§ The Order of the Day for resuming the Debate on the Church Temporalities Ireland (Bill) was read.
§ The Earl of Eldon
felt it a duty he owed to himself, to his most gracious King, to the religion and people of this country, as well as to that House, to make some observations on the consequences likely to follow the passing of the Bill then on the Table. The time, in the course of nature, would shortly arrive when he should cease to live, and under that firm conviction, he declared, upon his oath and honour, that he felt himself imperatively called on, as briefly as he could, to express his sentiments on this most important question, and to occupy their Lordships' attention for some short space, while he stated the grounds of his hostility to this measure. He trusted their Lordships would receive his sincere acknowledgments for the uniform respect and attention which they had paid to him during the very long time that he had sat on the Woolsack. He would take the liberty to say, whatever observations might be made on what fell from him, that if over there was a moment when the House of Lords was called upon to do its duty as the House of Lords, the present was that critical moment. If it did not now perform that duty, he was firmly convinced, that they would rue the consequences hereafter. He well knew what had been going on in this country for the last forty years; and if the same system were pursued for some time longer, he believed that there would be no House of 919 Lords. Let noble Lords look to what had been doing for the last twelve months. Was it not evident, from those proceedings, that there was a determined conspiracy on foot to put an end to that House? Such was the fact; and nothing could preserve the House of Lords but a determination, at all hazards, to do their duty firmly. He had been raised to his present rank from a very humble station; he therefore was not insensible to the interests, the real interests of the people. But, undoubtedly, he was opposed to the practices which had recently prevailed amongst them. He clearly saw all the consequences which were likely to follow from what was now going forward in the country; and their great duty was to restore to the House that character which it enjoyed three or four years ago, when their Lordships were considered the saviours of their country. If they did not, a very short time would elapse before it would happen that no individual would have an opportunity of addressing a House of Lords, in that room. It was a matter of little importance to him, for his life drew near its close; but he was determined to support the rights of that House, and to submit to all consequences, rather than abandon one of them. The high in rank, the high in mind, the high in opulence, ought all to unite in securing the independent powers of that House. Having said thus much, he should now look a little to this measure. That Bill—he submitted it more particularly to the reverend Bench—that Bill, if allowed to pass in its present shape, would prevent any one, twenty years younger than himself, from ever addressing that Bench long before he had arrived at his (the Earl of Eldon's) time of life. Before proceeding to the details of the Bill, he would ask one simple question—it was, whether his Majesty could, consistently with his Coronation Oath, give his consent and sanction to that Bill? He could only express his astonishment that it for one moment had been disputed that such would be the effect of the allowing this Bill to pass. In arguing this question, much had been said about the Irish Church; but that was a fallacy. After the legislative Union between England and Ireland, there was no separate English or Irish Church. It was then solemnly declared by Parliament, that the two establishments were no longer separated. After that Bill had passed, it was declared 920 that there was one united Church of England and Ireland. They had been debating, however, for several nights together with reference to the Irish Church, when, in fact, there was no such Church. From the time that the Act of Union passed, the two churches were declared to be one united Church, and for ever. As that was the case, he could not for the soul of him, imagine how it happened that the interests of the Irish Church, and the interests of the English Church were treated as separate objects in the Bill then before them. He wished that point to be explained. There was no man for whom he entertained a higher respect, or had a greater esteem than he did for the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington) who sat near him; but he was sure that that noble Duke would feel no respect for him if he did not now state the same objections, with respect to the Coronation Oath, which he had stated when the Catholic Relief Bill of 1829 was under consideration. It gave him great pain, at that time, to state his objections, because he was forced into a conscientious opposition to one to whom the country owed very much. In what he was about to say on this point, he meant not to offer a syllable that could be considered disrespectful to the noble Duke. Towards him he should always feel unabated gratitude for the eminent services which he had rendered to the empire. He was astonished to hear what had fallen from the noble and learned Lord (Lord Plunkett) last night on the subject of the Coronation Oath. He had stated his opinion on that point in 1829, and he would now say, adhering to the opinion then given, with all humility for the sentiments of others, that he could not reconcile the provisions of the Coronation Oath with giving the King's assent to the present measure more than to the former. He stated this broadly, and he felt it to be his duty to his country and to their Lordships to state those sentiments, however they might be received. The Act of Union between England and Ireland was not the first act of Union which the Legislature had been called on to discuss. Another Act of Union had been considered with reference to another portion of the empire, he meant Scotland, long before the Legislative Union between England and Ireland was thought of. When the Act of Union was entered into with Ireland, it was a com- 921 pact between the Protestant Parliament of Ireland, and the Protestant Parliament of England, for the express purpose of maintaining the Protestant religion. The Irish did not, however, proceed with the caution which characterized their neighbours—their Scotch neighbours. He saw some noble Lords present who were connected with that part of the country, and no man could pay more respect to them than he did; but he must say, that the Scotch were a much more cautious people than the Irish. When a Union was to be entered into between England and Scotland, what did the Scotch say? They said, "We have a Presbyterian Church, and you have got an Established Church of England." Now, said the Scotch—(he observed a noble Lord of that country smile, as if he knew how his countrymen had over-reached this country)—now, said the Scotch "we are about to enter into an Union with England; the Parliament will be holden in London, where we shall have a certain number of Representatives in the House of Commons, and as large a proportion of our Peers as the King will choose to place in the House of Lords; but what security are we to have for the continuance of the Presbyterian religion in Scotland, if we are simply to trust to an Act of the English Parliament? We will, therefore, first have an Act passed in the Scottish Parliament, of which every word will be such as will best tend to ensure the keeping of faith between the two countries; and to ensure our confidence, before we enter into an Act of Union; and by this Act of the Parliament of Scotland, we shall prevent the English Parliament from ever touching the Presbyterian religion as practised in Scotland." That solemn Act was accordingly passed, and secured the inviolability of that religion. But of what consequence would such a contract be? If it had not an effect on the consciences of the English Parliament, and of the King as the head of the Parliament, on what would stand such an Act? If either the obligations which the Parliament or King entered into were neglected or dispensed with, it would go for nothing at all; and then, after these two Acts had passed, and been consummated, the very next day a Bill might be brought into Parliament to declare that there should be no Protestant religion in Scotland; or if the Scotch got the start of us, that there should be no Episcopacy in England. 922 They had nothing to rely on but the solemn oath of the King on his coronation, whether Scotland should have the Episcopalian religion, or England the Presbyterian religion. With respect to the Union of England and Ireland, the King, when he gave his consent to that Act, was called on by the most solemn rules and ceremonies, not merely to say, "Le Roi le Veut," but he was also called on to say, in the most solemn manner, "So help me God! I will maintain this Act." And so help him God, he would not consent to any Act of Parliament that would disturb or affect the interests of that Establishment, to which he vowed his constant and eternal attachment. He had stated much of that on the debate on the Catholic Bill in 1829; but, as a Peer of the realm, he was there that day; and he thought it his solemn duty to state his individual opinions upon that subject. With all that deference and respect which he owed to the noble Earl, he must be allowed to say, whatever consequences it might expose him to, for he was driven to it by what had passed in the House, that if the Great Seals had been in his hands at the present time, which would have bound him to tender his humble advice on this subject to his Majesty, and if the King had declined accepting that advice which, in his conscience he might have given—So help him that God, before whose tribunal he had soon to appear, he would, with all dutiful respect, have said, "Sire: It is my duty to assume that you understand that which I think your duty better than I do; the advice I have given is from my soul and conscience what I ought to give you; I am bound to defer to your judgment, but I cannot entangle myself with the consequences which, in my after life, must attach to other advice, and I cannot go out of this room without resigning into your hands the Seals of Office, which compel me to tender to you my advice. I have given my Sovereign my best advice, according to my humble judgment, and as it is not approved of, it is my duty to resign." As to the Bill itself, it did appear to him to be one of the most extraordinary ever introduced into Parliament. Could their Lordships suppose, knowing as they must what was going on in this country, that this measure was the limit to which they would be obliged to go, if they acceded to it? As a Peer of that House, he was tremblingly alive to its existence and sta- 923 bility; and if any Peer would say, that his (Lord Eldon's) fears were unfounded, he knew more of what was going on in the country than he did. Four years ago, the most illustrious assembly in the world was the House of Lords. It was the palladium of the rights and liberties of the people, and if its honours and distinctions did not continue to exist, the Monarchy could not long be upheld. If there were in this country people who expected to deter him from the execution of those duties which he thought he owed to the King, which he thought he owed the country, and which he owed even to that class of men, the people of the country, one of whom he once had been, and one of whom he hoped he still was, they would be mistaken. They might threaten him, they might endeavour to affright him from the execution of his duty; but let the consequences be what they might, they could not accomplish that point—they should never prevent him from doing that which, in his conscience, he believed to be his duty. He had lived, and when he died, he would die the dutiful subject of the King. He had but little of existence now left, but during the little that remained, he should consider it his duty to act on the principles on which he had hitherto acted. The principle in the Bill before their Lordships was founded upon a direct plan of spoliation of the Protestant establishment of the country; for it said, that the Church-rate, which was hitherto a tax upon the land, should hereafter be paid by the Protestant clergy. He was a sincere friend of the Church, and he had nearly been, at one time of his life, a Minister of that Church himself; he had spent a long life in looking into this subject; and he would venture to say now, that if there were men in the world who ought to be parts of the Church Establishment, it was its Archbishops and Bishops; and if any country had reason to be proud of a Church Establishment, it was England. The Archbishops, Bishops, and clergy might undergo much persecution; but he hoped that they would allow him—if they would allow a layman to go along with them—to take a full share in all the evils which might befal the Church. The present Bill destroyed the Church-rates as at present collected in Ireland, and every man who read the newspapers must perceive, that the moment was not far distant when no more Church-rates 924 could be collected in England. There was a Parish-church in this town itself (Christ Church), which was already shut up on account of a refusal on the part of the parishioners to pay their Church-rates. The principles of the Constitution called on every man to come forward in support of the Church. He conceived that it should be taken as an axiom, that every man ought to be a member of some church or other; for if the obligations of religion were loosened, then every man might be told to think as he pleased on religion, and what, he would ask, could be expected to result from such a licence? He admitted that there ought to be a free toleration in religion, because religion was a question between a man's conscience and his God; but that toleration ought not to be allowed to disturb the established religion of the country, or to bring it into such contempt as to prove its destruction. If God gave him sufficient length of life, he would enter his protest against the Bill, being determined that his countrymen should know that he was no party to such a proceeding, and was determined not to be self-convicted of having neglected his duty.
The Bishop of London
rose to address their Lordships under circumstances of considerable embarrassment; but he had not brought his mind to the vote which he was about to give without serious and anxious consideration. He was embarrassed by the circumstance that no doubt remained on his mind as to the course he ought to pursue, and he was embarrassed by feelings of restraint with respect to the conduct which, under all the circumstances of the case, his judgment and his reason had imposed upon him; nor was that embarrassment diminished when he considered that the observations which he should have to submit to their Lordships on the present occasion would be such as would not be satisfactory to either party in that House—either to the promoters or opponents of the measure. Regard to truth, however, and to the duties of his station, imposed on him the necessity of declaring his sentiments freely, without regard to the partialities of some, or the prejudices, if any existed, of others. Whilst there were some of the provisions of the Bill to which he had no objection, there were others to which he could not consent; but he thought, that circumstances were such as to render it his duty to give 925 his consent to the second reading. That the actual circumstances, both of Ireland, and of the branch of the Church in that country, imperiously called for legislative interference, few, he believed, would have the temerity to deny; but if he were asked whether the measure before the House were the best adapted to the exigencies of the case, and whether, it was, in all respects, the wisest and safest measure which could be proposed, he might, perhaps, hesitate before he gave un answer in the affirmative. He would frankly acknowledge, that both in the manner of its introduction to the Legislature, and in the bearing of some of its provisions, the present measure was open to very serious objections. With respect to the manner of its origin, he could not help regretting that the great body of the Irish clergy had not been previously consulted, and their advice taken, with regard to the adoption of such remedies as were calculated to meet the evils which afflicted the Church in Ireland. They would have been, he was convinced, the foremost to admit those evils, and among the readiest to remove them—a task which they would be well qualified to effect by their intimate acquaintance with the subject. Those pious individuals, he was sure, would not be deterred by the consideration of any personal sacrifice; for there existed not in the world, at present, a more disinterested or more spiritual body of men than the Irish Protestant clergy. No language, indeed, was too strong in which to paint the purity of their faith and their single mindedness in the discharge of their important duties, considering the difficult circumstances in which they were placed. The tusk of coming to a just opinion would, certainly, not be an easy one; but he thought they might have discovered a measure for the removal of complaints connected with the Irish Church. Such a measure might be less objectionable in its details than the one under consideration; at the same time he could not blind himself to the inconveniences of such a course of proceeding. He was sensible of the difficulty of collecting the opinions of the whole body of the Irish clergy, and he would not advocate the revival of the dormant powers of the convocation. Much inconvenience might have resulted from public discussion, Exaggeration might have existed, and animosities might have been strengthened; but if some such course 926 could have been devised, and a measure founded upon the collected opinions of those who might well be considered the representatives of the religions portion of the community, the great inconveniences which were now experienced might have been avoided; but this opportunity having been abandoned when they were on the threshold of the measure, the time for resorting to it had passed by, and he, like others, was obliged to take the case as it stood. He would then proceed to speak to the merits of the Bill, and would first of all confess, that, while he most cordially approved of some of its details, he should have felt it to be his duty to oppose the measure altogether, had not some of its original features been subtracted from the Bill after its introduction into the other House; and even yet he trusted, that some parts of it might be modified in Committee. It was manifest, therefore, that if, under these circumstances, he did consent, as he really did, to the Bill before their Lordships, it still did not meet his entire satisfaction. It was impossible for him to shut his eyes to the results which were likely to ensue from a refusal to read it a second time, he could not contemplate with tranquillity of mind the consequences which would in all probability How from its absolute rejection—consequences which, he would say, would not only affect the Established Church in Ireland, but the Church in England also, and consequences which would have an ill effect on the civil as well as the religions institutions of both countries. He would point out very briefly some of the dangers which were likely to menace the Established Church in the event of the rejection of the Bill; and, in alluding to those dangers, he might go further than some might deem prudent. No person, even moderately conversant with the present state of Ireland, could fail to have observed the consequences which, for the last two years, had followed from the legislative measure passed at that period. He himself thought, that he was not, however, going too far when he said, that since the passing of that Act, the payment of tithes by the occupiers of land to the Protestant clergy was absolutely extinct, and never did he contemplate its revival. It was hardly necessary to examine minutely into the causes of this; for he was not called upon to inquire into the policy of the adoption of that measure, even if it were necessary 927 for the sake of his own argument. He would simply state the case as it presented itself, and deal with it according to the best of his judgment. What was the fact? Even the Government, with all its means and appliances, had found it impossible to enforce the payment of tithes, except at a cost which exceeded the value of the collection. Although it was perfectly true, that in some districts a partial resumption of tithe payment had taken place, yet the Government had found itself compelled effectually to put a stop to the prevalent system by the proposal of a resolution engaging to furnish the means of paying the arrears of Irish tithes from 1831 to 1833. This was both a consistent as well as a just and humane proceeding, and he was thankful for it; but one of its consequences was, to put an immediate stop to the before partial payment of tithes. He regretted most sincerely, that the Legislature had proceeded no further in the business than the passing of the Resolution, and had agreed to no Bill for the carrying that Resolution into effect; and did their Lordships believe that such a Bill ever would be passed, if the measure before them were rejected. He was afraid it would not, though his Majesty's Ministers should persevere in proposing it as they were bound in equity to do. This brought him to the consideration of a subject deeply affecting the present measure. What were the present state and future prospects of the Irish Protestant clergy? He would not merely instance their extreme distress,—an extremity which almost threatened their existence—nor allude to the straits to which they were driven when they contemplated the very great probability,—nay, the certainty—of obtaining no tithe payments, except under circumstances far more unfavourable than the Bill now before the House offered them; the dangers supposed to be attendant on which, to the Church of England, were, he frankly acknowledged, greatly overrated. But the dangers which, at the present moment, surrounded the Church of Ireland it would not be so easy to overrate. That establishment was in a much more perilous and precarious situation, and he was inclined to believe, that if the present measure were to be rejected, the Church of Ireland would never be rescued from its dangers and difficulties, until some large measure of concession and greater sacrifices to the li- 928 berty and safety of both the branches of the Church Establishment were made. When he looked to these considerations, he felt the less inclined to agree in the doctrines of those who exclaimed—"If the Bill be vicious in principle, reject it, at all hazards: do your duty fearlessly, and disregard the consequences." What! disregard all consequences? Why, the consequences stared every one in the face, and threatened immediate ruin to the Church; and was it not his duty, as well as that of every Member of the House, to enter into a careful examination of the measure, to weigh well its provisions, and to calculate its consequences? But whether the consequences he had pointed out were the probable ones or no, he was still determined to adhere to the strict line of his duty. His duty abstractedly was to maintain the Protestant Church in Ireland; and when the question arose as to what was the best measure to adopt for this object, to give the question the most attentive consideration; and if he gave his consent to a measure which though it imposed a considerable tax upon the clergy, yet contributed to arrest the immediate destruction of the Church Establishment in Ireland, was he not, he asked, in the strictest sense of the term, discharging his duty? His view might certainly be erroneous; it might be more incumbent on him to vote for the rejection of the measure; but perceiving as he did those certain dangers to the Church Establishment, and acting on that perception in adopting the view he took of the remedy, he contended, in voting for the Bill, that he was performing his duty to the Church, his country, and his God, though it was possible that, after all, he might be mistaken. If, indeed, the Bill impaired the purity of the Irish Church—if it sullied her glory or her reputation as a faithful instructress of the people—if it infringed a single article of her faith, then, indeed, he should be unwarranted in giving it his support; but in no single instance did it do this. The only point in which it trenched upon the frontiers of this ground was with regard to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishops; but it might, on the whole, be fairly characterized as affecting, in a considerable degree, the temporalities of the Church, and leaving its spiritual division untouched. But, even if this latter ground had been attacked, it would still have been a fair question, whether, at the 929 expense of some alteration even in this, they would not save the whole Church from destruction. He could readily enter into the feelings of those who thought it was opening the door to destructiveness; he did not think it incumbent on him to argue that no such danger was to be apprehended. The door had, indeed, been already opened, in spite of them, and the duty of their Lordships all was to prevent its being opened further than could be prevented. He would pursue this topic no further: it was enough, for him to state, that he acted from a conviction of the danger of rejecting the present measure. In this general view he had considered the circumstances in which they were placed, as for as they had reference to the welfare of the Established Church of Ireland; and here he might have been content to leave the question, reserving himself till the Bill went into Committee for any further remarks. But as he wished his sentiments on such an important question not to be mistaken, and as there was a possibility that the Bill might not reach a Committee, he would venture to offer a few, and they should be very few, observations on some of the provisions of the measure. The necessity of the abolition of the payment of Churchcess in Ireland was, he believed, almost universally admitted. It was certainly admitted by the Irish clergy themselves, who had avowed it to be the fruitful source of discontent in that country. The same opinion was expressed by the committee of their Lordships which sat to inquire into the subject of tithes; and it was suggested that this tax should be abolished and the funds provided by some other means. But the question was, in what way to substitute a fund? He fully agreed in the remark thrown out by a noble Lord last night, with a liberality which did him honour, that the best course would have been for the landlords to take this burthen on themselves, and thus effect a commutation of the Vestry-cess by a small tax on the land; that would be a most equitable arrangement. The burthen should rather fall on the landlord; but could it be expected, that all the Irish landlords would imitate the liberality of the noble Lord or of a few who were Members of that House? If the landlords took upon themselves to commute for tithes, ought they not also to act in the same way with the Vestry-cess? The question was, whether they would: for his own 930 part, he thought they ought; but could they expect the Irish landlords to do it in the teeth of the recommendation of the Committee of last year, that it should be supplied by a tax upon benefices? He regretted, that the Bill of the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, on the subject of Irish tithes, had been defeated, for then perhaps the necessity for introducing the present measure might have been avoided. He bore testimony to the exalted character of that right hon. Gentleman; he had been acquainted with him for many years; and was convinced that no man was less likely to be spoiled by accession to office. Belonging to the highest station in society, he was above all considerations which were opposed to a sincere attachment to the doctrines of that religion which he had illustrated and enforced by his life. The question to be considered was, what remedial measures would least cripple the resources of the Church. It deserved to be considered whether it was not worth while to appropriate some portion of the means of the Church to purposes different from what at present prevailed, but yet not foreign from the purposes of the establishment. And if a measure were so constructed as, like the present, to effect the augmentation of poor livings, the building and repairing of churches, and the encouragement of residence, he would say, that these advantages ought to counterbalance the trifling disadvantages to which he had before alluded. He would wish to know whether these objects could be put in competition with the equalization of an unequal assessment, the reduction of some bishoprics, and the imposition of a small tax on the clergy. Considerations such as these had induced as he conceived the most reverend Prelate, who presided over the affairs of the Church of Ireland, with a dignity, zeal, and attention, which could not be too highly commended, to agree to the reduction of the number of Bishops, to the proposition for making better provision for the clergy generally, and for diminishing the revenues of the see of Armagh. He (the Bishop of London) was free to confess, that he should be ready to act as the most reverend Prelate had done. The most reverend Prelate however, had not originally sanctioned the diminution of ten Bishops, for he thought that six would be enough. But for his