§ Viscount Melbourne said,
it was extremely natural that an individual charged with bringing forward a measure, should, in some degree, from the fact of its having been the subject of his serious contemplation, be inclined to exaggerate its importance to himself, and over-state it to others; but he thought, that if their Lordships considered the measure which he was now about to propose the second reading of—whether with respect to its immediate effects or remote consequence, not only upon that part of his Majesty's dominions to which it exclusively applied, but upon this great empire at large—they would be of opinion, that it was hardly possible to over-estimate the importance of the decision to which they were about to come with reference to it. Their Lordships were well aware of the unsatisfactory state of the tithe question both in Ireland and this country. During the last three years and a half Ireland had been distracted by it. Their Lordships were also well aware, that during the last three years, ever since the beginning of 1831, the time and attention of both Houses of Parliament had been occupied with measures and motions on this subject. There had been question upon question—measure upon measure—committee upon committee—bills, some of a provisionary character, and some having a tendency towards the settlement of the question—in short, the subject had continually engaged the attention of the Legislature, and yet it still, undoubtedly, remained in a most unsatisfactory state, and Ireland was, in consequence, if not convulsed, at least unsettled. He would not say, that there had not been imprudent expressions employed with re- 1144 ference to the question both by individual Members of Parliament and by committees; but the very difficulties which were to be contended with, the very errors which they had committed, the changes into which they had been forced, the Motions on the subject which had come upon them one after the other, sufficiently proved the embarrassing state of the question, and if they had no other effect, should induce their Lordships to look with the greatest anxiety, impartiality, and candour, if not with favour, upon any measure professing to offer a safe, effectual, and satisfactory solution of the question. Above all things, he hoped that their Lordships would give the Measure a fair and impartial consideration, entirely removed from any party feeling and entirely removed from any personal feeling. He hoped, that they would consider the measure as it stood before them, without reference to the manner in which it had been brought forward—without recrimination or feelings of animosity, but solely with reference to the evil which it was proposed to remedy. Amicus Plato amicus Socrates, sed magis amica veritas. At the same time he was ready to admit, that there might be great reason for some of their Lordships to view with distrust and jealousy, for some even with enmity, if such a feeling could find a place in their bosoms, the quarter from which certain alterations which had been made in the Bill since it was originally introduced had proceeded. He would now proceed to state the principal objects which the Bill proposed to effect. It was unnecessary for him to go through the history of the tithe question, or to enumerate the statutes which had been passed in connexion with it. Suffice it to say, that by the statute of William IV., the composition for tithes, which before was voluntary, was made compulsory; and he believed that the provisions of that Act would be carried into effect in every parish in Ireland after October next. The Bill now before the House abolished all compositions, and substituted for them a rent-charge payable by the landlord, due to the Crown, and levyable and manageable by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. It laid the burden at once on the owner of the first estate, and, to make amends for placing it upon him who had never before borne it, it gave him a deduction of two-fifths of the amount of the original composition. This deduction was not fixed 1145 arbitrarily, for it would appear, that if tithes were redeemed at six years' purchase, making allowance for the interest of the money, the bonus would amount to about forty per cent. It was erroneously supposed by some—and amongst others by the illustrious Duke who addressed the House at the commencement of that evening—that the whole of the deduction of forty per cent. was to fall upon the incomes of the clergy. The deduction to be made from the income of the clergy would be only twenty-two and a half per cent., being twenty per cent. for increased security, and two and a-half per cent. for the expenses of collection. Every incumbent therefore, would receive 75l. for every 100l., without any trouble, without any risk, and without any of the odium which had hitherto attended the collection of tithe property; and really he thought that this was not a bad arrangement. He did not know how their Lordships collected their rents; but he thought that if they were told, that they might receive 75l. per cent. for every 100l., without the risk of bad tenants, without the trouble of collection, and on the security of the Government, there were some of them who would not be disinclined to close with the bargain. Their Lordships must recollect also, that the clergy would, after the passing of the Bill, be entirely relieved from the payment which they otherwise would have to make in November next. It was provided by the Bill, that this charge should likewise fall upon the landlord. Supposing that this arrangement should be rejected—should the Bill unfortunately fail to receive their Lordships' sanction, how would the Church of Ireland stand then? In next November the clergy would be called upon to pay the first instalment of the money advanced to them by Parliament, and they would be left to collect their composition by law. When he spoke of the collection of composition by law, he felt that he was touching upon a delicate topic. He remembered, that in 1832, upon the occasion of a motion brought forward by a noble Earl opposite, who was an ardent friend of the Church, he (Lord Melbourne) expressed a hope that peace was restored in Ireland; upon which the noble Duke opposite (Wellington) said, "Let me see tithes collected in Ireland, and then I will believe there is something like a return to a state of tranquillity in that country; but not till then." He had 1146 heard it stated, that the clergy of Ireland were desirous that the Bill should not pass; but he knew that all the clergy were not of that way of thinking, as would appear from a letter which he held in his hands from the clergy of Dromore, and which was written, he believed, in answer to a circular sent from this country, requesting to know their sentiments with respect to this measure. [The Earl of Roden.—What is the date of the letter?] There was no date, but the inference which he could not fail to draw from the question put to him by the noble Earl was, that the letter referred to the Bill when it was in a different shape from that in which it now appeared. He would give the noble Lords the benefit of that, but he thought, that the letter would tell for him, on account of the general principles which it developed respecting the condition of the country, and which, it appeared to him, must carry conviction to the minds of all who heard it. With the permission of their Lordships he would read the document, which was as follows:—My Lord,—We, the undersigned clergy of the diocess of Dromore, beg leave, through your Lordship, most respectfully to convey to the Lord Primate and the friends of the Irish clergy in London, our opinion as to the course to be adopted by our friends in Parliament regarding certain clauses in the amendment of the Bill now in Committee in the House of Commons to abolish compositions for tithes in Ireland. In the first place, we have to express our regret that any change should be contemplated in the appropriation of the revenue of the Irish church from its original purposes, but at the same time, if such should be the decision of the Lower House of Parliament, we would also beg leave to express the strong apprehension which we entertain of the disastrous results to the interests of the Irish clergy and lay proprietors of tithe in Ireland, if through any collision between the two Houses of Parliament, the said Bill, substituting a land tax in lieu of composition, should be thrown out, and the proprietors of tithe left to the composition. In such case, we utterly despair of being able to levy our composition tithes even in this part of Ireland, so comparatively Protestant and civilized, and can only perceive destitution to ourselves and families in the hopeless alternative. We would, therefore, earnestly implore our influential friends in and out of Parliament to render the said Bill as little onerous on our incomes as shall be found practicable, but not to reject it altogether, on account of the proposed alterations in the original Bill. And we would not prefer this request if we conceived we were thereby com- 1147 promising any principle, which as Ministers of the establishment we are bound to maintain. And in conclusion we beg leave to declare our confident hope, that the Legislature will, in its wisdom, so deal with the temporalities of the Irish church as shall, in the end, be most conducive to the peace and welfare of the nation, and our firm and unshaken trust that Divine Providence will ultimately preserve in safety the pure and spiritual religion of the Gospel. (Signed by fourteen clergymen, rectors, and vicars.) To the Lord Bishop of Dromore.He considered that letter, and he hoped not unfairly as expressing the opinion of the clergy of Ireland. He had further to say, that the Bill contained certain clauses to authorize the re-consideration of the compositions which had already taken place,—he alluded to the compositions effected under the act of 1821 and 1832. With respect to the latter time, it should be recollected that it was a period of great violence on both sides, when many persons being determined to pay no tithes at all, did not care what they were set at, and when the amount of composition was fixed, not by persons who were skilled in the valuation of land, but by those who were employed for that purpose merely because they were reckless of the life which they risked in the undertaking. Under these circumstances, it must be evident to their Lordships that it was necessary the compositions at a recent period should be revised. The former compositions stood upon a different footing, but he understood that there were circumstances connected with them which required reconsideration, now that the burden was about to be perpetually fixed on a new set of persons. He had now stated the chief provisions of the Bill, and the grounds on which it rested. Doubtless there were many of their Lordships connected with Ireland who were better acquainted with the condition of the clergy than he was. It was necessary that their Lordships should clearly understand, that if the present Bill should be lost, it would be perfectly impossible—quite out of the question—for the Government to come forward and propose a grant for the relief of the clergy of Ireland. It would be perfectly unjustifiable, to make such an application, and it would be not only unjustifiable, but he believed it would be perfectly in vain. For the safety of the empire generally and of Ireland in particular, he recommended their Lordships to agree to his 1148 Motion. The noble Viscount concluded by moving that the Bill be read a second time.
The Archbishop of Cashell
wished to state, that the majority of the clergy of Dromore were in favour of the Bill, but the majority of the clergy in all the other sees constituting an immense majority of all the clergy of Ireland, were decidedly hostile to it.
The Bishop of Derry
said, that he might be exposed to the imputation of acting uncandidly, if he did not take the earliest opportunity of explaining the course which he intended to pursue upon the present occasion. He had been invited to attend a meeting at which several right reverend Prelates were present, and amongst others the right reverend Prelate who presided over the Established Church, in order to consider what it would be useful to do in relation to this Bill for the interests of the Church. At that meeting he expressed his opinion decidedly in favour of the measure which the Government, under all the difficulties of the case, had thought proper to introduce with respect to the Church of Ireland. When, however, it appeared that the majority of the clergy of his country were hostile to the Bill, he said that he should with great reluctance vote against the second reading, in deference to the general opinion of his profession, reserving to himself the privilege of stating to the House the reasons on which he had surrendered his own opinion. He attended another meeting at the house of the right reverend Prelate on Tuesday last, and he left the meeting with the intention of voting against the second reading of the Bill; but in the course of the week he had received a great number of communications from Ireland, all concurring in stating, that the Bill would be received with the greatest possible satisfaction in that country, and particularly by those unfortunate clergymen who were compelled to reside in retired parts of the south of Ireland. Conscientiously believing from the representations made in these communications that the Bill would he advantageous to the clergy of Ireland generally, he had reverted to his original opinion, which he abandoned only under the idea that the clergy were opposed to the measure, and meant to vote for the second reading of the Bill. He was thankful that he did not derive any part of his income from tithes; yet he hoped 1149 that he should be acquitted of any personal or selfish motives in the conduct which he had pursued with regard to this question. In order to guard against misrepresentation, he had written a letter to the most reverend Prelate, the Primate, and which, with their Lordships' permission he would read to the House. The right reverend Prelate accordingly read the following letter:—My dear Lord,—After the best consideration which I have been able to give to the subject of the Irish Tithe Bill, I confess I cannot reconcile it to myself to vote against the second reading. I shall consider it my duty to urge, in Committee, the expunging or modification of the clauses relating to the revision of compositions, believing, conscientiously, that their adoption could not fail to produce injurious consequences. I have troubled your Grace with these few lines, previous to the day fixed for the discussion of the Bill, in order to apprize you of the course which, with the opinions I hold upon it, I feel bound to pursue.That was the letter he had addressed to the Primate, and it would explain to their Lordships the vote he was about to give. He meant to vote for the second reading of the Bill, which, after the fullest consideration, he believed to be essential to the tranquillity of his distracted country. There was one part of the Bill which he was sure his right reverend brethren would consider of great importance—he meant that provision by which the clergy would be relieved from the most disagreeable of all situations; in which they were exposed to the daily necessity of entering into contests which created evil speaking, malice, and every sort of feeling hostile to their sacred profession. On religious principles, if upon no other, their Lordships were bound to carry that provision of the Bill into operation. What would be the situation of the clergy with respect to temporal matters if this Bill should be rejected? He most sincerely and honestly declared his perfect conviction that, in that event, they would be reduced to a state of utter destitution. He must decline taking part in any proceeding's which would cause such deplorable consequences. He must decline taking part in any measure which would reduce his brethren to such a state of destitution. He earnestly implored their Lordships to read the Bill a second time, by which they would give to distracted Ireland some chance of tranquillity—to a worthy class of persons some 1150 hope of independence—and, above all, would discharge one of the highest duties of a benevolent religion, and promote peace and good will upon earth.
