HC Deb 01 May 1877 vol 234 cc150-68

rose to call the attention of the House to the unsatisfactory state of affairs in the Island of Ceylon in relation to Ecclesiastical Endowments; and to move— That, as the members of the Anglican and Presbyterian Churches in Ceylon constitute a small part of the population and the great majority of the inhabitants are Budhists, Hindoos, or Mahomedans, this House is of opinion that the payment out of the Revenues of the Colony of annual subsidies to the ministers of those Churches inflicts great injustice and occasions serious discontent, and ought, therefore, to be discontinued. In bringing the question forward the hon. Member pointed out that it was not a movement for the disestablishment or disendowment of the Church properly so called, for the Church of England could not be said to be "established" in the Colonies according to the sense in which we understood the term in this country. In Australia and the Cape of Good Hope, Jamaica, and a number of other Colonies the grant made to the Church and to other religious Bodies had been revoked, and all denominations placed on the same level as regarded endowments for ecclesiastical purposes. In the present case the issue was a very narrow one. In Ceylon they were simply dealing with an ecclesiastical department of the Civil Service; and the question was, whether it was just to the people of that Colony, or necessary to their good government, that this department should be maintained out of the public revenue, and what was the general feeling of the population with regard to it? The facts of the case were these:—The total population of the Island, at the last Census, was 2,405,287. Of these, 1,520,574 were Budhists, 465,944 Hindoos, 171,542 Mahomedans, and 534 Veddahs—making together 2,158,594. Of the remaining 250,000 about 190,000 were Roman Catholics, while the Protestants of all denominations numbered between 55,000 and 66,000. The Census of 1871 gave 10,379 of these as belonging to the Church of England, 6,071 as Wesleyans, and 3,101 as Presbyterians. The members of the Church of England, however, were divided into three Bodies—namely, those attending services held by clergymen of the Church of England paid by Government, those belonging to the Church Missionary Society, and those connected with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. According to Mr. Ferguson's epitome of the Blue Book, the average attendance at the services of clergymen paid by Government was 2,197; at the Church Missionary Society, 4,284; and at the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, 2,464. The average attendance at the Presbyterian churches was given at 803. Now, it was for those 2,197 Protestants, the most respectable and well-to-do of the community, that a sum of about £14,000 was raised from 2,500,000 Budhists, Hindoos, and Roman Catholics. It was true that the money was not all spent upon Anglicans and Presbyterians, for £100 was given to the 190,000 Roman Catholics, the remainder being divided as follows:—Three Bishops (two on pension and one on sick leave), an archdeacon, 11 chaplains of the Church of England, four of the Church of Scotland, six other chaplains in the central province to whom grants in aid were made, 14 catechists, a registrar, and 12 retired chaplains on pension. Allowances were also made for extras, such as repairs of buildings. Since the Report containing those facts was published two Bishops had been taken off the list, so that there remained one Bishop in charge—namely, Bishop Copleston, and one on pension. In 1849 a Commission on the fixed establishments of the Island, presided over by Sir Emerson Tennent, reported in favour of a return of the old system of placing the See of Colombo under the Bishop of Madras, and so saving Ceylon the unnecessary cost of a separate Bishop. The Duke of Newcastle, as Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1854, wrote a despatch to the Governor of Ceylon, in which he reminded him that the proper object of the ecclesiastical establishments was to provide for the religious wants of the European members of the civil and military services, not to furnish ministers to congregations of ordinary inhabitants. Sir Charles M'Carthy, Colonel Secretary, and afterwards Governor of Ceylon, supported the same view. Lord Northbrook, who must be acknowledged as a high authority, said, in a speech delivered since his return from India, he believed the day would come when we should give to India the inestimable blessing of a true religion; but he did not think it would be right for Government to use the taxation of a country for the teaching of a certain form of religion. In order to show the feeling which existed in the Colony, the hon. Member next referred to a Paper, laid on the Table of the House last year, containing two documents bearing upon the question. The first was a resolution adopted at a meeting of the Executive Council after Bishop Claughton had resigned his office, his Excellency Sir Hercules Robinson being present. The resolution was to the effect that the Secretary of State be requested not to fill up the vacancy; that the ecclesiastical establishment was too small to require the services of a resident Bishop; that the Island was formerly under the diocese of Madras, and the Bishop of that See paid periodical visits, receiving State allowance, and exercising episcopal jurisdiction over it; and that with the present increased facilities of communication that arrangement could again be advantageously resorted to. The second document was a communication addressed to Lord Carnarvon by Sir William Gregory, the present Governor, in which he expressed his opinion that the salaries of colonial chaplaincies, as vacancies occurred, should be struck off the annual