own part when a practical altera- 931 tion of this description was deemed necessary, he was not, prepared to say whether the number ought to be six or ten, but he thought that six might be enough, and he should like to see that number inserted in the Committee. A proposition had been made in another place, and supported by a considerable number of persons, instead of reducing; the Bishoprics in number, to equalise the incomes attached to them, and hand over the surplus to the fund applicable to the purposes of the Bill before the House. That principle, was, he thought, a most dangerous one, and he was not sorry that it had been rejected. For several years it had been evident to most persons, that the time would come when the number of Irish Bishops must be reduced; and were it not that it might afford a triumph to an undivided and rival hierarchy, he should see no strong objections to it. But even that evil would be counterbalanced by the effects of the Bill, because the funds accruing from the reduction of the Bishops were destined to augment the number of parochial clergy, and secure the residence of a great number of true Protestant missionaries in Ireland. That effect, he thought, would more than counterbalance the inconveniences of the apparent triumph to which he had alluded. The hardship of each case would depend upon the amount of labour already on the shoulders of the particular clergyman. For his own part, he would say, that if the Legislature should think fit to impose upon him the spiritual charge of another county, or even a few of the hundreds of a county, in addition to the care he already had, he might perhaps feel, under certain circumstances, it was somewhat hard; yet he could not think of acting against such a decision, but, on the contrary, he should endeavour to do that which he conceived to be a conscientious discharge of the new duties imposed upon him. Indeed, he could say, that he desired, and so did many of his brethren, to have additional duties cast upon them. One of the most important measures of Church Reform which the people were anxiously expecting, and which the Bishops themselves anticipated, was the abolition of peculiar jurisdictions; and the effect of that Bill would be to impose upon some of the Bishops additional duties, and almost, by including the exempt jurisdictions, place under their inspection a new 932 diocess with regard to his own diocess, few, he believed, would doubt that he had already nearly as much to do as any man could accomplish with satisfaction to himself or benefit to the public. If, however, the Bill which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack had introduced, or was about to introduce, with reference to this subject, should be passed, there was no man who would hail it more than he should, though the result of it would be an addition to the 630 parishes at present tinder his care, forty-five additional parishes, comprising nearly 300,000 souls. He hoped, that he should not be deemed arrogant by their Lordships if he expressed no doubt that he should be able to discharge those additional duties without incurring in any degree the censure of the public. Another most extensive diocess, that of Salisbury, which included the counties of Berks, and Wilts, would receive a still greater additional burthen by the operation of the Bill of the noble and learned Lord, to the extent even of the care of eighty additional parishes—a number double the amount of the parishes comprised in some of the dioceses ill Ireland which were sought to be consolidated by the Bill now under their Lordships consideration. To this argument he (the Bishop of London) attributed no great weight, except that it in some measure answered the result of part of the argument advanced last night by the right reverend Prelate behind him (the Bishop of Exeter); to which, however, he did not attach any weight at all. The great advantage of the residence of the Bishops had been urged as one of the strongest objection to diminishing the number of them; it had been said, that their presence benefited the district in which they might reside, but he could not but think much greater benefits and advantages would accrue from the residence, in each parish, of the parochial clergy, and if that proposition was well founded, the balance was again in favour of the proposed arrangement. With respect to the diminution of the revenues of the archdiocess of Armagh, he must say, he felt it a point of considerable difficulty. It involved a great principle with respect to church property, which he would not now discuss; but this much he must say, that if it were not the right of the Legislatue to interfere with that properly, what would become of the Church? Was it to be maintained that, in the cases of 933 two dioceses, the one small with a large income, and the other large with a small revenue, they were not to be equalised, or that a measure for such an object should be rejected merely because of the terms of the Coronation Oath? Real kindness to the Church would not dictate the placing her in such a disadvantageous light, and her property on such an insecure foundation. To admit that the Legislature had a qualified right to regulate the property of the Church so as best to promote its welfare, would place that property on a I secure foundation, and enable the clergy, easily and justly to defend it. He did not object, therefore, to the principle of the [diminution; the precise extent to which it ought to be carried might be discussed in the Committee. He, however, could not even now avoid alluding to what had transpired on this subject in another place. After the adoption of a proposition for a certain reduction in the revenues, a Motion had been made by an hon. Gentleman, not professing the Protestant faith, for a still further reduction, which Motion had been sanctioned by the noble Lord who had then the charge of the Bill; the effect of this must necessarily have tended to excite doubts amongst the friends of the Church as to the principles upon which the measure had been based. Passing from this point he now came to the provisions for the taxation of the clergy of Ireland. It was said by some, that it was unfair to tax the clergy, unless the community was also taxed, for the promotion of objects in which both had a common interest; and their Lordships' could not be unmindful that great dangers were apprehended from the introduction of this principle into the English branch of the Established Church. He, however, could not help taking this opportunity of saying, even at some risk, that he was not apprehensive of any such danger, being persuaded that, as some change was necessary, this was the safest for reducing the great disparity in benefices which at present prevailed. This principle, though so much cried out against, had been recommended long since to the Legislature for its adoption by men incapable of urging anything that was calculated to involve the ruin or the overthrow of the church as established. The principle had been recommended by the divinity professor of the University of Oxford, and the archdeacon of a most 934 important diocess in this country had declared the adoption of the principle to be the best and safest method of removing the existing disparities in the benefices of England. There were other points in the Bill of much importance, on which he felt it would be well to reserve his observations until the Bill went into Committee. He had now given to their Lordships the general view he took of this subject, and it would be hypocrisy in him if he were to say, that he approved of the present Bill; it would be equally disingenuous if he did not confess that, he considered it would be dangerous to the Church if the Bill was not allowed to go into Committee. Though claiming to himself no want of courage, he was not ashamed to make this avowal. He would not rest merely on the probability, but would urge the almost certainty, of extreme danger to the Church, if this Bill was rejected. It was under these circumstances that he was desirous that the Bill should be allowed to go into Committee; and if that should be assented to, he should feel it his duty either to move or to support several Amendments; but even without any Amendment, he would rather the Bill should pass, than the consequences which he contemplated from its rejection should ensue; and he hoped he should stand excused before the House and the country, as he felt satisfied he should by his conscience and his God, if he voted for the second reading of this Bill; for notwithstanding what the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Newcastle) might say, he (the Bishop of London) looked to the expediency of the measure in the vote he should feel it his duty to give on the present occasion.
The Archbishop of Dublin
said, that he should trouble their Lordships but a very short lime, for he had been superseded in the necessity of entering into the details of the present measure by the eloquent address of the right reverend Prelate who had preceded him; but at the same time he felt called upon to offer a few observations to their Lordships, in consequence of the peculiar connexion in which he stood as regarded this measure, and as one of the few Representatives of the Irish episcopal bench in that House. He also was not only affected by this measure as an Irish Prelate, on whom increased duties would be imposed, while his revenues were diminished, but also as being one of those who if the Bill was passed into a law, 935 would be, ex officio, a Commissioner for carrying into execution some of the most important provisions of the Bill. In such a situation, all those strong feelings which had been called forth with reference to this measure, all the indignation which had been expressed against the cruelly and want of compassion towards suffering merit, and the declarations as to want of regard to the interests of the Church, were as likely, nay more so, to reach him than any Prelate on the English Bench; and he therefore hoped their Lordships would give him credit for not coming to the discussion with any rash, hasty, or incautious views. The would not hastily give his assent even to the second reading of this Bill, unless he had maturely weighed the consequences, and considered whether any better means could be devised for meeting the exigencies of the present crisis. The present question had been so fully discussed by much more able and practised debaters than himself, that it was not necessary for him to enter into the discussion of the general subject, and the more so as his general opinions had been given before a Committee of their Lordships a year and a-half ago, and were in evidence on the Table of the House. He did not mean to say those opinions were worthy of reconsideration, but he could assure their Lordships, after the additional experience he had since had in Ireland, they remained unchanged, although he would admit, that at the period at which he had so stated his opinions many expedient measures might have been carried into effect which could not now be done. He must also add, that many of the expectations he had then formed, and which had been thought improbable by many persons, had since been completely fulfilled. With respect to the revenues of the see of Dublin, which would be diminished by the operation of the Bill now under consideration, though he felt unwilling to bring forward his own case, yet he thought it right to mention what took place on his first appointment with respect to the revenues of that see. He begged to say, that on the first communication he had received from the noble Earl at the head of his Majesty's Government he (the Archbishop of Dublin) had made a spontaneous offer to consent to the diminution of the revenues of the see during his own life, provided it should appear that the general interests of the Protestant Church and the established religion could 936 be benefited by such an application of the funds. When he had learned the effects produced by the operation of the Vestry-cess, and before any plan had been introduced by his Majesty's Government he had also made a proposal to the Government not to let the revenues derived from that cess stand in the way of getting rid of that grievous burthen, so fruitful a source of agitation, dissatisfaction, and irritation. He had proposed specifically, without considering the amount produced by the Vestry-cess, to consent to the imposition of a tax upon the revenues of his own see during his life, in order to assist in furnishing a fund for the abolition of that impost. He had made this proposal so far as regarded his own tenure only; for, as regarded the perpetuity, it was a sacred trust in his hands, not merely for the benefit of future Archbishops of Dublin, but for the Protestants of Ireland generally; and God forbid that he should have surrendered this if he thought the spiritual interests of the country demanded its retention. He claimed no extraordinary merit for this course, for indeed, in the exercise of his discretion, he had thought it worth while to give such an assistance towards doing away with that which impeded the progress of religion in Ireland. These offers, he begged to say, had been made spontaneously on his part, without any hint from the noble Earl (Earl Grey), and he (the Archbishop of Dublin) was not bound to any vote except that which his own conscience dictated. With regard to the Vestry-cess, his opinion remained unaltered, though he acknowledged he should be glad to see it got rid of without trenching on the revenues of the Church. He should have been glad if the taxation of the clergy could have been avoided. He was unequal to the description of the invaluable services of that most excellent and exemplary body of men; but the present was a case in which expediency must be consulted. God forbid he should ever sacrifice principle to expediency, but in a question of this kind, principle and expediency must go together. If any doctrinal point was involved in this Bill, or if the Legislature was called on to renounce the true religion, principle would be sacrificed if the proposition should be acceded to; but though he was far from saying this measure was perfect, still it involved no sacrifice of principle. The measure was not the best he 937 could have wished, and it any better proposition emanated from the other side of the House, it should have his support. Unfortunately, however, none of those who objected to the present measure could find any better to suggest in its stead—any more practical way of meeting the difficulties in which they acknowledged the country to be at present placed. It appeared to him that instead of indulging in reproaches and recrimination as to what was past—instead of stating that this person or that person was to blame for the situation in which they now were, the practical question for them to resolve was, what was best to be done, what course should be steered, in order to avoid the danger of ship wreck, and to bring; the vessel into the desired haven of security. He cared not on which side of the House he sat, he would support what appeared to him the best measure for attaining that desired end—the best measure as regarded the existing state of the public feeling and the public opinion on the subject. It might have been better, certainly, if some such measure as this had been brought forward a good many years ago. He did not consider that by supporting it he was pledged to the abstract goodness or the abstract advisableness of the present Bill. The question was, whether it was not, under existing circumstances, the best measure that could be brought forward. He would trouble their Lordships with a few words as to another part of the Bill, with which he was in some degree connected—he alluded to his appointment ex officio as one of the Commissioners under this Bill. Noble Lords had objected to the Commission because it would consist partly of laymen, and because the members of it would be removable at the pleasure of the Crown. Now, he must say, that it was rather inconsistent on the part of those who contended so earnestly on behalf of the Bishops of Ireland, and who argued so strenuously against any diminution of their number—(he was far from denying; that the residence of the Bishops in Ireland, and their strict superintendence of their several dioceses, were not matters of great utility to that country)—it was rather inconsistent, he repeated, on the part of such persons, to take it for granted that a board, of which so many Bishops would be members, would abuse the powers intrusted to them. Those noble Lords to whom he was now alluding seemed to take 938 it for Slanted that the Commissioners would watch for every opportunity to misapply their powers; and that whenever an occasion arose which enabled them to suspend the appointment to a benefice they would do so, and would continue such suspension, though a church might in the meanwhile be built in the parish, and the performance of divine service restored there. It was hardly fair towards the Bishops who would be members of that Commission, and it was certainly grossly inconsistent on the part of those from whom the assumption came, to assume that such would be the case. If it should go forth to the world, that such was the real character of the Irish Bishops, it would be at once said, that the fewer of them there was the better. It was most absurd to take for granted that whatever might be done by this Commission would be done by it, and that whatever abuses could be committed by it would take place. He would suggest to those noble Lords who had put forward this objection, that there were many powers intrusted to single individuals in this country which would be extremely dangerous if they should be abused, and that laymen in many instances were charged with high and extensive powers connected with the Church. It seemed to be forgotten by those noble Lords, that the head of the Church was necessarily a layman—the head not merely in name, but the head in reality, from whom emanated the appointments of all the Bishops, and who there fore might abuse his authority, by making improper appointments. It should be recollected, too, that another layman, the Lord Chancellor of England, had the appointment to a great number of livings, and had the power of suspending such appointments whenever he pleased, and as long as he pleased, without assigning any reason for doing so, and without reference to I he circumstance whether or not there was a large congregation craving for the bread of life. It was most unlikely, most improbable, that the powers so placed in the hands of the Lord Chancellor would be ever abused or misapplied. Was not the improbability still greater that similar powers, when intrusted to a body of Commissioners, the majority of whom were clergymen, would be abused or improperly exercised? He trusted confidently, that there was quite as little danger of the King's Ministers wantonly and rashly advising his Majesty 939 to remove any of those Commissioners, though they were removable at pleasure, and without any sufficient grounds for doing so. He had no apprehension whatever that any such thing would ever take place. He would not enter further into the particular provisions of the Bill. In concluding, he would say, that though he was fully sensible that there was great danger connected with the passing of this measure, he was equally sure, that the rejection of it by their Lordships would be more than dangerous—that it would be fatal. Of this he was also certain, that the amount of the danger connected with the passing of the present measure, and of several other measures that were supposed to be in contemplation, would be greater, or would be less, according to the way in which their Lordships treated them. It was very possible, that by proclaiming aloud, that those measures were on all sides attended with dangers, they would augment the real dangers that might be connected with them. If it should go forth to the world as the opinion of their Lordships, that the tendency of those measures, and the designs of his Majesty's Ministers, was to put down the Protestant religion in Ireland, to set up the Roman Catholic in its stead, and to overthrow the Constitution of the country—if that should go forth as the opinion of their Lordships, would not the effect of it be to augment all the real dangers with which they were surrounded? He could speak from experience on the subject, knowing as he did what efforts had of late been made from one end of Ireland to the other by the agitators of that country, who sought to dissolve the Union, and he was sorry to add, also, by many well-minded and no doubt sincere, but certainly misled friends of the Church there, to spread abroad the notion that his Majesty's Ministers were determined to pull down the Protestant establishment in that country. It would only promote the objects of those agitators to reject this measure, or to proclaim, supposing it should be passed, that it was calculated to overturn the Protestant Church in Ireland. It was equally mischievous to assert, that they might just as well apply such a measure to the Church of England, where Bishops had three or four times the number of benefices under their superintendence that Bishops had in Ireland. He conceived that the present was a case with regard to which every friend of Ireland, 940 and of the Church of Ireland, would do well to imitate the example which had been so well set to them by the noble Earl (Earl Wicklow) the other night, that they should throw aside all party feeling and party hostility, and endeavour to take that course which was in every respect the best for the country. This was an occasion on which they should abstain from all idle reproaches and recriminations—on which they should avoid all pitiful bickerings as to who had brought the ship into danger, and in which their sole object, their united endeavour, should be to bring the vessel into the haven of safety. It was unnecessary for him to remind their Lordships that there was at present a large body of persons in England, as well as in Ireland, hostile to the existing Constitution—to the Church—to that House—and, above all, to that Bench, and who were at that moment hovering, like vultures over a field of battle, waiting to prey upon the corpses of those that should be struck down in the conflict. He, therefore, confidently hoped and trusted that their Lordships would disappoint the expectations of those persons by laying aside all party feelings at the present moment, and by uniting cordially together in devising measures for securing the safely and stability of existing institutions in Church and State. Let their Lordships do so, instead of indulging in personal reproaches and splenetic attacks, things that could only afford a subject for rejoicing to the enemies of their Lordships, and the enemies of the country.
The Archbishop of Canterbury
said, that he felt anxious to follow his right reverend friend on this occasion, as, if he should postpone addressing their Lordships to a later hour of the night, he was afraid, owing to the weak state of his health, he should not be able then to do so; and he felt that upon a question of such importance it was impossible for a person filling the situation which he filled to give a silent vote. It was always with considerable pain that he found himself opposed, upon any public question to his Majesty's Ministers. It was a position which he might say was hardly suitable, and which was certainly almost new for an Archbishop of Canterbury; and he must acknowledge that he was not prepared for it, and that he had it not in 941 contemplation when he was raised to the station which he now filled, and that, in fine, he had not been prepared for it by his previous habits of life and by his mode of thinking;. It had hitherto been the policy and practice of the Government in all regulations respecting the Church to consult the heads of the Church in the first instance before such measures were, brought forward. II, then, there should happen to be any differences of opinion, they might be settled by amicable discussion in private, and such a mode I of proceeding had the advantage of preventing any hostile collision in public, between the Ministers of the crown, and the heads of the Church—an advantage which he considered to be a very great one indeed, he by no means concurred in the notion that the Bishops of the Church should implicitly submit to the dictation of the Government. But be felt, he would not say the unfitness, but the great inconvenience of the situation in which he was now placed, in being obliged to oppose that Government on which the Church must lean for support. He knew, that it was inconvenient in most eases, that owing to any cause there should occur an interruption of that confidential intercourse which ought to subsist between the Government and the heads of the church; but more especially was it inconvenient, that any surmise, however groundless, should thence arise, that the Government was unfriendly to the Church, or that the Church, in opposing the Government, should be subjected to the suspicion of acting from any unworthy motives. Impressed, therefore, with those sentiments, he felt sensible of the painful alternative submitted for his choice—either to give his assent to a measure which he could not approve of, or to place himself in a situation so painful and so disagreeable as that which he had described—namely, in opposition to his Majesty's Ministers. Another disadvantage under which he lay on this occasion was, that in opposing a measure brought forward under the name of Reform, he incurred the danger of being supposed to be an enemy to all Reform, the ran the risk, under such circumstances, of having his conduct attributed to the worst of motives—either to those of party feeling, which he had never exhibited, or to those of private interest, though he hail really none in the case; or, in fine, to a bigoted 942 prejudice that was opposed to every species of change whatever. On those accounts, and for the reasons he had mentioned, he had stated as much as he could, to himself and to others, what reasons could be assigned for supporting this Bill, and he was sorry to say, that he could not come to the conclusion that he could give it his support, it was with great pain that he felt bound to adopt that course; but, in justice to himself, he hoped, that their Lordships would allow him to slate the reasons which had induced him to do so. In looking at the Bill as it had come before their Lordships, it would be seen, that it bad two objects in view, which were perfectly distinct from each other; the one was Reform, the other was conciliation. The Reform of the church, by which he meant the internal improvement of the Church, by the building of churches and glebe-houses, the augmentation of small livings, and other useful regulations which were to be found in several parts of the Bill. Under the head of conciliation he would reckon the abolition of the Vestry-cess, and the substituting for it a tax upon the clergy. He did not know whether, under the head of Reform, he should place the proposed reduction in the number of Bishops—he rather thought, that their Lordships would agree with him in placing that part of the plan under the head of conciliation. Now, those two objects, as he had said, were quite distinct; they ought to have been brought forward in separate measures, as they could with advantage be discussed separately, and they would be separately recommended on distinct grounds. As regarded the Vestry-cess, he was ready to conceive, that it might be productive of grievance. He was most certainly ready to give it up if the people would not bear it. In fact, it was better under such circumstances to give it up, as it could not be continued. They were told, that this measure was a. boon to the people of Ireland for the Coercion Bill. He did not regard it as such. The Coercion Bill had like magic restored peace and tranquillity in that country, and it was itself, therefore, a real boon to the country. He was of opinion, that the Vestry-cess should be thrown on the landlords, so as to relieve the occupiers of land in Ireland from it. There was no reason why the charge of Church-cess should be imposed on the clergy rather than upon any other 943 class of the community, except, indeed, that it might be said to be for Church purposes, but he thought a more proper description of the charge would be, that it was for public purposes connected with the Church, and such being the case, the public should be called on to defray it. He was aware, that in other countries the clergy were charged with the reparation of the Church, but here the law had made a different arrangement, which he saw no reason to disturb. However, as the point had been justly and unanswerably reasoned by the right reverend Prelate behind him (Bishop of Exeter), the present measure transferred this charge from the proprietors of the land, to whom its amount was absolutely as nothing, to the Church, which was already but inadequately provided for, when all the important objects connected with it were considered. Supposing the tax in question imposed upon the Church, whit would be its effects? There was a great discrepancy between the financial statements of the noble Earl (Earl Grey) and the right reverend Prelate, but which of the two was right he (the Archbishop of Canterbury) could not undertake to decide. He was willing, however to take the statement of the noble Earl as the more favourable. The noble Earl had estimated the charge necessary for the removal of the Vestry-cess at about 60,000l. a-year, and he stated the means which would eventually accrue for effecting this and several other objects as being 130,000l. a-year.
