancy between the promises, the pledges, and the oaths made by those who led the Roman Catholic party forty years ago and the proceedings of the present day. Sir Robert Peel—whose authority the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire would acknowledge—speaking on the subject of the Irish Church, said— An attack on the Established Church in Ireland is a necessary preliminary to an attack on the Established Church in England. If you wish to deal with the endowments of the Irish Church you must enter into a wider field and deal with all the endowments given by the State. The Duke of Wellington said— I entreat you to listen to none of these petitions or speeches which tend to the injury or the destruction of the Church in Ireland. Do what may be necessary; do what it may be proper to do in order to render that Church more beneficial to the people of that country; but I entreat you to adhere strictly, in spirit, and according to the letter to the compact you have made, and not permit it to be supposed in any quarter whatever that you entertain the most distant intention of departing, in the slightest degree, from that arrangement."—[3 Hansard, lxxiii. 1171.] With such authorities as those to which he had referred to support him, he could not be wrong in asking the House to pause before entering into a reckless career, which must involve the well-being and the stability of this country. In conclusion, he could only add he should feel it his duty on all occasions to vote against the Resolutions, believing them to be inopportune as to time, unjust in their proposals, and certain to prove a brand of discord, instead of a message of peace, to our sister isle. If unhappily they should be passed he believed they would sow the seeds of enmity and ill-will, the bitter fruits of which would be reaped in sorrow by generations yet unborn.


The speeches to which we have listened this evening have, perhaps, touched more nearly the points before the Committee and the Resolutions of my right hon. Friend than those more amusing and exciting speeches which were addressed to us towards the close of last night's debate. Still, the criticisms passed to-night upon the Resolutions did not appear to me to be more relevant to the real question at issue than were the personal discussions of last night. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Adderley) inveighed at great length against the vagueness and indefiniteness of the Resolutions. Is that the ground on which the Members from Ireland oppose the Resolutions? If you tell me that if we will only make the Resolutions definite—if we will only inform the House in what manner and degree we propose to disestablish and disendow the Irish Church, you will be prepared to argue the question as one of detail, the difference between us will not long prevail. If we are agreed that it is not expedient or just that the Establishment of the Protestant episcopal religion should remain the religion of the State, if we are agreed that some great disendowment of the revenues of the Church should take place, the difference between us is small indeed. But while we are taunted with the indefiniteness of our Resolutions, while we are told that they have been framed merely to meet differences of opinion, let me ask, is there no difference of opinion on the other side? Did the speech of the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland (the Earl of Mayo) contain a programme of policy for Ireland? The noble Lord the First Commissioner (Lord John Manners) said the question now was the policy of the Government as opposed to the policy of my right hon. Friend. The Member for West Sussex (Colonel Barttelot) entirely threw over the proposals made in the speech of the noble Lord. He admitted that the issue before the House was clear; that it was disestablishment and disendowment as opposed to the existing state of things. We have a right to ask whether the speech of the noble Lord the First Commissioner or the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland contained the programme of the Ministerial policy, or whether the Government entertain the opinions of those who sit behind them, and who oppose the Resolutions on the ground that things should be maintained as they are? Passing from the speeches of to-night, I would refer very shortly to the speech made last night by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Huntingdon (General Peel). Although I must admit that the personalities into which we went last night were somewhat irrelevant, yet the blame of beginning the discussion must be attributed to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. From the security of that castle in which he dwells—in which it appears there are so few glass windows that no light has been permitted to enter it, or, if any, only "the light of other days" he contrived to throw stones with considerable force and vigour, and I must admit that the amusement was continued with equal force and vigour by the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman). But it is not for the purpose of continuing the personal part of the question that I refer to the speech of my right hon. and gallant Friend. I want to refer to it, because I think he put in the shortest, simplest, and most direct way his argument on this question and the essence of the arguments used by other Members, He said that— The disestablishment of the Church is the severance of all connection between the Church and the State—it is a refusal on the part of the State to recognize the Protestant Church in Ireland. And he went on— 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."—[3 Hansard, cxci. 1389.] That was the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. That, also, was the argument of the noble Lord the Member for Leicestershire and of most hon. Gentlemen who have spoken on the other side of the House. Now, what I want to learn is this. That argument, if sound, appears to lead in the most direct and irresistible manner to a conclusion in favour of the repeal of the Union. You, who use that argument put the strongest argument you can put in the mouths of the Fenians and those who would repeal the Union between the two countries. You do not say that the Established Church of Ireland is good for that country. You say it is good for England and Scotland, and therefore you would not meddle with it, because if you weaken it in Ireland you weaken it in England and Scotland also. If that be so, it would still be so if the Church of Ireland were ten times the grievance it is. To those who advocate repeal—to every Irish patriot who thinks it his first duty to secure the peace and happiness of his fellow-subjects the argument is irresistible—the Established Church in Ireland is a grievance which cannot be removed because Ireland is united to England, and the consequence irresistibly follows that the Union between England and Ireland ought, if possible to be dissolved. But I think the argument is not sound. In my opinion, the connection between the Established Church in England and the Established Church in Ireland is verbal and statutory, not vital. Why should the fall of the Church in Ireland be followed by the fall of the Church in England? Not as a necessary consequence. It can only fall if you betray a consciousness, a doubt, which I think not well founded, of a weakness in your own case. If you refuse to consider the case of the Irish Church, it is because you are afraid of having the same questions put as to the English Church. What strength can the English Establishment desire from the Irish Church? Precisely the same assistance that a healthy tree derives from a rotten branch. The Church of Ireland is said by hon. Gentlemen opposite to be perfectly defensible; but they have not entered into detailed arguments to prove that position. I think it cannot be maintained that the Establishment in Ireland fulfils any of those good purposes for which it was created, and it is liable to all the attacks which can be made on any Establishment. It cannot be said that it does much for the spread of religious truth, or to educate the people, or in providing religious services for the poor. On the other hand, it presents the spectacle of a numerous clergy and empty churches, of a State not only taking on itself to decide what is religious truth, but so deciding in direct opposition to the views and opinions of the great majority of its subjects; it is not only unsympathetic with the body of the people, but it is, in consequence of historical associations, the visible sign and badge of social inferiority. In this state of things the defenders of the Church have exercised a wise discretion in founding their defence chiefly on the difficulties and obstacles that exist in the way of its removal. That such difficulties and obstacles exist I am not prepared to deny—if they did not it would not have existed so long. Such a denial would tend to the condemnation not only of Parliament but of the party of which I am a very humble member. It is, indeed, our main if not our only excuse. The difficulties which stand in the way of removing this institution are our main if not our only excuse for past years of inaction; but believing, as we do now, that public attention has been thoroughly aroused on this subject, believing that the moment is favourable for its settlement, and believing also that the necessity for a settlement of this question is greater and more urgent than it has been at any previous time—["Oh, oh!"]