§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading read. Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.
said, he presented himself before their Lordships, for the purpose of shortly stating the grounds on which he intended strongly to support the present measure. There was no doubt that the Bill would be carried by an overwhelming majority; but the practical effects of the Bill would mainly depend on the reasons which were adduced in favour of the measure. He was anxious to state that he did not support the measure from any apprehension of agitation; he was not one who supported the Bill from the fear of agitation at home, or the dread of foreign wars; for he was of opinion, if the measure was declared to be a concession to agitation, that declaration would place Mr. O'Connell on a pinnacle of glory which he never yet attained, and must afford him a greater triumph than the decision of their Lordships' House, by which he was liberated from confinement. Such grounds of justification would excuse, or at least palliate, the most censurable parts of that Gentleman's conduct. Nor did he support this measure because the Government had gained a triumph over agitation—because they were so strong that they could afford to be generous, and therefore bestowed as a boon what they might otherwise have withheld. 542 He was afraid, notwithstanding the laudable intentions of the Government, that their measures brought forward for the purpose of allaying discontent in Ireland, had been hitherto unfortunately unsuccessful; and that his noble Friend (the Marquess of Clanricarde) gave, on Friday, a true description of the state of the public mind in Ireland; and he thought if this Bill was to be merely considered as a boon to be bestowed on those who were weak, it could not produce the salutary consequences it was calculated to confer. He begged leave to state that he could not support this measure as supplying a defect in the former grant to Maynooth. He did not approve it merely on the dilapidated state of the building, or the wretched condition of the students. He thought it an abundant answer to those who refused their assent to the measure on religious grounds, that it was only a continuance of a former grant; but if it were considered merely as an isolated measure, and that nothing more was to be done for the country, he doubted whether the advantages that had been anticipated would result from it. He could not support this Bill as the commencement of the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church of Ireland out of the public Revenue. To endow the Roman Catholic Church out of the public Revenue, and to allow the Protestant Church to remain in its present monstrous dimensions, was a proposal, that come from what quarter it might, he must dissent from; being fully convinced we could never expect peace or contentment until there was a complete equality between Protestants and Roman Catholics, as to civil and religious rights. He supported it, because he considered it a Parliamentary recognition that hereafter Protestants and Catholics were to be dealt with alike. A right rev. Prelate, at the early part of this debate, acknowledged he could suggest no plan by which Ireland could be governed. He (Lord Campbell) ventured with confidence to suggest a plan by which Ireland might not only be governed, but be made peaceable, contented, prosperous, loyal, and patriotic. It was this—to place Protestants and Roman Catholics exactly on an equal footing. So much would give content to the Catholics—with less they ought not to be satisfied. If he were an Irish Roman Catholic, there was no measure to which he would not resort (short of combining with a foreign enemy, or looking with pleasure on the distressed state of the 543 Empire), for the purpose of obtaining an equality of rights with his Protestant countrymen. Such a measure as combining with a foreign enemy, or looking with pleasure on the jeopardy of the Empire, when any demands might be extorted, was one which he abhorred. He considered such language seditious—he considered it treasonable, and he could not express in sufficiently strong terms his reprobation of it. But a Roman Catholic would be justified by all lawful and constitutional means, to insist on being treated on a footing of perfect equality, in religous as in secular matters, with his Protestant brethren. He did not complain of the existence of the Episcopal Protestant Church in Ireland—he was one of those who placed no trust in the voluntary principle. He thought it the duty of the State to provide religious instruction and the consolations of religion to the several persuasions that prevailed under the Government, at the public expense. In poor and remote districts they could not trust to voluntary exertions for the supply of such wants; and those not provided with religious instruction ran the danger of being left entirely destitute of it. It was, at the same time, very important to the character of the clergy themselves, that they should not be left entirely dependent on their flocks; but that they should, without being driven to resort to unworthy measures for such an object, obtain such a decent subsistence as would give them leisure for the performance of their religious duties. The Protestants should have their religious wants amply supplied; and he would never sanction any measure which had the slightest tendency to deprive them of the rights to which they were entitled. But we knew there were 7,000,000 of Roman Catholics who were required to obey the law—who were called on to contribute to the public Revenue, and who were asked to defend the State by their personal services. Now, ought not a similar provision to be made for the religious instruction of such men, as for that of their Protestant brethren? It had been said, that the Roman Catholic religion had a tendency to promote sedition. If that were the case, God forbid that he should sanction the promulgation of its tenets; but he considered that no just ground had been shown for withholding instruction from his fellow countrymen of that persuasion. He fully agreed in the opinion of the noble Secretary for the Colonies (Lord Stanley), who asked the other night, if any father would not prefer that 544 his son should be educated in the Roman Catholic religion, rather than that he should be without any religious instruction? As there appeared to be no hope of converting their Roman Catholic countrymen to the Protestant faith, was it not advisable to provide them with a well-educated clergy, who would be duly qualified to exercise their sacred functions? The question was not whether there were errors in the Reman Catholic religion. They must always recur to this first question—whether it is not much better that, with all its errors, the Roman Catholic religion should receive the protection of the State, than it should be left entirely dependent upon voluntary support? In the course of the discussions on this Bill extreme opinions of St. Thomas Aquinas, Maldonatus, and other Roman Catholic theologians, had been quoted; but those opinions might be paralleled by passages from Calvin, who recommended the burning of heretics, and from Luther, who strongly advocated polygamy. He must express his indignation at the attempts which had been made to poison the public mind against the Roman Catholic religion, by selecting and bringing together detached passages from old Catholic writers of an indecent or profane character, and then insinuating that such was the staple matter of the creed itself. A great deal had been said about the confessional, but if they were to have a confessional, the confessors must be instructed in their duties. In imposing penances they must know what were venial and what mortal sin. It was surely of great importance to all Roman Catholics that their priests should be a well-educated clergy, endowed by the State. What reason could there be why Roman Catholics and Protestants should not associate harmoniously together in Ireland, as well as in Holland, or France or Prussia? In Hanover there was no distinction between the two religions. But it was said, that in Ireland they had no control over the appointment of Roman Catholic bishops, or over the discipline of the Roman Catholic clergy. Did they doubt that if proper measures were taken they might not have communication and an understanding with the Papal Court, as France or Prussia had? He maintained that intercourse could be kept up between this country and the Court of Rome without the violation of any law. Up to the time of William and Mary, there was nothing in the Statutes against the holding of diplomatic intercourse with the Holy See; and even the laws afterwards passed were only 545 directed against the reception of bulls in this country without the consent of the Sovereign. The existence of diplomatic correspondence did not imply the necessary existence of "communion" with the See of Rome. It was no more necessary that there should be a correspondence between the religion of an Ambassador at Rome, or the country which sent him, and that of the Holy See, than that it should exist between this and the Turkish Government, because we sent an Ambassador to Constantinople. We had an Ambassador at the Sublime Porte; but did he renounce the faith in which he was brought up, because he was sent upon such a mission? At all events, any legal difficulty, did it exist, might easily be removed by means of a declaratory Bill. Were they, however, to determine upon endowing the Catholic priesthood from the public Revenue, he trusted that the Protestant Church would not be left in its present deformity. Hitherto that Church had been one of the most inefficient and most mischievous institutions to be found in the history of England; he believed it was so considered now, and he believed it would be so considered by posterity, and it was only because their Lordships were familiar with it, that they were not shocked at the picture. There was nothing to parallel the way in which efforts had been made to force Protestantism upon Ireland, unless it was the attempt made at the end of the seventeeth century to impose Episcopacy upon Scotland. In Ireland, of 8,000,000 of inhabitants, no more than 700,000 or 800,000 belonged to the Established Church; and for that small number there was an Establishment which would suffice, if the whole population were Protestant. Could they wonder that under such a state of things the Catholics of Ireland should be discontented? They were told of the horrible state of Ireland—of the crime committed there—of the very distinction between right and wrong being obliterated; that murders were committed there which excited horror here, and sympathy there, and that no means existed of bringing the guilty to justice. But a somewhat similar state of things prevailed in Scotland in the time of Charles II. Never had there been committed in Ireland a murder more terrible in its atrocity than that of Archbishop Sharpe. Yet the murderers of that venerable and aged prelate were protected and screened by popular favour; and for years after, the common saying in the country was, that the killing of the archbishop was no murder. In Scotland, however, the people 546 succeeded in repelling Episcopacy—that form of religion, as a State religion, was abolished; and from that time, in his native country, there had been peace, order, and prosperity. Might they not fairly expect that from similar causes in Ireland similar effects would proceed? Their Lordships would recollect the strongly worded opinion of his noble and learned Friend on the corner of the Woolsack (Lord Brougham)—an opinion not spoken, but deliberately penned, and from which he was sure his noble and learned Friend would not now recede:—So long," said his noble and learned Friend, "so long as the foulest practical abuse which ever existed in any civilized country continued untouched, or touched only with a faltering hand—so long as the Irish Church continued to be lavishly endowed for the sixteenth part of the Irish people, there certainly never would be peace for that ill-fated country,This measure now before the House he (Lord Campbell) held to be a step in the right direction; but it must not be considered as an isolated measure; it must be followed up by others showing a determined resolution on the part of the Government that Ireland should have equal rights, civil and religious. He trusted that they would soon see measures introduced with this view and in this spirit, of a more important nature, and better conceived than the Landlord and Tenant Bill, laid a few nights back upon their Table, and which he was afraid would not afford much satisfaction. He trusted that they would have a Municipal Corporation Bill and a Registration Bill, which would not disfranchise Ireland, but which would give to it an ample constituency in every place entitled to send Members to Parliament. Were the government of that country carried out in such a spirit, he had no doubt of its successful result. He had been told that there was no good in making concessions—that concession was but the unfailing parent of greater demand. They heard much of the ingratitude of Ireland. He begged to tell them that when they had conceded all that the Irish were justly entitled to demand, and if then they should still prove ungrateful—that then, and not till then, should the complaint of ingratitude be made; and then every class, civil and religious, would rally round the Government. As for Repeal of the Legislative Union, it was madness. He had never concealed his opinions upon the point—he believed that it would prove most disastrous 547 to England, and utterly ruinous to Ireland: it was a measure which never would be conceded by reason, and which never could be extorted by force. Before, however, they came to the consideration of extremities, all ought to be freely yielded which could be justly demanded; not until every such concession had taken place, was it right or fitting that a final stand should be made. Had any Government fairly made this experiment, and found it fail? At what period of our history, he would ask, were the Irish treated like fellow subjects? Was it when the plea in cases of murder was an available one, that the victim was a mere Irishman? Was it when the importation of cattle from Ireland was prohibited as a public nuisance? Was it during the long period when the penal laws were enforced? At length came Catholic Emancipation; but down to the present time that great measure had never been followed up by Ireland being governed as a Catholic country, or as a country in which Catholics were to be considered as entitled to the full rights of British subjects. The noble Duke opposite retained office only a short time after the passing of the Emancipation Act. Then came the Ministry of Earl Grey, with the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) as Secretary for Ireland. Of that Cabinet he would speak with the utmost respect, but they were not enabled to do all they would have wished to do; a load of prejudices against Roman Catholics weighing upon and influencing the public mind, prevented that Cabinet from bringing forward such measures as they would, under different circumstances, have wished to introduce. With the greatest respect for the English character, he must say that it laboured under the great infirmity of being possessed with a prejudice, not only against all foreigners, but against those subjects of the British Crown living in a different island from Great Britain