§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [18th March], "That the Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Disraeli.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ DR. BALL
Sir, there are in Ireland three great religious denominations—the Protestant Episcopalian, the Roman Catholic, and the Presbyterian. These three denominations are so pre-eminent, not only in comparison with others, but intrinsically in themselves, in numbers, in intellectual cultivation, and in social power and influence, as to have induced the Dean of Westminster—whose name it is impossible to mention without respect—to view them as three Churches co-extensive with three nations—English, Scotch, and Irish in origin—inhabiting the same country. The Protestant Episcopal Church alone of the three possesses separate property derived from public sources. The Presbyterian Church, I believe, derives an income from an annual grant from this House; the Roman Catholic Church has no income of any kind from property 1792 derived from public sources, or from any contribution by the Imperial Government, but it does receive pecuniary assistance towards the instruction and education of its clergy. Now, the Bill of the Government proposes to deal with all these various rights of the three Churches, and to withdraw them. I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, that the grant to the Presbyterian Church and to the Roman Catholic clergy at Maynooth are connected with the property or maintenance of the Established Church in Ireland. I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman when he says that they are maintained to protect that Church, and as buttresses of that Church. Such expressions may have either of two meanings. They may mean that this is the only rational ground on which a Statesman could support these grants, or they may mean that historically, as a matter of fact, this was the ground on which Statesmen have given and supported them. I take issue with the right hon. Gentleman in reference to both meanings; I controvert them both. I say that the grants to Maynooth and to the Presbyterian Church were made in furtherance of the great principle of endeavouring to elevate religious teaching by raising the education and the status of the clergy; and I say further that no reason such as that which has been assigned by the right hon. Gentleman was given by the Statesmen who originally proposed or since increased these grants. The Regium Donum owes its origin to King William III., who originally fixed it as a charge upon the Customs of Belfast. He was not animated in granting it, in the slightest degree, by the motive of raising up a protection for the Protestant Episcopalian Church in Ireland. King William had no special leaning to episcopacy, and he abandoned it with little reluctance in Scotland. He gave the grant, first, because in the contest between himself and James, the Presbyterians had adhered to him; and, secondly, because being a monarch of great enlightenment, educated on the Continent, and not much versed in our theological divisions, he had little preference for one system of Protestantism rather than another, and, therefore, he thought it was the duty of the nation to be on terms of alliance with all. This grant has been increased since the 1793 Union, and has been brought to its present amount by gradual accessions, the original sum being but a small one. The grant to the College of Maynooth was originally made about five years before the Union, and upon what grounds? The Roman Catholic clergy were then educated abroad. Pitt, Castlereagh, and the Government of that day feared to expose the Irish Roman Catholic clergy to the contamination of Republican principles by being educated on the Continent; and it was this, and not the protection of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ireland that was the cause of the grant. Since the Union, this grant has twice become the subject of Parliamentary action. In 1813, the grant was increased. The reasons for its continuance had been explained by Mr. Perceval in 1812: and what reason did he assign for so doing? Certainly, no such reason as the necessity for protecting the Established Church. He said that it was a legacy bequeathed with the Union; that we were bound to it by the Union, and that he felt it his duty, as the Irish Parliament had given the grant, to ask the English Parliament to continue it. I come now to 1845, the last time when this question was before the House. On that occasion the principles on which the Maynooth Grant ought to be maintained were developed, not only by that great Statesman Sir Robert Peel who brought forward the measure, but also by the right hon. Gentleman who is now at the head of the Government. Sir Robert Peel laid down precisely the same abstract principle that I have laid down as the only one that should animate us in maintaining this grant; that it was given in a large and generous spirit of confidence for the improvement of the education of the Roman Catholic clergy, and the elevation of their social position. The right hon. Gentleman the present Prime Minister took a prominent part on that occasion, and supported an increase of the previous annual allowance. He resigned Office rather than, as a Minister of the Crown, bring forward the Bill; in order that he might give the measure a more valuable support by acting in a free and unfettered manner than he could have done if he had remained in Office. I have read with great care the speech of the right hon. Gentleman 1794 on that occasion, and it appears to me to indicate a conviction in the right hon. Gentleman's mind, at that time, that the passing of that measure would be attended with another great result, and that you could never again, in the Parliament of England, bring forward a mere religious objection to the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. Sir, I take leave to add to the summary of the origin of the Regium Donum and Maynooth Grant a word upon the mode in which the Protestant Episcopal Church derives its property. The right of the Protestant Episcopal Church to the tithe and land in Ireland arises from, and is founded upon, an Act of Parliament. It is a vulgar error to suppose that an Act was passed in direct words, saying that the property of a certain religious body known as the Roman Catholic Church was to be handed over to another religious body known as the Protestant Episcopal Church. In effect, the Act may have done this, but that is not its frame; and the mode of proceeding was by providing that the holders of benefices should conform to the Liturgy of the Prayer Book of the Church of England. It is an Act further professing to oblige all lay persons to attend church every Sunday, when the service of the Church of England was performed. This is the Act of Parliament, and the obligation of conforming to the Liturgy has existed from that hour to the present. The result has been that the incumbents of benefices must necessarily be members of the Church of England, holding the same doctrines as that Church. A word also upon the property of the Established Church in Ireland. It is between £600,000 and £700,000 a year. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government seemed in his statement to imply that the Church Commissioners had underrated it when they estimated it at £616,000. Sir, the mode in which they arrived at that sum was by deducting from the tithe rent-charge the expenses of collection and the actual poor rate which in 1866 was deducted by the landlords of Ireland from the incumbents. In the same Report of the Commissioners you will find on the face of it, if you take the income without the deduction, as it comes from the soil and include lands in actual possession of the 1795 incumbents, their estimate amounts to about £703,000. Sir, the Bill now before the House deprives the Protestant Episcopal Church of its property, and the Presbyterian and Roman Catholic Churches of their grants. It affirms without qualification voluntaryism as the principle of your arrangements. Before considering the wisdom of this policy, I must express dissatisfaction with the way in which one part of the Bill has been introduced. I mean that relative to the preservation of life interests. I do not mean to assert that Her Majesty's Government, in so many words have said—"See how we have shown our generosity towards you in leaving you this;" but I wish to say that, in my opinion, there is a want of direct acknowledgment that in preserving those vested interests her Majesty's Government have done no more than a simple act of justice. I challenge any hon. Gentleman to adduce one sentence from any jurist or to supply a single statement from any historian or Statesman of authority relating to life interests such as those with which the Bill deals, and which does not speak of them as being as sacred and as inviolable as the fee-simple of any individual possessor. Sir James Mackintosh, a great jurist and a man of liberal and expanded mind, in discussing the propriety of the conduct of Henry VIII. with respect to the monasteries, and the way in which property of that description might be dealt with, said—"But it is an indispensable preliminary that life interests shall be protected and preserved sacred."—I mean, therefore, in the observations which I am about to make, to divest the question at issue of any considerations connected with the preservation of life interests as proposed by the Bill, for I cannot admit that the Government are entitled to claim the slightest acknowledgment from us on the score of generosity or liberality, because life interests are preserved. Sir, the principle involved in this Bill is the principle of voluntaryism; the State is to have no control over, and allow no endowment from public sources to any Church; each must be self-governed and self-maintained. And the question to be answered is not merely whether the question of the Irish Church demands legislation, but whether you will introduce voluntaryism as the guide of your ecclesiasti- 1796 cal arrangements? True, the Bill is confined to Ireland, but will its principle be confined to Ireland? The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government asks the House to review our ecclesiastical Establishments in Ireland because the social position and endowments of the Established Church are the subject of jealousy to the sensitive pride of a majority of the Irish population. But if for that reason the ecclesiastical Establishments in Ireland are to be reviewed, how is Parliament hereafter to avoid taking the same course with regard to the ecclesiastical Establishments in Scotland and in this country? What is our position in Scotland? We have there an endowed Kirk, and beside it a Free Church nearly equal to it in point of numbers; and in addition we have the Dissenting Church of the Episcopalians, and the other Churches of the Presbyterians. I am not aware that a greater degree of contentment exists in the case of those Dissenting Churches in Scotland with respect to the endowment of the Kirk than prevails among the Roman Catholic and. Dissenting bodies in Ireland in reference to the endowments of the Established Church. I will, in the next place, take the case of Wales. I have endeavoured to ascertain what are the statistics connected with the numbers of different religious denominations in that part of the kingdom, and I find that, beyond all question, Dissent there predominates. Lastly, I come to the endowed Church in England, which is, no doubt, the Church of the majority of the nation, but the minority of Nonconformists is very large in number and powerful in action—equally, it seems to me, if not even more hostile to the English Church than the Roman Catholics are to the Established Church in Ireland. A minority of this character, when it demands respect for conscientious scruples and religious equality, how are you to answer, if you concede these as your motives of action? If, therefore, for Ireland, in obedience to the demand of some 4,000,000 of people, we are to legislate, the sensitive feelings of Dissenters in Scotland and England may require that we should carry out the principle to its logical result, and that we should review our ecclesiastical arrangements in those countries also. Sir, it is the nature of a principle of action of universal application, when once adopted, 1797 to propagate itself and expand progressively. There is also a tendency in legislation to move in a path once entered upon. You will too, I think, find that there will be a disposition on the part of the people of Ireland, whom you are now despoiling of what they believe their rights, to endeavour to bring others into the same position in which they find themselves placed. I see indications of this already in Ulster. Do not then imagine that you can confine your views to Ireland. Everywhere this is a period of transition, and the future must depend upon the principles you now adopt, and in which your example will inevitably educate the public mind. Sir, at various times there have been various plans put forward in reference to the question at issue; but until the Resolutions of last year, never was the voluntary system suggested. In 1800 Mr. Pitt and Lord Castlereagh introduced into the Act of Union a declaration to the effect that the Protestant Episcopal Church of Ireland was to continue, and that it was to be one as regarded doctrine, discipline, and government with the Church of England. Mr. Pitt, however, proposed to accompany this Act with other measures. One was Roman Catholic emancipation, and the other was the endowment of the Catholic clergy and the elevation of their status. This policy of Mr. Pitt was again submitted to the notice of this House by Lord Francis Egerton in 1825, and being supported by a large number, including some of the most eminent Members of that day, the noble Lord induced the House, by a considerable majority, to declare that the State ought to make some contribution towards the maintenance of the religious teachers of the Roman Catholics in Ireland. In 1845 Sir Robert Peel again brought forward the subject in connection with the College of Maynooth, confirming, supporting, and with the weight of his great authority endeavouring to fix this policy on the mind of the public as the true policy to adopt. And not only was no measure in favour of voluntaryism introduced, but up to March last the voluntary system, as a means of maintaining the religion of Ireland, could not produce the name of any statesman as its supporter, except the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, or cite the name of a single great 1798 writer as its advocate. And when the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government comes forward and announces this novel policy we are led to inquire when he first gave his adhesion to it as the true mode of adjusting our ecclesiastical arrangements; and I find that in 1845 the right hon. Gentleman delivered a remarkable speech with reference to the Maynooth Grant, to which the right hon. Gentleman, in his Autobiography has referred back as the crisis of his political opinions and the exposition of the change in them. Now, having read that speech carefully, I think it points in the direction of the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church, and not of the voluntary system. If that is not so what did the right hon. Gentleman mean by telling the House—I do not say that this grant virtually decides upon the payment of the Roman Catholic priests in Ireland by the State; but I do not deny that it disposes of the religious objections to that measure. I mean that we who assent to this Bill shall, in my judgment, no longer be in a condition to plead religious objections to such a project."—[3 Hansard, lxxix. 548.]I have said that the voluntary system has no great name to support it but that of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade and those who have since followed him in upholding that policy. And I will now state another remarkable fact—not a single European nation has adopted it. Europe is at the head of the civilization of the world. It contains great varieties of Government, of religion; it contains Protestant States, Roman Catholic States, free States, despotic States; but in not one have you the voluntary system established or organized. Now, when a totally new line of policy is proposed for adoption, it is no immaterial fact to note that all the weight of statesmanlike authority and the practice of the most civilized Governments have been against it. Sir, the objections to the voluntary system have been repeated so often, both in this House and in the able treatises and pamphlets that have been published on the subject, that I shall sum them up very shortly. The voluntary system fails in providing permanence or universality of ministration, and tends to the deterioration of the quality of the instruction given. It fails to provide universality of instruction, because, as everyone knows, no one is the object of its care but those in whom it is pecuniarily in- 1799 terested; every teacher confining his attention to his own congregation, and leaving the mass of vice and irreligion which belongs to none, neglected and unnoticed. It fails in securing permanence because in periods of coldness and depression the voluntary system, which depends for its success upon the fervour of those who support it, becomes with them cold and apathetic, and inefficient. The more man needs, the less he seeks, the religious teacher. It fails in the quality of the instruction given because you make the teacher dependent on those whom he instructs; because you oblige him, in order to his own subsistence, to descend to their level rather than raise them to his. Able as the ministers whom it produces often are, very few of them are characterized by independence of spirit or elevation of thought. If the voluntary system is objectionable on these abstract grounds, it is peculiarly objectionable when you apply it to an old country. Every man is influenced by the circumstances of the country in which he is born, the system under which he lives, the character of the social life about him. The inhabitants of old countries are not brought up to meet the demands of ministers who give religious instruction in return for voluntary contributions. They have no organization for such a purpose; their habits are not trained to it, so that in an old country the natural difficulties inherent in the system are greatly increased by what has existed before, and the usages it has engendered. If, however, the system is objectionable in any country, I unhesitatingly say it is pre-eminently so in Ireland. What is the acknowledged tendency of the voluntary system? What do its advocates claim as a merit? That it increases religious fervour. Why, that is another way of saying that it magnifies theological differences, that it increases sectarian intensity, that it makes every sect an aggressor upon its neighbouring sect on the subject of religion. One of the greatest misfortunes of Ireland is the amount of theological controversy and strife that pervades it; and yet you are about, by the course you are now pursuing, to intensify that feeling. I agree with Archbishop Whately, when he said—"Introduce the voluntary system into Ireland and you will have two great camps with clerical sentinels 1800 pacing to and fro between them, to keep any man from straying from one camp to the other." There is a second reason why the voluntary system is peculiarly unsuitable to Ireland. One of its calamities is irremediable: I refer to absenteeism. From that country is withdrawn the social influence of large numbers of great landed proprietors, and their large incomes are expended elsewhere. Good landlords these absentee proprietors are, and admirable managers of their own estates; but not coming into contact with distress and suffering, they are not so ready to give to objects of general benevolence. Now, the tithe rent-charge is an indirect tax upon these absentees, and a sort of compensation to the country, by providing a resident clergyman. You take that away. It will go to increase the wealth of the absentees. But as they do not require the religious instruction of the clergy of Ireland, and do not come into personal contact with them, I have no confidence in their providing voluntary equivalent contributions to the Church. Sir, we have been told in this debate of the success of the voluntary sysem in the colonies. But is it certain there is a perfectly voluntary system in any of our colonies successful? I will first take Canada, and there the Church at this moment possesses a very considerable endowment. She possesses it in two ways; first, the capitalization of the life estates of the clergy under the Canadian Act, from which the idea in the present Bill is borrowed, realized, owing to peculiar local circumstances, a considerable property, not for individuals but for the whole clergy. This property is now funded for the Church, and owing to the high local rate of interest produces a considerable income. The second reason why the Canadian Church is not altogether dependent on the voluntary system is a matter that is often overlooked. The Clergy Reserves Act is not the only Act in Canada dealing with the Church. An Act of George III. enables the Crown to empower the Governor to found rectories and endow them with land and property quite apart from the clergy reserves. These rectories, or the property belonging to them, were never taken from the Canadian Church. I have endeavoured to ascertain their number. I find from Lord Durham's Report that they then amounted to fifty-seven; how many were 1801 afterwards created I do not know. I believe that Canadian benefices of every description, now amount to about 400. It is stated by Mr. Hatch, the head of the College of Quebec, in his able article on the Canadian Church, in Macmillan's Magazine for October, that the Church land at Montreal has turned out most valuable. Another circumstance occurred in Canada to enable this plan to be successfully tamed out there. Previous to the passing of the measure there had been meetings for years in anticipation of the Bill. No man who had read Lord Durham's Report, which was published years before the Act was passed, could fail to see that the clergy reserves would be dealt with, and in anticipation of it synods and meetings were held in Canada, by means of which large voluntary subscriptions were raised and accumulated for the benefit of the Church. But no matter from what cause, the Canadian Church at the present time is not in the position to which you propose to reduce the Irish Church—namely, a Church dependent entirely and solely on the voluntary system. With regard to Australia, I find that in the colony of Victoria there is an Act regulating the Civil Service Fund, and that out of £150,000 annually provided for the civil list £50,000 is devoted to the purposes of religious worship. The Colonial Office, in May last, furnished a Return of the incomes of the several Bishops in all the colonies, and it appears that the Bishop of Melbourne receives £1,000 a year, from the Public Worship Fund, and that other Australian Bishops draw a salary from the same fund. Australia, therefore, cannot be quoted as an instance of a country having a system of entire and pure voluntaryism; and even if it were, from inquiry I have made of persons who know it well, I should not be disposed to hold that the state of religion and of religious ministers there is an example for our imitation. Now, I take the United States of America, which I admit does present an example of a perfectly voluntary system. But what is the state of religion there? I will ask any hon. Gentleman who has read Mr. Hepworth Dixon's account to answer that question. [Dissent.] If Mr. Dixon's authority be rejected—still I say I am not aware of any real authority upon which it can be asserted that the state of religion in 1802 the United States—its influence upon the thoughts and habits of the people, its power as an instrument of moral elevation—are such as to recommend the introduction of the voluntary system into this country. It will, no doubt, be said—"Why do you refer to these countries, when there is an example of a voluntary system at home? The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland is wholly maintained by voluntary contributions, without the slightest aid from public sources." Sir, I have lived so long in habits of intimacy with the Roman Catholics of my country, that I shall take the liberty, on this occasion, of speaking with perfect freedom on the question. No man who knows me will suppose that in what I am about to say I mean any disrespect either to the Roman Catholic religion or to its ministers. But there are some matters connected with that Church which are not satisfactory, originating, in my opinion, in its being a Church dependent on the voluntary system, and which, I think, might be changed with great advantage to the country as well as to that Church. Exemplary as are the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland, and zealous in the discharge of their duties, they are taken from a class of society to which I consider the supply of religious instructors ought not to be confined. It is a much wiser principle which provides that the religious instructors of the people should represent every class of the community, and should be on intimate and equal terms with every class; a principle which brings, in the language of Burke, the "mitred prelate into the palace and the humble teacher into the cottage." Among the parochial clergy of Ireland there are few of birth, or station, or high education. In the monastic orders, indeed, I have known several men of high birth and station, and some possessing considerable property. Now, what is the reason of this? I go abroad, and take the case of North Germany. I find there, among the Roman Catholic clergy, many persons of family and education, and it is the same with the other Continental countries. Then how are we to account for the different state of things in Ireland? Sir, persons of refined culture shrink from a system which obliges the exaction of minute payments from humble persons. Everywhere, I believe, this feeling prevails. 1803 I believe that in all Churches the class of persons entering the ministry will deteriorate the moment they are placed in a position which obliges a subserviency of thought, and often arts and practices, which an eminent French writer characterizes as a system of ecclesiastical mendicancy. Voluntaryism, then, is in itself objectionable, and its introduction menaces all your religious Establishments. And it is this consideration that, in my judgment, makes the question before the House of enormous magnitude, and the measure now proposed the most important that since the Union has been submitted to the Imperial Parliament. Sir, I believe that the glory and greatness of England is mainly due to the incorporation of religious influence with civil government, which is known as the union between Church and State. I will not occupy the time of the House with any examination into this subject, for it has been treated, and like everything he touched exhausted, by my great ceuntryman, Burke. We have consecrated our civil government by allying it with religion, and by so doing, we have infused into the whole mind of the nation a sense of duty and trust—every act, whether of State or of private concern, under the influence of this principle, becoming hallowed, as it were, and invested with a higher and better sanction. I need not remind the House of that magnificent passage in which he likens the English Constitution to the Temple at Jerusalem—"at once a citadel and a shrine: the home of national freedom and the abode of national religion." And, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Goverment, in language not less glowing, has pictured this union in works that will long outlive the ephemeral breath of the mouth. But he is unable now to realize the vision of his youth. The utmost he can give the parting illusion is the homage of his respect; and therefore, restraining the rudeness of his Followers, he exclaimed in the debates of last Session—You do it wrong, being so majestical,To offer it the show of violence.Sir, if we are to have an alliance of the supreme governing authority with religion, it must be with the Protestant Episcopal Church; for both the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian Churches repudiate State control and government, 1804 and here let me say that the principle of the union of Church and State introduced into the Constitution is perfectly consistent with the most generous and enlarged sympathies with every other form of religion. No higher authority for this can be quoted than that of the great man whom I have already cited, who declared that the State of England ought to be in cordial intimacy with the three great religious denominations that exist in the three countries, but in subordination to the legal establishments. Sir, I now come to consider in detail the Bill. Objectionable as I have endeavoured to show it to be in principle, I must say that its character is not palliated or softened by a single wise or statesmanlike provision to modify or qualify it. Earl Russell has placed upon record that the change proposed to be accomplished by the head of the Government ought to be effected with care, forbearance, and solicitude. But how has the Bill been framed to fulfil that requirement? What is left to the Church, or what is done for her? I put aside the provision for life estates, because I have already quoted the words of Sir James Mackintosh to show that in this nothing is done but what rigid duty demands. Well, what has been given to the Establishment? The churches. Yes, and you will find by the authentic Report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners that, within no great number of years, upwards of £600,000 of private money have been absorbed by those churches, irrespective of grants from the Commissioners, and irrespective of the restoration of St. Patrick's Cathedral, and if you add that, confessedly those churches are unmarketable for any purposes whatever, we can estimate what there is of bounty and beneficence in this gift to conciliate the feelings of the Protestant Episcopalians in Ireland. The glebe houses! How are they dealt with? I understood the Prime Minister last year to promise them. In a speech, characterized by great ability and enlarged views, which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade made at Birmingham, there is a declaration tending exactly in the same direction as that in which I understood the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government to go—namely, that, as an act of generosity, these houses with their curtilages 1805 were to be given. But how do you now proceed to deal with, them? A house, as every one knows, lasts only a certain period, requiring to be perpetually renewed or re-built. What is the result? The charges on the glebe houses in Ireland are found on examination to be—on the bishops' houses, £32,594; on the dignitaries' houses, £600; on the glebe houses of the benefited clergy, £198,781; the total chargebeing£232,335. The Government says—Pay that, and you shall have the houses. And what are we to pay that for? The Church Commissioners were unable to ascertain separately the value of the houses and curtilages, for this reason, that they were obliged to take the valuation in whatever form it existed in the Poor Law documents and receipts. Occasionally, the Poor Law Commissioners valued the house and garden; occasionally they valued the house, garden, and demesne; at other times, they valued the entire farm, the house and garden, altogether. We, therefore, could not separate them. Now, what is the entire value of all that is in the hands of the clergy in Ireland? I am not now speaking of the mere curtilages, but of everything—houses, curtilages, gardens, farms, which ecclesiastical persons hold. Sir, the Poor Law valuation of all is about £50,000 gross, from which, if we deduct the poor rate, the county cess, and other charges, it will leave a result of £32,000 a year. The right hon. Gentleman does not propose to give us this £32,000 a year for the £232,335. No such thing. He proposes merely to give us the house and what he terms the curtilage around it; and I have no doubt that what he proposes to give us for that sum could be bought in the market for the same amount. Where is the generosity in giving that for which you take an equivalent? I now come to the third matter which the right hon. Gentleman puts forward as an instance of the large spirit that characterizes this measure, and which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland dwelt upon with emphasis last night.