HL Deb 17 February 1848 vol 96 cc760-801

In pursuance of the notice which I gave the other evening, I now rise to move the Second Reading of a Bill for enabling Her Majesty to establish Diplomatic Relations with the Court of Rome. I am perfectly aware, in calling your Lordships' attention to this matter, that it is one which is so far of a novel nature as never to have been the subject of any definite proposition for legislative enactment in either House of Parliament. At the same time it has been incidentally adverted to more than once in the course of your Lordships' debates; and I myself, not long ago, in an incidental discussion in this House, ventured to intimate my own opinion (speaking, however, for myself alone), that it was most desirable that some such measure should be introduced. I have now, my Lords, the satisfaction, with the full concurrence of my Colleagues—with, I trust, the approbation of a large part of this and of the other House of Parliament, and also, I am sanguine enough to hope, with the approbation of a large portion of the inhabitants of this country—to move your Lordships to give the facilities required to Her Majesty for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Court of England and the Court of Rome. My Lords, it has been supposed by some that there are no impediments to the Sovereign establishing these relations without an Act of Parliament; and I know that I shall be met in some quarters with the objection—"Why is this Act necessary? Is not Her Majesty enabled, as the law now stands, to establish the same species of diplomatic relationship with the Court of Rome, as She is with every other civilised Court and kingdom?" It is the doubt which, I admit, hangs over this part of the subject which makes it necessary for me in some degree to justify the introduction of a Bill with respect to it at all, and to call your Lordships' attention to the circumstances in the law out of which this presumed doubt has arisen. It has then been supposed that in two Acts—Acts which in the Bill on your Lordships' table are more particularly referred to—in two Acts, one of them known generally as the "Bill of Rights," passed in the first year of William and Mary; the other, the Act for Settling the Succession to the Crown, passed in the 12th and 13th years of the same reign—Acts, the importance of not meddling with which, except after most mature deliberation, all of your Lordships will acknowledge—Acts, which I consider to be the muniments, and the safeguards, and the defences of the constitution of this country—Acts, against the spirit of which I should be the last man to propose anything—to propose any measure which could militate against the great, the constitutional, and holy object for which they became the law of the land, and for which I trust that they will ever continue the law of this land; with reference, my Lords, to these Acts, it has been supposed, not from anything in the Acts, but from certain doctrines held to be implied from an expression in the first of these Acts, and referred to in the second, that the Queen is by them, if not by the constitution previous thereto, disabled from establishing those diplomatic relations with the Court of Rome which it is the object of this Bill to enable her to set on foot. If I may be allowed to form an opinion, my Lords, on these Acts, I should be inclined to say that they do not so disable Her Majesty. The common sense and obvious understanding of these Acts, my Lords, I hold to be this, that they were intended to prevent any person sitting upon the Throne of these realms from being reconciled to or holding communion with the Church of Rome; that is to say, to prevent a spiritual and ecclesiastical reconciliation; but that they do not debar the Sovereign from establishing those diplomatic relations with the Court of Rome which the experience of the world has proved to be essential for political and temporal purposes. But there are those, my Lords, who think differently with respect to these Acts. Others have thought that, independently of these Acts, it was contrary to the law of England—Christianised as this country was previous to the time when these Acts were passed—for the Sovereign to send any diplomatic emissary or ambassador to Rome. As much, my Lords, has been said with reference to the case of Lord Castlemaine, I must direct your Lordships' attention closely to that case, for although it was held by some to bear out the doctrine of the illegality of sending ambassadors to Rome, yet I confess that I think it makes the other way, and proves the legality of sending ambassadors to Rome, although undoubtedly it would be illegal for the secret purpose for which it was suspected at the time, and, I believe, rightly suspected, Lord Castlemaine was sent. My Lords, that nobleman was selected for this commission, immediately previous to the Revolution, by that unfortunate Monarch whose peculiarity it was always to do the wrong thing at the wrong time, and to choose the wrong instrument for doing it. That the choice of Lord Castlemaine was wrong is very evident; indeed, at the time of his selection, Barillon, the French Minister at the Court of James II., observed, that in choosing Lord Castlemaine, the King had pitched upon the person who was exactly the most unfitted for the task—the most unfit, owing to the very little which was known of him, and the great deal too much which was known of his wife, who accompanied him. But however that may he, Lord Castlemaine proceeded on his mission, and found the Court of Rome much more occupied with temporal affairs than with those mere