itself. But to proceed. Notwithstanding the good dispositions of the Marquess of Anglesey, and of the Marquess of Wellesley, they found it impossible to carry on the Government on the principle of perfect equality of treatment towards both classes of the population. In August, 1834, Lord Wellesley, then Viceroy of Ireland, in a letter to the Secretary of State for the Home Department lamented the injustice done to the Roman Catholics of Ireland, and recommended that a number of Catholic gentlemen (barristers) should be elevated to the 548 Bench, and that others should be made members of the Privy Council, and of putting that class on an equal footing in every respect with the Protestants. That letter demonstrated the improved principles on which Lord Wellesley considered that Ireland should be treated. The Government of which Lord Wellesley was a Member, however, went out of office too soon to permit of these measures being carried into practical effect. Then followed the short Government of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the present Ministry. Whatever might have been its intentions, its then lease of power was too short for their development. The second Administration of Lord Melbourne followed, and with it commenced an experiment, hazardous perhaps, but which had certainly proved perfectly successful. It was well known that there would be a great outcry, and there did happen a great outcry, when Mr. Sheil was made a Privy Councillor, and Mr. More O'Ferrall appointed to an office in the Treasury, and other Roman Catholics, men of undoubted honour, promoted to various employments in Ireland. But the system under which these promotions were made, although it excited great indignation in England, was most satisfactory to Ireland; and under the Administration of his noble Friend, that country was, for five years, governed as it ought to be ruled. He could tell their Lordships that it was only by imitating the principle on which that Government had been conducted, that they could ever hope for peace and contentment in Ireland. Let them remember how, during that Administration, the Repeal cry had died away. He would mention a circumstance strikingly in proof of this. In September, 1841, there was a contested election for the city of Dublin. Two candidates appeared on what was called the Liberal interest; Mr. O'Connell, the leader of the Repeal movement, and Mr. Hutton, its determined enemy, and who proclaimed from the hustings his determination to oppose the measure. The contest was severe, but at the termination of the ten days poll, Mr. Hutton was within two or three votes of his opponent. Now, would the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) just consider how any person standing at present for the city of Dublin as a candidate would fare, did he avow opposition to the Repeal movement? [Lord Stanley: But are not the present Members Conservatives?] The fact stated by the noble Lord did not invalidate 549 his argument, for he spoke of that section of the constituency formerly known as the Liberal electors, and with respect to them he did believe that were any one not a Repealer, to offer himself to their suffrages, he would not, at the end of the ten days' poll, find ten votes recorded in his favour. The Repeal cry could be only checked by a complete change in the policy lately pursued by Government towards Ireland. He believed, indeed, that that Ministry, although its Chief proclaimed that his chief difficulty was Ireland, would have had a much easier task than they found the rule of that country, had they at once, at the commencement of their term of office, introduced those measures now before Parliament. But instead of any such liberal policy having been adopted, it was announced that concession had reached its utmost limits, and that no additional grant could be made in favour of the Catholic religion. Let them look to the appointments made by the present Ministry since they came into office. He believed that those who had been appointed to judicial situations in Ireland had conducted themselves with moderation and propriety; but let them look at what had taken place in the Church—many appointments had been made to high sacred offices, of men, learned, upright, honourable men; but who had always openly avowed their sentiments, who had never concealed their enmity to Roman Catholicism, and their determined aversion to the national system of education. He did not find fault with those who professed these opinions; on the contrary, he honoured many of the men to whom he was alluding; but was it to be considered astonishing that, seeing such appointments, Catholics had despaired of obtaining their rights by the voluntary concession of the Government, and come to the opinion that nothing could be expected but from agitation and violence? He wished to avoid topics of irritation—there was a wide field open to him did he choose to enter it; but he would not. He would not allude to the manner in which the monster meetings had been allowed to go on—to the vacillation which the Government had exhibited in their conduct—to the indiscreet dismissal of the magistrates. He might say something of the manner in which the great prosecution was commenced, and the manner in which it was conducted. But he would not be tempted to enter into that branch of the subject. In the policy which Government was now 550 entering upon he trusted they were acting not upon compulsion, but upon conviction; and that they were impressed with the necessity of putting their Irish Roman Catholic and Protestant fellow subjects upon the same footing, endowing them with equal rights and equal advantages. If such was the policy of Government, he trusted that they would long remain in power to carry it out. [Lord Chancellor: Hear, hear.] He rejoiced to hear his noble and learned Friend cheer — not merely, he hoped, the prospect of his remaining in place; but the sentiment which he (Lord Campbell) had expressed: and he trusted that the Government of which the noble and learned Lord was a Member were not now disposed to treat the Irish as aliens in blood, language, and religion. ["Hear, hear," and laughter, in both of which the Lord Chancellor heartily joined.] Really his noble and learned Friend provoked him to go on. He repeated that he trusted that the Irish were no longer to be treated as aliens, but as fellow citizens, having a right to all the privileges of British subjects; and that policy being assured, he did sincerely express the wish that his noble and learned Friend and his Colleagues might long hold the offices which they now filled. They had more in their power, in the way of carrying out an enlightened and liberal policy, than almost any Government which could hold the reins of power. Last year they had carried the Dissenters Chapels Bill—a measure which, if brought forward by the late Government, would have raised such a storm of disapprobation as would, most probably, have sealed its fate. At present there was the Maynooth Bill, which if brought in by the late Government would, no doubt, have met with the most determined opposition; and he did say that if the present Ministry were to go on in this way, actuated by this spirit, that he trusted they would have plenty of opportunity for its practical development.
The Bishop of Llandaff
wished to make a few observations, partly because this was essentially a religious question, and also partly because he had uniformly acted on the principle of extending to our Roman Catholic fellow subjects of this country and Ireland equal rights, privileges, and advantages with ourselves. At some periods of our history the existence of our Establishment, and of the family on the Throne, depended on our throwing a guard around them, and refusing influence and power in the Government and Legislature of the 551 country to those who were known as the enemies of the pure religion, and who were also desirous of placing a different monarch on the Throne; but as those days passed away, they all, some sooner and some later, agreed that the penal Statutes should be abolished; but the Catholic Relief Bill appeared to him to go the full extent that even the most enthusiastic friends of liberty could desire. It did appear afterwards that some legal disabilities had remained unrepealed — not decidedly omitted, but rather overlooked. They also had been removed from the Statute Book; and he believed that the security that now remained was reduced to its minimum. In one sense, therefore, the phrase that had been so much objected to, that 'concession had reached its limits,' was correct. In the course of the debates on the present measure it appeared to him that one or two points had been treated with great inaccuracy, and that that inaccuracy had very much affected the course of reasoning and thinking on the subject. They had frequently heard of the unfairness of allowing some millions of their fellow subjects to have no part of the religious endowments of the country, and to confer the whole of them upon one portion only, and, though the majority, yet not an overwhelming majority of the whole people. That appeared to him to be a mistaken historical notion of the nature of our Establishment. It was said, that some pan of the temporalities ought to be transferred from the one portion of the people to the other; but he did not admit that there were two Christian Churches—there was but one Christian Church in the world. They might differ as to what was the purest form; but there never was more than one Church in this country from the time of its first conversion to Christianity to the present moment. There was but one religion, one faith, one Church, in the country. It was at one time kept in thraldom by a Foreign Power, a foreign prelate and potentate; and it received all its impurities, all its corrupt doctrines and practices, in the course of its connexion with that Foreign Power, which insisted upon every monarch of European Christendom receiving them too. But it obtained its liberty from that state of degrading thraldom by what he might call a providential dispensation; for a tyrant, a man of strong passions, of great and vigorous intellect and arbitrary temper, finding himself thwarted in some of his favourite views, did succeed in breaking the bonds of 552 that thraldom, and setting us free from that oppressive Government; but, having done that, he was still desirous of retaining his subjects in the corruption of the Romish Church. Having, however, set us free, it was no longer in his power to check the progress of reason and pure religion. The Church of England was reformed; it was not done by the State; it was not introduced by any Foreign State. When, therefore, that work of the Reformation had nearly finished its course, though there was a sad and painful interruption for a few years, yet it was established in its full purity early in the reign of Elizabeth, and during that time it was the doctrine, he might almost say the universal doctrine, that there was but one Church; it did not reject Roman Catholics as heretics, on the contrary we endeavoured to include them within the pale of our own pure and improved faith; we invited their communion with us, and for ten years it was a matter of undoubted fact that they did communicate with us, and form part of the Established Church. It was the Church of Rome that threw us off; and those members of it who continued to communicate with the heretical Church were threatened with excommunication. But that was the language of a Foreign State, with which we had no proper connexion. To talk, therefore, of transferring the temporalities of the one portion to the other, was to mistake the character of the measure; and as to the noble and learned Lord's saying, that it was the duty of every Government to appoint a certain endowment to every form of religion that prevailed in the country, he (the Bishop of Landaff) did not know whether the noble and learned Lord recognised that principle of the English Constitution by which one religion was adopted by the State, and which had had transmitted to it all the temporalities it now enjoyed; or whether he considered it as a blemish and mistaken policy in the Constitution, and that those temporalities should be apportioned amongst the respective members of the various faiths that prevailed in the country. He believed that the noble and learned Lord did not know to what extent he would be carried if that principle were acted upon—if the different denominations of religious faith, too numerous for him to mention, were to partake of those temporalities. If it were to be according to number, as he understood the noble and learned Lord, it would vary from time to time. Again, when they talked of the Established 553 Church of this country being constituted of the ancient Church, he must remind their Lordships of the anxiety with which the leading Reformers endeavoured to preserve the framework of that Church, even in the exterior—the same forms and the same practices—provided they had no connexion with impure doctrines. And if it were recognised that the Government should be at liberty to prefer one form of religion to another as the religion of the State, it appeared to him that they were right in continuing the temporalities to that Church. But this was a speaking out; it told plainly that it was not the nature of the doctrines, but the number of people who held them, that entitled them to endowment from the State. It was said, that this measure was a continuation of the measure that had been passed year after year, with hardly any opposition. That might be true; but they ought to recollect under what circumstances the latter took place. It was intended as a measure of conciliation, and adopted as one of expediency and policy called for by the peculiar difficulties and circumstances of the times; and it was never intimated that it should be considered as a permanent endowment, much less that it was to be a measure of common endowment provided for the Roman Catholic religion in Ireland. To call upon persons to act upon principles that they utterly disapproved, and which, primâ facie, were certainly inconsistent with the Constitution and religion they professed—to call upon them to do that, because they had, on some former occasion, from feelings of tenderness and kindness, acted not quite up to those principles, was illiberal in character and pernicious in tendency; and it ought not, in the slightest degree, to influence those persons to surrender their principles. He rested his opposition to the present measure solely upon the ground that it was a measure inconsistent with the doctrines and principles of the Reformation; inconsistent with the very character and Constitution of the Church of England; inconsistent with the civil Constitution of the country; opposed to its fundamental laws, and incidentally declared that the Sovereign on the Throne sat there by an unsound title. On all these grounds he felt that he was bound to resist the measure to the utmost of his power. If he were to put his hand to aid in the work, he should feel that he was doing a parricidal act; that he was doing something inconsistent with the most sacred pledges both of religion and loyalty. The right rev. Prelate concluded 554 by moving, as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a third time that day six months.
, in explanation, said, that so far from being an enemy to the Church of England in England, he felt it to be one of the most useful, one of the best institutions in the world.