—"We leave you," say the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary, "the private endowments." See how generous that is. You remember that Henry VIII; founder as he was of the Reformation, did not do that? He made no distinction whatever between the endowments that came from private and those that 1806 came from public sources, "We," say they, "not following in the footsteps of Henry, are willing to leave you the private endowments." But how are they left? The most rigid legal test must be applied to prove them; they must be dealt with according to the strict rules of the Court of Chancery. And how do you further qualify, restrain, and abridge that gift? You refuse to include in it private endowments prior to 1660. What is the reason for the assignment of the date? I must say it is entirely a new discovery to me, and I may be supposed to have some knowledge on the subject of the relation of the Church of Ireland to the doctrine and discipline of the English Church; but to me it is entirely novel that the Church of Ireland first became in harmony and sympathy and union with the Church of England on the accession of Charles II. The right hon. Gentleman says, that previous to that time the Articles in Ireland differed from those in England. It is perfectly true that in 1615, in the reign of James I, Ussher, who was then Professor of Divinity in Dublin College, drew up Articles containing the doctrine of predestination more strongly and explicitly expressed than in the English Articles. Archbishop Ussher always asserted that those Articles did not differ from the English Articles; but that they stated the true doctrine of the English Church. In that he was wrong, because the English Articles were drawn with the design of embracing as well the opinions of Calvin and Augustine as of the opposite school of theology. But it is not true that you could not fee a member of the Church of England and hold every Article that Ussher held. But what is the fact about those Articles, even historically? When Strafford came to Ireland, he opened a correspondence with Archbishop Laud about them. The result of that correspondence with Laud, whose views were directly opposed to those of Ussher, was, that Strafford objected to the Articles, and in 1634, mainly by the influence of Archbishop, then Bishop, Bramhall, a canon was passed, declaring that the Articles of the Church of England were the Articles of the Church of Ireland, and from that day to the Subscription Act, not the Thirty-nine Articles, but the canon of 1634 was subscribed by every person ordained to Irish Orders. Why is 1660 to be 1807 adopted as the date, whilst 1634, even if you proceed according to the result of this theological inquiry, is in point of history and of fact, the date of the adoption of the precise form of the English Articles? I would remind the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) of one incident in literature, which he with his vast reading and knowledge must be acquainted with. That is, that when Jeremy Taylor came to preach the funeral sermon of Archbishop Bramhall, he said that from the date of that canon the Churches of England and Ireland were unius labii—of one heart and one mouth. But why enter on such an inquiry at all? Where will it lead us? By the 13 Elizabeth, as has been pointed out by the Dean of Westminster, what is provided in England? Clergymen not episcopally ordained were admitted to benefices in the English Church on subscribing, not the entire, but a portion of the Articles, and Presbyterians held benefices prior to the reign of Charles II., within the Church, and until the reign of Charles that practice was continued. Are you prepared to adopt the principle that the Church of England exists only from the reign of Charles II.? But, Sir, I am not disposed, no matter what the date you give, to allow that the gift of private endowments is anything demanding an acknowledgment on our part. There is not the slightest doubt that there are vast private endowments in Ireland, but how are they to be proved? Where are the deeds? There is no register of deeds in Ireland beyond the reign of Queen Anne, and the records of the Church registers have not been carefully preserved. How, then, are you to enter into an inquiry on this subject? You have no means but by the statements of contemporaries such as the sermon preached by Jeremy Taylor at Bramhall's funeral; and yet all claims to private endowments are to be put to the strictest legal proof. I endeavoured in the Church Commission to ascertain as far as I could what private endowments there were capable of being proved by deeds in Ireland, and what is the extent of them? In Table XXXIII. of the Appendix to the Church Commission Report, you will find the annual income from private endowments. It amounts to £6,330. These are recent endowments, under Acts of George IV., William IV., and Victoria. In 1808 Table XXXIV. you will find the gifts of several Bishops stated; but with these exceptions we were unable to obtain legal proof—that is proof by deed—of private endowments. Therefore, if the rule is to be rigid, legal scrutiny, I controvert the estimate of the right hon. Gentleman when he says that £500,000 will remain to the Church. These endowments were given; they were not intended to be recalled, and there are no deeds of any kind beyond a given date, and the consequence is that in those prior to that date there can be no deeds of gift forthcoming. You hand them back again private endowments, most of them of recent date, guaranteed by the sanction of your own Acts of Parliament; you give those five or six gifts of Bishops, but what have you done for the institution? Absolutely nothing. Now I come to your conduct to the laity. I do not regard this Bill as dealing at all in a generous spirit with the laity. The landlords of Ireland are about to have placed upon them a very large tax—the indispensable necessity of meeting the demands of their Church and the support of their minister, and I say that such a change ought to have been accompanied by the greatest tenderness and bounty shown to that class. So far from being liberal, you are not even just. The landlord of Ireland, on paying the tithe rent-charge, is entitled to deduct from the clergyman the full poundage of the poor rate. I have ascertained the amount of this poundage for the year 1866, and out of £367,000, the gross amount of the tithe rent-charge paid in that year to the incumbents, how much do you think was deducted for poor rate? Why, £19,000. So that the landlords have been accustomed to have a proportion of about one-twentieth of the poor rate paid for them by the clergy. But when you come to deal with this matter in the Bill, you ignore this circumstance altogether, and you charge them upon the whole gross amount of rent - charge without the slightest deduction for poor rate. Now mark. If you were to attempt to sell this property in the open market to me or anyone else, I would buy it at so much less, and with a deduction of one-twentieth part of the price. Then, again, the arrangements for lending money and requiring the repayment of both principal and interest in the present generation 1809 is not advantageous under the circumstances. What would be the effect of that arrangement? You take the principle adopted by the Board of Works, which obliges the present generation to pay principal and interest for the benefit of a remote posterity. What do you do for the landlord? You throw upon him the whole burden of the Church, which must now be maintained by voluntary contributions. You throw upon him the burden of maintaining the glebe houses and lands, with a charge upon them of £232,000, and you burden him with the re-payment of both principal and interest in the present generation, for a benefit which will be first realized at the end of forty-five years. If a benefit was to be conferred upon the land, it would have been better to give it at once, and let the present landlords, who must found a new provision for their Church, receive the advantage. Sir, I now come to the capitalization scheme in the Bill, and I say it is a scheme that cannot succeed. The plan is that you ask the clergy to give up their Church livings for the capitalized value of their incomes. But you do not furnish the Church body with a pecuniary guarantee from the State—you do not give them an independent fund at the back of the capitalized value to make the security perfect—you calculate the exact mathematical value of the life income and by the rigid rules of an actuary or a notary. If your calculation is correct it will exactly exhaust the life interests of the clergy; if it should turn out to be incorrect—and let me tell you that the clergy are not remarkable for the brevity of their existence—if that should happen, the whole capitalized value would he gone, and the longest livers of the clergy would be left without the slightest fund to draw upon. The whole of this might have been obviated had you placed at the back of this fund a large and substantial sum by way of guarantee for the permanence of the interests and for the security of the institution in its financial engagements. Sir, I do not enter into the clauses relating to the constitution and self-government of the future Church further than to ask in what position do you place the Sovereign by this scheme? Observe, you do not repeal the Acts of Henry and Elizabeth, and the whole code asserting the Royal Supremacy. In the language 1810 of those Acts Her Majesty is and continues to be the Supreme Head on earth of the whole Church of Ireland; enjoys the title and has the whole state, honour, authority, and jurisdiction of that title. You retain the title but you take away the power. You proclaim, indeed, her authority, but you take her subjects away and "place a barren sceptre in her hand." Yes; there is one power you do allow her—the power of recognizing and incorporating the new Church body, if you can come to an agreement with that body. That, and that, alone is preserved. There are also certain defects in the powers enabling persons to endow, but I will not go into these at length, because I understand that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, whose courtesy and fairness in addressing the House last night I desire, on the part of the Church, to acknowledge—I understand they invited suggestions in reference to these portions of the measure, and as these do not involve political questions and they relate to the organization of the Church, I think an agreement ought to be come to upon them. I may say, however, that I consider the present clauses defective, as they are not sufficiently enabling and affirmative. They do not adopt the language used in relation to the colonial Churches—they simply remove legal penalties for meeting in Synod. Sir, I now ask what will be the result of this Bill if it be carried upon the social and religious condition of Ireland? I desire to answer this question fairly, and I say I feel grave doubts whether the new Episcopal Church of Ireland will be successfully organized. I doubt, unless the provisions of the Bill be greatly altered, whether that Church will be adequately endowed. I also doubt whether the Presbyterian Church will be adequately endowed and sustained on the voluntary system, and for this reason—that as they are, with an income from the State, they have made repeated demands for increased assistance. I doubt whether the Royal College of Maynooth will be continued in the pecuniary position in which it ought to be. And why do I doubt that? The sum which the right hon. Gentleman estimates for Maynooth is about £400,000. The interest of that in the funds will be 1811 £12,000. Up to 1845, the sum voted for Maynooth was £9,000. What was the condition of Maynooth in 1845? In that year Sir Robert Peel read a Petition signed by twenty-two Roman Catholic Bishops, containing the following statements:—first, that the professors were inadequately paid; second, that there was a debt on the College of £4,600; third, that they were obliged to send away their students for a considerable portion of the year, as they were unable to maintain them; fourth, that they were obliged to send out the students only half-educated, to enter on the work of the ministry; and, fifth, that there was an insufficient supply of clergymen for the Roman Catholic Church, You had then Maynooth fifty years in existence upon voluntary contributions, with £9,000 a year from Government. What will take place now under the voluntary system, with a greatly increased population, an increased demand for ministers, and a higher standard of education, and only £12,000 a year from public sources? You will have the same results, and these results will issue in general discontent. Why, you are at this moment obliged to admit that Maynooth is in debt, with her present endowment of £26,000 a year, and the Government is obliged to pay her liabilities to the Board of Works. I will go further. Prom all I hear, I believe that the standard of education at Maynooth requires to be improved and elevated, and that an increased not a diminished endowment is what the circumstances of that College demand. I say, therefore, that your scheme, your new policy, is a policy that will fail in the instance of every one of the religious bodies to which it is applied. I say it is singularly ungenerous to every system, and to every creed; and when I say this, I am reminded of a test which has been more than once suggested for philosophical principles. Do they breathe of what is elevating, of what is generous, of what is liberal, or are they restrictive, harsh, and severe? I propose this test to you as still more unerringly applicable to political measures; and I pronounce of this Bill—nil generosum, nil magnificum sapit—nothing is constructed, nothing is raised, nothing is benefited; all is proscribed, despoiled, and degraded. Sir, if this be so, if this be a true description of the measure, was not the right hon. 1812 Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) justified in asserting that the inevitable result of this policy must be general discontent? The clergy will be discontented because the sources of emolument have been taken from them. The laity will be discontented because new and additional burdens are imposed upon them. Increased religious differences will spread Increased bitterness of feeling in respect of them will spread. I have read a little of theology, and there is one maxim that I have found in every theological writer, and that is an invincible determination to view the withdrawal of property once consecrated to religious purposes and its conversion to secular uses as utterly unjustifiable. I am not aware of an exception, from the day when Archbishop Whitgift told Queen Elizabeth that the recipients of ecclesiastical property were the eagles in the fable who carried home a prize with a burning coal within it that would consume their nests—down to Pope Pius IX., who has denounced the sacrilegious Governments of the Continent that have confiscated Church property. But are these views peculiar to ecclesiastics? Let any man examine the discussion of Sir James Mackintosh with respect to what took place in the time of Henry VIII. regarding the monasteries, and he will see how difficult it is to reconcile with the strict principles of justice the appropriation of Church property. Even Henry VIII. never confiscated without paying homage to this principle. In his Acts he recites that the monasteries voluntarily surrendered their houses and lands. This objection you too seek to mitigate in your Bill by giving the surplus to charities, a destination with somewhat of a religious character. Sir, I repeat that there will be universal discontent. For the moment the Roman Catholic clergy are appeased, because their rival is dethroned. And do you imagine that you can found permanent gratitude and friendship on such feelings? No; they will attribute the fall of the Establishment to your respect for Nonconformist opinion, and to your enmity to their Church, the secular destination of the property. Sir, the care of lunatics, the maintenance and reformation of juvenile thieves and misdoers, and the relief of persons afflicted with unavoidable suffering—all these are undoubtedly excellent objects, but there 1813 is one evil consequence that follows large endowments of this character not raised by taxation, and that is that the demand increases with the supply; and as we have now two great reformatories for male and four great reformatories for female juvenile offenders presided over by Roman Catholic ecclesiastics and religious bodies, I believe that these institutions will hereafter four-fold multiply, and increase. And so as to all your other charitable objects; while the landlords and occupiers of land will find that the great boon of the relaxation of the county cess means payment as it existed before, with supplemental aid for expanded demands. The county rates will remain as high and as oppressive as ever. Sir, I believe that a great shock is given to the feelings of the community in respect of property by this measure. The reverence for its sacred inviolability is rudely touched. I am aware of the distinctions between private property and property public in its sources and objects which have been drawn by Sir James Mackintosh, Earl Russell, and Hallam. Are you yourselves quite satisfied with those distinctions? But even if you are, neither Sir James Mackintosh, nor Earl Russell, nor Hallam, were ever consulted by the mass. It is idle to tell them of those theories. It is idle to say that corporations are different from individuals, or that the tenure is other than an individual tenure. These ingenious distinctions are too subtle—are immeasurably too subtle—for the Irish farmer or peasant. The plain facts suffice him—the Protestant Church acquired its property by the Act of Elizabeth, by the grants of James and Charles; the Protestant landlords acquired their property by the Acts of Settlement and the Patents of the same James and the same Charles. A breath has made both, and a breath can unmake both. The consequence will be that he will better the instruction given him, and fortified by the precedent set him, he will demand to be restored to those lands which he will believe to have been unjustly taken from him. Sir, it is for these reasons that I oppose this Bill; no message of peace and conciliation, no source of harmony and agreement among all classes, rather the fountain of discontent, of dissension, of general dissatisfaction, and a precedent for organic changes of even more dangerous consequence. But while I 1814 oppose it, I disclaim any want of sympathy with my Roman Catholic and Presbyterian brethren. I disclaim the slightest disrespect to their systems of religion. I believe the maintenance of an Established Church consistent with the most liberal appreciation of their claims. I derive assurance for that belief when I find it shared by every great Statesman of the past. Yes, ours is no new policy, born of the exigency of the moment. The marvellous wisdom of Burke, the presiding and commanding genius of Pitt, the vast political experience and sagacity of Peel, have alike sanctioned it. Supported by their authority, feeling confident that the principles by them transmitted are as just as they are expedient, we defend the institutions which they upheld, and refuse to abandon the most sacred and venerable of them all in the hour of its danger and its need.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. SULLIVAN)
said, he could not but congratulate his learned Friend on the speech he had just addressed to the House. If the Church of Ireland had before wanted a defender, she had found one now in the person of his learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin. But, remarkable as that speech was, it was as remarkable for what it did not say as for what it did say, and one of its most remarkable features was that the grounds taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) had been totally abandoned by his learned Friend. The property of the Church was defended by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire on the ground that it was religious property vested in the Church as a corporation charged with a trust of an unequivocal and unalterable character; while his learned Friend who had last addressed the House had totally abandoned that ground, and rested his defence of that property upon this, that it was of the nature of private property, devoted originally to the maintenance of an Establishment that was necessary for the religion of the individual and for the exclusion of the voluntary system, the tendency of which was to degrade and lower. ["No, no !"] He said so most distinctly, because he had still the eloquent language of his learned Friend ringing in his ears—language in which 1815 he had described the lowering and depressing effects of the voluntary system, and the exalting character of the benefits which the Established Church would confer. And how did his learned Friend attempt to prove his case? He said that they would not find voluntaryism in any country in Europe, and was England, therefore, to adopt it? But if he (Mr. Sullivan) had learnt one thing from the history of England, it was that her proudest boast had been that she had not followed in the track of other nations; but that, when any portion of the country suffered from any system, whether theological or social, her aim was to establish equal justice and equal laws. Why was it that the Established Church in Ireland had been assailed in modern times? His learned Friend who had just spoken had said that until a recent period no Statesman of eminence, with the exception of one, had taken up the theory of destroying the Established Church and substituting a voluntary system. But had there been a man of education in Ireland—had there been many in England—whose attention had not been called during the last twenty-five years to the anomalous, extraordinary, and indefensible position of the Church Establishment in Ireland? And if the Church as established had failed what did the argument of his learned Friend amount to but this, that the property of the Protestant Church should be transferred to the Roman Catholic? Because if voluntaryism was not to be the system, if the Established Church of the minority had wretchedly failed, as it had been demonstrated a hundred times before to have done, what was the alternative left but the transfer of her power and her property to the Church of the great majority of the Irish people? But so far from the peasantry of Ireland regarding that Disestablishment Bill as a means of ultimately attacking the property of the landlords of Ireland, he had observed the attitude of calmness and self-denial they had assumed on that question. The Irish Roman Catholics repudiated the notion of sharing the property of the Established Church; and although the influence and the wealth of that Church had been used in maintaining a cruel domination over them for centuries, they now asked only to be put upon an equality with its members, and craved for no ascendancy. That ought to be an encou- 1816 ragement to every man in repelling the argument that that Bill would be but the commencement of a series of measures of spoliation directed against the land of Ireland. With the greatest possible respect he must say that was one of those wretched arguments which appealed simply to the prejudices of Gentlemen sitting behind his right hon. and learned Friend; and those who adopted that argument themselves paved the way for making the disestablishment of the Church, or any similar measure, a mode of aiding such subversive propositions if ever they should be brought forward. Then his right hon. and learned Friend said that voluntaryism was never known in Ireland. But did he not thus ignore his Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen, who had supported their religion by that system ever since its property had been taken from it and devoted to Protestant uses? His right hon. and learned Friend said that the Reformation really made no difference in substance in the possession of these endowments. Why, if there was one great historical truth clearer than another it was this,—that none of the Roman Catholic Bishops in Ireland, save perhaps one, adopted the Reformed creed, and that the Protestant religion was forced upon Ireland as a conquered country, against the will, the belief, and the conscience of the people. One of the ablest of modern historians, Mr. Froude, who had investigated the-matter with the greatest care, speaking of the Government of Queen Elizabeth, used this language—Before the Government attempted to force religion upon the country, which had not a single honest advocate in the whole nation, there was no dishonesty. If she had left them their lands, if she had left them their creeds, they would have willingly acknowledged her supremacy. She could not bring herself to believe that in Ireland, where there were no Protestants, a different state of circumstances did not exist from what prevailed in England.Therefore his right hon. and learned Friend's argument, if worth anything, amounted to this,—that they must take that property away from the Protestant minority and transfer it to the Church of the Roman Catholic majority, who wisely and firmly rejected it. Then, it was urged that the grant to Maynooth and the Regium Donum were all to be viewed in the light of establishment. And here he might ask whence had come his right hon. and learned Friend's newborn zeal 1817 for the Maynooth Grant? Did his right hon. and learned Friend forget the body which he represented? Did he forget that as long as he had a small spark of Liberalism left in him, he was rejected by that University? It was not until he had recanted all his Liberal principles that constituency returned him. The representatives of Dublin University had always offered the strongest opposition not only to the Maynooth Grant, but to every measure for relieving the Roman Catholics from civil disabilities, galling oaths, and offensive declarations. And why, forsooth, did his right hon. and learned Friend now admit the Maynooth Grant was too small? Because he thought that Trinity College trembled for its own existence; and believed that by giving increased grants to Maynooth and to the Presbyterians the magnificent endowments of the Protestant University and the Protestant Established Church in Ireland would be rendered more secure. That reminded him of the Eastern warriors who were chained to their cannon in the day of battle. Sometimes they sought that position through fanatical zeal, which was not his right hon. and learned Friend's case; in other instances they were put there and compelled to do what they did not like. His right hon. and learned Friend had referred to the speeches of the First Minister of the Crown and of Sir Robert Peel upon the Maynooth Grant; but it might be asked had his right hon. and learned Friend read the speech made on the selfsame occasion by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire—a speech in remarkable contrast with the exalted notions as to the hallowed influence of the union of Church and State expressed by that right hon. Gentleman last evening. In the celebrated debate on the Maynooth Grant, to which reference had been made, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) said—I have unfaltering confidence in the stability of our Church; but I think that the real source of the danger which threatens it is its connection with the State, which places it under the control of a House of Commons which is not necessarily of its communion. Leave the Church to herself and she will shrink from no contest, however severe. I believe that in Ireland if the question is—' Will you sever the Church from the State, or will you endow the Roman Catholic Church? 