The Archbishop of Canterbury
said, that such being the case, the argument which he was about to use would not be quite so strong as he had supposed; for he was going to say, that to provide for the Vestry-cess would consume half the entire sum which was reckoned upon when the scheme should have come into full operation. However, taking the Vestry-cess at 60,000l., and the sum eventually to be raised to meet it and other necessary purposes at 155,000l. he thought the case; would still be sufficiently strong. The charge for Vestry-cess must be first satisfied, but consider how long it would take before the proposed tax took effect, and how slowly the money for the purchase of perpetuities would come in. Such being the case, it was inevitable, that a very heavy incumbrance of debt would be in- 944 curred, which must be paid off before the sums specified for the building of glebe-houses and the augmentation of small livings could be so applied. Independently of this, he thought the plan beset with other and very serious difficulties. It had always been found, that the only way in which local purposes could be properly effected was by local assessment. That was the reason for imposing Vestry-cess upon the occupier in preference to the landlord, the former thus acquiring a direct interest in keeping down expenses for which he was himself liable. A Board sitting in Dublin could never manage with advantage the affairs of distant churches—it could not form a proper judgment of the sums really required for repairs, &c.,—it could not maintain an effectual superintendence except through agencies, which might not be always trustworthy, but which would be invariably expensive. Under such a system of management economy could hardly be expected; and how was the tax to be made up, if it should prove deficient, except by imposing additional burthens on the clergy? The result would be, that the clergy must be greatly impoverished, and nothing would be wanting but a poor-rate in order to complete their ruin. He was equally opposed to a transfer of the charge of Vestry-cess to the clergy and to an alienation of Bishops' lands. But supposing the measure carried into effect, what were to be its results? One of its objects was stated to be conciliation—a most desirable thing, he freely admitted, more especially in Ireland, where, if Protestants and Catholics could be brought to coalesce (it was a mere truism to say that), the country would be completely happy. But he was afraid, that this attempt at conciliation would fail, seeing that the object was to be attained, not merely by concession, but by sacrifice, and that the property and feelings of one party were to be hurt by what was given to the other. To conciliation that could never tend which raised in the minds of one party feelings of exultation, and in those of the other feelings of irritation. To whom was the sacrifice made, and at whose expense?—To the oppressor and agitator, at the cost of the peaceable. This was an inversion of justice, which gave rewards to the offender, and inflicted punishment on the innocent. The Irish clergy were distinguished for piety, moderation, and virtue—their good quail- 945 ties had shone forth more highly in affliction. They had been reviled and insulted—disquieted in their properties—hunted from their homes—exposed to the fury of the rabble and the malice of the assassin. All this they had borne with patience, but what must be their feeling of disappointment when, looking to the Legislature for countenance and support, they met with severe punishment? He saw little reason to expect moderation from the other party which would be encouraged by partial success to pursue its objects to the utmost. Thus the Church would have gained little in its external condition; its stability would not be increased by the sacrifice, nor would it gain in security what it lost in wealth and influence. But what would be the internal condition of the Church if this measure were agreed to? All the expected improvements in its management which had been dilated on by the noble Karl would be frustrated; the funds to be raised would be consumed by the Vestry-cess for many years, and all the objects of the Bill would either be rendered so impracticable, or postponed to such a distant period, that there was little chance of the Church ever benefiting by their accomplishment. He was not less dissatisfied with the principle of the Bill than with its details. It had contained one most unjust provision, which, however, was withdrawn, the direct tendency of which was to sanction the alienation of the property of the Church, and its diversion to the uses of the State. Although that clause had been withdrawn, its principle was still embodied in the Bill; the tax on the clergy, as a transfer of payment from one body to another, being clearly at variance with the received notions of property. He thought the same of the sale of see-lands at the option and for the benefit of the tenant. In this case the proprietor was the last person whose interests were consulted. The tenant was to have a bonus of four percent, and a further advantage in the mode in which the reserved rents were to be calculated, in reference to the fines paid in foregoing years, and not upon the actual value of the land. It was well known, that the Irish Bishops were in the habit of acting with general liberality towards their tenants, on whose simple representation as to the value of the lands held they frequently accepted fines, without sending a surveyor 946 to ascertain the actual value, as in England. Now, if any tenants had represented the property which they held as less valuable than it really was, they would be gainers under this arrangement by the purchase of the perpetuity. He had heard of instances of renewals being granted without any consideration, and in such cases, perhaps, the tenants would expect to have the property for nothing beyond the actual reserved rent. However, such cases, if they existed, could easily be provided against, and therefore he did not press the point. With respect to the reduction of the Bishops, it had been said, that there could be no valid objection to this part of the measure, and that bishoprics had been frequently consolidated and disunited. Without contesting these positions, he must observe, that one circumstance had been left out of consideration in speaking of the junction of sees in former times, when the unions were frequently made, ex necessitatis causâ, in cases where the revenues were singly insufficient for the maintenance of an incumbent. Besides, bethought it unfair to argue from single cases to a reduction so sweeping as this, more especially as the Bishops must be useful in the capacity of resident gentlemen, and as the Catholic Establishment (with which, indeed, the Legislature had no right to interfere, and any interference with which he should resist) remained untouched. Was it good policy in those who wished to support the Protestant religion to remove ten Bishops at once, leaving the ground open to the Roman Catholics, who would probably not only take the sees, but the Bishops' houses? The right reverend Prelate (the Bishop of Exeter) had properly objected to the appointment to sees under this Bill being placed under the control of Parliament; but that objection might be avoided by transferring the authority in all such cases to the Crown; and, therefore, he did not lay much stress upon that argument. With respect to another point adverted to by the right reverend Prelate, he felt that a Bishop advanced in years might be reasonably unwilling to subject himself to the charge of another diocess, but he thought that in such a case some provision might be made to relieve the diocesan, and that the vacant see might be held in commendam with some other bishopric. If there was to be a union of two sees in the person of one Bishop, and, 947 that the revenues of both were to be received by such Bishop, what in outcry would be raised at the measure! It was staled last night, that the Bishop who might be thus called upon to undertake the spiritual care of two dioceses, receiving only the revenue of one, would be recompensed for his additional labour by the increased patronage. This question of patronage was, he should say, a dubious kind of reward under any circumstances. It was a power which had its drawbacks; for, if the Bishop was recompensed by the power of rewarding deserving men, he had to regret, and he could state this from his own experience, that for every one deserving man whom he was enabled to reward, there were ten whoso well-founded claims he was obliged to pass over without such reward. The patronage of a Bishop, in this respect, had been described as honestum onerosum, and the lawyer from whom he quoted added another word, which he could not at that moment call to mind. However, he would lay no stress on that point. There was more required for the church than the mere patronage of the Bishop. There was wanting the means of providing a suitable education for Ministers, such as the college that had been established in Durham. Something of this kind was very much wanted in Ireland. He should not object to an appropriation of portions of Church property for this purpose, but he did object to and would oppose its appropriation to other purposes, such as those of the Vestry-cess. With respect to the Board of Commissioners, he did not object to its constitution as far as many of those who were to be its members were concerned, but he did object to paid Commissioners, or to parties who might be removed at pleasure. No doubt the parties thus appointed would be highly respectable, but his great doubt was, whether they would be proper persons to manage Church business. That, however, he thought might be provided for by a clause enacting that all business relating to the affairs or discipline of the Church should be transacted only at special meetings for that purpose, and then only when three Bishops were present, of whom the Primate or the Archbishop of Dublin should be one. He should greatly object to laymen getting this power into their hands. Not to delay their Lordships any longer, he should object to this Bill—that the prin- 948 ciple of Reform which it contained was only a subordinate consideration; that conciliation which it contemplated would fail; he objected to it because it went to apply the property of the Church to purposes for which it was not intended; he objected to it because it would give a triumph to the Catholics over the Protestants, which would not tend to the harmony of that country; he objected to it because it was the most sweeping measure which had ever been applied to the Church; that it dispossessed the property of the Church from its ancient owners, and gave it to others who had no right to it whatever; and what was more, that the Bill contained not one word to make this a special case, and to state, that it should not be drawn into a precedent, and that its principle should not be applied to any other Corporation in the kingdom.
§ The Duke of Wellington
spoke as follows: I rise in order to state to your Lordships the reasons for the course moan to take on this important question. I will confine myself to the statement of those reasons, and following the advice given by the right reverend Prelate, avoid everything like angry discussion. At the same time I think I have some reason to complain of the observations made by the noble Earl opposite upon what recently fell from me upon the presentation of a petition. He spoke with more than his usual asperity, and urged topics to which it is necessary I should briefly advert. I should, perhaps, have avoided this point, if the noble Earl had not, according to a practice not unusual with him, endeavoured to throw the blame upon the Government which immediately preceded that of which he is so deservedly the head. However desirous I might be to attend to the recommendation of the right reverend Prelate, it is impossible for me to listen to those charges without making some reply, and without adding a few remarks upon the clauses and provisions of the Bill. The noble Earl supposed that in what I said as to the policy of the present Ministers, I referred to the question of Parliamentary Reform. Your Lordships will do me the justice to admit, that since that Bill passed I have never made the slightest allusion to it in the House. The Bill having passed, I considered it my duty to submit to it, and to endeavour to carry it into execution by every means in my power. Moreover, I have never thrown 949 out a single reproach upon the subject in any discussion that has taken place in this House. On the occasion to which the noble Earl referred, I did not make the smallest reference to it. The noble Lord informed us in very strong and decided language, that he considered Parliamentary Reform only as a means to an end. Whether he has prevailed upon his Majesty so to consider it, I know not. This I must say, that under a Reformed Parliament, or under an unreformed Parliament, the people of this country are entitled to the best system of measures that can be devised to promote their prosperity. It is the duty of Parliament—the duty of all men, whether in or out of Parliament, who recommend measures for adoption, to recollect that the British Constitution is formed, not only for the protection of the life and liberty, but for the protection of the property of the subject. Give me leave to add, that property is not protected merely by attending to the representations of different interests—by listening to-day to those who are deeply interested in the commerce of one part of the world—by receiving to-morrow another body of men who are anxious to do away with the revenues of the Church; or by admitting on a third day, a third party who wish to abolish a system most beneficial to a large colonial territory. I have made these observations in answer merely to the taunts of the noble Earl, who charged me with adverting to the foreign policy of the country, and with wanting to carry into effect my own plans by means of coercion, setting up, as the noble Earl said, a new Holy Alliance to fight the cause of despotism against the liberties of Europe.
§ Earl Grey
I really said no such thing; I did not accuse the noble Duke of wishing to carry into effect his own plans. What I said was, that we were placed in a situation in which we must resolve to adopt one of two lines of policy—either to stop Reform by coercion and strong measures, or by yielding, in some degree, to the spirit of the times, to lead the public mind to such Reforms as were salutary.
§ The Duke of Wellington
It is very true that I have passed the greater part of my life in the foreign service of the country, and I naturally feel considerable anxiety on the subject of foreign policy; but the internal affairs of the kingdom have become so important and difficult, that it would not now be worth while to trouble your Lordships, for a quarter of an hour on any question of foreign policy. What I maintained was this:—that the course pursued by the present Government from the moment at which they came into office, had been the cause of the situation in which we now stand; our situation is the consequence of their policy, and it affords us also an earnest of the future. A noble and learned Lord said last night, that agitation in Ireland had been occasioned by delay in granting the Roman Catholic claims; but he seems to have forgotten that it existed both before and after the concession had been made. It has existed ever since the commencement of the discussion on those claims; from that period to the present, there has been nothing but continued agitation, excepting during part of the years 1829 and 1830. It recommenced in 1830, in consequence of the events at Paris and Brussels; the occurrences at Brussels particularly gave rise to the agitation and discussions regarding the Union. It was carried to such an extent, that the local Government, under the noble Duke, whom I do not now see in his place, was obliged to put in force the Proclamation Act. That was the period when agitation recommenced after the French Revolution. It was continued when the present servants of the Crown came into office, and then a noble Marquess, for whom, personally, I feel great respect, was appointed Lord-lieutenant of Ireland. He was certainly the last person who, at such a crisis, should have been selected, and the reason, which is perfectly obvious, is this:—The object and policy of the Government, after the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, should have been to do all in their power to conciliate—whom? The Protestants. Everything had been granted to the Roman Catholics that they could require; so that the policy should then have been to conciliate the Protestants. Instead of that, the present Ministers sent to Ireland a noble Lord, certainly the last man to conciliate the Protestants. Because he had scarcely taken his departure, or, at all 951 events, scarcely arrived, when he issued a sort of Proclamation almost urging that agitation should be continued for the purpose of obtaining an additional boon. In order that your Lordships may understand what agitation is, I will take leave to describe it. First of all, it is founded upon a conspiracy of demagogues, priests, and monks, and the means were terror and mobs, to be employed wherever terror and mobs could be used. This was to produce an effect upon Ministers, and an alarm in Parliament; and the mobs were excited by orations and seditious speeches at public meetings—by violent publications through the Press—by exaggeration—by flattery—and by all the resources in the power of persons of that description. The people were called upon to repair in large bodies to all points where it was possible to create terror. If any person opposed himself to this design, he was immediately murdered, or his house and property destroyed. The least done was a combination to deprive him of the means of obtaining subsistence; and all was intended to destroy the peace of the country. This is the system which is called agitation; and which the noble Marquess contributed to promote. When he reached Ireland, one of the first things done was the establishment of that combination against tithes, the evidence of which, taken before a Select Committee, is upon the Table. I have extracts from the Report in my pocket; but at this period of the debate I will not trouble your Lordships by reading them. It will no doubt be acknowledged that there existed a combination to prevent people from paying tithes—that the expense was defrayed out of a common fund—and that the operation was to force the parties claiming tithes to proceed to distrain. After that had been done, thousands assembled to prevent persons bidding at the sale—if they did bid, they were ruined or murdered. Such are now the proceedings in a large part of Ireland, and such they have been for a long period of time. But while these things have been going on, what has been done by the Ministers to put a stop to them? So little, that there was no disguise used about these proceedings. On the contrary, many openly abetted them; and there were persons, indeed, who had at different public meetings moved Resolutions, declaratory of their determination not to pay tithes, and that payment of 952 tithes ought not to be enforced. His Majesty's Ministers, my Lords, have done nothing to stop this. No measure was taken, except to signify to the Lord Lieutenant that he should carry into execution the provisions of the Proclamation Act. That Act was put in force; the Attorney and Solicitor-General of Ireland prosecuted Mr. O'Connell, and the prosecution was eminently successful. But what then? Why, the, noble Earl dissolved the Parliament, and, consequently, the punishment could not be carried into execution. And then what was done? Not only the noble Earl did not, when the Parliament again assembled, pass an Act to put a stop to these combinations against the payment of tithes, but he actually came down to Parliament and put into the mouth of his Majesty the sort of declaration which I am now about to read to your Lordships. The Speech was delivered in the month of June, 1831; and, speaking on the state of Ireland, his Majesty was made to say, 'Local disturbances, unconnected with any political causes, have taken place, both in this part of the United Kingdom and in Ireland. In the county of Clare, and in the adjoining parts of Roscommon and Galway, a system of violence and outrage has existed to an alarming extent, for the suppression of which, the constitutional authority of the laws has been vigorously and successfully exerted. By these means, the necessity of passing new laws, and of investing the Executive Government with increased powers, will, I trust, be avoided. To avert such a necessity, his Majesty added, will be my most earnest desire, but if it should unfortunately arise, I do not doubt your firm resolution to maintain the peace and good order of society.'* This, my Lords, was in the month of June, 1831, at the very time when the affair at Wexford happened. If your Lordships will only refer to the Appendix to the Proceedings of the Committee of this House upon the subject of the tithes, you will see what was done with respect to this state of the country, to which the speech ought to have referred. The country was at that time in a complete state of disorganization, so that this property in tithes no longer existed. The proprietors of tithes could no longer use heir property; and yet this being the state* Hansard, (third series) iv. p. 87.953 of Ireland, that was the Speech that his Majesty's Ministers put into the mouth of his Majesty, to make on this occasion. His Majesty again addressed the House, in the month of December, 1831. His Majesty then said: 'In parts of Ireland a systematic opposition has been made to the payment of tithes, attended, in some instances, with afflicting results; and it will be one of your first duties to inquire whether it may not be possible to effect improvements in the laws respecting the subject, which may afford the necessary protection to the Established Church, and at the same time remove the present causes of complaint.'* That speech was made only one year after the opposition to the payment of tithes had begun. On that occasion the Tithe Committees were appointed, and from that moment the collection of tithes ceased in Ireland altogether. In fact, my Lords, the Committees were appointed to discover, if possible, some plan to alter the system of collecting tithes, but from that time to this no tithes have been collected in Ireland beyond the value of a few thousand pounds. In the course of this Session of Parliament, your Lordships are aware, that a Bill, called the Coercion Bill, has been passed; but I beg that your Lordships will also recollect what passed in another place, and what pains were taken to give authority and weight to the assertion, that no coercion whatever was intended to the country. My Lords, that course of proceeding was most injudicious, for I have been informed, that the very apprehension of the Coercion Bill had been such, that some of the clergy had been able to collect their tithes, and in this very year that was the case, for in this year (1833) some tithes have been collected, but one fine day a gentleman discovered that a policeman, or a constable, or a soldier, or somebody or other, had given assistance in the collection of tithes, and the matter was at once mentioned, and then the Government said, that such assistance should not be given; and since then, my Lords, a notice has been published by the Solicitor to the Treasury in Ireland, which has totally put a stop to the payment of tithes. I say, my Lords, that this description of property no longer exists—nobody thinks of paying tithes, and there are now three or four years' tithes due to the clergy, but there* Hansard, (third series) ix. p. 3.954 are no means of recovering these arrears. The notice published by the Solicitor to the Treasury of Ireland is to this effect—that no proceedings will be had at the approaching Quarter Sessions against any persons withholding tithes due to his Majesty. Since then, my Lords, I say no tithes have been paid, and there is an end of this description of property. Now, I beg leave to ask your Lordships whether, when the Duke of Northumberland was in Ireland, this description of property was not quite secure, and whether the country was not in a state of tranquillity from after the time of the passing of the Roman Catholic Bill to the end of the year 1830? And that being the case, my Lords, I ask, whether it is quite fair in the noble Earl to throw on us the blame of these transactions, to make us responsible for this state of things, or whether he ought not fairly to take the blame upon himself, especially considering what the object of the Government was then, and what was its policy, and what has been the object and the policy of the noble Earl's Government? For I say, my Lords, that with the Government that preceded that of the noble Earl, it was an object to protect the Protestant Church in Ireland, and that it has not been the object of the noble Earl's Government to protect the Protestant religion, or the Protestant clergy in Ireland; and yet, my Lords, the noble Earl has admitted that it is part of his duty to do so. I think I have said enough to show your Lordships, that at this moment the parochial clergy of Ireland are the subjects of a direct attack, and require the protection of the Government; and as a proof of that, I refer your Lordships to the statement made by the right reverend Prelate upon the lower Bench a short time ago. I will not weaken that statement by repeating it, but your Lordships will recollect that he said the Protestant clergy were totally ruined. At this moment they are the objects of the charity of the Government. They say, that his Majesty's servants have given notice of their intention to introduce a Bill into Parliament to pay their salaries—I mean to pay their tithes for the last three years; but that measure has never yet been proposed. Therefore, my Lords, these gentlemen are at this moment absolutely at the mercy of his Majesty's Ministers. Then let us look to another branch of the Protestant Church of Ireland—I mean that which has hitherto 955 depended on the income derived from what is called the Church-cess. This Church-cess was always paid with considerable difficulty. There is more facility in opposing the levying of Church-cess, than even in opposing the levying of tithes. The noble Lords who are inhabitants of that part of the country must know the truth of what I say. There is vast difficulty in collecting the Church-cess. The persons who originally imposed it were probably Protestants; but the later Vestries have appealed against it. Of that right they have constantly availed themselves; and these appeals have been almost uniformly in the course of last year, and, indeed, since the year 1830. The consequence is, that this provision for the service of the Church no longer exists any more than tithes. There was nothing to support the existence of the Church—nothing for the sustentation of the Church—nothing for keeping it up—nothing for repairing the fences of the Church-yards—nothing to pay the salaries of the Clerks and of others, who are necessary to perform the Church service. But there is another consequence to persons attached to the service of the Church in Ireland; and I shall beg leave to state to your Lordships what their situation