§ The Earl of Ellenborough
must remind the noble and learned Lord that the Church of England in England and the Church of England in Ireland were, by the Act of Union, one Church. He would not say that it might not be wise to supply the deficiencies of the Church in one country from the superfluities in the other; but he held it to be but one Church, and that it was as just to take from one part of the Empire that which might be necessary for the supply of the Church in the other, as to make the superfluities of Yorkshire supply the deficiencies of Cornwall or Kent. There was, however, but one United Church in both countries, and the Church in both countries must stand or fall as one Church. He had heard with deep regret much that had fallen from the noble and learned Lord. He was as sincere a friend to this measure as the noble and learned Lord; but he felt this—that when the noble and learned Lord and others talked of their liberal intentions towards the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, and at the same time intimated their intention of taking from the Church of England that which it might be deemed expedient to have for the purpose of assisting the Roman Catholics of Ireland, they held out a principle which was utterly fatal not only to the measure they desired to carry, but to every measure of peace and conciliation with respect to Ireland; for the mention of such a principle would excite a degree of resistance throughout England and Ireland, which would be fatal to every measure of every Government which might have for its object the religious peace of the Empire. He, therefore, earnestly entreated the noble and learned Lord, whom he believed to be sincere in his desire of benefiting Ireland — he earnestly conjured him to abstain from putting forth that principle, or indulging in the hope that they could injure the Church of England, as the means of assisting the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. That thing could not be done; and to hold out such a thing as desirable was to hold out obstacles insurmountable to the peace and tranquillity in Ireland.
The Earl of Shrewsbury
My Lords, 555 having failed in the attempt to address your Lordships during an earlier period of these discussions, I am anxious to avail myself of the present opportunity of very briefly expressing my sentiments on some few-points which have, as I think very unnecessarily, been mixed up with, or indeed made to supersede, the real question before us.
In the first place, my Lords, I am sure I am but little disposed to cavil at any unguarded expressions, or even any opinions which may fall from noble Lords relative to the doctrines of the Catholic Church, during these sort of discussions; but really the language which has been used by some noble Lords, and by some right rev. Prelates, touching the religious tenets of the Catholic Members of this House, not only transgresses against truth, but also, as it appears to me at least, violates the limits of courtesy. My Lords, it should be remembered that we sit here ostensibly and professedly as Catholics; none therefore can be ignorant of the fact that there are some ten or twelve Catholic Members amongst us. Such being the case, whatever is said offensively—whether with that intention or not, or even accompanied, as in the present instance, with many apologies, of the sincerity of which I have no doubt, and with many expressions of, I am sure, the most unfeigned delicacy towards the feelings of others—still, whatever is said of an offensive nature, is at least said wilfully and knowingly; and I cannot but deem it exceedingly offensive under whatever palliatives, to hear the religion which I profess stigmatized as one overlain with deadly error, superstition and idolatry. My Lords, these expressions have been expunged from the oath, and I do think it is high time they were no longer tolerated in debate. They are expressions, my Lords, which as was well and honourably said by a right rev. Prelate, are fit only to designate the religion, if so it may be called, of the savages of the New World! My Lords, if these things were said with some little reserve, were put forth as mere opinions, there would not be so much reason to complain; but, as I understand it at least, they are stated boldly and positively as so many matters of fact, and as such, I take leave to meet the assertion with the most distinct and decided denial. Religious controversy, my Lords, is, of all things, to be avoided in this House, where it is difficult to do more 556 than to meet one assertion by another; but I never will sit still and hear the religion which I have the pleasure and the honour to profess denounced in the terms in which it has been without entering my protest against that denunciation—a religion which I profess not only in common with some few Members of this House, but in unison with the great majority of Christians throughout the world, not only of the time present, but also of all times that are past, and as of all times that are past, so, undoubtedly, of all times that are to come; and my Lords, it is a monstrous proposition that all these, including the whole calendar of our saints, and all the great men of Christendom since the four or five first centuries of the church—for, after all, the period of the wondrous change is yet a problem—it is a monstrous proposition that all these are and have been tainted with the deadly sins of superstition and idolatry. My Lords, however reasonable and charitable this opinion may appear to some, at all events, there will ever be millions to protest against it as I do now. My Lords, it forms rather a singular contrast that not one unseemly word against Protestantism has ever fallen from any Catholic Member since our re-admission here; whereas it is almost impossible for one of us to enter the House without hearing our religion subjected to the most unfounded, and sometimes the most absurd imputations. The utmost deference is ever shown, and very justly so, to Presbyterianism and every other form of dissent, though they, one and all, differ far more widely—as you were told by a noble Earl whom I have now the pleasure of seeing in his seat, and who spoke early in the debate upon the second night of the second reading (Earl of Carnarvon), and who addressed your Lordships with so much feeling, eloquence, and argument, and who won the gratitude of every Catholic in the country by the sentiments which he then so beautifully expressed — that noble Earl told you, as I tell you now, that the Dissenters have departed far more widely from the principles and doctrines of the Established Church than the Established Church from the Catholics, yet Catholicity alone is ever doomed to misrepresentation and attack. My Lords, I am a Catholic, not only in a spirit of obedience to the authority of the Church, but from conviction founded upon study and examination; and I defy the noble Lords who 557 bring forward these accusations to advance one tittle of evidence in support of any one of their assertions. And yet, my Lords, the main objections to this measure are still drawn from the presumed erroneous tenets of the Catholics, and to substantiate these charges an inquiry has been demanded into the doctrines and books taught at Maynooth; but if the object of the noble Lord who proposed it was merely one of inquiry, that object, I think, might have been attained by a much more direct and summary process. Had the noble Lord moved that a copy of the Catechism of the Council of Trent, as translated and published by a Professor of Maynooth, in the year 1829—had he moved that a copy of that admirable and important work were distributed to every Member of the House, your Lordships would then have had it in your power to inform yourselves with accuracy and with promptitude upon every tenet taught in that establishment. And as to the class books and standards, as they are called — why, the noble Lord had only simply to refer your Lordships to the evidence taken before the Commissioners on Education, in 1825—evidence, indeed, which he himself quoted, though for a very different purpose—for a full and complete refutation of these traditionary charges against the Catholic religion!
My Lords, I should be ashamed to trespass upon you in this controversy after all the evidence that is before you, were it not for the pertinacity with which these charges are still repeated and maintained; but that being the case, I must needs call your Lordships' attention, not to any long extracts from, but to a very brief notice of a Paper drawn up by two Professors of Maynooth, while this measure was passing through the Lower House, in reply to a false and scandalous circular—scandalous because it is false—issued by what is called "The Central Anti-Maynooth Committee." They begin by stating—That out of ten or eleven works enumerated as 'class books,' only three are actually so; therefore that for these three only is the College of Maynooth responsible. We shall examine in detail" (they say) "all the passages extracted from these three authors; and for the others, we shall content ourselves with showing, very briefly, that the objectionable doctrines imputed to them are precisely the opposite of those which are taught in the authorized class books.Then, my Lords, come the extracts relating to the powers of dispensing from 558 Oaths, with this observation from the Professors:—This passage is not fairly quoted; the unfairness consists in the substitution of Bailly's doctrine regarding 'just causes of dispensation from Vows,' instead of his doctrine regarding the just causes of dispensation from Promissory Oaths.Again, after exposing this unfairness in detail, they continue,—The suspicions of disingenuousness on the part of the compiler, is increased by his suppressing in the third clause a very important member, the omission of which entirely changes its meaning. The extract is as follows:—'The Superior (or General) of all orders of Monks, can validly, even without cause, make void the oaths of all his subjects,' whereas the original immediately subjoins the following important limitation, 'in those things which are subject to their power, and prejudice their rights,' etc." (See pp. 121, etc.)After going into this question at length, the Professors proceed:—There remains but one other extract from the authorized Maynooth class books. It professes to be taken from Menochius, and it is to the effect that 'Christ does not forbid heretics to be taken away and put to death.' Upon this point we shall simply observe that although the Commentary of Menochius, on account of its conciseness, its general accuracy, and its comprising, in a small compass, notes upon the entire body of Scripture, has been adopted as a class book in the Scripture class, yet it is with an express declaration on the part of the authorities of the College, that it contains objectionable passages, in which, of course, it is deserted by the Professor." (See the evidence of the Rev. M. Montague, the present President of Maynooth, before the Commissioners of Education, Eighth Report, p. 108.)Among these objectionable opinions none are reprobated more strongly than that contained in the present extract; and it must be remembered that Bailly, in enumerating the punishments to which heretics are liable by the Ecclesiastical Law, holds no such doctrine.We have now considered, seriatim, all the passages extracted from the authorized 'Maynooth class books.' With regard to the remaining extracts from Reiffenstuel, Antoine, Collet, A. de Lapide, etc., it is sufficient to say, that not one among them is a class book at Maynooth; and though occasionally consulted or referred to on other subjects, they are never referred to on these questions, unless for the purpose of refutation. Without noticing these passages in detail, therefore, we shall content ourselves with stating that they appear to be introduced into 559 the catalogue for the purpose of fixing upon the College the imputation of teaching three specific doctrines:—first, that Sovereigns may be deposed for the crime of heresy, and their subjects absolved from their allegiance; second, that heretics are to be punished with death, exile, etc.; third, that faith is not to be kept with them.Then follow the disclaimers of these doctrines taken from the authorized class books, and couched in the strongest terms; and such, my Lords, is the evidence for those "sanguinary instructions" so confidently said by a right rev. Prelate to be given at Maynooth!
My Lords, after these disclaimers—after all the evidence before the Commissioners—after all the disclaimers from all the foreign universities consulted by Mr. Pitt in 1788—will noble Lords still tell me either that these doctrines are taught at Maynooth, or that they are the authoritative teaching of any portion of the Catholic Church? I think they will not: for, I might as well tell them that because John Knox abetted the murder of Cardinal Bethune, and styled it a "godly fact," that the Presbyterians of the present day are, one and all, involved in his guilt; I might as well tell them—as indeed a noble and learned Lord did tell your Lordships with so much eloquence and humour—that because John Calvin, in the fury of his zeal, and with the treachery of his disposition, burnt Servetus at Geneva, that the Calvinists of the present day glory in the deed, and are willing to commit the like barbarity; I might as well tell them that because this very House passed the Act of Supremacy under which that great man Sir Thomas More was most barbarously murdered—the second victim to the new principles, Bishop Fisher having been the first—that we are thereby pledged again to perpetrate the like atrocity; I might as well tell them that because, in an evil hour, this very House, when the Bishops sat in it as they sit now, and sat without protesting against it—because this very House passed that sanguinary Statute under which every Catholic clergyman in the kingdom incurred the penalty of death for the mere exercise of his priestly functions, that we are of the same mind still; I might as well tell them that because a large body of Anglican divines once taught the doctrine of passive obedience, and of the divine right of kings, that thenceforth and for ever those doctrines became part and 560 parcel with the Articles of the Church of England; I might as well tell them that because Archbishop Cranmer burnt a Socinian, that your present humane and amiable Primate is anxious to try his hand at a similar experiment! My Lords, these sort of illustrations might easily be multiplied almost ad infinitum. I will, therefore, only here just observe, that great confusion still seems to prevail in your Lordships' minds as to the degree of authority due to these opinions, or doctrines as they are called; and it has been said during these debates, that if you ask a Catholic whether his religion ever changes, he boldly answers, no; whereas, said the noble Earl who made the observation — and it is chiefly from the high and respected quarter from whence it comes that I notice it — whereas, here is a proof to the contrary. Now, my Lords, it must be remembered that the decisions of the Church have only been given on articles of faith, and on the great moral precepts of the decalogue. In these, of course, there is no change; but to these only does the authority of the Church extend. On all questions of mere expediency, such for example as the manner of treating heretics, and the means of extending Christianity, there always has been, and always will be great differences of opinion, governed chiefly by the circumstances which surround them, and the spirit of the age. Upon these, then, we are free to change without any inconsistency, or any breach of fidelity to the Church, because the Church, as such, has never pronounced upon them, belonging, as they do, more to her executive than to her dogmatical functions.
