§ The Bishop of Exeter moved the resumption of the Adjourned Debate on the above Bill.
said, that one of the reasons urged by the Ministers in favour of this Bill, was, that it would give satisfaction to the people of Ireland. He had, however, to complain, that the policy which his Majesty's Ministers had adopted with respect to Ireland had excited the dissatisfaction which this Bill was to appease. They had suffered the discontented in that country to carry on, uncontrolled for months, a system of terror and intimidation. The clergy alone were not the individuals who suffered by this system—the evils which it produced recoiled upon the wretched instruments themselves, and, generating misery, produced still greater discontent. If the Government had done its duty when these disturbances had first commenced, there would have been no necessity for the Coercion Bill. In 1829, when Dr. Doyle was examined before a Committee of that House, he was asked, 808 "What particular or general benefit is likely, in your opinion, to result to the people of Ireland, by the admission of the Roman Catholics to a full participation in civil rights?" The reverend gentleman answered, "that it would produce incalculable benefit; it would put an end to all the religious animosities which now prevail; it would prove not only a local, but a general, good; it would enable the country to derive much more benefit than it at present does from its internal resources; it would induce individuals to employ their capital in that country, because they would see a prospect of deriving advantage from the outlay; it would cause the community in general to be better educated; it would remove dissensions, and make the people of Ireland as one individual. Such," said the reverend gentleman, "are the opinions which I entertain in the presence of God and your Lordships." But, notwithstanding that these were the opinions of the reverend gentleman, in six months after he had given his evidence, the Newtownbarry affair took place; and, it should be observed, that Newtownbarry was in the diocess of that reverend gentleman. Certainly, that event did not correspond with the hopes held out in the quotation which he had just read. It, indeed, evidently appeared, and their Lordships must admit the fact, that there had been in Ireland, for some time back, a systematic conspiracy against the acknowledged rights of the Church. These violent proceedings had led to the present Bill; and, he would say, that the principle of the Bill, as it now stood, was the most dangerous that could be conceived with reference to the safety and security of the Protestant Church of Ireland. He knew that country well; he was intimately acquainted with the feelings of the Protestants there; and when they saw that it was proposed to remove ten Bishops at once, they would conclude that the whole fabric of the Established Church was threatened with destruction. Why, it was known that there were even now negotiations pending for the purchase of those episcopal residences which would from time to time, under this Bill, become unoccupied by Protestant Bishops, for the use of the Roman Catholic clergy. The result, then, of the Bill, would be, to give a marked ascendancy to the Catholics, and to dispirit the Protestants. The Bishop's palace ought to be reserved for the use of the Bishop in his visitations. He objected 809 strongly to shifting the burthen of the Church-cess from the community to the clergy. The Church-cess was a Land-tax, and, he thought, that the land ought to bear it: for his part, he, as an Irish landlord, was willing to contribute his portion of it. He believed a general tax of three-halfpence per acre on the land would be sufficient to cover the Church-cess; and that, with an equalization of the revenue of the Bishops, which would yield 35,000l. or 36,000l., was all the Reform which he thought was required. That fund would enable the ministers to augment the small livings, and build glebe houses where necessary. More than that was not wanted. Greatly, however, as he objected to the Bill, and blamable as he thought the Ministers for the present state of affairs in Ireland, yet, as it was a measure of vital importance, he felt himself reluctantly compelled not to vote against its going into Committee.
The Bishop of Exeter
said, he felt that there was no necessity for him to give any assurance to their Lordships that he rose on this occasion with no common degree of anxiety. Their Lordships had now under their consideration the most important subject that had come before the Legislature for years, nay, he might truly say, for centuries. So important were the subjects involved in this discussion, that the noble Baron who had just addressed their Lordships had stated, that he was prepared, from a mere sense of the necessity of the case, to read this Bill a second time, notwithstanding the many and strong objections which the noble Lord entertained, and had urged against it. He, however, acting on the most solemn grounds, though feeling considerable difficulty when he found an individual possessing the knowledge and experience of the noble Baron making such a statement, came forward to assert those principles which he felt it to be his duty to avow, in the face of that necessity to which the noble Baron thought it his duty to yield. Considering the feelings which operated on the mind of that noble person, it was impossible not to see, that in pursuing a different course, he incurred a most heavy responsibility, which, he was, however, content to bear. In discussing this question he felt it to be his imperative duty to cast aside all personal and temporary considerations, and to examine it on its abstract merits alone, because he believed, that the interests of the church of God and the interests of truth were at stake. 810 Some parts of the Rill imposed a restraint on their Lordships in dealing with it. There was, he might be permitted to observe, a right insisted on elsewhere—a right not formally admitted by their Lord-ships, but never practically resisted by them—that was, the right claimed by the House of Commons to consider and decide on certain subjects without the intervention of their Lordships. He alluded, of course, to the right which the other House claimed to regulate and apportion the amount of any tax that was to be imposed by the Legislature, and the exercise of that right was involved in the present Bill. He must, however, contend, that in this instance, the exercise of that right was in direct violation of the very principle on which the claim of the House of Commons to exercise it, was founded. For what was that principle? It was, that they, as the Representatives of the people, on whom the main burthen of the taxation must fall, had a right to impose the burthen. The principle was, that as the Commons of the realm bore the burthens, the Commons should impose them. In this instance, however, a very small part of the community, forming a very small portion of the constituents of the other House, and having in it no Representative of their own order, were alone subjected to the tax which the other House claimed the exclusive right to impose. It had, in fact, in this instance, acted in a manner at variance with its own principles. It had imposed a tax on the property of men who were not represented in the place where that tax was imposed. There was not one of their own body present to led with them or to act for them. In that House the clergy were represented. The Bishops were the guardians and protectors of their interests, and an opportunity ought to have been afforded them to give the imposition of this tax a full and deliberate consideration, before it had received the sanction of the House of Commons. Their Lordships, and the Representatives of the clergy, had now no other course to pursue, so far advanced was the Bill, than to reject, or accept it without modification. The very principle on which the other House of Parliament rested its claim rendered it proper and necessary that some means should have been adopted by which those who were to be taxed under this measure, should have been consulted. Such a course might easily have been found, if Ministers had thought fit to have adopted the principle. If they had proceeded by Reso- 811 lution, rather than by Bill, then their Lordships might have considered this tax in all its bearings, and they might have been enabled so to discuss this matter with the other House, either by way of conference, or in some other mode, as to secure the concurrence of all parties. If this had been done, they would have approached the question with far less of excited feeling—with far less of acerbity—and with far less danger of incurring that which all must wish to avoid—the danger of incurring a collision with the other House. He was the more disposed to think that if they had come to the consideration of this subject by Resolution, they would have arrived at a conclusion in accordance with the wishes of all parties, because the noble Earl who had introduced the Bill with so much ability had explained its object to be, to effect the removal of a tax from the community which had led, much more than any other cause, to the disorders that prevailed in Ireland: and, at the same time, to ameliorate the situation of the Church itself, and to improve its revenues. Now, as all these points related to the Church, it was particularly fitting, for the reasons he had stated, nay, he held it to be essential, that the measure should have been, in the first instance, considered by the Representatives of the Church. Seeing that the Bill professed to be for the improvement of the Church, and for the better distribution of its revenues, he thought that opinion could be maintained on higher and still stronger grounds. The noble Earl had stated the objects of the Bill to be three:—1st, the abolition of the Vestry-cess; 2nd, the augmentation of small livings; and, 3rd, the building and repairing of churches. With respect to the Vestry-cess, he should find it necessary to trouble their Lordships at some length; but as to the other two objects, he might be permitted to say, that no class of men in this country felt a more warm interest in those most desirable measures, the augmentation of small livings, and the building and repairing of chapels, than the Bishops of the United Kingdom did. In considering this question, the Bishops had cast aside every feeling of self-interest for their order; they came to it wholly and solely with the wish, particularly at the present time, to secure for the country the services of a body of men who would adopt the best means for promoting the worship of God, and extending the truths of the Gospel. The noble Earl had last night, in an elabo- 812 rate display of figures, attempted to show that sufficient funds would be provided by the proposed alterations for meeting all the expenses incidental to the new arrangement. But, he was prepared to contend, that those funds would be devoured by the demand occasioned on account of the Vestry-cess. He would advert to the noble Earl's accounts, and, if he were wrong, the noble Earl could correct him. The noble Earl stated, that the items of charge would be—Church-cess, 63,241l.; augmentation of livings under 200l., 46,500l.; building and repairing churches, 20,000l.; glebe-houses, 10,000l.: making a total of 139,741l. There would besides be 5,000l. a-year for the expense of three Commissioners (an item which the noble Earl had omitted); making a total of 144,741l. The sale of the perpetuities of Bishops' leases, however, would not, as the noble Earl had stated, produce 1,000,000l., but only 800,000l., supposing the sales to be readily effected. The mistake on this point had originated in the other House, where the noble Lord had forgotten to take into consideration the fine annually paid, which reduced the value of the perpetuity one-fifth. He was surprised that the noble Earl should have fallen into the same error. Instead, therefore, of producing 1,000,000l., the sale would at most only produce 800,000l., and that would not yield an interest of four per cent, but only an interest of three and one-third per cent, which would reduce the annual income from this source to 26,000l., speaking in round numbers, even if perpetuities of all the leases were purchased. There were also, it should be observed, 264,000l. to be set apart to meet certain charges that were now due; and he would venture to say, that the probability of those leases in perpetuity being purchased was so small, that if 264,000l. were realized by them, it was as much as any reasonable man could expect. That sum, certainly, must be deducted from the 800,000l. But, as he said, he believed, that the sale would not yield more than 264,000l., and, therefore, he asserted that the 40,000l. of the noble Earl ought to be altogether struck out of the account. Upon the supposition of the noble Earl, the sale would only yield 26,000l.; but as he saw no readiness to purchase, and there was a large sum to be provided for, he saw no probability of the sale yielding a farthing to dispose of. The next item to meet the expenses of the new arrangement, was the produce of the 813 Consolidated bishoprics, which was estimated by the noble Earl at 57,700l. But here the noble Earl had made a consider-able mistake; he had taken the gross instead of the nett amount of the revenue of the bishoprics, and the real produce was only 50,700l. The next item was the tax on the Bishops who remained, which was calculated at 4,600l., which might, probably, be correct. The next item was the tax upon incumbents, which amounted to 44,000l. But, it appeared, by a paper which had been laid before Parliament, that since the period of the date on which that calculation was made, a tax of fifteen per cent had been laid upon incumbents, to be paid to the landlords on account of tithes. The result was not a diminution of fifteen per cent, but to a much larger amount; so that no one could safely reckon the amount to be derived from this source at more than 24,000l. The next item was that of the repayments for fifteen years, 8,000l.; the immediate reduction of the Bishopric of Derry, 2,000l.; the future reduction of the same bishopric, 4,160l.; and the future reduction of Armagh, 4,500l. per annum. The conclusion he arrived at was, that the whole sum which could be reckoned on, amounted to 85,872l.; but all this part of the revenue was contingent, and depended on the lives of the incumbents. He would call their attention to the immediate sources of expense. A charge for Church-cess would be immediately incurred of 63,000l. per annum, together with the 5,000l. a-year for the Commissioners. To meet this, there was immediaately available only the revenue of the sec of Waterford, the payments for the see of Derry, and certain payments on account of clergymen, who held money from the First Fruits, to build churches, &c.; making in all only 16,000l. a-year. That was all which could be safely calculated on for the next fifteen years. Every year, therefore, they would incur a large debt; and, at the end of the first year alone, the amount would be no less than 47,000l, including the 5,000l. to the Commissioners. This debt would be annually increasing in the same proportion, except so far as the amount of the tax would be diminished; and the consequence would be, that, at the end of fifteen years, they would be upwards of half a million in debt, which would entail a charge of from 15,000l. to 18,000l. a-year on the country. The result would be, that all the funds pointed out by the noble Earl, and which he had considerably 814 overstated, would not He sufficient to provide even for the Vestry-cess; that would devour not only the tax laid on the clergy, but all the other fluids that had been enumerated. He should next take a view of the Bill itself. It appeared to him to be constructed on a very peculiar principle. To say that it was a delusion would be hard, for he did not think that it would delude any one. It was made up of a series of proposistions which would delude, if they were believed; the very title of the Bill showed that. It was called, "An Act to alter and amend the laws relating to the Temporalities of the Church in Ireland." Now, how did that title agree with the contents of the measure, which was in fact a Bill to transfer the payment of a certain lax from one part of the community to another. Now, let their Lordships suppose, that a Bill was introduced into that House, the title of which bore, that it was to alter and amend the laws relating to real property, and when they came to look at the Bill, they found that the intention of the Bill was to take off the legacy duty, and lay that duty upon lands, would they say that such a Bill was to amend the laws relating to real property? Yet such a Bill would be in strict analogy to the Bill before them; and if such a Bill were brought forward, he would venture to say, that their Lord-ships would object to it, as containing a false title. To proceed next to the pre-amble of the Bill, it said, "Whereas it is expedient to make provision for the abolition of first fruits in Ireland, and the substitution of an annual tax in lieu thereof," Now, it appeared, that these first fruits did not amount to more than 300l. a-year, which was payable by a great number of persons; and he did think it extraordinary, that any body of men should arrive at the opinion, that it was expedient to do away an impost of that trifling amount, for the purpose of substituting a tax of 50,000l. or 60,000l. a-year. They had heard from the noble Earl, last night, a justification of the abolition of first fruits. The noble Earl had said, that first fruits were originally exacted by the Pope for temporal purposes, and that they had come down to Henry 8th, as subsequent head of the Church, and successor of the Pope, and that they had now come to the present Government as successors to Henry 8th. And now, it appeared, that the Legislature claimed the right of dealing with it in their turn, after the example of that just and moderate prince, whose conduct and 815 this might satisty their Lordships the nature of the measure was now held up us a precedent for them [Earl Grey had not drawn any such inference]. No; he drew that inference—he did not charge the noble Earl with having drawn it; but such was the inference which he thought he was justified in drawing from the noble Earl's words. Now, what was the fact with respect to the origin of these first fruits? The Pope, as spiritual head of the Catholic church—and, it should be remembered, that no king of England claimed to be the spiritual head of the English Church—originally claimed a right to present to all benefices which had been held by persons who died at the see of Rome, and the persons so presented were required to pay to the Pope the first fruits of such preferments. This could not be contradicted by any noble Lord. The Pope, however, soon extended his claim to all livings, no matter where situated, or under what circumstances the presentation was made. The clergy were under the thrall of the spiritual head of the Church, and they succumbed to this demand. But was it universally acquiesced in? By no means; the Commons frequently remonstrated against it. The Commons' House of Parliament loudly exclaimed against the Pope's being allowed to devour the riches of this kingdom by with drawing the first fruits from it. So strong was the feeling on the subject, that Henry 8th himself did not at first lay claim to the first fruits, as connected with the Church. He claimed the tax merely because it was necessary that he should support the dignity of the King of this realm, and the temporal head of that Church. The noble Earl cried "Hear, hear!" He seemed to think that this was a complete precedent. Certainly it was—no precedent could be more complete. But had such a claim been made, since the time of Henry 8th, by any Monarch of this country? Had any of them followed up the Act of Parliament by which these first fruits were granted? Had any one of them ever raised the valuation, though it was an express provision of the act that a new valuation might be made whenever the King pleased? They had been told last night of three different valuations which had been made in Ireland, in the reigns of Elizabeth, of James 1st., and of Charles 1st. Now, he asserted that this was a very great historical error No such new valuations ever took place. There were valuations in those 816 reigns, but they were valuations of livings that had not before been valued. They were not new valuations of livings that had previously been valued. The right reverend Prelate contended, that many acts of the Irish Parliament supported him in the view he took of this question, and particularly referred to one passed in the third Session, entitled, "An Act for granting certain subsidies to the clergy of Ireland." The same rule was followed in the succeeding reign, when an Act was passed granting eight subsidies to the Prelates of Ireland. In fact, from Henry 8th's time downwards but one system of valuation had been followed. The provisions of every statute passed since the time of Henry 8th, all tended to the same point. The measure then before the House was the first contrary instance upon record, and he hoped their Lordships would not follow, but reject, the precedent, as it deserved. He contended that the right to these first fruits had been vested in the clergy of the realm exclusively. The noble Earl had, however, founded his argument not only on ancient precedents, but on the practice in the present times. He stated, that in the bishopric of Durham, the property of the Church had been applied to Church purposes. In that case the revenues of the Dean and Chapter had been applied to the building a university. But what the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Durham, had justly stated was, that the revenues of the Chapter had been founded for the extension of sound learning, and that the Chapter, in appropriating the revenues to the university, had only followed the injunction. That was unquestionably no precedent for applying Church property to any but Church purposes. The noble Earl had likewise alluded