'for my own part I believe the Protestants of Ireland would say—' Sever the connection.' "—[3 Hansard, lxxix., 560.]1818 "Under which King, Bezonian?" And that was the opinion then entertained by the Protestants of Ireland. They never would have consented to the endowment of the Roman Catholic clergy—they abhorred the notion of the endowment of Roman Catholicism as a State Church. And yet now, when the Established Church was in danger, they, for the first time, professed a liberality which they had never shown before, and as a bulwark to their own Church they were willing to place the Maynooth Grant and the Regium Donum on a better foundation. Now, he denied in toto that the effect of a disruption of the union of Church and State was to lower the character of a clergy. Having himself lived for many years in social intercourse with Roman Catholic priests, especially in the South of Ireland, he could say that, though not born of the aristocracy of the land, there were among them accomplished scholars and gentlemen, animated by an earnest zeal for their religion; and a more moral priesthood than the spiritual teachers of the Irish Catholics could not be found in Europe. The piety and religious fervour of their flocks, too, might be judged of by the manner in which their chapels were attended, alike at early morning and when the shades of evening fell. And how was all that brought about? Not by a clergy supported by rich endowments and ministering to the wearers of purple and fine linen; but by devoted pastors, maintained by the voluntary contributions of a humble peasantry. Well, what had been the result of the union of Church and State in Ireland? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) told them that in England they had had 200 years of unbroken serenity, during which religious liberty had been asserted and enjoyed. But how were those 200 years spent in Ireland? The Irish statute book, which no right-minded man could read without burning shame, supplied the answer to the question. One of these statutes enacted that for every converted Popish priest in Ireland £20 a year should be levied on the county, like the grand jury or county rate; another offered a reward for the discovery of any one who was found practising the Popish worship. A Papist could not succeed to property, and the result of that system was that they had 600,000 and odd Protestants of the Establishment now in Ire- 1819 land, side by side with about 5,000,000 of Roman Catholics. But what was the state of the relations between the Roman Catholics and the Established Church in that interval? In 1745 they found even the then Lord Lieutenant addressing the Irish Parliament in terms like these—The measures that have been hitherto taken to prevent the growth of Popery—which I hope have had, and will still have, greater effect—I leave to your consideration. I ask whether nothing, by new laws or by the more effectual execution of those in being, can be done to secure the nation against the great number of Papists, whose speculative errors would only deserve pity if their pernicious influence on civil society did not require the exercise of authority to restrain them?The 200 years of which the right hon. Gentleman opposite spoke certainly were 200 years of the very opposite of political serenity and religious liberty in Ireland, whatever might have been the case in England. It was towards the end of the reign of George III. that any hope was held out to the Irish Roman Catholics. It had been said more than once that no comparison could be drawn between the Irish Catholic priests and the clergy of the Establishment. But he would remind the House that the Catholic Church in Ireland, although a voluntary institution, had raised magnificent churches, supported noble charities, and maintained the priests. It was unfair to judge the clergy by an expression heedlessly used by some individual priest; but, taken as a whole, he believed that the priesthood of Ireland would compare favourably with any body of clergy in the world. He did not wish to speak disrespectfully of the Protestant clergy of Ireland, but was it a satisfactory state of things for twelve Bishops to enjoy an income of £50,000 a year, and many rectors £400 or £500 each, when their congregations could be numbered by units. Was it not cruel and barbarous that, by mere right of conquest, we should force the Protestant Establishment upon the Roman Catholic population of Ireland? One of the peculiarities of ancient Rome was that her victorious armies respected the religious feelings of the countries they invaded, and allowed the conquered to worship their own gods at their accustomed altars; but England had acted towards Ireland on a totally different principle. The dreadful policy of Elizabeth and William III. would not leave the Irish 1820 people their rights as free citizens unless they conformed to a religion in which they did not believe. On the passing of the Relief Act in 1829 the Catholics were, to a great extent, restored to the rights and Liberties which their Protestant brethren enjoyed, but still certain offices were closed to them, as they could only be held by persons who made declarations to the effect that the worship of the Church of Rome was idolatrous and superstitious. Of course, however, the Catholic population felt themselves insulted by the retention of these needless and absurd declarations and oaths. The adoption of the principle of ascendancy had. been the vice and ruin of the Establishment in Ireland. There could not possibly have been a more favourable time than the present for bringing forward this measure, and on this point what higher authority could he cite than that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire. In the year 1844 the right hon. Gentleman expressed the following opinion, which was none the worse because it was delivered so long ago. He said—He never believed that Ireland would be a great difficulty, because he felt certain that a Minister of great ability and of great power would, when he found himself at the head of a great majority, settle that question."—[3 Hansard, lxxii. 1010.]And what was the right hon. Gentleman's notion of settling the difficulty? These were his words—Justice to Ireland was then said to mean an identity of institutions with England. He believed that to be the greatest fallacy that could be brought forward. He always thought that the greatest cause of misery in Ireland was the identity of institutions with England. Surely we had given them similar institutions more than enough. How could people ask for an identity of institutions when the most important institution of all—the union of Church and State—was opposed by the Irish people?"—[Ibid. 1011.]And when the subject of municipal corporations was brought before the House the right hon. Gentleman said—Instead of the institutions of the two countries being identical, they ought to get rid of all English institutions in Ireland which had been forced upon the country. He ventured to lay it down as a principle that the Government of Ireland should be on a system the reverse of that adopted in England, and should be centralized. We should have a strong executive and an impartial administration.And yet the right hon. Gentleman said last night that the Established Church in Ireland should be maintained because it was a local means of governing the 1821 country. The right hon. Gentleman advanced the argument that Ireland was destroyed by an absentee proprietary, and that the effect of the Bill would be to drive from the country a resident Protestant gentry. Well, no man who had travelled in Ireland, especially in the North-western counties, but must have noticed the great contrast between the mansion houses in which the Protestant clergy resided and the humble dwellings of the Roman Catholic clergy. Then on Sundays thousands of persons might be seen on the most lonely mountains and bogs going to worship in the Catholic churches, while two or three favoured persons assembled in the pews of the Established Church to hear the prayers read by a clergyman who received his £200 or £300 a year for performing that duty. All these things made the contrast a very striking one, and must surely have a very bad effect on the people. The right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Dr. Ball) was one of the four Irish Church Commissioners, who in their Report recommended that in parishes where there were fewer than forty Protestant inhabitants the benefices ought to be suspended or suppressed Now, the results that would follow the carrying out of that recommendation would be very astounding. In the diocese of Lismore there were forty-two benefices at the present time, nine having been suppressed under the Church Temporalities Act; but if the recommendation of the Commissioners were carried out no fewer than twenty-one benefices out of the forty-two would be suspended. One benefice contained 11,260 acres, yet there were only ten Protestants. Another had 16,000 acres, with thirty-five Protestants; and a living near Cork with 18,900 acres, and yielding an income of £878 had thirty-five Protestants. The Commissioners, when they recommended that all benefices in which there were not forty Protestants in the parish should be given up, virtually gave up the whole case of the Irish Church Establishment. Why was it proposed to reduce the number of Bishops by four and the number of Archbishops, as had been recommended, by one, unless it was evident to every reasonable man that the Irish Church establishment could not be maintained of any principle of justice? That Establishment had an opportunity in its recent history of regaining its position 1822 when the great measure of national education had been passed for Ireland, and it was open to its ministers to co-operate with the Roman Catholic clergy in the instruction of the youth of that country. Of that opportunity it had not, however, availed itself, on the miserable pretext that the whole of the Bible was not permitted to be read in the national schools. Such was the course pursued by a Church endowed with large funds for the benefit of the community ! She abandoned her position as an Established Church and afterwards complained that the national education had been placed entirely in the hands of the Roman Catholics. His right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) complained that very little was done for the Irish Church by the present Bill; but he should bear in mind what was the scope and object of the measure. It was a measure not for the establishment but for the disestablishment of that Church. It was said that the measure treated the Church with great hardship in taking the epoch of 1660 rather than an earlier one, as that at which the validity of private endowment was to be respected. He affirmed that no man could put his hand upon any endowment of the Irish Church before 1660. If anybody could have done so his right hon. and learned Friend (Dr. Ball) would have done so. It was said that the Bill would take away some of the endowments that Archbishop Bramhall recovered for the Church; but he could not accept the view of the Irish Church before 1660 put before the House by his right hon. and learned Friend. The Roman Catholic Church made a tremendous struggle for property in the time of Charles I., and the state of the Irish Church before the Restoration was one of wild confusion. He must therefore contend that the year 1660 was an intelligible date on which to fix, and the more the matter was examined the more it would appear no wrong or injury was done to the Establishment in Ireland by taking that date. Again, his right hon. and learned Friend objected to the provision requiring that private endowments should be proved before the Court of Appeal in Chancery; but before what other tribunal, he should like to know, was that to be done? As to the objection that the Bill did not prescribe the mode in which the new constitution of 1823 the Church was to be brought about, he would merely observe that it was not for the State to suggest what steps the Church should take with that object. If the State were to lay down any rules on the subject, his right hon. and learned Friend might very well turn round on the Government and say that they were adopting a very tyrannical policy in not only disestablishing and disendowing the Church, but in dictating the course which it should, under those circumstances, pursue with reference to its own re-organization. If there was any one position in connection with the Bill which was capable of being more strongly maintained than another, it was that it left to the Church perfect freedom of action. The Government said—" We do not stand in need of your co-operation to accomplish the object which we have in view; but if you are ready to comply with the provisions of this measure, we will act with you;" and he could not but think that there were many wise and intelligent men among the clergy of the Irish Established Church who would not adopt the advice of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, and refuse the co-operation which they were invited to give, but who would make up their minds to meet the inevitable, and do their best, under the circumstances, by availing themselves of the facilities which would be placed at their disposal to promote the interests of the religion which they professed. But how were the clergy of the Established Church to co-operate with the State, asked the right hon. Gentleman? There were ten Bishops and two Archbishops with an income equal to £50,000 a year at least, besides an army of rectors enjoying incomes of £700 or £800 a year, and having little or nothing to do. How, he should like to know, could they employ their time better than in re-organizing the Church. Could they not employ a few hours a day for a few months in so useful a work? For his own part, he believed the clergy of the Established Church loved their faith too well, and were too deeply impressed with the truth of their religion, to refuse to accept the mission which lay before them in vieing with their Roman Catholic brethren and with each other in the endeavour to spread education in Ireland, and to imprint a religious tone on the minds of the youth of that country. It had been, 1824 he might add, urged in opposition to the Bill by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire that it would give all the property of the Church to the landlords in Ireland Now, he denied that the landlords were bribed to acquiesce in the Bill; they had only been dealt with in respect of the tithe rent-charge upon fair and reasonable terms. But the right hon. Gentleman's objection had been answered by his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin, who said that the Bill would give the landlords nothing at all. The fact was that the property of the State was not vested in the Church as a corporation; there was no such thing as a Church corporation. The Church consisted of an aggregate of corporations for the more easy holding and transmission of property which, having been granted for the maintenance of a State religion, might, without injustice, be resumed by the State through its Parliament whenever the public welfare demanded the adoption of that course. To contend that funds of that description were private property was a misuse of the term, and he denied that the Bill interfered in the slightest degree with the foundations of private property. He would repeat that the hour was most auspicious for the passing of the measure. The appeal to the verdict of the country, which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire had over and over again in the course of last Session announced it to be his intention to make, had been fairly accepted and completely answered. It now only remained for the House to send forth a message of peace to a people who never refused to respond to acts of justice and good-will. By destroying Protestant ascendancy they would confer an immense boon on Ireland, and one that would be duly appreciated. An hon. Member had said, he could not understand what was meant by Protestant ascendancy. He (the Attorney General for Ireland) answered—Let them but come from their lordly homes in the North to the South, and see the contrast which was presented, and then let them tell him whether they did not understand Protestant ascendancy. In his heart he believed this measure would ultimately tend to the advantage of the Irish Church itself. It would be received with gratitude, and they might rest 1825 assured that it would not be followed by any extravagant ideas as to its effect on private property.
§ SIR FREDERICK W. HEYGATE
said, he wished to assure the House that the Irish landlords still adhered to their opinion that this was an unjust measure; and they were not at all tempted by the bait which was held out to them. It was said that the country had arrived at a verdict upon the subject; but this had not been arrived at after a careful inquiry into the matter, but simply for the purpose of obtaining a political result. He wished to examine the question not in reference to its bearing upon one political party or the other, but in reference to its bearing upon the happiness and prosperity of the country. What struck him in reading the Bill was that it was not a Bill to provide for religious equality, but rather an elaborate scheme for the re-construction of the Irish Church, and it seemed to him that after some years they would arrive at very much the same point from which they had set out. It appeared to him also that all the advantages that it was supposed that the Bill would give might just as well have been attained by the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire last year that there should be a severe reform of the Irish Church. It was in vain to expect that this measure would give satisfaction to any class in Ireland. Bishop Moriarty, in a remarkable letter to The Times, protested against the Church of Ireland being allowed to hold as a corporation any property whatever; and the Presbyterians also were not satisfied. At a meeting of Presbyterians last week, the speakers one and all said that the Government, if they carried the measure in its present form, could not expect to have the support even of the Liberal Presbyterians; and unless it were amended then, as far as the Presbyterian claims were concerned, it could not be regarded as a final settlement. At another meeting of the same kind in Belfast it was stated that the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman would, instead of £75 a year for each minister, give them only £36, whilst the claims of theological students were entirely overlooked, and it was added that this was a pretty return for the services of the Presbyterians in co-operating with the Ultramontane party for the support of the 1826 present Government. Those utterances showed what might be expected hereafter. He would go a long way in approving any plan, though it might even be harsh in its application to individuals, if it promised good results to the community. But how would this measure work? It was said that the property of the Church originally belonged to the Roman Catholics; and, therefore, that it was a burning shame that it should remain in the hands of Protestants. One injustice, however, should not be cured by committing another, and the laity ought to be considered as well as the clergy. But while the Government proposed to compensate ministers for their life interests, their flocks were quite forgotten. Another reason given for the Bill was that the Church was a failure; but surely it could not be considered as a failure in every part of the country. In Ulster the Church congregations averaged about 540 persons in number, whilst the pay of each clergyman very little exceded £300 a year, and this being so why should so sweeping a measure be applied to the whole Church of Ireland? The attention of the House had already been called to the fact that the chief property of the Church in Ulster had never been the property of the Roman Catholic Church, and it was an undoubted fact that that property had been forfeited by the repeated rebellions of the great chiefs, and had then been given to the Church. The Chief Secretary for Ireland objected to the Church of Ireland being considered in the light of a colonial Church; but he (Sir Frederick Heygate) contended that, in almost every point of view, the plantation of Ulster was nothing more nor less than a colonial Church, and that the Scotchmen and Englishmen had peopled it under circumstances entitling them to the continuance of their Churches. Hon. Members would, he thought, be impressed with the fallacy in the Ministerial scheme which treated the clergy as though they alone represented the Church. It was true that the clergy ought to be compensated fully for the loss they were about to sustain; but where was the compensation to the rest of the Church? Every member of the laity really had as much right to compensation as the clergy, whereas their only compensation was that the clergy were expected to sacrifice part of their incomes 1827 in order to form a fund for the future endowment of the Church. Under the new arrangement which would be necessary if the Bill passed, the Protestant Church would often be found in the wrong place; now, the church was in the centre of the parish, but, in the future, when they were left to the voluntary system, the church must be in that part of the parish where the great bulk of the Protestants lived; so that in many instances there would be the expense of building new churches in parishes where churches already existed. The glebe houses would not, in many cases, be so useful as might be supposed; they would be too large, for the voluntary system would never produce men of the same class as the present ministers. A most elaborate scheme was framed in reference to the tithe rent-charge; but he defied the Government to show how a system of religious equality would arise out of it. If they were to have religious equality, it should be thorough and complete. He believed that a great proportion of the Irish landlords would refuse to touch the tithe rent-charge even with the tips of their fingers, or would take it only with the intention of re-endowing the Church with her own property. Canada had been very much appealed to as affording an example of the success of the voluntary system; but, in the last year's Report of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, it was shown by several clergymen connected with churches in the Province of Quebec, that the Church of England there was struggling for existence, and that, if the aid of the Society were withdrawn, mission after mission would have to be closed. It appeared, however, that in Canada there were a great many endowments. Many of the clergy there had commuted their revenues for certain sums of money. He had enquired how it was that clergymen were able to recover from the Church Body the exact incomes they gave up. He found that such results were occasioned by the fact of the high rate of interest in Canada—that interest being sometimes no less than 20 per cent. The value of land also was constantly rising. Now the reverse of this was the case in Ireland. Even if the voluntary principle were as successful in Canada as had been represented by an hon. Member in that House, the circum- 1828 stances connected with its working in that country were entirely inapplicable to Ireland. One part of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal he heartily approved of, and that was the arrangement which enabled the clergy of the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian Churches or their congregations to borrow money from the Government, to be repaid by instalments spread over several years, for the building of suitable residences and glebe houses. He (Sir Frederick Heygate) had made a similar proposition some years ago. He thought that all clergymen were entitled to good residences. What was really wanted in Ireland was social equality, and all the religious equality they could establish would not of itself secure that object. It was not funds derived from Church property which had enabled clergymen of the Established Church to take socially a higher position, but it was because they sprung from classes possessing more property and education. In the application of the surplus the right hon. Gentleman seemed to have looked high and low to find a class with no religion in Ireland; for he had bound himself to the principle that the money should not be applied for the furtherance of any religious purposes. At last it appeared that he had selected lunatics and idiots, who were the only objects in Ireland supposed to be of no religion. With regard to the other classes enumerated, the difficulty had not been avoided, for in the North of Ireland most serious discussions had taken place with reference to the appointment of a chaplain to a deaf and dumb asylum, and the institution was nearly given up because the patrons could not agree upon that point. With regard, however, to the lunatics, he (Sir Frederick Heygate) would remind the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland that in 1867 the number of lunatics in Ireland was 15,600, whereas the hospital accommodation was only equal to 5,200 of them, and those were maintained at a cost of £149,000. If, then, this part of the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman were carried out, there should be provided accommodation for three times the number they housed at present, and of course the cost of their maintenance would be increased to about £450,000. This amount would be required for lunatics alone, and he be- 1829 lieved the right hon. Gentleman would have at his disposal only £209,000. [Mr. GLADSTONE: That is not my figure.] He had no doubt the figure would be found very near the mark, if it was not quite accurate. Then again, the particular treatment to be given to incurable lunatics, as distinguished from curable patients, was a subject calculated to raise many difficulties in the way of the right hon. Gentleman when the time came for giving effect to his plan. The percentage of incurable lunatics was between 80 or 90, whereas that of curable lunatics was 13 or 14. The question was at present assuming a great importance in England. In Belgium they had actually some villages appropriated to the reception of incurable lunatics, and the placing all lunatics in asylums was a; wrong principle. It appeared to him, that the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman involved a great waste of public money, and that it was going in the wrong direction. He would say that the maintenance of the poor and the care of lunatics should always be a first charge on property. As far as the cesspayers were concerned, he believed that, instead of this proposal resulting in a saving of the county cess, it would would have the very opposite effect. During the seventeen or eighteen years he had been connected with Ireland, he had noticed that there had been a series of delusions constantly practised; and once more the right hon. Gentleman had damaged the interests of the Irish people by teaching them to look for material improvement, not to their own industry and habits of order, but to the legislative changes which the right hon. Gentleman intended to effect. After the great famine, the idea of emigration was proclaimed. Well, a great many thousand people did then emigrate, and the House knew the opinion that was generally entertained of the effects of such a system. The next panacea was the creation of large farms; and landlords were induced to expend vast sums of money in furnishing their small tenants with the means of emigrating, in order that they might extend their farms, so as to enable the occupiers to maintain themselves and their families better than they could do by the cultivation of small portions of land. Well, what was the result of this arrangement? Why, that there was no language too bad to apply 1830 to such landlords. Next came the Incumbered Estates Court remedy, by which the people of Ireland were told that all the embarrassed landlords would be sold out, that the lands would be let at moderate rents, and would be better cultivated. It now appeared that the effects of such a measure were quite the reverse. Well, last year they had the Fenian craze. That was followed by the proposed purchase of the Irish railways by the Government as a panacea. And last of all, they were to be deluded with this measure of so-called religious equality. The great thing wanted in Ireland was peace and quietness; and all that was proposed to be obtained by the present sweeping measure might be procured by a measure for the reform of the Irish Church. Had a moderate and comprehensive measure of Church Reform been brought forward, real advantages might have been gained; but if this Bill passed—and he hoped it would not—the public mind, familiarized with all these changes and results, finding the advantages held out had not been secured, that property had become more unsettled than ever, that life was not a bit more secure, that discontent was more prevalent when the people of Ireland found themselves no better for the change, re-action would set in, and even the right hon. Gentleman himself would wish he had never proposed this measure. On the grounds he had stated, he believed the measure would be most prejudicial and unjust; and he should do all in his power to prevent its passing. If he stood alone—which he was very sure he would not do—he should certainty divide against the second reading. He would, in conclusion, say one more word as to what was called religious equality. Religious equality never would be attained in Ireland. The attempt was made in 1640 and failed, and it would fail again. In 1683, Dr. Peter Heylin, Sub-dean of Westminster, quaintly wrote—A learned prelate of this land,Thinking to make religion standWith equal poise on either side,A mixture of them both he tried.An ounce of Protestant he singleth,And then a dram of Papist mingleth,With a scruple of a Puritan,And boyled them in his brain-pan;But when he thought it would digest,The scruple troubled all the rest.As with doctrine, so with the members of different religions, each would strive 1831 for the mastery, and religious equality be as far off as ever.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