Even the right rev. Prelates who spoke upon the second reading, severally exercised their own judgment in giving a different interpretation to an oath imposed upon them by their own Church. We only claim the like liberty, and claim it with the like consistency; for the Church of England also teaches that "the Church bath authority in matters of faith," and holds this doctrine irrespectively of much teaching on matters which are naturally and necessarily of a discretionary character.
Much, my Lords, has been said about the Jesuitism of Maynooth, and it has been attempted to prejudice your Lordships' minds upon this question by the application—or rather by the most singular misapplication—of that term. Now, 561 my Lords, without entering at all upon this controversy, and which, as connected with Maynooth, is almost too childish to deserve attention, I will simply affirm that having read and studied much on Jesuitism and the Jesuits, and having myself been for five years in one of their establishments, I take upon me to assert most confidently, most positively, and most solemnly, that both the Jesuits and their institutes are anything but what they are represented by their enemies. My Lords, it is as utterly impossible that the Jesuits should have played the great part which they have done in Christendom, and have been what they are misrepresented to have been, as that the Pope who suppressed them, should, in his Brief of Suppression, have styled them "the enemies of the human race;" and yet, my Lords, it has been asserted in a printed and published charge, by a right rev. Prelate, a Member of this House, that the Pope did so style them in his Brief of Suppression. Now, my Lords, I do assure you I do not notice this circumstance for the purpose of attempting to cast a stigma on the right rev. Prelate, for I am perfectly satisfied that he was altogether unconscious of what he did, when he put his honoured name to an historical fabrication, founded a strong argument upon it, and held up a whole class of calumniated individuals to the execration of his people; but I notice it as a caution to your Lordships, and as an illustration of the manner in which the best and the most learned amongst you, may and do mislead you. And, my Lords, after the recent lamentable events in Switzerland, I envy not the responsibilities of him who thus caters to the morbid credulity of the public, and to the blind passions of the multitude. My Lords, as a sufficient reply to the aspersions—I was going to say the slanderous aspersions—on the conduct, character, and attainments of the Catholic clergy of Ireland, which fell from a noble Duke opposite on the first night of the debate, I will confidently appeal—though indeed that appeal has already been most honourably anticipated by many of your Lordships—to every honest man on either side of the water, who knows any thing at all about the matter, whether for purity of morals, and the exemplary discharge of their religious duties under every difficulty and privation, as well as for unshaken loyalty to the Sovereign, the Catholic clergy of Ireland are surpassed, if equalled, by any in the 562 world? And as to their theological attainments, which the noble Duke seemed to hold so cheap, and to despise so thoroughly — [The Duke of Manchester denied having alluded to their theological attainments.] — Well, then, I will say nothing on that point; but really, if we were seeking for an excuse for, or a provocative to that anti-English feeling, alas! so prevalent in Ireland, and for a strong ground for Repeal too, we could not find a more efficient one than in the line of argument and the language which has been used by the opponents of this Bill during these discussions—a line of argument which, if it had prevailed, would have proved to the people of Ireland that they had no hope of justice from England, since a measure grounded upon the strongest claims of justice, right, and policy, and introduced by the strongest Government we have had for years, was to be thrown aside by a mere senseless cry from a mere section, as I am sure it is, of the people of England and Scotland: and language, which has been employed to propagate the most unfounded calumnies against the religion of Ireland, to flare up all the fanaticism of all the sectarians of the three kingdoms, and to make fiction pass current for truth under their respected names!
But it is to the principle which is involved in this measure that I wish to address a few words. My Lords, the time was when these tenets, still so obnoxious to noble Lords, were placed under the ban and proscribed throughout the land; and what is it that has placed them in their present position, and invested them with their present privileges? I fear it is not that your Lordships' opinions are so altogether altered in their regard—is it not rather that they are become the tenets of so large and influential a portion of the community in Ireland as justly to entitle them to all the rights of the religion of a whole people? Your first grant to Maynooth was based upon that principle, and it is a principle which has every year been strengthened and increased by the accession of power and numbers to the professors of those tenets. It was upon this same principle that you established Presbyterianism in Scotland. Yes! my Lords, you established Presbyterianism in Scotland, and even in Ireland, at a time when you were as much attached to Episcopacy as you are now. The Presbyterians of Scotland are the very last class in the whole community who have any right to complain of this 563 act of justice now proposed to be done to Ireland, because that act of justice is founded on the self-same principle which governed the Legislature in acknowledging the religious rights of the people of Scotland. My Lords, this, as was well said by an illustrious Duke on the first night of the debate, is no question of polemics, it is a question of popular rights. Were it a question of polemics, we Catholics should have precisely the same right as the noble Lord who moved the Amendment on the second reading, whenever an occlesiastical Bill came before us, of demanding an investigation into the doctrines of the Church of England, or of the Kirk of Scotland. But that is not the question; as it was one of the consequences of the change of religion in this country to split and divide the people into an almost endless variety of sects; so also was it another to deprive the Legislature of the moral and political right of inquiring into the religious belief of a people so divided—a right, however, which naturally and necessarily belonged to it when there was but one creed for the whole island. But what was just and proper under one order of things, became inquisitorial and tyrannical under another; and it would be but reverting to that system which you have so lately though so happily abandoned, to test the justice and propriety of this grant by the religious tenets which it is to be instrumental in teaching. My Lords, if you have no right to persecute those tenets by fire and sword, neither have you any right to do so by withholding those graces and privileges which naturally and necessarily belong to the religion of the people. My Lords, it was not that I feared the proposed inquiry of the noble Lord—I wish your Lordships had granted it to him—for the result would have been a much more correct view in your Lordships' minds of the doctrines of the Catholic Church; it might, too, have put an end to that system of misrepresentation and calumny so offensive to the whole Catholic population of the Empire, so discreditable to any civilized people, and so injurious to the best interests of the country; no, my Lords, I neither feared, nor did I object to the inquiry of the noble Lord; but I did and do object to the begging of this question by attempting to put it on the presumed erroneous tenets of the Catholics, when in reality it rests upon the rights of the people—upon the very principles and practice which have naturally and necessarily 564 grown out of the change of religion in this country.
My Lords, I have now only once more to express my gratitude to Her Majesty's Government for having brought forward this measure, and my earnest hope that they will persevere in the course they are pursuing.
The Duke of Newcastle
said, he was desirous of addressing a few words to their Lordships on the question now before their Lordships; but he wished, in the first place, if he was not out of order, to put a question to the noble Lord (Lord Stanley). He wished to know whether the British Government had formally and officially directed the local Governor of Malta to grant his license for the establishment of a Jesuits' College for the education of the youth of the place?
There has been no question at all of the institution of a College subject to the Jesuits in Malta. Representations have been made from the Colony of Malta, respecting the great deficiency of the means of education in that island, which rendered it necessary for many individuals to send their children to be educated in Italy and Sicily by persons who are not subjects of Her Majesty; and under these circumstances a question has arisen, whether a person, the brother of a Baronet, a Member of the other House of Parliament, might not be allowed, at his own expense, to establish a school for the education of the Roman Catholic population of the island. This question is at present under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government. It has been ascertained that no school can be held there without the license of the Government; but it has also been found that such an application has never been refused. The decision of the Government is not yet come to.
The Duke of Newcastle
Did the Government know that this school, if established, would be under the charge of the Jesuits?
I believe there is no doubt that the gentleman who made the application is himself a member of the Jesuits' College.
The Duke of Newcastle
said, he wished to know also from the noble Lord, if the Government had any person at the Court of Rome for the purpose of conducting diplomatic communications?
There is no direct official 565 diplomatic intercourse between this country and Rome; but I believe at the present time, as for many years past, a gentleman, a member of the Legation at Florence, is employed to carry on indirect communications with those who hold high office at Rome.
The Duke of Newcastle
then proceeded to address the House. He said, he felt bound to declare, that he thought it criminal in the State to give encouragement to Roman Catholicism. He had no wish to hurt the feelings of noble Lords of that religion who sat in that House; but, because certain noble Lords who were not of the Established religion had been allowed to take their place in that House, he was not to abstain from expressing his opinion freely on a subject which had been forced upon him. He considered the Roman Catholic faith as error. He had always been taught to understand plain facts, and he could not doubt that the Roman Catholic religion was both superstitious and idolatrous. How could it be otherwise than idolatrous, when relics were worshipped and reverenced, and miracles were attributed to them? The doctrine of transubstantiation also, to his mind, appeared contrary to all reason and religion. He objected to the State giving support from the taxes to that which the national opinion held to be error. He had often heard it said that the grant to Maynooth was originally intended as an experiment. It had, he believed, been universally admitted that the experiment had failed, that it did not produce those loyal and peaceable subjects that it was expected to produce; and it had also been admitted, that those who had been educated abroad were far superior to those who were educated at Maynooth. It was the most ridiculous thing in the world to add fuel to the flame, to supply those who were already bad, with the means of becoming worse. It was sufficiently evident that the Roman Catholics in all parts of the world were endeavouring to supplant Protestantism, and to promote the establishment of their own religion in its stead. If the noble Duke and the Government were disposed to exercise their liberality, they would have taken a much better course by proposing that money should be granted to a Protestant College, which would support 566 Protestant interests. But that was not the course which they pursued; it was the benefit of the Roman Catholics which they were seeking to promote. As to the English Catholics who sat in that House, no one could have anything to say against those noble Lords. What had the Emancipation Bill done? Had it made the country more quiet? Were the Irish Roman Catholics satisfied with that measure? Did they want nothing more? They did want more, and they had tried up to that hour to obtain it. The noble Lord who spoke last, thought it was necessary to make the proposed grant on account of the number and influence of the Roman Catholic body. No doubt, since the Emancipation Act, the Irish had never ceased to agitate; but the noble Duke told their Lordships the other night that they were now quite overcome by force—
The Duke of Newcastle
said, he was not to be put down by "No!" He said "Yes!" What the noble Duke said was, "that no man in his senses would now believe, that the Parliament and the Government of this country being against the Irish agitators, they could ever have a chance of disturbing the peace, or of carrying their points; that, so thoroughly were they beaten, there was no probability of their again raising the standard of rebellion; and that therefore it was desirable to show that there was on the part of this country no intention to persecute." But was it desirable to hold this language to persons who were little less than rebels, and who were legislating themselves, independent of Parliament? He maintained that no policy could be more unworthy of the Government, or more fatal to the country. No Government which aspired to be strong, and just, and wise, ought to adopt a policy so fatal to the peace, prosperity, and morality of the country. Her Majesty's Ministers were forcing this measure on the House against the feelings of the country, in a manner that would bring disrepute on Parliament, and themselves into bad odour. It was also a measure contrary to the Coronation Oath; and their conduct in leading Her Majesty to assent to such a measure, he could not too forcibly condemn. Indeed, the Members of the Government seemed to pride themselves on setting at nought the feelings of the country—they boasted that nothing 567 should induce them to abstain from that which they thought to be right, notwithstanding that the vast majority of the country might think them wrong. That was an affair, however, which they would have to settle with the country. He doubted very much also, whether this measure did not expose them to the penalty of præmunire. [Lord Brougham dissented.] He believed that to establish and support a Jesuit College, did so expose them. By the 5th of Elizabeth the penalty of a præmunire was imposed, among other things, for contributing to the maintenance of a Jesuit College; and he thought it would be well for noble Lords to look to this before altogether agreeing to this Bill. The noble Duke concluded by saying, that he should vote for the Amendment of the right rev. Prelate.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said: My Lords, I will begin by staling what I did say in a former debate, as my words appear to have been misunderstood. I said, then, what I now repeat, that whatever might be the opinion of your Lordships upon the effect of the legal question decided by this House, I was convinced that the result of the last two years had been, that no man in his senses now believed it was at all possible to force, by intimidation, tumult, and violence, the Government and Parliament to pass any measure, and particularly a measure for the Repeal of the Union: that was what I said. My Lords, I did not talk of success against agitation. I particularly guarded myself against saying one word about agitation; nor did I say one word about the legal decision, except this, that whatever might be your Lordships' feelings as to the effect of that legal decision, it was the feeling of the country that no chance existed of any question being carried by tumult, violence, and riot. If the noble Duke, who has misunderstood me, is of a different opinion, I congratulate him, as he is the only man in his senses who is of that opinion. I now beg to remind your Lordships, that this Bill is submitted to your consideration by Her Majesty's Government, on their responsibility, for the Amendment of an Act of Parliament. I never before heard that a Bill introduced by Her Majesty's Ministers to amend an Act of Parliament, was an illegal act; and that Her Majesty's Government had been guilty of a breach of 568 the laws in submitting to your Lordships' consideration a Bill for the Amendment of an Act of Parliament. Yet this is one of the charges brought against Her Majesty's Government, by the noble Duke. Then, my Lords, the noble Duke tells us that this measure—a measure which has been carried by one of the largest majorities that ever appeared in this House—he tells us, that this measure is contrary to law; that it is contrary to Her Majesty's Coronation Oath; and I don't know how many more things. The noble Duke brings other charges against Her Majesty's Government; but I am sure the noble Duke, on mature consideration, will feel that these charges are entirely without the support of any argument, at least on his part. The noble Duke likewise calls on me to explain the meaning of the Bill. My Lords, by reading the preamble of the Bill, you will get at the meaning. The measure is to make provision for the education of those persons who are to instruct the Roman Catholics of Ireland in their religious duties, and to provide their persons with the conveniences and the decencies of life. I am ready to state to your Lordships, and to prove, that it is absolutely impossible for your Lordships to leave the question where it now stands; you could not do otherwise than make this provision, or you must repeal the Bill altogether. You must either have repealed the Act altogether, which I do not think any Member of this House ever proposed to do—and I am certain that if proposed, there are not half-a-dozen in the House who could agree to such a proposition—or you must put the College on a proper footing. Her Majesty's Government, on full consideration of the whole question, conceived it to be their duty to propose the present measure, as being a measure rendered absolutely necessary by the growth of the population, for whose spiritual instruction a proper provision ought to be made—I beg the noble Duke's pardon — that is, if the grant is to be continued at all. It is found to be necessary to make due provision, on account of the increase of the population to 8,250,000, from not more than 3,000,000, which was the number when the original Bill passed.