—I am stating this not as a fact but as a belief—believing, then, in these things, I hope the House will allow me to state why I think some of these difficulties are not so great nor of such importance as is generally attributed to them, and why they ought not to weigh with us to the extent of preventing us from attempting to deal with this question. I did intend to have said something about the difficulty which has been urged in reference to the Act of Union; but I do not think it will be necessary for me to do that, because, as far as I can see, that is a difficulty which has been given up entirely. If technical difficulties do exist, they will be mainly questions for the decision of the lawyers; but I do not believe that even technically any serious difficulties exist. If they do, however, I think we ought to look at the spirit and not at the letter of the Act of Union. I believe that the intention of those who framed the Act of Union between England and Ireland—the intention, also of those statesmen who succeeded them, and the still more earnest intention at the present moment, is that the people of these three kingdoms should indeed and in truth form one kingdom. If it can be shown, as we think it can, that the framers of the Act of Union were not all-wise or far-seeing, and that some provisions in the Act militate against the accomplishment of its main purpose, then it is our duty to attempt to carry out the spirit even if we break the letter of the law. There is another great difficulty which has been urged. It is an argument as to the rights of property, and, as I understand it, two assertions are made by our opponents. It is asserted, in the first place, that we are depriving the members of the Established Church in Ireland of a vested right, by depriving them of the services which they have enjoyed for a great many years of the ministers of their own communion; and, in the second place, it is argued that we are weakening the security of all property by appropriating the estates which belong to the Church. Now, as to the first assertion, I cannot deny that there is a great deal of truth in it. I think it is one which ought to be fairly acknowledged and fairly met. I cannot deny that there is something like that which we are in the habit of calling a vested right; but I think also that there is a very great distinction, which we ought not to overlook, between a right such as this and other rights which we more generally refer to when we speak of vested rights. There is a very great distinction between a vested right such as this, which is a right to something the State has provided for you, and that which you yourselves or your ancestors have provided for you. If a practice and law had been in force in Ireland for 300 years, that the State should build and repair the houses of all the Protestants in that country, I suppose houses would have been bought and property transferred subject to that state of things, and I imagine those who enjoyed that right would have a vested right in its continuance; but I cannot think that in so extreme a case this House would regard it as a right which ought any longer to be maintained, and I doubt very much whether the fact of the owners having had their houses built and repaired for them by the Government during 300 years would be considered to form any ground for their claiming compensation. But it would be a very different thing, and would, in fact, be what we usually mean when we talk of vested rights, if the State were to propose to take away the houses, or in any manner to interfere with private individuals who during that period had themselves built and repaired them. Now, although I admit that there is a vested right of a certain kind involved in this Church question, I think I have shown it is a different kind of right from that which we ordinarily mean when we talk of vested rights, and although this is a consideration which ought not to be overlooked, still in my opinion the question is one of expediency; and it is perfectly competent for the House to consider whether they will allow their respect for a vested right such as this to overweigh and overbalance the great important considerations which lie on the other side. As to the other branch of the argument, that we should weaken the security of property by dealing with the Established Church, I may remark that this is a subject which should be argued and has been argued on both sides of the House by lawyers. On our side of the House there was a very able and convincing argument brought forward on this subject by the hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Coleridge), and I think that as far as the legal part of the question was concerned, that argument almost exhausted the subject. But even if the arguments were less cogent than I conceive them to be, I could not bring myself to look upon even the rights of property as being so sacred that they should be allowed to interfere with the prosperity of the Empire. In my opinion, the true security for property lies in the conviction of the public mind that it is for the interest of the State, and for the good of all classes of the people that that security should in ordinary cases be maintained. If any agitation should ever arise against the rights of property, it would not be any sacredness of these rights which would protect us; but I believe its real security would be in the general and almost universal conviction that the security of the poor man, with the little he has earned, is exactly the same as the security of the rich man; and, that it is for the interests of all, these rights should be maintained. In my opinion, the security of property is increased, and not diminished, when it can be shown that the revenues of property are usefully expended, that the holders of property do their duty, and that there is a social advantage in the presence of those holders in the country. But in the case of the Irish Church I think none of these conditions will be found. Its revenues are not, in my opinion, usefully expended; for they are expended in maintaining the supremacy of a religion which is not the religion of the people, but is hostile to it. I do not think the presence of those who enjoy the revenues of the Church can be considered as a social advantage to the country, because they bring most vividly and forcibly a sense of injustice to the minds of all their neighbours. Now, if this state of things were entirely altered; if the lands of the Church and the tithe rent-charges were sold; if those who lived on the lands should become, instead of a body of clergy, a body of men belonging to the people and having the same interests and objects that they had; and if the revenues produced by such sale were devoted to any useful purpose, such as the education of the people, then, I think, the security of properly in Ireland would be increased and not diminished. In my opinion the owners of property in Ireland have a just cause of complaint against the State. The State has given to them what they did not want—namely, a State Church, which is usually a Church for the landowners as distinct from the great body of the people; but it had not provided for them security either for their lives or for the tranquil possession of their property. The State has arrayed against the landowner a hostile, or, at least, an unfriendly body — almost the whole of his fellow-subjects who are not owners of land. Why, I ask, have the lives of landowners and their agents often been endangered in some parts of Ireland? Why have rents been low and badly paid? Why is it difficult to find industrious and improving tenants? I say because the great mass of the people are hostile in spirit to the owners of property, and because the State, with all its power and with all the severity of its enactments, has not been able to protect the landowners in consequence of that hostility. If this were to be the precursor of other measures for procuring peace and justice for Ireland, the landlords more than any other class in that country, would benefit by the change in the in- creased security of their lives and property. Whether it will prove a benefit will depend on the answer to the question whether it will be a measure of conciliation. Now, whatever may be the answer to that question, our votes on the Resolution should not be doubtful. I look on the adoption of the Resolution as a measure of justice; and if the worst anticipations of its opponents should be realized, and the Roman Catholics remain dissatisfied, and if, unfortunately, it should be necessary to continue to rule Ireland with a heavy hand, still we owe it to ourselves to leave no grievance unredressed. It is because I wish to see a firm administration of law as well as of conciliatory policy in Ireland that I most earnestly desire that we should place the justice of our whole system of government there beyond dispute. Whether the adoption of the Resolution will prove a measure of conciliation depends almost entirely on the manner in which this discussion is conducted in the House and country. If it is argued, as I hops it will be, on the grounds of justice and expediency, I can scarcely believe that it will not be a message of peace to the Roman Catholics of Ireland. I think some weight should be attached to the declarations of Irish Members in this House—and the speech delivered by the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue) last night proves, if additional proof were wanting—that it must be a measure of conciliation. When our Catholic fellow-subjects in that country see that we are at last earnestly setting to work to redress any real grievance under which they suffer, it is not in the nature of things that our efforts should not be followed by a conciliatory result. We are told that this measure will be irritating and insulting to the Protestants of Ireland. Is it, I ask, an insult to the rich minority to desire them to place themselves in the same position as the poor majority of their fellow-subjects? Is it an insult to the Protestants of Ireland to ask them to place themselves in the same position as the Free Kirk Presbyterians of Scotland? I think that there are already signs that this proposal will be received in a far different spirit from that in which it would have been received a few years ago. I think there is reason to hope that the progress of education, of free discussion, and of the principles of religious toleration throughout the country, will do very much to frustrate the efforts of those fanatics who wish to stir up the forgotten embers of religious bigotry and hatred. In my opinion it is no insult to the Protestants of Ireland to ask them at least to discuss this measure with us on the grounds of justice, policy, and expediency. I can admire the strong religions spirit that animates the Protestants of Ireland, and can make allowance for the position in which they are placed; but I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to discuss this question in a fair spirit. Let them fight this battle with the weapons of a civilized age. There are plenty of men among them full well able to wield the weapons of argument, eloquence, and sarcasm, and we ask them not to resort to the mouldy armoury of religious bigotry and make use of the hateful cry of "No Popery!" But if, on the contrary, we are to be told about combinations between High Church Rituals and Romanists; if we are to be frightened by predictions of dangers worse than foreign conquest; if we are to have insinuated and spread over the land libels of every kind respecting the religion, character, and objects of our Leader, then I admit that there may be ill-blood stirred up before this discussion is concluded; but I hope the House and the country will recollect—as no doubt history will record—that it is not we, but others, who have recourse to such unfair weapons.