ecclesiastical objects which formed the immediate purpose of his visit. He came back therefore discontented, having effected nothing. Shortly afterwards the Revolution took place, and soon after the House of Commons, pursuing as it did, with commendable determination and perseverance, an inquiry into all the actions of the late reign, called Lord Castlemaine to the bar of their House to account for his conduct in accepting an illegal commission. The order made by the House of Commons was in general terms that his Lordship do stand committed. He was, however, afterwards heard at the bar of this House; and if your Lordships will refer to the State Trials,* you will find the whole of his interrogatories, and his speech in his own defence. Your Lordships will there see the grounds on which he based his defence. Now, the examination of Lord Castlemaine showed this, not that he went as an ambassador—not that he received instructions to go to Rome in that capacity—but that the object of these instructions was to effect a reconciliation between this country and the Papal See. And this was the sense in which the House of Commons understood the accusation, for it would be seen by referring to the resolutions of the House of Commons upon the subject, that they did not dwell upon the mere fact of the embassy to the Bishop of Rome, but upon the illegal object of the embassy. The resolution of the House ran thus:— That the Earl of Castlemaine be charged in the Tower, by warrant from this House, for high treason and other crimes and misdemeanours, and that there be inserted in the warrant these words, 'for endeavouring to reconcile this country with the See of Rome.' He was imprisoned—not, be it observed, for accepting a mission to Rome, but for accepting it with a certain object. Why, then, taking that case in testimony, as an exposition of the law at that time, I must say, I do not conceive that it shows visible grounds for supposing that Lord Castle- * Howell's State Trials, Vol. vii. p. 598. maine did wrong in simply accepting a mission to Rome; but that he did so for the purpose of secretly effecting a reconciliation in religious matters. It is, however, but fair to state that, at the time, many persons, and some of them of high authority, entertained a different opinion. I think it but fair to state that one eminent man, Bishop Burnet, did not agree in the view I have taken; but still, the bishop was one of those historians, who, although I am persuaded that he thought and wrote with honest zeal for the interests of his country, are apt to be more or less carried away by the impressions and prepossessions which they themselves are liable to. Burnet, in his admirable history, says, he conceives that Lord Castlemaine had committed an act of high treason; but he adds, that the mission was undertaken for an improper purpose at the instance of James II. Lord Chancellor Jefferies found great difficulty in reconciling that which he knew to be the state of the law with that which he equally well knew to be the wish of his Royal Master. The following are the words of Bishop Burnet:— So they moved to the King to send an ambassador to Rome. This was high treason by law. Jefferies was very uneasy in it. But the King's power of pardoning had been much argued in the Earl of Danby's case; and was believed to be one of the unquestionable rights of the Crown. So he knew a safe way in committing crimes; which was, to take out pardon as soon as he had done illegal things. Another historian of the highest character, and one who at the same time was one of the ablest amongst the constitutional lawyers of this country—I allude to Sir James Macintosh—in his most valuable dissertation on the Revolution, gives his opinion to the effect that the mission of Lord Castlemaine was an illegal proceeding. My Lords, I thought it fair to state these circumstances, because they throw a certain degree of uncertainty, and doubt, and suspicion over the whole of this transaction, which, in my opinion, makes it expedient for your Lordships, if you think fit to con-for this power upon the Sovereign, to do so by an enactive and not by a declaratory proceeding. My Lords, I have alluded to the expressions in the two Acts which I have quoted, and which have been held to make it illegal for the Sovereign to send an ambassador to the Court of Rome. Since their enactment a century and a half has passed, and difficult and delicate as may be the task, yet the fact is certainly susceptible of proof, nay, of notorious proof, that notwithstanding the opinion that the proceeding was illegal, yet such was the necessity of the case—such were the obvious advantages of a communication with the Court of Rome—such the necessities, as well in time of war as in time of peace—that scarcely a reign has elapsed from the period in question, in which, by indirect methods, by uncertain and indirect channels, negotiations have not been attempted to be set on foot with the Court of Rome, and the advantages of diplomatic intercourse obtained by more circuitous, and therefore by more imperfect, methods. In the following reigns one of the plans put into operation was the adoption of the agency of eminent Englishmen visiting the Court of Rome, and who were requested to communicate upon certain subjects. But surely such a mode of communication was more to be deprecated than a more open and direct method. The persons chosen might be objectionable, and they acted without responsibility, and without fear of being called to the bar of public opinion, which is, after all, the real control and the real safeguard against any mischief to be apprehended