estimates, and he had not a doubt that local subscriptions, aided by the great religious Societies at home, would provide for an adequate Church of England ministration hereafter. It was to be regretted, observed the hon. Member, that Lord Carnarvon did not act on the recommendation of Sir William Gregory. His Lordship, with great ability and success had hitherto administered the affairs of the Colonies; but in this case it was to be feared that his ecclesiastical proclivities had interfered with his usual good judgment. The noble Lord had, besides, introduced a new element directly opposed to the expressed sentiments of his Predecessors and to the policy which had always guided the Government in relation to the Colonies, in the appointment of Bishop Copleston. Lord Carnarvon said— I have submitted to Her Majesty the name of a clergyman who is, I trust, very highly qualified—alike by his opinions, his age, and physical constitution, as by his special disposition for missionary work among Indian races—for the continuance of that great work in which his predecessor has been cut short. Now, he was not aware that the Colonial Office had formed itself into a missionary society, for "missionary work among Indian races," and had sent out a Bishop for that purpose. In the Duke of Newcastle's despatch it was stated distinctly that the sole— object of an ecclesiastical establishment in Ceylon was to provide for the wants of the European members of the civil and military services. Sir Hercules Robinson had well ob- served, in a despatch to the Earl of Kimberley— It is felt that the post (of Bishop) is not absolutely necessary, and that if the selection for it were by any chance to fall upon a person less tolerant than Bishop Claughton, such an appointment might possibly be productive of sectarian strife and jealousy, and lead to much local unpleasantness. The apprehension thus felt by Sir Hercules Robinson had, unfortunately, been fully realized. The appointment was a most unfortunate one. Of the "Boy Bishop," as he had been called, it might be well said— Man, proud man, Dressed in a little brief authority, Plays such fantastic tricks before high Heaven As make the angels weep. If anyone could have reconciled the several parties in Ceylon to the present state of things it was Bishop Claughton. He was deservedly popular with all classes. But Bishop Copleston had pursued a different course. Within a few months he insulted and stopped the mouths of the missionaries of the Church Missionary Society, some of whom had been toiling in the Island before the Bishop was born. Thus a blameless, exemplary body of Christian ministers found themselves suddenly overriden by arrogant pretensions, which no previous Bishop bad dared to enforce. Other denominations with whom Bishop Claughton had been on the most favourable terms were treated with discourtesy and disrespect; the scandalous spectacle was presented to the heathen of the Christian Church divided into two hostile camps, and during the short time the Bishop had been in the Island, as had been well observed, "he had clone more to degrade the English creed in the eyes of the Natives than the life-long labours of the inoffensive pastors he persecuted had done to render it honourable." In the Papers which had been submitted to the House there was a Petition from the Wesleyan missionaries to Sir William Gregory, which stated that the payment by the Government of certain sums under the head of "Ecclesiastical Establishments" was impolitic and unjust; that the effects of the Government providing pastors for the wealthy congregations of the towns, and the appointment of these pastors, from the revenue of the Island instead of the parishioners, were highly objec- tionable on the grounds—(1) that by such appointments Government did by its agents directly enter upon missionary work; (2) that it was unfair to the efforts of that society, which had for more than 50 years laboured in those places, to be subject to the rivalry of Government competition; (3) that in some of those places their efforts to induce the Wesleyans to support their own ministers had been hindered by the fact that the Episcopalians had their ministers supported by the Government, although the Episcopal congregations were not at all in need of pecuniary aid. They also stated that it was contrary to public policy for the Government to engage in missionary operations; that many of the Government officials did not belong to any of the Churches subsidized by Government, and a most offensive slight was placed on all the religious Bodies not receiving Government favour. That memorial was signed by seven English and 28 Native ministers in Ceylon. Sir William Gregory forwarded it to Lord Carnarvon, who sent a reply to the effect that he was not prepared to authorize any change which should deprive the Church of England or the Presbyterian Church of that support from Government which they had hitherto enjoyed. A large and influential meeting had since been held in Colombo protesting against these subsidies, and a Petition to Her Majesty had been forwarded, bearing the signatures of 8,000 Natives, praying for their discontinuance. The Petition stated that in Ceylon the existence of an Ecclesiastical Department of Government was a direct violation of the principle laid down in Her Majesty's Proclamation, namely— That none be in any way favoured, none be molested and disturbed, by reason of their religious faith or observance. The Resolution which he now submitted to the House stated that this subsidy inflicted great injustice and occasioned serious discontent. The injustice he thought he had proved; and as to the discontent, it was manifest not only from the Papers laid on the Table, but from other information received from the Island, a very strong feeling prevailed among all classes, except a few recipients of Government bounty. So far from accomplishing the object proposed by Lord Carnarvon, as a missionary establishment, it had had a directly opposite effect. The Natives designated Christianity thus taught as the "Queen's religion," regarding it simply as a Department of the Government. A very distinguished Native and a Member of the Legislative Council, Sir Coomara Swamy, in a very able speech delivered by him in the Council, remarked— I have been repeatedly asked, 'How is it Christianity makes such a little progress among your people?' 