was perfectly aware of the circumstances in which the clergy of Ireland were placed, and he could well imagine that the consideration of those circumstances had induced many to waver in their opinions as to the course which they ought to adopt with respect to the Bill before the House; but upon looking at the clauses of the Bill, he could not help thinking, that if it was approved of by any of the clergy, it was their poverty not their will which drove them to consent to it. He could believe that, in order to accomplish the great object of establishing peace in Ireland, the clergy of that country would consent to sacrifice a considerable portion of their income. It was true they might have consented to have received three-fifths from the ancient sources, and one-fourth through the future and uncertain benevolence of Scotland and England, on which they had properly no claim; but he could not believe, they would consent to a measure by which it was proposed to reimburse the people of England by drawing on funds purely spiritual, and which, by the solemn pledge of Parliament, were devoted to institutions most essential to the safety and to the existence of the Church of Ireland. Was it not understood when they passed a measure last year, that the proceeds from the perpetuity purchase fund were to be applied to the improvement of the smaller benefices? It was well known, moreover, that such was the deficiency in all other available funds, that there was no other means, except the perpetuity fund, of providing things necessary for divine worship, and of effecting the necessary repairs in the sacred buildings. Without this fund it was quite certain that the Irish Church must go to ruin; and he felt quite convinced, that no clergyman would consent to take that which amounted to seventy-two and a half per cent on his former income, however favourable the arrangement might appear to him, if he saw that it was to be coupled with the ruin of the Church. There were no enactments in this Bill, as had been contended by the right reverend prelate, that would lead to the establishment of religious peace. The right reverend Prelate could not have read the Bill. It did not diminish by one iota the evils of the 1151 tithe system. It did not diminish the number of contributors; on the contrary, it added all the landlords to the present list of tithe-payers in Ireland. The system it established would increase the odium of tithe collection. The people would pay tithes with their rent, and there was no real difference, so far as they were concerned, whether the tithe was paid to the landlord or to the clergyman. The objection was to the payment, butThat which we call a rose,By any other name would smell as sweet.And he could assure their LordshipsThat which we now call tithe,By any other name would smell as rank.The landlord would find just as much difficulty in collecting the tithe as the clergyman had experienced. He would not make any further allusion to what had fallen from the right reverend Prelate, excepting simply to observe, that this was the first occasion in that House when it was thought convenient to state the communications which had taken place, either in that house or out of it, respecting a noble Peer's vote upon a particular measure. He considered that the precedent was most to be deprecated, as likely to lead to much inconvenience. Referring to what had fallen from the noble Viscount, he begged to assure him, that he was as sincerely and anxiously desirous to secure the peace, the tranquillity of Ireland, but he did not think this measure would have that effect. The noble Viscount had admitted, that a great number of changes had been made in the measure, which he attributed to difficulties inherent in the measure. Not so, however; for no change of any consequence had been made until the end of June in this year. From the commencement of the late Administration the object of the Crown, of the Ministry, and of the House of Commons, had uniformly, their Lordships had been led to believe, been the same. Every measure, every Report of a Committee, every Speech from the Throne, every speech of the Ministry, placed before them, as the great object, a rent-charge, with a view to the complete redemption of tithes, and to the ultimate independence of the Irish clergy. This object he approved of, for he considered that it was likely to increase the sphere of the clergyman's usefulness, by making him a landed proprietor. He regretted, therefore, that this plan had been abandoned. But it was 1152 not abandoned in consequence of difficulties in the question, but of difficulties in the Cabinet. All the alterations in the measure, which had taken place with such astonishing rapidity as almost to confound the vision, had arisen from changes in the Cabinet, and from disputes between the members of the Administration. One would imagine that if the members of the Government could be pledged to anything as Statesmen, they were most strongly pledged to the principle of the Reports of 1832. These principles were not alone contemplated, but avowed, by his Majesty's Ministers. On the 20th of February in this year Mr. Littleton moved a resolution, "That composition for tithes in Ireland ought to be abolished on or after the 1st day of November in the present year, in consideration of an annual land-tax to be granted to his Majesty, payable by the persons who would have been liable to such composition for tithes, and of equal amount; that such Land-tax shall be redeemable; and that out of the produce provision be made in land or money for the indemnification of the persons entitled to such composition. It was unnecessary for him to trouble their Lordships with the words in his Majesty's speech in which they were so earnestly exhorted to maintain the institutions of Church and State in the enjoyment of their rights and property. Now the first proposition of the Government was, to convert the tithe into a Land-tax by composition payable to the Crown, and great facilities were offered the landlord in redeeming it, so great indeed, that it was calculated, a redemption would be effected within five years. But when a redemption did not take place within that period, a rent-charge was to be imposed, which also was redeemable. In a word, the property of the Church was to be taken into the hands of the Crown for the purpose of vindicating the law; and the ultimate intention was, that as soon as an equal redemption was completed, each clergyman was either to have a sum of money bearing interest, or land purchased in perpetuity. This was a reasonable object. It was one which it might be hoped would bring tranquillity, so far as this question was concerned, to Ireland. It would have made the Church strong., and would have given every clergyman increased means of usefulness. But this plan was abandoned. If, however, the noble Lords opposite would withdraw 1153 this Bill, and give their Lordships the previous measure, which was the result of their deliberate judgment, exercised during a period of three years, and which, moreover, had received the assent of the House of Commons by a majority of five to one, he would not propose a single alteration in it, but would vote for it in its very words. Let it not be said, then, if they dealt differently with the Bill now proposed, that they were not disposed to support that other measure which had once been so earnestly recommended by his Majesty's Government. By the first measure, too, everything was to be done to vindicate the law, but, under the present Bill, all the dangers and difficulties of vindicating the law were to be thrown upon the landlord; and he, moreover, was called upon not only to carry the law into effect with respect to that which might occur hereafter, but also with respect to the arrears of tithes. This was not likely to give peace to the country, nor afford a chance of vindicating the law. At the best it could only lead to vindicating three-fifths of the law, and it sacrificed the other two-fifths of the law giving them as a premium on the violation of the law. He objected likewise to having any portion of the burthen thrown upon the Consolidated Fund. He did not think that the nation was called upon to pay the Irish tithes upon the ground that the expenditure was to be repaid from the pillage of the Irish Church. There was in this Bill no practical principle of redemption. It was true, redemption was not excluded, but it made redemption all but impossible. Under the former Bill, as he had already stated, it was otherwise. He doubted, likewise, whether the landlord would gain by the new system in the proportion which had been stated. The gain would depend altogether upon the leases which the landlord might have given. The clergyman, too, in his opinion, had not such great reason to be grateful to the noble Lord as had been pretended. By a statement made by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, it appeared, that in sixty parishes, out of twenty-two counties in Ireland, and which he assumed as a fair average, 16,000 tithe-payers had, by the operation of the Composition Bill, been reduced to 9,000. Therefore, it appeared that more than one-third of the Irish landlords were already practically subject to the rent- 1154 charge to be created by this Bill. On what principle of justice, then, could the clergy be asked to give up forty per cent of premium to the same individuals? The Bill would operate as an injustice towards the landlords as well as towards the Church; for, from the operation of leases, compositions, &c., whilst some would get forty, others would lose twenty per cent. Thus, in some cases it would happen that the clergyman would lose, and in others the landlord would lose also. But, supposing the landlords were to receive advantages from the measure, that was no recommendation of it, for he did not believe the landlords wished to share in the spoils of the Church. It had been his good fortune to live much with Irish gentlemen. The happiest period of his life was passed in Ireland. He had always found Irish gentlemen uniting kindness, honour, and generosity to all those qualities which rendered them agreeable to every society they gladdened by their presence. Could he believe of such men that they would consent to share the property taken from the poor clergyman? Could he believe, that whilst the Catholic peasant supported, from his miserable pittance, the clergy of the Church of Rome, the gentlemen of Ireland would endeavour to add to their own abundance by plundering the Church of the Reformation. He would say, their Lordships ought not to pride themselves upon the superiority of their Protestant doctrine. It would be shamed by Catholic practice; and they must yield to the Roman Catholic Church the merit of having best instructed its disciples in the true spirit of Christianity. He admitted, that there were difficulties in the way of settling the tithe question; but they were not such as to make their Lordships think that this Bill was the only mode of getting over them. The first instalment for the money advanced, payable by the clergy, fell due on the 1st of November, but the payment could not be enforced until the 1st of February, while the payments for composition would be payable to them on the 1st of November. There were no difficulties, in fact, connected with the present state of affairs which might not be met. There was ample time to put things on a wholesome footing. Under all the circumstances, he only saw one way in which their Lordships could deal with this Bill. In Committee they could not probably alter any 1155 one of the clauses with propriety, and certainly not one with success. The measure might, he thought, be regarded as a money bill. But, setting that aside, let them only see what they were to do by going into Committee. If they did go, it must be with the intention of alteration, omission, and insertion of clauses, and this on the 11th of August, with the view of giving a new system for the tithes of Ireland. The thing was quite impossible. If their Lordships were not defeated by time, they would infallibly be defeated by the House of Commons, who would properly declare, as they had done upon a recent occasion, that the measure was too important a one to be decided by a single vote of their Lordships. The only course—he regretted deeply that it should be so—which their Lordships could follow with propriety and dignity, was to reject the Bill on the present motion, and to leave it to the Government for better consideration, so that they might be enabled to determine what was really best for Ireland, and duly proceed with a new measure, which might have the blessed effect of finally settling this important question. He did think that the Government should not be unwilling to have a little more time to look into the details of this measure now on the table. It was a measure which had been concocted in three short weeks by a number of different persons, and which was very unlike that measure which had been the result of their deliberate judgment after a consideration of three years. He thought the Government ought not to regret the rejection of this Bill, however inconvenient it might be to them not to pass a measure apparently permanent, but not fairly permanent: however annoying it might be to them to suffer a defeat on this occasion, practically it would be beneficial to them, in enabling them to prepare a good measure on the subject, which might enable them to attain that end which all their Lordships had equally in view,—the tranquillity and increased prosperity of Ireland. It had been contended, that, if their Lordships rejected the Bill, they might be embarrassed by difficulties proceeding from another place; but he begged to ask them, if they ever knew an instance in which violence and injustice were conciliated by submission? If they had any doubt upon the subject, he would say the answer lay in the Bill now before 1156 them. Last year the Church Temporalities Bill had been introduced to them as a final measure, but now it was described as a measure only laving down certain principles. He did not think their Lordships should hesitate as to the course they ought to pursue. Their Lordships stood in a peculiar position as to the Church since the great alteration had been effected in the constitution of the other House of Parliament. When the Reform Bill was under discussion he ventured to say, they were doing that which would prove injurious to the Church. He remarked, that the friends of the Church, the Protestants of the establishment, were to be found amongst the higher and the humbler classes. These they deprived of a preponderating power in the return of members to the House of Commons, and transferred it to the middle classes, those immediately above the humbler classes, in which the numbers and influence of Dissenters were greatest. Again, in that portion of the Reform measure which related to Ireland, they had violated one of the most solemn pledges, on the faith of which the Emancipation Bill was passed. It was understood by all who voted, that, as a collateral security for the Irish Church, the representation of Ireland was to stand as it was, after being changed by an accompanying Bill. The result was, that the House of Commons no longer represented the religion of the greatest portion of the community. Their Lordships' House was the sole parliamentary representative of the great majority of the Protestant people of the country. It behoved them, therefore, to look well to every measue that threatened the Church. Why, he asked, was it that the feelings of the English people were so strongly excited against the Emancipation Bill? They feared for the Church. But it was not for the Church of England in England, but for the Church of England in Ireland. The numerical difference between the Roman Catholics and Protestants had justly occasioned these apprehensions. The result of the measure as to Ireland, accordingly, had been, that there was nothing which the most anxious and fearful mind anticipated that had not been more than fulfilled by the measure on the Table which he now called on their Lordships to reject. He moved, as an Amendment, "that the Bill be read a second time that day six months."