§ The Duke of Wellington
Well, my Lords, in making provision to afford the 569 decencies of life for 500 young men who are to be the religious instructors of 6,000,000 of Roman Catholics, are you to put two and three in a bed?—are you to pack three or four in one sleeping-room? No, my Lords, you must provide these young men with the common conveniencies and decencies of life, if you mean to give them an education which is to render them fit for performing the important duties they are destined to fulfil. Spiritual influence they undoubtedly will exercise over the minds of their flocks, and possibly social influence also. Yes, my Lords, I say, if these young men are to have a social influence, or a higher influence, over the minds of their flocks, you ought to begin to train them by a proper education. You ought to train and educate them in the same way in which we should train young men here who by their station and rank in life, by their fortunes and the advantages which attend them, were destined to have influence over the minds of a corresponding class of persons in this country. These young men are not unlikely to become the associates of gentlemen of the class I speak of, and it is my wish to see them worthy of being their associates. This, my Lords, is what I mean by giving them the decencies of life, and which the noble Earl behind me calls making gentlemen of them. My Lords, I know what I mean, and I say what I said before, that I wished this country, in forming this institution—as they are under the necessity of doing so—to form it in a manner becoming a great country. You cannot go back to the way in which this institution was formed fifty years ago; for then the population was only three millions, and now it is eight millions. You cannot do that; and therefore, if you do anything at all, you ought to do it in a manner in which a great country like this ought to form such an institution; and it is impossible you can do this on cheaper terms than are stated in this Bill. Now, my Lords, I come to another part of the question, which we have heard from more than one quarter—I mean the endowment question. My noble and learned Friend who spoke at an early period of this discussion (Lord Brougham), stated to your Lordships the real fact about this endowment. The truth is, the College was endowed by the first Act of Parliament passed in reference to it. The Board of Trustees was formed for the very purpose 570 of endowing the College, and one Act of Parliament, before a shilling was expended, gave 8,000l. for the purpose. So much for the question of endowment. This Bill does no more than endow the College. In point of principle the noble and learned Lord allows there is no difference whatever between endowing the College with a small sum, or endowing it with a large sum. There is nothing more in the present measure in the way of endowment than already exists; except, in the point to which I am now about to advert, namely, that the former endowment was annual. But my noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham) says, where was the Minister who would have ventured to come forward and propose to repeal the Act of 1795, and therewith the endowment? When was a Minister found who was even prepared to make such a proposition to Parliament? Great disputes occurred, I admit, in the Parliament of 1798, as to whether the endowment should be 9,000l. or 13,000l.; but did anybody then propose the stoppage of the endowment altogether? No such thing happened; and I say more, on the very subject of numbers, that the Minister of the day—a Minister for whom I have always entertained the highest respect, Mr. Perceval—gave an additional endowment—he increased the grant to 9,000l. on account of the increasing numbers it was necessary to educate as spiritual instructors for the Roman Catholics; and so, my Lords, what my noble and learned Friend said, is perfectly true, that no Minister has ever been found who had proposed, or who would ever think of proposing, to stop the grant entirely. Certainly, my Lords, within the last year or two some propositions to this effect have been made by some individuals in the other House of Parliament; but, my Lords, no such proposition has been made in this of late years; and I do agree, my Lords, with the noble Marquess, that on account of the sort of discussion which this question involves, and which has been manifested during the three nights' debate on this measure, and which we should have every year, if the grant were to be made an annual one, it is desirable that the grant be no longer annual; but that it be made permanent, as this Bill purposes to make it. This is one reason why the grant should be made a permanent one; and there are other reasons. This education which the young men are to receive is to 571 be for a number of years, and the professors are to have larger salaries. Surely, my Lords, these men, who will be men of learning, whose education must have been costly, these persons are entitled to have something sufficient in the way of salary for their labours, and also that they should feel they were not liable to be turned off year by year; and surely when you admit young men to such an institution for a number of years, you must or should give them some security that you will go on with that education. Under these circumstances, then, it is absolutely necessary to make a permanent provision for this grant. My Lords, I believe I have now accounted for the difference between this and the former grant. I have shown that in point of fact there is nothing in principle so different in this from the former grant as to induce your Lordships to reject the Bill on that ground. There is another point which I understand has produced some impression on the public mind, and which has been referred to in this House—namely, the corporate capacity which this Bill confers—the erecting this institution into a corporation. My Lords, it is perfectly true, as stated by my noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham) during the last discussion on this subject—and I believe that also stated it myself—that the first Act of Parliament conferred on this institution some of the powers of a corporation. That second Act of Parliament respecting it conferred other powers of a corporation; but still those powers were not found to be sufficient for the transaction of business, and a third Act was passed, the 48th Geo. III., in order to give them further powers to enable them to manage their business. These results you may read in the recital of the preamble of this Act, which is an Act proposed as an Amendment on the other Acts. The preamble states that the powers given by former Acts not being found sufficient to enable the trustees to transact their business, to receive donations, to make purchases, and to perform other matters, it had therefore been found expedient to erect them into a corporation, to enable them to perform all these duties. I say, my Lords, Government have been justified, from all former Acts of Parliament, in giving them this endowment; next, that they were also justified in erecting them into a corporation. Now, my Lords, on this point, I 572 wish your Lordships to notice, and more particularly the noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle), for he touched on this point, that this is no ecclesiastical corporation. It is not an ecclesiastical corporation, my Lords—it is an eleemosynary collegiate corporation. It is not liable to the visitation of the ordinary. It is visited by the Crown and the officers of the Crown, as appointed by the Act of Parliament. So far, then, it is not true that this is an ecclesiastical corporation; it is an eleemosynary collegiate corporation — nothing more—to be visited by the Crown and its officers, as appointed under the provisions of this Act of Parliament. The noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Campbell) will admit that this is the correct legal interpretation. Now, my Lords, having said thus much in answer to the noble Duke, and to some observations which have passed during the debate, I wish I could pass over altogether what the noble and learned Lord (Campbell) said at the commencement of the debate, when he moved the third reading of the Bill. I must say, my Lords, I do not at all believe that the reasons given by that noble and learned Lord for his support to this measure, is shared by many noble Lords. I, for one, and certainly the noble Lord near me (Lord Stanley) must distinctly disclaim any intention of making this the forerunner of other measures. It is a measure, my Lords, that stands by itself. The Government mean to consider every measure likely to benefit Ireland in the same spirit as they will consider measures for the benefit of this country. This measure, my Lords, is brought under your consideration in this spirit, but certainly without being intended as the forerunner of other measures, and more particularly as connected with any measure which has reference to endowing the Catholic Church, founded on the dismemberment of the Church of England established in Ireland. I have relied entirely on the answer given by my noble Friend (the Earl of Ellenborough) who followed the noble and learned Lord on that part of the subject; and I was astonished that the noble and learned Lord should have put himself so forward to recommend so strongly that the Church in Ireland should be plundered of their possessions—but that is a military phrase, and I will not use it. I say, my Lords, that the Church in Ireland is not only secured by the most solemn engage- 573 ments, that the possessions of the Church of England should be taken from it to form an endowment for the Roman Catholics; but, my Lords, I beg leave to refer you to the oath in the Act of 1829. That oath I quote as nothing but the enunciation of a principle; and I say that the principle of that oath is clearly the avowed determination to maintain the Protestant Church in Ireland; and I advise the right rev. Prelates to rely on that principle as the principle on which this, and every Government, and even Parliament itself, must stand. The principle of all these oaths, from the commencement of the reign of George III. down to the Roman Catholic Relief Bill in 1829—and there is no single instance of an oath without a clause to that effect—is, the preservation and maintenance of the Church of England in Ireland, and the settlement of Protestantism as established by Act of Parliament. My noble Friend the President of the Council has told you that the Government has no thought of such measures. We have been asked if we have not voted for such measures before. My Lords, I never voted for such a measure, but I must say I have heard of such measures being in contemplation. Certainly from the period of the Union down to the present moment, assuredly no man can ever have taken into consideration a measure such as that which I had the honour of proposing to this House—namely, the Catholic Relief Bill, without having taken into consideration that part of the question. But I must say this that I never heard, nor have I been able to discover any solution for the difficulties by which such a measure is surrounded. I say, my Lords, it goes not only to an extent inconsistent with the code by which the Reformed religion was established in this country, but it goes to shake the possessions of your universities, your colleges, your schools, and all that appertains to your social state. My Lords, such a measure would alter the whole system of your ecclesiastical policy in this country, founded as it is on the toleration of all sects and all descriptions of religious opinions. My Lords, supposing that you could find the means of providing for the accomplishment of such a measure, which would be next to impossible unless you were disposed to assent to the proposition of my noble Friend behind me (the Earl of Wicklow), on which I shall say a few words 574 presently—supposing you could find such means, it does not appear at all clear that those who are the objects of such a proposition would accept what you propose. But my noble Friend behind me came forward with a proposition which certainly does appear to me a little extraordinary, and proposed that you should fall back upon a measure ten years ago, and another which is nearly of one hundred years' standing.