said, that though the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire (the Marquess of Hartington) had congratulated the House that there was less of personality in the discussion this evening than on the previous night, and that the arguments had been more addressed to the subject-matter of debate, it was to be regretted that the noble Lord had not himself adhered to that course of proceeding. After indulging in some personalities, good-humouredly, no doubt, against the right hon. Member for Huntingdon (General Peel), the noble Lord, while urging the House to use the weapons of argument, and to cast aside bitterness, had imported into the latter part of his speech the most bitter personality ["No!"] When it was objected that the Resolutions were vague, the noble Lord asked their opponents to meet him in matters of detail. Now he (Mr. Mowbray) was under the impression that objections in detail had been very strongly urged in a previous discussion by the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, and by the right hon. Gentle- man the Secretary for India. The supporters of the Resolution had been been met both on the ground of principle and of detail. Those who were opposed to the Resolution maintained that the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Member, for South Lancashire was one of a momentous character, and that nothing in legislation for the last forty years could be compared to the importance of the issue therein involved. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Members cried "Oh!" but he asked had any great party struggle dining the last forty years involved such a momentous issue as the disestablishment of the Irish Church? He maintained that the questions relating to the removal of disabilities from Roman Catholics and Dissenters, to the repeal of the Corn Laws, or to the extension of the suffrage of the people, either in 1832 or 1867, were not at all comparable in importance to the subject now under discussion. This great question touched all the institutions of the country. It touched the Monarchy in its vital principles. The hon. and learned Member for Tiverton (Mr. Denman) sneered at the arguments regarding the Coronation Oath; but ever since there had been a Christian Monarchy in this country, there had existed a close and intimate relation between the Church of England and the State of England. The question was not merely what had prevailed for 300 years since the Reformation, but they must go back for centuries far beyond that. It was the Act of Union to which the Protestants of Ireland and the Legislature of England were parties, and the union of the Churches was a fundamental provision of that Union. The defenders of the Establishment did not for a moment deny the power or competence of Parliament to deal with the question now raised; but they contended that in doing so Parliament raised a very great and large question. Further the hon. and learned Gentleman said that the Coronation Oath only bound the Sovereign as it stood, but that they could alter it. Of course they could; but they were bound in so doing to defend the property of the Church. If they were to do away with the Established Church of Ireland because that Church was not in accordance with the views of the majority of the people of Ireland, how long would they continue the Act of Settlement? Well, they were touching the Crown, but they were touching another institution—the House of Lords. From the earliest period of its existence that august Assembly had consisted of Lords spiritual and Lords temporal, and yet they were about to oust suddenly from their seats in that House those prelates who had hitherto been sent thither from the Irish part of the kingdom. Was not that a constitutional question they were raising? It was, he believed, admitted on all hands that, to a certain extent, they would, by the proposed step, shake the position of the Church of England. Would the right hon. Gentleman deny that? It was denied by many advocates of the proposals; but what was the language they had heard from Mr. Miall? He had told them that if one Establishment went the others would go also—the Church of Ireland, the Church of Wales, the Church of Scotland. The noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire had said that the union of the English and Irish Churches was verbal and not vital; but he (Mr. Mowbray) contended that the principle of Establishment involved in the connection of the United Church was vital, and that the overthrow of that principle in the case of the Church of Ireland would be ultimately fatal to the vitality of the Church of England. This Resolution, moreover, raised great questions as to the rights of property. True, they proposed to respect the rights of existing incumbents, Bishops, and parochial clergymen; but they did not respect the rights of the generations yet unborn, for whose spiritual education the Irish Church property had been amassed. According to the arguments of the noble Lord, the land was to be taken away from the Church, in order that it might be devoted to some useful purpose. He (Mr. Mowbray) did not know whether the noble Lord would consider the spiritual instruction of the people of Ireland a useful purpose. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire was not prepared to go the length of some of his followers. Some of these supporters did not scruple to avow that their intention was to do away with all endowments. Then, again, something had been said by the noble Lord as to the Church being the only badge of conquest remaining in Ireland. But was that really the case? There might be other badges of conquest as well as the Church. There might be castles belonging to noble Dukes, which might remind the Irish people of conquest as much as the Church. [The Marquess of HARTINGTON: I did not mention the badge of conquest.] He appealed to the recollection of those around him; but if the noble Lord did not intend to use the expression, he would not insist as against him on any argument based on it. But again, was the Irish Church to hold the remnant of its property by its old title, or by a new one? If it was to be held by a new title—by a Parliamentary title derived from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire—how long would that title be respected? If the Parliament would not respect a title which had endured for 300 years at least, what respect was likely to be accorded to a title from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire? They were to have not only new endowments, but a new Church—a free Church in a free State—all the creation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire. But these arguments in detail might be answered by plenty of other arguments in detail respecting the Irish Church. That Church was to be made one with the Church of England — one not tied and fettered by the bonds of an Act of Parliament, but one in full spiritual union and communion with that Church. But what provision would the right hon. Gentleman make to insure identity of doctrine and discipline? Were the Church of England Bishops to be nominated by the Crown, and the Bishops of the Irish Church by a free synod of clergymen and the laity? And what was to become of the Royal supremacy? Was the Queen to be supreme over the Church in England and not supreme in the Protestant Churches in Ireland? Was the Privy Council to be the final Court of Appeal? And what security would the right hon. Gentleman give them that the clergy of the new Church would be equally learned, equally tolerant, and equally accomplished as they were at present? Would they have the same liberty of conscience as they now enjoyed in the Established Church? The colonial Church might be cited by the right hon. Gentleman; but was the present position of the Church in the colonies so entirely satisfactory as to be imitated? These were some of the points of detail which suggested themselves for discussion when the question should reach that stage. Again, what was to become of the surplus funds? Was the £40,000 to go to Maynooth? Was it to go to make up the Regium Donum of the Presbyterians? How much was to go to secular education? Some hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway would say a large portion; but was the right hon. Gentleman prepared to go to that extent? These details were important. When they came to settle the matter the questions would arise, what they were to do with the property, how they were to appropriate it, and so forth; and then their difficulties would arise— Concordes animæ nune, et dum nocte premuntur, Heu quantum inter se bellum, si lumina vitæ Attigerint, quantas acies stragemque ciebunt. When the right hon. Member for South Lancashire attained the result of his Motion, and had removed himself to the Ministerial side of the House, would he be prepared to bring in Bills which would be necessary to carry out his Resolutions? They would then, probably, hear the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway—Dissenters and Roman Catholics—protesting