The Marquess of Lansdown
said, that, however noble Lords might differ with regard to particular measures, in this, they all agreed, that the permanent settlement of the tithe question was essential to the tranquillity of Ireland, and the security and preservation of the Protestant Church Establishment. He had listened to the speech of the noble Baron opposite with mingled feelings of concern and satisfaction—concern, that in the present moment of imminent peril he should wish to postpone the settlement of the question, and satisfaction at the admission which had, for the first time, escaped him, that, notwithstanding all the censure which had, from time to time, been passed upon the measures of the Ministry from the noble Baron's side or the House, the noble Baron had considered those measures as wise, sound, and deserving of just approbation. It was most pleasing to gain the reward of the noble Baron's praise for the course they had pursued for the last three years, just at the moment when they least. expected it. The noble Baron, however, had chosen to assume what was not the fact, viz.,—that this Bill was inconsistent with the whole course of their previous proceedings. The object of this Bill was to carry their former principles into final effect, but more promptly than was originally contemplated. He would ask the noble Baron and other noble Lords opposite, whether his Majesty's Government could, by possibility, adopt any measure which was likely to prove so effectual or so satisfactory as one which should fairly throw the support of the Church on the landlords of the country. Only let them regard the manner in which the proposition had been hailed both by the landlords and the clergy. He was not fond of prophesying, but this he would with certainty venture to say, that, whether the noble Baron should succeed in inducing Parliament to assent to the wisdom of his suggestion, or not—whether any proposition from that, the opposition side of the House, or from the other should succeed, the noble Baron would never be able to carry into effect any plan for pacifying Ireland, and placing its Church Establishment on a safe and secure footing, unless that plan provided for payment of tithe by the landlords, and not by the tenant. Let the noble Baron look back to the events of the last half century,—let him consider Ireland before rebellion and 1158 after rebellion, under this Administration or that Administration, and he would find that tithes were a property always insecure, and daily becoming more so. The noble Baron entirely lost sight of this feature of the case. He discussed the question as coolly as though tithe were a property as safe, as certain, and as easily collected as the rent of land, whereas every one knew that in practice tithe property was most insecure, whilst in Ireland its insecurity was tenfold, for it was there levied in retail upon poor and insignificant persons, who were not members of the Protestant Church, and between whom and that Church no other relation existed than that of tithe-payer and tithe-receiver. If, therefore, they could not induce the Protestant landlords to pay the tithes, they would be reduced to the only other alternative, that of making the Church stipendiary on the State; and then he would wish the Church joy of her dependence and her slavery. Now his Majesty's Government had succeeded in placing this question upon the only safe footing. This Bill gave to the Church the only real security, viz.—a security upon the land, through the medium of the landlord, who was invited, or rather, he should say (and it was the only shadow of objection he had to the Bill) compelled to take upon himself that burthen. But, the fact was, that in all interference with property there must necessarily be more or less of compulsion, and it was admitted that, for the security of tithes, a greater degree of compulsion must be adopted than with reference to other property. Mr. Goulburn's Act itself proceeded on the very same principle of compulsion and interference; and nothing could be more unjust than for those who had assented to that Act, to attack his Majesty's Ministers for not bringing in a Bill to effect a settlement of the tithe question by the operation of no other force than that of an abstract principle of justice. The same observation might be applied to Mr. Stanley's Bill. In fact, a great and important step would be gained by this Bill towards the settlement of this great question. The noble Baron, in speaking of the commutation of tithes into land, had spoken as though his Majesty's Government had abandoned that principle. Such was not, however, the case. This bill, it was true, did not enact it, but it did not abandon it—nay, more, it was a step towards it. 1159 Nor if this Bill were passed, would there be any difficulty in so commuting tithe at any future period if it were thought desirable. He was quite ready to admit, that he agreed with the noble Baron, that such a conversion into land was a desirable arrangement. But though that was his own private opinion; yet, there were a large number of persons in this country who very much disliked the idea (and let their Lordships recollect that such a dislike was by no means of modern origin) of throwing any more land into mortmain. And on the other hand, as regarded the money conversion, he would observe, that in the now state of the funds the Church would suffer a great loss by such a measure. The object of the Government during the period to which the noble Baron had referred, and for which reference he had been so much applauded, was, to procure a conversion into quit-rent to be paid by the landlord; but by the present measure now before their Lordships, this conversion by means of the compulsion necessarily attached to it would be accomplished not in five years but in one. As a landlord, of course, he was inclined to dislike the Bill, but such personal and private considerations could not be supposed to weigh against its great and paramount importance. The chief value of the proposed measure was, that it removed the hostile and conflicting relations in which the Protestant priest and Catholic peasantry at present unfortunately stood with regard to each other, placing them in that position towards each other which they ought to hold, and which he was happy to say, for the honour of the Church of Ireland did frequently obtain, notwithstanding the obstacles which the accursed system opposed to it. Despite of this system, attachments were created, and continued to exist, which did equal honour to the priest and to the people; and this was a state of things which must certainly go on increasing, if, as was proposed by the measure before them, the causes of irritation were removed. The object of the Bill was, he repeated, to put an end to that form of provision for the clergy which led to such embittered feelings. A document the other day had been put into his hands, to show the perpetual difficulties which lay in the way of the collection of tithes under the present form. The noble Lord here produced a copy of The Dublin Gazette, to show the 1160 variety and complexity of the claims to tithe which now existed. He did not know how he could read it to their Lordships, as it contained column after column of sums claimed from poor persons, varying from 14s. to 1s. 2d.; and of these tithe-payers it appeared that there were 400 in one parish. Did the noble Baron, in contending for the difficulty of collecting by the proposed Bill, mean to compare the positions of tenant and landlord with those in which a tax was levied for no benefit conferred, no occupation or enjoyment of lands, no equivalent or return of any sort for the demand made by one party upon the other? Would there be no difference in the position of the landlord who might at his leisure, and at his discretion, recover that which he had advanced for his tenant at a period when it might not be to the convenience of the latter to pay it, and which was sought for at the time when it was known be could meet the demand. Would the tenant be less willing to pay a sum, in the payment of which he would be convenienced, and which by the arrangement which thus convenienced him, was also reduced 40 per cent in amount? Was it forgotten that the relations between the parties were entirely different? The noble Baron, too, seemed to have overlooked the great advantage which the landlord possessed in being able to choose his own time. Was it no great advantage that the irritation which existed against the Church in Ireland, was to be put an end to? He would ask the noble Lord, at what rate did he think tithes would sell in Ireland at present, if brought to the market? Those who looked upon tithes as a sound, secure, and available species of property, would do well to inquire before they calculated on such an opinion, why it was, that all other species of property but more particularly property in land, had advanced as much as six or seven years' purchase, whilst tithes had not at all advanced. Land was now on an average worth twenty-five years purchase, whilst tithes were worth no inure than sixteen years. So great, indeed, was the difference, that the noble Lord, if he took the trouble to make the calculations, would find the rent-charge proposed to be given by the Bill much greater than the interest of the redemption if vested in the funds. If viewed as a mere mercantile transaction, the proposition would be found of the greatest 1161 possible advantage to the Church, it being an exchange from the worst species of property, tithes, to the very best imaginable land. Instead of being collected in small and paltry sums with great trouble and difficulty, it was to be got at once and together from the proprietors of large estates. Surely a proposition of this kind must be of the greatest advantage to the Church, inasmuch as the payment was more ready, more certain, and for clergymen far more desirable. In preparing to carry the measure into effect, he hoped it would be admitted that the interest of the Church of Ireland had not been lost sight of. If in carrying it into effect it was found indispensable that compulsory measures were resorted to as regarded the Church, it must be admitted that the landlords were subjected to similar compulsion, to effect that of which the welfare of the country was the object. But the sacrifice was not made by the landlords and clergy only. Parliament, departing from its ordinary rule, had arranged to impose a portion of the burthen on the other classes of the community, and offered to bear a share of the burthen, to the amount of 20 per cent, which the noble Baron opposite stated that he was prepared to refuse. In this liberal dealing the Commons acted wisely, as well as generously, because the sacrifice was not greater than would be the value of that secured in softening down the rancour generated by the tithe system, and restoring the peace of Ireland. He was willing to concede to the noble Baron that there must be many both of the landlords and of the clergy, who might not feel well pleased with the measure, because an act so extensive could not proceed with uniform justice; but viewing the measure as a whole, it was one which should be regarded as a boon—a measure which noble Lords might now reject, but which they should remember might not again be offered to them. In the words of the noble Baron, "Much was expected from that House in the discharge of its duties," and he knew no better way in which their Lordships could discharge that duty and give satisfaction, than by joining the other House in giving their public sanction to that which had been voluntarily done by the Commons, endeavouring to do justice to the parties interested, and at the same time to aid in confirming a measure which would have the effect of restoring 1162 tranquillity to Ireland. Possibly this result might not be attained; but whether it were or were not, the other House was fully entitled to the gratitude of Ireland, for endeavouring to secure the tranquillity of that country. This was a subject to which he had given his most attentive consideration, both as a member of his Majesty's Government, and as an Irish landlord, and the conclusion to which he came was one which enabled him to give a conscientious vote in favour of the measure.
The Earl of Winchilsea
adverted to the state of misery and distress in which the great body of the Protestant clergy were thrown, and implored the noble Viscount at the head of his Majesty's Government, if he had any regard to the peace and tranquillity of Ireland, and had any wish to allay the feeling of alarm which had sprung up in the breasts of all the Protestants of Ireland, to follow the advice of the noble Baron, and adopt the measure which was once the noble Viscount's own, and which had received the sanction of his colleagues. He asked for consistency from the Government; he asked the Ministers to follow the principle of the Bill brought in by the right hon. Gentleman lately the Secretary for the Colonies, from which that now before their Lordships was as different as one principle could be from another. The principle of the right hon. Gentleman's Bill was redemption of tithe, the principle of this the perpetuity of all tithe. He feared there would be the same hesitation on the part of the Roman Catholic peasantry to pay tithe, whether it came directly out of their own pockets under that name, or was indirectly paid to the landlord under the name of rent. This Bill was the growth of a daring violation of all justice, and entertaining that opinion, he was sure that the Protestant gentry would not deign to accept the bribe that was held out to them, though he did not know whether the Catholic landowners would not avail themselves of this concession, as it was called. Every concession, however, which that Government made would only produce a call for further concessions, and he would tell the Protestant gentry of Ireland that the same spirit which was raised against the payment of tithes to the parson would be, not in vain, raised against all payment of tithe, however disguised. If this Bill went merely to the redemption of tithes, and at the same time asserted the supremacy of 1163 the law as it at present stood, though it contained many other provisions to which he must object (especially those converting tithes into land), yet he should in such a case be induced to withdraw his opposition to it. He repeated, that if their Lordships should consent to pass the Bill in its present shape, the Protestants of Ireland would feel, and justly feel, that the Church was to be sacrificed to those who had trampled upon the laws, under a pretext of pacification, but whose exertions, instead of producing peace and tranquillity in that distracted country, had only led to a continuance of the evils. He trusted their Lordships would, on the present occasion, act with firmness, and would not be intimidated from doing their duty to the people and to the country by anything which might have been said out of doors. The eyes of the whole nation were upon their Lordships at the present moment, and it behoved them so to discharge the duties of that situation in which God had placed them as to merit the approbation of their fellow countrymen. If his Majesty's Ministers had come forward to ask the sanction of the House to a measure which was their own instead of the present measure, which was wholly changed in principle, he repeated, it should have had his support. If, however, the Government were determined to persevere with the present Bill, the consequences which he anticipated must rest upon their heads. He called upon the noble Viscount at the head of the Government to act consistently with the measure originally introduced.
§ Viscount Duncannon