The speech just delivered by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Sir Frederick W. Heygate) affords another illustration of the remarkable fact that all the speeches made from the Opposition Benches during this debate seem to have been intended for the discussion in Committee, and not for the discussion on the second reading. He would not follow the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in that course; but would ask the House at this stage not to depart from the real issue then before them. That issue was plain and unmistakable. It was not whether establishment or disestablishment was right or wrong in the abstract—it was not whether endowment or disendowment was right or wrong in theory—these issues, important and suggestive as they were, did not constitute the issue raised on the second reading of the Bill. The real issue was—How is the Queen's Government to be carried on in Ireland? To that issue the House should direct its attention—and on that issue they should pronounce. Is Ireland to be governed as heretofore as a conquered country, or is a course of wise and beneficent legislation to be adopted, which will cause her people to feel that they are to be placed on the same platform of equality with the people of England and of Scotland, and to be ruled on the same principles of equity and justice? The Bill then before them asserted the principle that Ireland ought to be dealt with as an integral portion of the Empire—and that, and not minor details, was the subject on which they had to decide when they said "Aye" or "No" to the second reading. He (Sir John Gray) should admit that he listened with great admiration and much pleasure to the eloquent display made by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Disraeli), but in proportion to his admiration of his oratorical skill was his disappointment at his omission to define a policy for his party. The pleasure which he experienced was still more diminished by the bold assertion of the right hon. Gentleman—that the Established Church in Ireland held up the standard of toleration, and had been the bulwark of religious liberty in that country. It was to be deeply regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had not 1832 consulted his "historical conscience" before making that assertion. Had he done so, his "historical conscience" would, no doubt, have informed him that the history of the Established Church in Ireland, from the first hour of its existence to the present day, did not furnish one fact—did not even afford the shadow of an excuse—for the assertion that that Establishment ever sustained the cause of toleration, or that its mission was other than to suppress rather than to advance religious liberty in that country. He (Sir John Gray) would venture to say that the "historical conscience" of the Empire would declare that the whole career of that Establishment was adverse to religious liberty and freedom of conscience. He would, in proof of this opinion, go back to the first century after the introduction of the Reformation in Ireland. During that dark and gloomy period the progress of the Established Church was marked by the burning down of churches, the hanging of the priests of the people, by transportations and confiscations, and by the almost never ceasing presence of civil war, of bloodshed and of anarchy, the result of the means adopted to establish that Church. It might be said from the opposite Benches that that century was essentially one of strife and cruelty, and he would, therefore, pass from it and come down to that period which certain Gentlemen opposite delighted to describe as the "glorious and pious" epoch at which William III. was placed on the Throne, and from which the admirers of the Revolution of 1688 profess to date the establishment of peace, order, and civilization, and the security of religious liberty. He would confidently appeal from the "historical conscience" of the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment last night to the "historical conscience" of the House, and ask did the firm planting of the Established Church in Ireland at that period promote toleration in that country, or secure the religious liberties of the people? The last great struggle of the Irish race was made round the walls of Limerick, and ended not in defeat, but in the conclusion of a treaty ratified by William, which guaranteed religious liberty to the Irish Catholics. They all knew the result. The Catholic regiments laid down their arms—a few of the soldiers took service under the 1833 revolutionary King, but the majority, in accordance with the treaty, entered the service of foreign Princes, and departed from their native land feeling confident that by the Treaty of Limerick they had secured that for which they struggled—religious freedom and the security of property. What, however, was the result? Hardly had the Catholics laid down their arms, and hardly had the brave men who fought so fearlessly set sail till the treaty was repudiated by the supporters of the Established Church; and instead of that toleration, that religious liberty, and that protection of property which was guaranteed to the Irish Catholics by the treaty, a series of Penal Laws was enacted against the Irish people, the most cruel and oppressive, which has no parallel in the history of the world. The property of the Catholics was confiscated—their priests were banished—no Catholic was allowed to carry arms—to hold any office in the State—a Catholic was not permitted to be a barrister—to be an attorney—to be a doctor—to enter any of the learned professions; he could not hold a lease of land for more than thirty-one years—he was not permitted to be apprenticed to a trade—he was shut out from the guilds—he could not even become a shoemaker, or tailor, or a barber—he was denied the right to be educated—to him it was only permitted to live and be a serf in his own land. This was the standard of toleration raised in Ireland by the Established Church—this was the religious liberty which, according to the "historical conscience" of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, was maintained by that Church ! These laws were as immoral as they were cruel. By these the Conforming son was taught to rob his father, the wife was encouraged to acquire separate property by repudiating her allegiance to her husband, children were seized and made proselytes in infancy; and these laws were enacted by an Established Church House of Commons, elected by Protestant electors, and passed by an Established Church House of Peers, the working majority of which almost invariably consisted of Prelates of that Church, which we were told last night held up the "standard of toleration," and preached the Gospel of peace on earth and good-will to all mankind. He was unwilling to trespass on the attention of the House at any length on 1834 so important an occasion as the present when so many Members who had greater claims were anxious to take a part in the debate. He could not, however, retrain from congratulating the House and the Empire on the advance made on this question since he (Sir John Gray) brought it before the late Parliament in the year 1866 at the request of a conference of his brethren in the Irish representation. Many Members in the present Parliament were Members of that Parliament also, and would remember that he found some difficulty in getting a day fixed for the discussion. It was postponed from time to time, and he was indebted to the kindness of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the present Government for the assistance given him at that period, to which he mainly owed the opportunity he got for bringing forward his Motion. But though he obtained a full discussion he was not able to bring the question to a division, owing to the general apathy that prevailed, because of the then absence of all hope of any practical result. That is not quite three years since. He (Sir John Gray) was not, however, even then without hope—he had confidence in the justice of the cause and in the justice of the English people. In the succeeding year—1867—he found less difficulty in obtaining a day for the discussion, and they had the additional advantage of a division, and in a full House his Motion was defeated by Lord Derby's Government by only a majority of 12. That division was, to his apprehension, conclusive as to the advance of opinion, and he felt that the hour of justice had so nearly arrived that the question must pass from the hands of a non-official Member and be transferred from below the Gangway to the leading Benches. In that opinion his Irish brethren concurred. The question did pass not only from below the Gangway to the leading Benches but to the front Bench, and not only to the front Bench but to the hands of the Prime Minister—and he might say, even in his presence, to the hands of the leading Statesman of the day—the man whom the world would recognize hereafter as the great Statesman who gave peace and prosperity to Ireland, and strength and liberty to the Empire by the just and wise Irish policy he was originating—a policy that would identify his name with the first great effort during three centu- 1835 ries of English rule, to extend religious justice to the Irish people. In three years the question had advanced not only to the Ministerial Bench, but had reached the Throne, and obtained the gracious sanction and approval of the Queen. ["No, no !"] What ! Have Gentlemen opposite not read the gracious Speech of their Queen, in which she recommends this House and the other House of Parliament to adopt such wise and prudent legislation, with regard to the religious interest of Ireland, as would give peace and contentment to all her subjects in that kingdom? I repeat then, with emphasis, that this question has advanced to the Throne, and that not only the Parliament and the Cabinet, but the Sovereign and the people of these realms are of one accord on the great question raised by the Bill before us, and determined to do full though tardy justice on that subject to the Irish nation. Having thus briefly alluded to the rapid advance made in public opinion, he would ask the further indulgence of the House, and with permission offer a few observations on some of the topics embodied in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment against the policy of just government in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman in the course of his eloquent address last night said that it was an historical fact that whatever change was made in the Church in Ireland, that whenever and by whomsoever a change was made, it invariably resulted in the transfer of some of the property of the Church to the pockets of the Irish landlords. In that his (Sir John Gray's) "historical conscience" quite coincided with the "historical conscience" of the Leader of the Opposition; and as the right hon. Gentleman omitted to supply proofs of his statement, he (Sir John Gray) would ask permission to supplement that statement by official proofs of its accuracy. On this subject he (Sir John Gray) was an enthusiastic supporter of the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman, that the Irish landlords pocketed the plunder of that very Church, as defenders of which their representatives appeared there that night, and he made a few extracts from the Returns of Lord Derby's Church Commission of 1867, in order to demonstrate that the right hon. Gentleman did not exaggerate the facts when he said that the Irish 1836 Protestant landlords were the great spoliators of the Church, and appropriated to themselves the plunder of that institution which they professed to revere. He would not trouble the House with many illustrations of the truth of that assertion, which, however consoling, as a matter of fact, was not a very complimentary statement for their Leader to make as to the purity of the motives of the Irish Church defenders. Beginning with Ulster, the first case he would cite was that of a distinguished Duke, the late Viceroy in Ireland, who, as President of the Church Defence Association of Ulster, would be admitted to have a a claim to precedence. That noble Duke was reported by the Royal Commissioners—of whom the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) was one of the most distinguished and able—to be possessed of 5,736 acres of the episcopal lands of Derry, and of other lands of the same character, the extent of which was not given. These lands were in the immediate vicinity of the noble mansion of Baronscourt—than which there is not a more princely residence in Ireland—and may be said in fact to be demesne lands. For that vast territory he pays the Church an annual rent of £69 12s. 1½ d., and a fine of £678 11s. 9d., making a total annual payment of £748 3s. 10½ d., or about 2s. 7d. per acre. Adjoining Baronscourt is situate the prosperous town of Newtownstewart, around which are clustered the ruined churches and castles of the O'Neils—sad memorials of a Royal house, and historic monuments of the fate of the ruin and confiscation for conscience' sake that befell a conquered but a chivalrous race. On turning to the records of the adjoining diocese of Kilmore he found, according to the same Return, that a Mr. Jones, the descendant of a Welshman of that name, who had to be imported to perform episcopal functions in Ireland—the native Bishops having refused to have any identification with the State Church—enjoyed 5,938 acres of the episcopal lands of which his episcopal progenitor had the fiduciary charge, and for this princely territory this son of the Church pays only £725 15s. 10d. annually, including rent and fines—or about 2s. 5d. per acre. In the same diocese there were many aristocratic descendants of another episcopal family—the Beresfords—whose 1837 ancestor came to Ireland, and settled in Coleraine in 1614 as the bailiff of the London traders, when James I. resolved to plant Ulster with Protestants imported to occupy the lands and churches from which the Catholics were expelled. One member of that episcopal family is reported by the Commissioners to hold in perpetuity 3,731 acres 2 roods 9 perches of the see lands of Kilmore, and another member of the family—the Most Rev. Father in God, Marcus Jervis Beresford, now Lord Primate of Ireland, holds also in perpetuity 3,777 acres 3 roods and 36 perches of the ancient see lands of Kilmore, for which they pay the Church the nominal rent respectively of £826 13s. 6d., and £765 6s. 3d., or equal to 4s. 1d. per acre per annum. They heard a great deal last night from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition about the fiduciary character imposed on Church property. His speech on that branch of the subject was quite learned and instructive, and, no doubt, a person who could speak so eloquently on the nature of trusts will highly appreciate the fiduciary care manifested by this episcopal family in their dealings with the see lands over which they, from time to time, presided. Possibly the fiduciary Bishops thought the best mode of discharging the trusts committed to them would be the establishing the members of their own families as magnates in the land, by conferring on them the property of the Established Church. In addition to the two cases referred to he referred to some of the Beresford Bishops, who carried out the fiduciary duties confided to them by establishing for another member of their family—the Marquess of Waterford, President of the Church Defence Association of Munster—a right to 1,532 acres of the lands attached to the see of Kilmore. In the see of Armagh the same system prevails. One of the Maxwells—also a descendant of an episcopal family, whose ancestor was imported from Scotland to be "planted" as a Protestant on the lands of the Catholics who were expelled for not conforming, and who rose by means of the Church to wealth and dignity, and eventually founded the Earldom of Farnham, holds 2,133 acres at £256 10s yearly, about 2s.5d. per acre. In Meath diocese the Balfours, also an ecclesiastical family, hold 8,273 acres at £387 13s. 10d., or 1838 about 11d. per acre, and Meath contains some of the richest land in Ireland. In Dublin the same alineation to scions of episcopal families prevailed, and one of that lucky class, Mr. Cobbe, a gentleman of great political activity, and a great friend of the Church, holds 7,050 acres of the see lands of Dublin in perpetuity for £233 7s. 10d. per annum, or less than 8d. per acre. The last illustration he would trouble the House with was taken from the archdiocese of Cashel, one of the descendants of the Archbishop of Cashel, who came as a clerical adventurer to Ireland, attracted, no doubt, by the good tidings of the good things that were to be obtained there, and eventually reached the mitre and grasped an Earldom—the Earl of Normanton—holds 8,510 acres of the best lands in Ireland at 4s. 4d. per acre. The lands are well known to many Members of this House, they adjoin the property of Lord Derby, and form part of a tract so rich and fertile that it is called the Golden Vale of Ireland, and which would on an average bring £2 an acre. He might multiply similarly gross instances of see lands alienated to members of episcopal families and others at rents so purely nominal that the lands might as well have been confiscated by the Bishops for the benefit of their descendants—a course which, on reflection, ought not to have been so severely censured by the right hon. Gentleman, for it, in fact, seemed to be the most effective application of the property for the establishment of the Church. Looking then to the see lands, and the manner in which they were parcelled out by the Bishops to enrich their families and connections and friends, he would confidently ask who were the spoliators of the Church—were they the men who sought to apply the property for the benefit of the whole people, or were they not rather the men who appropriated it to their own families, and the men who continued to enjoy the spoil while pretending in this House and elsewhere to be the only friends of the Church? He for one flung back the term spoliation to the Benches from which it issued, and denounced the men who continued to hold the rich and fruitful lands of the Church as family perquisites as the true spoliators of that institution. But the episcopal lands did not contribute the only property of the Church which was spoliated by the Pro- 1839 testant landlords of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman, to whose elaborate speech he had so often referred, stated that since the year 1834 the Irish land lords had pocketed more than £3,000,000 of the tithe rent-charge which ought to have been paid to the Church. He (Sir John Gray) regretted that the right hon. Gentleman was not a little more precise in his figures, for, according to his calculation, the sum so pocketed amounted more nearly to £4,250,000—money-spoil taken from the Church, and pocketed by the Irish landlord friends of the Church. This sum constituted, however, but a fraction of the sum total of which those friends of the Church despoiled it. The agitation of the Irish landlords to abolish the title of agistment, and thus free their grass lands and demesnes from tithes, while still leaving the burden on their agricultural tenants, almost created a clerical rebellion in Ireland quite as serious as that with which the Church defence agitators now threaten the State. The Irish landlords in both Houses of the Irish Parliament were, however, resolved—they carried their point, and to this day the clergy and Bishops in their essays on the Church question complain of that spoliation. The hon. and rev. Henry O'Brien, brother to Lord Inchiquin, a respected minister of the Established Church, in a remarkable pamphlet which has just issued from his pen, says—The tithes were commuted for a tenth of their value, and, to secure that tenth, 25 per cent had to be given to the landlords as the only agents able to collect them from the indignant native occupiers of the soil.He did not think the rev. gentleman exaggerated very much, for on referring to the last available Returns of the value of crops in Ireland, he found corroboration of the estimate. The House must remember that tithes meant the tenth part of the produce, and that any adjustment as to the commutation was assumed to represent that tenth, and the tenth sheep, the tenth sack of potatoes, the tenth lamb, the tenth egg were wont to be exacted in Ireland; and if the Church had a right to the tithes it had a right to the full tenth of the whole produce. He found from the last Returns that the value of the agricultural crops in Ireland in 1867, exclusive of pasturage, was £30,000,000, and he found by the Returns of the 1840 Royal Commissioners that the amount of rent-charge paid to the Church in lieu of the tenth of the produce was under £370,000. The difference then between £3,000,000 annually and the £370,000 was merged in the landlords' rent, and represented the amount of which the Irish landlords despoiled the Church—their loved, cherished. Church—under that one head of spoliation. Who, then, he would repeat, were the spoliators of the Church? Were they not—in the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition—the Irish landlords? The right hon. Gentleman stated with great dogmatism that the plan of capitalization provided for in the 23rd clause of the Bill would be of no benefit to the Church, and that even if all the incumbents commuted their life interests there would be no balance left at the period when all the annuitants would have passed away. He regretted to observe that on that evening the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University (Dr. Ball) endorsed that statement of his Chief, and even added that there might be an actual money-loss but that there could be no gain. He (Sir John Gray) had taken some trouble to investigate this matter, and made some careful calculations to ascertain the probable working of the capitalization, and arrived at the conclusion that, by proper management, there would result a balance that would give nearly one-third of the present income of the Endowed Church as the income available for the Disendowed Church at the termination of the annuities secured by the Bill. Not content with his own calculations, he showed his result to an eminent authority on such subjects, who confirmed it. But if the right hon. Gentleman should prove right in his estimate, it is in the power of the Irish landlords, by disgorging a little of the Church spoil which their Leader says they put into their own pockets, to make up the difference, and thus prove the sincerity of their professions of attachment to their cherished institution. The present net income from public sources of the incumbents is reported by the Church Commissioners at £481,436 2s. 3d. The Primate and other ecclesiastical writers report it as less than £400,000; but taking it at the highest figure it will be apparent that a very little restitution of the plunder of Church property by 1841 Irish landlords, of which their Leader so justly complains, would render the Church altogether independent of the voluntary offerings of the poorer members. The capital sums contemplated by the Act, as stated by the Rev. Alfred Lee and circulated by the Church Institution, is £5,700,000. This £5,700,000 might easily be vested in lands or on good Protestant mortgages at 4½ per cent, which would produce £256,500 a year. If the Protestant landlords who have pocketed, as the right hon. Gentleman says, so much of the money of the Church since 1834, would re-pay the Church as interest on that sum even 4 per cent, it would bring the annual income of the disendowed Church to more than £400,000 a year, assuming that the calculation is right, that eight-ninths of the landed property of Ireland is owned by Protestants. Every man acquainted with the management of land in Ireland knows that the usual percentage for agency fees is 5 per cent as a maximum. That covers all fees for sub-agents, bailiffs, drivers, &c.; and surely if a Protestant landlord can collect his own rack-rents for 5 per cent he ought not to have charged his beloved Church 25 per cent for collecting the stipend. But he would not even ask the Protestant landlord to disgorge the whole of the 25 per cent. He would allow him as much as any other tithe-proctor was allowed; and even allowing the 5 per cent for collecting, there is at present merged in the land, and received by the landlord as rent, a clear 20 per cent of the property which belonged to the Church—part of that spoil of which the Leader of the Opposition spoke, and that being property actually paid to the landlords as rent, and retained by them as the usurious tithe-proctor's fee, they ought in all honesty, and no doubt judging by their professed desire to sustain the Church they will feel bound to pay it over henceforth to that institution which is the life and light of the nation. Eight-tenths of that, the Protestant landlords' portion of the spoil, would be about £88,000 a year, which, added to the sums already named, would place the Church in nearly the same position financially that she now enjoys. He did not ask the friends of the Church to disgorge the whole of the spoil they had pocketed, or any of it. He only asked them to pay a small interest on the spoil of the last thirty-five 1842 years, and for the future not to rob the Church by the usurious demand of 25 per cent as tithe-proctors' fees when they could get the work done for less than 5 per cent. By this suggestion be would test the sincerity of the Irish Protestant landlords, and the Church would test the reality of their pretended devotion to its interests and its financial prosperity. He hoped they would hear no more of spoliation from the Opposition Benches until the Irish landlords on those Benches shall have announced their determination to disgorge at least the small portion he indicated of the spoil and plunder they have exacted from the Irish Church. He did not set much value on the capitalization plan. He would not like to see any, even a seeming remnant of the injustice remaining, no matter how the fund might be accumulated and preserved; but at the same time he felt that the question before them was removed far above the narrow question of pounds, shillings, and pence, and would cheerfully accept the Bill as it stood—as a Bill that aimed at the accomplishment of fair and righteous legislation for Ireland, and would for the sake of that great end, and to secure the entire unity of action, give up any special opinions of his own to secure the success of the great measure before them. It was said on the previous night by the hon. Gentleman the Member for South-west Lancashire (Mr. Cross) that the Fenians had made no allusion to the Church question in any of their proclamations, and that it was not therefore one of the grievances of which they complained. It was known to every Irish Member in this House—and he would tell hon. Gentlemen opposite—that the Fenians, with whom they seemed to have some secret alliance, were persons who ignored the authority of that House, of the House of Lords, and of the Throne, and who consequently would never come there as petitioners. He disagreed with the Fenians; the Gentlemen opposite might support them, and cherish them, and stimulate them, but he would not. He told them that the Fenians would seek no redress from them—their policy was to repudiate all Parliamentary action, and refer only to the arbitrament of the sword. He was ever anxious to dissuade his countrymen from the folly of such a mad and wicked policy. He told them again and again and ever would tell them, that it was as 1843 foolish as it was wrong and immoral, and he warned Gentlemen opposite that the course they were taking on the great question of religious equality was the true pabulum of discontent and disaffection in Ireland. They were by that course confirming the people in their adhesion to the doctrines of those who told them not to appeal to Parliament for redress, but to look to their own right arms. The policy of those who supported the Bill was on the other hand the only policy that would stifle discontent by giving the hope and the reality of justice. He supported that policy because it would unite the two peoples and the two kingdoms—it would teach the Irish people to look to Parliament for the redress of wrongs, and persuade them that, though centuries of misgovernment had well nigh crushed out the energies of the people, the Crown had at length become their friend and the law their protection. That policy, if steadily acted on, would rally the Irish people round the Throne, the Constitution, and the law; it would paralyze Fenianism, and put an end to its proclamations.