to the duty demanded of the clergy in Ireland of keeping a teacher in the schools, or paying 40s towards his expense. Now, he begged their Lordships to observe, that that was a duty of a specific nature. The schoolmaster was paid by his scholars, but so badly, that it was hardly possible he could be supported from that source without some additional help, and as the clergyman was bound to sec that a school was kept in the parish, he was made to pay 40s. in order to ensure there being a schoolmaster. He submitted, therefore, that whether the measure was good or bad, it must stand on its own grounds, as he had shown, that there were no former precedents of the kind. The next part of the preamble 817 stated "That it was expedient that all compulsory assessments by exclusive vestries should be abolished." When he considered all the circumstances of the laying on of assessments by exclusive vestries in Ireland, and the spirit of discontent which it created, he was ready to assent to the proposition that those assessments should cease; but as the object for which those assessments were raised must be necessarily provided for according to the law of the land, this was a charge that ought to be laid upon the land. At present the charge was laid upon the occupiers. But as, whenever there is the proper relationship between the tenant and landlord, the burthen of the tax comes ultimately upon the landlord, this tax must be considered as strictly a tax upon the land. And it was highly expedient that the tax should be laid in the first place upon the occupier, especially in England; first, because that mode of levying it ensured economy; and, secondly, because it was the most easy mode of levying the tax. Yet, when the tax could not, from circumstances, be easily levied upon the occupier, then he was ready to admit that some other mode should be adopted, in order to levy it with greater facility. Still, however, the tax ought in equity to be levied upon the land. But by the Bill which he held in his hand the whole of this tax was taken entirely off the proprietor and tenant, and fixed upon the clergy. He would ask their Lordships if they were prepared to go to that extent? Was there any reason why they should go to such a length? He had expected that there was not one would have allowed himself to be relieved of this tax at the expense of that most useful and meritorious class of men, the clergy of Ireland—a class, many of whom, he regretted to say, were now without a home to cover them. Such a change would be attended with the grossest injustice. And he did expect, that whatever might be the necessity of relieving the tenants of the tax, their Lordships would not take advantage of that necessity to thrust the burthen on themselves. For if anything could be more disgraceful than to be a party to so unjust a measure, it was to be a sharer in the profit derived from it. He never was more surprised than when he heard the statements made by two noble Marquesses last night. One of them had even made a kind of claim upon this tax, and that a tax upon men, many of whom, as he had already said, were without a home. He 818 was sure that the noble Marquess did not mean to avail himself of the opportunity. He had said, that he did not know that one of their Lordships would avail himself of this circumstance; but he was mistaken—there was one noble Marquess, who was connected with the present Government, and on whom his bitterest enemy, if he had any such, would not throw the slightest imputation. But if he had understood right, the noble Marquess was unwilling to avail himself of that opportunity, that he did not approve of transferring the tax on the clergy, and that he wished it to be borne by the landlord. It also appeared from the evidence of Mr. Foster, given in 1819, that the noble Marquess, in instances where his tenants could not endure the Vestry-cess, ordered it to be paid at his own expense. That was an example which confirmed the views he had taken, and pointed out the parties on whom it was proper this charge should be laid. In speaking of the Protestant clergy of Ireland, he did not think it necessary for him to say much in their behalf to induce their Lordships to consider them with as much favour as existing circumstances would allow. Their conduct had always been highly praised, and he could adduce various testimony given before both Houses of Parliament to prove that it had been highly satisfactory. He would mention the testimony of Major Woodward, Inspector of Prisons in Ireland, with respect to the conduct of the Protestant clergy. That officer said, that were it not for the residence of the Protestant clergy in Ireland, every trace of civilization would have disappeared in that country. When such was the case, ought such men to be treated in the way the present Bill proposed to treat them? He was aware that charges had also been made against the Protestant clergy of Ireland. Dr. Doyle had stigmatized them as holy harpies devouring all the food of the land, without giving anything in return, and represented them as wallowing in affluence and luxury. He felt himself bound to state, that such was not the general feeling of the Catholics in Ireland. The Bishop of Limerick some years ago, in allusion to an attack on the Protestant Clergy, pointed to a petition from certain Roman Catholics that had been laid on their Lordships' Table, which petition prayed, that there might be Protestant clergymen sent among them. That was a decisive proof that all the Catholics did not think like Dr. Doyle. He 819 would also quote the testimony of another Catholic in favour of the Protestant clergy. The testimony he meant was that of Father O'Leary, who, in addressing himself to the Whiteboys of his time—persons similar to the Whitefeet of the present day—asked them with respect to tithes, "What right they had to interfere with the revenues of the Protestant clergy?" And moreover Father O'Leary told them, that "it was more to their interest than they imagined, that the Protestant clergy should be maintained in their rights." "For many ages," continued the Holy Father, "you have been destitute of protection; your land-lords have been your oppressors, and your own clergy could not protect you, for they were continually persecuted, and often sentenced to deportation, and even to death. You found protection at last, and you found it in the mild, benevolent, christian, character of the Protestant clergy." This was written in 1787; and he would ask whether the Catholics would be benefited by curtailing the revenues of the Protestant clergy, and consequently limiting their sphere of charity? Would it not be better to transfer this charge from the poorer Catholics, and place it on the landlords? The charge would fall heavily on the Protestant clergy, but if it were placed on the landlords, it would almost be too minute for calculation; it would be to them a charge of less than live farthings in the pound. The rent (he spoke from good authority) of all the land in Ireland amounted to more than 12,000,000l. Now, one penny in the pound on that rent would come to 50,000l., and if one farthing more was added, they would get 62,500l., very nearly the amount of the Vestry-cess. The question then was, whether that sum should be transferred to the clergy, or whether the landlords should not be called upon to pay it, when it would amount to a tax of only five farthings in the pound on the rent. He was almost ashamed to delay their Lordships with those details, when the matter, even without this, was so evident. It would, however, be necessary for him to say a word or two on the resident Protestant clergy of Ireland. They peformed services that could not be paid for with money—in fact, it was impossible to value their services. When resident in Ireland, even in their character of private gentlemen, they were found to be the greatest, nay, the sole benefactors of the poor. Where were the landlords of those poor? Many of them, he allowed, were in 820 that House discharging honourably their duty as Legislators, and doing all they could for the benefit of their tenants. But there were other landlords, he was sorry to say, and so must their Lordships be sorry to admit, who, instead of doing their duty in person towards their tenants, allowed others to perform the services which they themselves ought to perform. They were represented by others, instead of being on the spot, and defraying the costs of charity out of their own purses. But the clergy were the true source of relief, consolation, and protection, to the unhappy peasantry of Ireland; and he called upon their Lordships, in the name of that unhappy peasantry, not to diminish the clergy's means of doing good. The noble Earl who had introduced the measure to the House had made some strong remarks with respect to the influence of the assessment of the Vestry-cess, and had ascribed to the collection of that tax a great part of the agitation and disturbance which prevailed in Ireland. He hoped he had not shown any disposition to underrate the evils of the Vestry-cess as it affected the fields of the poor tenantry, the majority of whom, it must be borne in mind, were Roman Catholics, and who felt it galling to their feelings to be called upon to contribute to the support of another religion. While he was ready to admit that of late years a great degree of agitation had been caused by the existence of the cess, yet he could not admit that it was the principal, or even one of the principal causes, of the agitation which now existed. He would refer, in support of this proposition, to the report which had been presented to the other House of Parliament less than a year ago by a Select Committee appointed to inquire into the immediate causes of the then disturbed state of certain counties in Ireland, and into the sufficiency of the laws for suppressing outrages against the public peace. The Report commenced by stating, that numerous witnesses had been examined, and that evidence had supplied full information as to the causes which the Report then proceeded to state. And what were those causes." After recommending the establishment of a night watch, in order to check and control nocturnal meetings in actual cases of Whiteboy conspiracies and crimes, the Report added, that the Committee, 'in making this suggestion to the House, would feel great reluctance in doing so, if they did not entertain a conviction that such remedial measures as may tend to remove the causes of crime, 821 would, at the same time be adopted. They are fully of opinion, that an increase in the rigour of the law could not alone restore peace to Ireland.' The Report proceeded to state, 'that although the Committee have not sufficient time to give an opinion on each of the several causes which have been stated in evidence to have occasioned the recent disturbances, there are one or two of them to which they bog to call the attention of the House. The removal of tenants from farms at the expiration of old leases is unquestionably a considerable cause of those disturbances, and the Committee have considered this subject with the view, if possible, of gelling rid of this source of evil; but the subject involves so many important considerations, such as the rights and duties of landlords, the obligations of tenants to fulfil the covenants of their leases, and the claims of tenants upon humane and indulgent treatment by their landlords, that the Committee have not been able to discover any plan by which the tenants removed may be altogether protected from being exposed to severe hardships. But at the same time, the Committee are of opinion, that a plan may be adopted which would go far to alleviate the distress too commonly experienced by the poorest class of landoccupiers in Ireland.' Their Lordships would perceive by this Report, that the main cause of the disturbances and agitation was the state of the relation between landlord and tenant in Ireland; and in addition two other causes were assigned. The first was the extent to which vagrancy and mendicity prevailed, and lastly, the immoderate use of spirituous liquors; but the Report was silent entirely upon the subject of the Vestry-cess, on account of which the noble Earl had called upon their Lordships to acquiesce in this Bill as a compensation for the recent suspension (he must admit a justified suspension) of the Constitution. Thus it appeared, that in August last, the Committee was unable to find any sufficient excitement to prevail on the subject of the Vestry-cess, to induce them to take the least notice of that impost in their Report. He had alluded to the evidence of Mr. Leslie Foster, contained in a former Report; but that gentleman had given also some evidence as to the effects of the Vestry-cess, and when asked whether it was regarded generally as a grievance, had said, that where it was not necessary to build new churches, the amount of cess was very 822 trifling—something like one penny and a fraction per acre; but where it was necessary to build new churches, an additional rate was imposed, varying from 2d., 3d., and 4d. to 1s. per acre; and in the latter case, he thought it had excited dissatisfaction.' Mr. Leslie Foster then spoke of the generous conduct of the noble Marquess below, (then Marquess of Lans-down) in his character of landlord, to which he had just before referred; to which also other witnesses deposed. He would also beg to refer their Lordships to the evidence of another estimable witness, Colonel Curric, the agent of a noble Duke (the Duke of Devonshire) whom he did not see in his place. Colonel Currie expressed before the Committee his opinion to be, that if the Church-rate were paid by the landlord, it would remove all cause of complaint on the part of the tenants. He could not avoid regretting the absence of the noble Duke, because he thought it would be impossible for the noble Duke to deny the proposition of his own agent, namely, that the cess should be fixed upon the landlords. It was stated, on the best authorities, that not less than two-thirds of the whole landed property in Ireland was held by absentees, and this fact was an ingredient to be taken into account upon the present occasion. He must also quote another evidence on the subject of Vestry-cess, viz., Dr. Murray, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. Dr. Murray had, in his evidence, said, that if the Church-rates, instead of being made a charge upon the occupying tenants, were charged upon the landlords, he was induced to think it likely that dissatisfaction would cease. He (the Bishop of Exeter) would admit, that this evidence applied to the state of things existing in Ireland some years ago, but these admissions lost nothing by the lapse of time, but were equally valuable on the present occasion, for they admitted the point of right and justice. With the evidence, however, he had not yet done, for he would quote the testimony of Mr. O'Connell upon this topic. Mr. O'Connell was asked before a Committee of the House of Commons, whether, if Roman Catholics were admitted to the right of voting in vestries, it would not be found very difficult to pass any question relative to the building or repairing of churches, and he answered that he did not think that any fair course in this respect would be resisted. Mr. O'Connell then stated some case of an 823 Unfair burthen being imposed, but added, that he was convinced, in a fair case, such an object would not be resisted, for, in his opinion, where there were any Protestants, there ought to be a place of worship for them as convenient as possible. But Mr. O'Connell was neither the last witness nor the highest authority. He would refer to the Report of a Select Committee, appointed by the House of Commons in 1830, to inquire into the state of the poor in Ireland. The Committee said, that 'They have applied themselves to the collection of such a mass of facts as might enable the House hereafter to form correct opinions on the state of the poorer classes in Ireland, and the best means of improving their condition.' The Committee mentioned the injury that had been done by sudden transitions from one system to another. But what remedies did they propose, and what did they state about the abolition of Vestry-cess? They said that 'The Grand Jury taxes, or County-rates, which, from an annual sum of 470,106l. have, since the Union, augmented to upwards of 800,000l., now constitute the heaviest burthen to which the occupiers of land in Ireland are subject. In their effects on the general industry of the country, in opening access to markets, and facilitating agricultural improvement and commercial enterprise, the presentment laws are most important. They also exercise a powerful influence upon the moral habits of the people, upon the rate of wages, and the demand for labour. From these observations it must appear, that an inquiry into the condition of the poorer order in Ireland would be incomplete, if carried on, to the exclusion of the Grand Jury system.' Now the Vestry-cess did not amount to one-twelfth part of the above grievance. The Committee went on to say, that 'These taxes are imposed by the Grand Jurors, or principal landed proprietors; they are paid by the occupying tenants, in many cases the poorest classes of cottier peasantry; they are expended, to a certain extent, in roads and bridges, which frequently add a considerable value to the estates of the Grand Jurors and other inheritors of land; but the pecuniary means of completing these improvements are furnished by those who have a less direct and permanent interest in the soil. It is true, that these, like other burthens, cannot be altogether lost sight of by the tenant at the time that he takes his lease, but the extreme eagerness to 824 obtain possession of land renders such calculation but an insufficient protection; besides which, the rapidity with which this branch of taxation has augmented, and the various subjects to which it has been applied by subsequent laws, and which could not have been taken into consideration, make it quite impossible for either landlord or tenant to form any accurate estimate on the subject. In 1790, the Grand Jury rates of Limerick amounted to 7,422l.; in 1829, the same tax had reached 34,324l. Such augmentation was not accompanied by any proportionate rise in agricultural produce; nor could it have been in the contemplation of a lessee entering into a contract in 1790. Your Committee have no hesitation in expressing their decided opinion, that as a check upon expenditure, and a security for the rigid examination of accounts, in the execution of public works, the occupying tenant should, in the case of all future contracts, be relieved from the burthen of paying the entire county assessments; and that such assessments should, in the whole or in part, be imposed upon the landlords. It may be expected that this arrangement will render Grand Jurors more vigilant in preventing an undue increase of taxes, which will fall directly on themselves: and it will be their interest to have the public works executed with skill and with economy, in order to obviate the necessity of new and augmented expenditure for repairs. Under this alteration of system, the imposer will also be the payer of the tax, and the person who is permanently benefited by the work, will be compelled to furnish the means for its execution. The policy of making this change has been more than once rocommended to the consideration of Parliament.' The Committee concluded by saying, "that no time should be lost in carrying this suggestion into practical operation." Now, he apprehended, that he was not mistaken when he said, that three years since that Report was made had passed without that recommendation having been carried into effect. He understood, it was true, that a Bill bearing on this subject had been brought forward in another place. [Earl Grey: It is now on the Table of this House]. Be it so; yet it was undeniably true, that three years had elapsed without that recommendation being acted upon. The same Committee also recommended an Amendment of the Vestry Acts, which they stated as calling for revision and 825 reform. This revision took place under Mr. Goulbun's Bills, though it was omitted to provide, as had been recommended, by a statement in a schedule to those Bills, for the precise purposes for which the assessments should be raised and levied. Thus had it been contended in the House of Commons, so late as 1827, that on general principles the burthen of Church-rates should be imposed on the lessors rather than the tenants, and peculiarly so in Ireland. The general principles to which he alluded were the principles of equity and justice, because, as the majority of the population were dissentients from the Established Church, he would impose upon the landlords the duty and burthen of building and repairing Protestant places of worship. The same Report recommended a series of measures, with a view to relieve the distresses of Ireland, for the serious and early consideration of the Government and the Legislature. The 13th measure so recommended was a Bill to amend the laws relative to Vestries in Ireland, by defining the purposes for which parochial rates should be imposed and levied, and to relieve the occupying tenants from payment in case of future contracts. Their Lordships might now, perhaps, be curious to know how this Committee, from which these recommendations had emanated, had been constituted. It appeared, from the Journals of the House of Commons, that on the 11th of March, 1830, the Committee was appointed on the Motion of Mr. Spring Rice, who, as was usual, nominated the Members; and it consisted of Mr. Spring Rice, Sir John Newport, Lord Milton, Mr. Lamb, Sir Henry Parnell,—then followed some other names, which he would not fatigue the House with repeating—and afterwards came Lord Althorp, the noble Lord who had introduced the Bill in the other House, Mr. C. Grant, and Lord John Russell, all of whom were now Cabinet Ministers, and though acquiescing in this Report, had sent up the present Bill as a compensation for the suspension of the Constitution in Ireland. The next name was that of one not yet a member of the Cabinet, Mr. O'Connell; then came that