'That it should be so is natural enough,' I answer. 'Think of the manner in which it is presented to us. You come with the drawn sword in one hand and the Bible in the other. Who can believe it? Your conduct belies your professions. The chances of Christianity would have been greater if it had been preached in the country by men entirely unconnected with the Government, sympathizing more with the people than with the rulers.' Similar views were expressed by Sir Charles M'Carthy, who said— Deeply convinced as I am that from the diffusion of Christianity alone any real progress or improvement could be looked for among the Native population, I yet must contend that Government, by acting as suggested, would only raise a barrier to the advancement of the Christian religion. Now, he asked, what did the Government propose to do in relation to that question? The principle of religious equality almost universally prevailed in our Colonies, with the most satisfactory results. Why was Ceylon to be an exception? Would the Government disregard the strongly-expressed feelings of the whole community, from the Governor downwards? Did they wish to excite more dissatisfaction, and rouse the Natives as well as the Europeans to further agitation? What was the language of Sir Coomara Swamy in reference to the Petition from the Natives, to which some exception had been taken? He said— If the Council is not to be satisfied with such expressions of opinion as those embodied in it, how then shall we bring conviction to unwilling minds? Shall we hold monster meetings? Shall there be inflammatory speeches? Must there be commotion, and discontent, bloodshed, and other rebellion before official minds can be roused? If it was desired to diffuse a knowledge of Christianity among the Native population of Ceylon, that object would be best secured by voluntary effort. Had they really a right to levy a compulsory tribute upon the people to support a re- ligion in which they did not believe? Would the Government, for the sake of so paltry a sum, act in direct antagonism to the almost universal feeling of the Island, or would they, by placing Ceylon on the same footing as their other Colonies as far as lay in their power, promote its peace, its happiness, and its prosperity? The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, as the members of the Anglican and Presbyterian Churches in Ceylon constitute a small part of the population and the great majority of the inhabitants are Budhists, Hindoos, and Mahomedans, this House is of opinion that the payment out of the Revenues of the Colony of annual subsidies to the ministers of those Churches inflicts great injustice and occasions serious discontent, and ought, therefore, to be discontinued."—(Mr. Alderman M'Arthur.)


declared that in all his Parliamentary experience he had never known a better case for an alteration of the ecclesiastical arrangements of a Colony than that which his hon. Friend had just submitted to the House. In the population there were 2,000,000 not Christians, while the Christians numbered only about 250,000, the greater portion being Roman Catholics. The object to which the grants of money in question were originally applied was a very laudable one—namely, to provide religious instruction for the military in the Island. But now the money was not devoted to that purpose at all. It went in salaries to clergymen, the great majority of whose hearers were not soldiers, but persons perfectly able to pay for their own religious instruction. What was done in point of fact was this—clergymen were being provided for two or three thousand rich members of the Church of England, while the great bulk of the Protestant poor population, to say nothing of the Roman Catholics, were left to provide for themselves. It was notorious all over the Colony that the bulk of the members of the Church of England preferred the services of the missionaries of the Church Missionary Society to those paid by the State. The Natives of Ceylon were actually taxed to support missions for their own conversion, and however much he might sympathize with missionary effort when properly directed, he felt bound to say that he knew of nothing more likely than that to prejudice Christianity in the eyes of the Cingalese people. There was a widespread hostility to these grants in the Island—a hostility which was not by any means unshared by members of the Anglican Church. That hostility had been expressed on various occasions in the Legislative Council, and he was sorry to see as one phase of it a disposition on the part of certain of the Natives, in consequence of these grants, to doubt the sincerity of Her Majesty's Proclamation in favour of neutrality and religious equality. The advice of Sir William Gregory to cease filling up vacancies as they occurred was wise advice, which he hoped the Government would consider. As showing the gravity of the situation, he was told that a Petition was coming home from India on the subject of the annual payments to Anglican clergymen in Hindostan. He hoped the Government would take time by the forelock and remove gradually causes of discontent which might lead to serious difficulties hereafter.