§ VISCOUNT CRICHTON
Under ordinary circumstances I should not venture to obtrude myself upon the House of which I have so lately become a Member. But living as I do in the North of Ireland, and representing a northern constituency, I do not feel it consistent with my duty to give a silent vote, but as far as it is in my power to give expression to the sentiments and the feelings of those among whom I have lived, and the constituents I have the honour to represent. I bespeak, therefore, that indulgence which the House generally has accorded to those who laboured under the disadvantage of addressing them for the first time. I feel that disadvantage the more as the subject has been so thoroughly handled, and the ground so fully occupied by the debates of last year, and in the course of the appeal which has since been made to the country, so that there is little that is fresh to advance on the subject. I agree with the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) in thinking that we ought now to discuss the principle of the measure, and not go into details which might more properly be left for Committee. I have listened with deep attention to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman who introduced the measure which is 1844 now under discussion (Mr. Gladstone), and also to the speeches of hon. Members who have spoken in defence of the measure, and I have carefully studied the details of the Bill itself, but I have failed to discover either in their arguments or in the provisions of the Bill anything tending to lessen the aversion which I have always entertained with regard to the projected spoliation of the revenues of the Established Church in Ireland, and the disconnection of religion from the State in that part of the United Kingdom. And, Sir, although nothing could be more lucid or admirable than the exposition of the right hon. Gentleman when introducing the Bill for the first time, still, however, there are a few points upon which I think the House is entitled to some further explanation at the hands of Her Majesty's Government; and in the first place I presume we may infer, although I did not quite clearly understand it to be so, that the Bishops and incumbents are, for the rest of their life, or for the time that they continue to fulfil the duties of their office, to be left in possession not only of the fabric of the glebe houses, but also of such, portions of the glebe lands surrounding the houses as they hold in their own hands, what are called in Ireland the "demesnes." Now, these demesnes have, for the most part, been entirely created by former incumbents, who may be said to have invested their money in their creation on the understanding that they were to remain for ever in the possession and for the uses of the Church; this investment may be looked upon in the light of private endowment and, according to the principles laid down in the case of the benefactions of Primates Boulter and Robinson, ought to be respected. But we are told that upon the lapse of the present incumbencies, the New Governing Body is to be allowed to purchase only ten acres round the glebe houses—the fabrics themselves being thrown into the bargain, solely on account of their utter worthlessness to anybody else. I think, therefore, the House has a right to be informed if any or what deductions from the price of these ten acres is to be made on account of improvements, and also what arrangements are to be made in the case of demesnes exceeding ten acres. Again, Sir, there is the commutation of the Regium Donum, and the grant to Maynooth. I have al- 1845 ways understood that these monies have been paid out of the Imperial Exchequer, the Consolidated Fund, or something of that sort; and although I had not the advantage of being in the House last year when the Resolutions were passed, I heard that the right hon. Gentleman then declared that on no account would he, or those with whom he was acting, think of bestowing any of the confiscated revenues of the Church upon the members of any other denomination; yet, in spite of their declarations, in spite of the announcement that, in the measure now proposed, no deviation from the principles laid down last year will be found, we hear that the commutation of the incomes of the Presbyterian clergy and the Maynooth Professors, amounting to £1,100,000, is to be provided for out of the disposable funds of the confiscated Church property, and that the Imperial Exchequer is to be to that amount relieved from Irish burdens—thus obliterating those letters of iron in which it is written that the money is to be applied to Irish purposes. Well, Sir, private endowments are to be respected, but with this limitation—that they must date from the year of the Restoration of Charles II., 1660. But why fix the date at 1660 instead of 1634? Even on the principles laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, private endowments should date from this year; for in a Convocation then held the Thirty-nine Articles were unanimously received and adopted though, probably out of respect to Archbishop Ussher, at whose instance the Lambeth Articles were adopted in 1615; the latter were never formally repealed. Now, I presume there is a diversity of opinion as to what was the exact date of the commencement of the Reformation in Ireland. Some will maintain that it dates from the time of the rejection of the Papal supremacy in the reign of Henry VIII., I believe in the year 1536—two years later than in England; others will date it from the substitution, under Edward VI., of the English Liturgy for the Latin Mass in 1551; while, perhaps, a third party, taking into account the changes and disturbances in the succeeding reign, will not admit that a final settlement took place till the accession of Elizabeth, when, in a Parliament in Dublin, in I think the year 1560—a Parliament attended by three Archbishops and seven- 1846 teen Bishops, the Reformation was accepted with only two dissentient voices, and subsequently ecclesiastically ratified in a Synod convened by the Lord Deputy a few months later. However, taking the very latest of those points of time, there still remains a period of 106 years—a period, too, of very considerable zeal and earnestness, during which we know for certain that many private valuable endowments were bestowed on the Reformed Church. Well, Sir, I admit that the troubled state of that period would perhaps make it difficult now to trace the source of some of those endowments; but when we consider that a very considerable portion of them, between £30,000 and £40,000 a year were regained for the Church through the instrumentality of Primate Bramhall, then Bishop of Derry, and with the co-operation of Charles I., Lord Strafford, and Archbishop Laud, who, I think, will hardly be accused of Calvinistic or Puritanical tendencies, I think the House will see that as to this portion of them, at all events, there can be no uncertainty whether it was intended for Episcopal or Presbyterian purposes, and that its devotion to the erection of lunatic asylums would be a distinct violation of the principle of respecting private endowments. I shall say no more on this subject, but pass on to notice what I conceive would be the unjust operation of the measure against poor curates in Ireland. In illustration of this view I will mention one instance which has come under my own I observation in the town which I have the honour to represent. It is that of a poor curate who, thirty years ago, was in his father's office, but having changed his views in life had taken Holy Orders. From that day to this lie had been in the receipt of £70 a year from the Church fund. He had lately had besides an additional income of £60 a year as garrison chaplain, but that source of income was fluctuating, and might cease at any time. That worthy man had a wife, and, like most Irish curates, several children. Under the present Bill, the hopes of advancing himself in life with which he had entered the clerical profession would be put an end to, and he would be condemned for the rest of his life to his miserable £70 a year. Now, Sir, as regards the principle of the measure itself, I wish, in the first place, to express my satisfaction that the "levelling up" 1847 scheme, as it was termed last Session, is not to be revived; for much as I deprecate the proposed measure, I should view with still more distrust and dislike any scheme for propping up existing institutions by the co-endowment of another, and, as I believe, alien and hostile creed; and in the second place—for I suppose it behoves us now-a-days to be thankful for small mercies—that we are not to be subjected to the pains of a lingering death but, by the favour and excessive benevolence of our executioners, a short, sharp and speedy termination is to be put to our sufferings. But, Sir, I fear that these two topics exhaust all the gratitude which I am capable of entertaining towards the right hon. Gentlemen who form Her Majesty's Government, for I confess that I am utterly unable to appreciate their assurances that the result of this measure will be favourable to the advancement of religion, to the interests of Protestantism, and to the stability of the property, the laws and the institutions of the country. I suppose the object of disestablishment is to remove a sentimental and of disendowment is to remove a practical grievance; but, if I mistake not very much, one of the very first effects of the measure will be to add another practical grievance to those which are already supposed to exist. There is a very wide spread, and, indeed, a very natural, idea among the peasantry who cannot be expected to enter into or comprehend all the subtleties and intricacies of the question, that when the Church is done away with, and the parsons, as they imagine they will be, are sent about their business, that they will no longer be called upon to contribute their quota to the tithe commutation rent-charge, and that accordingly there will be a corresponding diminution in their rent; when, therefore, they come to the office on the next rent day and are told that they are not to get any diminution, but are for the future to pay for the support of lunatics, and deaf, dumb and blind, instead of the clergyman who resides amongst them and spends his money in indiscriminate charity and employment of labour, they will very naturally think that they have been sold; and not being disposed to believe that they themselves will ever come under the category of those classes intended to be relieved, will consider an 1848 almost imperceptible diminution of county cess a very inadequate return for what they had been led to expect. Well, Sir, I believe that will be one of the first effects of the measure upon the class it is intended to benefit; but what will be its effect upon the class that it is intended to despoil? What will be its effect upon the scattered families of poor Protestants in the South and West of Ireland whose ancestors settled there on the faith of pledges that they and their descendants should have the ministrations of the Gospel according to the doctrines of the Reformed Religion maintained for them, when they, few in numbers, possessing little wealth, and not backed up by resident gentry to help them with their purse and their influence, are deprived of the ministrations now within their reach? How will they maintain a clergyman to baptize their children, to train them in the paths of knowledge and virtue, and in their dying hour to minister the consolations of religion? Sir, for an answer we have not to look back to history, we have but to refer to what happened in the beginning of the 18th century—an age of spiritual deadness, when, in consequence of the bad provision for the spiritual wants of the Protestants in the more uncivilized parts of the country, many of the meaner people, as Archbishop King relates, and among them the descendants of Cromwell's soldiers, were daily going off to Popery. History, we are told, never fails to repeat itself, and this I say will be the effect of the measure, and those who have initiated it will have to bear the responsibility, and I do not envy them the burden, that the light of the Reformation will be extinguished in many parts of Ireland. Sir, I believe this to be essentially a poor man's question—not a rich man's. I believe the Church in Ireland—as indeed the Church everywhere, notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary—to be the Church of the poor and not of the rich. I hold that to be the essence of an Establishment, as opposed to the voluntary system, that its ministrations should be provided free of expense to those who are not able to contribute themselves towards the support of the minister and the maintenance of the Churches. I shall not, therefore, enter into those arguments by which it has been argued, and I hold successfully argued, that this measure will be de- 1849 structive of the rights of property. I shall not weary the House by endeavouring to prove that St. Patrick was a Protestant, or that the Bishops of the Irish Church deduce their succession in uninterrupted descent from him, while the Roman Catholic Bishops are intruders, deriving their orders from Rome and Spain. I will not enumerate the legislative enactments by which her property was granted and settled upon her, and the collateral securities by which they were guaranteed when changes affecting her status and integrity were accomplished. All these matters have been so debated and thrashed out both during the last Session of Parliament and in the interval when the appeal was being made to the country, that it would require one with more eloquence than I possess to lay them before the House in a shape which would command its forbearance and attention. But, Sir, I hope the House will bear with me a little while longer while I endeavour to state, as briefly as I can, my views as to the reasons which are usually assigned by those who advocate a change unprecedented and almost without parallel in the history of our country. I believe the main argument briefly stated is this—that the Church as a corporate body or I believe to speak correctly, an aggregate of corporations, having been connected with and endowed by the State, with certain property for a certain purpose, and having failed in that purpose, it is competent for the State to dissolve that connection and to resume those endowments. I am not enough of a lawyer to go into the difference between the rights of corporations and the rights of individuals, but as far as regards tithes, which make up the chief part of her property, I do not think any date can be assigned for the period when the State can be said to have endowed the Church with them. I believe that tithes have been Church property existing from the earliest times, and though unknown to the Irish Church at the Council of Cashel in the reign of Henry II., cannot be said to have been then granted for the first time, but were rather an assertion of the Church's right, believed to be of divine origin, which the State lent its active jurisdiction to enforce; but I do not admit that the sole or even the primary purpose or mission of the Irish Church is to convert the Roman. Catholics. I 1850 believe the first test of her efficiency is the manner in which she has kept in her fold and ministered to the spiritual wants of those committed to her charge; and however much in times past from causes, over which she at least had no control, her ministers may have neglected their duties, even those who are now seeking her destruction are compelled to bear testimony to the piety and devotedness of her clergy, the zeal and liberality of her laity, and the great increase in the number of churches, of curates and of congregations that has taken place during the lifetime of the present generation—and if I am told that she has failed altogether as a missionary Church, I can point to the operations of the different Church Missionary Societies, especially in Connaught, whereby during the last thirty years the number of churches has been increased from seven to thirty; of congregations, from thirteen to fifty-seven; of clergy, from eleven to thirty-five; and of the Church population, notwithstanding emigration, 2,326 souls; while by the instrumentality of the West Connaught Church Endowment Society, during the last nine years nearly £25,000 have been collected, and nine districts have been provided with churches, schools, and a permanent endowment for a clergyman. But, Sir, admitting that she has not made as much progress in missionary-work as might have been desired or hoped for since the period of the Reformation, what, I ask, is the main reason and cause? Because she has been used by the English Government and the English Parliament as a political engine; and because Ireland has from the earliest times been made the battle-field for contending parties; and I must here ask the indulgence of the House while I enumerate the causes which have operated to hinder her efficiency, for I think that when an English Parliament is asked to assent to a measure like the present, it is but fair that it should clearly understand that the causes assigned for this measure are causes having their origin in the action of Parliament itself. The selections of her Bishops and superior clergy wore made more with the view of advancing English rule and English power than for the promotion of the spiritual welfare and instruction of the people—the very fact of the Reformation originating in England was sufficient of 1851 itself to arouse the hostility of the Irish, and this hostility to the English race rather than to the religion—a hostility having its origin in days when the Church itself was Roman Catholic, is demonstrated by the fact that in the Irish language there is even to this day no word for Protestant—Sassenach or Saxon is the only equivalent for it. Such was the dread of the Irish language, or the desire of extinguishing it, that the Act of Uniformity (2nd Elizabeth), provided that if an Irish priest were ignorant of the English language, he might perform the Church Service in Latin; and yet, notwithstanding this, it is well known that the Latin Edition of the Prayer Book was never circulated in Ireland, and consequently the service used in those parts of Ireland where the clergy were ignorant of English, must have been the old Roman service. Spenser describes the kind of men who were sent over to Ireland to fill the highest offices of the Church in graphic language. Again, the condition of the country, rent by civil war, which was fomented by the intrigues of the Popes and their emissaries, prevented the spread of religion; and after the plantation of Ulster in the reign of James I. had given some hopes of a new era of peace and progress, thirty years' cessation from internal discord had enabled the Church to make some progress in establishing religion and order, the frightful massacres of 1641, directed chiefly against the members of her Communion—for it is a curious fact that the rebels were ordered to spare the Scotch Presbyterians in the North—diminished her numbers, and the subsequent accession to power of Cromwell, whose perhaps necessary retaliation and cruelties had increased the hostility of the natives to England and to the Reformation, instead of bringing redress or consolation to the afflicted Church, only increased her troubles; for the Republican Government which had overturned the monarchy and the Church in England, was not likely to deal more leniently with the Church in Ireland, but suppressed her Liturgy, imprisoned her Bishops and clergy, and sequestered the revenues of her benefices and sees. If we take into account the further troubles in the reign of James II., I think it will be admitted that she never had anything like approaching to a fair chance till the time of William III.; but 1852 even then the causes which before operated to impair her efficiency were still in existence. Everybody will remember Dean Swift's humourous description of the Englishmen who came over to fill the Irish benefices in his time—namely, that they were the highwaymen who had robbed the true and reverend missionaries on Hounslow Heath on their journey to Ireland, and personating their victims, came with the vestments and credentials robbed by them, and procured admission to the Irish livings. The Penal Laws, enacted professedly in the interests of the Church, in reality increased the aversion of the Roman Catholics towards her, and deepened the mutual animosities of party and creed. Then, again, the selfish policy of the landlords prevented the increase of the Protestant population by preferring Roman Catholic tenants, who, being accustomed to a lower scale of living, were prepared to offer, though not always to pay, any amount of rent which might be demanded, and consequently to outbid the former, who, being unable to live by farming, emigrated in large numbers; indeed till the famine time, emigration was almost exclusively confined to Protestants. And it was not only by these external operations that the Church was affected and her usefulness impaired. Successive legislative enactments stripped her of her property and diminished her revenues. Again, by the selfish policy of a Parliament of Protestant landlords, the clergy were deprived of the tithe of agistment; the Church Temporalities Act suspended ten bishoprics, and out of their incomes and a tax laid upon those of the remainder, vestry cess hitherto levied as a Church rate was supplied, and her already maimed revenues were further diminished by the operation of the tithe commutation rent-charge, whereby at one swoop a fourth of the tithes still remaining were handed over to the landlords. When, therefore, you consider that at the time of the Revolution the Church population of Ireland was 100,000 to 800,000 Roman Catholics, or one in eight; and at the last Census it was 700,000 to 4,500,000, or one to six-and-a half; and when you consider that this actual and relative increase in her numbers has taken place spite of all the obstacles to which I have referred, the wonder is not that she has failed to convert all Ireland to the Protestant faith, 1853 but that she exists at all; and the injustice of the measure by which it is proposed to take from the clergy who have extorted by their conduct, even from their enemies, unqualified praise and approbation, property which was without questioning freely bestowed on men confessedly unworthy of it two centuries ago, and which, had it come down un-mutilated and in its entirety, would have been worth £250,000 a year more now, the injustice, I say, of this measure becomes more and more apparent. The only other point with reference to which I must ask leave to make a few observations is the argument directed against, what may perhaps be called, the sentimental part of the grievance,—namely, Establishment, when it is asserted that the Church is the symbol of ascendancy, and that the Bishops and clergy of the Church of the majority of the people are insulted and aggrieved by the spectacle of the ministers of a smaller body in connection and communion with the State, and in the enjoyment of whatever advantages and dignity may be supposed to be derived from such a connection. Now I am afraid that this feeling, though ennobled with the name of a sentimental grievance, partakes more closely of the nature of a more sordid and less dignified emotion—namely envy, and more particularly of envy as defined by Dr. Johnson "Pain felt and malignity conceived at the sight of excellence and happiness." But after all, what is this ascendancy—it is not the existence of Penal Laws, for every vestige of them have long been swept off the statute book; it is not the exclusion of Roman Catholics from the high offices of State, for one of that persuasion now fills the post of Lord Chancellor of Ireland, the highest office to which a subject can be called; and out of the twelve puisne Judges, eight are Roman Catholics, a great disproportion when we consider the relative numbers of the two creeds at the bar. In what then does it consist? In this simple fact, or rather in the assertion of this simple fact, the ascendancy of the Queen in her own kingdom over a foreign Potentate, a Potentate who would not allow the subjects of that Queen to build even one church in his own capital. Nor is this ascendancy, this supremacy a thing of recent date, although finally established by Henry VIII. It has been asserted by English monarchs from the 1854 earliest times, and from the days of William the Conqueror the right of the Crown to create bishoprics was jealously guarded as one of the highest prerogatives of our Sovereigns. This prerogative was more jealously asserted in Roman Catholic days than afterwards, for when in the time of Henry II. Cardinal Vivian was sent as legate to Scotland, Ireland and Norway, on his arrival in England the King sent the Bishops of Ely and Winchester to ask him on whose authority he grew so hardy as to come into his kingdom without his leave, and he was not permitted to travel throughout England without giving his oath that he would not exercise his commission without the King's leave. In this supremacy of the Queen then lies the sole vestige of ascendancy that is to be found in the Constitution of the country; under it the Bishops and clergy of the alien religion,—for I assert that the Roman Catholic is the alien religion as opposed to the national—enjoy a greater degree of liberty than is accorded perhaps in any part of the world. They are permitted unlimited freedom of worship, of speech, and of action; and, unhappily, in many instances, they ill requite this forbearance by indulging in inflammatory and seditious harangues and by undue interference with the freedom of elections to an extent which if practised in Roman Catholic France or Austria, would speedily gain for them an introduction to the police authorities of those countries. And when this supremacy of the Queen is abolished, as it will be when you have accomplished the disestablishment of the Church, think not that it will be long before another is substituted. The machinery is even now ready. You have a Cardinal Prince of the Holy Roman Empire—who, I fear, is beginning to lead by the nose certain distinguished personages on the other side of the Channel,—at the head of a powerful hierarchy and a highly organized parochial system permeating the length and breadth of the land, ready to step in and fill the void you are inviting us to make, and the result will be the substitution of the supremacy of the Pope for the mild and beneficent rule of our gracious Sovereign. Sir, I believe that ascendancy, that Protestant ascendancy consists in that which Parliament never had the power to give, and which no Parliament ever will have the power to take away. I believe it 1855 consists in those qualities of energy, self-reliance, frugality and industry, which have turned the comparatively unfertile soil of Ulster from a wilderness into a garden and has peopled its cities with a thriving and industrious population. Sir, I believe these habits have been fostered and matured by the teaching of a Church, which while, on the one hand it asserts the free and unfettered exercise of the right of private judgment and of the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, on the other by providing an independent provision for its ministers, prevents them from deferring their better judgment to the prejudices, and too often the caprices of their congregations upon whom they would otherwise be dependent for their support. Sir, I rejoice to think that the Legislature—though in the plenitude of its power it may strip her of her possessions, may lower the social status of her clergy, and may injure the State by severing the connection which has so long existed between them,—cannot deprive her laity of those qualities which they owe in so great a degree to her teaching and influence; but this it can do and this, I fear, much will be the effect of the measure we are now invited to pass; it can intensify and embitter those party feelings which have unhappily so long existed amongst us. It can put a stop to that era of progress and prosperity which is now beginning to dawn upon Ireland; it can exasperate and disgust by a sense of unmerited wrong—the most loyal, the most prosperous, and the most improving section of Her Majesty's subjects. Sir, it has been endeavoured to prove that a revulsion of feeling has taken place on this subject in the North of Ireland; we have been treated to boastings about the Liberal flag waving in triumph over four of the former fortresses of ascendancy in Ulster; but independently of the fact that three out of the four at one time or another returned Members holding opinions identical with those of their present representatives—a fact which rather qualifies the value of the boast—I believe that it has been indisputably proved that in two at least of these fortresses the substitution of a Liberal for a Conservative has not been owing to any revulsion of Protestant feeling, but to the influx of the Roman Catholic element, consequent on the lowering of the franchise, while in the other two I be- 1856 lieve, the change was owing to circumstances wholly unconnected with the Church question. Sir, I believe, on the contrary, we are sustained by the increasing force of public opinion in England; the verdicts of the great constituencies of Lancashire, of Middlesex, of Kent, Surrey and Westminster, have compelled even The Times to admit that the Irish Establishment has been maintained by the superior force of English opinion against the judgment of Scotland and the resentment of Ireland. Sir, in times when Statesmen cast away like an old garment, the cherished convictions of a lifetime, when the hierarchy of a Church, whatever we may think of its tenets, possessed of the affections of such a large portion of the human race, deliberately repudiate solemn engagements entered into by their predecessors—engagements on the strength of which large concessions were obtained for their co-religionists—I fear little weight will be attached to the utterances of deceased Statesmen however eminent their services to the cause of Liberalism may have been. Sir, I should ill requite the kindness which the House has shown me by troubling it with quotations from the writings and speeches of those who, though strenuous supporters of the principles which hon. Gentlemen opposite advocate, have nevertheless left on record their matured and deliberate judgment as to the injustice of the measure we are now asked to adopt, and the evil effects which will inevitably ensue from its adoption. Sir, I ask hon. Members to recall to mind—I am certain they have often heard them quoted—the sayings of Plunket, of Grattan, of Sir James Graham, Sir George Lewis and Lord Palmerston. I ask them to pause before they commit themselves to a step which, when once taken is irrevocable, and under the vain and delusive hope of appeasing sedition and conciliating the disloyal, to inflict a cruel blow upon those who have always been the firm friends of British rule and British connection.