of Lord Palmerston; and lastly, the name of the right hon. Gentleman who had taken upon himself the whole responsibility of this Bill, and claimed the lay patronage of it—Mr. Stanley. Thus was the Committee composed of all the Cabinet Ministers in the other House, with the exception of the right hon. Baronet, the First Lord of the 826 Admiralty, and that Committee had agreed in saying, that the Vestry-cess ought to be imposed upon the landlords rather than the tenants. Were those noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen so much the spoiled children of that fortune which had made them the Ministers of this country as to be able to throw aside one measure for the purpose of carrying something else? Such conduct was behaving like spoiled children, and he doubted whether their Lordships would acquiesce in such a course. It might be said, that in the Bill now before their Lordships other objects were contemplated besides the Vestry-cess, and for those so much was to be taken away from the Church. Those objects were the augmentation of small livings, and to secure the efficient performance of the service of the Church and its stability. Of these points he thought he had disposed, for he had shown, that there would be no funds for carrying any of these objects into effect; on the contrary, all the funds under the Bill were taken to supply the place of the Vestry-cess; but even supposing there might be a surplus, he must remind their Lordships, that a tax was to be imposed on the clergy. There was another source of revenue also looked to—namely, the suppression of the bishoprics, which was thought necessary by the authors of the Bill, in order to supply the place of the Vestry-cess. It was commonly supposed, nay, had been often asserted, and was generally believed,—that the property of the Bishops of Ireland was in fact property which had been transferred by Acts of Parliament from the Roman Catholic to the Protestant Bishops, and it was argued, therefore, that an Act of Parliament could again make the transfer. The fact, however, was, that no such transfer had ever been made, nor were there any such Acts of Parliament. In truth, when Henry 8th threw off his allegiance to the Pope, his example had been followed by almost all the prelates of that day, with the exception of some few whose memories he (the Bishop of Exeter) honoured as having sufficient principle to resist. The Archbishop of Armagh and some of his suffragans did so resist; but the majority of the Bishops did outwardly conform, and by their hypocrisy retained the possession of their sees; and how had they used them? They leased out their lands, and acted in such a way as tended to enrich themselves and relatives, while they impoverished the Reformed Church. This had been alluded 827 to by a reverend prelate, Bishop Jeremy Taylor, who said:—'The Popish bishops and priests seemed to conform, that keeping their bishoprics, they might enrich their kindred, and dilapidate the revenues of the Church; which, by pretended offices, false informations, fee-farms at contemptible rents, and ungodly alienations, were made as low as poverty itself, and unfit to minister to the needs of them that served the altar, or the noblest purposes of religion.' An ecclesiastical historian also complained, that at the time in question, the episcopal sees were so wasted, that they were utterly incapable of maintaining the Bishops appointed to them. That had been one of the chief causes of the unions of sees which then took place. In consequence of that, adopting a suggestion that had been made originally by Cranmer, Lord Strafford had a Commission issued for the purpose of devising means for making suitable provision for the maintenance of the Bishops in Ireland. The result of that Commission was, that a large portion of the lands in the north of Ireland, forfeited in the rebellions of Tyrone and others, was appropriated to the support of the Bishops there. Their Lordships were aware, that at that period the whole of the north of Ireland was forfeited to the Crown, which made the foundation of the great Protestant settlement of Ulster. It was on that occasion, that so many of the ancestors of noble Lords now sitting in that House received from their sovereign those vast properties which their descendants now held in the north of Ireland, and the Bishops of the province of Ulster were then also enriched from the same source. He was sure, therefore, that their Lordships would see, that the Bishops of Ulster had the same undoubted right to the property which they had derived from that source, as those noble Lords had to the property which they had in the same way obtained in the north of Ireland, and that, if their Lordships should be ill-advised enough to shake the opinion as to the right of property possessed by the Bishops there, they would not merely be sacrilegious plunderers of the property of the Church; they would be destroyers of their own property. Their Lordships were too wise as well as too honourable to do that. He did not believe, that their Lordships would be either. But it was not merely in the north of Ireland that the revenues of the Bishops were not derived from a property which had been transferred to them from the hands of the Roman 828 Catholic Bishops, but was property with which they had been endowed by a Protestant King. That endowment had also been extended to parts of the south of Ireland. It so happened, that by the 14th and 15th of Charles 2nd, which was well known as the Act of Settlement in Ireland, a large portion of the forfeited property was given to the Bishops in the southern part of Ireland. The right reverend Prelate having read the 102nd clause of the Act, to the effect he had stated, went on to say, that their Lordships would see, that the rights of those Bishops were placed exactly upon the same footing as the rights of those noble Lords who inherited property under that Act. It somewhat remarkably happened, that by the very preceding clause of this Act, the 101st, a large property in the south of Ireland was settled upon the ancestor of one of their Lordships. The right reverend Prelate here read the clause, which settled a large portion of the forfeited lands in the south of Ireland upon Sir William Petty, his heirs and successors. Their Lordships would perceive, therefore, that the noble Marquess (Marquess Lansdown) one of the authors of the present measure, and one of those who recommended the sequestration of the property of the Bishops in that part of the country, was himself possessed of lands there, the right to which rested upon exactly the same foundation as the right of the Bishops to their land. He would venture to advise that noble Marquess—but no—he would recall the word—he would not presume to advise him what to do, but he would state what he himself would do were he placed under similar circumstances, and were this measure carried. He would, under such circumstances, sell all his property in that part of Ireland, being well assured, that the same fate which he himself had dealt to the property of the Bishops there would ultimately fall upon his own. Their Lordships would perhaps think seriously of the advice which he presumed to give them in this instance—he begged pardon, he should not say advice—he would say the suggestion which he presumed to make to them. It was upon no light or idle grounds that he arrived at the conclusion that such a proceeding would be, on the part of an Irish landed proprietor, an act of prudence. The great agitator of Ireland, Mr. O'Connell, had said, in a recent letter to one of his correspondents in Ireland, that that country did really possess a capacity for maintaining 19,000,000 of 829 persons, but it would never be found to maintain such a population until the proprietors of the soil should reside upon their estates. He stated further, that in the reign of Edward 3rd, there issued a prohibition against any person holding property both in England and in France, and that until something of the same sort was established with regard to England and Ireland, they could not hope for the prosperity of the latter country. It was his suggestion, that the proprietors of land in Ireland should be compelled to give their property there to their younger sons, or else to sell it; there being, ill his opinion, no other way of rescuing that property form destruction. That expression of opinion was uttered by the hon. and learned Gentleman in two days after the second reading of the present Bill in the other House of Parliament, and it was an opinion not to be disregarded. A year ago, Mr. O'Connell foretold, that tithes would be put an end to, and they had been destroyed accordingly. Of Churchcess he also prophecied the abolition, and that prophecy was likewise fulfilled, and why might not he that had denounced the payment of rents to absentees, in like manner, procure their abolition? First, he denounced tithes, and they were gone; secondly, he announced that he would, with a view to the improvement of Ireland, require, that an adequate revenue be provided for the purposes of public charities; thirdly, he proposed to make a provision for the Protestant clergy, which should correspond to the numbers of the flocks of which they had the care; fourthly, it was his intention to provide glebes and houses for the clergy of all persuasions; fifthly, he was to have a local and domestic legislature, with the view, as he alleged, of establishing upon a firm basis, the connection of the Crown and people of England with his own country. What further that Gentleman proposed, God only knew; but one thing at least was certain, that those things which he foretold had come to pass; and all he should then say was, that when that well-known individual began to talk of absentees, they had better look to their rents. He had hitherto spoken of the proposed diminution of the number of Bishops on the lowest possible ground that he could take up—namely, the pecuniary ground; but there were other, and much graver considerations connected with that subject. The Bill which he held in his hand proceeded most modestly to say in its preamble:—"Whereas the number of Bishops in 830 Ireland may be conveniently diminished." Conveniently!—to whom? and for what? Could noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen imagine that that could be conveniently done for the purpose of attaining that which most reflecting men regarded as utterly impossible—to silence clamour, and gratify greedy faction, by yielding to its desires? It might be convenient to some to sacrifice the ancient Episcopacy of Ireland; but could it be convenient to the faithful counsellors of a Protestant King, which their Lordships were?—could it be "convenient" to those who were entitled to give advice to their Sovereign, and who were bound to give him just and proper advice, to advise that Sovereign, who had sworn in the most solemn manner to maintain to the utmost of his power the Protestant religion as by law established, to preserve to all and every Bishop his existing rights and privileges, and to maintain inviolate the settlement of the Protestant Church in Ireland?—could it be "convenient," he repeated, to the hereditary advisers of such a Sovereign to join with those who had recommended him to give his assent to a measure that went to suppress nearly half the episcopacy of Ireland? The noble Earl had given them several reasons for adopting this measure. One of his strongest was to be found in the disparity to be observed, taking the superficies of the two countries into account, between the number of Bishops in England and in Ireland. There were twenty-two Bishops in Ireland, and twenty-six in England, and he believed the proportion which the superficies of the two countries bore to each other was as eighteen to thirty. It was certainly true, that there was a great deference between the episcopacy in the two countries, but might it not arise from the number of Bishops in this he number of Bishops being too small in England, rather than from the number being too large in Ireland? [a laugh.] Noble Lords near him might laugh at that supposition, but it was not one wholly destitute of authority. The noble Earl had certainly told them, that he had never heard it complained of, that the number of Bishops was too small in England; and that assertion of the noble Earl had greatly surprised him, for he had often heard, as well as read, complaints on that subject. At the Reformation steps were taken to augment the number of Bishops in this country; and some of the grounds on which Henry 8th recommended the abolition of the monasteries was, that their revenues might be 831 appropriated to the purposes of endowing new bishoprics. He proposed to endow sixteen new bishoprics, but he finally endowed only six. One of those new sees, the see of Westminster, in consequence of the prodigality of an apostate incumbent, shortly after fell pack again to the see of London, and it was on that occasion that a common proverb, now so well known, had its origin. The small portion of the property of the see of Westminster that was left was then given towards the defraying the expenses attendant on the repairing of St. Paul's Cathedral, and the giving of it to that purpose caused the saying of "robing Peter to pay Paul." If Henry 8th, on the occasion in question, had followed the advice then given to him by a man whose advice he sometimes followed. Archbishop Cranmer, he would have endowed sixteen new bishoprics in England; and if that had been done, instead of there being twenty-six, there would now have been thirty-seven Bishops in England. It was remarkable that in that case the proportion of the number of Bishops in England to the number of Bishops in Ireland would exactly tally with the respective proportion of the superficies of the two countries, with the excess of a fraction in favour of the Irish establishment, thirty-seven being the same proportion nearly to twenty-two, as twenty-six was to eighteen. The Church of Ireland, in that case, would have conformed to the standard which was recommended for England, supposing that the views of the Reformers with regard to the increase of the number of Bishops in England had been carried into effect. The noble Earl had also derived what he considered a strong argument, from the disparity between the number of incumbents under the superintendence of individual Bishops in Ireland and Bishops in England. In another place, too, he found that a noble Lord, who had the management of this measure there, had stated in his speech on introducing it (according to those sources of information to which their Lordships had access for the purpose of knowing what passed in that place), that he was determined to remove from the Church of Ireland the scandal of having so many Bishops with such small sees, and such still smaller congregations in the Churches. The noble Lord might spare himself that trouble. If this measure should not now pass, the noble Lord would have only in his leisure hours to refer to the pages of the New Testament, and there he would find that many Bishops were; ap- 832 pointed with much smaller sees committed to their superintendence than were to be found in Ireland. The noble Lord might see from that book, that the episcopacy established in Ireland was, in point of numbers, not extraordinarily large, and that there was nothing scandalous in the number of Irish Bishops, but he need not go beyond Ireland itself to justify the Church Establishment. The total number of Protestant clergy in Ireland was 2,300 or 2,400; and the number of Catholic priests under the superintendence of a similar number of Bi-shops, was (parish priests and curates together) only about 2,000. It was plain, therefore, that the same number of Catholic Bishops in Ireland had fewer incumbents to look after than the Protestant Bishops. Another argument of the noble Earl was as to the small number of the laity under the care of the Bishops in Ireland. But it should be observed, that the duty of a Bishop, as regarded the laity, was not confined to the imposition of hands in confirmation, but that his duty extended to the spiritual condition of all persons in his diocess, whether they belonged to his persuasion or not. The very circumstance of there being a vast Roman Catholic population in their dioceses, imposed heavier duties on the Irish Prelates than if all the population were Protestant. It was the duty of a Bishop to attend to the spiritual wants of all those persons who were the proper objects of his cure; and in the instance of persons, like the Catholics, who were unfortunately estranged from his communion, it was his especial duty to endeavour to win them, by all fair and fitting means, over to it. That was what rendered the duties of Bishops so heavy in such a country as Ireland, and that those duties had been adequately performed, was, he was happy to say, quite notorious. He would not offer his own testimony on such a point, but he had no objection to give their Lordships the authority of a clergyman of distinguished ability. The right reverend Prelate here read an extract from a pamphlet written by Dr. Newland, which had been called forth, he said, by an attack made on the Irish Church by a noble Lord, and was styled an apology for the Church of Ireland. The writer stated, that the duties performed by the Bishops in Ireland were in some instances extremely onerous, ingrossing the Bishops' whole time. He mentioned one instance where a Bishop was Continually employed from seven to eight hours every day in the dis- 833 charge of his duties. The right reverend Prelate added, that that Bishop would by this measure have another and additional diocess given to him to superintend. He then referred to the evidence given before the Commons' Committee by the Rev. H. Cooke, moderator of the synod of Ulster, to show that the number of Protestants in Ireland were greatly underrated, and that efforts were made, by telling the clergymen when newly appointed, that there were no Protestants in their parish to prevent them doing their duty. He thought, therefore, that no argument could be founded on the number of Protestants in Ireland for reducing the number of Bishops because that number was not known, and the smaller it was the more did it increase the labour of the Bishops. He was ashamed of occupying so much of their Lordships' time with these details, but he ventured to think that the importance of the subject would plead his excuse. In addition to what he had already stated, another consideration remained, which could not but be regarded with the deepest concern in coming to a determination on the present measure. What, he asked, would and must be the feelings both of Protestants and Roman Catholics in Ireland, if the Legislature should think fit to pass that Bill? Was it possible that the Protestant religion should be regarded by all parties otherwise than as having lost the countenance and favour of the Legislature? Would it not appear that their Lordships no longer regarded the Established Church as an object worthy of respect and support? Let it be borne in mind that the feelings of Roman Catholics were now very different from what they were wont to be. That class of persons exhibited a port, and assumed a tone, of defiance such as were wholly unknown amongst them a few years ago. The Roman Catholic "Church" was now spoken of, although no long period had elapsed since its heads were content to describe themselves as "Prelates of the Roman Catholic communion in Ireland." The Roman Catholic Bishops so designated themselves when they approached the throne to return thanks to the father of his present Majesty for a measure of kindness and liberality, which might be considered as involving a complete tolerance of persons of that persuasion. But all that was now very much changed, and not only was the Roman Catholic religion described as "the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland;" But Dr. Doyle spoke of it as" the Church" in 834 Ireland, and of the Protestant Bishops as being no Bishops at all, or Bishops merely in name. A work by Dr. Doyle, which was used as a class-book in the study of canon law in the college of Maynooth (a seminary maintained at the expense of a Protestant State) was dedicated—to whom did their Lordships think?—to "the Most Reverend Father in God Patrick Curtis, Archbishop of Armagh, and Primate of all Ireland." A class book on the science of logic, also used in the same seminary, spoke of the illustrious Bishop Berkley as "in Hibernia pseudo episcopus." Here were sufficient evidences of assumption and denunciation on the part of the Roman Catholics. In proof, if further proof were necessary, of the dangerous spirit and con duct of the Roman Catholic priesthood, he should quote the evidence of James Napper, Esq., who was examined last year before the Commons' Committee on the state of Ireland. Mr. Napper was a gentleman of what was called liberal politics, and had suggested various excuses for the priests, yet he was finally compelled to admit that some of them had exceeded their duty, and that their conduct generally was such as to promote a very great degree of excitement and agitation amongst the people. But he would at once read an extract from Mr. Napper's evidence—"You have stated in detail what may appear to you a palliation, or in some degree an excuse, for the con duct the priests latterly have pursued, but you have not stated the conduct of the Roman Catholic priests in your neighbourhood?—In my answer to the question I have endeavoured to take their conduct with regard to their own personal interests, and the personal interests of their flocks, in the country. With regard to their conduct, either as good men or good politicians, I am ready to make any observation or answer that in any way may be wished; perhaps I mistook the object of the question.—The question was with reference to the peace of the country generally? I certainly consider that the Roman Catholic priests, some of them, have exceeded what I should conceive was their duty as priests, and have taken a line of politics which I do not think has tended to their own respectability, and has certainly excited the minds of the people.