against the legislation which be proposed. In arguing that the proposed measure would conciliate Ireland, the right hon. Member disregarded the loyal band of men who had been our principal supporters in that country for years past, and depreciated the services of the Irish Church, which, by the piety and exemplary lives of its ministers, had rendered signal service—a fact attested by the present condition of the North of Ireland; and in the South of Ireland its missionaries had met with very great success. As to conciliation, that was difficult; for the views of the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire would offend the supporters of the Church in Ireland. He said the non-adoption of his views would be a strong argument in favour of the repeal of the Union—language held by the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Foster), it an address to his constituents at Easter; and from this remarkable coincidence of opinion it was to be inferred that the programme of the Liberal Leaders was this: in the Irish Church failed to resuscitate the Liberal party; if it was found divided when the work of destruction gave place to that of construction, then the repeal of the Union was to be the next rallying cry. He (Mr. Mowbray) would ask the noble Lord how many Bills would be required to carry the right hon. Gentleman's proposition into effect? They were to repeal the fundamental clause of the Act of Union. He would ask any lawyer whether the repeal of that clause would not be virtually a repeal of the Act itself? When the fundamental clause was gone, would it not be necessary to re-enact the Union? The right hon. Gentleman had no doubt a great eccle- siastical knowledge; but where was his alter ego, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer), whose learning, ability, devotion, and great knowledge of the law would be necessary in drawing the many Bills that would have to be passed by that House—where was that hon. and learned Gentleman on the two divisions of the 4th April? Where had he been during the whole of this debate? He had been conspicuous by his absence. Would the House not see him on the Benches opposite during this attack upon the Irish Church? But there was another right hon. and learned Gentleman whose official experience would be of great service to the party opposite; he referred to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey). He would ask whether he was prepared to give the benefit of his great official experience and legal knowledge in the preparation of these Bills, and to assist in carrying a measure, which in 1865, he said could not be carried without a revolution? The noble Lord asked whether things should remain as they were. His answer was that the Government had never said that they should; and they had, at the instance of Earl Russell, issued a Commission to inquire into the Irish Church generally. And when that Commission reported, then some legislation must take place. The Government did not deny the legal right to bring forward those Resolutions; but they denied that the present was the most fitting time for doing so. They appealed from this moribund House to the young and vigorous and more numerous constituency which the Act of last year had created. Hon. Gentlemen opposite felt confident that the verdict would be in their favour; and, if so, they ought to be as anxious to appeal to the country as the Government, although they now rejoiced in their majority of 60. There had been times before now when the Irish Church question had been used as a rallying point for the great Liberal party, and yet that party had been obliged to abandon the question. In 1835, in that House, the present Earl Russell brought forward Resolutions appropriating the Church property, ostensibly to remedy grievances, but really to oust Sir Robert Peel from Office; and he succeeded. But in 1836 the House of Lords had rejected the measure, and the country had supported the House of Lords, and the Liberal party quietly dropped the Appropriation clauses. The victim of 1835 had become the pupil of the noble Lord, his then conqueror, and something more than pupil; for so proficient had he become in the education the noble Lord imparted to him, that he had since February last advanced the education of the noble Lord many degrees, and had enabled him to write a second pamphlet condemnatory of his first. The Government had now to encounter a formidable combination; but, though it was formidable, they did not despair. It appealed from the majority of the House of Commons to the enlightened verdict of the people of England. It did not raise the banner of "No Popery;" but it appealed to the people to stand by the religion they held dear; and it looked forward to the time when, the question having been considered by the Commission, the constituencies would be prepared to sanction legislation more in consonance with our past traditions, and more in harmony with our Constitution than that now proposed.


said, he expected to hear some arguments in answer to the speech of the noble Marquess the Member for North Lancashire (the Marquess of Hartington); but the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Mowbray) had not offered a single argument that was worthy of the House, or of the great question before it. Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman resist the partial diversion of the property of the Irish Church by the suggestion that the castle of an individual member might be destroyed? Was there no way of meeting this question but by saying that it touched the Monarchy, the House of Lords, the appellate jurisdiction of the Privy Council, without showing in what manner? The Sovereign was asked to allow the House to discuss a matter essentially necessary before a Bill could be laid on the table of that House. That was the only point in which this Resolution touched the Crown. But what did the right hon. and learned Gentleman think of the Temporalities Act, which swept away several bishoprics? Did not that touch both the Monarchy and the House of Lords? Yet the Act had been for several years on the statute book. If the question was of importance to the Empire, it was of vital moment and interest to Ireland, more especially in the present critical condition of that country, when it was looking to the House of Commons for earnestness and sincerity in its attempts at remedial legislation. The noble Lord the Member for the county of Londondery (Lord Claud J. Hamilton) had said that no one stated that this measure would be a message of peace to Ireland. He (Mr. Sullivan) believed and stated that it would be a message of peace to Ireland. Was the present condition of that country one of peace, conciliation, and harmony? Where there not classes widely separated by distrust and aversion, caused by the existence of this Church Establishment? ["No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen from the North of Ireland might say "No;" but they well knew that Protestants and Catholics were separated by a wide line of demarcation. The Protestants of Ulster had assumed to themselves from the earliest times the character of exclusive loyalty which they had denied to the Catholics. They pretended that they were the loyal garrison in an enemy's country, supporting the Protestant Church which was the citadel. That was the way in which the question was put; but if you once told the Roman Catholic peasant and peer that they were on the same footing ecclesiastically and civilly as their Protestant fellow-countrymen, you would have removed the most jarring source of discord which ever disturbed the country, and which he really believed was at the bottom of all the dissensions from which Ireland had suffered. He had known several measures of concession to the Irish Catholics proposed, and they were invariably opposed by Northern Members, who were so fond of monopolizing the character of loyalty. The people of Ireland would be loyal if they were allowed to be loyal; they had shown within the last few weeks how great their feeling of confidence would be if once there were a prospect of passing the measures that were necessary for that country. The defence offered for the Irish Church was what lawyers called a dilatory plea. We were to wait for the Report of the Commission. He could understand that this Report might be of use on questions of detail; but how would it aid upon the question of disestablishment, which was advocated on the ground that the Irish Church was a political institution. The right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Adderley) confessed that he thought the attempt to extend the Reformation to Ireland was idle. The fact was that the Irish Church had been established from the first as a political institution, and as such it remained to this day. He denied that any argument had been adduced to show that the Irish Church was a religious institution. It was planted, had been maintained, and stood to this hour as a political institution; and honest and warm-hearted Protestants