§ The Duke of Wellington
I am glad of that, because it occurred to me at the time, that if my noble Friend proposes to go back a hundred years, he will find some very possibly who will propose to go back two hundred, many three hundred; and I am afraid he will find his difficulties increase in proportion to the extent of time to which he would carry back his revision. Really, my Lords, I must say it is trifling with the question, to make a proposition which, after all, it would be impossible to carry into effect. I am really ashamed to have troubled the House so long. The argument that the establishment of this institution is inconsistent with the Oath of Supremacy is singular, as if those who took that oath did more than swear for themselves. I have taken the Oath of Supremacy, which says that no Foreign Potentate hath, or ought to have, any power, pre-eminence, or authority within this realm; and that oath I conceive the Legislature imposes on me personally. But if there be any doubts on that subject, I entreat noble Lords to look at the Act of Parliament by which millions of Her Majesty's subjects are enabled to testify their allegiance to Her Majesty without taking that oath. Does the Legislature, then, mean otherwise than to propose this oath to me personally? Can it be supposed that the Legislature means, by the continuance of the Oath of Supremacy, one to swear that there are not seven millions and some odd hundreds of Catholics in Ireland? How can the establishment of this College, then, be against the Oath of Supremacy, when in point of fact the Legislature has provided the means of enabling those very Catholics to take an Oath of Allegiance without the Oath of Supremacy, thus putting other words into their mouths, instead of those words which they could not swear? I think the noble Lord will agree with me 575 that he has made a mistake in supposing that the establishment of this College is inconsistent with the Oath of Supremacy. I also beg to remark that the noble Lord, if he will look into the Statutes and examine the original Statute of 1796, will see that students and all persons employed in that College are under the necessity of taking the oath required by the 13th and 14th George III., which enables them to testify their allegiance without taking the oath. I trust your Lordships will feel convinced that this is a measure absolutely necessary, in order to carry out the intentions of the Legislature with regard to Ireland.
The Earl of Wicklow
regretted greatly that Her Majesty's Government should take the view that they had taken of the question before the House. He feared that many years would not elapse before measures far more dangerous to the Established Church in Ireland than even that was would be proposed to Parliament, and actually passed into a law. If the present Ministers of the Crown did not take advantage of the favourable circumstances in which they were placed during the present Parliament, to fortify the Protestant Church in Ireland, there was every reason to apprehend that by other Governments and other Parliaments measures would be demanded and adopted, which would probably, nay, certainly, sap the foundations of the Established Church. No doubt Prostestanism would continue to exist in Ireland, and he hoped would flourish there and elsewhere; but what he feared was, that the revenues of the Established Church would not be safe for many years, if some such measure as he had suggested were not adopted.
§ The Marquess of Breadalbane
said, that he should be as ready as any Member of that House to vote for measures calculated to redress Irish grievances; but the Legislature was bound to keep in view those broad and fundamental principles of the Constitution which had been established, and had hitherto been held inviolable. It was argued, that, because the maintenance of this College had once been sanctioned, it was necessary now to assent to its permanent establishment; but so far as he understood the circumstances of the case at the original introduction of the question, they were totally different from the present. At that time the penal laws were in force, which prevented the establishment 576 of any Catholic seminary whatever; and the first Bill relating to Maynooth was merely a permissive Act, passed, because the College could not be founded without it. It was said that the Bill now before their Lordships had been sanctioned by great names and great authorities; but he begged the House to remember that many years had passed away since those opinions had been pronounced; and that the circumstances of the country were now wholly different from what they were at the time when those great names exercised an influence over the mind of the country. Then it was said that Parliament sanctioned the Roman Catholic religion in Ireland, by granting stipends to Roman Catholic chaplains of gaols and workhouses. Surely that was too small a deviation from the general principles of the Constitution to be properly pleaded as an argument in favour of the endowment of this institution: there was no sufficient analogy in it to amount to an argument; neither was there any argument of the least weight to be derived from the Mahometan, the Hindoo, or the Colonial Establishments which this country had created. Looking, then, at this question in every point of view in which it could possibly present itself—remembering the language used by the Convention Parliament, by William III.,—looking also at the Bill of Rights and the Coronation Oath, he did not see how it was possible for the Ministers of the Crown to persevere with this Bill, and say at the same time that it was a constitutional proceeding. He contended, that not the spirit only, but he might say the very letter of these documents, was violated by a measure which called upon Her Majesty to propagate, maintain and establish in the country a religion which in the Coronation Oath the Sovereign pronounced to be superstitious and idolatrous. If this was not a glaring inconsistency, he did not know what inconsistency was. He did not know whither their Lordships would be carried if the constitutional safeguards of our religion and our liberty were thus to be invaded and got over, merely because there was a majority in that and in the other House of Parliament, contrary to the sense of a great majority of the people, as declared in the most earnest language they could possibly use. The noble Marquess had referred to the authority of Lord Chatham (whom none of their Lordships 577 would call a bigot, although all who spoke against this measure were so called), who, in his speech on the Quebec Government Bill, earnestly protested against the establishment of Popery; and declared that the establishment of the Roman Catholic religion in that Colony was a thing the Parliament had no more right to do than they had to repeal the Bill of Rights, or the Great Charter: and that illustrious Minister further said, there was a clear compact that all establishments by law should be Protestant, and that this compact ought not to be altered but by the consent of the collective body of the people. He (the Marquess of Breadalbane) said, therefore, that before they attempted such an innovation in the Constitution as would be effected by this measure, they should appeal to the people. Let them dissolve Parliament, and ascertain what the feeling of the country was on this question. If the people had known that it was the intention of Parliament to sanction the principle contained in this Bill, many of their present Representatives would never have been returned. If, when the Representatives of the people were before their constituents, they had not professed principles wholly opposed to those which would be carried out by the present Bill, he did not hesitate to say, that many of them would not have been chosen. But he further maintained that this measure was utterly at variance with the principles on which the present Government came into office, and with those principles they professed when in opposition. He would remind their Lordships that by sanctioning this Bill they would adopt a course which had not been taken by any other State in Christendom; they would call into action a great Roman Catholic establishment, without possessing any real control over it; they would endow most munificently a Roman Catholic College, in which the Romish religion, in its very worst features, would be inculcated; and this they were doing at a time when every State in Christendom had adopted more or less stringent measures to restrain the dissemination of those monstrous doctrines which, as their Lordships had heard, were contained in many of the text and class books used at Maynooth. And why? Because they found the inculcation of such opinions inconsistent with social order and the principles of civil liberty; and he believed 578 it was a problem yet to be solved, whether real civil liberty and a representative Government, founded on the best principles, could coexist with the establishment of the Roman Catholic religion. On this ground he called upon them to maintain those Protestant principles which had secured and preserved the liberties and privileges of the people of this country, and not to sacrifice them at the shrine of a dangerous expediency. This country had hitherto been looked upon as the cradle of liberty and truth; and he trusted it would continue to be so. Other countries, in the hour of difficulty and danger, had looked to them for sympathy and support; but he feared that if they adopted the present Bill, they would commence a course of policy most dangerous and destructive to their civil and religious liberty. A noble Lord near him had expressed astonishment that the Presbyterians should have taken up this question so warmly, because he thought they would have been the last persons to oppose the establishment of Roman Catholic institutions. That noble Lord must remember that the Presbyterians themselves threw off the yoke of Catholicism, and that they afterwards successfully resisted the attempt to force upon them a system of Episcopacy. Scotland and England possessed the same privileges—they enjoyed the same toleration; and, having themselves thrown off the yoke of Roman Catholicism, because they found it inconsistent with the maintenance of their civil rights and liberties, he thought it no matter of surprise that they should unite to resist the inroads of that system, by opposing a grant which must necessarily lead to the direct endowment of the Roman Catholic priesthood in Ireland. He considered that if any one class of persons in this country had greater reason than another to complain of such a measure as this, it was those who dissented on conscientious principles from the Established religion; for they had not only to maintain their own religious establishments, but to contribute to the support of the Established Church; and now they were called upon to contribute directly to the propagation of a religion to which they entertained the strongest objections. It had been said by great political writers that all enactments of law should be consistent with the feelings and opinions of the people whom they were to govern. If this were a true axiom with 579 regard to laws in general, it surely was especially applicable to measures affecting the religious feelings and opinions of a people. Their Lordships must remember the course they adopted with regard to that portion of the Church of Scotland which, some time since, complained to their Lordships of the grievances under which they laboured. Those applicants were told, "You are endowed by the State, and you must submit to the conditions imposed by the State; but now their Lordships were endowing a religion without imposing any conditions or restraints whatever, because it was alleged that such conditions would impair the grace and favour of the grant. Were they prepared, then, to apply one measure of justice to the Presbyterians of Scotland, and another to the Roman Catholics of Ireland? Such a proceeding was at variance with all principles of equity and justice; and would, he was convinced, excite strong dissatisfaction among the people of this country. On these grounds he strongly opposed the measure.
§ The Earl of Chichester
wished to state the reasons which induced him to vote for the third reading of the Bill. The Legislature had, for the last fifty years, adopted numerous enactments involving the very same principle as that contained in this Bill, and had regularly voted money for the support of this very institution. Indeed, he was unable to discover any difference between the present measure and that of 1796; and he believed that this Bill would simply carry out the liberal and benevolent intentions of those by whom that measure was introduced. It had been felt by some persons, and had been strongly urged upon their Lordships, that there were grave objections to the present Bill on religious grounds. He confessed that he differed from many of those who had supported the Bill; and who had stated, that, in their opinion, the question ought not to be discussed on the religious principles involved in the measure. If the object of this Bill was the improvement and extension of an educational establishment, that institution being expressly intended for the instruction of priests, surely it was proper that, when considering the expediency of the measure, they should also consider the character of the education imparted. They were told by those who objected to this measure on religious grounds, that it was 580 sinful to support any system calculated to propagate error. He fully admitted that it would be wrong in him, as a legislator, to support any measure which he believed would tend to disseminate error; but, although he entertained as strong a feeling as any minister or member of that Church to which he belonged, with reference to the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church, he would feel it an outrage upon their common Christianity if he could look upon that Church as professing a heathen or anti-Christian system of religion. He considered that those who opposed the present Bill on religious grounds, judging from many of the petitions that had been presented against it, founded their opposition on two fallacies. The petitioners appeared to look only at the errors of that religion of which they spoke in such strong terms, seeming to forget the great residuum of truth which they must admit still existed in it. The other fallacy, which was perhaps more common, was this—men seemed to think that because it would be wrong to give support to a less pure or more corrupted form of Christianity than that which they considered the best, that therefore it was, under all circumstances, and where they had no option, wrong to give any support to a system of Christianity which, in their opinion, involved serious errors. Surely there could not be a more serious fallacy than this. Surely it was consistent with common sense, and was the duty of those who owed a common allegiance to the Saviour, to give encouragement to the Roman Catholic religion, when they had no opportunity of choosing between it and what they might consider a better. He believed that, in this case, they had no option—that they must either instruct the Roman Catholics by means of their own priests, or else leave them altogether without education. He would, therefore, have felt no difficulty in supporting this Bill, had it been an original measure for the endowment of the College of Maynooth. But in this case the question simply was, whether they would sanction a small increased grant of money for the endowment of that College; and he felt no religious scruples whatever in giving his assent to the proposition. He must say further, that he regarded this as a wise and judicious measure, because he considered it one of justice and conciliation; and he believed that, if it were followed up on the part of 581 the Government by corresponding measures, Ireland might be rendered capable of enjoying the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and might possess a due share of national prosperity under the advantages of good government. History had taught them that it was possible to govern Ireland by military force; but she ought to be, and deserved to be, governed as a free country; and it was, he believed, impossible to govern Ireland well and wisely upon any other principles than those adopted in the present measure. In giving his vote for this measure, he did not feel that he was pledging himself to anything more than that principle of justice and conciliation towards Ireland, and towards Ireland as a mainly Roman Catholic country, which he thought was acknowledged by this measure, and which he felt was due to her.