§ MR. MIALL
Sir, I should have had the greatest pleasure in sitting through this debate without taking any part in it whatever, but I have an obligation to discharge in reference to the Bill before us, both as to my past career and my recent election. I possess one qualification for speaking on the Bill which can be boasted by few Members of this 1857 House—that I was returned to the House after the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman, embodying the whole of his ecclesiastical policy for Ireland, had been laid before the House and the country. I was elected to my seat in my absence, and was so elected in order to give emphasis to the favour of my constituency towards that measure. I feel, therefore, bound to deliver to the House—and I will do so very shortly—the freshest message from outside, from an important and influential constituency, relating to the measure before us, I must say, notwithstanding the obligation that presses upon me to speak, I am rather ashamed of troubling the House. There seems to me to be an air of unreality about this Bill. We are not only re-discussing a question which was discussed to exhaustion last Session, and before the constituencies at the General Election, but we are absolutely taking into our consideration at this time a question which the country has supposed to be settled. ["No, no."] Well, I believe a very large reward might be very safety offered to any man who should produce a new argument, or even a new shade of argument, upon this question; and I am perfectly sure that nothing whatever can be produced in this debate which would materially influence the issue of our deliberations. I myself have sought to go round the circumference of this question, and to look at it in every particular aspect, and I have a very uncomfortable conviction at this moment that I can say nothing whatever upon it which has not been said, and said better than I can say it, scores of times before. Still, I get over somewhat of that uncomfortable feeling from the great pleasure and satisfaction I have in tendering, on my own behalf and in behalf of a large section of the community with whom I have been connected in thought, in sympathy, and in action—I am satisfied and delighted at the opportunity of tendering, in my own name, and I think I may without presumption say in theirs, our most cordial thanks to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government for the honourable and magnanimous manner in which he has redeemed his pledges to the country. I can partly appreciate the very costly personal sacrifice which the right hon. Gentleman must have made upon the 1858 altar of his patriotism. I have gone partially through the same experience. I can understand very well the pain which a man feels when, following the light of truth which he cannot resist, he finds himself travelling away from his early views and conclusions. I can sympathize with the right hon. Gentleman in having to undergo the vexing remarks and pitying regards of friends who disapprove the change that has taken place in his mind, harder a great deal to be endured than the assaults of malignity, the wild calumnies of your enemies, the taunts of your political adversaries, and oftentimes, and especially in this case, the wild abuse amid which "men who know not what they do" are crucifying your reputation. I say I am thankful to the right hon. Gentleman that he has risen superior to them all. I am personally indebted to him that he has revived in my bosom faith in the grander and more heroic virtues of British statesmanship—and I rejoice in the evidence which the Bill before us contains, that our faith has not been misplaced in his conscientiousness, in his truthfulness, in his grasp of great principles, in his mastery of details, and in his subordination of everything to his sense of justice. I am not this evening going to discuss the principles involved in the measure before us, because, as I said before, I think that they have been pretty well threshed out; but there are one or two remarks that I should like to make respecting the Bill, and the reasons why I shall give to it my most earnest support. Well, Sir, I regard it as a measure which is characterized by a majestic simplicity and greatness of purpose. What is that purpose? Is it to knit together in bonds of mutual trust and sympathy and affection two countries that are politically united under conditions which neither of them can destroy, and which neither of them can materially alter—conditions arising out of their relative geographical position, the tendencies and consequences of modern civilization, and the interlacing of their material interests. How is it proposed to effect the purposes to which I have just alluded? It is proposed simply to embody in the policy which we put in force towards Ireland the grand old precept—"Do unto others as ye would they should do unto you"—in short, to make 1859 justice the basis of our relations with and our conduct towards Ireland. Well, Sir, that policy must begin somewhere, and I think it rightly begins with the religious faith of the people; because none of us will for a moment deny that there is no cause more potent in irritatating, and alienating, and maddening great communities of men than wounding them in their religious faith, whether it be by direct persecution or whether it be by legal contempt. In Ireland, I think the course that we have pursued in reference to the faith of the great bulk of the people has generated a tone of mind, as it always does, which operates to vitiate all susceptibility to kindness in other ways. It has exaggerated and inflamed the sense of wrong on every individual in regard to his minor and less important interests. Ireland, indeed, has long groaned beneath a sentimental grievance, and that sentimental grievance comes closely to Ireland's inmost heart. The right hon. Gentleman who has brought forward this Bill gave intimation to the House and to the country that he brought it forward simply upon the ground of doing justice to the Irish people by giving to them religious equality, and he has put before us his scheme in the most practical possible shape. He is not satisfied with producing before this House simply sympathizing thought, nor passing Resolutions which will come to nothing hereafter, or diminishing the outward and circumstantial extent of the grievances of which the Irish people complain. The Bill which he has brought forward goes to the very root of the evil, grapples manfully with the life of it, forges and wields the weapon which is to destroy it. And what is the effect of this grand simplicity of purpose? Why, Sir, for the first time for I may say half-a-century there comes across the countenance of Ireland a relaxation of her features; there is a gleam of hope, of trust, of gladness, timid and trembling, but natural and real, that shows that Ireland has passed, or is passing, the winter of her discontent. There is another evidence to which I wish to call the special attention of the House. Parliament but a very short time ago passed a measure to confer the elective franchise upon the working men; and an appeal was almost immediately afterwards made to the country to deliver its verdict upon 1860 the great question which had been put before it by the right hon. Gentleman. What was the consequence? It was that the deepest moral instincts of a people newly come into possession of political power were sensibly stirred, and in their return to the appeal which had been made to them they heartily—they almost instinctively—gave their "Aye" in favour of justice to Ireland; and even the Prime Minister himself must have been startled by the comparative unanimity, the thrilling earnestness, of the response which was made to his proposition by the working men of this country. I regard it as a most gratifying remarkable phenomenon. This question relating to Ireland did not in any way touch, or directly touch, their material interests, and if they put it in the forefront of their programme, I can bear my own personal testimony to the firm hold which the question took on their sympathy, their understanding, and their will. I can say that my presence in this House is an illustration of their interest in the question submitted to them by the Crown. No words of mine could do justice to the steady heartiness, self-denial, and indomitable persistence with which men—aye, and women too—worked and watched, wearied themselves and endured privations, in order that they might return me to this House, so giving testimony to the interest they took in the question which was then before the country. And what was the secret of it? Not that there was any personal feeling at all towards me, for I was a mere stranger, but simply because my name had been associated, whether rightly or wrongly, with this policy of regious equality both in Ireland and elsewhere. I regard this timely quickening of a strong sentiment of justice in the nation so soon after they obtained the franchise as one of the great benefits which resulted to the nation in consequence of the question having been put before them last Session. I believe I may state likewise, as another result of this simplicity of purpose in the Bill, that the right hon. Gentleman has rallied to his cause no inconsiderable portion of the religious life of the country. I put it to hon. Gentlemen opposite whether they expected that the response made, for instance, by Scotland—Protestant to the very core—to the policy put before the country before the close 1861 of last Session—whether the response made by the religious free bodies in England, all of them deeply and closely identified with what I may call Protestant principles and Protestant policy, would be what it has been. I put it to them whether they were not startled by the earnestness and promptitude and zeal and persistence with which these parties rallied round the right hon. Gentleman and supported the measure which he has brought forward. I am quite sure that this did not arise from any sectarian rivalry. I do not believe that there is in this country the slightest desire to injure the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ireland—I mean regarded as a spiritual body. She has done some good, and would have done much more if she had not been placed in a position so anomalous and so calculated to neutralize all her best efforts. I am only sorry that she does not seem to comprehend the mission with which she has been charged. And if she would consent to become a free Church, if she would throw off all the restrictions by which she is bound, she would find herself far more able to grapple with the difficulties that beset her than she now is, because hon. Gentlemen must not suppose that money and endowments are the only sources, or the sources at all, of religious life. I do not think that the Church of Ireland knows how much power she might possess beyond any that she now possesses—not, indeed, to ride in the ascendant as a political institution over the bulk of the community, but to do the work which she professes a desire to do—to hold up the Gospel to the people among whom she is placed, and to vindicate and justify that Protestant Christianity which is now stained and defiled in its reputation, not from any fault of her ministers, but simply because of her false position. I shall say nothing now respecting the great abstract principle which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) placed before the House last night as the ground of his objections both to the disestablishment and the disendowment of the Irish Church. Other opportunities may perhaps occur, and especially while the Bill is going through Committee, to consider some of those objections in detail which were urged—and urged with great force I must admit—against parts of 1862 the measure with which he could not agree. But there is one, and only one, point which I shall allude to now, and it is this—The right hon. Gentleman seems to have come to the conclusion, and to have impressed it both upon the House, and upon a former occasion upon the constituencies, that in separating the exercise of political authority from religion, you remove one of the main safeguards of the civilization of man. I perfectly agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I believe as he believes, that there must be no disconnection between religion and the exercise of political authority. But is there the slightest danger of that in this Bill? I suppose that we, as Members of the Imperial Parliament, shall be able to act on precisely, if not on better motives, drawn from our common faith, after this Bill has passed than we did before. I suppose the Government of the country may be animated by as religious motives in every law which it proposes to enact sifter the separation of the Church from the State as it was before. The truth is, there would be no separation of religion from the exercise of political authority. I do not think that the policy which has been adopted and acted upon hitherto has produced much civilization in Ireland. If we look back upon the past—upon the Penal Code, upon the frequent suspensions of the Habeas Corpus Act, upon the restrictions and restraints that have constantly been imposed on the free action of the Irish people, I do not think that we could point to Ireland as the best illustration of the civilization which grows out of the exercise of authority in connection with religion. Well, Sir, I need hardly say I intend to vote for the second reading of this Bill. I do not intend to take part in those debates which relate to the various details connected with this measure: but, I with all my heart, and not as a sectarian—not from any mere ecclesiastical or theological bias one way or another—but from a sense, a sheer sense of the justice owing by this country to our sister country across the water, shall give my most cordial and, I may pay, enthusiastic vote for the second reading of this Bill.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
Sir, the hon. Member who has just spoken told us when he rose that he was oppressed by a sense of the unreality of his 1863 position, and he explained the meaning of this unreality by saying that this question had been so thoroughly discussed both in the last Session and during the election contests in the autumn that no new arguments could be brought forward upon it. Well, I do not suppose that any man in this debate will bring forward any argument that has not in some shape or other been used already with regard to the question now before us, but I will venture to say this, that the arguments that we brought forward last Session or in the course of the Recess will not be employed precisely under the same circumstances as those in which they were then adduced, and that there will be some novelty about them, because they will be applied to a different subject-matter. Last Session and during the elections we were discussing abstract Resolutions and proposals put forward in a somewhat shadowy form, and we were unable to grapple with them with that certainty and confidence with which we could grapple with a Bill. We were, therefore, placed under a disadvantage, because when we brought forward this or that argument against the abstract proposals submitted to us, we were always liable to be told that we were fighting with shadows, and that the point we objected to would not be contained in the measure. But now we are discussing the measure under different circumstances, and I can assure hon. Members opposite that, whatever unreality there may be in the arguments of Gentlemen on that side of the House, of which they must be the best judges, there is no unreality in the arguments with which Gentlemen on this side endeavour to discuss the Bill fairly and thoroughly, and to lay its merits or demerits before the country. Now, I am not a little interested to see how far arguments that were thought good enough by our opponents last year will be reproduced under the different circumstances in which we now find ourselves. I listened with great interest for what might fall from the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall), first, because—as he himself told us—he represented in the freshest possible form the actual sentiments of the country with respect to this Bill, now that they have seen it. He has come delegated by a most important constituency to support a particular measure the nature of which it appears they are perfectly cognizant: and we 1864 naturally expected to hear from him a compendious and powerful representation of the view which his constituents and those in whose name he is so well qualified to speak take of the measure before us. Sir, I was interested in what he might say for another reason; because he represents in this House not only the borough of Bradford, but in an especial manner, I think, the principles of that great body of our fellow-countrymen to whose opinions and influence I believe this measure is in a very great degree due. I was most anxious, Sir, to see how the discussion of this measure would be approached from the point of view of the representative of the English voluntaries. All through this evening, until the hon. Member for Bradford rose, the debate has been conducted with great ability and great interest by Gentlemen from Ireland. But it was quite natural and right that Englishmen also should take part in the debate, because this is not merely an Irish, but a national and an Imperial question—and a question on which it is very important that we should hear the sentiments of Gentlemen of all shades of opinion. In the debate of last evening there were several Gentlemen who approached this subject from different points of view; and there was one hon. Gentleman, a new Member of this House, to whose speech, although very short, I listened with very great pleasure—I mean the hon. Member for Bandon (Mr. Shaw) who told us he approached it from the Irish Churchman's point of view, and seemed to complain that English Churchmen took an inadequate view of the question, and that the views of Irish Churchmen were those which ought rather to be attended to. Now, I entirely admit that on the questions of detail, and especially with respect to the probable practical working of the scheme contained in this Bill, we ought to have a very great regard to the opinions of an Irish. Churchman. But with reference to the great broad principles on which this measure is founded, I am afraid we can hardly think so much of what Irish Churchmen say about it, because I am rather inclined to think that so far as they have shown leanings in this debate, they—even those of them who sit on the other side of the House—are not altogether satisfied with the frame of the measure. Three of them spoke last night, and the impression they pro- 1865 duced on my mind was that if they had had their way the Bill would have been of a somewhat different character. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory) spoke. We know what his opinions have been, and we know also from the remarks he made last night what, if he had had his way, this Bill would have been. We know that he was dissatisfied with one important portion of this scheme—namely, the source for which the compensation to be given for the withdrawal of the Maynooth Grant and the Regium Donum is to be derived. But what did that hon. Gentleman tell us? He said, admitting that this part of the Bill was not altogether according to what he thought was right, yet, in deference to the Gentlemen who sit about him—that is, as I understand him, in deference to the Scotch Members and the representatives of the English voluntaries—he was prepared to sacrifice his own private opinion and support this measure. [Mr. GREGORY: Hear, hear !] I find that I do not misrepresent the hon. Gentleman. I gathered even from a more important quarter—from the speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland—that if that right hon. Gentleman had had his own way he would have liked to give a different character to this Bill. He told us, and told us truly, that for years past—as all who have had the pleasure of sitting with him in this House can testify—he had desired to see a measure of religious equality introduced into Ireland. But he also gave us to understand that, so far as he was concerned, the measure which he would have preferred would have been a measure that would have elevated the position of the Roman Catholics rather than one of disendowment and destruction all round. But it appeared that he, too, had to give way and sacrifice his own opinions to the necessities of the party with which he acts. And there was one rather remarkable expression which he let fall when he told us that this measure had the support not only of the majority of "thinking" people, but, as he said with considerable emphasis, the support of the "unthinking" people also. Now there is no doubt that it is one of the main supports of the Bill that it has the adhesion of such a large number of "unthinking" people. And when the 1866 hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall) rose, I was in hopes that we were going to have a little of something to counterbalance that—some explanation of the grounds on which not "unthinking," but "thinking" men support it. Well, I must say I was very much disappointed by the speech of that hon. Member. Whether it is that he felt that there is a sort, of unreality in the arguments which he adduced, or, for whatever reason I am unable to divine, his speech was certainly not of that convincing and striking character which we should expect from a Gentleman of his ability and position. What did he tell us with regard to this Bill? With regard, for instance, to the Irish reason for bringing it forward—for I believe there are two classes of reasons for bringing forward and supporting this Bill—there is what I call the Irish class of reasons, arising out of the state of affairs in Ireland; and there is what I may call the religious class of reasons, arising out of the great progress which has been made by what may be described as voluntary opinions in this country. What, I say, did the hon. Member for Bradford tell us with regard to the Irish part of the question? I forget his exact expressions, but he spoke as if this was to be the beginning of a new system of policy from England towards Ireland—as if this was to be the beginning of the relaxation of those restrictions under which Ireland had been suffering, and which had been the cause of so much ill-feeling between the two countries. He spoke as if the history of the last thirty years had been a blank—as if we were really now just in the same position as we were in when discussing the question of Roman Catholic Emancipation, and, perhaps, I might go even further back and say when we were discussing the question of the relaxation of the most strict articles in the Penal Code. Sir, we are not at the commencement of a new policy towards Ireland. When you speak of a new policy, let me say that with regard to the more cordial and friendly tone which England adopts in her relations towards Ireland we are not at the commencement of that state of things. For a great many years, and throughout the political life-time of all the public men of the present day, we nave been steadily pursuing a course towards Ireland which was intended to have, 1867 and which has had, the effect of very much improving the relations between the two countries. We have been laying aside those old feelings, and therefore I say it is an entire misconception and delusion to speak as if this was the first beginning of the break-up of a long frost—the first beginning of the restoration, or rather of the creation, of feelings of amity and kindliness between the two countries. And I say it is the use of language like that which has such effect on those "unthinking" people on whom the Chief Secretary for Ireland places so much reliance. And it is because people are deluded by the eloquent speeches of men like the hon. Member for Bradford, full of platitudes, as I must call them, and false representations of that kind, that those who do not know the real state of English feeling nor the history of the last half or last quarter-of-a-century, are carried away by their enthusiasm to support some measure of this character. Then we also have appeals to another class of men—the intelligent foreigners, for instance, with respect to whom precisely the same thing holds good. These intelligent foreigners are not much acquainted with the exact course of our recent history. They know, perhaps, what went on many years ago. They probably have read the history of all the evils of the 18th century; and when they hear men who ought to know better—men in authority in this country—rising and speaking as if that state of things still continued between England and Ireland, they are naturally led to believe that the fact is so, and they accordingly give expression to strong feelings on the subject. But I contend that it is perfectly unfair and most unfortunate that that style of language and of argumentation should prevail among us. Now, the hon. Member for Bandon (Mr. Shaw), to whom I just now alluded, among several other good things which he said, made this remark, with which I felt very much inclined to sympathize. He said that for his part he did not like a discussion which had to be carried on in five-syllabled words. He gave rather—if he will forgive me for saying so—a Hibernian character to that expression, by proceeding to mention as one of the five-syllabled words to which he objected the word "robbery." Whether that 1868 particular word is or is not five-syllabled is not of so much importance; but I thoroughly sympathize with the hon. Gentleman in his dislike to those vague and high-sounding phrases which carry too much weight with them in proportion to their intrinsic merits. I wish that the hon. Member for Bandon would exercise his influence with some Gentlemen on his own side of the House, and ask them to be a little careful in the use of some of those five-syllabled words, and also a little careful how they use certain phrases that have a very grand sound, but of which the meaning is extremely indefinite. We hear, for example, a good deal about "religious equality." I think we might very profitably ask hon. Gentlemen to define a little more clearly what it is precisely that they mean by that phrase. I am not going to speak at this time about the term "religious equality," but I want to say a few words on another phrase which is very much in vogue on the other side of the House, and which has some kind of co-relation to religious equality—that is to say, the phrase "Protestant ascendancy." And I very much want to know what it is that hon. Members mean in the present day when they speak of Protestant ascendancy. With that expression we have been historically familiar for a long time past, but recently, and especially, I may say, last night, a very peculiar importance appeared to me to be attached to that phrase by the mode in which it was used. My hon. Friend the Member for South-west Lancashire (Mr. Cross) reminded the House last night of an eloquent passage in the speech delivered by the First Minister of the Crown on the platform at Wigan. It was to the effect that this question of the Irish Church was only a branch of a much larger question, that it was only one of many questions which like itself were branches from a larger stock or trunk; that that stock or trunk was Protestant ascendancy, and that it was for the hewing down of that trunk that he and his friends were prepared to gird themselves up and to use all their exertions. Now, among the questions mentioned as forming one of the branches was that of the land in Ireland, and I must confess it puzzled me to understand how it could be that the land question could be called a branch of the trunk of Protestant as- 1869 cendancy. However, when the passage was quoted it was evident it was not a mere rhetorical flourish, because the Prime Minister immediately and in a marked manner, cheered the passage, and shortly afterwards the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, rising and referring to the quotatation, accepted it on the part of the Government with the manifest approbation of those around him, and told us that that was indeed a true description of the policy of the Government. That, of course, makes us still more anxious to know what this Protestant ascendancy really is. We know what it was a century ago. It then meant that the Roman Catholic population of Ireland were in every sense of the word a downtrodden people. They were excluded, not only from political privileges and rights, not only from office, from a share in the representation of the country, and even from the right of voting for representatives; but they were even excluded from the liberal professions, from