concurred with the noble Earl who had just spoken, in thinking, that the Government would have done wisely if it could have adopted a measure calculated to assert the dignity of the law, as the noble Earl had called it, and thereby to effect the recovery of tithes; but it was impossible to disguise from their Lordships that tithes could not now be recovered in Ireland, not even by bloodshed and disorder. He rose, however, principally for the purpose of showing the difference which prevailed between the present Bill and the measure which had been originally introduced. The first Bill brought into the Commons was upon principle similar to the present, at least so far as the objection made by the noble Baron who had first spoken—namely, in attaching the revenues of the Church, 1164 He was, however, quite sure, that if their Lordships would look to the Reports which had from time to time been made by Committees of both Houses of Parliament, they would find that every one of the clergymen who had been examined had declared, that he paid at least twenty per cent for the collection of his tithes. From his own residence in Ireland, he well knew that such was the case—nay, indeed, that in many cases much more was paid. In the former Bill, it was true, there was contained a power, at the end of five years of redemption; but this redemption even then, as his noble friend behind him (the Marquess of Lansdown) had pointed out, could not arise without a conversion of tithes into land—a conversion to which he confessed he had an insuperable objection. Let their Lordships bear in mind, that during this period of five years the people, he meant the peasantry of Ireland, would necessarily be kept in a complete state of warfare, perpetuating all the evils of the present system; and let them consider how much such a period of contention must add to all the vindictive passions. By the measure now before their Lordships these evils would be avoided; and he recommended it for their adoption as the only Bill in which the real interests of the people had been regarded. The peasantry would, under its provisions, be relieved from at least forty per cent in the expenses of collection. He was sure the noble Baron who moved the Amendment would not contend, that the objection on the part of the people of Ireland to tithes was new in its origin. For the last 100 years it had ever been the occasion of tumult and discord in Ireland. He would refer the noble Lord to the address which had been delivered by a right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goulburn), on introducing in another place, some few years ago, the Tithe Composition Bill. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman to whom he alluded had distinctly stated his opinion upon the collection of tithes in Ireland; and so applicable to the present measure did those observations appear to be, that he (Lord Duncannon) must trouble their Lordships with them. The right hon. Gentleman, after recommending to the House the measure he then brought forward, as one calculated to remove or alleviate certain evils which were universally acknowledged to be connected with the tithe system as existing in Ireland, 1165 observed, that 'the collection of tithes in Ireland was in every respect distinct from that which prevailed in England. In the former it presented difficulties almost insuperable; in the latter it was attended with little, if any, inconvenience. And why?—because tithes in the two countries were collected from very different classes of the community. In England the tithes were paid by the middling or higher classes, by those who had a considerable, or at least some, capital employed in agriculture; in Ireland they were paid by the very lowest of the peasantry, and almost by them alone. This very circumstance created almost all the difficulty which was connected with the tithe system of Ireland. It necessarily brought the clergyman into hostile con- tact with the lowest part of the community; it placed him in the painful situation either of abandoning the greater part of his income, or of getting into a course of litigation with the greater part of his parishioners; for it was obvious that where the income of a clergyman was derived from numerous payments, each of which did not exceed a few shillings, he was compelled either to en- force the payment of those sums from the poor, or to give tip his income altogether. This was generally the case in the southern and western parts of Ireland.* Now every person who looked at the events of the last three or four years, must be well aware that the case stood precisely as it had been thus described by the right hon. Gentleman some years ago. Within that period two cases had been mentioned (one in another place) in which two clergymen, though aided by the military and police, had been entirely foiled in their endeavours to collect one shilling of tithes. There was of these one case in the county of Cork, to which he could not avoid calling the attention of their Lordships, because it would serve to show what would be the effect of rejecting this Bill, and of thereby throwing the clergyman upon the vantage-ground which the noble Lord (Lord Ellen-borough) had contended, was created by the Tithe Composition Act. "The reverend Mr. Locke owned the tithes of four parishes. About 2,900l. was due to him in the month of April last. At this time he was forced to require military and police aid from the Government to protect his*Hansard, vol. ix.(new series) p.370.1166 servants to be employed in distraining. During seventy days a great body of troops and police were engaged in rendering to Mr. Locke every service he desired to enable him to recover these arrears. At the end of that period he writes to Mr. Littleton a letter, informing him that he felt himself at last compelled to relinquish the undertaking and abandon his rights, and urges on the Government to devise some other mode by which his property can be secured to him. He complains, that notwithstanding the troops, with occasional intervals necessary for their rest, have been employed in scouring the country for more than thirty days, the peasantry, always aware of their approach, have never failed to secure their cattle in their houses; that he had resorted to the expedient of marching the troops at night, in order that they might be on the spot before sunrise. But all was in vain. The barking of the dogs at the distant tramp of the horses gave notice to the farmers, and time cattle were invariably housed before his servants and the troops could reach the ground; in short, they had not realized on an average so much as 4l. a-day during the seventy days the force was retained, or about 8l. on each of the days that they were out; and that unless the Lord-lieutenant would consent to an increase of the force, and its being actually encamped everywhere on the particular localities on which he wished to distrait), it would not be possible to starve the cattle out of the houses. Further attempts were consequently abandoned by him at the end of May." The second case was that of the reverend Mr. Whitty, in the county of Wicklow, whose servants, though aided by military and police, had been unable to recover a single shilling under precisely similar circumstances. He read these extracts with a view to show that which he feared would be the result of the rejection of the measure now before their Lordships. On the other hand, he entertained a hope that the Bill once passed into a law, would be hailed as a boon by the peasantry of Ireland. He must repeat, that the present was the first Bill which had ever been submitted to the Legislature which designed a benefit to that class of the community. He did not mean to say, that this had been intentionally neglected at former times, but he contended, that their Lordships had never before legislated upon any measure that was not unfavour- 1167 able to the peasantry of Ireland. He would especially instance (not that he conceived those measures to have been productive of no benefit to Ireland) the Subletting Act and the disfranchisement of the 40s. freeholder. Hence it was, that he conceived the Bill would be received by the people of Ireland as a boon, and yet he understood some of their Lordships were prepared to reject it. He, however, entreated their Lordships to consider well what would be the situation of the clergy of Ireland consequent upon the rejection of this measure. When the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Winchilsea) had called upon their Lordships to save the clergy of Ireland from the horrors of this Bill, it was incumbent upon their Lordships to bear in mind the condition to which that body were now reduced. His noble friend at the head of the Government had read to their Lordships a paper containing the opinions of the clergy of the district of Dromore, in reference to the Bill, and, in addition to that, he could state, that such also were the sentiments of the clergy in the south-western districts of Ireland. He was not surprised that a greater expression of opinion on the part of the clergy in favour of the Bill had not reached their Lordships, when he remembered, that such great exertions had been made by the most reverend Prelate at the head of the Irish Church Establishment, by writing to them and impressing on the minds not only of those who were present at the meeting in question, but of others, objections to this Bill, and endeavouring thereby to influence the votes of the Prelates that night. He hesitated not, however, to say, that if the Bill should be rejected, the clergy of Ireland generally would be just in the situation of the two individuals of their own body to whose cases he had called the attention of the House. What, he repeated, would be their situation after the 1st of November next? He felt confident, that all exertions in their favour to assert the law and to support their legal claims would entirely fail, and that by means of the passive resistance which had been described nothing would be found by the clergy upon which to distrain; and thus, after incurring considerable expense in fruitless efforts, they would not recover one shilling of their tithes. On the whole, he conceived this measure to be founded as fairly, both in respect to the clergy and the land- 1168 lords as well as to the peasantry of Ireland, as the existing state of that country rendered possible. Notwithstanding what had been urged to the contrary, he could not conceive what better security the clergy of Ireland could have than that which was provided by this measure, and he could not believe, that any clergyman, knowing the state of Ireland, and the impossibility of collecting tithes, would for a moment hesitate in admitting that, under the circumstances, the terms provided for him by the Bill were good and advantageous. The estimated amount of the total revenue that would eventually be at the disposal of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, when all the funds were available, was as follows:—
There was in the Bank only 1,800l.; but after the Commissioners declared the amount, and it was approved of by the Lord-lieutenant, the parties willing to purchase had six months to pay in the amount of their purchase-money. There were sales to the amount of 91,000l. approved of by the Lord-lieutenant; two or three only had announced their intention not to complete the purchase, and of course the Ecclesiastical Commissioners inferred that it was the intention of the other purchasers to complete their purchases within the time limited. One 1169 observation now as to the alteration wh i had been made in the Bill as originally framed. He admitted, that in its first shape, and before the Amendment was carried, the law at present existing had been (as the noble Earl opposite said) asserted; but when the Amendment came to the other House, proposed by the Irish landlords, for from them he declared the proposition to have emanated, though it was said to be a mere measure of Mr. O'Connell's, a very different question presented itself. He again said, that the Amendment was not Mr. O'Connell's proposition, though he thought that hon. and learned Gentleman had very wisely adopted it; it was the result of a Resolution to which the Irish landlords resident in London had come, and which would have been brought forward even though Mr. O'Connell had not embraced it. He was afraid he must anticipate, that their Lordships were prepared to say, that any proposition, however good, if made by Mr. O'Connell, ought to be rejected by them. [The Duke of Cumberland: was it not opposed by Lord Althorp in another place?] Yes, most certainly, because his noble friend, as a Minister, was bound to support the Bill propounded by the Government; but when he had obtained the sentiments of the Irish landlords upon it, he was justified in giving way. He rejoiced that his noble friend had done so, for he was persuaded that the only chance of tranquillity for Ireland was in taking away the collection of tithes from the occupying tenant, and collecting them from the landlord. He would not go the length of saying, that tithe was not to be recovered by putting in force the existing law, but, on the other hand, he was confident, that if such a course were persevered in, the result would be fields of bloodshed, and the most dreadful suffering. Every observation which he had made for the last few years, compelled him to come to that conclusion. The noble Baron seemed to have forgotten that the only alteration which had been made in the measure was this—that, whereas, by the Bill as originally introduced, the landlords were to take on themselves the collection of tithes in five years, and in the present Bill they were to do so immediately. When he said he was glad his noble friend in the other House had been compelled to give way on the subject, he must also remark, that he was not sur- 1170 prised at such a proposition having been made; if it had not been brought forward by the hon. member for Dublin, he believed it would have been by some other individual. His noble friend, doubtless, thought it right to support the Bill as it was originally introduced to the House of Commons, but when he found that every Irish Member who was present—[The Duke of Cumberland: "No, no."] If not every Irish landlord, nearly every Irish landlord present, supported the proposition. He admitted, that there, perhaps, was not a full House on that occasion. He would say, then, that when it was found that nearly every Irish landlord supported the proposal, there was at once a strong justification of its adoption. For himself, he felt confident, that no other means would have given a chance of establishing peace or tranquillity. In conclusion, he begged to say, that he concurred with the noble Lord who had last spoken, in feeling that their Lordships were now called on to perform a most important duty, which they should discharge without fear and conscientiously; but he entirely differed from that noble Lord in what he considered their Lordships' duty, on the present occasion, to be.
1.—For General Purposes. £ From the net incomes of the eleven suppressed sees, including Ardagh 50,873 From the excess of revenue of the sees of Armagh and Derry 10,660 From annual tax on the incomes of all ecclesiastical benefices exceeding 300l. per annum, supposing them all to be in charge, and deducting one-fifth of tithe-compositions allowed to landlords, estimated at 22,000 From repayment of glebe-house loan instalments, which will cease in the year 1848 7,500 91,033 2.—For Augmentation Purposes. From Boulter and Robinson's augmentation funds. 5,000 From the incomes of dignities and probends coming within the provisions of the Amendment Bill 11,500 16,500 3.—Perpetuity Purchase Land. From the sale of the perpetuities, estimated to produce a capital of about 1,200,000l., which, at the rate of three-and-a-half per cent, would produce an annual income of about 42,000
§ Viscount Beresford
rose merely for the purpose of alluding to an assertion which had been made by the noble Lord who had just sat down—an assertion affecting a relative of his (Viscount Beresford's), the most reverend Primate of all Ireland. The noble Lord had said, that the Primate of all Ireland had exercised all his endeavours and his most strenuous exertions to bring the clergy into Opposition to this measure, and that at a meeting of the Prelates he had attempted to influence the votes which they should give on the present occasion. Now, knowing as he did, that most reverend Prelate intimately, and being also fully possessed of his feelings in reference to this measure, he could positively assert to the noble Viscount, that he had stated that which was most unfounded, and he called upon the right reverend Prelate (the Bishop of Derry) who had spoken early in the evening, to state whether at the meeting of the Prelates of Ireland, the most reverend Primate had attempted to use any such influence as that which had been ascribed to him.
§ Viscount Duncannon
begged to say, that he had meant to convey to their 1171 Lordships no such sentiments as those attributed to him by the noble Viscount. If he had done so, he must express his regret. What he had meant to convey was morely that the most reverend Prelate had addressed letters upon the subject of this Bill to the clergy of Ireland.
The Bishop of Derry
said, that as he had been appealed to by the noble Viscount opposite, and on the other side of the House, he must say, that when in the course of the evening he had alluded to the most reverend Primate of all Ireland, he had taken some pains to convey and mark to the House the feelings of respect which he entertained for that individual, who so ably and advantageously presided over the body to which he belonged. The noble Viscount had, however, called upon him (the Bishop of Derry) to say, whether his Grace the Primate of Ireland had exercised either his influence or persuasion to secure an opinion from him and the rest of the reverend Bench favourable to the views he had himself taken of the subject now under their Lordships' consideration. In reply, he begged to state, that not one single word issued from his Grace's mouth calculated to effect such a purpose. He trusted, that he should ever have the manliness to support his own opinions without dictation, and he must do the most reverend Prelate to whom allusion had been made, the justice to say, that no influence had been exercised by him in respect to himself, and that he believed the most reverend Prelate to be incapable of any act which would not bear the scrutiny of the most virtuous mind.
The Bishop of Meath
was understood to say, that their Lordships in legislating on this subject should regard the Irish Church as an integral part and parcel of the Church of England. This measure, in his opinion, was replete with injury to the Church. It was so full of the materials of destruction to the Church of Ireland that he should never consent to it. He would, on the contrary, give it his decided opposition. They had heard a great deal as to the effect of this measure, and of another measure—the Irish Church Temporalities' Bill. They were told, for instance, that the Perpetuity Purchase Fund, which was to form a portion of the practical machinery of this measure, would amount to 1,200,000l. a-year. It would require twenty-five years to elapse before it reached that amount, In the mean 1172 time, the Irish clergy would have to be paid out of the Consolidated Fund— that was to say, out of the pockets of the people of this country. Was it to be supposed that the people of this country would continue that? They talked of the rich clergy of the Irish Church. He knew that they were in a wretched situation, he knew that they were suffering a great deal, but he also knew that they would rather suffer much more than take such a measure as this.
The Bishop of Derry
in explanation said, that he had not changed his opinion on the subject of the Tithe Composition Law.