The Earl of Rosse
said, that were he upon this, as upon the last occasion, to give a silent vote in favour of this measure, that vote might be taken rather as indicative of doubt or reluctant acquiescence, than that cordial support which he was most anxious to give to it, believing it to be of a beneficial teudency to Ireland. In considering the practical working of this measure, it had never occurred to him to doubt that, whatever result might follow, it would materially improve the education of the Roman Catholic clergy. It was, therefore, not without surprise that he had heard it objected to this Bill, that there was no clause in it for securing that which they had in view—the better education of the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland. In his humble judgment they had a better guarantee than any clause could afford in the plain palpable interest of the authorities at Maynooth to give the very best education in their power to confer; and if any additional guarantee were wanting they would have it in the praise of private opinion, and the pride the Roman Catholics felt in the acquirements of their clergy. Looking, then, to the practical working of the measure in Ireland, the question that arose with him was, whether the measure would improve the education of the Roman Catholic clergy—whether it would produce a beneficial change in their habits, feelings, and position in society? But, in his opinion, there could be no doubt that such would be the result. They had heard of the great difference that existed between the education 582 of the Roman Catholic clergy of England and those of Ireland; and it must be in the recollection of any of their Lordships who had resided in Ireland during the last twenty-five years, what a great contrast there was in the accomplishments and manners of the Roman Catholic clergy of that time who had been educated abroad, and those of the priests who had received a miserably stinted education at Maynooth. But it might be said that education would give power, and that that power would be used against the Protestant Church. If he could see that that argument was well founded, it would be entitled, in his opinion, to the gravest consideration; but in his humble judgment it was totally without foundation; but if it led to a legitimate competition between the clergy of the two Churches, and induced them to read more diligently, no one could contend that it could injure the Established Church; and even if it were desirable that some institution should be established to afford a supplemental theological education, in consequence of the progress of learning among the Roman Catholic clergy, he should think that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would have no difficulty in providing the necessary funds for such an institution, and he believed that no one would say that that could injure the Established Church. Considering then, that knowledge from any quarter, and in any shape, could not be injurious to the Protestant Church, he should give his earnest support to the measure. Again, it was said, that if they educated the Roman Catholic clergy, they must provide for them. Now, the revenues of the Roman Catholic clergy had been variously estimated—one estimate was 700,000l. a year—he had also heard them estimated at double the revenue of the Established Church. He had no means of forming a very accurate opinion on the matter; but taking the two principal towns in the county with which he was immediately connected, he should say that the incomes of the Roman Catholic clergy very much exceeded the incomes of the clergy of the Established Church. Of this he was satisfied, that the incomes of the Roman Catholic clergy at present exceeded what they would be, even if the most sweeping measure of Church Reform were carried into effect. But even if this measure were preliminary to the endowment of the Roman Catholic 583 clergy, he should not be dealing candidly with their Lordships if he did not say that he should not consider that an objection to it. In looking at this question in all its bearings, it was impossible to lose sight of the actual state of Ireland. Their Lordships were too well aware that agitatation had long prevailed there, and it was of a very peculiar character. The great mass of the Roman Catholic population were engaged in it, and, as it was described by the leading journal of agitation in Ireland, they had religion for politics, and politics for religion. Those of their Lordships who had looked into the state of things in Ireland, and had not shut their eyes to what had taken place in other countries, must be aware that the present course of legislation not only would greatly diminish, but entirely overthrow that influence which appeared to be almost overwhelming in Ireland. He believed it to be of the utmost importance that the Roman Catholic priests should be well educated; for then the young men would become thoughtful and sensible, and see that they were placing themselves in a false position by mixing in political agitation. Every sensible man who thought and judged for himself must be convinced that Her Majesty's Government had brought forward this measure from an anxious wish to do everything reasonable and generous that could conduce to the welfare of Ireland. He was sorry to say, however, that some who thought and judged for themselves were too prone to take a different view of the measure; but he was not much surprised at that, considering the insulting language which, for the last two or three years, had been used towards England. The same game was played at the time of the passing of the Emancipation Act, and an insurrection was confidently predicted; no insurrection, however, took place. Now there were "rumours of wars," and they were told that the power of steam could be easily brought into operation against England; and those who talked in that way, actually went into the particulars of the mode in which steam might be applied in warfare against England; not forgetting that the same power could convey a sufficient body of troops, and furnish the necessary armament to resist any such attacks. But he attached no importance to such language, and was firmly convinced that the parties who used it found no sympathy in other 584 quarters. The fact was, that the Roman Catholic leaders knew perfectly well that Ireland could not exist as a separate nation; and that a greater amount of liberty was enjoyed there under the British Crown than would be enjoyed if Ireland was subject to any other European Power. They knew that had the movement which had taken place there within the last few years been attempted under any Foreign Government, it would have been called by a much harder name than political agitation, and have been visited with severe punishment. They knew that no such confederacy as had existed in Ireland would have been permitted to any of the petty States of Europe, and they knew full well also, that at any time the Government of this country had only to pronounce the word, and the agitation which prevailed there would be put down.
The Earl of Clancarty
My Lords, in reply to the noble Duke's (the Duke of Wellington) observations upon the opinion I lately expressed, respecting the obligation of the Oath of Supremacy, and its bearing upon the measure now under your Lordships' consideration, I beg to say a few words. It will be in the recollection of many of your Lordships, that upon three different occasions I have lately called attention to this important subject. I deeply feel the delicacy of differing from any of your Lordships upon the interpretation of an oath, the obligation of which, rightly understood, has been accepted by so many. I felt, however, at the same time, that it was my duty to bring the question under your Lordships' notice; but I must say that, desirous as I am, and have expressed myself, to see a matter of such grave importance in the same light as your Lordships generally, my opinion upon the subject has been much confirmed by the fact, that no noble Lord or right rev. Prelate has until this evening attempted to contradict it. The noble Duke has, however, at length expressed the opinion your Lordships have just heard. I cannot agree in it; but I nevertheless rejoice that he has adverted to it, as it will be the means of eliciting the opinions of others more competent, than I am, satisfactorily to investigate a subject of such great importance. The noble Duke has put it forth as his opinion that the oath, which affirms, that "no foreign Prince, person, prelate, State, or potentate hath, or ought to have, any power, pre-eminence, jurisdiction, or 585 authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm," attaches only to himself or the person taking it, that it amounts to no more than the repudiation of any personal subjection to Papal authority. This interpretation of the oath, which I had before heard elsewhere in private, I controverted at some length in addressing your Lordships' on the second reading of this Bill. I will only therefore at present very briefly revert to it. I think, my Lords, that the words of the oath are of that general nature, that they are incapable of being restricted to any mere personal acknowledgment: they are the affirmation of a fact, but as that fact has become a very questionable one, I have looked into the intention with which the oath was required to be administered, by which to judge of the sense in which it should be taken. The Oath of the Queen's Supremacy was first enacted by the 1st of Elizabeth, cap. 1. [The Duke of Wellington: That Statute has been repealed.] I am aware, my Lords, that the wording of the oath has been altered by the Statute of William and Mary; but I contend that the intention of the oath is to be gathered from the language of the Act of Parliament in which it was originally enacted. Now, by referring to the 1st of Elizabeth, cap. 1., your Lordships will find that that Act, after reviving every Statute against the ecclesiastical authority of the See of Rome within the realm, and every Statute for establishing the Supremacy of the Crown, proceeds in the 16th section to enact—And to the intent that all usurped and foreign power and authority, spiritual and temporal, may forever be clearly extinguished, and never be used or obeyed within this realm, or any other of your Majesty's dominions or countries; May it please your Highness, that it may be further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, that no foreign Prince, Person, Prelate, State or Potentate, spiritual or temporal, shall, at any time after the last day of this Session of Parliament, use, enjoy, or exercise any manner of power, jurisdiction, superiority, authority, pre-eminence or privilege, spiritual or ecclesiastical, within this realm, or within any other of your Majesty's dominions or countries, that now be or hereafter shall be; but from henceforth the same shall be clearly abolished out of this realm, and all other your Majesty's dominions for ever, any statute, ordinance, custom, constitution, or any other matter or cause whatsoever, to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.All such authority is, by the 17th section, 586 transferred to the Sovereign—and by the 19th section is enacted, "for the better observation and maintenance of this Act," the Oath of the Queen's Supremacy, subsequently by the 1st of William and Mary, c.2., s. 1., amended to its present form, and required to be taken and subscribed by all Members of Parliament, along with the declaration of the 30th of Charles II., Statute 2. My Lords, I cannot bring myself to believe that these Statutes were intended to be inoperative; yet such would be the consequence of adopting the noble Duke's interpretation of the Oath of Sumacy. I think, my Lords, that these Statutes clearly set forth the intention with which the oath was framed, and the nature of the obligation it imposes. Having already, upon two stages of this Bill, addressed your Lordships against it, I should not now feel warranted in troubling your Lordships with any further observations, but for the speeches delivered by two noble Lords, on the Motion for the Bill being committed; in which, as the necessary consequence of this Bill, they proposed the immediate and complete endowment of the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland by a permanent rent charge upon the land, in the same manner as the Protestant Church is endowed. My Lords, this was a proposition to have been expected as the next step; but I confess I was not prepared for it so soon, nor to find it originate in such a quarter. Can those two noble Earls so forget the position in which the Queen is placed with respect to the Roman Catholic religion—that by the law of the land she is obliged to make, and in their presence has made and subscribed, a solemn declaration of Her belief that the form of worship of the Roman Catholic Church is superstitious and idolatrous, as to call upon Her to give it Her sanction and approbation? Do they think that the declaration was intended to be inoperative, except to wound, as I cannot but think it must do, the feelings of Her Roman Catholic subjects? My Lords, I defy any noble Lord to say that it was not intended to prevent the possibility of the Sovereign's consenting to the re-establishment of the Roman Catholic religion, just as the Oath of Supremacy which your Lordships have taken was intended, as I think I have proved, to prevent you from recognising, restoring, or upholding the Papal authority within this realm—an obligation which I think has been overlooked in the Bequests 587 Act of last Session, and which, I fear, you are about to violate yet more directly by passing the present Bill. Had I, my Lords, no other grounds for objecting to this measure, I should oppose it on account of the oath I have taken at the Table of this House. I shall oppose it, however, also from a sense of duty to my Sovereign, whose obligations and conscientious feelings, publicly and solemnly testified at Her Coronation, I am bound to respect; and I shall oppose it from a sense of duty towards the people of Ireland. I cannot consent to fasten and perpetuate upon Ireland the yoke of Papal authority, which England is happy in having shaken off; and I will not, for one moment, admit, that my fellow countrymen are incapable of appreciating, or undeserving of enjoying the advantages of that civil and religious liberty which dates from, and owes its vitality to the principles of the Reformation.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