admitted that, so far as figures were concerned, the case presented to the House was a good one. He was not prepared, however, to accept the hon. Member's conclusion that the existence of an endowed Church ought to be dependent upon numbers. He had always protested against that argument in the case of the Irish Church, and he must now protest against it in the case of Ceylon. Something had been said about pensions to Bishops. It was, no doubt, true that at one time three Bishops were receiving pensions for work they had done. But the health of those Bishops having broken down in the Colony, he did not see any reason why, because of the particular functions they had filled, they should be deprived of their pensions. The failure of their health was no doubt an unfortunate occurrence; but the calamity might have happened to ex-Judges or ex-Governors as well as Bishops. The particular position filled by the Bishops did not, he thought, add much to the argument of the hon. Gentleman. The opinion of Sir Hercules Robinson h ad been quoted. Now Sir Hercules was no doubt a very good Governor, but he did not know that he was a very good authority on ecclesiastical matters. He had suggested that if the Bishop of Colombo were withdrawn the Bishop of Madras should receive Episcopal charge of the Island of Ceylon, Now, there could be no doubt that the Indian Bishops had a great deal too much to do already. And as some proof of this two additional Bishops had recently been given to Madras. As, however, Sir Hercules Robinson had been quoted, it was well that his mature conclusion should be known: and it would be found that it was by no means in favour of the views of the hon. Gentleman opposite. Sir Hercules Robinson had, no doubt, protested strongly against the continuation of the Colombo Bishopric; but, like other great men, he was open to conviction, and he found that in writing to the Earl of Kimberley, on the 14th of November, 1871, he said— My own opinion is—that a Bishop of the Church of England is not indispensable here; but that, so long as the Colony maintains from the general Revenue, as it does at present, a number of Episcopalian Chaplaincies, it is desirable that there should be a head of the Department, and that in the present flourishing condition of the finances the difference between the salary of an Archdeacon and of a Bishop is a matter of but little importance. So long, therefore, as the present State allowances to the Anglican clergy are continued, and so long as the right man can be found for the place, I think the additional expenditure entailed by maintaining the Bishopric is well invested in a social as well as in an official point of view. I have known Archdeacon Jermyn intimately for a number of years, and I am satisfied that it would have been difficult for your Lordship to have selected any person more suited than he is in every respect for the post which has been vacated here by Bishop Claughton's resignation; and now that the nomination is announced, I think the general feeling is one of satisfaction that the appointment has been filled up. It would therefore be seen that Sir Hercules Robinson admitted that when the appointment of Archdeacon Jermyn was made it gave general satisfaction. The hon. Member had used an expression which he hoped on reflection he would be inclined to modify—he spoke of the English Government "taking the sword in one hand and the Bible in the other." That was an exaggeration of language which he trusted hardly any hon. Member would endorse. [MR. ALDERMAN W. M'ARTHUR explained. He had quoted the expression used by Sir Coomara Swaney, a Member of the Legislative Council of Ceylon.] He would only say he thought that anyone who used such an expression was not an authority that House would follow. He could not admit the validity of the argument which had been used against the continuance of the Colombo Bishopric, because an agitation was said to have commenced in Calcutta for the disestablishment of the Church in India. The same argument was used in the case of the Irish Church—if it were not disendowed, it was said, people would call out for the disestablishment of the English Church. He would not give way to such an argument. He was rather disposed to act on the old Latin maxim—principiis obsta. He regretted that the hon. Member had dragged into the discussion a personal matter relating to the present Bishop of Colombo. He stated that the first act of Bishop Copleston was to suspend the missionaries of the Church Missionary Society. Now, that statement was incorrect. The Bishop had, unfortunately, differences with the missionaries of the Church Missionary Society, who were endeavouring to establish an improper Episcopal authority. The step he took was simply with a view to maintain Episcopal authority, and when so much was said by certain parties of the duty of the clergy in this country to be subject to their Bishops he did not think that this act of Bishop Copleston ought to have been misrepresented as it had been. The statement was most exaggerated. The Bishop did everything he could to prevent the unhappy conclusion which had been brought about, and it was his greatest desire that all the missionaries of the Church Missionary Society should work in harmony with himself. He hoped the House would not agree with the Motion. It would give a blow to Christianity in the East. The Natives of Ceylon would think that a nation which valued its Christianity would set it forth in public places; and if this Resolution were carried into effect they would soon come to the conclusion that England had ceased to be a Christian nation, or at least a nation which cared about its Christianity.