is. The possessions of the Hierarchy in Ireland are stated to produce an annual revenue of 160,000l. It appears that two-thirds of that revenue is paid in fines, and those fines are paid on the renewal of the leases of lands held under the Bishops. Under the law of the last Session of Parliament, the Bishops were placed under the necessity of insisting on receiving from their tenants the tithes of those lands which the tenants occupied and held under them upon lease. As the Bishops were to pay these tithes to the Church, it was necessary that they should do this. The tenants have refused to renew their leases, and consequently they have not paid their fines, and the Bishops are thus deprived of two-thirds of the means of their subsistence. Then, my Lords, the Curates get nothing. There is nothing for the sustentation of the inferior ministers of the Church, and the Bishops have lost two-thirds of their income, having nothing now left but the bare revenue of their lands. Taking the statement I have before mentioned to be correct, the consequence now is, that the income of all the Bishops of Ireland is 956 reduced to about 50,000l. a-year, which is all that the clergy of Ireland now have for the performance of their duties, for the maintenance of the Church, and for the sustentation of the men who are attached to its service. The noble Marquess, who spoke a few nights ago on this question, talked of the estates belonging to the Irish Church as of a million of acres. My Lords, that million will dwindle down into almost nothing at all when he finds that the rent which is received from the tenants of these estates amounts only to 50,000l. a-year for this million of acres. Having made this statement to your Lordships of the condition of the Church in Ireland, which I do not consider exaggerated, but as true; I have stated that which is my inducement not to oppose, the committal of this Bill. It appears to me absolutely impossible that the Church of England established in Ireland can continue to exist for a day if some measure of this description is not passed to relieve it from its present unfortunate situation. I do beg my noble friend, the noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle), to consider a little what is his duty under the circumstances which I have stated, and which have induced me not to refuse my assent to the Bill being committed. The revenues of the Church are reduced to nothing, and it will be impossible for him to act on his views of the question unless a measure for the relief of the Protestant Church in Ireland is adopted by Parliament; and on the 19th of July, if my noble friend continues to say, that he will stand upon principle, and upon principle alone, and that he will not allow the property of the Church to be touched on any pretence whatever, he may do so; but what will happen? Why, that the Church of Ireland must go—if he will not act otherwise it must be destroyed. It is true, we shall have the honour of having resisted to the last, but the Church we wish to preserve will suffer through our conduct. The noble and learned Lord who has spoken lately on this subject, mentioned the same principle as governing his vote. My Lords, t want to know from the noble Duke, and from the noble and learned Lord, whether they can dispute the facts I have stated? Can they prove that if something is not done the Church will not be ruined. If this Mouse does not go into Committee on this Bill, are they able to say what measure 957 will be adopted for the relief of the Church of Ireland? I ask them whether it is possible that the Church can remain to receive the benefit of their standing out on principle for another year? My Lords, if the world was governed by principle, nothing would be easier than for a man to conduct the greatest possible affairs; but it is not so, and in all these affairs the choice of a wise man is confined to select the least of two contending difficulties, and on this occasion the lesser of two evils seems to me to be to go into Committee on this Bill, and to see what measure can be adopted for the relief of the Protestant church. But noble Lords will say: "reject the Bill, and let those who have brought the Church into these difficulties find the remedy." My Lords, we have now reached the 19th July—the thing is absolutely impossible—the measure is urgent—something must he done immediately in order to give relief to the Church, and if that is not done the Church must fall. The right reverend Prelate who spoke with so much ability last night, urged upon your Lordships' consideration that a different measure might be adopted in order to relieve the Church of Ireland; and a right reverend Prelate who spoke this evening, likewise slated that some other measure might be adopted, f will not dispute, my Lords, that it may be proper that the Church-cess should be thrown on the proprietor of the land rather than on the occupier; but I beg to remind them that that is as contrary to principle as some of the changes proposed by the Bill. The owner of the land has made some allowance to the occupier, and I want to know whether it is not as much contrary to principle to make the owner pay that for which he has already made an allowance to his tenant? The right reverend Prelate who spoke last night mentioned another circumstance; he referred to the Grand-Jury-cess. Why, my Lords, the Bill for regulating that ought not to have passed if the House stood on considerations of principle alone. If they did so, they should not have consented to make the changes which they have already made. Therefore, I should entreat your Lordships again to consider, that if you stand on principle alone throughout this case, you will do so to the destruction of the Church. It is your duly to protect and to relieve that Church, and, therefore, you should consent to go into this Com- 958 mittee. I come now to another point—a few words on the subject of the details of this Bill. I certainly think that the service of the Church, being for the benefit of all the people of the country, they should pay their share of its expenses; but still I think that the payment of Church-cess should be put on a footing on which it is clearly of benefit to the Church. What the noble Earl said as to the conduct of a noble relative of mine, on a former occasion, in Ireland, is not, I think, borne out by the facts. The facts of the case are these:—The clergy of Ireland are bound, by law and by their oath, to keep schools. They had been in the habit of paying 40s. a-year, instead of keeping schools. My noble relative, then Secretary for Ireland, intended to oblige them to keep schools, as, by their oaths and by the law, they were bound to do. But that is a very different thing from laying a tax on the clergy, for the purpose of paying expenses which other parts of the country ought to bear. I object, likewise, to the formation of the Board relative to the administration of the First Fruits. I confess that I have not heard yet from anybody who has spoken, except from a noble Marquess, anything against the Board of First Fruits; and I do not understand why the management should be intrusted to other persons instead of that Board. In consequence of the greater labour they will have, they may require some assistance, but if so, they should be assisted by those of their own body. At the time when the 147th Clause was in the Bill, I could understand that the Government had a right to know what was the nature, the amount, and the mode of application of these funds. That clause has been struck out, and the money is now solely applicable to Ecclesiastical purposes, so that I see no reason whatever why those Commissioners should not be exclusively Ecclesiastical Commissioners, with such assistance of lay persons approved by them, as will best enable them to execute the purposes for which they were appointed. I likewise, I confess, object to the diminution of the number of Bishops in Ireland; and I cannot concur with those arguments on which that diminution was founded by the noble Earl. It is very probable, that if I now had to frame a Bill, for the first establishment of the Protestant church in Ireland, I might not think n necessary to have three Archbishops and twenty-two Bishops to 2,000 959 clergy; but they are there—and they cannot be withdrawn—and you cannot withdraw from the Protestant religion and the Protestant interests in Ireland that protection which they have hitherto enjoyed, without injury to that religion there; and that circumstance alone is sufficient for me to make every possible effort to keep up the present number. There is another consideration which has already been referred to by a right reverend Prelate, and that is, that wherever a Protestant Bishop is withdrawn, a Catholic Bishop will be appointed; and moreover it is likely he will be placed in the palace, and probably use the very furniture of the Protestant Bishop. It is not a fair mode of calculating the duties of these persons to say that such was the amount of the population, or such the extent of the country, or that there were only so many benefices in the country. It is true that the Irish Bishops have sometimes but from thirty to forty or fifty benefices under their charge, but with that number they have more trouble and anxiety than any Bishop of the Church of England with 600, or even 1,200 benefits intrusted to his care. But there is another circumstance worthy of your Lordships' attention, and that is, that the Bishops in England are assisted by Deans, Archdeacons, and others, in the discharge of their duties, that is not the case in Ireland. The twenty-two Bishops of Ireland have personally to perform all the duties which the Bishops of this country perform through their Deans and Archdeacons. Another part of the Bill to which I certainly entertain the strongest objection, is that which prevents the building of churches in those parishes where divine service has not been performed for three years. And this provision, my Lords, you will observe, is made applicable to a country in which, from the very circumstances in which it has been placed, the clergymen may have been prevented from performing their duty by acts of violence and aggression. My Lords, this provision is in direct contradiction to all the previous enactments of Parliament on this subject. The former enactments of Parliament went to this—to give assistance towards the building of churches in those parishes in which divine service had not been performed for many years. That was the principle on which Parliament has acted heretofore; but now, if divine service have 960 not been performed in any particular place for three years, Parliament, it seems, is to adopt, by way of remedy, the principle that divine service shall never be performed there again, and that no church shall be built in the place. I hold in my hand a statement of the number of churches built in Ireland under the provisions of former Acts of Parliament, and I must be your Lordships to reflect what will be the consequences of this measure, and what would have been the consequences to Ireland. If former Parliaments had adopted the principle to which we are now called upon to assent. Subsequent to the year 1805, the principle of Parliament was, to grant money for building churches in parishes in which divine Service had not been performed for twenty years. Previous to the time when this provision came into force, 102 churches and forty-one glebe-houses were built by the Board of First Fruits in Inland, but from the year 1805 to the year 1826, 562 churches and 537 glebe-houses were built or enlarged by that Board. Now, my Lords, supposing that Parliament had proceeded thirty years ago upon the principle of the present Bill, and had said:—"You shall levy no money to build a church in any parish, in which divine service has not been performed for three years," the consequence would have been, that out of 1192 churches which have been built in Ireland, 639 would not have been built at all, being more than one-half of the whole number of churches existing in that part of the United Kingdom. My Lords, I believe it to be our duty, in every case, to do everything we can to promote the Protestant religion. It is our duty to do so, not only on account of the political relations between the religion of the Church of England and the Government, but because we believe it to be the purest doctrine and the best system of religion that can be offered to a people. That being the case, I wish to know whether or not it would not be our duty to leave out of this Bill a clause which may check the growth of the Protestant religion in Ireland? For this reason, if there were no other, I feel convinced that your Lordships will go into Committee on this Bill; and I trust that his Majesty's Government will not be disposed to adhere to this clause, more especially when it has been stated by the most reverend Prelate (the Archbishop of Dublin) as well as by his Majesty's 961 Government, that the clause is harmless, and that it is not intended to be liable to the objections which have been raised to it by those who are attached to the Protestant religion in Ireland. I can entertain no doubt, my Lords, if it be not intended to have those disastrous effects, his Majesty's Government will consent to its omission. My Lords, I have now gone through those parts of the subject to which I wished to draw your attention. It has given me great pain that I have been under the necessity of mixing up with these discussions any reference to past transactions; but being accused, as I was, of being the cause of that state of things in which this Church now finds itself, I was under the necessity of justifying the Government to which I belonged. I have stated to your Lordships what I take to be the real state of the Church of Ireland, and I entreat your Lordships to go into Committee on this Bill, with the view of rendering it such as it ought to be, in order to give to that Church the greatest possible stability; and I have at the same time, stated to your Lordships what I take to be the objectionable parts of the measure.
The Bishop of Exeter
begged to correct a misapprehension of the noble Duke who had just sat down. The noble Duke supposed some of his (the Bishop's) observations in relation to Church-cess, to refer to past contracts, whereas he had expressly alluded to all the future contracts, which the landlords make with the occupiers of the land.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, that as a severe attack had been made upon his Majesty's Government, he should feel himself wanting in his duty if he did not ask to be heard by their Lordships immediately, in answer to that attack. The noble Duke had adverted to the speech delivered by a right reverend Prelate, in which he had recommended to their Lordships, with so much force, to abstain from all party spirit on this question—to avoid all topics of anger or crimination, and to apply themselves entirely to the subject before them. But the noble Duke had only referred to that admonition, it appeared, to show their Lordships how completely he was about to depart from its spirit, and how entirely it was his intention to disregard every precept urged by the right reverend Prelate. Into that debate, which had hither to been conducted with 962 calmness, and without bitterness or acrimony, the noble Duke had introduced the most criminatory topics—topics the must calculated to excite feelings of irritation, to rip up the animosities attached to all the subjects of difference which had agitated us for the last two or three years, and entirely to take from the debate that character of calmness and temper which the right reverend Prelate had felt it his duty to enjoin, and which it certainly was the duty of their Lordships to preserve. The noble Duke had, in the early part of his speech, thrown out a taunt with respect to the Reform Bill, and said, that as it was now acknowledged that it might lead to other alterations, he trusted, that circumstance had been mentioned to his Majesty when the Bill was first proposed. He would ask their Lordships whether he had not himself, on the second reading of the Reform Bill, stated that it must necessarily lead to very great changes? Whatever there might have been erroneous in that declaration, there certainly was no deceit or delusion. He had distinctly stated, that such must be the consequence of the measure. The noble Duke then went into all the policy of his Majesty's Government upon the different great measures which had been before them, and he condemned, in one sweeping censure, every one of those measures, although upon all of them he himself acknowledged that it was necessary some steps should be taken, and hardly any of his objections applied to any thing but the details. The noble Duke then proceeded to misrepresent his noble and learned friend who had in his speech last night referred to the subject of the Catholic Relief Bill, and the noble Duke stated, that his noble and learned friend said, that all the evils which we had now to contend with arose from the delay of the measure since 1825, and, he asked, whether there had not been agitation previous and subsequent to 1825. What his noble friend had said was, that if the measure had not produced all the satisfaction which was hoped for from it, this was to be attributed to the general delay which had taken place for many years; and, he added, that in 1825, it was not yet too late to bring the subject to a satisfactory arrangement. If he remembered rightly, the same interpretation was ill be put upon the observations of his noble friend who opened the debate, and on which the noble Duke 963 founded his justification of his attack upon the Government. His noble friend had not attributed the evils of which he spoke to the noble Duke's Government, but to the system which had been persevered in for a long series of years. But the noble Duke said, that his noble friend, since he had assumed the reins of Government, had originated no measures, except such as tended to produce the state of things in Ireland which the noble Duke, in common with all their Lordships, so much regretted. The noble Duke charged Ministers with having, as the first act of their official career, appointed to the Lord-lieutenancy of Ireland a nobleman of all others the least fitted for the office. Now, this was a mere assertion, which he might meet with a counter assertion, just as valid and far more tenable, that Lord Anglesey was the fittest person that could have been selected for the Lord-lieutenancy of Ireland; but as this mode of discussion proved nothing, he would examine the grounds on which the noble Duke had ventured to give utterance to his censure. It appeared to have been founded on the letter of Lord Anglesey, to which the noble Duke had referred, in which that noble person recommended the people of Ireland to continue to agitate; but in order to make the taunt tell the more effectively, the noble Duke favoured them with a definition of what he considered "agitation" in Ireland really meant. He told them in set terms, that agitation in that country was neither more nor less than a conspiracy of priests and demagogues against all social order; that it meant the plunder and spoliation of property, and outrage and murder. Now, without pausing to ask, could the noble Duke deny that Ministers had, by the Coercion Bill, applied an energetic remedy to the state of things thus forcibly described,—he would ask did the noble Duke, nay, could the noble Duke mean to insinuate, that these lawless proceedings were those which Lord Anglesey meant to encourage when he told the Catholics to "agitate" till they obtained their Relief Bill? Was it fair, was it just, was it generous, in the noble Duke to so couple his definition with a reference to Lord Anglesey's letter as to make it appear that—
§ The Duke of Wellington
The noble Marquess ought not to have pursued such a course. The expression was wrong.
§ Viscount Melbourne
The letter was, he admitted, an imprudent one, and not such as he would have advised; but had the noble Duke himself never written an imprudent letter? If he was not greatly mistaken, the noble Duke wrote a letter which was contemporaneous with that which had been adverted to, and was as imprudent a letter as a Prime Minister ever penned. That circumstance might have induced the noble Duke to view a similar error in another with something more of leniency than he had exhibited. The noble Duke had waded through all the policy of Government with respect to Ireland. He, undoubtedly, believed, that disturbances with respect to tithes prevailed previously to the time to which the noble Duke alluded, but it was the hope and expectation of Government, that the vigorous and firm application of the law would have repressed them. That expectation had been frustrated, and, he now believed, that it was impossible, notwithstanding the assertions to the contrary, that the application of the law, by what hands soever administered, could have restored tranquillity to Ireland. The noble Duke had, with great diligence, raked up every old topic of complaint against the Government—even the pardoning of the persons at Kilkenny. What was the fact with respect to that case? It was represented to the Lord Lieutenant that it would greatly tend to promote the restoration of tranquillity in that district if a number of persons who had been concerned in tithe-meetings were pardoned, and, accordingly, their punishment was commuted. Whether that proceeding were right or wrong he would not then stop to inquire, but it was childish—it was absolutely puerile—to attribute the opposition to the payment of tithes which had, for many years, prevailed, and was still prevailing, in Ireland, to such causes as these. With respect to the intermission of proceedings for the recovery of tithes under the Coercion Bill, the noble Duke must be aware, that that Bill was never intended to be used for the purpose of collecting tithes, and that, notwithstanding the intermission of proceedings under it, the legal means for the recovery of tithes still remained. The noble and learned Lord who opened the debate this evening, dated all the difficulties of the present moment from the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill. He on the 965 contrary, dated all those difficulties from the introduction of the system of what the noble Duke called the encouragement of Protestantism. What was the system pursued in Ireland previous to the Revolution? It was a system of extermination, with the view of eradicating the Roman Catholic religion, and planting Protestantism in its place. Such was the system pursued under Edward the 6th, such was the system pursued by James the 1st, by Strafford, and by Cromwell. At the Revolution another system was introduced,—that of penal laws; still, however, in order to effect the same object, the extirpation of the Catholic religion. The two systems had failed, as such systems always had failed. It had invariably been found, that whenever measures had been taken to prevent a particular sect from acquiring and transmitting property, and from holding public offices, it had increased in opulence. This might be proved by a reference to the Jews, Quakers, and other Dissenters in England, and the Roman Catholics in Ireland. In 1795, when the existence of the Roman Catholics was first acknowledged by the reception by the Sovereign of an address from a delegated body, the penal code ought to have been abolished. Their Lordships should recollect, that they were now legislating for a country in which the established religion was different from that of the great majority of the inhabitants. He said that, under such circumstances, it was necessary to adapt the institutions, as far as was possible, to the feelings of the people, and, he contended, that this Bill had that effect; on that account it merited their Lordships' support. He should not at that late hour go at large into the provisions of the Bill, or dwell upon the various topics which had been urged; but with respect to the reduction of the bishoprics, he would say, that something was necessary to be done to correct the great disproportion stated by his noble friend who had opened the debate. Great fears had been entertained with respect to the spread of popery, or of other modes of faith, different from that of the Church of England, but he did not think that this measure was likely to lead to any such consequences. If the Church of Ireland were to be, as some persons wished it, a proselytising Church, he would ask for one thing, whether the appointment of parochial clergymen, who 966 would zealously perform their duties, would not be more likely to extend the beneficial influence of Protestantism than leaving the Church exposed to the opprobrious attacks to which it was at present liable? The noble Duke opposite had complained, during the course of his observations, of the manner in which the Commission to be appointed under the Bill was to be constituted. The objections of the noble Duke related chiefly to the appointment of laymen for the regulation of matters wholly ecclesiastical. In order to enable the noble Duke to overcome his objections, he would refer him to the opinion of the Primate of all England, who had declared that he saw no difficulties in the way of appointing laymen on the Ecclesiastical Commission, and that he saw no fault in that part of the Bill which could not be easily obviated and removed. For his own part, he thought it much better that a certain number of laymen should be nominated to act on the Commission, as the general results would thereby be more beneficial. He would not at that moment go into any of the details of the Bill, nor would be touch upon the readjustment of taxation for the purposes of the Church of Ireland; but, he should reserve what he had to offer for the Committee on the Bill, in case it reached that stage. One thing he must say of the clause for the suspension of Divine Service in certain parishes in Ireland, to which so many objections had been urged, that all which it was intended to effect by that clause was, merely to relieve the parish from the unnecessary burthen of a clerical establishment when such was not needed, as must be the case where Divine Service had not been performed for three years; but then it ought to be recollected, that this matter rested entirely within the province of the commission appointed under the Bill, and the decision of that Commission was alone to form the ground for depriving parishes of their clergy. Of course, in all cases where Divine Service had been interrupted, cither by intimidation, violence, or other causes not originating in the clergy themselves, the Commission would not act up to the letter of the Act; but if there were Protestants in the parish sufficient to form a congregation, it would be the duty of the Commissioners to refrain from applying that provision of the Act to such neglected parishes. The noble 967 Duke, though he confessed that it was necessary to do something with respect to the Church Establishment in Ireland, contented himself with objecting to almost all the provisions of the present Bill, without suggesting any remedy of his own. He thought that the Bill was calculated to effect the purpose which it had in view, and, therefore, he entreated their Lordships to read it a second time. He would not weary them by any further observations, but after the remarks of the noble Duke, he had thought it his duty to offer what he had said in defence of the Bill.