Upon the whole, has their conduct, according to your view, tended more to promote or lead to the disturbance of the peace of the country, upon a fair view of their conduct? I think their conduct generally has 835 tended to promote a very great degree of excitement and agitation.—How long since have you observed that in your neighbourhood? It existed in some degree when I first came into the country.—Has it increased very much of late? Very much.—Within what time? I should say since Catholic Emancipation was granted.—Do you think that since then the priests have taken a more active part in politics than they had done before? Decidedly.—Do you think that has led to the increase of the excitement yon have described? Certainly." So much for the conduct of the Roman Catholic clergy of late years—conduct, the important bearing of which on the present measure must be evident to the House. That measure would encourage those hopes of ascendancy to which the Roman Catholics looked forward, and which was indeed the ultimate end and object of all their schemes and contrivances. A parish priest, the reverend John Burke, of Castle Pollard, had adopted measures which had produced an extraordinary degree of excitement in his parish. Even from the altar, where, according to the principles of his creed, he must believe his God to be corporeally present, was this individual in the habit of denouncing to the hostility of an excited people all the gentry of the neighbourhood, particularly those concerned in the management of the estate of a noble Duke opposite (Buckingham). In consequence of these denunciations, the life of the noble Duke's agent was attempted, but he providentially escaped Mr. Burke's sermons were so inflammatory, that it became necessary to report his conduct to the Government. By a very proper regulation, an officer attended the chapel in company with the Roman Catholic soldiers, who wished to perform their religious duties there. Ensign Matson was the gentleman who attended; and after having mentioned Ensign Matson to Mr. Burke, he was asked by the Committee, 'Do you recollect, in his presence, on the first Sunday he went in charge of the soldiers, your having made allusion to the Protestants of Ireland in words to this effect— "Boys, the tottering fabric of the heretics is falling around us, while the Catholic religion is rising in glory every day; Ireland was once Catholic, boys,—it will, and it shall, be Catholic again?"—The word "boys" I did not use, I said, "the tottering fabric of heresy was falling around us, while the Catholic religion was rising in glory," undoubtedly. On the 836 next Sunday, when that gentleman was on duty, do you recollect words to the following effect having been made use of in the chapel—"Boys, I shall want you to attend here half an hour after mass, to inform you of what took place at the petty Sessions, saving your presence, last Wednesday?"—Yes. "We shall follow that up, and see if the police of Ireland are to trample on the people?"—I believe I did. I did not use the word "boys."' This temper and disposition was not confined to the Roman Catholic priests, it extended to the members of the hierarchy. The right reverend Prelate proceeded to quote from the Ballina Impartial, and from a private communication, in which it was stated, that Dr. M'Hale, Roman Catholic Coadjutor Bishop of Killala, had recently preached a most extraordinary and violent sermon, abusing the Church, and anticipating its approaching destruction. This effusion was described as being calculated to inflame the Worst passions of the people. It attacked the Government, the magistracy, and the constabulary, and enjoined union amongst the Roman Catholics, promising, that if they adopted that recommendation, they would be relieved from the constables within three months, and have every tiling their own way. Dr. M'Hale rejoiced greatly at, the destruction of the Church, and at the proposed reduction of the Bishops. At the commencement of this tirade, the military were very properly ordered out of the chapel and marched to their barracks, but the police were suffered to remain, a circumstance that was noticed as blamable in the newspapers, which gave an account of the transaction. He declined stating publicly the name of his informant, who was one of the first gentlemen in the county; but he had no objection to place the letter he had received in the hands of the Secretary for the Home Department. If this Bill took effect, Dr. M'Hale Would be the only bishop of Killala, for the Protestant bishopric of that name would be incorporated with another see. Dr. M'Hale had referred to the reduction of the Protestant Bishops, who having been appointed by the Crown and Parliament might, in his opinion, be fairly dispossessed by the same authority; but he argued that the Roman Catholic Bishops, not being appointed by any such power, could not be dispossessed in like manner. In fact, Dr. M'Hale must have been extremely well acquainted with the provisions of this Bill, which was the first instrument ever laid before mankind 837 by which any human power dared to do that that was here attempted; namely, to make a man be a Bishop by its own act, whether that man had accepted, or was willing to accept, the charge or not. To his brethren who might be disposed to vote for the second reading of this Bill, if any such there were upon that right reverend Bench, he suggested the importance of considering that the direct tendency of the measure was to make men who refused to accede to it, and bad petitioned against it, Bishops of certain dioceses, whether they would or not. He asked his brethren upon what principles of Christian doctrine or discipline was that to be endured? He denied their Lordships' right—he denied their power to do this. He denied the power of any human authority whatever, to force a man to be a Bishop against his will. He was not at at all surprised that this should move the mirth of noble Lords; it being quite natural that they should indulge in laughter in relation to a matter which they had already treated with so much levity. He repeated, that the Legislature had no right or power to compel the Bishop of A to be also Bishop of B. The Bill said, that "the Archbishops or Bishops named should, at the times mentioned, become, by virtue of this Act, and without further grant, installation, or ceremony whatsoever, Bishops respectively of the bishoprics also named." The bishopric of Waterford was now vacant, and the Archbishop of Cashel, who had petitioned against the Bill, was to be obliged, in spite of his disinclination, to undertake, in addition to the archbishopric of Cashel and Emly, the charge of the sees of Waterford and Lismore. He must notice the union of Kilmore with Elphin, the noble Earl having made use of a former separation of Kilmore from Ardagh and their subsequent reunion as a precedent for the present changes. How came Kilmore and Ardagh separated?' Upon this ground, because Bishop Bedel, one of the best men who had ever adorned any Church, thought it right to resign Ardagh, rather than hold it in conjunction with Kilmore. But the Bill, if it took effect, would not only unite two sees, one of which the apostolic Bishop Bedel refused to hold in plurality, but it would join to them the important diocess of Elphin. So much for the noble Earl's precedent. This proposition had been mooted and very properly deseribed before. Some years ago a Motion was made in the other House of Parliament, embodying in a resolution a plan somewhat similar to the 838 present. A right hon. Gentleman then described that proposition as one which, "if meant as a measure of conciliation, would be ineffective." He said, "if it were meant as a measure of conciliation, he would ask the House what single advantage it was calculated to give to the Roman Catholics of Ireland? The public mind had been prepared for some such proposition as the present by anonymous statements, reiterated insinuations, and unfounded exaggerations; and a formal attack was now for the first time made on the Established Church, in a point where it was supposed to be the most vulnerable, under the specious pretext of affording relief to Ireland. It was at present only proposed to clip the wings of the Church, and exhibit her in an humbled condition to her rival."* Strange though it might appear, that same right hon. Gentleman took a large share in framing this Bill, though he had thus strikingly described its effects by anticipation on a former Occasion. In the conflicting authorities which had been quoted of that right hon. Gentleman, he should prefer that of the right hon. Gentleman's early opinion. He was, he would admit, at all times distinguished for great talent and great public and private worth; but at the period to which he had alluded, the right hon. Gentleman had not mingled in official life, nor learned to accommodate his feelings to official duties. He had not directed the current of his exalted morality into the crooked and narrow ways of political expediency; but it flowed fresh and vigorous, fresh from the generous source at which he had imbibed it. The right hon. Gentleman had not then stooped his high head to the dull level of ordinary men. At that time he had not come in any degree under the influence of that great arch-agitator of Ireland—that enchanter, that Prospero of Ministers, from whose power it was not so easy for them who had gone within its influence, to escape, and who, whether he addressed his victim in the light and playful tones of the "Dainty Ariel," or in the rough and sullen language of growling Caliban, was almost equally certain to have them do his bidding. He would next say one word as to the Commissioners who were to be appointed under this Bill. Three of these might be, and most Probably would be, laymen; but, whoever they might be, they were to have the power of nomination to the cure of* Hansard (new series) xi., p. 561.839 souls. This was not only without example, but was contrary to all principle. If he were disposed to take a lower view of it, he might ask whether there was an instance of forming a corporation, eight out of eleven of whose members were removable at pleasure? This, however, was so trifling a part of the Bill, compared with those other parts to which he had referred, that he did not feel it necessary to waste their Lordships' time by dwelling further on it. One thing which greatly surprised him with respect to this Bill was the quarter from which it came, considering the opinions delivered on former occasions. The noble Earl at the head of the Government, and who took a zealous, active, and consistent part in the discussions on the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, urged as one of the arguments in support of that measure, that it would tend to increase Protestantism in Ireland—that it would remove those causes which then tended to press down Protestantism in that country—and that when that pressure was removed, it would spring up with redoubled force. It was, at the same time, urged by many other noble Lords who took part in that discussion, that the passing of that Bill would be the means of removing many difficulties with which Protestantism had to contend in Ireland, and that it would create friends for the establishment where it before had enemies; that, at all events, it would afford this security to the establishment—that no one would, after it passed, dare to be a friend to the Catholics in any attempt against that establishment. In a published letter written by a noble Baron (Lord Holland) about the same period, and addressed to the reverend Dr. Shuttleworth, it was asked, whether the Catholics would give up all desire to attack or injure the Protestant Establishment, and the answer was supplied by the noble Baron himself, who asserted that they would; and that for more than twenty years before, they had openly renounced any such intention, and had promised that they would not use any power which might be granted to them by the Legislature to the injury of the Established Church. It was the confident reliance on these promises that had produced much of the support given to the question of Catholic Emancipation. It was the same confidence which made the noble Baron to whom he had alluded give his promise that he would support the protestant Establishment with, as he said, all its enormous revenues. He had no doubt, therefore, 840 that he should have the support of the noble Baron on this occasion. By the way, in alluding to the revenues of the Irish Church, it was now put beyond any question of doubt that the most egregiously erroneous statements had been made as to the amount of those revenues. Could those revenues be considered enormous which did not give an average income of 300l. a-year to every clergyman of the Irish Church? Another noble Lord (the Lord Chancellor of Ireland) of great and acknowledged authority, had, in a speech delivered on the subject of the Catholic question in 1829, said: 'The right reverend Bench in general have, in a manner which reflects credit on them as Gentlemen and as Christians, acknowledged the honour and probity of the great body of the Roman Catholics. Why, then, my Lords, they are willing to swear, and by this Bill they are required to swear, that they will not use their privileges to disturb or weaken the Protestant Establishment. Now, I really cannot understand what is meant by saying, that a man is amiable, exemplary in the discharge of all the duties of life, and that he is a most worthy moral character, and yet that you will not believe him on his oath?'* Unhappily, the Legislature did believe his oaths, and what was the result? The noble and learned Lord had added, on the same occasion: 'Millions of people desire admission to the privileges of citizens, from which the argument I now to deal with admits they ought to be excluded on mere political grounds. They do not seek to meddle with any of the rights or possessions of the Church, and they offer to bind themselves by solemn oaths, not to use their privileges for the purpose of doing so directly or indirectly. † My Lords, every Roman Catholic well knows, that the Protestant Establishment of Ireland is indissolubly wound up with the Establishment of England, and that neither the Church of England nor the Government of England will ever permit the Protestant Church of Ireland to be subverted. My Lords, I take upon myself to say, that such extravagant notions, which could not be accomplished without heaving the British Empire from its centre, do not enter into the contemplation either of priests or laymen of that persuasion.' That was the language of the noble* Hansard (new series) xxi., page 376.† Ibid. xxi. p. 379 and 377.841 and learned Lord, who, relying on the promises of the Catholics, sought for them equal privileges with their Protestant fellow-subjects. He was not surprised that the noble and learned Lord should have had such confidence in the promises made by the Roman Catholics. What was the oath which they were called on to take by the Relief Bill before they could take a seat in Parliament? It had these words—"And I do hereby disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the present Church Establishment, as settled by law, within these realms; and I do solemnly swear that I will never exercise any privilege to which I am or may become entitled, to disturb or weaken the Protestant religion or Protestant government in the United Kingdom; and I do solemnly, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I do make this declaration and every part thereof in the plain and ordinary sense of the words of this oath, without any evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation whatsoever." Now, any man who took such an oath as that, and who was honest and meant to observe what he swore, would studiously abstain in his legislative capacity from doing that which would subvert or tend to subvert or injure the Protestant Establishment. Yet, after such a solemn test, he would beg their Lordships to consider what had been the estimate made of its obligation by many of those who had taken it. He would not refer more particularly to the language used in another place; but their Lordships must have observed, through the ordinary channels of communication, how lightly some individuals seemed to think of the obligation which they had undertaken by the oath he had read, and how strongly disposed they seemed to set that oath at nought. It seemed to be the opinion of those individuals, that as long as they did not interfere with the articles of the Protestant faith, they kept their oath, though they could not be ignorant that it was intended by those who drew up that oath, that it should not only prevent those who took it from acting injuriously to the Established Church, but that it also bound them to act with kindness towards that Church. He thought, that those Gentlemen were bound even by their voluntary pledges. He would remind their Lordships of a petition presented to Parliament in 1809, and signed by several distinguished Catholic peers of Ireland, such as Lords Fingall, Gormanstown, and Shrewsbury, 842 and by many other members of the Catholic body of that country, und amongst them it had the signature of Mr. O'Connell. The parties who signed that petition declared that they had no intention or desire to use any privilege they might acquire, to injure or weaken the Protestant Establishment of Ireland. The petition was afterwards printed with notes, and in those notes the same opinions were strongly avowed. In one of them, referring to the passage of the petition he had alluded to, it was stated, that the Catholics were, by that clause, pledged to the maintenance of the Protestant religion and government in Ireland as firmly as the Protestants themselves. Another part of the petition stated, that the petitioners did not wish in any manner to encroach upon the rights, privileges, immunities, and revenues of the Protestant clergy; and in a note to this passage, it was stated, that this pledge of the petitioners comprehended the words of the Coronation Oath; the petitioners declaring that it was not the intention of the Roman Catholics to infringe the sacred rights and immunities which the King, by his Coronation Oath, had solemnly bound himself to preserve to the Protestant Bishops and clergy. Yet, notwithstanding this declaration, subscribed, as he had stated, with the name of Daniel O'Connell, he (the Bishop of Exeter) held in his hand a recent letter from the same individual, recommending that in future there should be no more Protestant clergy in Ireland than were necessary for the Protestant population. He would allow the present incumbents of parishes in Ireland to remain as they were; but for the future, he would allow only as much as would support that number of clergymen as the Protestants might want. He had already alluded to the oath taken, and, as he would take leave to say, violated by Dr. Doyle, and he would not dwell further upon it then; but when their Lordships saw some of the heads of the Catholic Church in Ireland, such as Dr. Doyle and Dr. M'Hale, show such a disregard for the obligations of an oath, could it be expected that their flocks would be more observant of them? What might be expected from that, actually occurred. Experience confirmed what reason anticipated, and there was, though it was deeply to be lamented, a total disregard of oaths amongst the Catholics of Ireland. This was proved by the evidence of many respectable individuals who had gone some of the circuits of Ireland, and who had constant opportu- 843 nities of noticing this great disregard of oaths amongst the Catholics. They had the same fact attested by the evidence of a Roman Catholic priest, Mr. Collins, who admitted, in his examination before the other House of Parliament, that this disregard of oaths existed; and being asked to explain the cause, he attributed it to the poverty and ignorance of the people, and also to the conduct of landlords and their agents, who, in getting the people to vote at elections, showed, though moving in the ranks of gentlemen, as great a disregard of the moral obligation of an oath as their more humble and less educated dependents. He was asked whether much of this feeling amongst the poorer classes did not arise from want of proper instruction; and he admitted, that there was a great deficiency amongst them in that respect; but he added, that none of them were so ignorant as not to be aware of the nature and obligation of an oath. These were strong facts, and he would ask, if the people showed no regard for the obligation of an oath, how could it be expected that they would honour the law? It was unfortunately notorious, that they had no respect for it—that they considered it meritorious in some cases to evade the law, and that they connected no moral obligation with its observance. Was this from ignorance? He rather feared that it was from too much instruction of a particular description, and from those who, possessing great influence, ought to have used that influence in a different direction. The celebrated pastoral letter of Dr. Doyle was, no doubt, familiar to most of their Lordships; but he could not avoid reading a few passages of it as an illustration of the pernicious kind of instruction conveyed to the people by those who ought to have given a very different kind of advice. The right reverend Prelate read the first passages of the letter, in which the writer spoke of the distress from the tithes, of the disturbances which existed, and the necessity of being peaceable, and his hope that the Legislature would take their case into consideration; with all of which the right reverend Prelate said no fault could be found; but the letter went on to say: 'I was withheld from addressing you by the hope which I have long cherished, and which I still cherish, of seeing your condition improved, and the causes as well as the pretences of your criminal combinations removed. I hoped to hear of your real grievances being candidly considered by the Legislature—of a provision being 844 made by law for the poor and destitute of you—of means of employment being furnished to you, especially to such of you as were cruelly ejected from your holdings;— I hoped all this, and that no man or woman could reproach me, when exhorting you to peace by thinking within themselves, or saying to me in words, "Do you wish us to sit down, and die of hunger? Do you tell us from the Gospel, which the Lord has commissioned you to preach, that a man is obliged to starve in the midst of plenty, or that any law can be justified which banishes as a malefactor, or hangs as a felon, a man able and willing to work, but who, unable by any lawful means, to preserve himself and his children from starvation, employs such moans as occur to him to supply himself with food? If, in England, where the law proclaims that no man shall want a sufficiency of food— where every honest man, if disabled or unemployed, is invested by the law with the right to support for himself and his children—if in England, where the law of self-preservation (the first law of nature) is there upheld and enforced by the laws of the State—if in England, where the poor are so justly protected, men combine to violate the rights of property, let them be reproached as wicked, and punished as criminals; but until, in Ireland, the first law of nature is recognised; but until in Ireland the law proclaims, as it does in England, that no man, woman or child, shall perish of want,—do not endeavour to persuade us that our duties and obligations are the same as the duties and obligations of those whom the laws of England, which should also be our laws, cherish and protect. You speak to us of the punishment which awaits us. What punishment can be greater than to die of hunger? You remind us of the affliction we bring upon our families. What affliction can surpass that of a mother and children driven in a state of utter destitution from the fire-side and threshold of their homes, to wander friendless and hopeless through a world that rejects them, till hunger and disease strike them to the earth, and death comes to absolve them from their sufferings. Go; tell the husband, the father, the brother, who has witnessed this scene, that he is a criminal if he revolt against such an order of things, and he will reply: You are not a minister of Christ, but of Moloch; for it is by Moloch, and not by the God of the Christians, that such bloody sacrifices are 845 required?" Deterred (he added) by such arguments, I have not remonstrated with you us I ought, though I have often told you that your ways are evil. Even now, when I am forced to put away all doubt and hesitation. I do not pretend to disprove your arguments, of which a great many are founded on truth and justice. This, be it observed, was the language of a Roman Catholic Bishop, addressing his flock on the subject of their criminal practices. Dr. Doyle went on indeed to slates that their practices were wicked, because it was not only their own sufferings, but the sufferings of others, which they increased by them. Their resistance to the law, he told them, was wicked and vain—wicked, because it did nothing but confirm the power of their oppressors—vain, because the unorganized efforts of a mere rabble never could overthrow the authority of the Stale, He (the Brishop of Exeter) would not quote further from this document; he would merely remind the House, that this extract was taken from the letter in which the right reverend Prelate taught the population that their resistance to the law of tithes was not criminal, and that submission to a penal law was all that was required from a subject. The right reverend Prelate quoted the authority of Blackstone to bear him out in that opinion; but their Lordships were well aware, that Blackstone said no such tiling. The doctrine which Blackstone had laid down was most unsound; but even the doctrine of Blackstone did not go to the iniquity of Dr. Doyle, for all that Blackstone said was this—"In relation to those laws which enjoin only positive duties, and forbid only such things as are not mala in se, but mala prohibila, merely annexing a penalty to noncompliance, here I apprehend conscience is no further concerned than by directing a submission to the penalty in case of our breach of those laws." Now, if that doctrine were true, a man was morally at liberty to incur debts to any amount, provided he would submit to the penalty of imprisonment. In other words, the right reverend Prelate taught the people to disregard the obligations imposed upon them by the law of the laud, and the moral obligations of conscience. That a populace thus taught should disregard moral obligations was to be expected, and was proved to be the ease. There was, he was sorry to say, in Ireland, not merely a disregard of honour and honesty, and of all morality, but of still higher duties. Sir Hussey Vivian, in the opinion he stated in evidence before the 846 Committee of the House of Commons, used tills language— In offering an opinion on the slate of Ireland, there is one thing I should wish to notice", and that is the extraordinary carelessness of human life amongst the lower classes. I have endeavoured, as far as possible, to find out whence it arises that men who appear so kind in their dispositions, so grateful for any little kindness bestowed upon them, as the lower class of Irish generally are, should exhibit such little apparent reluctance lo destroy their fellow creatures. I have asked the Catholic clergy; I have expressed my astonishment that they who have such power and influence over the minds of the lower classes, do not prevent it; but neither they nor others I have spoken lo on the subject pretend to account for it. It is a very striking circumstance in Ireland, that a disturbance scarcely ever arises but you hear of the loss of life; and during the whole of the disturbances in England (I mean no invidions comparison) there was but one instance in which a hand was raised against an individual; it is a matter well worthy of the consideration of those who would civilize and tranquillize Ireland, to ascertain whence arises this extraordinary difference. He was then asked: Is not the use of ardent Spirits one of the causes of it?