The Earl of Mansfield
said, that the subject that night under discussion was of so important a nature, that he could not avoid trespassing on their Lordships with a few observations in explanation of the vote which it was his intention to give against this Bill. He had endeavoured to divest his mind of all prejudices on the subject—he had taken into consideration all the difficulties that surrounded this important question—he had more particularly adverted to the circumstances that had attended the discussion of this measure elsewhere; and after giving the most serious attention to all these matters, he felt it his duty to reject this Bill, though he was by no means insensible to the inconveniences—indeed, he might say, the dangers—to which the clergy of Ireland would be exposed by its rejection. On the other hand, he saw no security for their rights and interests provided by this measure. On the contrary, it appeared to him, that the yielding to injustice, which would be the case if they passed such a measure as this, would be construed into an admission, that the rights of the Irish clergy were either not just, or that those rights were not sustainable, and that, in fact, it would lay the grounds for future evils. He would repeat what he had said many years ago in that House, when many events that had since occurred were then but matters for conjecture. He then said, what he would now reiterate, that the transference of the burthen of tithes from the occupier to the proprietor of the land, variable according to the price of corn, and not variable according to the improvements of the estate, was an arrangement that might be beneficially introduced in any country, and more especially in 1173 such a country as Ireland, where the majority of the people were Dissenters from the Established Church. When tithes were converted into a rent-charge, he could not see upon what principle the redemption of that charge would be objectionable. Thus disposed, and entertaining those opinions, it might appear strange that he should oppose this Bill. But, in his mind, there was in this Bill a manifest departure from the principles of justice, which should be particularly observed in dealing with the property of any body of men. It should be observed, too, that that injustice was proposed to be perpetrated with regard to property and rights which were at least as sacred as any other description of property, and that if they should depart from the strict line of justice with respect to church property, it might lead to attacks upon property similarly situated, and eventually, perhaps, to attacks upon property of other descriptions. The noble Lord, after going through the details of the original Bill as brought forward by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, proceeded to observe, that the amount of the deduction which even in that Bill it had been proposed to make from the tithes belonging to the clergy, and which were to be converted into a rent-charge, was extremely questionable. At all events, it was a point that should riot be hastily decided upon, and without proper inquiry. A portion of that deduction was undoubtedly justifiable, on the grounds of the difficulties attendant upon the collection of such property as tithes even in tranquil times, and under ordinary circumstances. But it was well worthy of inquiry, whether a portion of that deduction was not made on account of the difficulties in the collection of tithes, owing to the disturbances that prevailed in Ireland on the subject. If any portion of it were made on that account, it was obvious that there would be gross injustice in making it. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack had more than once of late told them, that allegiance was only due for protection, and that both should be reciprocal. Nothing was more certain than the unfeigned loyalty of the Irish clergy, and if that protection to which they were entitled had not been afforded to them, their present losses, surely, constituted no argument why a future deduction should be made from their property. The Government by 1174 doing so would be taking advantage of its own wrong, and it would be actually holding out a premium to agitation. It was, therefore, a fit subject for inquiry, whether the deduction proposed was evidently fair and reasonable. There was a great difference both in the principle and the spirit of the first Bill, the Bill to which he had been referring, and that which was now before their Lordships. The original Bill made a deduction of one-filth, and this Bill a further deduction of another one-fifth in favour of the landlords, for in the first Bill there was a reduction of the rent-charge to four-fifths, and in this Bill it was still further reduced to three-fifths. He had already stated his opinion that tithes were a burden on the land, and that the landowners ought not to be relieved from them. He believed that others had viewed the subject in a different manner, and contended that the property of the land was divided into tenths; that nine-tenths belong to the proprietors of land, and one-tenth to the clergy. If that was the case, the proprietors of the nine-tenths ought not to be relieved from the burden, or acquire any property in the remaining tenth, except by purchase or other ordinary mode of acquisition. In no case could there be in justice a deduction in favour of the landlords. It was said, that this deduction was made in their favour without falling on the clergy; that the bonus of forty per cent. was offered to the landowners in order that they might undertake the collection of tithe, and prevent any interference of the Government in the collection. But under the Bills already passed, landlords were made chargeable with tithes on account of tenants at-will, or tenants holding under leases since agreed to: and thus an approximation was gradually made, as old leases dropped out, to that principle on which, in his opinion, under reasonable conditions, a proper arrangement might be effected. This deduction, however, being made, the clergy were to be paid by the State, a sum equal to what was received from that rent-charge, and then the deficiency was to be supplied by a transfer from the Consolidated Fund in the first instance, the repayment of which was to be made from the Perpetuity Fund, and other funds provided by the Bill of last Session. It appeared to him that this arrangement was wrong in principle. In the first place, it required the country 1175 to interfere and pay those tithes which should fall on the landlord; and, secondly, it was a diversion to other and secular purposes, of the sums appropriated by the Bill of last year, for it was to supply those payments which should have been made by the landlord. There seemed to be a material difference of opinion as to the amount of the fund arising under that Bill, if burdened, as it was, with the expense of repairing churches, and of providing for the service of religion which used to be paid for by the vestry cess. He understood that the amount of the Perpetuity Fund would not be so great as was expected, and they might therefore calculate upon a deficiency in that quarter to meet the demands of the clergy. If that should be the case, they would be obliged to come to the Consolidated Fund—that was to say, that they would be obliged, as the right reverend Prelate had truly said, to come to the pockets of the people of England and Wales and Scotland, to meet that deficiency. He feared that such would be the case, and he feared that in such circumstances the people of this country would, rather than pay that deficiency, let it fall upon the clergy; and if it did so turn out, he believed that it would only meet the expectations and fulfil the wishes of one who had been very much connected with this Bill. The avowed object of that individual would be promoted, if not accomplished, by it, namely, that tithes should be divided into three parts—one-third to be appropriated for the benefit of Protestants of every sect, one-third to be given to the Catholics, and one-third to be applied to civil purposes. He was aware that that proposition had been indignantly rejected by his Majesty's Ministers, but he must say, that such a system by the operation of this Bill would be greatly advanced towards being finally carried into effect. He thought, then, that the clergy, in opposing this Bill, took a just view of their own interests. He knew, that in consequence of the rejection of this measure, they would be exposed to great inconveniences. There was no doubt as to that. But if difficulties should arise, they must come to Parliament for relief; and he trusted, that under such circumstances, when their distresses were properly laid before Parliament, they would obtain consideration and relief. Their situation, he believed, would be somewhat improved by the Bill, which would 1176 come into operation in November next, and which would give them greater facilities for the recovery of their tithes. If he could entertain any hope of a final and satisfactory settlement of this great question, he should gladly concur in any measure calculated to effect that object. He could safely say, that he should have no disposition or prejudice against any measure that would be satisfactory to the clergy and fair towards all parties, no matter from what source it might come, and certainly he should not object to such a proposition coming from his Majesty's Ministers. He must say, that the satisfactory arrangement of this question had been greatly impeded by the conduct—by the weakness—by the errors, as the noble Viscount called them—and by what he would call the something more than errors of the present Administration. There was not a successful combination against tithes until sometime after the change of Administration in 1830. That statement he was aware had been disputed in that House, but it had been admitted in the other House by a right hon. Gentleman then connected with the Government. He thought that a great deal of the success in the combination to resist the payment of tithes had been owing, and was fairly attributable, to the mistaken conduct of the Government. Their non-renewal of the Proclamation Act in the first instance, confessed as it was by themselves to be necessary, was a great mistake. Then came the unfortunate use of the words "extinction of tithes," which, though they had been explained in a manner sufficiently intelligible in that House, conveyed an erroneous impression to the people of Ireland, which impression had been afterwards confirmed in a late Speech from the Throne. Then there was the prosecution against the hon. and learned member for Dublin—a prosecution which had been commenced somewhat in the spirit of vengeance, and which was afterwards abandoned from the baseness of fear. The Government almost immediately afterwards conferred upon that individual a patent of precedence. He was aware that that had been defended on the grounds of justice and policy, but he must say that such a proceeding had been always considered by men of impartiality and common sense as a direct and undisguised premium on agitation, What could the Protestants 1177 of Ireland expect from such a Government, acting in such a manner? What could the clergy of Ireland expect from such a Government,—a Government that had allowed a magistrate who had presided at an anti-tithe meeting still to continue in the commission of the peace? It was necessary for him to revert to what had occurred previous to the introduction of this measure elsewhere, in order to demonstrate the spirit in which it had been framed. The late right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, seceded from the Cabinet on the grounds, as stated by himself, that Ministers had in contemplation measures affecting the security of the Church: would it be said, now that this measure was before Parliament, that that right hon. Gentleman was mistaken in entertaining such apprehensions? He differed from that right hon. Gentleman in some very essential particulars. He knew that the right hon. Gentleman had taken what he no doubt considered a glorious part in the promotion of those measures which had been passed by an artificial decision of their Lordships' House. Remembering that the right hon. Gentleman had supported that Bill, of which he would now speak with respect, it having received the sanction of Parliament to become the law of the land, but of which he must say, that he viewed it at the time as an act of spoliation—remembering this, he certainly heard of the secession of the right hon. Gentleman with surprise. The noble Earl then at the head of the Government, might well have exclaimed on that occasion,Hath he so long held out with me untired,And stops he now for breath?Tardy, however, as was the conviction the right hon. Gentleman had come to, he was glad to see it. It read a useful lesson to the country. The very first acts of the Ministers after that right hon. Gentleman's secession, confirmed his apprehensions; they brought forward that commission, of which so much had been heard, and then they supported this measure. Then came the late changes in the Cabinet, the occurrence of which was clearly in connexion with the conduct of the Government in reference to the Coercion Bill. To make matters still more clear, to demonstrate their animus more obviously, an arrangement was made with the hon. and learned member for Dublin, not a suspension of arms, not a treaty of peace, 1178 but an arrangement on the part of Government with that fidus hostis of theirs, for the purpose of enabling him to modify his own arrangements on the question. Then was this Bill allowed to be altered by one who was the avowed enemy of the Church. The noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was beaten by him on that point, but in such a manner as showed that the noble Lord did not make all the resistance which he might have made upon the occasion. He did not wish to say anything harsh of his Majesty's Government, but he must say that even the most sordid love of place (which he did not attribute to them) would scarcely make others envy them the situations which they now held. He wished at the same time to take that opportunity to defend noble Lords on that side of the House, with whom he had the honour and the happiness to act, from imputations that had been thrown out against them. It had been attributed to some noble Lords there, that they were actuated by mortified pride and disappointed ambition. If passions so base could take possession of their minds, what greater gratification could they possibly receive than to behold the degraded state to which their political adversaries had now been driven? Did his Majesty's Ministers know how low they stood at this moment in public opinion? That public opinion which differed from the noble Earl late at the head of the Government,—that public opinion, which, more than the spirit of the age, did regulate, and ought to regulate, the conduct of public men? The public opinion to which he was referring, was the opinion of those persons in this country who were connected, adventitiously perhaps, but generally connected, with property. Of such persons, exercising their reasoning faculties, and attending to their own interests and the interests of the country at large, there did not exist in any country in the world, so great a proportion as in this. It was to the public opinion of such individuals that he had been referring. It was by that opinion that the conduct of public men should be regulated, and if his Majesty's Ministers did but know what was said of them by such persons—if they did but know what thorough disgust their conduct had excited amongst them—if they did but know the effects which the withering blast of the hon. and learned member for Dublin's approbation had 1179 upon their fame, they would, if not totally reform, do their best to reform the errors into which they had fallen. The first acts of the present Government had certainly been unfortunate. He trusted that they would do something to redeem their past conduct. He, for one, would give them an opportunity for reconsidering the subject, and he believed that a large majority of their Lordships would join him in doing that by rejecting this Bill. The absurd apprehension of a collision with the other House, would not prevent their Lordships from acting as they thought rightly and justly. The House of Lords, feeling it its duty to do so, would reject this Bill, and he was sure that act of theirs would be responded to by the great mass of public opinion out of doors. He trusted that the expression of such an opinion on the part of that House and of the country, would have due weight upon his Majesty's Ministers; and he for one would be inclined next Session to give every attention to a measure on the subject, especially if it emanated from his Majesty's Ministers. At present, he discharged his duty by conscientiously rejecting this Bill. He only regretted that the importance of the subject had rendered it necessary for him to trespass so long upon their Lordships' attention.
The Lord Chancellor