The Earl of Longford
said, that the Bill was a measure so completely inimical on the whole, to the well-being and future stability of the Irish Church, that although he was ready to admit there were many useful suggestions and reasonable alterations proposed in it, yet his objections to it were so great that nothing could induce him to join in sanctioning by his vote the second reading of the Bill. Amongst many other inducements which had been held out to their Lordships by the noble Earl, who had brought the Bill forward, to accede to the second reading was this, that it had been agreed to by very considerable majorities in its various stages during its progress through another place. The noble Earl had expressly alluded to the several divisions on the Bill, and had confidently cited them as so many irrefragable reasons for the obtainment of their Lordships' assent to the measure. Now he was ready to admit, that there might be much that was reasonable in the noble Lord's argument on this point, but still he did not think there was any thing strong enough to win those who were opposed to the Bill on principle, from their opinions. For himself, he was willing enough to defer to the opinions expressed by the majorities in the other House of Legislature, and to accede to their decisions, but he might with some show of reason ask, was no deference to be shown to the opinions of the minority, who formed no inconsiderable number at some stages of the Bill? In fact, he thought that so far from their Lordships being induced by the noble Earl's argument to withdraw their opposition on account of the numerical majorities in favour of the Bill in the other House, they were called upon to analyse those majorities, and to estimate precisely the manner in which the numerical forces of 968 the Government had been arrayed in favour of the measure. Another favourite topic of the noble Earl consisted in his portraiture of the extreme disappointment which would be experienced by the country in case their expectations that the present Bill would pass into law were to be baulked. And pray let him ask, who raised those expectations? Those who sat on his side of the House did not. There was no blame on that score to be imputed to them. It must fall in all its force on those who had indulged their desires, and had partly attained their wishes by trifling with the public excitement, and by raising hopes which no reasonable man or well-wisher of his country could ever assist them in realising. Their Lordships, so far from acceding to the arguments on this point of the noble Earl, ought, on the contrary, to resist the clamour to which he had alluded, with all the force in their power at the present moment, for let them again give way to it, and at some future and not far distant period, it would recur again in a more violent, arbitrary, and exacting form; whilst they, in consequence of their previous submission, would have to stem it with diminished resources, until at length their Lordships would be merged in the struggle. A noble and learned Lord who spoke last night (Lord Plunkett) concluded his speech by appealing to noble Lords on that (the Opposition) side to support this measure in the spirit of Reform. What! call upon them to forward Reform who only submitted to Reform, who thought the Reform Bill a measure concocted in error, continued in manœuvre, and concluded in mischief? The noble and learned Lord had characterized those who opposed this Bill as pertinacious. He assured the noble and learned Lord, whether he uttered this in the character of a British Peer, or of an Irish Chancellor, or of a modern Hannibal, that he was not pertinacious in his opposition, and, further, that he would not be restrained by such terms from persevering in his opposition to the Bill. He had heard it said, that, so long as their Lordships were friendly to Reform, so long would they be regarded by the country. He read these words as implying that, so long as they debased their character by administering to the passions of the people, and degraded themselves by pandering to those passions, so long would they be allowed to drag out a miserable exist- 969 ence, and they then would be annihilated. In pursuing his subject, the noble and learned Lord had offered very little encouragement to look to better times in the existing mania for change and interference in every branch of the State. He much suspected that noble Lords on the other side had let slip a political spring, the range of which they had not judged, the operation of which they had not talent to guide, and the principle of which they had not capacity to understand. A noble Marquess, the other night, had dwelt on the necessity of a measure of conciliation after one of coercion. He easily knew what was meant by coercion; but if the noble Marquess had lived a little more in Ireland he would have altered his opinion of that measure; for although, in particular cases, it might be used as a coercive measure, it would not coerce any who did not premeditatedly intend to break the law—first, by conspiracy; secondly, by combination; and, lastly, by open rebellion. It was a measure of prevention that demagogues only need foar. The country was now completely quiet, and all lamented that the measure came so late. It was criminally late. Statements had been laid before the Government of the state of the country, and the outrages committed. How many families presented widowed mothers and fatherless children, owing to the lateness of that measure! On the Government lay the heavy responsibility of this delay. The Bill before their Lordships swept away half the Bishops of the land. A noble Marquess holding a high situation, had said that so small a population needed no more Bishops. That might do very well if there was a small population of Protestants and no other. But of all cases, that which demanded the full exertion of every power in the country and the Government was, where there was a comparatively small and divided Protestant population, and an extremely large, active, Catholic population, attended by a Catholic clergy, and a body of active Catholic Bishops. He said nothing against the Bishops; if he had been a Roman Catholic he should have done as the Roman Catholics had done; but what he contended was, that this being the case in the existing situation of Ireland, it was highly inexpedient to reduce an establishment which was to counterbalance that of the Roman Catholics. The diminution of 970 the number of Bishops would add infinitely to the difficulties of the; situation of the Protestants in Ireland. Then came the taxes of the clergy. He should begin with the cess. This was a small tax which was paid without difficulty, and could not be a source of grievance. He knew that it had been a convenient handle to those who objected to pay any thing to the Protestant clergy. These taxes, however, fell upon the landlords. Tenants did not pay tithes nor cess. The opposition to them was totally a Roman Catholic opposition to Protestants. His noble relative the Duke of Wellington had said that, for the sake of the Church itself, he should not oppose the going into Committee. He could not come to the same conclusion. The noble Lord concluded abruptly, observing that there were other points on which he had wished to address their Lordships, but he was not in the habit of speaking in the House, and, in fact, he had forgotten them.
The Duke of Newcastle
said: I always rise under pain and difficulty to address your Lordships, and, upon the present occasion, believe me, that pain and difficulty are increased beyond my powers of description. I had risen several times in the course of the evening with the intention of addressing your Lordships in consequence of what had fallen from the right reverend Prelate (the Bishop of London) and the most reverend Prelate (the Archbishop of Dublin), who have spoken this night, and some remarks which had been made by other noble Lords in the course of the debate; but, having failed of success, I had abandoned the idea of intruding myself upon your Lordships' notice, as others, so much better qualified to gain your attention, are desirous of addressing you. I should have been well contented to have been silent, bat, after the pointed remarks of the noble Duke (Wellington) near me, which involve, not reflections upon my individual opinions only, but upon what concerns the vital interests of the country, as connected with its virtuous or vicious existence, I cannot sit still, and am forced to endeavour to justify my own opinions, and to show the fallacy and unworthiness of those of the noble Duke. I never imagined that the noble Duke would have thought of adopting such a course, and my surprise could only be equalled by my pain, when I heard the noble Duke recommend your Lordships to disregard 971 principle altogether, and to be guided only by expediency. Your Lordships may, therefore, imagine the extent of the pain, under which rise to reply to what has fallen from the noble Duke, and the difficulty which, under such circumstances, must accompany the first unprepared essay I ever made, to reply to what has been said in debate in this House. The noble Duke has, if I mistake not, said something like this, "You have been called upon by my noble friend, the noble Duke who sits near me, to resist this Bill upon principle; I implore your Lordships not to follow that advice. The clergy are starving, and, whilst you are adhering to your principles, they will be ruined. Principle will do nothing for you, you must be guided by other motives, you must look to the result of the measures which you adopt, and suit them to the circumstances of the times." I have understood the noble Duke to have said something like this and much more, to inforce upon your Lordships the necessity of totally disregarding principle, and of adopting the opposite course of expediency, without any principle at all, and this he has done, aware of my previously expressed opinions, and he now solemnly warns you of the worthlessness of principle, cautions you not to be led by my exhortations to abide by it, implores you to throw it aside, and to think of nothing but the necessity of the case which requires that you should pass this Bill, which he has stigmatised as a bad one, and thereby save the Church from destruction and the clergy from ruin. I must, surely, have misunderstood the noble Duke's meaning, or I could not have heard his words accurately. If, however, there is no mistake—if these were his expressions, I deeply lament them. I really am shocked that such sentiments should have emanated from the noble Duke, and it is to combat such doctrine that I now rise. As you know, I entertain very different notions, and I am deeply anxious that these modern maxims should be superseded by others better calculated to bring about an improved condition of the country. When I uttered them, I little thought that any sentiments or expressions that fell from me, would be the object of remark, much less that what I uttered as truisms, would be arraigned by so many noble Lords as false doctrine and erroneous theory. Notwithstanding the opinions of noble Lords, I still maintain that I am right; I do not retract one iota of 972 what I have said, and, in opposition to the appeal of the noble Duke, I would again beseech you to stand upon the only sure and solid ground—that of principle. I have not the presumption to think that I am to give advice to your Lordships, but if you will act, as I fervently hope you may, you will, by upholding your own honour and character, render not less essential service to your country generally, than you will render to yourselves as a body which should stand high in the estimation of that country, and by example and precept, point out the course which all ought to pursue. For what is a country worth which is not guided by a just, moral, and religious principle? There is no sure basis but that: in departing from it, we have been brought into our present deplorable condition, and we can never hope to see better days, and regain prosperity, until we return to those good old English principles which used to be cherished by us, and which used to constitute the strength of the nation. It pains me to be obliged thus to place myself in opposition to the noble Duke, but he has drawn it upon himself—he has reflected upon my opinions as fallacious, and he has tried to lead you away from the adoption of them, and to join his standard of expediency. It is on national grounds that I resist his argument. I admire and respect the noble Duke for all that he has done for the country—for his great and proud military services, and for the eminent benefits which have resulted from them to this nation and to the world. I owe to him a deep debt of gratitude; but, in his political views, it has more than once been my misfortune to differ from him. I am compelled to do so on the present occasion. The noble Duke has drawn a frightful picture of the condition of the Bishops and clergy in Ireland; he has told you that many are reduced to beggary and want; he tells you that this is an abominable Bill, and yet he gives this as a reason for reading this Bill a second time, and for going into Committee, and says, that he will vote for the Bill, in order to relieve the clergy, and to save the Established Church in Ireland. Why, my Lords, I know of no one clause in this Bill which has the slightest tendency towards this effect. I ask the noble Duke to point out any part of the Bill which pretends to do it; so that I am at a loss to conceive how the noble Duke can have 973 brought himself to give such a reason for such a course. According to my view, the Bill has a directly contrary tendency: if it had been framed by the greatest enemies of the Church, it could not be more hostile to the Establishment, and it must inevitably lead to the overthrow of religion. Again, the noble Duke gives you a history of the rise and progress of those events which have brought about the existing state of affairs—in this, also, I disagree with him. He attributes it to agitation in Ireland, and various circumstances attendant upon that mischievous proceeding. Now, I, my Lords, attribute it to other and very different causes. I must speak the truth, and say, that I honestly think that the concession to a fictitious clamour was the commencement of evil; the abolition of the Corporation and Test Acts placed you under the supposed necessity of granting immunity to the Roman Catholics: these points obtained, the step was short to the position of affairs in which we now find ourselves. These, as I think, are the real causes, and not alone those stated by the noble Duke. Having risen expressly to reply to the animadversions of the noble Duke, I perhaps ought to say no more, and I must confess, that I feel ashamed of standing before your, Lordships and saying so much about myself; cannot sufficiently apologise to you for doing so, but, with your permission, I will only trespass upon your patience for a few moments longer, to notice what has been said by other noble Lords, in remarking upon what fell from me at the opening of the debate. The noble Earl opposite accused me of taking an unstatesmanlike view of what should be the duty of a member of a great deliberative assembly. My Lords, I am not offended at this accusation—I do not pretend to be a statesman. It has been my peculiar fortune never to have been placed in a situation which would call forth the practice of any of those qualifications which, in the accepted definition of the term, constitute a statesman. I merely appear to be taking a plain common-sense view of a case or question, and no more. Perhaps it might be well if others had the wisdom to discover that they were not statesmen. This, however, I will venture to say, that if I were a statesman, I would never sacrifice principle to expediency—neither would I counsel my Sovereign to violate his Coronation Oath—neither would I insult 974 Parliament by introducing such an iniquitous Bill as this now under discussion; nor could I for an instant conceive the idea, much less execute it, of attempting to control the free discussions of this high, and until now, deliberative assembly by illegal and unconstitutional means. Of such flagitious acts as these, if I pretended to be a statesman, I most certainly would not be guilty. The noble Earl said, that in standing upon principle, and shutting my eyes to consequences, I appeared to have taken for my motto, "Fiat justitia, ruat cœlum." I disclaim this; neither do I, although I support the action upon the principle, exclude from my calculation what may be the consequences, but, I say, if you act honestly, uprightly, and with integrity, what have you to fear? Your Lordships may be—you are entitled to be, and you should be,—regardless of any consequences which may follow from the defeat of a vicious measure, or the faithful performance of an honourable duty which is imposed upon you; and I must again repeat, that you cannot swerve from this path of duty without disgrace and dishonour. I disown the motto assigned to me by the noble Earl; if I took any motto, I would rather adopt one which was used by the noble Duke, in a manner so effective and so highly creditable to him at the termination of one of his speeches early in this Session, which was, "Be just, and fear not." Your Lordships' patience will be exhausted if I detain you longer; I will therefore conclude with observing, that the most reverend Prelate, (the Archbishop of Dublin) and the right reverend Prelate (the Bishop of London) have treated the subject before them in a manner which has astonished me. In listening to them, had I not known who they were, I might have well thought that they were not churchmen, but amongst the enemies of that Church which they are bound to uphold and to defend. I had, at one time, intended to have replied to several of their observations, but I feel that I have already trespassed too much upon your kind indulgence. I cannot conclude without assuring the noble Duke and other noble Lords, that in what I have said, I have had no intention of giving offence to any. Had I forborne to endeavour to refute the animadversions which have been made upon me, I might have been accused of unmanly silence, and I have only to hope, that in the lan- 975 guage which I have used, I may not have been betrayed into an acrimonious expression of my sentiments. I have sincerely to thank your Lordships for your patient and indulgent hearing—I shall vote against the second reading of the Bill.
The Bishop of Bath and Wells
said, that he should vote for the second reading of the Bill, because this measure had been brought forward by a very large majority of the House of Commons, and because it had the sanction of his Majesty, and for these reasons he must give his vote for the second reading.
The Bishop of Hereford
merely wished to give his reason for the vote he was about to give, without entering into the details of the measure. He would give his support to the second reading of the Bill. He felt great confidence in those who had proposed the measure, and he felt a conviction that they would never have sanctioned, far less have brought forward, a measure which they did not believe would be beneficial to the Church. He believed his Majesty's Government to be sincere friends to the Established Church. There were several of the provisions of the Bill, indeed, on which he looked with uneasiness and distress, but he hoped that they would be modified in the Committee. Several modifications had been made which had done away with the most material objections which he had to it. The withdrawal of that clause, especially, which went to appropriate the property of the Church to secular purposes, had made it much less objectionable. Still, however, there was much in it of which he could not approve. He would not then enter into details, but would simply say, that much as he disliked some of the details, he would vote for the second reading, from a conviction that some measure of the kind was necessary for the safety of the Church of Ireland, and that much greater injury would befal the Church from a rejection of the Bill than by its adoption. On those grounds (and they were not lightly taken up), he had come to the conclusion, that it was his duty to support the Bill. He could not support it with the same cordiality with which he found himself enabled to support the other measures of his noble friends, but he still would vote for the second reading, as he considered the Bill essential to the tranquillity of Ireland.
Earl De Grey
said, he would not tres- 976 pass long on their Lordships' attention, but, as the vote which he was about to give might create an opinion that he entertained more confidence in his Majesty's Ministers than he actually felt, and gave a more extended approbation to the Bill itself than he felt inclined to give, he begged to say a few words. He meant to support the second reading of the Bill. He did so on the same principle with the right reverend Prelate who had last spoken, and who had stated that he should give a reluctant vote in favour of the second reading of the Bill; and that he should give that vote with much pain. He thought that no man could deny, that the Church of Ireland was in a state which called for interference. What the causes of that state had been, or whether the Bill was the most proper remedy, he would not wait to inquire; but still it could not be denied that something ought to be done. He thought, that the withdrawing of the clause which had been withdrawn, had very much diminished the danger of the Bill, and though he considered that there was still some danger, yet he hoped, that, by the wisdom of Parliament, it would also be obviated.
The Lord Chancellor
entirely agreed with the right reverend Prelate who had last spoken, and with the noble Earl who had just sat down, in considering that an absolute necessity existed of introducing a measure of the nature of that which was before that House; but he entirely differed from them in the reluctance with which they would give their votes in favour of this Bill. It had been admitted by the noble and gallant Duke, that this measure, or a measure of the same kind, was absolutely necessary, both on account of the safety of the Church, and the security of the State. The noble Duke had not proposed any other measure instead of the present Bill; he had not brought forward even the outline of a measure which he would recommend to their Lordships as a substitute for the present measure, and he (the Lord Chancellor) therefore understood, that though the noble and gallant Duke was by no means pledged to the Bill in its details, and might accordingly vote for any modification of those details—still, that he was pledged to the admission of the principle upon which the Bill was founded—and that, on that admission of the principle, he was prepared to send the Bill to a Committee 977 of their Lordships' House. He (Lord Brougham) thought that among the noble Lords who had spoken in opposition to the Bill, there existed a great degree of misunderstanding both as to the principles on which the Bill was founded, as to the ends proposed by the measure, and also as regarded the connexion which existed between this Bill, and another measure which had occupied their Lordships' attention at an early period of the Session. They had heard from a right reverend Prelate, that doubtless this measure was brought forward as a boon to the people of Ireland in conjunction with, and to counteract the Coercion Bill. The right reverend Prelate said, that the Coercion Bill was brought in as a penalty on the people of Ireland; and that it was, therefore, necessary to bring in the present measure as a boon. But he begged to tell their Lordships, that the Coercion Bill could only be justified by stern necessity, and to preserve the peace of the empire, and the lives of his Majesty's subjects; and that it could not therefore be considered as an infliction, but as in itself a boon. But no one connected with the Government had put the justification of that measure upon such grounds. What had been said by them was this: It must be allowed, that the necessity which called for the Coercion Bill was an unhappy necessity; the peace and tranquillity of Ireland were broken, and no other means seemed to be left for restoring quiet and order. It was evident, that the first and primary duty of the King's Government was to preserve the lives and protect the property of his Majesty's subjects. Those were placed in jeopardy in Ireland, and under these circumstances of dire necessity, his Majesty's Ministers, with unfeigned reluctance and regret, proposed the Coercion Bill. In proportion to the necessity for the enactment was the pain with which they yielded to that necessity. Ireland was then labouring under a complication of miseries; in fact, society in that country was in a state of complete disorganization; and it therefore became the immediate and bounden duty of Ministers and of the Parliament to strengthen the laws so that security and quiet, should be restored. It was also the duty of Ministers to inquire into the causes of this alarming state of society, and consider what measures might prevent a recurrence of those scenes. It was the duty of the 978 Government instantly to devise and bring forward such other measures as they thought would prevent the recurrence of such a state of things, and would allay the heats and discontent out of which they had arisen, and which had rendered the Coercion Bill a case of urgent necessity. It now had become necessary to consider how they could prevent the recurrence of those mischiefs. It was in that view, that these two measures were connected; and he maintained, that he not only should have been guilty of a breach of duty to his country, and of a breach of his professional and ministerial duty to his King, but that he should have been totally unworthy of the confidence and respect of the country, if he had abstained from taking the very first opportunity of allaying the anxiety of the minds of the people of Ireland, and of meeting the great body with measures of kindness and conciliation. Now, that the measure should produce the full effect which was expected from it, that it should produce that conciliation and satisfaction which were essential to the full effect intended from it, was more than he would take upon himself to hold out. But it was enough to justify the Government, that it had been founded upon that principle, and that the same principle was followed out in all its details; that it was a measure, which, whatever its effects might be, ought to give satisfaction, and ought to produce conciliation. He did not assert, that such must necessarily be the effect of the Bill; he hoped they would; the Bill was framed with that intention; and if such was the nature of the Bill, it was such a measure as the Government was bound to propose, and the Parliament was bound to sanction. When he considered the great grievances which existed in Ireland, and which it was manifest had produced the state of disorder to which the country was reduced, and the acts of violence which had been committed in it, he could hardly wonder that such were the effects produced by them. He did not wish, however, to be understood as intending to praise any of those acts. He disapproved of them as much as any man, and though he could find something like an excuse for them in the grievances from which they suffered, still he condemned them, on broad principles, as much as if they had not had any such extenuation. Let them look in the first place to the Church-cess. Could they 979 conceive anything more galling than that tax was. Did they recollect the manner in which that tax was collected—for what purpose it was raised—and by whom it was raised? Let their Lordships put themselves in the same situation, and consider how they would bear it. Let them suppose that the Catholics of England raised a cess upon the Protestants of that country, for the support of the altar, for the repairs of the Catholic churches, for vestments for the priests, for bells, tapers, and other articles necessary for Catholic solemnities and ceremonials, ail of which he would not say were held in contempt, but at least in abhorrence, by the majority of their Lordships as religious ceremonials and solemnizations; and could their Lordship's conceive a situation more painful, or from which they would be more anxious to be relieved, than from a tax of this description, however trifling in amount, but levied on those who could not derive any benefit from it, but who, on the contrary, felt it was raised for purposes for which they had not the least degree of respect. That was the state of the Catholics of Ireland; and to relieve them of that Church-cess was one of the great objects of this Bill. It was a grievance which came round every year, and was constantly rankling in their breasts, and irritating them, and their Lordships had only to suppose themselves placed in the same situation to be made aware of the force of the grievance from which the people of Ireland were now to be liberated. It had been said, that the Catholics and Dissenters of England had to contribute to the support of the Established Church; that they had to pay tithes; and as they had to pay tithes, why should they not as well pay cess. The answer was, that tithes were not the property of the persons in question, but that they were part of the property held by the Church. But that was very different from the cess, which was a tax, and that a tax to be paid for the purposes of a religion for which those that paid it had the same sort of abhorrence which their Lordships had for the Catholic religion. They had heard a great deal of the fund from which the purposes of this Bill were to be carried into execution. They had heard from a right reverend Prelate, that an error had been made by the Government in the calculations on which the measure was founded; but the right reverend Prelate had himself 980 committed as gross an error as well could be. He said, that the Government had made an error of 100,000l., because they had taken the amount to be derived from the sale of Bishops' leases at 500,000l., which, he said, they had over-estimated, because, instead of founding their calculation on the amount to be derived from the nett value of those taxes, they had taken the gross value, which error made a difference of 100,000l., and that, consequently, 400,000l. was all that they could reckon upon from that source. He (Lord Brougham) would at once admit, that if the right reverend Prelate's premises were correct, the conclusions were perfectly right. But so far were the premises from being correct, that they were radically wrong, and there was a fundamental error in his whole calculations; for, in fact, the calculations had been taken from the nett amount of the value of these leases. [The noble and learned Lord entered into a long calculation to show that they had taken the nett amount of the value of the leases, from which it appeared that, instead of the amount being over-stated, the Government had made these calculations on a lower scale than they were entitled to do.] He had gone into this calculation because he wished to set their Lordships right upon that head, as it was one of the principal foundations of the whole measure. As he had set the right reverend Prelate right on that great point, it might be as well to set him also right on some smaller points; for it was not only in great calculations that the right reverend Prelate committed gross blunders, but when he came to smaller sums, his inaccuracy was fully as great. He had stated, that the saving in the bishopric of Derry would be only two thousand pounds.