in the North of Ireland were taught to believe that the Church of the State was the Church of their faith. But there was also a strong Protestant feeling that justice ought to be done on this subject; that no sufficient fruits had followed from the Irish Church, and that it had better be severed from the State. Prescription has been spoken of in the course of this debate; but what, he would ask had prescription to say to the Irish Church? He was as sincere a Protestant as any man who defended the Church Establishment in Ireland; and he could sincerely say he did not believe that the Establishment had done service to the Protestant religion. That Establishment had led to a conflict between classes in Ireland, and he felt that it ought to be swept away. But, if prescription was pleaded in defence of the Irish Church, he would ask, had not the prescription been supported for 300 years by injustice and cruelty? ["No, no!"] It was well known that down to the close of the last century the Roman Catholic religion had been persecuted in Ireland, and the Roman Catholic priests had been proscribed. In the South of Ireland the country was an exception. In towns there lived the rectors of adjoining parishes, in consequence of their having no residences in those parishes; and there were seen constantly clergymen, with no congregations, by the side of Roman Catholic churches turning out their teeming hundreds. Was not this a state of things that ought to rouse the feelings of the people? Yet this was the normal state of things existing in the South of Ireland. But how stood the question of prescription? Mr. Burke said— In England it was the struggle of the great body of the people for the establishment of their liberties against the efforts of a small faction; in Ireland it was the establishment of the power of a small faction at the expense of the civil liberties and properties of the majority. It was said, however, that if they made this concession it would be followed by further demands. That was very likely; but if they showed the Irish people that they were willing to go a certain length in order to do them justice, would not the Irish people be disposed to meet them in a fairer spirit in regard to the questions which might come afterwards? The opinion of the new and reformed constituencies had been often referred to in these discussions; but the Irish people would have great confidence in those new constituencies whenever the appeal might be made to them, and they were asked whether they would not prefer the freely proffered loyalty of a great nation to the sullen, and it might be conditional, loyalty of the few. If the Irish people saw that parliament was really in earnest, and that it meant to remedy the injustice that had long been done them, they would respond with warm and lively gratitude to the kindly advances made towards them. He protested against the insulting assertions that had been made as to conspiracies between "Irish Romanists" and any other classes. He believed that the Irish Romanists, as they were called, were as loyal as any section of that House, and he emphatically repudiated the insinuations that had been thrown out against them. He pointed to the many distinguished Roman Catholics who had appealed to the House for the disestablishment of the Irish Church, who had not claimed it as a sulky demand, but had asked for it—and implored it, if they liked—as an act of justice. Let the House, therefore, not quibble about it or hesitate to concede it. It was said the Fenians did not demand the disestablishment of the Irish Church. Certainly the Fenians did not; for that was perhaps the very last measure which they wished to see adopted, because it would take from them one great cause of sympathy. The farmers of Ireland, said the Chief Secretary, had not yet joined the ranks of Fenianism; but would the noble Lord wait until they had done so before doing an act of justice? If the noble Lord and his Colleagues would cast aside the small faction which arrogated to itself a monopoly of loyalty in Ireland, they would earn the thanks and strengthen the loyalty of the Irish nation. In conclusion, he hoped the Committee would agree to the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire.


said, that the hon. and learned Member who has just spoken has made one or two assumptions such as, are said, not to be unusual in Irish oratory. He has informed the House that the Irish branch of the United Church does not represent religion. It cannot be denied that the essence of every Protestant establishment is religion. But what is the toleration of this advocate of concession, when he rises and declares that there is no religion in the Irish branch of the English Church? Again, what says this distinguished lawyer? Why he says that prescription gives no title to a corporation. I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman whether he stands to that phrase, that "prescription gives no title to corporate property?" Is this the doctrine we are to learn from the advocates of concession? I ask, whether the owners of corporate property, and those who enjoy the usufruct of corporate property accept this doctrine, that "prescription gives no title to corporate property?" [Mr. E. SULLIVAN: I never said that prescription gives no title to corporate property.] I took a note of what the hon. and learned Member stated, and I understood him to say, that "prescription gives no title to corporate property." If he chooses to retract that opinion well and good. I shall rejoice to find that he does not hold the doctrine; but his having said this shows the excess to which his oratory has carried him. I do not wish to pin the hon. Gentleman to the assertion which he now retracts. I will ask the House to consider in what respect the Irish Church is a corporation entitled to property. The Church is a corporation and holds property. Will any lawyer in the House deny this; why, in every Court it is known that if any question touching this property of the Church arise, the local officer of this corporation, whether he be Bishop, chancellor, surrogate, or a mere incumbent, appears to defend this property, or to answer for the use or abuse of it, not if he be an incumbent, as an ordinary freeholder, but as a freeholder for life under the corporation to which he belongs. I put it to the hon. and learned Gentleman who last addressed the House, whether in every court of the United Kingdom the Church is not held to be a corporation? The substance of these Resolutions has scarcely hitherto been appreciated in this debate. The 1st Resolution which is now before the Committee asks the Crown as the sworn trustee for this property—to abandon that trust. The next Resolution would prevent the creation of any new life interests in this Church property. The 3rd Resolution proposes that this House should, by its majority, present an Address to Her Majesty, praying that she will consent to violate her Coronation Oath. Now I put it to any hon. Member of this House whether there is any parallel to be found in history of any such proposal? I admit that the Irish Church Temporalities Bill was a case somewhat in point; but Parliament eventually decided on not requesting the abandonment but the modification of the trust under which the property of the Irish Church is held by the Crown, and it was on that ground that the Crown assented to the measure. The question now raised is another question as far as the Irish branch of the Church is concerned; you ask the Sovereign to resign the trust she has sworn to maintain, not for the purpose of modifying that trust, not for the purpose of altering the appropriation of the property in the sense of the trust, but that the property of the Church in Ireland, which the Crown holds on trust, shall be placed in our hands for the purpose of total alienation. That is the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire. Far be it from me to touch upon the sacred ground of what may be the conscientious feelings of Her Majesty. But the step you are asked to take is unprecedented—unprecedented in the annals of Parliament. Well, Sir, there have been many strange arguments used; and one of them was used to-night by the hon. and learned Member for Tiverton (Mr. Denman). He said that he was a lawyer, and that there was no Roman Catholic lawyer, that he knew, but was anxious for the alienation of the property that the Church of Ireland possesses. Let me remind the Committee of the opinion in respect to disestablishment of the Irish Church which was expressed by an eminent and Catholic Judge who died lately—a learned person, who once had a seat in this House, and whose attainments were well-known to hon. Members. The extract is from a pamphlet of the late Mr. Justice Slice entitled A Proposal for Religious Equality in Ireland. It was not the expression of opinion in a hasty speech, but a calm and deliberate conclusion. He wrote— If my opinion were less decided than it is on the meaning of the Catholic Oath, or I deemed the policy recommended by Mr. Miall