from such intercourse. The House of Hanover happily succeeded to the Throne of this country, and during the succeeding reigns of the Sovereigns of that House repeated communications with the Pope took place; and at no period were they more frequent than at the time when the country had the benefit of the advice of one of the greatest Ministers who ever was at the head of the Councils of this kingdom—I meant Sir Robert Walpole. This Minister, who bore upon his shoulders the weight of a mighty monarchy, and who was the prop and pillar of the Protestant Succession, and of the House of Hanover, which was so deeply connected with that succession—Sir Robert Walpole was in repeated communication with the Roman Pontiff. Frequently he employed his brother Horace for that purpose, and he had also repeated recourse to the instrumentality to which I have adverted, that of eminent British subjects travelling in Italy. Indeed, a somewhat amusing anecdote has been recorded upon the subject by Horace Walpole, who states that so great was the regard which the Pope entertained for his brother, Sir Robert, that he omitted no opportunity of paying him court. Sir Robert Walpole, being fond of the fine arts, had made a very large collection of paintings, to which he was desirous of adding a celebrated picture by Guido, "The Assumption of the Virgin;" but according to the foolish prejudices which prevailed at Rome, some difficulty was made regarding its exportation to England. However, as soon as it was made known to the Pope that the picture was for Sir Robert Walpole, he, for the purpose of gratifying that heretical Minister, and showing him the regard he entertained for him, gave orders that no difficulty should be made in sending it to England. Unfortunately it afterwards passed out of the country, together with the rest of the collection, and was transported to Russia. The Court of Hanover—the Protestant Court of Hanover—established relations and sent a Minister to the Court of Rome, not having an interest in the affairs of Italy or of Rome like that which we have, for the purpose of cultivating a connexion for political objects; but because it was part of the policy of this country to have a representative at the Court of Rome as a means through which communications could be had on behalf of our countrymen. My Lords, I come now to a somewhat later period—I come to the commencement of the French Revolution. At that time it was found expedient to have repeated communications with the Roman Pontiff. I remember to have been acquainted with Sir John Cox Hippesley, and to have been shown by him a great mass of correspondence which he conducted on behalf of the British Government with the Court of Rome. What! a Member of the British Parliament, in communication with the Government, resident at the Court of Rome, and who was in perpetual communication not only with the Pope but with the Pretender—Cardinal York—himself? Can we go farther than that? There was no Exeter Hall then; but if it was unconstitutional—if it was against the law of these realms—the fact was enough to have called forth ten Exeter Halls, and to have made them resound with denunciations. I may add that Sir John Cox Hippesley conducted a negotiation for allowing the Pretender a pension of 2,000l. or 3,000l. a year. Here was a negotiation carried on at the Court of Rome, by the authority of the British Government. I come now to a still later period. At the commencement of the French war we had a very large force in the Mediterranean Sea, under the command of Lord Hood. Lord Hood, whilst carrying on his operations (I believe he was blockading Toulon), found himself at a great loss to supply his fleet with water. It did happen that the best water he could obtain, and the nearest, was to he had in the Papal dominions; it was therefore necessary to make an arrangement with the Pope; but, although an excellent commander, he was no theologian, and though he had the benefit of a chaplain in every vessel, he had no lawyer. He therefore wrote for advice, both to Rome and to England, asking advice whether it was proper that he should establish communications with that Power. And I am the more induced to state these particular transactions, as they led to a declaration of opinion from the late Mr. Burke. This opinion is conveyed in a letter not in the published collection. Mr. Burke, when asked his advice upon the matter, whether Lord Hood could safely and properly obtain his supplies of water from a Power constituted as the Court of Rome was, and alienated from this country, says— Nobody can be so squeamish as to refuse benefits (nothing else will ever be offered by his Holiness), because they come from the Pope. He would be an admiral of wonderful theological talents, but of not quite such splendid military qualities, who should scruple the receipt of those indulgences called 'Munitions de Guerre et de Bouche' from a prince-prelate that believes in purgatory. I should not think a great deal better of a statesman at home who, from a disposition to polemic divinity, was so indifferently qualified for the conduct of any other kind of warfare. But we have no such admirals and no such ministers. I confess I would, if the matter rested with me, enter into much more distinct and avowed political connexions with the Court of Rome than hitherto we have had. If we decline them, the bigotry will be on our part, and not on that of his Holiness. Some mischief has happened, and much good has, I am convinced, been prevented by our unnatural alienation. If the present state of the world has not taught us bettor things, our error is very