The Lord Chancellor
resumed: The right reverend Prelate was still wrong, for the immediate saving would be on the bishopric of Derry 4,160l., and the ultimate saving would be 6,160l.
The Bishop of Exeter
said, he had given them credit for the 4,160l., and that there would be an additional saving hereafter of two thousand pounds.
The Lord Chancellor
said, he certainly then had misunderstood the right reverend Prelate, for he had understood the right reverend Prelate to say, that the ultimate 981 saving would only be 2,000l. It did not, however, much signify bow it had been stated, for the fact was, that the immediate saving would be 4,160l., and the ultimate saving 6,100l. But the right reverend Prelate had also said, that 264,000l. was to be deducted from that sum, which the Commissioners would be liable to pay for arrears due by the Board of First Fruits. Now, it would be found, that though 264,000l. had been set down to the debit of the Commissioners, as they were to succeed to the Board of First Fruits, yet that they were to succeed to all sums, which appeared at the credit side of the Board, as well as those on the debit side, and that a sum appeared on the credit side which exactly covered the sum due. So that both sides might be struck off, and there would not be one fraction to pay over of that sum of 264,000l. He had only entered into this calculation to show that it was incorrect to say, that the Government had founded this measure upon false grounds, or that Ministers were not right in supposing that they should have ample funds at their disposal for the accomplishment of the objects in view. He was not disposed to agree with those who said, that the arrangement of the Church-cess was the only object of the Bill, although he admitted, that that part of the Bill was very important, in order to afford security to the Church. But so far from thinking that the sole, he did not even consider it the principal, merit of the Bill,—he said, at once—and he did not fear to be contradicted when he said so—that the diminution of the number of Bishops in Ireland had become absolutely necessary. Let any one compare the number of Irish Bishops with the number of English Bishops—let any one compare them to the number of the pastors and the number of the flocks—let him regard them with respect to the number of the congregations as compared with the number of benefices; and when he saw the disproportion between the labourers and those benefited, and especially when he saw the gross disproportion between the number of the English and of the Irish clergy, the wonder would be, not that such feelings as now prevailed among the people of Ireland, existed, but that they had not before been excited to an alarming extent. That nine times the same number of members of the Established Church of England should have only the same number of Prelates as 982 were in Ireland, surely could but be deemed to be monstrous. And whether the subject was looked to with regard to the revenue or the population, it was equally monstrous. The nett revenue of the Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland was 128,000l., and the revenue of the Archbishops and Bishops of the whole of England was little more. Now, was it to be endured, that for a population of 800,000 or 900,000, which was the number of persons professing the established religion in Ireland, and where the number of clergymen was only from 1,300 to 1,400, the same expense should be incurred, and nearly the same number was kept up, as for the Hierarchy of the whole of England, where there was a population of 9,000,000 professing the established religion, and from 9,000 to 10,000 clergymen. He was sure that England would never be satisfied unless an adjustment of the Church of Ireland was entered into. It had been said, that the Parliament had no right to reduce the number of Bishops—that it was an interference with the Church, and an encroachment on the rights of property. Although he knew that nothing came more frequently within the ordinary jurisdiction of Parliament than the interference with property, still he would admit, that if this were an undue interference with property, he should think it a great impediment, though he would not say that it was an insurmountable obstacle, to passing of this measure. He denied, however, that such was the case. It had been also stated, that the King could not give his assent to this measure; that to do so would be a violation of the Coronation Oath, and of the article of the Union. He did not sec the noble and learned Earl who had commenced this evening's debate now in his place; and he lamented it, because he should otherwise have entered into the arguments his noble and learned friend had adduced on the subject of the Coronation Oath. He, however, much doubted whether he could properly dispense with making some remarks upon what had fallen from his noble and learned friend, even in his absence. He must say, that he concurred in the doctrines laid down by the noble and learned Baron, (the Chancellor of Ireland) in the course of last night's debate. But it was contended, that even if the necessities of the State—the voice of the people—the unanimous declaration of the Government—the will 983 of the parties for whom the Oath was devised, and who alone were interested in its being kept, should call out for a change according to the exigencies and circumstances of the occasion—still, happen what might—call as loud as they might—let the dangers be ever so numerous, ever so great, ever so urgent—let the necessity for dispensing with the obligation be ever so obvious, and so pressing—it was impossible that they could get out of the difficulty; it was impossible that they could extricate themselves from the dilemma, for the contract, it would seem, was one with which human bodies and human business had nothing to do, and over which a human Legislature had no control. To that they must come, if they should adopt the reasoning of his noble and learned friend, or they must have recourse to that alternative which the Catholics, formerly, under somewhat similar circumstances, had adopted by vesting a dispensing power in the Pope. They must, like them, vest a dispensing power in some human authority residing on the earth, and possessed of only earthly powers and attributes. But while the Catholics formerly acknowledged the existence of such a power, they vested it, some of them in the Pope, some in the conclave, and some in a general council, and, as their Lordships were no doubt aware, controversies took place at various times amongst the Catholics as to where and in what portion of the Church that dispensing power, that power of infallibility, resided. All of them acknowledged, that it was vested somewhere, and the great majority of them believed that the Pope, whom Protestants called the Bishop of Rome, but whom they called the vicegerent of Christ on earth, had, as such, that power of dispensation deposited in his hands. To one or other of those two alternatives, he would repeat, their Lordships must come, if they should adopt as correct the reasoning of his noble and learned friend with regard to the nature of the Coronation Oath. He knew that those great champions of Protestantism—a noble Earl whom he did not just then see in his place, and a right reverend Prelate opposite—had appeared, if he was not mistaken, to entertain the propriety of adopting in some cases one of those alternatives, and lodging a dispensing power, he believed, in clerical hands in some instances; at all events, he believed, that the suggestion 984 had been made from some quarter during the debate, but where he would not now stop to inquire. But let their Lordships see the situation in which they were placed, if his noble and learned friend's argument was right, and if it was to be carried to as high an extent as he had urged it, with respect to the inviolability of the Coronation Oath. Let them see the situation in which, under such circumstances, they would place many of those who had gone before them, and some of those who remained—the memory of deceased princes, the fame of departed Parliaments, and the reputation of the surviving councilors of some of our sovereigns. What would their Lordships say—what would his noble and learned friend say—to the abolition of a bishopric in 1745, and a similar instance of the abolition of another bishopric in 1752? But his noble and learned friend would probably say, that this was only one instance of such a proceeding, and that there was a great difference between a single violation of a right, and a single infraction of the Coronation Oath, and a wholesale sweeping violation of a right, and a wholesale sweeping infraction of the Coronation Oath, such as was to be found in the measure now before the House. Now, he (the Lord Chancellor) must confess, that he for one could not discern—was, in fact, utterly unable to discover—the force of such a distinction. He could not perceive the remotest particle of difference between the cases. He looked upon them as perfectly similar, as completely and entirely the same. If the one was the violation of a right, the infraction of an oath, the other was quite as much so. A right was a right, and an oath was an oath, and the slightest infraction or violation of either was, to all intents and purposes, as much an infraction and a violation, as if the right had been violated, or the oath had been broken, to a much larger extent. He who robbed the poor man of his all was not more a robber, though his crime was greater, than he who committed petty larceny. The petty larceny, in the one instance, was as much an infraction of the right as the wholesale robbery in the other; and by a parity of reasoning, the abolition of one bishopric was as much a violation of the Coronation Oath—nay, even the abolition of a single dean, canon, prebendary, parson, rector, vicar, or curate, constituted as great a violation of that oath, as if they were to 985 abolish one-half of the Bench of Bishops at one fell swoop. The number did not signify; one abolition was as good as twenty to constitute, on the grounds stated by the noble and learned Earl, a violation of the Coronation Oath. He had called on their Lordships to look to the situation in which they would place the memory of deceased princes and statesmen, if they should adopt his noble and learned friend's interpretation of that oath. What would their Lordships say to the fact, that George the 2nd, that "most religious king," and for whom we prayed in those very words, abolished a bishopric in 1745, and another bishopric in 1752? [Lord Wynford was understood to say: They were two Irish bishoprics.] His noble and learned friend was right, they were two Irish bishoprics. But surely the noble and learned Lord did not mean to say, as the lady said, "the rape was the other side of St. George's Channel." Neither, he was sure, would his noble friend follow the example of another lady, to whom a similar slip had occurred, but who positively denied that she had twins. The abolition of one single bishopric, and in Ireland, was just as much a violation of the Coronation Oath as if ten Bishops had been abolished, and that, too, on this side of the Bristol Channel. Well, who were the persons that advised George 2nd, to commit this great infraction of his Coronation Oath? Lord Chancellor Hardwicke was one of those guilty ministers, and Mr. Pelham—none other than Mr. Pelhara—was another of them. Mr. Pelham, on both occasions, advised, and properly advised, his sovereign to give those bishoprics in commendam, thus reducing four to two bishoprics in Ireland. Therefore, as regarded the memory of deceased princes and deceased Ministers, let their Lordships only reflect on the situation in which they would place them by adopting his noble and learned friend's interpretation of the Coronation Oath. If, however, his noble and learned friend had no reverence for their memories, had no respect for their characters, he surely entertained some regard for the characters and reputations of those who were Ministers, and especially of him who was Lord Chancellor of this country in 1817. He would just remind his noble and learned friend of a transaction which then occurred, and which, upon his own showing, materially affected the character of the 986 then Lord Chancellor. Noble Lords did not, perhaps, all recollect, but many of them were old enough to recollect, what took place in 1807. A Bill was then introduced by his Majesty's Government, which was supposed to be so great an infraction of the Protestant Constitution, so dangerous to the Church as by law established, and so much a violation of the King's Coronation Oath (for all the arguments on that point were used then that were used now, but with far different success from that which he trusted awaited their use on this occasion) that the Bill was at once stopped in its progress—it was thrown out, and out with it went the Ministers who had dared to propose such a measure to their Sovereign, and from that year did the question slumber up to the year he had mentioned, 1817. [The Duke of Cumberland here corrected the noble Lord by saying "1807."] He had said 1807, but he had said 1817 too. In the latter year the noble Duke was abroad, and he was not therefore so well acquainted with what had then occurred. He had the greatest respect for the noble and illustrious Duke. No one, certainly, had been a more consistent, a more undeviating enemy of every measure of the kind, from first to last. He spoke seriously, and in no disparagement of the conduct or character of the illustrious Duke. He lamented the noble Duke's consistent opposition on that point—he lamented it as one of the principal causes of delaying the passing of that healing measure which had at length been carried, and he lamented it therefore as having been, by causing the delay, positively mischievous to the country. The noble and illustrious Duke of course knew all that occurred in 1807. On that occasion out went the Ministers who had dared to propose to Parliament a bill which was then characterized as a violation of the rights of the Protestant Church, and, above all, as a violation of the Coronation Oath. Then came 1817. The noble and illustrious Duke was not then in the country, and of course, he was not acquainted with the extraordinary fact which then occurred—but fact it nevertheless was—that the same measure which had been so hooted and scouted in 1807, the same in substance exactly, though not the same in form, was proposed by the then Ministers to Parliament, was adopted by Parliament, and that the very Lord Chancellor who had succeeded Lord Erskine, when driven 987 out in 1807 (his noble and learned friend who had that evening addressed their Lordships,) affixed the great seal to the measure, and advised his Sovereign to give the Royal Assent to it. Of course, he (the Lord Chancellor) did not say, that that measure was a violation of the Coronation Oath; but if this present measure violated the Coronation Oath, so had the measure thus sanctioned by his noble and learned friend; and when, therefore, his noble and learned friend charged him (the Lord Chancellor) with counselling a breach of the Coronation Oath, he would retort the charge upon him, the only difference between them being that the one was for a trifling object, the other for an important one—with this additional difference, indeed, that the one took place in 1817, while the other did not occur until 1833. He had said, that if they came to the question of strict right, any difference in amount, one way or the other, did not alter or affect the question at issue. He would maintain, then, that Parliament had, over and over again, exercised the right of legislating with respect to Church property. He cared not what was the amount with regard to which it had legislated, but if it had a right to do so in one case, it had a right to do so in others, provided the circumstances of the times necessarily required it, and that all due care was taken of existing vested interests. Parliament had not even been always so extremely careful of existing vested interests, when legislating with respect to the property of the Church. He would just mention to their Lordships one or two instances in which Parliament had exercised the right of legislating with respect to the property of the Church, in order to show that it was not a species of property that was withdrawn from the control of Parliament. The right of the clergy to tithes was as indisputable, by the law of the land, as any one other right connected with Church-property. Now, had the Legislature ever legislated with regard to it without asking the consent of the Church, further than as that consent was signified by the dignified body who represented the clergy in that House, and as it had been declared through the Representatives of the people in the other House of Parliament, in the choice of whom the clergy, as a portion of the people, had their share? Further than that the Legislature had never previously asked the con- 988 sent of the Church in legislating on this subject, and it had never dealt with the right of the Church to tithes with any other consent from the clergy than that which had been asked and given to the present measure. He would just remind their Lordships of a few cases where the tithe on a particular species of commodities had been, upon public grounds, regulated by Act of Parliament. On the ground that the tithe in kind on madder, hemp, and flax had a tendency to prevent the production of those commodities, that tithe was regulated by Parliament. By a statute passed immediately after the Revolution in the reign of William 3rd, the tithe on hemp and flax was fixed at 4s. per acre, and no more was to be given to any one clergyman or layman. A similar course was adopted with respect to the tithe on madder, which was fixed at 5s. per acre, and no more. He had heard it said, indeed, that those Acts had been passed for the advantage of the Church, as the production of those articles had been prevented by the old mode of levying the tithe; but that was a most fallacious assertion, as other commodities would have been produced in their stead. He had looked into the preamble of one of those acts to discover the reasons assigned by the Legislature for passing it, and he would, by reading it to their Lordships, enable them to judge whether the advantage of the Church was to be found amongst them. The preamble commenced thus—"Whereas madder," not "whereas the Church has been injured by the falling off in the production of madder," but "whereas madder was an ingredient essentially necessary" (not for the subsistence of the clergy), but "essentially necessary in the dying and manufacture of cottons," &c. The preamble went on to recite, that as good madder could be produced in this country as on the Continent, for the encouragement of the production thereof the tithe upon it should be regulated in the manner therein prescribed. It was perfectly clear, that if the Legislature had a right in this instance, without the consent of the clergy, except as signified through either House of Parliament, to legislate as it had done, it had the same right to do so upon the present question, being precisely of the same description as if the question in the first instance had been one of the greatest magnitude. He could refer their Lordships to other in- 989 stances of such legislation on the part of Parliament with respect to the property of the Church, to the statutes of barren lands in England, and to the more modern instance of the Act of Agistment in Ireland. He would purposely abstain, however, from alluding further to the Act of Agistment, which was an Act passed by the Irish Parliament, as he could not understand on what principle the vote of the House of Commons in that case rested, that vote declaring the measure in question was essentially necessary for the interests of the Protestant Church and religion in that country. The instances which he had adduced of precedent and practice, proved, that they had not, in the present case, deviated in the slightest degree from the tract pursued by the Legislature upon similar questions upon former occasions; and that, in fact, the principle on which this measure was founded, was one that had been long recognized and acted upon by the Parliament of this country. He had heard it said, in the course of this three nights' debate, and, if he mistook not, by the right reverend Prelate opposite; that this was a measure of violence and spoliation, and those terms not being sufficiently strong and full of meaning to express the warmth of his feelings, the right reverend Prelate added another—namely, "robbery," and he compared those who proposed it to the highwayman who slopped the traveller with the threat, "Stand and deliver." Then, if they were guilty of such a crime for delivering up those things, of what were those guilty who delivered up two bishoprics, one in 1745, and one in 1752?—for the only difference between them was, that the one delivered up two Bishops, and that the other proposed to deliver up ten. The guilt was the same in both instances, and the amount of the robbery constituted the only difference between the two cases. But the right reverend Prelate had spoken of their plundering the property of the Church, which he described as a corporation. Now, Parliament dealt frequently, not only with the property of private individuals, but with the property of corporations. He had yet to learn, however, that the Church was, in any sense of the word, to be regarded as a corporation. The Church had not the least similitude to a Corporation,—it had not a single one of the incidents of a Corporation annexed to it; in fact, the idea of the Church was 990 utterly incompatible with that of a corporation. But it suited the argument of the right reverend Prelate to speak of the Church as a corporation, and to rail against the justice of Parliament interfering with its property. Did the right reverend Prelate forget, that that House sometimes took upon it to deal with the property of the East-India Company, which was in reality a corporation? Had the right reverend Prelate not very long ago, too, sat in that House from day to day, and for hours each day, while an Act of Parliament was passing through it for wresting 30,000l. from the hands of that very Corporation, to put it into the pockets of a gentleman of the name of Murray? He could not vindicate that, but he would speak respectfully of any enactment that had been passed by the Legislature. Far be it from him to speak with disrespect of that Act which had now become the law of the land. It was true he had opposed it to the utmost of his ability, but, being now the law of the land, he was bound to treat it with deference and respect; but, though he might think that Act ever so wrong in principle, whatever blame it might deserve in his opinion, he had never contended, that the House had no right to pass it. He told their Lordships, that they ought not to pass it, but without ever contesting their right and power to agree to it if they thought fit, It was strange, then, that the right reverend Prelate, after being himself the individual to attend constantly, as the advocate and supporter of the Bill referred to,—after silting in the House day after day upon the measure, and contributing to its success by his vote,—it was strange, nay vain, in the right reverend Prelate, to compare those who now produced a great measure of peace and conciliation for Ireland—a measure calculated above most others to promote the advantage of Church and State,—to highway robbers, because they ventured to touch what he denominated a corporation; it was doubly vain in the right reverend Prelate to attempt to fasten this charge of spoliation and robbery on Ministers, with that statute against the East-India company, and in favour of Mr. Murray, with its red and black letters staring him in the face. He had heard it said, and with great regret, by a right reverend Prelate, whom he no longer saw in his place, but who had argued the question with his accustomed talent and learn- 991 ing, and with that temper and suavity which distinguished him on all occasions,—he had, with pain and regret, heard that eminent Prelate resort, in discussing this subject to such topics as these—first, the Coronation Oath, and next, the corporate capacity of the Church. On the latter point, however, not falling into the vulgar error—too gross and intolerable for far inferior reasoners—of the Church being a great corporation as a Church, both in reference to its lay and ecclesiastical members, but arguing that, as a clerical body, the Church was composed of a variety of other bodies, each partaking of the nature of a corporation, or a corporation sole in itself, and it being thus an assemblage of corporations, that it was impossible, without violating vested rights, and the privileges of property possessed by corporate bodies, to make any change or infringement upon any one of them. He admitted the foundation of the argument, which was this, that the clerical order, as distinguished from the whole body of the Church, might be considered an assemblage of corporations; but if you sanctioned the principle, that because each of those corporations was capable of holding property, the Legislature had no right to interfere in the distribution of that property, on however just, wise, or moderate a plan, then he said that there existed an anomaly in the country so gross and monstrous, that if it were recognized in its full extent, and carried to its utmost limit, he did not see how it was possible for the two bodies to co-exist—the Legislature with its supremacy, and the Church with its absolute inalienable rights and privileges, which, according to this doctrine, the Legislature had not the power to control. If it should turn out that any Archbishops or Bishops should run their lives against the leases of the see-lands, with a view to cause the revenues of the sees to amount to 100,000l. or 150,000l. a-year, which might happen in some thirty years, in the very neighbourhood of their Lordships; then, according to the principle of the right reverend Prelate, that enormous amount of revenue must continue to be enjoyed by the particular prelacies for ever; unless some tenant of the overgrown sees chose voluntarily to give it up to be dealt with by Parliament,—nay, even their consent would not be sufficient, for that, according to some noble and right reverend Lords, would be a culpable assent to an act of 992 robbery upon the rights, and privileges and property of the sees; and the argument proved, if it proved anything at all, that an income of 150,000l. a-year might continue to be enjoyed by a Prelate, whilst there were 150 Parsons starving, on stipends of 30l. a year, in his immediate neighbourhood. An anomaly so extravagantly outrageous was not made for any age or time—certainly not for the age in which he nevertheless lamented to state that this doctrine had been somewhat late and very preposterously brought forward. Neither was that other doctrine at all adapted to the present time, which doctrine had been advanced by another Prelate, to the effect that the disparity between the Irish and English benches—the relative proportions of the two countries being considered—might be best removed and remedied, by an increase in the number of English Bishops; for to that the argument of the right reverend Prelate pointed. And it would seem from that clear, that some noble Lords thought, that when complaint was made of the disproportion between twenty-two Irish and twenty-six English Bishops, (the extent and circumstances of either country being taken into account) the true mode of adjusting the scale and remedying the disproportion, was not by cutting down the twenty-two to twelve, but by raising the twenty-six to forty. Their Lordships would be pleased to recollect, that they were living in the year 1833, not in the year 1533, from which period, nevertheless, those proportions of the right reverend Prelate seemed to be taken, by means of which he had misled the ingenuousness of the noble Lord who re-echoed his statement. The rule-of-three proportion of the right reverend Prelate the other night, was most undoubtedly derived from the year of grace, 1533, when men might talk of making forty Bishops instead of twenty, and of other matters somewhat difficult of accomplishment at the present time. No one was more thoroughly or sincerely a friend of the established Church of England and Ireland than himself,—none more convinced of the necessity of its existence, with a view to supply the essential wants of the people; none more reluctant to do any thing—nay, more resolved to do nothing, to shake its foundations, or do away with its necessary rights and privileges. But the difference between him and his opponents consisted in this, that 993 he was for, and they were against, adapting the Church to the feelings and opinions of men, over whom it was meant to hold sway in spiritual matters, and which feelings, if it did not reconcile to itself, its ministers must teach and preach in vain. For that cause he desired to see such salutary reforms and improvements introduced into the Church, as would render it more useful in practice, better entitled to the love and affections of the people, and more secure and permanent in its nature. Those were his opinions as to Church reform; happily they had little application to the Church in England. That there were defects in that branch of the Church, and that they would be remedied by the heads of the Church, who felt every disposition to adopt safe and effectual remedies, he was well convinced; and further, that Parliament, and the people of the land, would keep that watch over this Church which would be wholesome for its interests and welfare, he entertained a confident belief. But they were now discussing that particular part of the establishment with respect to which no man could deny that reform must be applied, if it was to continue to be useful and effective for the instruction of the people; nay, if it was much longer to exist in Ireland: and unless some such measure as the present (and no substitute had been proposed for it) were carried, unimpaired in principle, and in all its material provisions, the Irish Church must be exposed to the most imminent hazard; nay, further, he submitted that there would be an end to the security and permanency, and a speedy end to the very existence of that Church. Upon these grounds, and others of a like nature, it was, that he entertained a confident expectation that their Lordships would pass this Bill; and assuming the second reading to be agreed to, he was sure that nothing would be done in the Committee to at all cripple the efficiency of the measure. With respect to details, one or two of which had been pointed out for correction, he was satisfied, that any alterations which would leave the measure unimpaired and entire in point of efficiency, would be candidly and impartially discussed. He did not wish to go into minute matters, but if he were to give a single instance of oversight in the list of the opponents of the Bill, he might refer to what fell from a noble Duke, who objected to the admixture of Lay and 994 Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and especially complained of the three paid Commissioners, removable at pleasure, into whose hands the noble Duke was of opinion that a great portion of the business of the Commission would necessarily fall. Now, he believed that those most experienced in the conduct and management of Boards, whether public or private, would be the readiest at once to admit, that if they did not secure the constant and regular attendance of a limited number of persons, by appointing paid members, one of two consequences, if not both in succession, must ensue. The first of these results was, that the unpaid members would neglect the business to be performed, and, more or less, give over their attendance; and, in the next place, as some one must do the business, and as there was always one paid individual—a Secretary, Registrar, or Clerk—that person would do it inadequately, certainly, and perhaps not very fairly, having none to check or control him. But the worst of the matter was, that this Secretary or other officer used the names and screened himself behind the authority of the distinguished unpaid members, and did all his little bits of business under their seeming sanction, so that the result was, business was either not done at all, or it was not satisfactorily done. For these reasons, and with a view to avoid those evils, it had been decided that there should be three Commissioners with moderate salaries. It was said, that there would be no sufficient control over the Board so constituted, but a clause remedying that defect could be introduced, if indeed there were not such a clause in the Bill already, as his noble friend near him had just intimated. The Committee would be the proper place for these details. That their Lordships should ever think of passing the second reading of the Bill, and going into Committee upon it with the intention of introducing changes that would impair its efficiency, or materially change its nature, was a supposition that he would reject with indignation if ever he heard it mentioned—with an indignation proportionate to the respect he entertained for their Lordships. Consistently with that feeling of respect, it was utterly impossible for him to believe that the House would come to a vote of a colourable and collusive nature, in mockery of the people of this kingdom, and fraught with a thousand times worse consequences 995 than the manly and straightforward, though he thought mistaken, course of throwing out the Bill altogether on the question of its second reading.