more hopeful than I believe it to be, I should still think our adoption of it unwise. The Church by law established in Ireland is the Church of a community everywhere considerable in respect of property, worth, intelligence, and the power of avenging a disgrace on the religion of the Irish people. It is strong in the supposed identity of its interests with those of the Church of England. Nothing short of a convulsion, tearing up both Establishments by the roots, could accomplish its overthrow. Nor is it by any means clear that its overthrow would benefit our religion. With the exception of the zealots who disturb the dioceses of Dublin, Ferns, Cashel, and Tuam, the 'sapping and mining' of religious belief has not been thought a worthy occupation by the prelates or clergy of the Establishment. Who shall measure the effects which might be produced upon the half-informed, the irreligious, and the indigent, by the spirit of proselytism which has of late broken loose, if universally quickened in the breasts of unendowed perverters, without standard, articles, or creed, stimulated by the lust of uncertain but indefinite gain. Do not tell me. Sir, after that, that no Roman Catholic lawyer has ever and even recently supported the Church in Ireland—or that all Roman Catholic lawyers are actuated by the same intolerant spirit that has been displayed by the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just addressed the House. It seems to me that the Liberals represent the temper of modern Rome, the spirit of Ultramontanism. As an expression of the school of Cardinal Cullen, his speech is intelligible enough. But compare the speech we have just heard from the hon. and learned Gentleman with the extract I have just read to the Committee from the pamphlet of the late Mr. Justice Shee! We can judge from the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and from the temper of it, who are the instructors that are guiding or leading the Liberal party. I have observed, throughout this debate, that the arguments addressed to the Committee by the hon. Gentleman opposite have nearly all been borrowed from the letter addressed by Dr. Manning to Earl Grey. Almost every argument has been reproduced, among others the leading argument that the Church is an injury as well as an insult to the Irish people. That all these arguments are borrowed almost verbatim from the letter to Earl Grey of the prelate who, previous to his elevation, declared that the function of his Church was to subdue or to subjugate this country. That is the temper of modern Rome. That is the temper with which we have to deal. That is the temper in deference to which we find the Leaders of the Liberal party repudiating opinions that they held two or three years ago, or about to join in an attempt, which is illustrated by the declaration that the Protestant Church shall not exist in Ireland. There are some other topics on which I wish to address the Committee. Sir, I observed that the right hon. Member for North Lancashire (the Marquess of Hartington), and several other hon. Gentlemen opposite, in addressing the House, have said, "Let us not hear in this House expressions of bigotry, in the shape of a 'No Popery' cry." Will he let me ask, what more cogent bigotry could be evinced than that of the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just addressed the Committee? Has he not declared that the majority of the Irish people are such bigots that they cannot be satisfied as long as the sanction of the Crown is given to the existence of the Protestant Establishment in Ireland? I do not believe that of the Irish people. I have reasons for not believing it. Then it has been said, and repeated several times, that the Irish Church in former days was simply a badge of conquest; that it conferred no benefit upon Ireland; that it was maintained out of vindictive spirit of injustice to that country. Arthur Young was a man of no mean capacity — of world-wide fame, he was the correspondent of the Empress Catherine of Russia, and of Washington; his works were translated by order of the French Directory at the time of the Revolution. He made a tour in Ireland during the time when the Protestant Church is now said to have been maintained merely as an injurious badge of conquest. What was the result of his observations? He visited Armagh, and in his tour he specially remarked the energy of the clergy in public improvements, specially signalizing the see of Armagh. A school, a library, a palace, and four churches had been erected by the Bishop. Arthur Young adds— His Grace found Armagh a nest of mud cabins, and will leave it, a will-built city of slate and stone. When it is considered that all this has been done in the short space of seven or eight years, I should not be accused of exaggeration if I said that they were noble and spirited works, even if undertaken upon a man's personal estate; but how much more then are they worthy of praise when executed, not for his own posterity, but for the public good. Here, then, we find drawn by an impartial hand, the character of one of these clergymen who are said to have been sent to Ireland merely as the "type of conquest;" one of those men who, according to the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, represented no religion, and confer no benefits upon their neighbours. Was a more unjust statement ever made in debate? Then, at a later period, I might take the testimony of Major Woodward, who was employed in 1823, to report on the state of Ireland. What did he say of the effects of the Established Church upon the population of that Church, which we have been told over and over again is only to be looked upon as an injury and insult to the people? Major Woodward, after having traversed nearly the whole of the most neglected districts of Ireland, thus expressed himself— I must, as a public officer, whose duties called him into close contact with the clergy throughout the most remote, and (by all other of the higher classes) deserted parts of the kingdom, declare, in common justice, that were it not for the residence, and merit, and political influence of the parochial clergy, every trace of refinement and civilization would disappear. Now, I will ask anyone whether the records of the Roman Catholic Church testify to the civilizing properties of that Church? Cast your glance over the map of Europe, the Church of Rome is dominant in Spain, and tell me—has civilization advanced in Spain? Is Spain not one of the most retrograde countries in Europe? Pass on then to Poland—a country which is a conquered country, and in which—thus anticipating the views and policy of many Members of this House—the Emperor of Russia maintained the Roman Catholic Church in all its splendour. I ask, is there on the face of Europe a more degraded country—a country in which the mass of the people were less educated or less civilized? Remember the testimony of Lord Macaulay, your own historian, on this point— Go where you will," he said, "the result is the same. Go to the Protestant cantons of Switzerland and you will find them advanced in civilization and wealth, far before the Roman Catholic cantons. Look at Scotland with her barren soil, but her Protestant religion. But go to the South of Ireland, and you will find agriculture in its most primitive state. ["No!"] Hon. Gentlemen may cry "No;" but statistics which have been laid before the House prove it. [A right hon. MEMBER: It is not true.] I say that the figures prove that in the South of Ireland thousands of acres have been converted into pasture land, which were once cultivated. Well, Sir; but then it is said that the Church in Ireland ought to be disestablished, because the numbers of her communionists are comparatively small. Is this the reason, according to the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, why she must be considered to have no religion, and to be unworthy to exist. Sir, I conclude that the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who use this as an argument never attend Divine service in a church which has only a small congregation. If, Sir, the truth and value of religion is to be decided merely by numbers, Christianity is a mistake; for I am sorry to say that Christians are a minority in the world. If the truth of religion is to be decided by numbers, what would have been said of Christianity when it first appeared in the world? On the same supposition the Apostles must have been sent upon a fruitless mission. But now it seems that the Church in Ireland is to be condemned as a Church of no religion, because she does not act in the spirit of offensive proselytism—for avoiding which she was warmly defended by the late Mr. Justice Shee. Your arguments represent but one thing, a foregone conclusion, that for the convenience of party you would destroy an Establishment that has existed for 300 years. There can be no other interpretation than this; it is an interpretation that I am very unwilling to accept: it is that the Liberal party are so alarmed by Fenianism; the right hon. Member