— This may account for those eases where murders take place at fairs; but many are committed in perfect cold blood. I could mention many instances of this sort.' Though this answer did not give a sufficient explanation, he thought, that their Lordships might find that explanation in the evidence of another person;—It was that of the reverend John Burnett, a Dissenting Minister of Cork. That Gentleman had, on a former day, given some evidence which he afterwards felt it necessary to correct, or rather to enlarge. Mr. Burnett said—but before he (the Bishop of Exeter) read this extract from the evidence relating to the Catholic religion, he begged to say, with the most perfect sincerity, that while it was extremely painful to him to speak of the outrageous feelings which he believed that religion had caused in the presence of noble Lords who professed that religion, but who were as free from those feelings as men could possibly be, who were as fully sensible as men could be of the impropriety of such feelings, and who, in their own conduct, were actuated by the highest principles of the Gospel;—he said, while it was painful for 847 him to be obliged to speak thus of those who held the same doctrines as the persons alluded to in the evidence, he felt that his duty compelled him to do so, and that he must proceed—Mr. Burnett said—'The view which I took of Catholicity in Ireland was the truth, but not the whole truth; and I therefore wish to make a few remarks on what I consider to be the effect of Catholicity. A question has been put to me as to the books used in the schools of the professors of that religion. I should not be acting fairly if I did not state, that most mischievous books were used in schools of that description. That hooks of a licentious nature were employed in those schools has been stated by the Commissioners of Education, but there are also Catholic books which are subversive of the first principles of morality and religion. The priests know well that these books are in circulation. They could prevent the circulation of them as easily as they could prevent the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, but they have not made any attempt to do so. He was then asked: Will you mention any of those books? One book is the Cord of St. Francis; the Scapula is another. There were also books of various orders and devotions. These works prescribed the forms to be used at devotions, and the Catholics connect with those forms the speedy release of the guilty from purgatory. The lower orders believe in these books, and act on their belief of them, and therefore it is, that no Roman Catholic believes that when he dies he is consigned to final perdition. I have spoken frequently to the lower order of Roman Catholics, and I never yet found one of them who believed that he would go to hell. If they die in mortal sin, they believe they go to hell; but if the priest gives them absolution, which, if called upon, he cannot refuse to do, then they believe that they only go to purgatory, from which they believe that the prayers of the faithful can rescue them. This conviction produces an injurious effect upon the moral and practical conduct of the people. It is easy to make a confession of sin and to rely on the prayers and orders of the faithful. On these they rely more than on the morality and religion of their conduct. Absolution destroys in their minds all fears of punishment in the world to come. I have found this feeling very general among the lower orders of Catholics, and I have seen them, 848 where they have been sentenced to death in Courts of Justice, exhibit no feeling of their awful situation. I attribute this to their conviction that the priest is able to everything for them that is necessary to ensure the salvation of their souls. I once saw thirty-five of them sentenced to death at once, and I did not see any one of them show the slightest emotion on hearing the sentence. All this I attribute to their belief in the doctrine of absolution'. He would put it, then, to their Lordships even on no higher ground than that of their duty as human legislators, looking only to the good of men in this world, and to the preservation of the peace of society, whether it was not the duty of those who had a share in the legislative power of the country to resist the influence of doctrines such as these, and to do their utmost to lessen the authority of such teachers? If they agreed with him, that such was their duty, he asked whether it was to be endured that a measure largely increasing the authority of these teachers, and largely, he would add, extending the influence of lessons such as these books inculcated upon the people, should receive their sanction? This brought him to the last topic to which he should advert, and it was one of a most grave and serious nature. It was a duty incumbent on all those who wished to uphold, as far as possible, the true Protestant religion, and most especially it was a duty which became them as legislators, to consider what was the obligation which their Sovereign had contracted at his coronation. He begged that their Lordships would not misunderstand him. He was far from saying that any opinion which he or any of their Lordships might form upon the tenour of that oath, and upon its application to the present Bill, was that which must necessarily be true, so that there could be no conscientious deviation from it. If, unhappily, the illustrious individual who would on this occasion have to decide this point for himself, and who, their Lordships were bound to believe, as he unfeignedly did believe, would decide it on the purest principles according to the dictates of his own conscience, should decide it differently from his opinion, it would be his duty to submit in silence; but at present he thought that it was incumbent upon them, as Legislators and Peers of Parliament, to bear in mind what it was their duty to do in respect to that oath, in tendering to his Majesty the present Bill. He felt, that it was his own duty—he felt also that it was the duty of 849 all their Lordships—to abstain must entirely from pressing on his Majesty or, indeed, from offering to his acceptance, any measure which was imagined not to be in accordance with the obligations which his Majesty contracted at his coronation. If their Lordships should think that the tendency of any measure was to shake the security of the Protestant Church Establishment, and to weaken the influence of the Protestant religion in this country,—if they should think that the tendency of any measure before them was to violate that which his Majesty had sworn to preserve inviolate—namely, the present settlement of the Church of Ireland, with the doctrine, discipline, and government thereof, he was certain, that there was not one of them but would join with him in saying, that it was their common duty to abstain from voting in favour of such a measure. Now that was his opinion of the present measure. But if it should pass into a law, and should unfortunately receive the royal assent, he should be convinced, that it had received the royal assent from the purest conviction of its necessity, and from a conscientious belief, that assent to it was strictly in accordance with the terms of the Coronation Oath. He should have been inclined to leave this topic out of his consideration, had not circumstances arisen which had pledged the House to the discussion of it, from that discussion he had not the slightest wish to shrink. It was not with any wish to utter a taunt against the noble Earl that he now stated that he had expected that the noble Earl would, on this occasion, have propounded the arguments which he had declared to be unanswerable in favour of his Motion, which he (the Bishop of Exeter) conceived to be unsound, inconsistent with the law of the land, and tending to the dissolution of the solemn compact made by the country with its sovereign. He meant the distinction which the noble Earl had drawn regarding the binding nature of the Coronation Oath upon the Sovereign in his executive and legislative capacity. It would be in the recollection of the House, that the noble Earl considered the question of the Coronation Oath as one which might be placed out of the thought of the Sovereign, in giving his assent to any measure which had obtained the approbation of the two Houses of Parliament. Now, he must repeat, that he had hoped that the noble Earl would have given him some arguments in favour of that opinion, for, as the noble Earl had already declared those arguments 850 to be unanswerable, he could not be afraid of any answer which they might receive either from himself or from any of their Lordships. Not having had the opportunity which he expected to have had at all events, and more especially from the circumstance of the noble Earl being entitled to a reply, he (the right reverend Bishop) was at a loss to know what arguments to address to their Lordships. It was true that the noble Earl had spoken on this subject on a former occasion, and he had been led to anticipate the argument on which the noble Earl relied at present, from the arguments which the noble Earl had employed on former occasions. On the fourth of April, 1829, the noble Earl said: 'I was glad to find that that noble and learned Lord (Lord Tenderten) did not lend the sanction of his high name and authority to what I cannot but consider the false and danger principles which have been recently promulgated on this subject; nor attempt to show that the Coronation Oath should be viewed as binding the King in his legislative capacity.' He had no doubt, from the whole of what followed, that the language was correctly attributed to the noble Earl; who had on that occasion considered it as a false and dangerous principle that the King should be bound in his legislative capacity by the Coronation Oath. The noble Earl had proceeded to argue in favour of that opinion, and his arguments, of which he (the right reverend Prelate) would not willingly omit one, rested upon the debate on the proviso which Mr. Pelham deemed it necessary to add as a rider on the Coronation Oath Bill, and on the letter of Lord Yester to his father, the Marquess of Tweeddale. Now he had read the debate on that proviso, and the conclusion to which he had come was quite different from that of the noble Earl. Many of the speakers on that occasion had said, that it was impossible for anything to proceed from that House which would impair its legislative powers; that the proviso, as far as it went, was not objectionable; that they did not feel it fit or proper, or decent, to intrude any measure on the Sovereign which would impose a restraint generally on his legislative capacity, but that they did not think it improper to impose this restraint on the matter which they were then upon—namely, the binding the King in his legislative capacity with regard to the Church. He found authority for this in the language used upon that occasion by that 851 great and wise stateaman, Lord Somers. On the previous debate Lord Somers had been inclined to support the Motion, that the King, in his Oath, should swear to maintain the Protestant religion, which is, or shall be established by law. On that occasion he used this language: "I desire the addition from great regard to the Legislature." In the former paragraph it is "statutes and laws and customs in being" in the other establishment. He that gives his consent to take away, docs not "maintain them," by which he understood Lord Somers to mean that he who gave his consent to take away could not be said to maintain, as he was bound by oath to do. But even if the language of the speakers in that debate had gone to the extent for which the noble Earl contended, he should insist that the language of such men was not conclusive as to the meaning of the law which they passed. Far from it. He held that the language of debaters on either side of a question was nut to be taken as the most fitting construction of the law which they were endeavouring to carry through, or to prevent from being carried through Parliament. The noble Earl had also referred, in support of his opinion, to another authority—the letter of Lord Yester to the Marquess of Tweed-dale. It was dated April 9, 1689, and was to the following effect: 'I believe your Lordship will find, by the journals, the measures I have given were not much mistaken, and that now there is but a slender prospect of a comprehension, whereof the delays thrown in the way, and the desire of a convocation, are a sufficient evidence. However, I am told the King has declared himself in council as to the oath he is to take at his coronation—that the sense he takes it in was as to his executive capacity, to maintain the Church as by law established, reserving liberty as to his legislative, to make therein what alteration might be thought fit hereafter.' He was surprised that so much authority should be attributed by the noble Earl, to a hastily written letter, upon the mere rumour of the day. Who ever heard of such a letter being taken as an authority upon a point of constitutional law? Would any of their Lordships take a rumour picked up in St. James's-street, or in some of the neighbouring clubhouses, as evidence of any fact at the present day? And if they would not take the mention of a rumour in a letter as evidence now, why should they attach greater sanc- 852 tity to a piece of paper which had no other merit than that of being 150 years older? There was, however, evidence of a negative kind, to prove that this rumour was unfounded. He put it to such of their Lordships as had had experience as privy councillors, whether, if such a communication had been made by the King to his council, there would not have been some record of it placed on the minutes. He would not, however, slop here. He said, that William 3rd was the last monarch who would have satisfied himself with making this private communcation to his council—a communication which, if made at all, was of so private a nature, that he supposed that no person who had taken the privy councillor's oath, would have deemed himself at liberty to divulge it. Moreover, it was not likely that a conscientious man like William 3rd would have made any such mental reservation. He came down to Parliament to give his assent on the throne to the Coronation Oath Bill, and on that occasion he made no declaration as to the sense in which he should take the Oath. He took it, therefore, in the plain and natural sense which the words bore, and not in the sense which Lord Yester attributes to it upon rumour. The negative evidence, however, did not rest here. There was a curious circumstance in the history of King William, connected with the Oath which he took on his Coronation as King of Scotland. That Oath bound him to root out heresy. When it was tendered to him, he solemnly declared the sense in which he took it; for, he said, "Let it be understood, that I do not hind myself by this Oath to become a persecutor." This was pro tanto a reservation; from which it followed, that if King William took the Coronation Oath with any reservation, he would, in like maimer, have publicly said so, either when publicly taking it before his peers, or when giving the Bill the Royal assent. The whole argument, therefore, founded on Lord Yester's letter to his father, which he considered utterly unworthy of attention, fell to the ground, apart from the circumstances of improbability which otherwise surrounded it. Let them for a moment consider the nature of the distinction, which had boon attempted to be drawn between the King in his legislative and his executive capacity, on which was founded the untenable assumption, that the Coronation Oath bound him, not in his former, but in his latter capacity. Now, he held that the constitution did not recognize this 853 double capacity of the kingly office. He held, that the notion of a monarchy—that is, an absolute monarchy—as contra-distinguished from the limited monarchy of England, implied, that the whole government of the country was vested in the King; and that the notions of a limited monarchy implied that the King could exercise no royal functions unless with the advice of his Parliament and responsible councillors. This he need not tell them was the usage of the British Government. In the exercise of his higher duties, as a branch of the Legislature, the King is aided by both Houses of Parliament, in establishing and settling the law of the land, just as the privy council were his advisers in the case of proclamations, and so on with the other royal functions, placing it beyond doubt, that it was absurd to believe that the Coronation Oath bound the King in one capacity while it loosed him in another. That such was not the case he thought was evident from a consideration of the origin and tendency of the Coronation Oath. It was, perhaps, hardly necessary for him to remind them of the remarkable fact that the Coronation Oath of Edward the Confessor was in force till the reign of William 3rd; and that it was mentioned, eo nomine, in the Coronation Oath of James 2nd. The Oath was contained in the Leges Edouardi, c. 1., entitled De Regis officio et de Jure et Appendicibus Coronœ Regni Britanniœ. Now, those laws distinctly showed the duty and office of the King, enjoining him to fear God and honour him above all things: that he should reverence the holy Church, and defend it against its enemies; that he make good laws and preserve approved customs; that he ought to distribute justice, and to take the counsel of his nobles, prelates, and wise men. If words had any meaning, did it not follow that that part of the Oath, which bound the King to make "good laws and preserve approved customs" applied to the King in his legislative capacity? And if so, was it not absurd to assert that the Oath bound him in his executive, but loosed him in his legislative capacity. The old language of the law confirmed this view, for, in old acts, it was always stated, "Rex statuit," and sometimes it was said "in Concilio Parliamenti," and sometimes not. The evidence, however, did not rest there. Some of their Lordships were perhaps not aware that there were Statutes of this land recognizing the Coronation Oath, as binding the King in his legislative capacity. Every 854 Sovereign, from Edward the Confessor to Edward 3rd, swore that he would make good laws and repeal bad ones; and there were not one or two, but a whole stream of instances, as had been remarked by an eloquent writer, which established this as the great constitutional principle, on which all laws were to be reviewed, and, if necessary, annulled. It was, in truth, the chief landmark of the Constitution. The first instance he would refer to was, the 7th of Edward 1., c. 1., called the Statute of Fines, which after confirming the Charier of Forests and Magna Charta, states, that the King should not give his assent to any laws "contrary to his Coronation Oath," that is, that he was bound by his Oath in his legislative capacity. Then, in the next reign, they would find ill the 15th of Edward 2nd., this principle most explicitly asserted. That statute was a repeal of other statutes which Edward had passed in favour of the Dispensers; and it stated that these acts should be repealed, because, among other reasons, it was contrary to his Majesty's Coronation Oath, that bound him, at the risk of his soul, to make good laws, and to extirpate bad ones. The same principle was also asserted in the reign of that illustrious prince Edward 3rd. In the 15th of Edward 3rd, it was expressly stated, that certain things which had been improvidently done were to be revoked, because they were contrary to the King's Oath. But, without fatiguing them with more instances from the statute-book, he would briefly refer them to the proceedings of the Legislature at the time of the Union with Scotland. He need not remind their Lordships that great apprehensions were at the time entertained by the people of Scotland, lost the measure should prove detrimental to the interests of the Church of Scotland, the Legislature of England being "essentially of the prelatic persuasion." The assembly of the Church of Scotland accordingly petitioned, that the rights of that Church might be preserved entire; and in obedience to that petition, an act was passed, which did insure the integrity of those rights. But the Assembly was not satisfied, for they requested the security of—what? Why, a Coronation Oath, and that security was conferred on them. But this was not all, for the members of the "prelatic persuasion" in their manner, also entertained apprehensions for the integrity of the Established Church, now that Presbyterian peers and commoners were likely to become members of the 855 united Legislature; and they, in their turn, demanded the security of the Coronation Oath for the interests of the Church of England, and that security—[Lord Plunket; The Church of England and Ireland.] He thanked the learned Lord. The Church of Ireland was included. He was not surprised at the friendly remonstrance, knowing that that learned Lord agreed with him, that the Coronation Oath applied to the King in his legislative capacity. ["No, no," from Lord Plunkett No!] he was astonished by the denial. It would be in their Lordships' recollection that Lord Kenyon had been requested by his late Majesty to give his opinion of the Coronation Oath; and the opinion which Lord Kenyon gave to a late King on the point, was well worthy of their Lordships' attention. Lord Kenyon said, "that the whole of the present system was carefully framed, to guard against the introduction of Popish influence into any of the branches of the Legislature. In the Sovereign, this was provided for by the oath which he took; in the Houses of Parliament, by the Declaration of 2nd Charles 2nd." Unless the learned Lord was most grossly misrepresented, he on referring to this opinion of Lord Kenyon, had said, "the opinion was that of a sound lawyer and an honest man. There might be cases in which a King was not justified in adopting the advice even of his Councillors, viz:—when that advice was in direct opposition to his Coronation Oath. For instance, if an Act was passed to overturn the Protestant Hierarchy, no doubt the Coronation Oath would prevent him from assenting to it. That was not a question which required a moment's deliberation. The Coronation Oath was a bond between his conscience and his God." This was said by the noble Lord, in a speech made by him on the 10th of June, 1828, and it was this emphatic language, which made him believe that the learned Lord, like himself, conceived the Coronation Oath to bind the King in his legislative no less than his executive capacity. If he was wrong, the learned Lord would, of course, set him right. The right reverend Prelate concluded with thanking their lordships for the attention with which they had heard him. He was ashamed at having detained them at such length, and could only say, that he should not trespass on their forbearance at such length in future.