The Bishop of Rochester
complained of the conduct of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, who had accused him of coming down, night after night, and sitting and voting on a Bill which the noble and learned Lord pretty plainly intimated that he considered a family job. Undoubtedly he had attended during the progress of the Bill, feeling a strong interest in the case; but he had never given a vote on the occasion and it was unjust in the noble and learned Lord to accuse him of having done so.
The Lord Chancellor
said, that he certainly was under the persuasion up to that moment that the right reverend Prelate had voted on the Bill, and probably most of their Lordships, who must have observed his incessant attendance during the progress of the measure, had fallen into a similar mistake.
The Duke of Cumberland
said, that perhaps he ought to apologize to their Lordships for attempting to address them at that late hour of the night; but after the allusion which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack had made to him, he thought it absolutely incumbent upon him to stand up and boldly and manfully avow his sentiments. The noble and learned Lord had accused him of being an obstacle to the removal of public difficulties, by constantly opposing the Catholic Relief Bill. If that were a crime, he must plead guilty to it. He denied it not,—on the contrary, he boldly avowed the fact. But although he had always opposed emancipation, the moment the Relief Bill passed into a law, he bowed to the decision of the Legislature, and had never since spoken in any shape against the measure. The noble and learned Lord, knowing the present state of parties as he must, had no right to make such a charge, which could only be intended to irritate the feelings of men who had now happily forgotten that proceeding and united together. But although he did differ from his noble friend (the Duke of Wellington), and had avowed it on that occasion, the moment he found he could with honour reunite himself to his noble friend, he had been willing to obliterate the recollection of all previous differences. He was sorry if, on the present occasion, there might be an 996 appearance of his not being exactly of the same opinion as his noble friend; but he knew the noble Duke's generous character too well to imagine that his noble friend would not think him unworthy of his friendship, were he not honestly and manfully to avow his opinion. He disapproved of the present Bill;—he looked upon it as a Spoliation Bill. When the noble and learned Lord called those individuals bigots who considered the Coronation Oath as an obstacle to the measure, he felt compelled to say, that to the maintenance of such an opinion he must again plead guilty; for he could not for the life of him see how that oath was to be got over in the present case. He had heard much upon the subject, but he could consider an oath in but one way; it was a matter between him and his God, and he could not understand the distinction as to the possibility of taking an oath in one capacity and not in another. And when it was said, that there was a difference between taking an oath in an executive and a legislative sense, he owned that he could not understand it. Their Lordships were, of course, familiar with the words of the Coronation Oath, but he hoped they would allow him to read it. The Royal Duke here read the Oath as follows:—The Archbishop or Bishop shall say,Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the people of this kingdom of England, and the dominions thereto belonging, according to the statutes in Parliament agreed on, and the laws and customs of the same?The King shall say,I solemnly promise so to do.Archbishop or Bishop.—Will you to your power cause law and justice, in mercy, to be executed in all your judgments?King.—I will.Archbishop or Bishop.—Will you, to the utmost of your power, maintain the Laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel, and the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of this realm, and to the Churches committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges as by law do or shall appertain unto them, or any of them?King.—All this I promise to do.After this the King, laying his band upon the Holy Gospels, shall say—King.—The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God.Now it did appear to him that if ever there was an oath which was binding, in the strict sense of the words, on the man who took it, it was this. He used the word 997 "man," for he put the case generally; and he would say that every man took the oath according to what he in his conscience thought it to mean, and that sense was between his God and himself. Looking at that oath, he could take it only in one way. He would not say in what way it might be taken by others. He would admit that the King could do no wrong, and that whatever his Majesty might do with respect to this oath, or to any other public matter, it would be by the advice of his responsible Ministers. What was the opinion of his Majesty on this subject he did not know, and would not pretend to say; for, upon his honour as a gentleman and a Peer, he had had no conversation whatever with his Majesty upon that question. All he would say, therefore, was, that if he had taken such an oath, he would not break it. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack had accused him of being one of those who had caused the rejection of the Bill for the relief of the Roman Catholics in the year 1807, under the Government of which the noble Earl (Earl Grey) formed a part. He must plead "not guilty" to that charge, but he must say, that he wished he had; for it was a course of which he should have had rather to boast than be ashamed. He certainly was favourable to the Government which followed upon the defeat of that measure, because he believed, and he would confidently appeal to their Lordships to bear him out in the assertion, that it was a Government (he meant from 1807 to 1817) which had tended more than any which had ever preceded it, to secure to this country the highest degree of respect amongst the nations of Europe and of the world. Under the Governments which had followed 1807 to the year 1817, this country had obtained those series of splendid victories by land and sea which had secured to her the respect and admiration of the world. For the reasons he had briefly stated to their Lordships, he would oppose the second reading of the Bill before the House; but should the votes of their Lordships decide upon the adoption of the principle of the Bill, it would not preclude him from attending to its details in the Committee, in order to show that there was not a shadow of an opposition between him and his noble friend (the Duke of Wellington) on the question, and he hoped that his noble friends who thought with him, would 998 attend and assist him in watching those details. He opposed this Bill because he could not forget that he was—though a very humble individual—a member of that family which had been called to the throne of this country in support of Protestant principles. He could not, therefore, consent to a measure which in his conscience he believed would lead to the annihilation of Protestantism in Ireland. He could not but remark, in passing, that there was a great error in making a distinction between the Church of England and the Church of Ireland. Since the passing of the Act of Union there was but one Established Church—that of the united kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland, and any measure which tended to injure that portion of the Establishment which was in Ireland, could not but be fraught with danger to the Establishment in England. On these grounds he opposed the Bill. He might, and no doubt he should, be blamed in many quarters, for the part he thus took, but he gave his vote conscientiously, and he had no objection that the public should know what he felt on this important question. He had stated his feelings and opinions openly, and he hoped fairly, and by those opinions he would stand or fall.
§ The Duke of Sussex
I should certainly not have addressed your Lordships upon this occasion, had I not been in some degree, called upon to do so by what has fallen from my illustrious relative on the other side of the House. Differing, as I do, from my illustrious relative upon most constitutional and political doctrines, I have felt myself, in an especial degree, called upon to come forward for the purpose of showing that my opinions are, as I conscientiously believe them to be, in perfect accordance with the principles which placed our family upon the Throne; as a Member of your Lordships' House and as a member of the Royal Family I thus felt called upon to come forward. To support the Protestant interest is to show the most perfect toleration to all sects, for the essence of Protestantism is the right of private judgment, and complete freedom of conscience. Amongst the excellencies of the Church of England is the comprehensiveness of its principles, its capacity for the admission of so many shades and varieties of opinion; it admits a greater number of sects than any other, and therefore toleration is its pro- 999 minent characteristic. I confess I cannot agree with my illustrious relative either as to his doctrines regarding the obligation of an oath, or as to the interpretation of the Coronation Oath. I do so the more decidedly when I recollect that in reading the Oath, he, my illustrious relative somehow or other rather slurred over one word "shall" in the passage "privileges as by law do and shall appertain unto them." From that passage nothing can be more evident, than that the Oath was prepared with a view to future alterations. With that proviso in the Oath, and the other party interested relieving me from the stringency of the obligation, I should not hesitate to consent to this measure, even though I had taken such an Oath. It was likewise perfectly clear, that the Oath was so drawn up for the purpose of preventing the Sovereign from dispensing with tile laws without the consent and agreement of the other branches of the Legislature. I consider, that both as a man and a Christian, I should be entitled taking such an Oath, to give my consent to this measure. After what has been said on the other side by my illustrious relative, I felt bound to say thus much, and briefly to state the motives which prompt me to support this Bill, which may be summed up in these words—I support it because I think it eminently calculated to promote the tranquillity and future prosperity of the country to which it is applied.
§ Lord Wynford
would crave the indulgence of their Lordships for a very short time. He certainly was not prepared to assent to the principles which had been laid down by his noble and learned friend on the Woolsack, and which, coming from such high authority, must have great weight with their Lordships. He was opposed to this Bill on principle, and would therefore vote against it; but he would beg to say a word of caution to those noble Lords who were disposed to vote for the second reading in the hope that it might be so improved in the Committee as that they could support it in its future stages. He feared, that that would turn out to be a forlorn hope. They had no reason to believe that the Bill would be so improved. It would be better, therefore, for those noble Lords who were opposed to the principle of the Bill to reject it in its present stage. One great point of the Bill to which he objected was the applica- 1000 tion of the Church-cess. This cess, in its present form, was objected to on the ground that being for the purposes of those who were of a different religion from the great majority of the payers, the payment ought rather to fall on the property of the Church than of the property of those who did not belong to the Church. But he would ask their Lordships to consider the result to which such a principle would lead. If the objection were good for anything, it would go a great deal further than those who used it intended. It would form a good ground for objecting to the payment of tithe and of several other charges which were to be applied to a religion different from those of the majority who paid them. Noble Lords who supported the transfer of this charge of Church-cess from one party to another seemed to forget that it was a charge on land, and that the party who held the land must pay it as long as he held it. As well might a rent charge be objected to, on the ground that the object to which it was to be applied was different from that which the holder of the land desired. It was said, that this Bill was necessary on the ground of expediency; but he must contend that no good ground of expediency had been stated. If Ireland could be reduced to peace and tranquillity by the sacrifice of the Church-cess, he would most willingly make it, for then there would be something gained; but, he would ask what had they hitherto gained by concession? If they gave up this to-day something more would be demanded to-morrow. Here came his first objection to the Bill. He did not dispute the right of Parliament to dispose of ecclesiastical property for ecclesiastical purposes, but he did object to taking ecclesiastical property, and applying it to lay purposes. Their Lordships had heard a good deal of the 147th clause of this Bill as the Bill was originally drawn. He wished that that clause had not been taken out of the Bill, but though it had been withdrawn, it marked the designs of the framers of the Bill. Their Lordships, he was sure, would not forget that it had been distinctly avowed in the course of the debate, that the time though it was not yet come, would soon arrive in which it would be gravely and seriously discussed whether Church property ought not to be applied to lay purposes. Their Lordships might depend upon it, that the time would come—sooner, perhaps, than even the noble Lord ex- 1001 pected—if their Lordships should be weak enough to yield to the clamour by which it was attempted to carry this Bill, which was one of the most inquisitorial and iniquitous Bills which had ever been proposed to Parliament. He pledged himself to prove that proposition in the Committee, if this Bill unfortunately should ever get there. He complained, that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack had spoken of the Bishops as if they had been so many excisemen. If the noble and learned Lord were talking of the excise, he might say that there were only so many inhabitants and so many square miles in the district, and therefore it was only right to get rid of so many officers for the sake of economy. He hoped, however, that in getting rid of excise-officers the usual policy of this Administration would not be followed, by which every abolition of an office was only made the stepping-stone to the institution of three or four additional offices. He would not, however, degrade the Bench of Bishops by placing them on a level with excisemen; for though excisemen derived their profits from the State, the Bishops did not; neither the Irish nor the English Bishops derived their endowments from the State. Pious individuals had contributed to those endowments. For example the endowments of the Bishopric of Durham, and also of the Bishopric of Salisbury, did not come from the Crown, but from pious individuals, as he knew from the history of the first mentioned bishopric, and from his own professional investigation into the property of the second. What right, then had either the Crown or the Parliament to say that the endowments of Bishoprics generally, having been made in the first instance by the State, should now be placed absolutely at the disposal of the State? He said, that if Parliament acted in the spirit of justice it could not take away that which Parliament had never given. He called on the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack to point out a single instance, in which a bishopric had been abolished, and its revenues confiscated. He would refer the noble and learned Lord to one case of that kind—namely, that of the Bishop of Westminster. There never had been but one Bishop of Westminster. He was a poor man, and a needy man, and in consequence, had assigned away the revenues of his Bishopric. It had been said that 1002 that assignment, had been made by Act of Parliament, but the fact was not so; on the contrary, he had made a surrender of his revenues in 1580. The Bishoprics of Bath and Wells had been consolidated; but their revenues had not been confiscated. That consolidation, too, had not been made by Act of Parliament, but by the authority of the Crown. In these cases the property remained in the order, but in the present case the property was to be taken from the order, and was, by a shuffle, to be applied to the building and repair of Churches. In the former cases the property was preserved, in the latter it was to be destroyed and annihilated. The noble and learned Lord had referred to the judgment, in the case of Murray and the East India-Company, to prove that Parliament had interfered with a composition but that was a sort of judicial act, and the opinion of the noble and learned Lord had been contradicted by their Lordships, and also by a majority of the 658 Gentlemen who sat in the House of Commons. He perfectly concurred in the reversal of the noble and learned Lord's judgment, and the noble and learned Lord, who, unfortunately for himself, thought himself always in the right, would live long enough to see that many others of his judgments would meet with a reversal. Notwithstanding all the observations which the noble and learned Lord had made upon the construction of the Coronation Oath, he was inclined to maintain the same opinion which had already been so ably maintained by his noble and learned friend below him. There was a wide difference in the application of the Coronation Oath to the case now before their Lordships, from the application of it to the case which had occurred some years ago. The noble and learned Lord had quoted great authority in favour of his opinion; but he had equally great authority ready to quote against it. He had the authority of Lord Kenyon—a judge who had not applied his intellect to all subjects, and so comprehended none—a judge who had applied his mind to the law of his country, and who, instead of having his mind narrowed by that application, had such great powers of discrimination as enabled him to discern at a glance what was right and what was wrong on all questions. That learned Judge, in one of his letters to our late beloved and revered Sovereign George 3rd, made this observation with 1003 respect to the Coronation Oath—that it was matter for his Majesty's own consideration whether the concession of emancipation to the Roman Catholics was likely to endanger the existing establishments of the Protestant Church by law established. He added, that if his Majesty should be of opinion, that that measure would endanger their security, his Majesty could not grant emancipation without violating his Oath; but, that, if his Majesty should form a contrary opinion, then he could grant it; for every innocent concession made to Dissenters was not to be considered as a violation of that Oath. The question in the year 1817 was simply this: whether they would admit a certain number of Roman Catholics as officers into the army and navy. Now, as the number of Roman Catholics so admitted could not be very great, his noble and learned friend was no more liable to attack upon this ground than the right reverend Prelate opposite was liable to it upon the other grounds stated by the noble and learned Lord—for his noble and learned friend had a right to say to his Majesty on the Bill of 1817, "There can be no difficulty in your Majesty passing this Bill, for there is nothing in it which is likely to endanger either the security of your Throne, or the safety of the Protestant Church Establishment." Indeed, he had no hesitation in declaring it as his opinion, that the Coronation Oath did bind the King in his legislative capacity. If he (Lord Wynford) should think that this Bill was an attack on the Church, as he did think it to be, from its abolishing ten Bishops, he should advise his Sovereign to withhold his assent from it; but if other noble Lords should be of a contrary opinion, they would be perfectly justified in advising the Sovereign to give it. The noble and learned Lord had said, that if this Bill were not the best Bill that could be devised, it still deserved the support of their Lordships, because it contained within itself the seeds of amelioration. Now, what did that language mean, when translated into plain English? Nothing more than this—that this Bill could be employed as the fulcrum for any lever which might hereafter be employed to subvert the Church Establishment of Ireland. The Coronation Oath divided itself into three parts, two of which evidently applied to the King in his executive capacity; but the third bound him in his 1004 legislative capacity. This was plain, because the two first divisions bound and specified all those functions which applied to the executive, while the third could only be interpreted as binding upon the legislative capacity, inasmuch as it enjoined his Majesty to observe the laws of God, and preserve the rights of the Church as by law established. A noble Marquess, with great ingenuity, had argued, that there must necessarily be some power on earth to release the King from this Oath. He was well satisfied, that no authority on earth could or ought to release the King from the obligation. It was a matter solely between the conscience of the Sovereign and his God; and that, in this instance, the stringent nature of it should be felt was most proper, when—as an illustrious Duke had said—the present family was called to the Throne expressly for the purpose of maintaining the Protestant religion in these realms. He entertained a great respect for the Roman Catholics; but one great objection he felt to their religion was, that it admitted a human power to release men from a sacred obligation. The noble and learned Lord then touched upon the Coronation Oaths, taken by the Sovereigns of this country from the time of Edward 3rd, downwards to the Revolution, quoting the opinion of Mr. (afterwards Lord) Somers, who wished that a degree of liberty should be left to the King, but whose opinion was overruled. He concluded by observing, that he did not mean to set himself up in opposition to the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, who was in the full vigour of his life and faculties, while he (Lord Wynford) was only a poor old worn-out person, who entertaining strong and honest opinions, thought it right to express them. His determination was to vote against the second reading of the Bill; but if it were carried, he should nevertheless attend the Committee, and resist the progress of the measure in its various stages.