rose to occupy their Lordships' attention but for a short time, while he made a few observations upon the important subject now under their consideration. After the speeches which had been delivered during the evening, all with one exception, remarkable as they were for that tone of calmness and quietness with which a subject embracing such great interests should be discussed, he was sorry to find the noble Earl who had just sat down, depart so widely from an example thus universally and honourably set to him. Even the noble Baron who had moved the Amendment, made a speech distinguished for its calmness and its candour, though he (the Lord Chancellor) must say that he differed from all parts of that speech, except that part in which the noble Baron had done so much justice to all the measures of the Government during the last three years. The noble Baron had done so unwittingly perhaps,—perhaps he did not intend it, but it so happened that. in this, as in other cases, "out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaketh." The noble Baron went 1180 further, probably, than the tactics of his party would warrant on this occasion; but the tone of the noble Baron's speech had been most candid and fair, perfectly well adapted to the great importance of the question, which involved interests connected with, not merely the stability of the Irish church establishment, but the very existence, certainly the subsistence, of the Irish Protestant clergy. He regretted, he repeated, that the speech of the noble Earl who spoke last, had formed so striking a contrast to that and the other speeches that had preceded his in the course of this discussion. On such a subject as the present, he should have thought it impossible for any reasonable man to be so carried away by party feeling as the noble Earl who last addressed the House. On so important a question, demanding the most calm and deliberate attention, to have flown off from the immediate subject, to have digressed from it and mixed up with its consideration every party topic, and made a speech personally directed against Ministers, and on extraneous matters rather than in reference to the Bill before the House—to have acted in this manner, as the noble Earl did, had very much surprised him, and disappointed the expectations which he entertained from the previous conduct of the noble Earl. He would take leave to deviate from the example set by the noble Earl in this respect, and would abstain from adverting to all the party and personal topics in which he had indulged, and rather attempt to recall their Lordships' attention to the important subject now before them, in preference to meandering with the noble Earl through all the foreign and irrelevant matters introduced in the course of the noble Earl's address. He wished to appeal to their Lordships' calm and dispassionate judgments, in reference to the merits of the present measure, and to set aside all extraneous topics. He called on their Lordships in mercy to that suffering body, the Irish clergy, to pause before they rejected this Bill, though he feared, and knew from what the noble Earl had said, that he should call in vain; nevertheless, as prudent, discreet, and dispassionate men, he called upon their Lordships to pause. As respected the merits of the measure, he agreed with his noble friend at the head of the Government, that there was no real difference of principle between the Bill now under consideration and that 1181 originally propounded by Ministers. The principle of the original measure was to throw the burthen of tithes on the landlords, and to terminate the conflict existing between the tithe-owner and the peasantry. This was to be done sooner or later, but, at the latest, the object would be effected at the end of a period of five years. Such was the principle of the original Bill, and the main alteration in the present measure was one which threw the burthen on the landlord immediately, instead of waiting till a certain period had elapsed previously to adopting that course. That was no change in the principle of the Bill, but it was, he begged to submit, a very great improvement. He came next to the authorship of the measure. If it were said that the persons who proposed or supported it were individuals of very questionable authority on such matters, he answered that one gentleman, a right hon. Baronet, who was an undeniable friend to the established church in England and Ireland, had ridiculed the proposition to postpone the payment for so many years as was originally intended, and plainly said that it would be infinitely better, supposing the principle to be adopted, if the charge on account of tithe were made payable by compulsion at once. He agreed with his noble friend at the head of the Government as to the comparative advantages of this Bill over the present law as regarded the condition of the Irish clergy. What was the situation of that body? The Irish clergy had now a right to 100 per cent of tithe, having that right secured past all doubt by the law; but there happened to be what was called by lawyers a severance between the title and the possession, and the same person who had an undoubted right to 100 per cent was often in a situation which required him to struggle and fight and inflict notch misery to obtain a tithe of his demand. The tithe owner was out of possession, he had the law with him, and the fact against him. When such a state of things existed, lawyers were aware that an ounce of fact was worth a pound of law, and no men felt the truth of that maxim more than the owners of Irish tithes. What was it that Government had done in framing the measure originally, and in afterwards improving it? They said to the Irish tithe-owners, "Instead of standing on your strict right of 100 per cent, which we well know the difficulty, nay 1182 impossibility, of enforcing, causing, as the attempt to obtain it does, bloodshed, every species of misery, disturbance, and civil broils, instead of aiming at what it is admitted you cannot get, and that if you were even to get for one year would next year be most insecure and precarious—instead of this, why not give something for the sake of security and peace, for the means of collection, and as a saving of the present cost of collection? Instead of 100 per cent you shall have 77l. 10s., twenty per cent for security, and 2l. 10s. for the cost of collection." That was what the Bill said. How many of their Lordships were there who happened to be so felicitously circumstanced as owners of estates, that they would not gladly make such a composition, if they were perfectly certain that as soon as a given day came their rents would be paid in paper as good as gold at the office of the Woods and Forests, without risk of bad debts or expense of collection? How many of their Lordships with 100,000l. a year of nominal rent, which they were not in actual possession of—how many of them were there who would not think it a good compromise, a most excellent bargain, to receive 77,500l. as regularly as the clock struck, in half-yearly payments, in good paper, convertible into gold? It was clear that the Church would be benefited by the present measure. "But," said the noble Earl who had last addressed the House,—"how is the landlord to obtain from his tenants re-payment of the advances which he will make on their account?" The answer to this question was extremely simple:—if the landlord collected his rent at present, he would be able to collect it in future, augmented by the advances on account of tithe. But that the measure would be of great benefit to the Irish Church was undoubted, whatever injury it might inflict on the landlord; and that the Irish clergy would do unwisely and ill, not merely in rejecting, but in hesitating to accept it, was equally certain. But he was told, that it was not so much the measure itself as its supposed author that was objected to. Were the Bill ever so good, ever so advantageous to the interests of Church and State, it mattered not, so long as it proceeded from a suspected source. The benefits of the measure only regarded the merits of the case, and the duty of the Government in proposing, and of the Legislature in passing or rejecting 1183 it. These were simple considerations, according to the noble Earl, who said, that the main thing for their Lordships to bear in mind was, not whether the measure was bad or good, but how, and by whom, it was proposed. "If the Bill had been proposed by Ministers," said the noble Lord, with overflowing candour, and an extreme degree of kindness and compassion, the noble Lord having now some one in view whom he hated even more than his Majesty's Ministers,—"if the measure were only brought forward by Government, or if they would bring it back to the state in which it was when they first introduced it into Parliament, I promise to withdraw all opposition as regards it." "Oh that we had," exclaimed the noble and learned Lord, "the noble Lord always in this benignant mood! Oh that we could be sure all the noble Lord wanted was to be satisfied that we were proposing our own measures for the approbation of Parliament! What reforms I should rejoice to see introduced in the next Session if this happy, and candid, and liberal disposition of the noble Lord were to continue, and if it were not to be soured in the interval! I pledge myself that no human being should know a tittle of anything,—that the measures to be introduced to your Lordships should be entirely and exclusively the measures of his Majesty's Government,—that your Lordships should have Ministerial measures, the whole Ministerial measures, and nothing but Ministerial measures. I am afraid, however, that the noble Baron's kind disposition will not continue till the month of January or February next, before which time, with all my respect for your Lordships, I can assure you I have not the slightest wish to meet you here." Well, then, if such were the professions of noble Lords, what made them, and especially the noble Earl who spoke last, so indignant at the plan as it now stood? He would not do anything so invidious as to speculate upon what would have been the sentiments of the noble Earl and of the noble Baron, had the Bill been brought up to them in the shape in which it was introduced into the House of Commons; but he could not help suspecting, that there would have been something to say against it, that a few syllables, and even a few words, would have been altered. He could not believe that the second reading would have gone off quite so smoothly and placidly in the 1184 present tense as it did in the preterpluperfect. What a man did they could judge of; but what a man might, could, should, or would have done they could not judge of, because they could not even say what it would have been; no, not even when a man himself told them, for he could not himself know. He, therefore, had a strong suspicion on his mind, that if no change had been made in the Bill in the other House of Parliament, they should have had some words on the second reading, a few more in Committee, and more upon the bringing up of the Report,—if, indeed it would ever have been read a second time, for, as far as reason and principle went, there was no argument that had been urged against the Bill to-night which would not have been just as applicable to the Bill as originally introduced. Was not the matter, then, reduced to this, that an important legislative enactment was to be received with open arms, or repudiated with disgust, indignation, and almost fury, not upon its own merits, but the merits, real or supposed, of an individual, who, in the other House of Parliament, had a hand in introducing one or two material alterations, and, as he maintained, amendments, into this measure? He had heard somewhat to-night about degraded men, of debased Ministers, of their lowness in public estimation, and the expediency of their being humble in their own eyes—particularly had he heard this from the noble Earl who had just sat down; but he did not think there was a more unworthy course of proceeding, a more degraded state, a more humiliating posture, either for a man, a Minister, or a member of Parliament, than that there should exist one individual who was so master of your motions as to make it sufficient for him to adopt a plan for you not to approve it; for him to approve of any proposition to make you against it; for him to put forward an Amendment to induce you to reject it; for him to say, Give me this, to make you say, You shall not have it; for him to beg a boon for the clergy of Ireland, to make you deny it; for him to entreat of you to withhold mischief from the sister country—to save it from the torments of civil war, to make you exclaim, "What care I for civil war—what care 1 for gratifying the clergy—what care I about purchasing peace—what care I for all that—am I to degrade myself by taking a hint from Mr. 1185 O'Connell—shall he dictate to me? But he did dictate to them; and the only difference between the opponents of this Bill and his Majesty's Ministers was, that the latter came forward honestly and fairly, in a manly and direct manner to yield to what he proposed; whilst the former, their pride apparently predominant, like a spoiled child, or boarding-school miss, who did this thing, or that thing, not because she listed, but because her maid, her comrade, or her mistress desired her to do the contrary. He (the Lord Chancellor) had uniformly been one of those who had declared his opinion against that individual whenever he thought his conduct called for censure at his hands. No man on either side of the House—perhaps no man in Parliament—had used less of censure, less of management in the expression of his opinions with respect to that hon. and learned person when he had deemed it his duty—and a most painful one he had felt it to be whenever he had had to discharge it—to animadvert upon his opinion; but because he disapproved of his conduct—because he greatly blamed and deeply lamented parts of his conduct as mischievous to Ireland, and wholly unworthy of his great talents and abilities, to which he was always ready to do justice,—he had entered into no bond—he had made no covenant with himself to allow Mr. O'Connell to govern him by the rules of contraries, to adopt whatever he rejected, or reject whatever he approved, simply because those several proceedings would be opposed to his. He held it to be his duty to consult for the good of this realm, to advise his Sovereign in those things which belonged to the interests of his Crown and people, and not less than anything else to consider what belonged to his peace and the peace of his dominions; and if he knew and felt that a proposition which came from Mr. O'Connell was an improvement on a measure he had brought forward, he was neither so vain as to reject it because it was not his own plan, nor idiot so flagrant as to refuse it because it proceeded from one in whose conduct in all particulars he could not agree. Nay, he would go further, and he should not be accused of truckling to any man, when he said that, barring the possibility of misconception, which, however, could not take place where nothing but the truth was spoken (and here he should take the opportunity of saying, that interference, bar- 1186 gain, understanding, agreement there was none whatever between Mr. O'Connell and any part of the Government)—barring, he said, the possibility of a misconception of that kind, he should think, that, so far from its being an objection to an Amendment of which he approved on its merits, that it came from Mr. O'Connell and his party, it would, looking to the peace of Ireland and the greater chance of tranquillity there for the next six months, be an additional reason for his opening his arms to receive that Amendment. But the noble Earl must step three years back for the purpose of bringing a charge against the Irish Government, and against the Irish Chancellor, for giving a silk gown and a patent of precedency to Mr. O'Connell. Since when, he asked, had it been the custom, that a gentleman whose learning, talent, experience, and standing placed him at the head of his profession, was not to receive common justice? Since when had it been the rule with Chancellors to refuse what was a matter of course, and a matter of justice, on account of an individual's conduct, not in his profession, wherein he was without reproach, but simply because in politics he differed from the Government? The profession of the law, to which he had the honour to belong, and from which the title borne by the noble Earl (Earl Mansfield) who had brought the charge, derived its lustre, would reject with indignation a principle which tended to enslave its members, and make them the tools of Ministers, and its honours the poor results of party traffic. The rank which had been conferred on Mr. O'Connell was the right of others as well as of himself—of his clients, of his brother barristers, and of the courts of justice—of his clients, whose interests were concerned; of his brethren at the Bar, who had also an interest in his promotion; and of the Courts, whose business was impeded by the want of it. He (the lord Chancellor) was himself an instance of the spite of some miserable petty wretched intriguer—of some foul and vile slanderer—of some contemptible miscreant whom he would not condescend to name, and who had so far used his base influence against him, as well as against his noble and learned friend, the Chief Justice of the King's Bench—an individual whose elevation to his present station, on that account as well as because of his merits and virtues, which had excited 1187 the love and admiration of the profession, constituted the proudest moment of his life—he said, that, in consequence of the efforts of parties who wished to gratify their spite against individuals simply for doing their professional duty, politics and party pretences were made the grounds of keeping his noble and learned friend and himself out of their just rank in their profession. No person felt that more than his noble and learned friend then on the Woolsack, on whom he had never cast the slightest blame. However, ten or eleven barristers had been all but ruined by the course then taken. Those gentlemen were some of them made Judges by way of compensation; but they had first lost their practice simply because they happened to be his (the Lord Chancellor's) seniors at the Bar. He found those gentlemen in good practice when he first went the circuit, but they were after a while left without a single brief, because he could not lead them. In like manner, Mr. O'Connell stood in the way of his seniors, and his elevation was due as a matter of right, not merely to himself, but to other members of the Bar, to his clients, and to the Courts. But to leave this subject, and to return to the question before the House; he would entreat of their Lordships to consider the consequences of the rejection of the Bill. By this Bill the clergy would be secure of getting, year after year, 77l. 10s. out of the 100l.; that, perhaps, was not all they were entitled to, but it was clear that that was all that could now be done. He wished and hoped that more could be done, but his wish and his hope went further than the prospects of the case could realize. He would enforce the law against every attempt to resist the collection of tithes, but he marvelled that the Irish clergy opposed this Bill, as it was said by a right reverend Prelate they had done. He believed it was the opinion of right reverend Prelates, that, if this Bill were rejected, there would be no support for the clergy of Ireland, so far as the right reverend Prelates had stated their opinion. "But," said the noble and learned Lord, "I am bound to consult the interests of the Church, and in voting for this Bill I consult those interests. How do I know what spirit of party may be raised in Ireland against this Bill? How do I know, that at this moment the most mischievous lawyers are not at work to defeat the great 1188 object of our anxieties and our cares? How do I know what spirit of fanaticism, or folly, or worse, may not be in action now to destroy a great and good measure? How, in my want of knowledge of these matters, am I to say, that this Bill, which is a Bill of mercy to the clergy, should be thrown out,—how, I ask, am I to know what is to be done? Where will the clergy find relief? The Government, I admit, will do all they