rose to give his conscientious support to the Bill. He required no letter to induce him to come forward, nor 856 anything but a conviction that he was doing his duty honestly to the country. Their Lordships had been told, that they were to consider this measure as repugnant to the principles of Protestantism, and as opposed to the interests of a Protestant country—that it was intended to weaken and in reality to destroy the Protestant Church. He denied the assertion. Doubtless the evidence of a Roman Catholic Peer might be regarded with suspicion, but he called on their Lordships to remember that the Bill came down to their Lordships' House backed by a great majority of what he could, for the first time for many years, call the real Representatives of the people. When turning from the Commons of England, he looked to the Bench of Bishops themselves; he found that even they were divided in opinion on the principles of this Bill. From them he looked to the Protestant population of the country generally, and here, also, he found an overwhelming majority in favour of the measure. Finding this to be the case, and finding also, that this plan was recommended to their Lordships by those who were the responsible advisers of the head of the Protestant Church, and who had so large a share in the control of its temporalities—how, he asked their Lordships, could he refuse his assent to a measure which, under all the circumstances of the times, he thought would prove highly beneficial and advantageous both to Church and State. The noble Lord then proceeded to comment on the observations of the right reverend Prelate with regard to the Catholic Bishops and clergy, whom he defended from the attacks made upon them, and represented them as amiable persons and estimable men, who, so far from seeking to injure the interests of the country, would do all in their power to promote them. The right reverend Prelate had passed a general censure on the Irish priesthood, but he had contented himself with referring to the instances of Dr. Doyle and Dr. M'Hale. He would ask, were there no other Irish Catholic Bishops? And even if censure could be justly applied to those two individuals, were all the rest to be condemned on their account. He differed in some respects from the arguments of Dr. Doyle, whom, however, he could not but highly respect. Still he could discard the arguments which he thought objectionable, without throwing away his religion, or maligning its priesthood. There was, much to approve of in the speech of the 857 right reverend and eloquent Prelate, who, indeed, never, displayed more eloquence than when he described the wretched and miserable condition of the people of Ireland, and called to their Lordships' attention the difficulty which they had to allot a miserable pittance even to their own pastor. The right reverend Prelate had also most appropriately alluded to the evils resulting from absenteeism. With regard to the system of education, however, of which the right reverend Prelate so much complained, it was not a little singular that he and many other noble Lords should have bestowed so much time in opposing a more improved and extended system of education. At least half of the recent debates in that House had been occupied by such opposition. Much was to be said in extenuation for those strong expressions of some Catholic Priests, to which allusion had been made. It should be remembered, that these persons were the actual witnesses of and sharers in that distress, which had been so forcibly described. It was they who went into the cabin of the peasants, and who saw the miseries to which they were exposed. How could they avoid describing in warm and excited language that which was so powerfully calculated to appeal to their feelings. He was quite sure, that were the right reverend Prelate himself placed in a similar situation, even he might be tempted to indulge in a greater degree of warmth than subsequent reflection would perhaps justify. The noble Lord concluded by declaring his determination to support the Bill.
said, that he would not attempt to follow the right reverend Prelate through the wide range of argument which he had taken. The right reverend Prelate had certainly introduced into the discussion a vast quantity of matter of a very subduing nature, in every sense of the word. He felt the greatest admiration of the eloquence which the right reverend Prelate had displayed; but nothing about his speech had struck him with so much surprise, as the address with which be had drawn away their Lordships' attention from that which was really the question before the House. During a great part of his able and eloquent speech he had employed himself in discussing the Catholic question. Was that the question now in debate? What had the right reverend Prelate to propose upon that subject? Did he mean to propose, that the law which had been passed should be repealed? Would he 858 say, that the doors of that assembly should again be closed against Roman Catholics? If not, what object in Heaven's name, what argument was there in his reference to it? And why should the right reverend Prelate, on rising to address the House for the Church and the truth of God, drag in a topic which could have no other effect—though he would not say that it was intended—than to excite ill-blood, and to make it impossible—let the Catholic Relief Bill be in conception ever so wise, or in its natural consequences ever so beneficial—that it could produce any thing but discord and interminable ill-will? If, as the right reverend Prelate asserted, the cure for the vices inherent in the nature of the Catholic religion, and growing out of the system of Catholic education, was only to be found in the ministry of Protestant Bishops in Ireland, he could not help rejoicing exceedingly, that there was no probability of the right reverend Prelate being sent to that country. The right reverend Prelate said, that the predictions which had been made of the good consequences that would result from Catholic emancipation had not been verified. Their Lordships would do well to recollect the period at which those predictions were made, and the manner in which the measure of relief had been delayed, and thence they might deduce a lesson of experience. Their Lordships might learn from that example the folly of delaying a measure, the efficiency of which depended upon its being willingly and timeously granted; and he hoped that they would hear that circumstance in mind in considering the present measure. How had their Lordships dealt with respect to that wise, just, and necessary measure—for so he must still continue to call it—Catholic emancipation? For his own part, he should never regret the part he had taken in endeavouring to obtain that great mea-sure of national justice. Their Lordships delayed the adoption of that measure for a quarter of a century after the good sense of the people of this country had acknowledged its necessity and justice. Even so late as 1825, if their Lordships had adopted the Bill which was then sent up from the House of Commons, how different would have been the state of Ireland at the present moment! They were now tasting the bitter fruits of their own tardy justice. They were suffering, not for the Act which they had passed, but for having delayed to puss it in spite of their conviction of its necessity, from personal considerations of ex- 859 pediency and convenience. Let it not be supposed from what he was now saying, that he forgot how much the country was indebted to the noble Duke opposite for his conduct respecting that question. He should never forget, and he hoped that no person connected with the Catholic cause ever would, the debt of gratitude which they owed to that illustrious individual; but what he wished to impress upon their Lordships' minds was, that if Catholic emancipation had been conceded in 1825, instead of being delayed till 1829, some of the consequences to which the right reverend Prelate had adverted would never have occurred. The measure which, yielded in proper time, would have been received with gratitude as a boon, was unjustly postponed, and the parties who were entitled to obtain it were driven to the necessity of entering into illegal combinations, and keeping up a spirit of agitation, and by this means the people of Ireland were placed in a situation in which every person who chose to take an extravagant part in politics obtained an ascendancy over them. The combinations and other evils which rendered the coercive measure which Government had lately obtained from Parliament so necessary were the fruit of the postponement of emancipation. For upwards of one hour the right reverend Prelate entertained the House with discussing the merits of Dr. Doyle. What had Dr. Doyle to do with the question? If he were an angel from heaven, or Lucifer himself, what bearing, he asked, had his merits or demerits upon the subject under discussion? The right reverend Prelate had also dwelt at considerable length upon the sayings of Dr. M'Hale, who had, it seemed, made a speech containing a great deal of nonsense, which the right reverend Prelate described as calculated to subdue every feeling of Christian charity, and to excite ill blood. Suppose this were all true, what had it to do with the question? If his eyes would allow him, and he had no considerations of mercy for their Lordships, he could read speeches—he would not mention the names of the persons who delivered them—which were longer, more foolish, and more wicked, than the speeches of Dr. Doyle or Dr. M'Hale, if such speeches they had ever made, though they had actually proceeded from Protestant divines. Did he say this in disparagement of the protestant Church, or Protestant clergymen? No person living entertained a more profound respect for both. He felt that the Protestant clergy 860 in Ireland had, on account of their present melancholy situation, every claim on the compassion and justice of the House. He would never be a party to any measure which should have the effect of depriving the clergy of their just rights; but that was not the character of the present Bill, and any arguments of that nature were therefore thrown away upon the question before the House. It would appear from the statement of the right reverend Prelate, and of a noble Lord who spoke last night, that there was a conspiracy at work in Ireland against the Church. He believed there were persons who would be delighted to pull down the Protestant Church in that country. He would make a present of that declaration to those who cheered him. In his opinion, it was essential to the safety of the Protestant Church, that some measure should be speedily adopted for the purpose of strengthening it, and making it proof against the machinations of its enemies. Last night a noble Lord, who generally supposed himself to be the representative of the Protestants of Ireland in that House, but whom he did not then see in his place—["Hear," from the Earl of Roden.] He was glad that the noble Lord knew himself by his description. It was the truth, that the noble Lord sometimes persuaded himself that all the Protestantism of Ireland was centred in his own person. The noble Lord stated last night, that there was a conspiracy existing in Ireland against the Protestant Church, and he even went so far as to say that Government were parties to it. [The Earl of Roden: No.] The noble Lord certainly said, that it was the intention of Government to overthrow the Protestant religion.
The Earl of Roden
I said, that the tendency of this measure was, to overthrow the Protestant religion.
said, he begged leave to assure the noble Lord of one fact, which was, that the persons who were now watching with the deepest anxiety for the failure of the present Bill, were the very persons who were carrying on the conspiracy against the Protestant Church. There was nothing which could impart so much satisfaction to these conspirators, and to persons in Ireland generally, who entertained objections to the Protestant religion, as the failure of this measure which was brought forward for the purpose of giving strength and stability to the Establishment. The right reverend Prelate had not been very candid in stating the purpose of the 861 measure, for he had argued as if the Rill proposed to effect only one object and that, the abolition of Vestry-cess. Now, that, though a very material, was not the only, object of the Bill. He was not disposed to quarrel with the right reverend Prelate's statement, that the establishment of the protestant Church in Ireland, considered as a whole, was not an overgrown one; but, he certainly thought, that there was one portion of the establishment very much overgrown, and another portion he would say, for want of a better term, very much undergrown. The Bill proposed to take from some of the members of the Establishment a portion of their superabundant wealth, and to divide it amongst their less fortunate brethren. Would any one say, that this was not a good object? Would any one say, that it was not calculated to bring the Church into greater repute than it at present stood in? Would any one say, that Church would not be more efficient if the working clergy were more effectually provided for? That was one of the objects of the Bill which the right reverend Prelate would not allow to go into Committee. Another object was the building of churches, and another the building of glebe-houses. The right reverend Prelate had entered into calculations to show that no fund could be raised under the Bill beyond the sum which was necessary to meet the payment of Vestry-cess; but if the Bill should be allowed to go into committee, he had no doubt that it would be found that the right reverend Prelate was entirely mistaken. The right reverend Prelate had miscalculated the value of the bishops' leases, and mis-stated the amount of the Vestry-cess. The errors committed on these subjects by the right reverend Prelate were specimens of that, calm consideration which the right reverend Prelate had brought to this discussion. The right reverend Prelate said, that the Vestry-cess was not considered by the Irish as an evil; blithe (Lord plunkett) spoke in the presence of noble Lords acquainted with the slate of Ireland, on both sides of the House, and he appealed to them whether the Vestry-cess was not considered a grievance of the utmost enormity, and felt as such by the; poorer classes. From its very nature it was calculated to excite feelings of discontent and haired. A wretched being, unable to provide for the sustenance of his family, was taxed for the service of a church with which he had no connexion, and for which, as the right 862 reverend Prelate contended, he entertained an habitual dislike. He sought for no evidence further of its vexatious nature; and, he asked those noble Lords who were attached to the Protestant interest in Ireland, and who wished to strengthen that interest, to remove one of those burthens of which agitators continually availed themselves in their attempts to overturn the Protestant Church of Ireland. It was a serious grievance, and on that account alone they wanted this soothing and salutary measure to protect the interests of that Church. But the right reverend Prelate contended, that this measure was defective in respect to the remaining funds; and on what ground? The right reverend Prelate had gone back to some distance into the history of the First Fruits; but there could be no doubt that in the time of Henry 8th First Fruits were paid by the clergy out of every living that became vacant in Ireland. It so happened, that in the books no livings were taken down, or liable to the tax, except such as were rated above a certain amount at that time; and questions afterwards arose, whether livings which had increased in value should pay. His (Lord Plunkett's) opinion had been taken when Attorney General, and he was of opinion that they should not. He had given that opinion under his hand, and it was now on their Lordships' Table. His colleague (the Solicitor General) differed from him. His (Lord Plunkett's) opinion consisted of two parts—one was, that the officers collecting the First Fruits were not entitled to levy them, in the present circumstances; and Mr. Joy, the Solicitor General, agreed with him on that point, but differed on the second; for he thought that the crown could issue a commission of revaluation. Since that time, other law officers of the Crown had been consulted, and they concurred with him, that the crown could not make a revaluation, But there Was no doubt, that if they were now valued, many more livings would be liable to the First Fruits. He did not think that this could be called spoliation. Their Lordships had been told, and by none more strongly than by the right reverend Prelate, of the dangers in which the Church of Ireland was placed, and it had been thrown out as a charge against the Government, that, it was hostile to the Protestant Church of Ireland. A man who made such an accusation seriously must be bereft of understanding. Government, seeing the dangers in which 863 that Church was placed, thought it incumbent upon it to raise a fund that should be applied strictly to ecclesiastical purposes, and they had recommended to his Majesty to signify his consent to a measure being introduced into the other House of Parliament to effect that purpose. The other House had passed this Bill, not with any levity, as the right reverend Prelate supposed, for a measure could not have been conducted with much levity which had taken three months to discuss. The measure had then come to this House; and the right reverend Prelate had thought himself entitled to say of it,—and it was unfortunate that he should so speak of such a measure,—that it sanctioned spoliation of property, and was a robbery. Was it an allegation that Parliament had no right to legislate respecting the property of the Church? Was it an allegation that this was a matter above the law? That was not a doctrine calculated for the present day. He (Lord Plunkett) did not differ from any opinion he had entertained as to the property of the Church. He still held the property of the Church to be a sacred deposit. Nothing was more idle than to ask whether the property of the Church was or was not under the control of Parliament. All property was under the control of Parliament. But when he said so, he felt that it was a grave thing to meddle with that property, unless in a case of necessity. He admitted that, in a certain sense, the property of the Church was private property; it was, however, like other corporate property, which was private property in the same sense as Church property, and might be applied to the purposes of the corporation, and it was within the power of Parliament so to apply it. So, in the present case; the property of the Church of Ireland, every part of it, was to be applied to purposes strictly and purely ecclesiastical. It was an abuse of terms to argue that this was spoliation and robbery. No allegation had ever been made by any servant of the Crown that Church-property was applicable to purposes not ecclesiastical. With respect to the surplus, the only question had been whether it was Church-property or not; it had never been asserted that, if it was Church-property, it was applicable to non-ecclesiastical purposes. The fair inference was, that if the surplus was fairly Church-property, it was applicable only to Church purposes. With regard to the abstract question, whether Church-property could be 864 applied to the general purposes of the State, he gave no opinion; it was a foolish tiling to give an opinion unnecessarily on such a question. The right reverend Prelate had said that it might be necessary to give such an opinion; he (Lord Plunkett), however, said that it was not necessary at present. But he wished to call the right reverend Prelate's attention to an observation which fell from him as to the application of the surplus to church purposes. Originally, as it had already been stated in the debate, the Bishops had exercised a right which the law did not give them, and by letting the land at nominal rents, dilapidated the property of the Church. The Legislature interfered with that right so exercised by the Bishops, and restored the property to the Church. If the Legislature had done this, was it not entitled to reapply the property of the Church? Was that spoliation? Then it was said, that the construction of the machinery of the Bill was just as unprecedented as other parts of it; that the commission was to consist of laymen instead of churchmen. Why, the men who made this complaint forgot that the Board of First Fruits consisted partly of laymen and partly of ecclesiastics. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland, the Lord Chief Justice, and the Attorney and Solicitor General, were members of the Board. But it was again said, was ever such a thing heard of as such a commission, the members of which were removable by the Crown? Why, the Lord Chancellor, and the Attorney and Solicitor General were removable at the pleasure of the Crown; so that the existing Board was liable to the same objection. Still it was said, that there was a predominant power in the laymen. The commission was to consist of eleven persons, of which six were necessarily to be of the ecclesiastical establishment; so that there was a majority of six to five. But it was said this was a bill which touched spiritualities, and should be called "the Spiritualities Bill." How was this charge made out? It was said in certain cases, where divine service had not been performed for three years in a place, the commission was authorized to withhold the proceeds of the livings, and to apply them to other church purposes. But was this stating the case fairly? What were the circumstances under which the proceeds were to be sequestered? This was not to take place till it was certified by the Bishop of the diocess that divine service bad not been performed for the time specified, and then the commission was 865 allowed to exercise a discretion on the point. Could it be seriously contended, that when clergymen were disabled from performing divine service through the violence of the times, which was the case put by noble Lords, if the fact were known to the commissioners, they would not act accordingly? Was it likely that they would add to the injustice of the people and deprive the clergyman of his living? It was then said, that they were taxing the clergy, and interfering with the property of the Church, by consolidating bishoprics, and that this was a thing unheard of. As to the consolidation of bishoprics, which was said to be a gross invasion of the rights of the Church, there had been various proceedings on this point. In 1745, and in 1752, and in other instances since the revolution, bishoprics had been consolidated. Could it with any show of reason be said, that the Parliament was incompetent to take away any of the rights and privileges of the clergy when the Legislature had by various acts, interfered with the property of the Church? For instance, the Composition Act interfered with that property. Again an Act passed in the reign of George 3rd went to deprive the clergy of the right of sitting in Parliament, a right which all men considered most valuable. After this could they tell him that the law of this land prevented the Parliament from interfering with the Church? The right reverend Prelate had also objected to the Bill, that in the proposed consolidation of bishoprics, certain persons would have imposed on them all the burthens of an additional See, whether or not they were willing to accept it. And the right reverend Prelate stated an instance in which one Irish Bishop, the Archbishop of Cashel, had petitioned against the imposition of this additional burthen. When it was considered that the holders of these united bishoprics would have their patronage increased, and their emoluments somewhat added to, it would not be very necessary to make any provision in this Bill to meet, what he should conceive, would be the rather singular and uncommon instance, of a Bishop declining or objecting to have the burthens of the additional patronage and emolument thrown upon him. If, however, it should turn out, that the Bishops had any strong objection upon the point, it would be time enough then to meet it by a separate enactment. The right reverend Prelate had also stated, that it was incumbent on Parliament to compel the landlords of Ireland to 866 bear a more equitable portion of the burthens occasioned by the remission of the Vestry-cess. Why, the right hon. Gentleman who then filled the office of Colonial Secretary did, before he was a member of the present Cabinet, introduce a measure to the other House of Parliament, the object of which was to shift the burthen of the Church-cess from the occupants to the landlords. This proposition was thrown out, but it must be borne in mind that it was thrown out by a Parliament which had not yet been purified by reform. And he could not help observing that the right reverend Prelate, throughout the whole f' his speech, availed himself of every opportunity to re-agitate, not only the Roman Catholic question, but also the question of Reform. He would suggest, however, to the right reverend Prelate, that if he were really anxious for the welfare of the empire, and not desirous to revert to the former system, that it would be better to leave those two questions at rest; and not, by partially discussing them on almost every possible occasion, place obstacles in the war of whatever beneficial consequences the present settlement of them was calculated to produce. [There was here a considerable noise in the House].
The Lord Chancellor
rose to order. He observed that it would be useless to continue the discussion unless due attention were paid to the observations of those who spoke. He confessed he had scarcely been able to hear those of the noble and learned Lord.
continued.—The right reverend Prelate, in considering the grievances under which Ireland laboured, had professed his opinion that the Vestry-cess constituted none of these. He (Lord Plunkett), with all due deference to the opinion of the right reverend Prelate, could not help thinking that this impost was one of the greatest grievances of Ireland, and far from taking the view in which the right reverend Prelate had indulged, he (Lord plunkett) believed that the real and ultimate remedy for the evils pressing on the population of that country, which the right reverend Prelate designated as wretched and miserable, was the want of instruction. If they were to be rescued from misery and degradation, if they were to be made sensible of the obligation of an oath, it must he by rendering them accessible to some system of rational education. Yet, with what direful anathemas was the system of education proposed to be established by his Majesty's Government last year denounced 867 by the right reverend Prelate, and some others; and for this only reason,—that the Scriptures were not proposed to be read every day in the week. It was contended, that in concurring in this enactment, the Sovereign would be violating the oath he took at the coronation; that, in short, the Coronation Oath opposed an insuperable bar to the sanction of such a measure. Me would lake the liberty to state his notion with regard to the Coronation Oath, and he would state, candidly and fairly, that he had no recollection that he had over attached to the oath in former times a different meaning from that which he now ascribed to it. He was sure that the right reverend Prelate did not mean to misrepresent what had fallen from him, but he must say, that he had no recollection of ever having used the words attributed to him, by the right reverend Prelate, if he had ever used those words, certainly they did not express his present opinion. "The coronation Oath, said the noble Lord, as it was framed and taken by the Kings of England previous to, and at the Reformation, was in substance the same that it is at this day. It was a solemn recognition of the contract entered into by the King with all classes of his subjects, lay or ecclesiastical—and no more binding as to the one class than as to the other; a contract, not with the Church, but with the people, that they shall have preserved and maintained the Church, and its rights and privileges in which they are just as deeply interested as the members of the Church—for I agree entirely with Sir Robert Peel, that it is an error to consider this as a question in which the Church, as such, is exclusively interested. They are, in the first place, interested as a portion of the people, and in the next place as the functionaries who are to perform the duties which are imposed on them for the benefit of the people. As to both, the Coronation Oath was, and is, the attestation, in the presence of God, of a contract by the King to perform those great duties which existed anterior to, and independent of the Oath. Now observe, the Coronation Oath, before and at the time of the Reformation, was just as express as it is at this day, to pre-serve the Church and the rights and privileges of its ministers; and observe that, at the accession of Edward 6th, the Established Church was the Roman Catholic Church. Now the question we have to decide is this;—was the Coronation Oath taken by Edward, an attestation and sanction of his contract with his people, or was it a vow to God, binding him indissolubly 868 to preserve the Church as it then subsisted. If the former, then there was no insuperable bar to the Reformation. The just and solid reasoning of Bishop Watson would directly apply to the case:—'The Coronation Oath is the confirmation of a promise made by the King to the people. But the obligation of that promise is released, when the people, speaking by the two Houses of Parliament, declare that they do not, on certain points, require the performance of it.' The people did, by their consent, given through the constitutional organs of their opinion, declare, that they did not require the performance of the contract, so far as it related to the old religion;—and on this sound principle the Reformation stands. Put if the Oath were to be considered as a vow by the King to the Supreme Being, indissolubly binding him to maintain the then existing Established Church, I ask by what casuistry was he released from that vow? I ask, by what casuistry was Queen Elizabeth, who found the Roman Catholic Church established, by the acts of the Legislature in the time of her predecessor, relieved from that vow? If I am allowed to stand on the ground of common sense, I say that there was no vow to be released from. The opinion of the people of England gave a release from the contract, and the Oath was only a solemn attestation of that contract, binding the party by its awful sanction, to abide by that contract so long as the party with whom it was made required its performance—on this principle only can I justify the Reformation, and vindicate that great princess from the charge of perjury, and the Government and great statesmen who were her advisers from the charge of gross violation of their duty. The contrary doc-trine involves the necessity of a dispensing power. Let me now inquire whether the Coronation Oath, as framed at the Revolution makes any difference in the argument, [Here the noble Lord read the recitals in the Statute referred to, and then the Oath.] Here, then, I admit is a most important change—a solemn contract entered into by the King with his people, that he will, to the utmost of his power, maintain the Protestant religion, as established by law, and preserve to the Bishops and clergy all such lights and privileges as do or shall by law appertain to them. Here, then, is the effect of the alteration made in the Coronation Oath at the Revolution; not to change into a vow to Heaven that which had before been the attestation and sanction be- 869 fore God, of a contract made with man; but to ascertain what that contract was, and to assure to the people, by the obligation of the Royal Oath, their right to insist on that contract, and thus the same reasoning applies as at the Reformation. But, further, to show the utter inconsistency of such a doctrine with the principles of the Revolution, and with the acts of those who achieved and conducted it. The Coronation Oath, and the Oath of Allegiance, rest exactly on the same foundation. The first was, to secure a contract entered into by the King with his people; the second, to secure a contract entered into by each individual with his King,—obligations certainly binding both parties, independently of any oath. Why then, I ask, if this oath were a vow to Heaven, by what authority were the subjects of James 2nd absolved from that vow? If it was merely an oath to perform a contract, I find no difficulty. The King had, by his abdication and abandonment of the duty of protection, released his subjects from that contract, and of course there was an end of the obligation of the Oath which was merely for the performance of that contract. But if it were an irrevocable vow to God, they were guilty of a violation of that vow in transferring to King William the irrevocable allegiance which they owed to James. They were not only traitors, but perjured traitors. It were vain for such reasoners to say, that James had by his Acts released them; he could not either directly or by implication release them from that vow; and therefore, in refuting this bold and dogmatical assertion, I am vindicating the actors in these two great events, the Reformation and the Revolution, from the grievous imputations which are cast upon them by those who profess to stand on those principles, but who most certainly do not comprehend them. My Lords, if it were necessary to say whether this Oath was administered to the King in his legislative or executive capacity, I should certainly be disposed to say with the most reverend Prelate, who adverted to this point on a former night, and with my noble friend, who adopted his argument, that it was against the Acts of the Crown in this latter capacity, that the Oath was intended as a sccurity,—a security to hind the King not to violate the laws, but not intended to fetter him as a branch of the Legislature in giving His assent lo any laws which might by proposed by the other two branches of the Legislature, for the regulation of 870 the Church or of its members. If we look at the history of the times, we cannot but see what was the evil and the danger to be provided against. James bad not attacked or endangered the Church by co-operating with a Legislature hostile to the church in passing any new laws for its subversion—no, the exact reverse. He had claimed a power, as executive Magistrate, of dispensing with the laws which were made, and thus sought to endanger the Protestant Church, not by unjust legislation, but by arbitrary prerogatives. Now as to the effect of the Acts of Union with Scotland and with Ireland—"Be it enacted, that the King should swear to rule this kingdom and the dominions appertaining thereto according to the laws and customs of the same; secondly, that he should administer the laws with justice and mercy, and lastly to the utmost of his power he would maintain the laws of God and the Protestant religion as by law established, and to preserve to the Bishops and clergy all the rights and privileges as by law should appertain to them or any of them." It is clear that this is a political regulation, not founded on any religious opinion entertained by or professed to be entertained by the persons imposing the Oath. The King did not profess the religion which he swore to maintain in Scotland, nor did the Legislature. The religion to be secured on one side of the Tweed was opposed to the religion to be secured on the other; and this was a political regulation, and a perfectly just and proper one, that the people of the two countries should be secured in the enjoyment of their respective religions, and that the establishment of the one part of the Union should not be obtruded on the other. Beyond this, neither the enactments nor the Oath profess to go; and as there is nothing in the Bill now before the House, at all applying to the Church of Scotland, it is not necessary to dwell on the Scottish Union, or on the Oath provided on the occasion. Then, as to the Irish Union, the fifth article states that the Church of England and the Church of Ireland as now by law established, should be united as one Protestant Episcopal Church, and be called the united Church of England and Ireland, and should be and remain for ever as the same was now by law established. Now, here I fully admit that the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of the United Church of England and Ireland are intended to be secured; and that the inter- 871 ests of the Irish Church, are intended by that Act to be permanently secured by being incorporated with those of the Church of England; and I further admit, that the temporalities of the members of the Irish Church, though not in terms provided for by the Act of Union, and though not secured by any Coronation Oath (for there is no Coronation Oath imposed by the Act of Union with Ireland), are yet, by the clear policy of the law, to be collected from the unvarying course of the Acts of the Legislature, from the period of the Revolution, and I will say from the period of the Reformation, to be considered as a fundamental principle, and an unalterable bond of connexion between the two countries. And I admit that the worship, the doctrine, the discipline, and the rights and privileges of the Irish Church were as much under the protection of this House, and of the Legislature, as if they were secured by a thousand oaths, and that this measure must be tried by that test. Does it endanger the Irish Church, or the rights and privileges of its members? On that policy I believe no Member of this House entertains a doubt. You say that this measure does violate that policy—show that by an examination of the provisions of this Bill, and you justly and righteously overturn it. We assert, that so far from this being the case, this measure is eminently calculated to strengthen and secure the Church and its possessions. We go farther, and we say, that if this or some such measure is not speedily adopted, the church and its possessions will be exposed to the most imminent danger. In all this we may be very wrong; if this shall be shown, we are convicted of an error in argument, but we retire from the discussion refuted but not damned. But this is not the case, it seems, with our gracious Sovereign, and he is to be told, that he cannot exercise his judgment on this subject, but at the peril of his immortal soul. My Lords, this is a monstrous and presumptuous assertion; and it is the extreme of arrogance to hold such language to the Sovereign."