§ Earl Grey
felt himself so exhausted, which he had no doubt was also the case with the House, by a protracted attention upon three nights' debate, that he should not have again ventured to trouble their Lordships—indeed, he felt that he owed others an apology for doing so—but for the taunts and insinuations, imputing to Ministers motives in bringing forward the present Bill, not only the furthest from 1005 their thoughts, but at variance with the most sacred obligation of religion—which had been so lavishly dealt out against him throughout the discussion, hi the first place, he was anxious to set himself right with the noble Duke (of Wellington), who had charged him with having, in his opening speech attacked the noble Duke's administration with "even more than his usual asperity." Now, he persuaded himself that he at all times guarded himself against the liability to such an accusation; at least, he was anxious to do so; but if ever there was an occasion in which he had, he would venture to say, successfully avoided every expression and topic at all calculated to irritate or offend, far less to create feelings of asperity in himself or others, that was the occasion. He must, therefore, disclaim being obnoxious to the charge of asperity; and he must also disclaim having held the noble Duke's Government responsible for the consequences of that long account of delay which so unfortunately was permitted to transpire, before the passing of the great measure of justice towards their Catholic fellow-subjects. It was against the general impolicy of the delay, with its arrear of accumulated ills, and not the mere fact that the noble Duke could not hold out any longer, that his observations were directed—experience too fatally confirming his long pronounced predictions of the calamitous consequences. The noble Duke had taunted him with not having precluded the necessity of the present measure by a vigorous exertion of the power of the law against those who disturbed the peace of Ireland; but did the noble Duke so soon forget, that precisely the same taunts were flung against himself for not having, by a like vigorous exertion of the power of the law, precluded the necessity of the Catholic Relief Bill? But the noble Duke at the time, told his adversaries, that things were arrived at that pass in Ireland, that they had no choice between civil war and conceding the Catholic Relief Bill, and that he yielded to necessity in adopting concession he (Earl Grey) had vindicated the noble Duke from the attacks then made on him, and had contended, that he was acting under a necessity, which the delay of preceding administrations had caused. When that reproach of not having used the powers of Government was made to the noble Duke, be had answered that it was difficult to 1006 deal with a resistance which was within the limits of the law. As that was the ease with the noble Duke, whose vigour had been so frequently applauded, and as the circumstances were precisely the same now, it might have been expected that the noble Duke would have made allowance for those who were placed in a situation where they suffered from the same difficulties that he had formerly felt. Ministers did everything—tried every provision of the existing law—to put down insubordination in Ireland, before they proposed that measure of severity, which wrung his heart when bringing it forward, and which only imperative necessity could have forced him to—the Coercion Bill. Everything that could be done consistent with the existing law, and the spirit of the Constitution was attempted by Lord Anglesey, whom the noble Duke went out of his way, to say the least of the noble Duke's remark, ungraciously to censure, before they tried the severe measures which their Lordships had, at the commencement of the Session, sanctioned. He must say, that if those who were now so ready with their denunciations of the Irish Government, had been but half as zealous in aiding Lord Anglesey to inforce the law, as they were to excite disaffection by inflammatory harangues and violent party vituperations, of which truth was but a partial element—the existing law might have sufficed and the Coercion Bill would never have been heard of. Great efforts had been made throughout the debate, to make it appear that the present Bill was one of those revolutionary consequences of the Reform Bill which its prophetic enemies had foretold; and a noble Earl who spoke last night, told Ministers in a tone of triumph: "Look at the fruits of your Reform Bill—here is the result of your Reformed House of Commons, those democratic masters whose bidding you must obey." Now, it might be that he (Lord Grey) was too sanguine; but looking at the past proceedings of the present House of commons—looking at its character and general conduct, he must say, that the proceedings of the House of Commons had successfully vindicated the Reform Bill. They were told that a reformed House of Commons would be democratic, and radical, and violent, and destructive—that it would be the tyrannic master of the Ministers to whom it owed its existence. What was the fact? It was 1007 only the other might that a noble Baron (Ellenborough), when reprimanded by his noble friend on the woolsack, for his "elaborate vituperation," replied with charging the House of Commons with being shamelessly subservient to the mere will of the Minister. How were these contradictory charges to be reconciled—that of being despotic masters and subservient slaves? But the House of Commons required no vindication; its conduct was its own eulogy: it, to the best of its ability, honestly promoted the public service generally—supporting Ministers, it was true, but solely because in doing so, it believed it discharged its duty to the country friends of liberty and constitutional government, it yet supported Ministers when, in the painful exercise of a solemn duty, it suspended the Constitution against disturbers of the public peace, as the best means of insuring the public safety. And never was a House of Commons more unanimous than on that occasion, voting more than 5 to 1–446 to 89—in favour of the Irish Coercion Bill; and this was the revolutionary, and democratic, and radical House of Commons! A noble Earl (Earl Vane—The Marquess of Londonderry), told him last night, that he would vote with him in favour of the present Bill, provided he (Earl Grey) bound himself to stop short there, and proceed no further with Church Reform, in the same manner as he had stated, that he would make the Reform measure final, so far as the representative system was concerned. Now, he would make no compromise with the noble Earl: at the same time that he was ready to repeat, that he ever should oppose annual Parliaments, universal suffrage, and the vote by ballot, which had been pronounced to be the unavoidable results of the Reform Bill. He would appeal to the House, whether there ever was a period when they had heard so little as during the last six months on the subject of universal suffrage, annual Parliaments, and the vote by ballot? Some persons had, it was true, endeavoured to inflame the public mind on those subjects; they were not satisfied with the Reform Bill; and he never expected that they would have been satisfied; but again he asked, had ever anything fallen upon the public ear with so little effect as all these attempts to agitate the public mind? He begged their Lordships to look back to the State of the country, at the period when 1008 the present Administration came into office. All the north of England was then disturbed by the trades unions—besides that, the political unions were agitating a variety of political questions of fearful import—there was a general spreading of discontent, and burnings were taking place all over the country. This alarming state of things was at an end, and the political unions had for the most part ceased to exist. A noble Lord had lately referred to a meeting of a political union at Newcastle, and said, that nothing could exceed the indignation and contempt which the speakers at that meeting expressed towards the Administration. That, at least, was a proof that Ministers had not favoured those bodies, and were, therefore, not favoured by them. The fact was, that the persons in question expressed themselves violently against Ministers, in proportion as they found that their schemes were defeated by the measures of salutary reform which had been introduced. He was reminded the other night, that when the Reform Bill was under discussion, he had expressed his reliance on the good sense of the people, and was asked whether the result justified his confidence. He certainly did say, that he placed reliance on the good sense of the people, interested as he knew them to be in the promotion of liberty, though they were the enemies of disorder, and he was bound to state, that his expectations had not been disappointed. Their Lordships were told that the passing of the Reform Bill would only lead to further demands; but as far as the experiment had gone, it had been completely successful, and instead of being compelled to make further concessions, they stood in a position which enabled them to offer a successful resistance to any attempts to carry wild plans of reform, which would unsettle, and perhaps overthrow, the Constitution. The danger of concession leading to fresh demands, was often urged against Catholic emancipation, from the moment of the question being introduced, up to the time when it was carried. It was the argument used by the noble Duke himself. The resistance to the just claims of the Catholics went on until the question came to a position in which the noble Duke, whose vigour a noble Earl last night praised so much, was compelled to make a kind of capitulation, and to yield to necessity what, granted in time, would have been received as a measure of conciliation 1009 and favour. Emancipation was at, length granted under circumstances which diminished the good effects that naturally would have resulted from it. The people were taught the value of combination; the long resistance of Parliament had placed in their hands a power with which they were unwilling to part; and when the question was carried, they looked out for another subject of complaint, which too readily presented itself. He disclaimed having taken up the reform of the Irish Church, and the other reforms, which, if the Government should continue, they would have to propose, under the pressure of external necessity. He considered the present reform desirable and proper, even before any symptoms of violence occurred in Ireland. If their Lordships could recollect any thing which fell from so humble an individual as himself, they would remember, that repeatedly, when the Catholic question was under discussion, he said, that he did not expect that measure to be a cure for all the evils of Ireland; but he was anxious that the question should be settled, because it operated as a bar to all improvements in that country which it was necessary to effect. He remembered, upon one occasion, asking their Lordships, whether they thought that one measure could remove all the evils resulting from a century of misrule. A right reverend Prelate, had fallen into a mistake in supposing that the present measure was intended as a sort of balance to another measure—as a boon in return for a measure of severity; but his noble and learned friend upon the Woolsack had so clearly explained that point, that it was unnecessary for him to dwell upon it. When he introduced the Coercive Bill, he stated that it was intended to restore tranquillity to Ireland; but Ministers would not do their duty if they did not avail themselves of the opportunity afforded by the re-establishment of order to endeavour to correct evils which existed. In bringing forward this measure. Ministers had nothing in view but the good of their country. If they were actuated by the base and sordid motives which were imputed to them, they would never have introduced a measure which would destroy a fruitful source of patronage. The question of expediency had been argued, and, with the explanation of the right reverend Prelate, he adopted the ground of expediency, as one 1010 on which he recommended this measure. He took the arguments of Paley, as explained by the right reverend Prelate. To the noble Duke, and the noble Lord who had stood so high on the matter of principle he should beg to direct this question—whether they were quite sure, after all, that they themselves were not acting on the ground of expediency? The point to be attained was the security of the Protestant Church—the united Church of England and Ireland. It was their duty to support that United Church—they proposed this measure because they believed it would have that effect, and the noble Duke and the noble Lord opposed the measure because they thought it dangerous to the Church to admit the principle of change. Both parties then acted on grounds of expediency—the real difference between them was, the mode in which the object that they had in common could be most surely attained. It was said, that the Churches of England and Ireland were one. It was true they were so; but did it follow that a defect in one of the branches was not to be remedied because the same defect did not exist in the other. Certainly, if that principle was to be adopted now, it would be for the first time, for hitherto it had not been acted on. A Tithe Composition Bill had been passed under the preceding administration. That Bill was applicable only to Ireland, and he believed that if it had been carried far enough things would not have come to this extremity in Ireland. He should now say a word on the evils of the Church-cess. All but the right reverend Prelate who spoke last night had admitted that it was an evil. Of that speech of four hours, he would not have complained, had it not been that three-fourths of it were made up of topics which ought never to have been introduced into the discussion ["No, no."] Noble Lords might say "No;" but he reasserted the fact. The right reverend Prelate said, that he never heard of Church-cess being a grievance, or being the cause of discontent.
§ Earl Grey
said, it was somewhat extraordinary the discontent should prevail without a grievance. However, he would proceed to some other points in the right reverend Prelate's address. The right reverend Prelate said, that when his right hon. friend, the late Secretary for Ireland, 1011 entered upon that office, which he had filled with so much honour to himself and benefit to the country, he, with the wantonness of a spoiled child, cast away all the measures of Reform which had been recommended by a Committee of the House of Commons, and which he had previously advocated. He wished his right hon. friend was there to answer the right reverend Prelate himself. It happened unfortunately for the accuracy of the right reverend Prelate's statement, that the first measure which his right hon. friend brought forward, after accepting office, was a Bill for the abolition of Vestry-cess. There were nineteen measures recommended by the Committee, all of which the right reverend Prelate said had been neglected, but of which there were only four which Government had not introduced. So much for the accuracy of the right reverend Prelate. His noble and learned friend (Lord Plunkett) had exposed the right reverend Prelate's mistake in deducting 200,000l. for the bonus, and 264,000l. on account of the debt. Neither of these deductions had appeared in the statement which he had made on proposing the second reading, which was perfectly correct. It had been said, as an objection to the measure, that the see-houses would be bought up by the Roman Catholic Bishops; if there was anything in this, he should not object to a clause in the Committee to restrain the sale of see-houses, and to put an end to all fears on that head. The right reverend Prelate had said, that there had never been a revaluation of first fruits since the time of Henry 8th, of livings, which had been valued before that time.
The Bishop of Exeter
I said there had been no revaluation of the same benefices which had been valued by Henry 8th, in the time of James 1st, and Charles 1st.
§ Earl Grey
Exactly. Their Lordships had on their Table an opinion of the law officers of the Crown, from whence it appeared, that the archbishopric of Armagh was valued at 30l. in the time of Henry 8th; was retaxed in the 15th of James 1st, and rated at 400l.; so that it turned out not only that there had been a revaluation, but the first fruits were more than doubled. It was admitted, on all hands, that where there had been no valuation there might be a valuation, and the fact was that one-fourth of the livings in 1012 Ireland had not been valued at all; and Parliament had an undoubted right, where there had been a valuation, to raise it to its full value. Then what became of the complaint of taxing the Church? The Church cess was the primary object to which the first fruits were to be applied, and the calculation which he had made of the sum necessary for Church cess came to within a trifle of the amount he had taken as the results of the first fruits. Then this was not to be considered as a tax to which the clergy were unfairly subjected, but a substitute for a tax that could be raised by the Crown and the authority of Parliament. He defied the right reverend Prelate to prove that, by the ancient law of the country, the clergy were not liable to the repairs of the Church. He had heard this measure called by the terms "spoliation," and "robbery;" but there was no ground for asserting that the Church was not left in the full enjoyment of the whole of its property. The property was to be transferred to the hands of Commissioners; but there was nothing in that which violated the property of the Church, or weakened any of the securities by which its right to its property was protected. The objects to which it was to be applied were the augmentation of poor livings, and the repair of glebe houses; and if there could be any object less injurious than others to the clergy, it was the affording new stimuli to the active industry of the country. Then, with respect to the reduction of the number of the Bishops, it had been said, that such a thing was never done, and that it was not in the power of Parliament to do it. He thought he had clearly shown that there was no definite number of Bishops in Ireland, which had perpetually varied, being sometimes eighteen, and sometimes forty-two; that unions of bishoprics had been made sometimes by the Pope, sometimes by the Crown; and with these examples would the noble Lord tell their Lordships, that it was not in the power of Parliament to make a new arrangement, if the interests of the country and of the Church demanded such arrangement? The argument, he thought, was quite untenable. The noble and learned Lord who preceded him alluded to the honoured name of Lord Ken you as an instance of a man who prudently turned his attention to one subject and excelled in it, in prefer- 1013 ence to dabbling in many and comprehending none. That certainly was a good example well worthy of imitation even by some noble Lords themselves. The noble and learned Lord (Lord Wynford), it was well known, applied himself most rigorously and assiduously to every subject that happened to present itself to the notice of their Lordships. Whether he understood them all or not—whether he understood any portion of them or not—he would, of course, in common courtesy, leave to the House to decide. But if the noble and learned Lord spoke every day, and ten times every day, he would never convince him (Earl Grey) of the impropriety or the injustice of reducing the number of bishoprics. The noble and learned Lord said, that the temporalities had never been taken away; but he well knew that, on the demise of a Bishop, the temporalities vested in the Crown, and were revested in the Bishop by what was termed a restitution. He (Earl Grey) was not quite sure that the King, instead of restitution, might not himself direct the application of Church property without an Act of Parliament. Then it was said, that, in the preamble of the Bill, the word "convenient" occurred, and it was asked to whom it was convenient? The sum saved would be 50,000l., and the number of poor livings to be raised was 465, requiring the sum of 46,500l.; and he (Earl Grey) answered, that it was extremely convenient to these poor clergy, and extremely advantageous to the interests of the Church. Into the more general subjects of the right reverend Prelate's speech he (Earl Grey) would not enter. Their Lordships had heard extracts and letters read from Dr. Doyle, and Dr. M'Hale, and Mr. Burke, and they had had a general description of the enormities of the Catholic religion, and the disregard of an oath on the part of Catholics, and the character given by Mr. Burke, "a factious priesthood," applied as a general description to the Roman Catholic clergy. The strange, the uncalled for, observations of the right reverend Prelate (the Bishop of Exeter) on the Catholic clergy, if they did not excite his surprise, they most assuredly did his regret. Nothing could, in his view, be more reprehensible than an attempt, come from what quarter it might, to re-open old, and as he (Earl Grey) hoped, fast-fading animosities. But to 1014 what could those observations tend but to open wounds which all good men desired to see healed. For what purpose were they made?—in what spirit could they be begotten? Did the right reverend Prelate wish again to lay open the sources of so many crimes—the cause of so much suffering, as well to individuals as to the nation—did he wish again to see society disturbed by religious bickerings, and its peace once more at the control of party passion. This Bill, he asserted, had nothing whatever to do with the Catholics; and why were such inflammatory topics ever introduced into the discussion on it? It was no concession to the Catholics. He boldly averred it. It was a concession to the Church itself; in order that, in its present state of danger, it might have some chance of braving the storm. It was possible (would be could disbelieve it!)—it was unhappily possible, to find some clergymen, even in the Church of England, whose sole study, and sole care—regardless, perhaps, of higher calls, and nobler duties—was to be found in pamphleteering, or in preparing exciting speeches to trouble men's minds, and shake society to its centre. Sorry should he be to take such a man—if, indeed, there were one—as a sample of the clergy of England; to think that men of his own creed should deny an indulgence to others which they claimed for themselves. If this, however, were done, no doubt others would rush to the encounter. If a pamphlet appeared, attacking the Catholic body, there would, doubtless, soon be a rejoinder from the pen of Dr. Doyle. He should leave the intellectual combatants to their own encounter——"Arcades ambo;Et cantare pares, et respondere parati.In whatever way the controversy might be conducted, he should be no party to it, but leave it to others who had more zest for such ignoble warfare. The Bill was before their Lordships, and it was for them to decide whether it was to be read a second time or not. He did hope, however, that if they concurred in the principle, there would not hereafter be found lurking any design of effecting such change as would impair its power of efficiency. It might be possible to make such alterations in it as would defeat the object its framers had in view, and cause the other House to reject it—thus producing all those dangers which so many 1015 feared. But if this were the design—if there was really any intention of so altering it in Committee, he would, for his own part, greatly prefer its rejection on that, the second reading. He knew there were difficulties surrounding the question; but he felt there would even be less in rejecting the Bill, than in so impairing it hereafter that its own friends would blush to acknowledge it. He had been reproached by some for going too far, and by others for not going far enough. Others had said he had conciliated those on whose faith it were folly to rely. But he denied it; if he had conciliated at all, it was with no such view, and with no such parties; but merely from a sense of duty, to prevent those dangers which would be consequent on the rejection of a measure which the Commons approved, and the people had at heart. Government had been much reproached for abandoning the 147th Clause; but he believed they had been correct in so doing, for they did not depart from one principle of the Bill. If be had done this in the hope of conciliation, he should only have been miserably deceiving himself; for he doubted not he should soon have found out, that in this, as in other instances, any such attempt would have only served to excite more direct and bitter attacks against the Government of which he was a Member. For no such purpose—for no such futile and silly purpose had he altered it; but merely from a sense of duty so to frame it, as to prevent the possibility of those evils which he and others were afraid would attend its rejection. He, at least, had done everything to prevent convulsion. He knew his own situation too well to suppose he should escape, if any arose. But their Lordships, he must honestly tell them, could expect nothing else but convulsion, if they refused reasonable and necessary Reform. This he was sure of, that danger would be felt and anticipated by everybody if that House should place itself in a certain position, with a view of controlling ["No, no!" from some noble Lord.] He really thought it would be more proper not to interrupt, but to answer him. If their Lordships, by acting on false notions of honour and right, should attempt to control, or, in other words, should attempt to govern, independent of public opinion and of the opinion of the House of Commons, convulsion must inevitably ensue. 1016 Tranquillity was now restored in the kingdom—trade and everything were going on well; and if their Lordships would only lend themselves to the correction of acknowledged abuses, they would strengthen their own position in society—they would bless and be blessed by that society. He should calmly await the decision of that House, in the earnest hope that their Lordships would wisely consider their own honour, and the peace, interests, and happiness of their common country.
The Bishop of Exeter
, in explanation, said, that when he alluded to revaluations, he spoke of them in the rational sense of general revaluations, and not partial revaluations produced by particular circumstances.
§ The Earl of Harrowby
said, that though opposed to the Bill in many points, he would follow the example of the noble Duke (Wellington), and vote for the second reading, with the view of amending it in Committee.
§ Their Lordships divided—Contents—(present 104; Proxies 58) 157; Not Contents—(present 68; Proxies 30) 98—Majority 59.
§ Bill read a second time.1018
|List of the CONTENTS.|
|Gardner||Saye and Sele|
|Howard of Effingham||Sundridge|
|Kilmarnock||Willoughby de Eresby|
|Paget||Bath and Wells|
|Anglesea||Grey of Groby|
|Winchester||Howard de Walden|
|EARLS.||Lovell and Holland|
|Hillsborough||Stuart of Castle Stuart|
|The following Peers went away without voting.|
|Duke of Wellington||Marquess of Lothian|
|Marquess of Salisbury||Lord Dufferin|
|Lord Stuart de Rothsay|
|Earl of Haddington|
|Earl of Jersey||Duke of Buccleugh|
|Earl of Rosslyn||Earl of Aberdeen|
|List of the NOT-CONTENTS.|
|Abingdon||Willoughby de Broke|