ought, all which is in their power, to do in Ireland to enforce the law. It is their duty to do so. But there is a point beyond which they cannot go. The law could not break open people's doors. The law could not lay hold of cattle which were not in the fields; nor could pigs or cows be seized under similar circumstances. The tables and chairs and other miserable furniture might be in a dwelling-house; but he would say, that, though the Government could enforce the law, and prevent a "rescue," one thing must be clear—that they could not compel the people "to buy!" How, he should like to know, could the clergy repay the Government advances if this Bill were not agreed to? And he would have clergymen who had estates bear in mind, that the Government had a general security on all this property for the repayment of the loan of last year. Nor would it be in the power of the Government to remit payment; for the law compelled them to enforce it. But, again, suppose this Bill thrown out, and what would be the result? He almost feared to contemplate it. Were their Lordships, lie should like to know, under such circumstances, exercising their high prerogatives—their noble functions? Were they doing all they ought to do for the good of their country? The country would not forget what their Lordships had done, or would do. He had stated his firm belief, that this measure should pass into a law for the good of the clergy and the peace of Ireland, and he would wash his hands of any opposition to it. In opposing this Bill, their Lordships were running a great and serious risk—a risk, the amount of which he was afraid they did not exactly calculate. Supposing and he took it only as a supposition, that the most rev. Primate of Ireland should be wrong, and the Irish clergy in resisting this Bill should be wrong, and that he (the Lord Chancellor) should be right, what, he should like to ask, would then be 1189 said? Perhaps their Lordships expected that the Commons would pass a Bill to undo the mischief which their Lordships' rejection of this measure might occasion; but what reason had they to expect that the Commons would be so meek—he would not say so forgiving, for no harm would be done to them—but so forgetful of whose had been the fault, as to say, "Oh, never mind, let us give another million or two of the people's money to repair the evil done by the Lords." He was so far from being sure that this would be said, that he rather thought they should get abuse without money. It was very easy for noble Lords to say, "Mr. O'Connell shall not dictate to me." Saying that was very safe, but what was to be said at the other side of the question? It was very true their Lordships could vote by proxy, but they ought not to be bold by proxy, especially when the Irish clergy might be the sufferers. If the Bill were not to pass, the result would be, that the Irish clergy must starve, while their Lordships would not do right because Mr. O'Connell recommended it. This, he would say, was not a dignified course for their Lordships' House to pursue upon an occasion so important as the present. One word as to the noble Lord's tirade on the unpopularity of his Majesty's Ministers, and the odium into which they had fallen, so that it was painful to hear those who were well disposed towards them attack them. The persons whose animosity they had most to combat were their own friends, who said they did not go far enough. This was followed up by the assertion, that the chief of those who had been formerly discontented came to wither Ministers with the blight of his malignant approbation. Take it for granted that Ministers were as unpopular as it was possible for Ministers to be, and as unpopular as the noble Lord would wish them to be—take it for granted, that every measure they proposed was disapproved of, that the representatives of the people placed no confidence in them—then he could only say, that there was a great floating fund of popularity somewhere—a great mass of public favour without owners—and a love towards statesmen unnamed and unborn. Take it for granted that Ministers had not the approbation of their countrymen, that Mr. O'Connell had it not; had the noble Lords who sat on the Opposition side of the 1190 House got it? He was in the same boat with them, they were all equally unpopular; who then was the happy Minister who was to command all voices, for whom the eyes of the country longed, whom the hands of the country were stretched out to receive? He would take upon him to say, that if he was not upon one side of the House, it was in vain to look for him upon the other. Upon the merits of the measures now proposed he would stand or fall with his colleagues. He should continue to serve his King as long as his Majesty called for that service. He should continue to serve his country until he had other testimony than the noble Lord's assertion, that he had lost the confidence of his fellow citizens; and, standing upon the measures of which he might be either the author or supporter, he should appeal with unabated confidence to the verdict of that country.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, he concurred with the noble and learned Lord in thinking that the present subject was one of the highest importance—one that it behoved the House to consider with attention, and weigh deeply, in order to ascertain what effect it might have on the integrity and durability of the Protestant Church in Ireland.—If the noble Lord opposite approved of the present measure so highly now, how could he reconcile this fact with the fact of his having approved of a totally dissimilar measure introduced by those who were his own colleagues to the House of Commons?—Surely, if the present measure were so good, he should have considered well before he gave his approbation to a different measure before. One must be right and the other wrong; the noble Lord lauded both, and both could not be right. Was the noble Lord then right before, or was he right now?—It would appear that he was only right now, for he was opposed to his former opinion. The Government brought a measure into the House of Commons distinct from the present, distinct in principle and in practice. He approved of the former measure because he thought it good for the Church and not oppressive to the landowners. Well, the former measure which had the deliberate sanction of the members of the Government, was such as he imagined was not opposed to the feelings of their Lordships. Now if he showed, that there was a material distinction between the present and the last 1191 measure, he thought he should establish grounds for calling on their Lordships to reject the present Bill. Since the last measure was proposed to Parliament certain right hon. Gentlemen and a noble friend of his had left the service of his Majesty in consequence of a disunion of opinion on this subject, and the country had good reason to regret the absence of those right hon. Gentlemen from the service of the Crown.—The Government then brought forward two measures. The first placed the clergy as stipendiaries on the landlords; their tithes were to be converted into a rent-charge on the property of the landlords. But by the present Bill they were made stipendiary and dependent on the Ministers of the Crown. The rent-charge was made payable to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, and by them the amount was to be transferred to the clergy, the deficit to be made up from the Consolidated Fund. Thus the clergy for their maintenance were to be dependent on the Crown. The distinction was material and highly important to the independance of the Irish Church. Did their Lordships wish to see the Church independent; and would they bear to see it hanging on the favour of any Minister? The noble Lord opposite said, that the clergy could not lay their hands on their property at present; no, nor could any one lay his hands on any property if peace were not preserved. If the Government were so feeble and irresolute as to allow the law to lie dormant in order that the rent might be collected for Mr. O'Connell, then it was no wonder that the interests of the Church should be sacrificed. All the disturbance of Ireland depended on the Government; its irresolution and weakness was the cause of it all. No one could approve of the administrative affairs of the Irish Government. If it had carried into execution the law with vigour; if it had renewed the Proclamation Act, and had not given a patent of precedence to one who was guilty of a misdemeanour; if it boldly checked agitation, it would have put an end to disturbance, and would have secured the safety of the Church, and the country would not have fallen into its present state. He would just say one word by way of comparison between the present Bill and its predecessor. The Bill of Mr. Stanley was founded on the basis of vindicating the law—and the vindica- 1192 tion of the law was what every Statesman should mainly look to in the present condition of Ireland—vindicating the law with a view to the final redemption of tithes. But the present measure went to admit, that the law was inoperative, and to leave it suspended and despised. By the former Bill the clergy were made stipendiaries of the Government for a short time until the tithe was redeemed. But, by the present Bill, they were made stipendiaries on the Government for ever. Surely it was not the way to maintain the independance and integrity of the Church, or secure the allegiance and subordination of the people, to abandon the vindication of the law, as government was doing by the present measure. It was said, that the peasantry were in a state of insurrection, that they would not pay tithes, and the present Bill was brought in to relieve those insurrectionary peasantry, and thus to give an encouragement and a premium for their disturbances. The former Bill as brought in by Mr. Stanley went first to vindicate the law and to relieve the peasantry; but the present Bill went to prostrate the law, and while professing to relieve the peasantry, and so giving them an assurance that their insurrectionary resistance had been crowned with success, absolutely gave them no substantial relief, but was calculated only to benefit the landlords, who would not only pocket the two-fifths, but would make the tenants pay the whole amount of tithe in increased rents on the expiration of their leases. The former Bill was carried by large majorities in the other House, so that the present Bill was the measure of the minority. He was sure that the Ecclesiastical Fund never could meet the charge proposed to be made upon the Consolidated Fund. But besides this charge there would be many others, such as the repairing of churches, which would be left totally un-provided for. He, therefore, agreed with his noble friend that it was impossible to pass such a measure. He admitted that the clergy would incur great risk of not getting their incomes without the Bill, but those risks would be equal with it. They were told, that the measure was to pacify Ireland. He thought there were provisions in the Tithe Composition Act of last year which might have accomplished this. But the Bill before their Lordships totally upset them, and upon the most futile grounds, 1193 only establishing fresh causes of agitation and contention, without doing good to any party. If it were only from that circumstance he should take the sense of the House against the measure. He believed, all those arrangements would be productive of the greatest good if adhered to, and he, therefore, called upon their Lordships, by rejecting this measure, to leave them to be carried into operation.
§ The Earl of Ripon
said, he feared that the course he felt it his duty to take upon this question would be satisfactory to few parties, and he was not sure that it would be quite so to himself. He, however, thought it right to explain very shortly his views. He must at first state, that he had heard with very great surprise that part of the speech of his noble and learned friend upon the Woolsack in which he endeavoured to make out that the Bill before their Lordships was the same in principle as that measure to which he was six months ago a party. It appeared to him that it rested upon principles which he might almost say were diametrically opposite. He saw nothing in common between the two measures, except the professed object which both seemed to have in view; and while he claimed for the measure to which he had been a party the credit of its being a bona fide effort for the pacification of Ireland so far as related to the question of tithes, he had no desire to impute to this Bill that it had any other object whatever. As to the alterations which had been made, it made no difference to his argument whether they proceeded from an individual, or had been adopted at the suggestion of the Irish landlords. With respect to one provision which his noble friend said had been adopted in compliance with their suggestions, he (Lord Ripon) very much regretted that they had thought proper to make such a recommendation, because it was for the advantage of the landlords themselves that a sum of money to the amount of twenty per cent was to be deducted from the tithe to be collected. He was well aware that the Bill which had been before proposed required the clergy, in return for a more secure payment—a payment which could not be shaken, which did not depend upon caprice, and could not be overturned by one Government to be re-established by another—they should sacrifice one-fifth of their income. But this measure proposed to take away 1194 another fifth, for the benefit of the landlords, and no argument which he had heard that night, or which he observed to have been used elsewhere, had stated why the Irish landlords were entitled to this increase of their income. If there was any class of men more interested than others in the welfare of Ireland, and who ought not to require a premium of twenty per cent to induce them to join in the pacification of Ireland, it was the landlords of that country; and he could not conceive on what grounds their assistance for that object could be withheld, if they had not been offered this sum, which must come essentially from the income of the clergy. Another new principle in this Bill, and to which he felt very strong objections, was the omission of the clauses which related to the redemption of tithes. That redemption constituted the essence of the former Bill, the framers of which had endeavoured to follow up the recommendation of the Committees which had sat upon the subject. No question had ever been probed more deeply than this had been in the examinations which had taken place before Committees of both Houses of Parliament for the last three or four years. Those Committees had recommended the conversion of tithes into a change of a different description, but they recommended that that change should be accompanied by the principle of redemption, and that alone, in his opinion, justified the otherwise imprudent words "extinction of tithes." He had not heard any argument why those clauses were withdrawn. That was the part of the Bill which had given him the most unqualified satisfaction, and he had taken the liberty of writing a letter in simple prose, in which there was neither Latin nor Greek, to his noble friend the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland. in expression of his satisfaction. He must observe, that he also felt great objection to calling in the aid of the Consolidated Fund in the manner in which it was done by this Bill. If the words four-fifths had been suffered to remain instead of three-fifths, there would have been no occasion for the clauses relating, to the Consolidated Fund, nor any necessity for legislating upon the Perpetuity Fund, which would remain as at present established by law. Thus, for the sake of giving twenty per cent to the landlords of Ireland, the House was departing, not only from the Bill which had been proposed in the early part 1195 of this Session, but also from that which had been passed at the end of last Session. He objected to the form of the Bill as it stood at present. He thought, however, that it might be altered in the Committee, and that it would be wise to make the attempt, and with that view he should much regret opposing himself to the second reading. But if the result of any such change were to be, that the Bill should die a natural death elsewhere, he should not feel that the slighest responsibility attached to him for that consequence, but that the whole responsibility belonged to those who said that no alteration whatever must be made in it. He had heard it said, that the main consideration which ought to influence their Lordships was the condition in which the Irish clergy would be placed if this Bill were not passed. That condition would be painful enough, God knew. It was scarcely possible to conceive a state of persecution more distressing than they were obliged to endure, but there might be circumstances which would make even their condition worse, and in which it might even come up to the eloquent description given by his noble and learned friend on the Woolsack, when he told their Lordships what the condition of the Irish clergy would be. When he reflected upon the hard measure which was dealt out to that body in this Bill, he did not think that those persons reasoned justly who calculated upon the miserable plight to which the rejection of this Bill would expose them in proportion to the sufferings and privations which the clergy of Ireland were compelled to endure in proportion to the dangers by which they were surrounded, and the loss even of life to which they were liable, if those evils were inevitable under the present system; and in the same proportion he said it was binding upon the honour and the common charity of their Lordships to deal tenderly with their interests, and not to lay hold of their property for the mere sake of giving twenty per cent to the landholders. Their Lordships should also consider what would be the condition of the clergy if they passed this Bill as it stood. If four-fifths were substituted for three-fifths, there would be no necessity for the clause relating to the Consolidated Fund, or for touching the Perpetuity Purchase Fund. This would be a boon to the clergy, and it would not in the least affect the interests of the poor people, if that which he had 1196 suggested were done, tithes, as so called; might be got rid of without injustice to anybody, while a real benefit would be conferred upon the clergy. In the hope that some such alteration as that he had intimated might be made in the Committee, he would vote for the Second Reading of the Bill, but he would not support it on the Third Reading if those clauses were not removed.