for Lancashire's nerves have sustained such a shock, that he can no longer recommend this country to suffer the existence of an Established Church in Ireland. Remember the first speech of the right hon. Gentleman. He referred to four or five periods, concluding with the year 1829. He said, "You have always yielded to terror. There is a dangerous conspiracy now in Ireland; and it is extending into England, yield again;" and the inference from this argument clearly is that as previous Parliaments have yielded to the fear of Irish conspiracies, this Parliament therefore has no alternative but to yield also. I ask hon. Members whether they accept that argument or not? If you accept it, where is such a course to end? If you thus give a premium to conspiracy, you must declare that the executions that have taken place are judicial murders; and you justify the feeling that has prompted these conspiracies. It is a grave matter that the argument of fear should be used successfully in the House of Commons. But I deny that this demand for the disestablishment of the Irish Church is made by the great masses of the Irish people; and I say distinctly that it is made by the Irish hierarchy headed by Dr. Cullen. Upon this matter I will read a declaration which has been read before, and which was made on the part of the Meath Tenant Right Society. I quote from a pamphlet on An Inquiry into the Causes of the Poverty and Discontent in Ireland, page 22— The following opinion of the Meath Tenant Right Society is worthy of attention. It was contained in an address to the inhabitants of that county, adopted at a meeting of the society held at Navan on the 26th November, 1865, the very Rev. John Nicolls, P.P., and V.G., in the chair; and the Revs. Thomas Lynch, V.F., and Michael Tommy, C.C., acting as secretaries:—'The one, the great, the sole question for Ireland, is the land question. Other agitations such as that against the Established Church are got up for party purposes; would infuse an element of bigotry into the already sufficiently disturbed relations between landlord and tenant; would effect the ruin of thousands of tenants, and precipitate that social catastrophe which we are anxious to avert.' Are these Roman Catholic priests less Roman Catholic than the Irish people? How come they to preside, as I have shown, at agricultural meetings? Who will tell me that their opinion is not as good an opinion as others that have been quoted? Cardinal Cullen demands the disestablishment of the Irish Church; it is in deference to his demands and to those of the Roman Catholic prelates, and to the persuasions of their colleague, Dr. Manning, that the House of Commons is to enter upon this novel course. I will give you proof of it. The right hon. Baronet who is at the head of the Military Department (Sir John Pakington) spoke in this House in 1865, and said— The House will permit me to read a letter which was adverted to by my right hon. and learned friend (Mr. Whiteside) in a former debate. An Association has been formed in Dublin, called the National Association, for particular objects, and with the concurrence, sanction, and support of Archbishop Cullen, of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. The letter in question was written by the Secretary of that Association, and addressed to an Irish journal:—'Sir,—The Irish Times of this day contains an announcement that the Established Church has been withdrawn from the programme of the National Association, and the questions to which it will confine its attention will be Tenant Right and Education. I beg to inform you that there is no foundation for the above statement; and the intentions of the Association in relation to the Irish Church Establishment have undergone no modification, and that the gentlemen with whom rests the direction of the policy of the Association are unanimous in their determination to have no compromise with the Establishment or its advocates, and to spare no effort for its overthrow.'"—[3 Hansard, clxxix. 1077.] That declaration shows that Cardinal Cullen condemns the opinion of the late Mr. Justice Shee, and is opposed to the opinion, expressed by the members of the Meath Agricultural Society. There cannot be a doubt that hon. Gentlemen opposite have accepted their policy with respect to Ireland from Cardinal Cullen and Dr. Manning, and this brings me to another matter. It is said that the existence of the Irish Church is an insult; and why? Because the Roman Catholic hierarchy object to it. Go back in the history of Ireland and you will find this. Whenever circumstances have occurred, that have tended to abate the division that exists between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants, that instant Rome has interfered to aggravate these differences that provoke dissension, in order to produce alienation from and hatred to England. Now, Mr. Whittle, a Roman Catholic barrister, has written a pamphlet to which I have adverted on previous occasions; he is a Roman Catholic of moderate opinions, and he is treated with the utmost contempt by those Ultramontane Roman Catholics. In this pamphlet he complains, exactly as the late Lord Beaumont and the Duke of Norfolk complained, that modern Rome spews moderation out of her mouth. This pamphlet was published only three years ago; it was written by an able barrister, and he says this—that Ultramontanism had but little existence in Ireland previous to 1849, when it was imported by Cardinal Cullen. And why was this course taken? For this reason, that the conduct of the clergy of the Established Church, and of the other Protestants in Ireland during the famine in Ireland in 1847 and 1848; that the conduct of the Protestant community of England towards the Irish when they were in difficulties and distress; and the conduct of the United Parliament was such; that there was a growing feeling of attraction towards England; and of friendship and gratitude to the English people. At that moment Rome sent this firebrand to Ireland to cause division, and I say upon the authority of an educated and intelligent Roman Catholic barrister, that from his advent there sprung up the feeling in Ireland that is embodied in the demand for the disestablishment of the Irish Church; a demand that he was at first to popularize and force upon his clergy. I might say much more upon this subject, but I know that the hour is growing late. Still I wish to enforce upon the House—unwilling as some of the Roman Catholic Members may be to hear it—the fact that they are now doubly servants of the hierarchy. [A laugh.] That hon. Member who is now laughing (Mr. Synan) knows, that at no former period were the Roman Catholic Members of this House so servile in their obedience to the hierarchy of Ireland; and I assert it upon the authority of one whom I knew for years as a Member, a Roman Catholic Member, of this House (Mr. Vincent Scully). Mark this, if a man is disobedient to Cardinal Cullen; if he does not accept that which has been described as the episcopal policy; if he does not become a candidate for Parliament under the auspices of the hierarch he is treated with contempt and contumely, whenever his name is mentioned in this House. Many hon. Members of this House will remember Mr. Vincent Scully—[An hon. MEMBER: We shall never forget him.]—and I ask whether they can remember anyone more anxious to promote the welfare of his country. There is a letter that he has published which shows that he was defeated in his attempt to be returned again to this House, because he was not favoured by the Roman Catholic hierarchy, because he had not accepted as fully what is called the Episcopal policy. The letter is dated the 28th February, 1866, and it contains the following extract:— Possibly, also, they considered that the result of this 'episcopal policy' is that the Irish people (i.e. the occupiers of land in Ireland) are now unrepresented in Parliament; for it is quite apparent that the majority of the Irish county Members are nominated by Tory landlords who personify the British element, and the other county Members are virtually elected by Catholic Bishops who embody the Roman element; while the Irish element is thus practically extinguished and disfranchised. This state of Irish politics may, perhaps, partly account for the Fenian organization with its attendant evils, as well as for other consequences not necessary to specify at present. Now, Sir, when I remember the position Mr. Vincent Scully held in this House, and having great respect for his character, I believe his to be a true description of the representation of Ireland. In another part of the same letter he states— One of the most strange results of this 'episcopal policy' has been that, within a few years, the Irish Members have gradually dwindled from forty-six, at which they stood up to 1857, down to thirty, being their present number. In quality they are even more reduced than in quantity, so far as regards public experience and practical knowledge of Irish matters. For trained Irish veterans are substituted raw