every social privilege, and from the ordinary rights of citizens in regard to the tenure of land. If at that time a Minister of England, speaking of Protestant ascendancy, and saying he was about to demolish it, had been desirous of enumerating some of the branches of, the trunk he was attacking, I can easily understand that he would have mentioned the land question as one them. But the Protestant ascendancy no longer represents anything of that kind. The Roman Catholics are now admitted to an equality with Protestants in all matters affecting their political and social position. And yet there still remains their bugbear of Protestant ascendancy with which hon. Gentlemen are able to conjure and alarm the people. But the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary went on to tell us something which seemed to throw a light on what he meant. He told us that when he spoke of the Irish Roman Catholics he spoke of the Irish people, and that, I believe, was one of the most effective sentences in his speech. At all events, it was one which elicited great applause on the other side of the House, and it was one of which, in a certain sense, it is impossible to deny the truth and appropriateness. But if the term "Irish Roman Catholic" is synonymous with the Irish people, with what is the 1870 term "Irish Protestant" supposed to be synonymous? I suppose that Protestant ascendancy means English ascendancy, and that in point of fact what these Gentlemen are aiming at is the extinction of what they would call English ascendancy in Ireland. ["No, no!"] I do not mean when I use that expression that I suppose hon. Gentlemen are directly advocating a separation between the two countries; but what I understand them to mean—and it is the gist of a great many of the speeches we have heard—is that the Protestant Church in Ireland, as standing towards the Irish people, is an alien Church. Indeed, hon. Gentlemen are fond of telling us so. Some hon. Gentlemen have said, that it is not the Church of Ireland, but the Church of the English residents in Ireland, and that it is, in fact, an English Church planted in Ireland. Now, what I understand them to desire is to put down in every possible way that ascendancy, as they call it, of that Church as the representative of English as contradistinguished from Irish feeling. If, however, that really is the policy which hon. Members are pursuing, and if the spirit of that policy is to animate them in their dealings with the other branches of this great question, such as the land question, I think we have a right, and it is important, to ask what are the guiding principles you intend to follow in dealing with other branches, because it would be extremely curious to see how hon. Gentlemen would apply the new construction they put on the word ascendancy when they come to deal with what they call the English ascendancy in regard to the land? We see what they mean when they speak of ascendancy in the matter of the Church. They do not mean that the Roman Catholic people are debarred from any social rights or privileges, or that the people of Ireland are in a disadvantageous position with regard to their own ecclesiastical arrangements. Nor do they mean that it is desirable to give assistance to the Roman Catholic people, or to raise them to a higher position than they now occupy. What they do mean is, that it is a wrong to Ireland that the English Church should retain its property. I want to know whether the same principle is to be applied to the English landowners when we come to talk of ascendancy as connected with the land? 1871 ["Oh, oh !"] Well, hon. Gentlemen groan at that, and I do not wonder at it; but will they tell me what in the world is the meaning of the mysterious and oracular sentence which was quoted and applied by them so as to mean that there is in Ireland a Protestant ascendancy which ought to be destroyed, and that one of the branches of that trunk is the relation between landlord and tenant? It is all very well for hon. Members to adopt the policy which they have adopted; but whenever we proceed to argue from what they tell us to what the natural consequence is, they interrupt us by groaning. What we want is, that some one of them should get up and make believe that we are thinking people, which probably, in their opinion, we are not. Making believe that we are able to understand, will they tell us, and through the House the country, what their real policy is, and what it is they are driving at? All we know with regard to the question of the land is that, whereas we were told last year that it was one of the most important and pressing subjects in the world, the policy of the Government in regard to it is now carefully kept in the background, and only a very little corner of the curtain which conceals it is lifted by the Bill. We hear of the experiment of peasant proprietorships and the establishment of small owners, whose properties are to be mortgaged to the State for three-fourths of their value. Now, I should like to know whether that is the kind of statesmanship which is to be applied to Ireland? It may throw a good deal of light on the future state of affairs in that country; but there is no use in hon. Gentlemen interrupting and groaning when one uses an argument of this sort unless they are prepared to explain what they really mean. With regard to this policy, I maintain that we are proposing to proceed on an entirely false basis. I believe that the Established Church of England, and especially that branch of it established in Ireland, is open to the most serious comments, criticisms, and censures from hon. Gentlemen opposite, from hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, and from the country at large. I entirely agree that there is no defence whatever to be made for the conduct which this country pursued towards Ireland for a very long series of years, 1872 and that there is no defence whatever to be made for the part which the Established Church was made to play in reference to that conduct. Unfortunately for Ireland, and perhaps still more unfortunately for the Church itself, we cannot deny the truth of a great deal of what has been said on this subject. But it does not follow that because the relations of England and of the Church with Ireland have been bad they should always continue so. The real fact is that the Established Church of Ireland has been influenced by the spirit of the people of England. It has been a representative and sometimes a caricaturist of the faults or of the impulses of England; and what you really want to cure is not the existence or the machinery of this or that Establishment; but what you want to cure is the spirit with which England was animated when she treated Ireland as if she were a bond slave. When England was ready to screw down Ireland to the lowest point and to make a gain out of her in every possible way it was no wonder that she used the Church as an instrument of oppression. It was not only in ecclesiastical matters that England treated Ireland in this tyrannical manner. People often speak as if the Penal Laws were all enacted in the interests of the Church, and, perhaps, even at the suggestion of the Church, and as if there were no other considerations in the matter. But we must remember what the commercial policy of England has been towards Ireland. The spirit which pervaded the whole of our ecclesiastical relations with Ireland in the last century likewise pervaded our commercial relations with that country at the same period. England destroyed her trade and crippled her shipping, and it was during that period that the Church was made an instrument of oppression. But it is our duty not to throw aside or break up this instrument which we have in our hands in the Established Church, an instrument which I believe to be as fully capable for doing good and conveying the kindly sentiments of England to Ireland as of doing harm, or conveying her evil spirit. We ought, I say, to endeavour to improve our relations with that country. I say more, we have been doing this, and if I am asked what it is we look to for the future, I would answer, we look to the continuance of the 1873 policy on which this country has been acting for the last thirty or forty years—tentatively no doubt—slowly and imperfectly, perhaps, but at the same time with very satisfactory results. Those results are, of course, not yet completely satisfactory. The right hon. Gentleman, at the head of the Government twitted me last year when I ventured to observe that Ireland required a long course of just and considerate legislation. The right hon. Gentleman asked if a period of 700 years was not a long time for the work of conciliation. Yes, Sir, but we have not been at that work for that period. For perhaps 650 years we have been working in an opposite direction, while it is only during the last thirty or forty years that we have been trying to undo that work; nor ought it to be so much a matter of surprise to some hon. Gentlemen that we have not been able, within that comparatively short time, to undo all the evils which we had so seduously laboured to create. We have, however, accomplished a good deal, and everybody who will look back and compare the relations between the two countries which now exist, and those which existed half-a-century ago, must, I think, admit that there is a great improvement, not only in the material condition of Ireland, but in the spirit with which she and this country regard one another. What we ask, then, is that you will not begin this work of yours by doing a great wrong to Ireland in the interest of England. What I regard as the most real and bitter sarcasm in your Bill is the provision which you have inserted in it dealing with the grant to Maynooth and the Regium Donum. You are anxious, you say, to commence a policy of conciliation towards Ireland, and what is the first thing you do? Do you make any sacrifice on the part of England—any pecuniary sacrifice or any sacrifice of prejudice? Neither of the one nor the other; but you pander to the prejudices of the voluntaries, to whose conception this Bill is, I believe, in a great measure due, and subserve the interests of the British Exchequer by, in the first instance, robbing Ireland of an annuity of £70,000 or £80,000 a year. That circumstance in itself raises a suspicion, and the suspicion is not lessened by the knowledge that this is done, so far as I understand, in contravention of the 1874 pledges which I thought we had given last year. I understood that it was on no account to be admitted that England should profit by this property which you are about to take from the Church in Ireland. We were led to suppose that this act of spoliation was to be one of the purest and most self-sacrificing that were ever committed. Now, on the contrary, we find that the only one thing about which we can feel quite certain in the pecuniary arrangements of this Bill is that about £1,100,000 is to find its way into the English Exchequer. There are other pecuniary arrangements also, about which much may be said; but I do not mean to enter at present into these questions, because they may be looked upon as being really rather questions of detail than of principle. What I wish now to impress on the House is my conviction that it is not for the interest of this great kingdom of England, Scotland, and Ireland herself, and not consistent with the duty of this country taken from the highest point of view, to adopt this measure for the destruction of the Irish Established Church. We must bear in mind that England is not for the English nor Ireland for the Irish, and yet I believe that if you pursue that principle of destroying Protestant ascendancy or English ascendancy to its full and legitimate consequences, you will eventually find yourselves landed in the doctrine of Ireland for the Irish. You may not be prepared to go that length, but such will be the result of your policy; and you may depend upon it that anything which tends to bring about such a result, and to close up the sympathy of the two countries for one another, and to diminish the influence which the one ought to have on the other, will be bad for both. The influence of England on Ireland may, I believe, be extremely beneficially exercised if only exercised judiciously. You must have an English population or a population sympathizing with and representing England in Ireland. You ought to put these people on the footing which is best suited to their national character, and which will enable them to develop that character in the best possible way. It accords with the genius of England that that should be done by means of the Established Church. I do not for a moment dispute that the voluntary bodies in this country are of very 1875 essential service to the State. I do not deny that they act in many respects as a useful adjunct to the system of the Established Church, and I have no doubt that many of them with their great zeal, and comparatively greater freedom, are of advantage to us in various ways. But I am of opinion that England with an Established Church and a considerable number of voluntaries independent of it is in a very much more favourable condition for the human mind than if we had only these voluntary bodies by themselves. I maintain, then, that it would be injurious to England, and if so it would be injurious to Ireland—which is so closely connected with this country—to destroy an institution which I look upon as being of such essential value to the English character. Very great weight, I think, ought to be attached to what fell from my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) this evening as to the effect which would be produced in Ireland by converting the Established Church in that country into a mere voluntary body. It seems to me, speaking not from a personal or special acquaintance with Ireland, but from a general acquaintance with the principles of human nature, that my right hon. Friend is right, and that if we reduce the Established Church in Ireland to the position of a voluntary body and send it out into the world in an impoverished condition, which is proposed, the result will be to create strife and contention, and to convert it into an aggressive body, which is not at present its character. I repudiate the argument which some hon. Members use when they say that the English Church has failed in Ireland because she has not succeeded in making a greater number of proselytes. My answer to that argument is that it is not her mission to make proselytes. What I consider her mission to be is to soften asperities between the two religions in Ireland, not by in any way sacrificing the distinctive doctrines which she herself holds, surrendering an atom of the truth, or aping the practices of other communions, but by displaying herself in her true colours, and by showing of what English Churchmanship really consists. My belief is that if the members of the Anglican Church, either in England or Ireland, would devote themselves to showing the true spirit of that 1876 Church, and how she can make plain the truth and right by being liberal and charitable towards others, she would do a great deal of good, not by proselytizing, but by winning souls to her and softening the asperities between races. It is my opinion that if you look forward to the gradual fusion or the cordial union of the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon races in Ireland, you must trust to the operation of these influences, and I therefore say that you are not acting with true kindness to Ireland, or taking the proper steps to produce harmony between her and England by proposing such a measure as that before the House. I will yield to no man in the desire to act fairly and even liberally toward Ireland. We owe her, I think, great reparation for great and long-continued wrong, and if I thought the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government would conduce to her tranquillity and happiness, I should put aside any prejudices which I may have and support that proposal. But it is because I am sincerely convinced that it will have rather a contrary effect that I feel it to be my duty to offer to this Bill my decided opposition.
Mr. Speaker, not a few of the Members of the House are well aware that for many years—I may say from the first hour almost when I was competent to give an opinion on the politics of this country—I have had a very decided opinion on the question that is to-night before the House. Therefore it may not be improper that I should take part in this important debate. I was glad when I heard that the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment—at the head of what is still a considerable party—intended to debate this question, and to divide the House upon the second reading of this Bill. Because, although the details of the measure, as the House has already heard, are many of them of great importance, yet it must be admitted on both sides of the House that the real and essential good or evil of the measure is to be found, not in any one of its details, but in the principle on which it is founded. We have to decide this—whether the Protestant Established Church in Ireland shall cease to exist as a State institution. And it is not because Establishments have been universally condemned throughout the 1877 kingdom. That is not alleged at all; for, though I myself have no faith in political religious Establishments, and believe in the voluntary principle, yet I am willing to admit—and it would be foolish not to admit it—that at present a belief in the usefulness of Established Churches appears in this country to have the sanction of a majority of our people. The question is not at all, whether Establishments are good in themselves or good anywhere, but whether, with regard to Ireland, it is necessary that the Church Establishment shall be removed. After all, perhaps it might be well to ask the House whether we believe there is a great Irish question—that it meets us every day—that we are compelled at last to confront it, and whether for the settlement of that question, if there be such a question, it is necessary that the Irish State Church shall be removed. Is there a great Irish question and a great Irish difficulty? The right hon. Gentleman who has just resumed his seat (Sir Stafford Northcote) has made a speech that he might have made on the most trivial question that could come before the House. There was not a sign from the first word of the speech to the last that he was considering or grappling with—or, indeed, that there existed—a great and serious question that was before the House with reference to Ireland. I shall call only one witness in proof of my opinion that there is such a question, and that we cannot avoid it. And I shall not appeal, as I might do, to the almost unanimous judgment of the civilized and Christian world. I will not appeal to the divisions, and the debates, and the majorities of the last Parliament upon this question. I will not appeal to the opinion and to the great verdict of the new constituencies; and I will not appeal to the chronic or spasmodic discontent—whichever you please—which exists in Ireland. I will call only one witness, and he shall be a Member, and an eminent Member of this House. I will call the son of the long-trusted Leader of your party, who has been an eminent Member of at least two Administrations formed by Gentlemen who sit on that side of the House, and who has been for many years, as we all know, the most trusted and confidential adviser and counsellor of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire. I shall appeal to the opinion 1878 and to the public declarations of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley). I think that, on a former occasion, whether in the House or out of it I am not sure, I referred to a remarkable statement of that noble Lord at a remarkable time. The House will remember a great Conservative banquet that was held at Bristol fifteen or sixteen months ago.—["Hear, hear !"]—The hon. Gentleman who cheers, perhaps, was present at it. Now, the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn is not a person who is guilty of "heedless rhetoric." There are few men in this House better informed. There is no one in this House more calm, and impartial in his judgment. I know no speaker who is more measured and careful in his language. Yet, what was it that the noble Lord said, not in the heat of debate in this House—and that probably would not have affected him—but to a great party of his own friends at this political banquet at Bristol? This was what he said. He spoke of Ireland with evident feeling. He is the son of a great Irish proprietor. He is not unacquainted with that country. I think on one occasion he said he knew every tenant upon his father's estate—a great deal more than many English proprietors of land in Ireland could say. At this banquet he spoke of Ireland, and these were the words he used. He spoke of—The painful, the dangerous, and to us, in appearance at least, the discreditable state of things which continues to exist in Ireland.He described it as "a miserable state of things." He said—We have a strange and perplexing problem to solve. If we look for a remedy, who is there can give us an intelligible answer?Such was his despair of this question; and he concluded with this emphatic declaration: "Ireland is the question of the hour." Well, Sir, I am not sure that since Belshazzar's feast there has been any announcement more startling, more solemn, or more calculated to disturb the merriment of a great and joyous banquet. If I had used these words in a speech they might have been thought an exaggeration of the case; and if my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government had opened his great speech with these words they would not have been more solemn than the occasion demanded. But what happened? Parlia- 1879 ment met a little more than a year ago, and the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends were upon this (the Treasury) Bench; and I was where the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone) sits, watching carefully all that took place. On the night when my hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) brought forward his Motion we were all expecting the explanation of the policy of the Government with regard to Ireland. An announcement had been made only a few days before in the other House of Parliament that the policy of the Government would soon be explained from this Bench, and the Earl of Mayo, on that occasion, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, rose and addressed the House for the exact time of three hours and twenty minutes. I noticed that the speech of my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury the other night in introducing this Bill took precisely the same time. But I observed—what the House must have observed—that there was a great difference between these two speeches. Lord Mayo spoke of the material improvement of Ireland, and he gave us large sums in figures to show us how that improvement had proceeded. He admitted the grievance of the ecclesiastical inequality existing in Ireland, and he indicated a mode of dealing with it that was felt to be so absolutely impossible, that afterwards, under the pressure of the difficulties in which it involved his Colleagues, he repudiated it and denied it; and it finally ended in this—that the Government had no policy at all. Sir, I hope that Lord Mayo, who has since been promoted to the Governor Generalship of India, may find in that country no difficulties with which his kindly nature and his good intentions may be unable to cope. I said there was a difference between the two speeches although they were of the same length. The speech of my right hon. Friend, instead of having no policy, or a policy which he was condemned afterwards to deny and repudiate, was one which elaborated a grand policy for Ireland—a policy which is included in this Bill—and it is so balanced and so complete that I ask the House on both sides if it be not a fact that it has attracted to it the sympathy and support of the great bulk of the people of the three kingdoms. ["No !"] I say that your speeches during this debate 1880 are proof that you feel it. Protestant England and still more Protestant Scotland, have joined heartily with Catholic Ireland in approving the policy which is set forth in the details of this Bill. The matter stands thus—that there is an Irish question, and the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn is my witness for it; and there is an ecclesiastical grievance in Ireland, and the Governor General of India is my authority for that statement. And last Session they were Members of your Cabinet, and were in constant daily communication with the Prime Minister the Earl of Derby, and subsequently with his successor the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) who sits opposite me. But it was a question that the late Government was totally unable to grapple with. They did nothing, not because they did not comprehend the question. The right hon. Gentleman comprehends all these questions just as well as any man in the House. He understood this question twenty years ago. But to show how totally unable the late Government was to deal with this question, I appeal to those Members of the House who were here last year. They will recollect that the speeches of Lord Mayo, of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, of the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Gathorne Hardy), and of the right hon. Gentleman since, in that party, First Minister—that these speeches did not agree; that in point of fact in all they said on the floor of the House there was just as much confusion of speech as there has been on Irish affairs for centuries past. The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn said that the patient was in a desperate and almost hopeless state. Lord Mayo said that he was wonderfully better. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire said he was perfectly well, and his condition was eminently satisfactory. And the right hon. Gentleman the late Home Secretary—he took all the febrile symptoms of the patient as indications of perfect health. And it proved what the country found out at the elections, that the Government of the right hon. Gentleman did not comprehend the malady, or had not the courage or the power to grapple with it. And the constituencies decided that as this was a great question that must be confronted 1881 it was desirable to have a Parliament and a Government that could satisfactorily deal with it. The hon. Baronet the Member for Londonderry County (Sir Frederick Heygate) asked a question which the right hon. Baronet (Sir Stafford Northcote) has asked within the last hour—what is meant by Protestant ascendancy? The hon. Member for Londonderry said he had never seen it, and that he did not comprehend it; and there was such child-like simplicity in his manner of asking it as made me believe that he really was saying exactly what he thought. May I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite—not those on this side of the House, for we are a good deal convinced—and though it has been said that nobody is convinced by a speech in this House, and it would be presumption in me to suppose I could convince anybody, yet as we differ I should like to ask hon. Gentlemen opposite a question or two. Is it or is it not a fact that the Established Church in Ireland is the Church of conquest? The right hon. and learned Gentleman (Dr. Ball), who made so powerful a speech to-night from the other side of the House, said that this Church was based on a certain Act of Parliament, which declared that unless the Bishops and clergy would preach, pray, and perform the services of religion according to the pattern of the Church of England, they could not hold sees and livings in Ireland. Now, what is an Act of Parliament—that is to say, an Act of the English Parliament and Government? It was merely a mode of asserting the power which, conquest had given to England. The Church in Ireland is therefore the Church of conquest. Not only was it historically so, but I will maintain—and there is no Member of this House who will deny it—that by no possibility can the Church of a small; minority of Protestants remain for 300 years established in the midst of a nation of Catholics except by the power which founded it—namely, the power of conquest. ["Hear, hear !"] I am amazed at hon. Gentlemen disputing that, if anybody is disposed to dispute it; but if they do not dispute it, I am amazed that they do not perceive the tremendous violation of the principles of the Protestant Reformation that is involved in that state of things. For if the Protestant Reformation did not mean 1882 that any one of us may hold the opinions which belong to our consciences and our convictions, surely it meant at any rate that a nation may make its own choice of its own Church and its own mode of worship; and, therefore, to establish a Protestant Church—the Church of a small minority of the people as the State Church—in the midst of a Catholic nation was the most flagrant violation of the principles of the Reformation that has taken place, I will be bound to say in Europe since the days of Luther. But, if that be so, what is it that has maintained it from that time to this? The right hon. Baronet who has just spoken from the opposite Bench (Sir Stafford Northcote) spoke of the Penal Code exactly as we speak of it, and he condemns those who in the last century supported the cruelties and enormities of that system. Why, fifty years hence—it may be said to be a safe prophecy, as there will not be many of us here to know whether it comes true or not,—but fifty years hence there will be men on the Conservative side of this House—for there will always be a Conservative side—who, looking back to the conduct of their party in the year 1869, will express their amazement that intelligent men were found, after the experience of 300 years, to support the State Church of Ireland. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Stafford Northcote) sneered at the opinions of the intelligent foreigner. Well, I have in my hand the expressed opinion of a very intelligent foreigner, who whilst he was living was known to many Members of this House—I refer to the late eminent Italian Statesman—Count Cavour. My friend Dr. Hodgson has made an admirable translation of Count Cavour's work on Ireland, an extract of which, if the House will permit me, I should like to read, because it brings down the question a little from the ground of abstract reasoning to that of contemporary judgment. He says—The results of this inhuman code were lamentable. The cruelty was purely gratuitous, for, far from losing strength, Catholicism became all the stronger from the hatred with which the poor Irish regarded the religion of their oppressors. Every attempt at conversion failed. The English Parliament, in the belief that it was promoting the established religion, merely, by its unjust laws, placed at the mercy of the rich Protestant proprietors of the soil the Catholic population, who in three-fourths of the country were almost exclusively its cultivators. The Penal Laws, which at first religious fanaticism had inspired, lost by 1883 degrees their primitive character, and in the hands of those who applied them became a means of social domination. During the greatest part of the eighteenth century, the Irish peasant was reduced to a state of slavery worse than that of the negro in the Antilles. Thanks to anti-Catholic legislation, and to the manner in which it was applied, it was more difficult for him to obtain justice from a Protestant grand jury than it is now for a slave in the French colonies to obtain it from the magistrates sent out from the mother country to administer the laws. During this period Ireland presents the saddest spectacle to be found in any civilized society—complete and absolute oppression of the poor by the rich; of him who labours by him who possesses, organized by the law, and maintained by the ministers of justice.That statement will be admitted to be true. ["No, no !"] Hon. Gentlemen who say "No" know Ireland only in her better days, and I am sorry their reading has not been more extensive on this subject, as otherwise they might have been better informed. Well, then, for 300 years I say there has been a perpetual protest against this state of things; and the Irish people—for I use the term, notwithstanding what the right hon. Gentleman said—or nine-tenths of the population of Ireland, have during the whole of that time, every day and every hour, in some shape or other, protested against the continuance of that State Church. Some Members have said, "You have a State Church in England, and nobody complains of it." But though I may think the State Church in England not a good institution, yet it is not to me a sign of foreign conquest. My forefathers were members of the State Church, though for reasons they thought sufficient they left it; but if the State Church had been inflicted upon us by a power from across the Channel, I am not sure that any of us who do not agree with it would have regarded it with that tranquil mind with which we can look upon it now. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) last night treated us to a little of that kind of history which he often introduces into his speeches. He said he thought there was no guarantee in this country for liberty and toleration like that of the Established Church. The right hon. Gentleman—I judge from his speech at Edinburgh a year or two ago, from his speech last night, and from some other speeches—reads a different history from anybody else; or rather, perhaps, he makes up his history as he goes along. He reminds me of what was said, I think, of Voltaire, that he 1884 wrote history far better without facts than with them. If he thinks it is true that the Church has been so favourable to liberty in this country, some of us, who are Dissenters, and whose parents and grand-parents have been Nonconformists, have a very different opinion. I recollect that Hume, the historian, who was not at all favourable or friendly to such views as I entertain, observes, speaking of a time with which most of us are in some degree familiar—So absolute was the authority of the Crown that the precious spark of liberty had been kindled and preserved by the Puritans alone, and it is to that sect that Englishmen owe the whole freedom of their Constitution.I suspect that the Nonconformist party in this country have succeeded to the heritage left them by those who are termed Puritans. Well, but Scotland also has its State Church, and England tried at one time to force its system upon Scotland, but most happily failed. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall) that there is no point in which you can touch or insult or wound a nation so intolerably as when you meddle with its religious institutions, its conscience, and its mode of worship. You may send an alien Governor General or Lord Lieutenant to Ireland, you may send alien Judges, you may impose taxes partially and harshly, and by-and-by the people will become accustomed to that state of things, and apparently not unwilling to wear the chain; but if you wound them in this tenderest part, their religion, that is an injury that can never be forgotten, and there can be no cure for it but by removing entirely the cause of the wound. Now there are two things that your Church has professed to do. I heard from the noble Lord who spoke from the second Bench to-night (Viscount Crichton)—and I am surprised, I must say, that Gentlemen who speak with so much mildness and so much fairness here, are really unable to discover the greatness of the grievance which this Established Church is in their country—I heard, I say, from the noble Lord the Member for Enniskillen, that the Church of Ireland was not intended to be a Church to convert the Catholics. That was not said at the time of its foundation, and has not been said by many of its friends since; and the defence that I have heard in this House, and 1885 have often seen in the public Press, is that it is a Church that is to do something, what it can, to convert Catholics to Protestantism. The right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) said it was to hold out the lamp, or the light, of the Reformation in the dark places of Ireland. Well, then, I: say, that if the Established Church of Ireland has a pretence for its existence, it is that it shall do something to bring over the people of Ireland to the Protestant religion; and, secondly, that it shall help to unite Ireland with Great Britain in a friendly and permanent union. Has it been a success or a failure? I ask the hon. Baronet the Member for Londonderry County (Sir Frederick Heygate)—I put my question to him, because it is impossible not to see that he has some sympathy on this question, certainly with the condition of Ireland, if not with the remedy that we propose—I ask him whether, as a matter of conversion, the Established Church has been a success or a failure? He will say, as I shall say, and as no man will deny, that history, in all its saddest pages, has not a case of greater and more complete failure in that respect. Is it not known perfectly to all of us that Ireland is more Catholic at this moment than it has ever been before; and what, I think is much worse than that, that Ireland is more Roman than any other Catholic country probably in Europe? And what is more, from Ireland has come to England whatever there is of power that belongs to the Papal system in this country, and from; Ireland has overflowed and settled on the continent of America a very great and powerful Catholic interest. And therefore, as far as that is concerned, it seems to me to be that no failure could be more complete. I have said many years ago, and I repeat it now, that by the I policy which England has pursued in Ireland we have made Catholicism, not a faith only to which people cling with a desperate and heroic tenacity, but we have made it a patriotism for which multitudes of her children are willing to suffer, and, if necessary, even to die. And what should be more likely than that, because this State Church, this Protestant ascendancy which hon. Gentlemen opposite profess not to comprehend, has been for three centuries 1886 leagued with every form of injustice of which the Irish people have complained, whether connected with the confiscation of their soil, or with the terrors and cruelties of the odious Penal Code, or with the administration of the law, or with any social tyranny to which they have been subjected? I would quote again three lines from that essay of Count Cavour's on this point, in which he says—The Church remains, to the Catholics, a representative of the causes of their miseries, a sign of defeat and oppression. It exasperates their sufferings and makes their humiliation more keenly felt.And if I pass from this question of conversion, it is to come to one that seems to me really to possess greater importance—has it done anything to bind Ireland to Great Britain? ["Yes."] Well, it has—just as the police and the soldiery have—but in no other way, and to no greater extent. The policy of the Act of Union, in my opinion, was a wise policy; the mode by which it was brought about was one of unexampled corruption and of wrong. You revere the Act of Union, and last Session you had, I think, the Fifth Article read by the Clerk at the Table. You will not have a word or a letter of it changed or touched; and yet, strange to say, everybody but your own party believes that your policy makes union absolutely impossible—that you conduct the affairs of Ireland upon such a principle that you create a sense of wrong which over-rides all written words and all parchment covenants. For centuries, we all know, Ireland has been restless, turbulent, and insurrectionary. The right hon. Gentleman opposite admitted that in part of his speech last night; and during the Recess—I forget now exactly where it was or when—he attributed much of it to the fact that the Irish lived in a country where they had a damp climate and in the neighbourhood of a melancholy ocean. Now, I have not the least objection to a joke at the proper time, but I do think that for the Prime Minister of England, under circumstances such as these, when throughout the whole country there is a painful sensation that we have not done justice to Ireland, and that Ireland is no credit to the Imperial Government, I think it is carrying hilarity and jocoseness a little too far to make an observation like that on so grave a subject. But if we 1887 come down to the seventy years during which, this House has governed Ireland, we find things much in the same way, The pages of her history have been stained with tears and blood. There have still been restlessness and turbulence and insurrection appearing and re-appearing constantly on the records of her sad and dismal story. The right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Gathorne Hardy), who spoke last Session with a power which the House, I am sure, must have admired, and who spoke, I think, what he believed, referred to the Church in Ireland as the light of the Reformation; and he appeared not able to comprehend that this light of the Reformation, sustained by privilege, and fanned as it has been, by the hot breath of faction, has been not so much a helpful light of the Reformation as a scorching fire which has burned up almost everything good and noble in the country, and industry and charity and peace and loyalty have perished in its flames. Now, Sir, I am for union as much as any Gentleman on that side of the House, but I am for a real union. I care nothing at all for the parchment nor for the Fifth Article. The parchment will decay and perish, and the words upon it will become illegible, and will be forgotten. The geographical position of these islands points out to every man that union is natural between them, and I maintain that a true and solid and just union between Ireland and Great Britain is infinitely better for both than any kind of severance can possibly be. But it must be a real union, not of power and weakness, and of weakness trampled on by power. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, and men who have discussed this Bill in the House and out of it, tell us that it appears here only as the result of what would be called in America "a Fenian scare," and that but for certain events which happened last year, and the year before, the policy of this Bill would not have been avowed by the present First Minister. ["Hear, hear."] Well, suppose it were true, it only adds another proof to the many going before it, that it is difficult with popular Government, and with party Government to make great and essential reforms unless under circumstances which force them absolutely upon the attention of Parliament. You know very well— 1888 Irish Gentlemen know as well as English Gentlemen—that the Catholic Association led to Catholic emancipation. They know that the dethronement of the Bourbons, an event which took place in a foreign but neighbouring country, brought about the Reform Bill of 1832. They know—I know at any rate—that the desperate condition of affairs in the West Indies freed the slaves in the English colonies. We all know that the famine in Ireland came as an irresistible argument to bring about the repeal of the Corn Law. We know also that the mutiny in India drove the House immediately, and without further consideration, to abolish the East India Company, and to make an entire change in the government of India. And, Sir, if I were to come down to a later time, and speak of what took place in 1867, I might ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his Colleagues and his party what were the circumstances that induced them to be enthusiastic in support of a measure of household suffrage? It is a matter that we can but deplore, that it has required three years of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland, and those other grievous events which have happened in Ireland and in England, to enable Parliament to undertake, and as I believe successfully, to carry through a policy which almost every enlightened and liberal Statesman in England for the last fifty years has hoped for, but feared he would not see. Then hon. Gentlemen tell us that discontent in America is also a very serious matter, as it causes Fenianism, which in turn has caused this Bill. We cannot deny that the existence of the disturbing cause in America is, unfortunate and irritating, but the theory of the Government is—it may be a mistake, but I believe it is not—that the remedy which will heal, in part or in whole, the disorders in Ireland., will heal much of the discontent of Irishmen everywhere. There is not an Irishman in the Australian colonies at this moment, there is not one on the continent of North America, who is not watching, as he reads the papers, the course of the English Parliament on this question; and unless his spirit has been maddened into that state of resistance when he will listen to no reason and to no fact he is feeling probably a softened disposition towards the Imperial Government and this House of Commons for the measure 1889 which we are now attempting to carry through Parliament. And with regard to America, this I think I may tell hon. Members opposite that the Fenian agitation in America has been fed, to a considerable extent, by a certain sympathy on the part of the people of the United States—I mean the natives of the States—who really do believe that we have never done justice to the native country of the Irishman. I believe that Irishmen will still emigrate when you have done what may be done this Session and the next. The right hon. Gentleman is apparently much afraid that something desperate is about to be done with regard to the land. At least, so far as I am concerned, he may rely on this, that nothing will be done with regard to the land which the principles of political economy will not support—and which everything that is moral and just in the conduct of political affairs may not fairly undertake. I say the great Republic will still invite, no doubt, vast numbers of the population of Ireland; but I believe they will go there no longer as enemies, and that the complaint, which Lord North made, so long ago as the first American War, will at length be put an end to, and England henceforth will not find her greatest enemies on the American continent to be those that have issued from the shores of the United Kingdom. Sir, I will not go into the details of this Bill, for this reason—that we are only upon the second reading of it; but so far as I have been able to gather of public opinion, the Bill meets the view of the public in this way—that it is whole and complete, that it deals fairly and justly with all who can claim any compensation under it. If there is anybody in Ireland, or any class, which has a right to complain, it surely must be the 4,000,000 or 4,500,000 of Roman Catholics. I think it will be felt by the House—whatever may be the opinion of any Member of the House—upon the question of the Catholic Church, that in this Bill the very least has been proposed as to compensation for Catholics and for their Church that it was possible for any just Government to propose. I do not suppose that I shall come within the range of the wishes of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball). His speech tonight has been generally a complaint that this Bill adopted the voluntary 1890 principle for Ireland; that the voluntary principle was bad; that what you should have done was to have increased the grant to Maynooth, to have elevated the condition of teaching there. In point of fact, that doctrine that was first avowed last Session, and then repudiated and denied, has been brought forward in a more daring manner to-night. The heaviest complaint almost against the Bill has been that it would establish the voluntary principle in Ireland, instead of establishing the Roman Catholic Church. And we are told of the desperate evils that will come when, instead of having one voluntary discontented Church, we shall have three. Surely the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) and his learned Colleague (Dr. Ball) really cannot have supposed that the he use would be taken in with anything so very small and so hollow as that? The Catholic Church in Ireland is not discontented because it is not endowed. It is discontented because another and a smaller Church—in numbers a comparatively insignificant Church—is established there, not by the power or consent of Irishmen, but by the power and will of the Imperial Parliament, and that to this very small and comparatively insignificant Church has been handed over all the ecclesiastical revenues which belonged in ancient times, and which now justly belong, to the whole of the Irish nation. But some hon. Gentlemen opposite have a great feeling for the congregations. So have I. I think the congregations have a right to excite the sympathy of Parliament. But I have seen other congregations, and how they emerged from their difficulties. In 1843, nearly 500 ministers in Scotland, not waiting for an Act of Parliament to disendow them, walked out of their manses. They left many charming residences, and many nice churches. They quitted homes in which they had spent many of the happiest years of their lives. They went out as a Church absolutely naked. There was not a church left for them, nor a glebe house, nor a curtilage, nor commutation; and, I will be bound to say, not a single good wish, or "God bless you," from any man on that side of the House. Do not—do not tell the House that your Irish Protestant congregations are feebler and worse than the congregations in Scotland. What have they done since in Scotland? It is 1891 told in a sentence, though it would take weeks to survey it all. They have built 900 churches, not less than 650 manses for their ministers; they have built 500 schools, three theological Colleges, and two training institutions; and during the last three years—I have not the accounts further back—they have raised, on an average, by the voluntary subscriptions of their members, not less than £370,000 per annum; and during the twenty-five years that have elapsed since these 500 ministers walked out of the Established Church, their congregations have raised, by voluntary contributions, a sum exceeding £8,000,000 sterling. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University had the courage to say, in the presence of many members of Nonconformist bodies, that ministers of voluntary churches were rather a low class—that they were not so high-born as the very high-born clergy of the Establishment. As to being high-born, I think the Prophets of old were, many of them, graziers. The Apostles were fishermen and handicraftsmen; and their religion was one to which "not many mighty, not many noble" were called. It may be that in this age and in this country the light of the Reformation and the light of Christianity may be carried through the land by men of humble birth with just as much success as may attend men who were born in great mansions or in palaces. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire argued very much in favour of an Established Church, on the ground that there ought to be some place into which people could get who would not readily be admitted anywhere else. What the right hon. Gentleman wants is this, that you should have an Established Church which has no discipline, and that anybody who will live up to what may be called a gentlemanly conformity to it may pass through the world as a very satisfactory sort of a Christian. Sir, these are arguments that I should be ashamed to use. If I were a Churchman I would either find better arguments or I would keep silence. And I believe, if I were forced to keep silence, I should be obliged to give up the belief that the Church was much, better than the Nonconformist bodies. My opinion is that you do great injustice to the Protestants of Ireland. Is there any reason why, for example, the 1892 Scotchmen in the North of Ireland—the Presbyterians—should be less liberal or energetic than their countrymen of the Free Church in Scotland? And why should the Episcopalian Protestants in Ireland, when freed from the trammels of the State, be less active and successful than their neighbours, the Presbyterians, and their co-religionists the Presbyterians of Scotland? I believe that your sickly offspring of privilege and favouritism may become the robust champion of the light of the Reformation; and perhaps we may live to see the day when the right hon. Gentleman will make a recantation at this table. The Earl of Aberdeen, who was only a few years ago Prime Minister of this country, told me in 1856, at his house in Scotland, that no public event connected with Scotland had, during his long life, given him so much pain as the separation in the Church of Scotland—and that he had lived long enough to see that all his lamentations and fears were vain, and that it had been one of the very happiest events that had ever come to his country. He spoke of the Church, he spoke of the schools, and he said there was a great additional life spread throughout the whole people. If that should take place in Ireland, then the light of the Reformation, which now glimmers so faintly that no man can see it, may become a light shining over much of that island; and to those who think it important it may be satisfactory to hope that Catholicism, in its extreme and Roman sense, may give place to a more liberal religion, and approximate nearer to that which we think better—namely, the faith and religion of the Protestant Churches. It is too late tonight to go into the question of the surplus. There is one thing that I should say about it—and I say it in the hearing of my hon. and learned Friend (Sir Roundell Palmer), who is understood to take a different view of this question from some on this side—John Wycliffe, as the House knows, lived 500 years ago. He was born in the town of Richmond, and he was, perhaps, the first and greatest of the English Reformers. John Wycliffe was obliged to consider this question—as to what should be done with regard to religious endowments; and he said—"If Churches make bad use of their endowments princes are bound to take them away from them." 1893 It is not too much for us to say that if I endowments are found to be mischievous Parliament may put them to other uses. I sometimes wonder how it is that in 500 years we make so little progress on I some subjects. That was the opinion of Wycliffe in the 14th century, and we are now discussing the same subject in this House; and right hon. hon. and learned Gentlemen get up in this House and denounce as almost sacrilege and spoliation any attempt on the part of the Imperial Parliament to deal with the endowments of the State Church in Ireland. And as to the uses to which these endowments are put. If I were particular on the point as to the sacred nature of the endowments, I should even then be satisfied with the propositions in this Bill—for, after all, I hope it is not far from Christianity to charity; and we know that the Divine Founder of our faith has left much more of the doings of a compassionate and loving heart than He has of dogma. I am not able to give the chapter, or the verse, the page, or the column; but what has always struck me most in reading the narratives of the Gospel is how much of kindness and how much of compassion there was, and how much also there was of dealing kindly with all that were sick, with all that were suffering. Do you think it will be a misappropriation of the surplus funds of this great Establishment to apply them to some objects such as those described in the Bill? Do you not think that from the charitable dealing with these matters even a sweeter incense may arise than when these vast funds are applied to maintain three times the number of clergy that can be of the slightest use to the Church with which they are connected. We can do but little, it is true. We cannot relume the extinguished lamp of reason. We cannot make the deaf to hear. We cannot make the dumb to speak. It is not given to us—From the thick film to purge the visual ray,And on the sightless eyeballs pour the day.But at least we can lessen the load of affliction, and we can make life more tolerable to vast numbers who suffer. Sir, when I look at this great measure—and I can assure the House I have looked at it much more than the majority of hon. and right hon. Members opposite, because I have seen it grow from line to line, and from clause to clause, and 1894 have watched its growth and its completion with a great and increasing interest—I say when I look at this measure I look on it as tending to a more true and solid union between Ireland and Great Britain; I see it giving tranquillity to our people; ["Oh, oh !"]—when you have a better remedy I at least will fairly consider it—I say I see this measure giving tranquillity to our people, greater strength to the realm, and adding a new lustre and a new dignity to the Crown. I dare claim then for this Bill the support of all thoughtful and good people within the bounds of the British Empire, and I cannot doubt that in its early and great results it will have the blessing of the Supreme, for I believe it to be founded on those principles of justice and mercy which are the glorious attributes of His eternal reign.
§ Sir ROUNDELL PALMER moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ Debate further adjourned till Monday next.