The Bishop of London
would not have risen to address their Lordships on this occasion, had he not assented to the Church Temporalities Bill of last year, and it seemed to be assumed that, because he did so, he should therefore give his assent to the measure before their Lordships. One great inducement with him to dissent from that measure was the assent which he gave to the Bill of last year; for if there was one thing more plain and prominent on the face of this measure than another, it was, that it entirely broke up the great principle of the Bill of last Session. He voted for that measure upon the assumption, that whatever sum might be accumulated towards the Perpetuity Fund, that sum was to be used for, and solely applied to, ecclesiastical purposes; but one of the principles of the present Bill was, that twenty per cent was to be taken out of that fund. As for the other twenty per cent, which was to be deducted from the income of the clergy themselves, in consideration of the additional security which the present measure was to give them for the remaining four-fifths of their income he did not make any objection; and he understood that the Irish clergy themselves did not raise very strong objections to it. But with respect to the twenty per cent which was to come from the Perpetuity Purchase Fund, he looked upon it as a clear bonus put into the pocket of the landlord, and therefore, pro tanto, a spoliation of the Church; and to that principle he could not accede. Another objection was to that part of the Bill which related to the breaking up of the compositions which were entered into, in order to secure the clergy a portion of their property, If it were necessary to to take a certain portion of the income of the clergy from them, let it be done in a definite, tangible, and precise manner, so that the question might be fairly placed before their Lordships; and that the clergy might know exactly what they were to do. 1197 But it was not merely twenty per cent which would be the exact measure of the spoliation of the Irish clergy; but it would be twenty per cent upon the compositions. He read over these clauses relating to the compositions with great care; and he must say, although he was far from imputing any such intention to the framers of the Bill, that these clauses seemed to give very great encouragement to the breaking up of the compositions. The clergy for the last eleven years, had compounded for a certain income, and had gone on calculating upon the faith of this composition, and had subjected themselves to certain claims in consequence. But they were now not only to be liable, at the caprice or malice of any seven inhabitants of their parish, to the danger, he might say, the almost certainty, of losing an additional portion of their income, but during the whole time that the revising of the valuation of the parish might be pending, as well as before and after, agitation would be kept up in that parish to their detriment. The two principles of the Bill which he had just stated, appeared to him so extremely vicious, that it was not possible for him to give his assent to it. With respect to the fact of the measure, in its present form, having been ascribed in some degree to an hon. and learned Member of the other House, who certainly had not, on former occasions, exhibited himself in the light of a friend to the established clergy, he owned he could not take the same view of that part of the question as the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack had done. He must look with the greatest possible suspicion at anything corning from that quarter, and he thought he had, in this case, good ground for that suspicion. It was true, that the transfer of the payment of tithe from the occupier of the land, who might be called a species of little landlord, to the chief landlord, did, in the first instance, appear to be a probable method of mitigating existing evils, by putting an end to the prædial agitation that now prevailed. But he did not think that such was the view taken by the hon. and learned Gentleman in making that proposal; for in his observations upon Mr. Stanley's Bill, the hon. and learned Gentleman remarked, that it would throw the people from the kind indulgence of the clergy to the punctuality and severity of the landlord. Such was the hon. and learned Gentleman's 1198 opinion then, and there was no doubt that the tithe-payers would hereafter be forced to pay up what would be equivalent to the tithes, with greater strictness to the landlord, than to the clergy; and he could not help thinking, that it was this prospect of agitation which induced the hon. and learned Gentleman to give so ready an assent to the proposal. But be that as it might, while these two principles remained in the Bill, it was impossible to give it his support. He was unwilling to do anything which might embarrass his Majesty's Government upon this difficult question. He was perfectly alive to the danger which appeared to await the great body of the Irish clergy; and if that clergy had, with one unanimous voice, protested against their Lordships rejecting the present Bill, he might have overcome his objections to it, rather than have exposed that meritorious body to starvation. But that was not the case. The result of all his inquiries was, that the clergy of Ireland were very desirous that their Lordships should reject the Bill. In addition to the testimony to that fact which had been borne by two of his right reverend brethren, he held in his hand a communication from a right reverend Prelate, who was equally eminent for his piety and zeal, his humanity and devotion to the cause of the clergy and the Church. He held in his hand a communication from him to the Primate of all Ireland, in which he said—It appears to me quite impossible to consult the clergy of four extensive diocesses on the subject of this Bill, in sufficient time to give the friends of the establishment an opportunity of presenting their petitions to Parliament; but I have submitted the case to a large body in my own diocese, and they all agree with me in opinion, that if the Bill, as amended, should pass, absolutely without any power of redemption, and on the principle, that Church property may be applied to other than ecclesiastical purposes, it will be all over with the Church; and the measure, therefore, ought to be opposed by every legal means. We are not disposed to be parties to such a spoliation; we are not disposed to violate the trust reposed in us for the benefit of our successors. I do not hesitate to say, that these are the sentiments of the large majority of the clergy. We are quite aware, should the Bill be opposed with success, that we may be exposed to still further privations; but this we far prefer 1199 to the submitting to this dangerous measure, which commences by partially robbing us, and which will end by depriving our ancestors of all revenue whatsoever." It was because he foresaw as its result the gradual diminution and final extinction of the income of the Church, that he felt himself called upon to give his vote against the second reading of the Bill.
The Earl of Roden
protested against the measure. In supporting it, the Ministers departed from all the principles which were praise worthy in the former Bill. He was as well acquainted with the sentiments of the clergy of Ireland as the right reverend Prelate, who had spoken at an earlier hour of the evening; and he knew not from what part of that clergy the right reverend Prelate could have received his information. He could assert, that the working clergy, in the midst of their toils, difficulties, and persecutions, had always exclaimed, "Consider us not personally—sacrifice nothing on our parts, maintain the principles of the Church inviolate, and enable us to continue to preach that Gospel, for which, in all likelihood, we, in no distant day, shall be called upon to lay down our lives." They oppose this Bill, because they see in it a crafty attempt, not to deprive them of their incomes, and the Church of its temporal possessions, but to destroy the Prostestant religion in Ireland. A bonus, indeed, was offered to the Protestant landlords, but he knew well that they too were opposed to every measure like this, which went to the destruction of the Church. The noble Viscount opposite, had said nothing to induce him to believe, that this Bill was not the Bill of Mr. O'Connell. Even at the best it must be admitted to be the act of men truckling to agitation, and attempting to bring Mr. O'Connell over in order to keep Ireland quiet. He must observe, however, that he was not surprised to hear the noble Lord opposite (Lord Duncan-non) panegyrize Mr. O'Connell. Ireland had long known and lamented that the views of the noble Lord, and of Mr. O'Connell on these matters coincided. That noble Lord, who, from his office, must in no small degree have the Government of Ireland, he regretted to see was disposed to govern that unfortunate country through means of Mr. O'Connell. But while there was yet time, he would fain warn the noble Lord how infinitely he would disgust the loyal Protestant 1200 gentry of Ireland by subjecting them to the influence of one who had ever been an enemy to the Protestant interest, and the Protestant religion—of one who had ever been their greatest and most inveterate opponent. In saying this, he meant nothing disrespectful to that learned Gentleman, for he meant an honest and an open enemy. He begged to remind the noble Lord, that it was through the Protestants alone, that the Union with this country had been preserved, and that if they should once become thoroughly disgusted with the conduct of the Government, and persuaded that from it they had neither to expect support nor justice, it was impossible to say that it might not enter their minds that it would be more advantageous for them to make their own terms with the people of the country, than to surrender themselves the victims of whatever arrangement the noble Lord might be pleased to make on their account. He regarded this as a measure of spoliation, and as the first of a series of such measures. He implored their Lordships not to consider the question simply as an Irish one. The Church of Ireland once pillaged and laid prostrate, the principle of spoliation would be speedily extended, first, to the property of the Church of England, and finally to all property. There was an old saying much in use in the days of Queen Elizabeth, which applied in its full force to the present circumstances of the times.—He that would our England win,Must with Ireland first begin.In conclusion, the noble Earl said, that he would resist the Bill as an attack on property, an attack on principle, an attack on the Protestant religion, and on the faith of the country.
§ Viscount Duncannon,
in explanation, stated that he had not panegyrised Mr. O'Connell. He had only contended that an Amendment, good in itself, was not to be rejected, because proposed by Mr. O'Connell. As to the noble Earl's other observations respecting him, he had only to say that it would be time enough for the noble Earl to accuse him when he had really been guilty of some crime. Then might the noble Earl come down to the House and move an address to his Majesty for his removal from office; but up to that moment he had neither said nor done anything to warrant the noble Earl 1201 in using such strong expressions towards him.
§ The Duke of Richmond
said, that being as he was, unconnected with any party in that House, he was anxious to be allowed the opportunity of saying a few words. He had been much surprised to hear from the noble Lord, that the Amendments in question had been proposed by the landlords of Ireland, and not by Mr. O'Connell. He asked the noble Lord if he had ever heard that Mr. O'Connell proposed the removal of the redemption clause? He asked him whether he did not know that, before this measure was talked of, Mr. O'Connell had the greatest objection to the clause. For his own part he had been in hope that Mr. O'Connell had proposed that clause which gave twenty per cent to the landlord, for he did not wish to have it go forth, that they had conferred this bonus on themselves. Again he would say, that if the Irish landlords were disposed to be liberal to the people, let them not be so at the expense of the church. Let them reduce their rents. Having said thus much, he would only detain the House by stating the grounds on which he would give his vote. He conscientiously believed, that if the Bill were rejected, tithes could only be collected with the greatest difficulty. He besought their Lordships to look to the condition of the Protestant clergy, and to consider the effect which the rejection of the present measure would produce in another place, as far as regarded the feeling of that assembly to-wards the clergy of Ireland. Those unfortunate individuals would be left without the power of raising a single shilling; and though he believed the Government would make every exertion to enforce the existing laws, yet it should be recollected, that the Government of this country was not the Government of Ireland; it could not be on the spot to co-operate with the soldiers and the police, and he feared, that if the Bill should not be read a second time, not a single shilling of tithe would be raised without having recourse to force. He could not conceal from himself, that the people of Ireland would say, that the House of Commons, by a large majority, had declared that tithes ought to be extinguished, and the result would be, that tithes would no longer be paid. He therefore, could not permit the Protestant clergy to hurry 1202 themselves to their ruin. If their Lordships would agree to the second reading, they would have an opportunity of replacing the Bill in the state in which it stood when it was originally proposed and carried through a stage by a united Cabinet, and by many of his noble friends who formerly formed part of the Government, and who, if their Lordships should by a large majority alter the Bill (and they had the power to do that if they should not throw it out), could not refuse to support the decision of their Lordships against the other House of Parliament. He confessed, that if the Bill should be lost at this stage, he looked forward with horror and dread to the misery to which the clergy would be exposed, abandoned as they would be to be persecuted by the agitators, who, with religious liberty in their mouths, hated the meritorious Protestant clergymen, and particularly the parochial clergymen, because they knew that, by their preaching and example, they had great influence in extending that religion. For the reasons which he had stated, he would vote for the second reading of the Bill, and he begged to ask their Lordships why, if it should not be amended in Committee, it could not be thrown out on the third reading? If the noble Lords opposite were strong enough to throw the Bill out now, why could they not do so, on the third reading? Their Lordships owed it to the House of Commons, and to the people of Ireland, to give a second reading to the Bill, and to amend it in Committee. If they did not do so, this was the last year in which they would have so favourable a Bill sent up to them.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
said, that the Grand Juries of Cork and Limerick had recorded their approbation of the Bill. Noble Lords opposite pretended that they would not consent to the measure, on the ground that it gave a boon to the landlords, at the expense of the Church. This was not the first time that the Irish landlords had been made a stalking-horse, and it reminded him of a saying of Grattan, "you try to leave the landlords without character, in order that you may leave the peasants without redress." He called upon their Lordships to consider the consequences which would result from the rejection of the measure. It was of no use to mince matters. He believed that tithes would no longer be paid in Ireland.
The Earl of Carbery
would merely de- 1203 Clare at that late hour, that he would oppose the Bill.
The Earl of Darnley
expressed his concurrence in the view taken by the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond). He would vote for the second reading, with the intention of altering the Bill in Committee. He denied, that the changes in the Bill had been effected by desire of the Irish landlords.
The Earl of Gosford
would give his support to the Bill, because he thought it likely to produce tranquillity in Ireland.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, that notwithstanding the late hour, he could not allow the debate to close without once more exhorting their Lordships to avert the fatal consequences which must result from the rejection of the Bill before them. A noble Baron opposite had said, that the responsibility for what might occur in consequence of the rejection of the measure would rest upon Ministers. He denied that: the responsibility would rest on those who rejected, and not on those who proposed, the Bill. The noble Baron who commenced the debate, (Lord Ellenborough) was wrong in supposing that the Bill could not be altered in Committee; he understood that any amendment which might be considered necessary, could be made at that stage of the measure. The noble Baron and the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington) said, that this Bill did not, like the former Bill on the same subject, vindicate the law. He was as desirous as any man to vindicate the law—to repress violence and outrage; but the Bill before the House would render it unnecessary to vindicate the law—it would prevent crime, instead of punishing it. He would not disguise from the House the scenes it would be necessary to go through in Ireland, and that they must levy tithes by means of war. The noble Duke said, that the Government had nothing to do but to vindicate the law, and that it was entirely the fault of the Government that the resistance to tithes had been so successful. To that assertion he could only oppose a distinct denial; and if it had come from any man but the noble Duke, he would have added that the statement was most uncandid and unfair; but he knew how prone the noble Duke was to deceive himself, and if the noble Duke were at the head of affairs—and for his part, he wished to God that he was,—he would take a very different view of the subject. He 1204 begged to remind the noble Duke, that in 1829, he took a very different view of the disorders of Ireland. The noble Duke then talked of his melancholy experience of the horrors of civil war, and adopted a measure to which he had all his life been opposed, in consequence of the apprehensions which he entertained of the disorders likely to occur in Ireland from longer withholding it. The noble Duke, he regretted to add, had somewhat disturbed the even tenor of the debate by adopting the invective of the noble Earl who sat near him. With respect to that invective, he had nothing to say, except that towards the end of his speech the noble Earl indulged somewhat too much in rhetorical artifice, when he said he had been led away by the impulse of the moment. Why, the speech of the noble Earl had cost him a month's labour. He had gone through a formal chronological detail of the acts of Government with respect to Ireland, and then said that he was led away by the impulse of the moment! It was impossible for him to go through all the statements of the noble Earl, but he denied all his facts and all his inferences. He recollected that the same noble Lords, who now boasted of their knowledge of the wishes of the clergy of Ireland, last year predicted that those persons would not avail themselves of the grant which Parliament advanced for their relief, but the clergy had availed themselves of it, and that induced him to doubt the correctness of their statements on the present occasion. It was for their Lordships to consider whether they would place the clergy in the situation in which all parties agreed they would be placed by the rejection of the present Bill. If the clergy should not succeed in getting their tithes, their Lordships might depend upon it that a Bill so favourable to the interests of that body would never again be presented to them. They were now about to miss an opportunity of settling this question, which he was afraid would never again occur.
§ The House divided on the original Motion. Content (present) 51; Proxies 71;—122. Not-Content (present) 85; Proxies 104;—189: Majority 67.
§ Second reading put off for six months.1207
|List of the CONTENTS.|
|Gosford||Howard of Effingham|
|Charlemont||Saye and Sele|
|Denbigh||Howard de Walden|
|Fife||Lovell and Holland|
|List of the NOT-CONTENTS.|
|Barons.||Bath and Wells|
|Clinton||Lichfield and Coventry|