said, he wished to explain the principles which were always followed by the Government of India in regard to ecclesiastical establishments. There was a very large number of European servants performing duties in India, who were in a position in which they had no private means of obtaining the consolations of religion or the care of medical men. The Government, therefore, found it necessary to provide both clergymen and doctors in sufficient numbers to attend to the wants of their European servants. That was the principle followed in India, and it was only in pursuance of it that a certain amount of the clerical and medical element was retained by Government there. It was said that the cry in India was that there were not too many Bishops, but too few, and that there was a necessity for an increase. In particular, it was said in the diocese of Madras that people were not satisfied with the Bishop they had already, but they had lately established other two. Those were not Government Bishops, but Missionary Bishops, established for missionary purposes which the Government did not undertake. So far as the Bishop of Madras was concerned, he undertook to say that that right rev. Prelate was not, for the special purpose for which he was appointed, an overworked man, and he might superintend Ceylon without any very large addition to his labours. In respect to the remaining questions raised by the Motion, he was not well acquainted with the affairs of Ceylon itself. He hoped when the Government came to deal with the matter they would be prepared to tell the House that they were desirous of dealing with it in connection with Ceylon exactly as it was dealt with in India—namely, that the Government themselves would provide a superintending Bishop and a sufficient number of chaplains to provide for the necessities of the Government servants, and the Government servants only. He thought it was not right to contribute out of public revenues for the maintenance of an ecclesiastical establishment beyond that which was required for administering to the necessities of the public servants. If the Establishment in Ceylon did partake of that character, he thought the earliest opportunity should be taken to reduce it within a standard that would correspond with that which was retained in India.


held that the hon. Member who had brought this subject before the House had failed to show the existence of any practical grievance. The population of Ceylon was somewhat less than 2,500,000, and the total sum expended in the services to which reference had been made was only £14,000, or about ld. per head. That, certainly, was not a very crushing taxation, and was borne by all classes of the population varying in religious belief. The hon. Gentleman had quoted in support of his views many eminent authorities. But if he were to make known the opinion of many persons as eminent on the other side and as well qualified to form a judgment, he might, at the risk of wearying the House, go somewhat into the controversy. But the House, while paying every respect to the opinions of those eminent persons, would hardly be disposed to look to them for guidance on a question like this. The hon. Gentleman said that Sir William Gregory especially and Sir Charles M'Carthy were in favour of disestablishment. The right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) said that Sir William Gregory had quoted as a precedent the disestablishment of the Irish Church. He would like, however, to point out the exact position in which Her Majesty's Government stood with regard to that question. There was no doubt that the disestablishment of the Irish Church had commended itself to a large majority of the last Parliament. The present Government certainly could not be charged with having embarked on any re-actionary policy. Those who constituted that Government had not attempted on any occasion to go back upon the great subjects which had been determined by their predecessors. But he must demur to the doctrine which had apparently been laid down, that they were bound to continue that course and to carry out all over the world a policy which it was notorious every Member of the present Government—and he ventured to think a large majority of this House of Commons—emphatically condemned. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. M'Arthur) had alluded to the policy of the late Government with regard to Colonial endowments. What was that policy? During the administration of Lord Kimberley at the Colonial Office various Colonies were subjected to schemes bearing on this question. But how were they dealt with? In some a policy was adopted which the hon. Gentleman would hardly endorse—namely, what was popularly known as "levelling up;" in others a policy of complete disendowment was effected. But he would remind the House that in all the cases to which he now referred the circumstances were widely different from those which existed in Ceylon. Notably, in Jamaica, Trinidad, the Leeward Islands, and others with which Lord Kimberley had to deal, there