The Earl of Mansfield
commenced by observing, that upon no former occasion had he felt so determined as to the course which he should feel it his duty to pursue. He could not help reminding their Lord ships of the consequences which he had predicted when the Catholic Emancipation Bill was brought forward which would ensue from the passing of that measure, which he could not abstain now from saying was the great 872 cause of the introduction of the Bill now under consideration. On the occasion to which he had alluded, he had stated, with regard to the Dissenters of Ireland, and even of this country, there would be a division of opinion; some would wish for a participation in the revenues of the Church; others that no Established Church should be kept up with such superabundant revenues; whilst a third party preferred the example of America, that there should be no establishment at all, but that all expenses should be defrayed by each separate congregation. These theories now all floated in the public mind, and though he could not say which had the advantage, yet he was certain that all threatened the Church, and he could not help apprehending that that of Ireland would be but of short duration. In that opinion he was confirmed by the present Bill, and by the language which had been used and advanced in the course of the debate. Much as he had differed from the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington") on the occasion of the Emancipation Bill, yet he knew the vigour of his noble friend's mind too well to dread that, whilst he held the reins of Government, any body of Dissenters could force upon him or the Legislature the extensive alteration which was sought by this Bill; but he had conceived that the Government might fall into other, and perhaps weaker hands, and he had, therefore, opposed the Emancipation Bill. By that measure, as he had predicted, the Catholics and Dissenters had gained strength, and still more by the alteration of the constitution of Parliament; they had raised their tone and pretensions, and they complained that the Establishment was a mere Parliamentary Church. It would seem, from the statements of to-night, that this was the result of the tardy justice extended to them, though formerly the Emancipation Bill was panegyrized as the panacea for all evils. He, however, must say, that the power to sit in Parliament, which had, by the Relief Bill, been extended to the Catholics, was to the exclusion of the Representatives of the Irish Protestant interests; and the country now had a Ministry which, by its weakness and vacillation, had given to the resistance to tithes in Ireland, a force which, otherwise, would never have been attained; and who, while professing their attachment to the religion of the country, presented a Bill to the Legislature, in which the principle that Dissenters should be relieved from all dues for Church purposes was, at 873 least, tacitly acknowledged; a Bill which mutilated the Church Establishment, and by which the dissemination of the Protestant religion was more discouraged than promoted. He was not reckless to consequences, and he saw such prospects as would justify him in opposing this measure. The noble Lord then went into a history of the origin of the first fruits, up to the time of Queen Anne, when their present application was settled, which was subsequently confirmed by an Act of Parliament in the reign of George 1st. He argued that the arrangement as to the first fruits then furnished no precedent for the imposition of an exclusive and separate tax upon the clergy, from which, under ancient statutes and charters, they were completely protected. Had the clergy shown no resistance to this tax—had their consent been asked to its imposition, and had they been separately called upon to concur in it? If a separate tax like this was to be imposed upon them, they had the same right, as anciently, in convocation, separately to reject, or to assent to it. As to the Vestry-cess, there was no commutation there. The Bill proposed expressly to relieve the community from that tax, and to lay it upon the clergy. It might be right to endeavour to remedy any vexation attendant upon that mode of assessment, but the tax that was proposed to be laid on the clergy in substitution for this Vestry-cess was a most objectionable one. He only used the terms which had been employed by a Member of the Government in another place on a recent occasion, when be said, that there could not be a more vicious principle than that of a graduated Property-tax. He was surprised at the asperity towards the Church that had been displayed on this subject by a noble Marquess last night. When he heard that noble Marquess declare that this Vestry-cess was wrung from the hard hands of the poor, to support, in splendor, a Church Establishment in Ireland, he (Lord Mansfield) thought that he was listening to the words of a popish priest. Certainly no Roman Catholic could have spoken more disrespectfully of the Protestant Establishment of Ireland. The releasing the community from this tax, on the ground that it was hard to impose it on a Catholic population, would constitute an absolute premium for dissent. If such a principle were to be admitted, they would find many to say—"Why should we pay for a Church Establishment at all when we do not want one?" They had heard much about "cheap 874 law." There were many persons in this country who were anxious to get, what they called "cheap religion, "and he could assure their Lordships, that the doctrine that we could do without any Church Establishment at all, had spread to a very alarming degree indeed. If this tux was burthensome, the evil might be remedied by shifting the burthen from the occupiers of the land to the proprietors of it. He, for one, could not approve of the mode in which the proposed Board of Commissioners was to be constituted. Its composition did not afford sufficient security for the important business which would be intrusted to its charge. It appeared to him that where the interests of the Church were so materially concerned, all the Bishops of Ireland should be members of the Commission. He could not discover any principle by which it was proposed to reduce the number of Bishops in Ireland so low. The labour of the Bishops was not in proportion to the amount of population, bat to the geographical position of their parishes, and their labours were great in proportion as the population was scattered over a large space. At all events, there was no reason for diminishing the Bishops in the north of Ireland, where the Protestant population was greater than in other parts of that kingdom. It might be said, that a great proportion of them were Dissenters, but there was a presumption, that at some time or other they might rejoin the Church. This he could state of his own knowledge, that many of the Dissenters in England were opposed to this Bill, justly looking to the Established Church as the best protector of their interests. He thought the clause as to the suspending of appointments to parishes, where service had not been performed for three years, a most objection-able one. What an inducement would it not afford to a Catholic priest, inflamed with a bitter hostility to the Protestant religion, to excite his ignorant and bigoted flock to insult and drive away the Protestant minister from the parish where he resided?
observed, across the Table, that the term specified in the Bill was three years previous to the 1st of February, 1833.
The Earl of Mansfield
thanked the noble Lord for the correction, but still his argument against the clause would apply to it. This measure had been called one of spoliation, but that was a term that he would not apply to it. It was most un- 875 just, however, to impose a separate tax on a body that was by law protected form separate taxation. This Bill differed much from the Bill as it was originally brought forward. The 147th clause in the original Bill proposed to apply the surplus to purposes other than ecclesiastical. That clause had been struck out through motives of conciliation, which he did not blame, and which had produced the desired effect in the minds of some noble Lords; but he (Lord Mansfield) thought there still remained enough of vicious principle in the Bill to justify him in opposing it. He was of opinion that, as the subject of making an application of Church property to secular purposes had been latterly so much canvassed out of doors, and in another place, that it would have been well if the noble Earl opposite had gone out of his way to make a declaration on that point. If the noble Earl had said, that as long as he was Minister of the Crown, he would oppose the appropriation of Church property to other than ecclesiastical purposes, such a declaration from him would have done more to protect the Church than all the eloquence and zeal of all the noble Lords in that and the other House of Parliament in its support. He did not doubt the sincerity of the noble Earl's attachment, which he had so warmly expressed, to the Protestant Church and Protestant Establishment; but he must be allowed to say, that the noble Earl had a very singular way of proving it. He did not doubt the attachment of the noble Earl to the Constitution of the country, which the noble Earl so strongly professed in advocating the Reform Bill, but he apprehended that the noble Earl did not now consider that experiment quite as successful as he had then supposed it would be. He did not doubt the attachment once so emphatically expressed by the noble Earl for the order to which he belonged—for that House, whose independence it now seemed was to be restrained in consequence of an advice given by the noble Earl to his Sovereign, to use powers that had been vested in him by the Constitution for far different purposes. Judging from the noble Earl's rank, character, and station, he had no doubt that the object of the noble Earl was to maintain the prosperity and glory of the nation, and to transmit it with augmented splendor, in connexion with his name, to posterity. He must, however, be permitted to say, that there was this fatality attending all the projects of the noble Earl, that while they excited the 876 alarm of all those who were anxious for the preservation of the institutions of the country, they met with the approbation of all those who wished to subvert those institutions. True it was, that those persons gave only a qualified approbation to the noble Earl's measures; they thought that he did not advance with sufficient rapidity, but in thinking so they showed themselves the most unreasonable beings that had ever been known. The present situation of the country might be compared to that of persons in a loaded waggon, passing at its utmost speed down a railway. They were hurried along at a rapidity of which they were themselves unaware, but which was manifest to the spectators, who beheld their progress, an easy progress, though violently rapid, until some obstacle in their way should cause a convulsion to ensue, a convulsion which, in this case, Would be more to be wished than dreaded, if it might save their Lordships from that abyss of which it would give them a sight. In conclusion, the noble Earl observed, that he should infinitely prefer seeing the Roman Catholic religion established in Ireland, as the Presbyterian religion was established in Scotland, to the passing of the present measure, which mutilated the Protestant Church, and would encourage in the minds of Roman Catholics hopes of its total extinction.
The Marquess of Lansdown
rose amidst a call for adjournment, and observed, that he was not at all surprised at the feeling that appeared to exist in favour of an adjournment; at the same time he could assure their Lordships, that if that feeling were excited by an apprehension of his addressing them at length, the apprehension was one which he should in a few minutes allay, for he felt that, at the present advanced period of the discussion, which had now lasted two nights, he should be wholly unpardonable if he added materially to the fatigues which their Lordships had already experienced by trespassing to any length upon their patience. He Was willing to hope, from the tone of what he had heard, and from the temper manifested by noble Lords, who certainly were not prejudiced in favour of the measure, but who, nevertheless, had evinced a disposition to meet the question fairly, and not exclude from their view, as some had proposed, the consequences which might result from the failure of the Bill,—he was willing to hope, looking to these circumstances, that other opportunities would be afforded for 877 discussing the subject hereafter by the House now assenting to the second reading. He therefore proposed, on this occasion, strictly to confine himself to a few points arising out of the speech of the noble Earl who had just Sat down, and from a consideration of the provisions of the Bill itself; excluding all those collateral subjects which had been introduced with the effect of extinguishing the real question in debate, and arousing angry and polemical feelings, such as had been especially the curse of that part of the country for which the House was now called to legislate. Those feelings he had hoped that every noble Lord, especially those who sat there as ministers of peace, would be anxious to allay. He had heard from the noble Earl opposite an admission, which, thought it appeared to the noble Earl to load to a contrary conclusion, formed the actual foundation of the present measure. He fully agreed with the noble Earl when he spoke of the existence of a growing disposition in the country to criticise all establishments whatsoever, and perhaps somewhat hastily to reject their benefits, and indulge in a love for what the noble Earl termed cheap religion. What was the conclusion to which the noble Earl came from those facts?—That establishments were to be left untouched and unreformed, and as dear as possible, for the purpose, as it would seem, of strengthening that spirit of opposition and innovation which tended to destroy them altogether. He certainly was surprised at the noble Earl's conclusion; it astonished him to see the noble Lord opposed to the existing disposition to criticise and reject establishments as now constituted, a determination to maintain them precisely in their present shape, without any attempt at rendering them more popular, or strengthening their foundations by a removal of abuses. The noble Earl had declared, that if the course which he proposed did lead to convulsion, perhaps the sooner it came the better. It certainly added to the astonishment with which he had heard the noble Lord, when he broadly stated this, and admitting that his propositions would probably lead to a convulsion, express a hope that out of the crisis some benefit might arise. As to what that benefit was, the noble Earl did not appear to have any very distinct idea; he did not state that he expected the Church to survive the shock, or pass through the ordeal into an improved state. Whatever might be the noble Lord's ideas on the subject of a convulsion he sincerely deprecated it; he spoke the senti- 878 ments of the Government, and he hoped of a majority of their Lordships' House, when he said, that there was no expedient by means of which a convulsion might be avoided which it was not the duty of the Ministers to propose and the Legislature to try. With this view he was prepared to do all in his power towards conciliation. He trusted that their Lordships would adopt the same course, forgetting where they could, and inducing right reverend prelates, if possible, to forget and abstain from all irritating topics. At least he thought, some advantage would be derived form an attempt to heal wounds that had been caused and kept open by an unwillingness, on the one hand, to admit of the application of proper remedies, and by a disposition on the other to keep alive rankling animosities. They had been told by some noble Lords, that they were precluded from adopting the course now proposed by some immutable law or rule which rendered it impossible to touch the Established Church even with a view to its benefit and improvement. If so, of course it would be altogether useless to enter into those considerations of expediency on which notwithstanding the denunciation of the noble Duke opposite, he thought it indispensable to rest his vote. But he denied in toto the existence of this preliminary and insuperable obstacle. If, however, there really was such an obstacle to reform in the Church, the last conclusion he should be disposed to draw from its existence would be the safety of the establishment when, in reference to that, all improvement was precluded. If the abuses of the establishment were permitted lo continue, the Church would not exhibit the Spectacle of a great and flourishing constitution, but would gradually assume a character of decay and ruin. He was far from agreeing with the noble Duke opposite, that because of importance of the subject they were precluded from considering the question of expediency; on the contrary, he thought that the magnitude of the subject afforded the very best reason for entering into such a consideration. He maintained, that Ministers had been forced, and their Lordships were forced, by circumstances apparent to all the world, to take the subject of the Irish church in hand, and that Ministers would have been justly chargeable with extreme weakness and dereliction of their duty if they had not submitted the present measure to Parliament. He wished to add to the authorities already enumerated on this subject the great and 879 distinguished name of Paley—a man whose attachment to the Church of England no one could doubt. At the outset of one of the ablest chapters of his work, in which he defended the principle of a Church Establishment, he declared that "a religious establishment was no part of Christianity, but only the means of inculcating it." And on that principle he treated an establishment as "a scheme of instruction, the single end of which was the preservation and circulation of religious knowledge. Every other idea and every other end which had been mixed up with this object had served only to debase the Constitution, and to introduce into it numerous corruptions and abuses;" and an establishment was always to be tried with reference to its adequacy as an instrument of instruction. The measure then before their Lordships was to be considered as affecting two important branches in Ireland. First, as it bore upon that body which he greatly respected—the clergy and hierarchy of Ireland. It certainly was of the utmost importance that the clergy should be placed in that situation in which they could be made to bear most efficiently upon the instruction of the great mass of the Protestant population. Notwithstanding the able, learned, critical, and minute detail of the right reverend Prelate, he thought it was not necessary for him to do more than to refer to the unanswerable statement of his noble friend, the noble Carl who had opened this subject to the House yesterday, as to the relative duties of the Bishops in England and Ireland, to show, that the reduction in the number of those in the latter place, could be made without any injury to the Established Church, the criterion which his noble friend had taken was, that of the number of benefices under the jurisdiction of the Bishops in the two countries. [Earl Grey remarked, that he had taken both population and the benefices]. His noble friend said, that he had taken both; but as he recollected his noble friend's argument, he laid the chief stress on that which he (the Marquess of Lansdown) took to be the best criterion—that of the benefices. The right reverend Prelate, however, had taken population as his criterion, and rejected that of the benefices. He took Population, and he took it in the inverse ratio in which it had been alluded to by others; for, according to his argument, the fewer Protestants and the more Catholics there were in any diocess, the greater would be the labour and care of the Prelate, who presided over it; so that 880 according to this mode of reasoning, if the whole of Ireland became Catholic, the labours and duties of the Bishops would be so much increased, that it would be necessary not to have the number diminished, but that they should be trebled or quadrupled. This, however, was an argument of the right reverend Prelate which he would not pursue, for he was sure it was one which could not produce conviction, but rather excite astonishment in the minds of those who heard it. If the number of Bishops in Ireland were too great, as he contended had been made out by his noble friend, he thought it was clear that the duties would not only not be well performed, but neglected. He would only look to the number of Judges, for they might apply the same rule to the dispensation of human as to that of divine law. If they were to add fifteen or twenty to the number of the Judges of the land, he believed, it would be admitted, that the result would be, that the duties of that high and important station would be neglected. In his opinion, therefore, the proposed reduction in the number of the Bishops would, by bringing their number more in proportion to the extent of the duties they had to perform, render that number more efficient. But what was the contemplated result of this measure? Was it not to render the great body of the working clergy more efficient? To those who were afraid that one effect of the measure would he, to let in a flood of Popery on the Protestant Establishment and the Protestants of Ireland, he would say, let the measure be tried by the test of experience. He would beg of noble Lords to consider what would have been the result, if when the measure of the union of the two kingdoms was arranged more than thirty years ago, some such provisions as those of this Bill had been made. What would now be the situation of the clergy, if the sum of 50,000l. a-year, had, at the time of the Union, been set aside for the improvement of small livings—if 20,000l. a-year had been devoted to the building of churches, and 10,000l. to the erection and improvement of houses for the inferior clergy. Would not these measures, if adopted at that time, have had, before now, the effect of creating an efficient, valuable, and most useful body of clergy, who would have been prepared to resist those attacks on the Church which some noble Lords seemed to apprehend? These were advantages which could not, of course, be expected to flow all at once from the Bill before the 881 House; but they might be expected to result from it in the course of some time: and whenever they did occur, would they not be of the greatest advantage to Ireland? These, then, and the payment of the Vestry-cess for certain outlays for the Church—a payment which had heretofore brought much odium on the Establishment, and on which strong doubts existed, whether it was not a charge the burthen of which ought to fall on the Church itself—were results which would follow from this Bill, and which rendered it, not only expedient, but necessary. He would ask further, and with this he would conclude, whether another important effect would not follow from this measure—namely, the effect which it would produce on the Catholic population of Ireland. That effect, he contended, would be the beneficial influence of a resident Protestant clergy amongst the Catholic population. The residence of the clergy on their incumbencies would be the object of another measure which was to follow close on the present, and whatever might be the opinion of the right reverend Prelate (the Bishop of Exeter) on this Bill, he was sure, that the Ministers would have his support for that other measure. The permanent residence of a Protestant clergyman on his living, would be attended with at least this effect—that though he might not be the minister of religion to the larger number of the inhabitants of the parish, considering the disproportion between the Catholics and Protestants, still he might be to them the minister of peace; for he would, by his station and his constant residence, have constant opportunities of conciliating their good-will by a variety of good offices. In fact, if they took away the odium which attached to the Established Church by the collection of Vestry-cess, and established a resident clergy, they should establish a firm link of connexion between the Protestant clergy and the Catholic population of Ireland, which would be found most advantageous to the Established Church, and to the people of Ireland. In that view alone he thought, that the Bill now before the House deserved the best support of their Lordships. In thus relieving the establishment of a number of Bishops, which were not necessary, he would contend that they would still have an establishment amply sufficient for all useful purposes, and with the results to which he had already referred, they would have a greatly improved and more useful body of working clergy; for, after all, it must be admitted, that it was 882 from the exertions of that class of the clergy, that the greatest influence on the moral improvement of the people of Ireland must be expected. But the remedial measures in the contemplation of Government were not to rest here; the present was not the only remedial measure which was to come under the consideration of their Lordships. It had been intimated, and most unjustly, in the course of this debate, that it was; but the intimation was incorrect, as a reference to the proceedings of the other House would show. Measures had there been introduced in rapid succession (he would almost say too rapid to be consistent with that due consideration which their importance required), the objects of which were the correction of abuses, and the establishment of a better system on many important subjects in Ireland. He would only mention the Irish Grand Jury Bill, which would make most essential improvements in the local administration of justice in that country. There were also other measures which would be brought under their Lordships' consideration, the objects of which were further improvements in Ireland; and he hoped, that when they did come, they would receive due consideration. In conclusion, let him add, that if their Lordships should concur in the Bill before them, as he hoped they would, he did augur from its passing into a law, not a rapid, but a gradual, safe, and certain improvement in the fortunes of Ireland; not excluding the Established Church and all the interests connected with it, and a consequent stimulus to the general prosperity of that country.
§ Debate again adjourned.