wished, in a few observations, to state the grounds on which he should give his vote in favour of the present Bill, and on which he thought that the passing of the measure would be favourable to the peace of Ireland, and to the security of the Church of England. There was no person who had attended to the long, consistent, and un-deviating course of the noble Marquess (Breadalbane) in favour of civil and religious liberty upon all occasions, but must believe that any opposition which he gave to the present Bill was unconnected with anything like prejudice towards his Roman Catholic brethren, or with a desire to withhold from them that justice which, in his opinion, they deserved; but as the noble Marquess concluded his address by appealing to their Lordships whether, as a branch of the Legislature, they would give their sanction to laws inconsistent with the feelings of the people of this country, he (Lord Lansdowne) could not help reminding the noble Marquess, that it was because there were 7,000,000 of people of this country—because those 7,000,000 had a right to be considered the people of this country—that their Lordships could not with justice withhold from them that assistance which their situation required—that assistance which had been given already, and had been found inadequate—and which, by the present measure, their Lordships were only called upon to extend. He would first 588 consider how far the question of principle was connected with the present Bill. Throughout the debates on this subject he had heard the question of principle, as opposed to the propagation of error, most unnecessarily and inconsistently mixed up with objections which had been stated on the score of expediency. Now, it was manifest, that if their Lordships were determined, on principle, to refuse any grant of the kind now proposed, on the ground that they would give no assistance to the propagation of tenets, other than those of the Church of England, they had been hitherto inconsistent in every vote they had passed for years back in reference to this subject. As a question of principle, was there the slightest difference between a limited grant, and a more extended grant—between a grant for a time, and a grant for ever? If a man announced his intention of violating one of God's commandments for a limited period—if he were to say, "For one year I will steal, or I will murder, or I will commit adultery;" and should then contend, that because he only proposed this for a limited period, there could be no violation of principle, he should consider that a very curious sample of theological casuistry. The weakness of the objections to the present measure, which were founded on the argument, that it was wrong to contribute to the propagation of anything like a system of religious error, was manifest. It had been found impossible to maintain such a principle as that. Year after year it had been distinctly abandoned in every place, until they came to Ireland. Liberal in every other part of the globe, they only stopped short in liberality when they came to that great body of persons nearest to them, and who ought to be the dearest to them, and who were the most in want of their liberality; and they told those persons, that they were selected to have that refused them which, in violation of this so much talked of principle, had already been granted to Her Majesty's subjects in every other quarter of the globe. What an argument to use to the Irish Catholic peasant—to tell him, that if he conducted himself peaceably, orderly, and according to law, that then they, on principle, would refuse him a permanent establishment for the education of his clergy; but only let him commit a crime, be convicted, and sent to New Holland, and then the State would 589 assist him with an establishment by which he and others might be instructed in his religion! Therefore, the objection founded on the principle of refusing to propagate error must be excluded from the debate. In Trinidad they would not lose their sugar, nor in Newfoundland would they risk the loss of their fish, for that principle. He came, then, to consider the question on the ground on which alone it could properly be considered—that of expediency; and on this ground he asked their Lordships to consider the state of the question. He believed it was Burke who first impressed the matter on the attention of the Government of England; and it was to Burke that the Provost of Trinity College, in 1782, suggested that something should be done for the Catholic clergy. His suggestion, rather a foolish one, was, that the Catholic priests should all be made "sizars" of Trinity College; which made Mr. Burke say, that "You might as well think of feeding Gentoos with beef broth, and dressing their wounds with brandy, as fancy that the Catholic priests would submit to fill those servile offices in the College." Burke, however, took every opportunity of enforcing the subject on the attention of the Government of England, and suggested it to Mr. Pitt. Mr. Pitt adopted it; and when he rejected every other measure for the good of Ireland he clung to this, considering it indispensable. That was the foundation of Maynooth. On looking to the majority of their Lordships on the late division on this Bill, he found that, with the single exception of a noble and venerable Friend of his, who had been connected with the Administration of Lord Liverpool, every one among their Lordships who had held any high situation under the Crown in every Administration for the last thirty years, and thereby had the means of knowing and understanding what the state of Ireland had been, had felt the necessity of giving an extended grant for education, so as to make the sum given adequate to the wants of the country. With respect to the consequences of this measure, he was prepared to say he looked upon this Vote as a right Vote in itself, and independent of any other measures which might follow this; and he would say also, that he did not consider any noble Lord, by voting for this Bill, pledged to vote for any measure, great or small, right or wrong, that might 590 be proposed hereafter with respect to Ireland. Did he desire that there should be no ulterior measures? No; he felt the value of the declaration made by the Government on introducing this measure, that it was to be taken as a proof and symptom of the policy that was to be pursued with respect to Ireland in future; and he did not go further and ask what those measures were to be, and what that policy was to consist in: he thought it wisdom in the Government not to state what were the measures they had in view, or whether they had any specific measures in contemplation, because such a declaration would, in his opinion, not only have been prejudicial to this measure, but prejudicial to any other measure that might have been brought forward hereafter. He agreed with the noble Duke, that the present state of Ireland was full of danger, and that measures ought to be taken for the improvement of that situation; and if the time should come when Parliament should recognise the necessity of placing the clergy of Ireland in a different situation, he could have no doubt that the wisdom—the omnipotence of Parliament, would find the means of carrying that salutary measure into effect. He did not say how that was to be done; but he was certain that no situation could be so dangerous as that of having 7,000,000 of people—as they would have, if this Bill was rejected and Maynooth put down, which would be the consequence of rejecting it—arrayed before the College, and excluded from its advantages. But he took this measure as a proof that there was no benefit which the people of England enjoyed that Parliament was not prepared to extend to the people of Ireland. It had been observed, that for this measure no gratitude had been offered to their Lordships, and that all their Lordships' attempts to effect an amelioration of the condition of the people of Ireland would be met by anything but gratitude. He must say he was not in the slightest degree disappointed at that; nor did he found any argument on that to the effect that a stop should be put to the attempt in which their Lordships were engaged, for the maintenance of the religion of the people of Ireland, and of the peace of the nation. The feeling to which he had referred was not a thing to be surprised at—that when Parliament was endeavouring to take agitation out of the hands of the agitator, he should not all at once 591 discontinue his agitation, or that the people should not all at once confide in those whom they had been so long taught to distrust. That the people they were now interfering to enlighten should not see all at once your object, was, in the course of human nature, to be explained by what they found in all countries after a long course of misgovernment had produced an hostility to the laws and the Legislature. He had somewhere read that a Government could make the laws, but could not make the prejudices of a people. Certainly a Government could not unmake the prejudices of a people; that could only be the work of time; and though their Lordships had not wings to fly before time, yet they might go on in the course they had adopted; and they would find that if not the present, future generations would be seen enjoying the increased benefits arising from this measure. He must not be told that better educated priests would not be better men, and that the son of an artisan who was educated at this College would not henceforth be a better man, and a better subject. He thought those were consequences of this measure which would follow from it with a certainty that could be reckoned on; and that the change which Burke anticipated as the proper result of a better and more wholesome system of government in Ireland would be established there. That great statesman, not less than half a century ago, wrote thus in a prophetic spirit—I see a disposition to take the state of things of Ireland as it is, and improve it to the best advantage to the State, whether Catholic or Protestant, or mixed of both. Hitherto the plan of the Government of Ireland has been to sacrifice the civil prosperity of Ireland to its religious improvement; but the people in power at length have come to other ideas, and they will consider that good order, decorum, virtue, and the morality of every description of men would be of infinitely more value than those schemes which put in hazard the objects which are of more importance to a State, in my poor opinion, than all the polemical matter that has been agitated since the beginning of the world.That was the opinion of Burke, than whom a greater friend to religious establishments never existed; their Lordships had the benefit of his experience and his prophetic mind, and they had the benefit of their own experience, all which had shown them, that by adding to the force and power of the establishment of Maynooth 592 they had done more for the good of the country than by any other method; and much more than could be done by looking to the recurrence of that system of force in which not the power but the vice of their Government had consisted, would be effected by this measure, of which not the least merit was, that it indicated an intention of abandoning that system for ever.
§ On Question, That "now" stand part of the Motion? House divided:—Content—Present 104; Proxies 77 — 181: Non-content—Present 34; Proxies 16–50: Majority 131.
§ Resolved in the Affirmative. Bill read 3a accordingly.
§ On the Question that the Bill do pass,
The Earl of Winchilsea
said, he felt bound to repeat his protest against this measure, which involved an entirely new principle—namely, that of the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church. Their Lordships were placing themselves in a fearful position by assenting to this measure; and if they did not previously retrace they steps, they would find the sense of the country strongly manifested at the next election. After the division which had taken place it was vain to hope that such an humble individual as himself could produce any impression on them. He could only repeat that he considered the question one of the most serious importance. The Government under which they lived was an hereditary, but a restricted monarchy. The monarch could not ascend the Throne except on Protestant principles; and long might those principles and the Throne be connected! The peerage itself was hereditary: long might it remain so! but it was his honest conviction that if the people once suspected the principles of the leaders of the Government in that House, they would prefer the principle of a peerage elective for life to that of an hereditary peerage. It wss quite certain that if this measure had been proposed by the Whig Government, many of those who had then voted for it would have declared that they could not conscientiously give it their support. He could not conceive why, if they agreed with the noble Earl who had that night expressed himself in favour of inquiry, the Roman Catholics generally had not sought investigation into that system to which their Lordships were about to give a perpetual endowment. If that inquiry had 593 been granted, it would have been clearly proved that the College of Maynooth was established on the principles of the Jesuits—on principles which militated against the best interests of society. That was, indeed, an eventful day for England. After the passing of that measure, and the signing of it by their gracious Sovereign, the Protestant character of their Constitution would have been destroyed. And on what day would this Bill have passed? Why, on the proud anniversary of the signing of Magna Charta. Yes, that was the anniversary of the day on which the barons of England wrested from King John the charter of English liberty.
The Earl of Winchilsea
said, he believed that the early religion of this country was very different from the Roman Catholic religion of a later period. The people of England would never surrender their Protestant principles. Let a dissolution come when it might, he believed that a majority in the House of Commons would be returned on sound Protestant principles, and their Lordships would then have a measure brought up from the other House of Parliament calling on them to rescind the vote which they had given that night. Until that period came he would do all in his power to save what remained of Protestant principle in this great Empire. The noble Earl concluded by moving to insert before Clause 20 the following Clause, viz.—And be it further enacted, That after the Expiration of Three Years from the Time of passing this Act, no further Sum shall be charged upon or payable out of the Consolidated Fund for the Purposes of this Act.
said, no one could doubt the noble Earl's perfectly sincerity in the views which he had stated that night, or in those which he always expressed in reference to that subject. It was from no want of respect to his noble Friend that he contented himself on the present occasion, after the full discussion which the measure had received, with giving a simple negative to the Amendment.
§ On Question, That the said Clause be there inserted? Resolved in the Negative: Bill passed.
§ House adjourned.594
- "1. Because I hold it to be contradictory to the first principles of the Reformation to provide for the establishment of an order of men to be educated for the express purpose of resisting and defeating that Reformation—men whose office and main duty it will be to disseminate and to perpetuate those very corruptions of the Christian faith which the Church of England has solemnly abjured, and some of which the whole Legislature of England has declared to be superstitious and idolatrous.
- "2. Because the most unbounded toleration of religious error does not require us to provide for the maintenance and the growth of that error, but rather imposes upon us a strong obligation to prevent by all just and peaceful means its increase, and to discourage its continuance.
- "3. Because this measure has a tendency to raise in the public mind a belief that religious truth is a matter of indifference to the State; and by consequence to subvert that principle of succession to the Throne, which is the title of the present dynasty, and which forms an integral and essential part of the Constitution of this kingdom.
§ "E. LLANDAFF.
§ C. WINTON.
§ C. J. LONDON.
§ J. B. CHESTER.
§ R. CASHEL, &c.
§ WINCHILSEA AND NOTTINGHAM.