Roman recruits and Parliamentary tyros, either Protestant or Catholic. Now, this being the state of the representation of Ireland, suddenly the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire comes forward and declares that he is acting upon the opinion of the Irish people, as duly expressed by their nominal representatives—though I have shown that they represent only the opinions of Cardinal Cullen and Dr. Manning—it is impossible to believe that they can ever rest satisfied unless—unless what? Why, not because any pecuniary gain is refused to their own Church; but it is asserted that there shall be no increased prospect of peace—that the spirit of anarchy shall not be allayed, unless this House suddenly vote an Address to Her Majesty, expressing a hope that she will be induced to violate her Coronation Oath, and relieve Ireland from the offence which Cardinal Cullen feels at the presence in that portion of her kingdom of an Established Church. Were it not so late in the night, I could produce further evidence in support of the assertions I have made. I could show, that in former periods, whenever there was a prospect of peace in Ireland, Rome sent agents to this country to break the peace. I could show that the apprehension of a growing union between the English and the Irish people on the part of the Papacy is the secret cause of the policy that is now followed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire. In all human probability, instead of thus promoting peace in Ireland you will only stimulate to further demands, you will aggravate religious differences; by making these unwise concessions now you will stimulate the hierarchy to make other and still greater demands, which will render it impossible longer to maintain the union between the two countries. Was the late Mr. O'Connell a representative of Irish feeling or not? O'Connell made the same demand that you make now; but then O'Connell was consistent, for he also demanded the absolute repeal of the Union. He held that it was impossible that the British Government should conduct the administration of Ireland on the terms that you propose; and holding that to be an impossibility, being a man of foresight and ability, what did he demand? He demanded the disestablishment of the Church, and at the same time the repeal of the Union. You call attention to what has taken place in Canada and Australia. But O'Connell was wise in feeling that, if Ireland were placed in the position of Canada or Australia, it would be impossible to maintain the Union. I can quite understand Cardinal Cullen's policy. The right hon. Gentleman proposes to disestablish the Church. Why does he at the same time support, why do Cardinal Cullen and Dr. Manning support, the Union? Because the disestablishment of the Protestant Church will strengthen enormously the Papal influence in Ireland; and for this reason—the Catholic Church is organized, is directed in Ireland by a Legate Cardinal from Rome. If you with- draw from the Protestant Church of Ireland the support of the State, what will be the position of the two Churches? Remember that the Roman Catholic Church is supported by a State — by the State of Rome—it has a hierarchy recruited from Rome, increasing in wealth and influence; you withdraw from the Protestant Church of Ireland that support and countenance of the State, which she has heretofore enjoyed. And yet you say that the Union must be maintained. Why? Why does the Cardinal Legate wish to maintain the Union? In order that, by the increased power which would thus be given to him through the Irish representation, he may be able to exercise an increased power over this House. His policy is distinct and clear. How can you expect, if the Protestant Church can with difficulty maintain the contest now, that when the support of the State is removed she will be more adequate to contend with her opponent. You say it is an offence to religion to support the Protestant Establishment on political grounds. I say that as long as the hierarchy of the Romish Church is directly supported by the Court of Rome in Ireland, it would be an act of folly and of cowardice to withdraw the support of the State of England from the United Church in that part of Her Majesty's dominions. Such an act would be most imprudent, it would be impolitic, and if it were adopted it will be difficult to maintain the Union. Hon. Gentlemen talk as if it were the settled opinion of the people of this country that this act of disestablishment would be most statesmanlike. That is not the character that this policy has borne among them for many years past. I know that attempts have been made to beguile Members of this House into favouring this policy; but I also know that the people of this country condemn this proposal as favouring the ambitious policy of Rome directed against England. I attended a meeting at Birmingham the other day where 5,000 people were unanimous in their opposition to this policy. I had the honour to present a petition to this House from Birmingham which was signed by 10,000 people; and I was assured that if only a week would have been allowed the 10 000 would have become 40,000 or 50,000. Let us not, the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire has said, resuscitate the old worn-out cry, "No Popery!" Depend upon it, if you pass this measure that cry will gather strength. At present you feel a little of its force, but wait till your policy begins to work. I have had some experience of the Protestant feeling of my countrymen, I have seen it relax and I have seen it renew its strength; I know that the Protestant feeling of the countrymen is now gathering in strength. I know that the only sound policy on the part of the English Bishops is to come forward and strengthen their brethren of the Irish Church in this their hour of danger; and though Lord Russell has counselled them to abandon the Church of Ireland, I rejoice to see that the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Bishops are about to come forward and identify their cause with that of their brethren in Ireland. In conclusion, I beg to affirm my conviction, that if you adopt the policy which is recommended to you by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, you will adopt a policy that is at variance with the freedom of religion and inconsistent with the tolerant doctrines of Christianity, which are embodied in the formularies and illustrated by the practice of the Church of England.


said, he had supported the former Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire with great reluctance; but he had done so because he considered that Protestantism in Ireland, so far as it was connected with the Church, had altogether failed. Those who conducted the Establishment were either incompetent or were traitors to the trust reposed in them. ["Oh!"] It was on that ground he supported the right hon. Gentleman. He had considered the matter with great anxiety, and he had come to the conclusion that protection in religion should be swept away and free trade established. The Resolutions had, however, been supported upon a wrong principle. It was said that they should make concession to a foul conspiracy. And this was said by a right hon. Gentleman—a neighbour of his in Wales. He did not believe that the Fenian conspirators would accept any such concession. He lived in Wales. It was said that the Dissenters in Ireland were numerous, and that in justice to them the Church should be swept away. But in Wales the Dissenters were two to one as compared with the Church, and if he endeavoured to get up an agitation to sweep away the Church of Wales, he would be regarded as a lunatic. It was shameful that attempts at legislation of this kind should stop the way of measures of pressing importance, and this under the pretence of arresting the progress of Fenianism. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire would present some reasons more intelligible than those he had yet given why this Motion should be proposed. He feared that oaths were useless against the power of the Papacy. He wished to see the whole matter left to the decision of the people of England, and all modes of artificial support of religion put out of the way.


said, he was surprised that the Prime Minister, who had assisted last year to pass a liberal measure of Reform, should call the Roman Catholics by a disageeable nickname. [Cries of "What name?"] He called them Romanists. He begged to call attention to the speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman several years ago, in which he adverted to the course that should be adopted by an English Minister towards Ireland; and he declared that that speech was contradicted by all they had heard that night from the right hon. Gentleman's side of the House. The Penal Laws were certainly a good reason for voting for the disendowment of the Established Church.


moved that the Chairman report Progress.

House resumed:

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.

House adjourned at One o'clock.