was not a large mixed population professing various forms of non-Christian religion; but the difficulty he had to meet was that of Christian communities, divided, for the most part, into Roman Catholics and Nonconformist Protestants; and the manner in which they were dealt with offered very little to guide us in approaching a subject like this. There was another point on which he thought the hon. Gentlemen had entirely failed. The hon. Member had spoken of assimilating the policy to be adopted in Ceylon with that which prevailed in all the different Colonies under Her Majesty's sway; but he (Mr. Lowther) hoped the House would not be led to believe that the policy of disestablishment had been already extended to the great bulk of the Colonies. Nothing of the kind had occurred. In certain exceptional instances this policy had been initiated. It was initiated previous to the accession of the Members of the present Government to office. In those instances where it had been deliberately adopted by their predecessors the present Government had not attempted to interfere; but they certainly had no intention of proceeding further in a direction which had not commended itself to their judgment. The hon. Gentleman had stated that the part of the population which derived an advantage from these endowments was well to do, that they drove to their places of worship in carriages; in fact, that they formed a portion of that class referred to by Mr. Carlyle under the designation of "gigmanity." But the hon. Gentleman, he hoped, did not mean that the House ought to embark on a course of policy on account of the social position of those to whom it might apply. He thought, however, if the hon. Gentleman would carry his researches a little further he would find that a considerable portion of those who derived benefit from these endowments were not in a position to contribute towards religious rites for themselves. The right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) said that the rest of the inhabitants of the Island, with the exceptions mentioned by him and the hon. Member for Lambeth, had to provide for their own religious services. Was that the fact? The right hon. Gentleman very likely was not aware that the Budhist community were possessed of no fewer than 376,000 acres of land for that purpose. [Mr. BAXTER said he had referred only to the Christian population.] It was right, at all events, that the House should be aware of the fact that this large extent of land was vested in the Budhist community; it was called the "Temple land," was held under grants, and had been guaranteed to them by the British Government on taking possession of the Island. When it was found that three-fourths of the population were Budhist and were largely endowed, it could hardly be said that the wealthy portion of the community were placed in an invidious position with regard to their poorer brethren in consequence of the endowments to which the hon. Gentleman had called attention. The hon. Gentleman quoted the language used by a member of Council. The language of that gentleman certainly compared very unfavourably with the studied moderation with which the hon. Gentleman himself brought forward this subject. The advice of that gentleman to his fellow-subjects reminded him of the somewhat similar advice—"Don't nail his ears to the pump." There was no reason to believe, however, that in that loyal portion of Her Majesty's dominions there was the slightest danger of hints of that kind being followed up. He should like to call the attention of the House to the precedent which would be established by adopting the Motion of the hon. Gentleman. It would be impossible to confine that policy to Ceylon; and the question of disestablishment would arise with reference to Colonies like Natal, Hong Kong, the Mauritius, British Honduras, and even India. Towards the end of the hon. Member's speech he referred to some differences which had occurred between the Bishop of Colombo and the missionaries of the Island. Now, the Bishop was in no sense a servant of the Government. He did not stand there as in any way responsible for the proceedings of the Bishop; and if he (Mr. Lowther) avoided expressing any opinion on his proceedings, the House must attribute it to his desire not to bark when he was unable to bite. He was happy, however, to think that the present condition of affairs, which was that with which the House had solely to do, was far more satisfactory than some speeches which had been made would lead hon. Members to suppose. He had heard from a private source that the Bishop was at present in every way conforming himself to the situation in which he was placed, and that the unfortunate differences of the past would not recur. Exception had been taken to the character and method of the missionary work. He would not stand up for proselytizing; but the House would agree with him that placed as the British power was in the midst of a large Native population, the existence of a Christian ministry could not but conduce to the welfare of the Island.


had heard the speech of the Under Secretary for the Colonies with mingled surprise and regret. These discussions were never very pleasant to the House; but he thought his hon. Friend might have taken advantage of the opportunity before him. He thought that a decidedly strong case had been made out; that it would have been satisfactory if the advice of Sir William Gregory had been followed, and these endowments suffered gradually to disappear. The hon. Member for West Kent (Mr. Talbot) had expressed his approval of a Bishop "in active operation;" but this phrase, as far as the Bishop of Colombo was concerned, appeared to imply the suspending of his clergy and causing a general unpleasant state of feeling in the Island. It had been said that the policy of the late Government had been a policy either of levelling up or of disestablishment: when the exigencies of a Colony seemed to demand the latter policy, it had been followed, but all that had been done in the shape of "levelling up" had been this—that where it had seemed best to maintain endowments there had been some attempt to make them equal as between different religious bodies. The Under Secretary had contradicted himself, for he had first said that there were exceptional circumstances to justify the endowments in Ceylon, and immediately afterwards declared that if we abolished these endowments it would be necessary to apply to other Colonies the same treatment as that received by Ceylon. Then it was said, why did you not do this when you were in office? He (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) thought that hon. Gentlemen opposite had given the late Government credit for having done enough in the way of disestablishment; but the fact was that a blot was not a blot until it was hit, and everything could not be done at once. This was a question of right or wrong, and no greater mistake could be made than to refuse to do that which was right in one case for fear of having to do so in other cases with respect to which one was less confident. Give a remedy for an acknowledged evil, and let the future take care of itself. It was quite fair to defend the principle of establishment; but to his mind establishment was justified only when the Established Church was either the Church of the great majority of the people or was supported by the public opinion of the country in which it existed. Neither of these conditions existed in Ceylon where the Church was rendered inefficacious and Christianity hindered by the inequality and injustice of the endowments. The Under Secretary had spoken of the Budhists being endowed. Was that a fair argument? The only foundation for it was that we had not plundered the Budhists of the property which they possessed when we took the Island. Ceylon had a population of more than 2,000,000, of whom only about 250,000 were Christians. Of these, nearly 200,000 were Roman Catholics who received the magnificent sum of £100 per annum out of the £14,000 or £15,000 of endowment. The remainder went to about 15,000 of the rest of the Christians, some receiving no money at all, so that the system was unjust and unequal, first as between the Christians and the Native population, and, secondly, as between the different sects of Christians. He could not do otherwise than cordially support the Motion, and he believed that the existence of these petty establishments in defiance of the public opinion of the localities in which they existed, did more harm than good to the principle of establishment at home.


said, he thought that many of the remarks that had been made were rather wide of the subject. The Resolution said— That, as the members of the Anglican and Presbyterian Churches in Ceylon constitute a small part of the population and the great majority of the inhabitants are Budhists, Hin- doos, or Mahomedans, this House is of opinion that the payment out of the Revenues of the Colony of annual subsidies to the ministers of those Churches inflicts great injustice and occasions serious discontent, and ought, therefore, to he discontinued. That was laying down the principle that, however necessary it might be to maintain any religious establishments in countries where the majority of the population were not Christians, one had no right to take any part of the revenue of the country for that purpose. That proposition would clearly cover the case of India, where it was always thought right that an Establishment should be maintained for the benefit of the Europeans in that country. But it could not be maintained that it was wrong to take any part of the Indian revenues for that purpose. The House would consider that this was a very broad assertion and that it really covered the case of every Colony; and he hoped that, under these circumstances, the House would be very slow to adopt a Motion of the character of that which was now before it.


said, that before they went to a division, he just wished to say that he did not think the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies quite did justice to the speech of a Native Member of the Ceylon Legislative Council to which allusion was made. He thought that speech was a very remarkable one on the whole, and as he laid it down he said to himself—"When Natives of Ceylon take to making speeches in the English tongue which show so full an acquaintance with the best thought of the day on the subjects about which they speak, as well as with what has been passing in this House, it is high time to give up supporting any institution in that Island which cannot be defended by argument;" and he put it to hon. Members on both sides of the House who had listened to this debate—Could the existing ecclesiastical endowments in Ceylon be defended by argument?


had hoped that the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies would have given the House some assurance that the present state of things would not long continue, as the existence of the subsidy of the State Church produced at present a great deal of dissatisfaction in the Island. In consequence of the Under Secretary's reply he felt bound to divide the House upon his Resolution.


said, he should vote against the Motion, but thanked his hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth for bringing the conduct of the Bishop under the notice of the House.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 121; Noes 147: Majority 26.—(Div. List, No. 103.)

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