much our fault. [Lord KENYON: May I ask the date of that letter?] The 3rd of October, 1793. I have discovered a much later instance of this description this very day, lying buried in a blue book printed for the use of the House of Commons. It could not, perhaps, have been more safely buried than in such a place; and if I commit any act of treason of this kind, I trust the record of it will be buried in a similar place. The law was violated, if it be law, by the late Duke of Portland, then holding high official position, who entered into communication with the Court of Rome for the laudable purpose of establishing Christianity in the Island of St. Domingo. The Duke of Portland communicated with Car- dinal Antoleddi, at whose instance a Prelate was sent over to London, who had repeated interviews with the Duke; and the latter expressed his high sense of gratitude at the conduct of the Pope towards this country. Things went on in this manner, the principle now silently, now forcing its way through all difficulties, until it became the custom of this country, if not the law. I do not trouble your Lordships with other instances: those which I have stated occurred within my own observation. I could cite many more, if I referred to the Foreign Office. During the Grenville Administration a petition was made to the Pope to permit us to recruit for our service in the Mediterranean Sea, and the greatest satisfaction and gratitude was expressed to the Pope for his permission. Nor was this all—a petition was made to the Pope to permit the passage of English troops through the Italian territories, the prayer of which was acceded to, and again the gratitude of the Government was expressed for the favour. I think I have established the necessity which has arisen from time to time of a correspondence with the Roman Court. But I come now to a question which has been repeatedly asked out of doors. Is not this for the first time recognising the authority of the Pope; and has the Pope up to this moment ever recognised the authority of the Queen or the Sovereign of this country? I am much surprised that this question should be asked, although I know it has been so. Not recognise the Pope, my Lords! I should be glad to know what becomes of the Treaty of Vienna, under which treaty Great Britain has become a party in securing, not only the possessions to which the Pope was entitled, but also other portions of Italy are transferred and guaranteed to him. Great Britain is one of the contracting parties; she has bound herself to a performance of this. And may I ask you, my Lords, who affixed the Great Seal of England to that treaty? Why, my Lord Chancellor Eldon—of whom I wish to speak with the most unfeigned respect; and he would not consider it disrespectful, nor would one of his posterity deem it such, to assert that he, of all public men, was the most adverse to the ascendancy of Rome or her scripture. Yet to that treaty you will find the Great Seal appended upon the responsibility of my Lord Chancellor Eldon. But does the Pope recognise the authority and sovereignty of the Crown of these realms? Why, my Lords, there has been no time when it was fit for him to recognise the Sovereign of these realms at which he did not do it. I find that a short time after the accession of His late Majesty King George IV. to the Throne of these realms, that the Pope addressed a formal letter to him, congratulating him upon his happy succession. This letter, with some difficulty, through some circuitous diplomatic route, at length reached His Majesty; and what did he do? Why, with the feeling and spirit of a gentleman, he immediately sat down, and with his own hand wrote a letter to the Pope, thanking him for his attention and kindness. The letter was sent, but no sooner was it sent than some over-cautious Minister conveyed to His Majesty his opinion, that, after all, in writing that letter to the Pope, he might be forfeiting His Crown, and a messenger was sent after to recall the letter; but it was too late, and it reached its destination, namely, the hands of the Pope. Quoad that letter His Majesty's right to the Crown was forfeited. My Lords, there is nothing in that objection. We have recognised the Pope again and again; and again and again has the Pope recognised the authority of the British Crown. He has repeatedly appealed for assistance to these countries, and repeatedly invoked both the aid of the arms and councils of this country. But I do submit, that if this species of intercourse must of necessity subsist, that it ought to be conducted under circumstances of undoubted legality and greater form, and more under the control and observation of public opinion, than can be effected through the means of those underground channels which are open to every sort of objection and difficulty. It ought to be conducted within view of your Lordships, and within view of the other House of Parliament, under the control of public opinion, which alone forms the best security for the country. I therefore submit this Bill to your consideration. I do think the time has come for making the law known and explicit; and I cannot bring myself to believe that your Lordships will be of opinion, because 180 years ago a Popish Sovereign of this country engaged in a guilty mission to the Court of Rome, which mission failed in its object, and which remains after the lapse of more than a century and a half the only instance upon which apprehension can be founded—I say I cannot bring myself to believe that you will reject this Bill. I cannot be- lieve, judging of the time and circumstances of the world—considering the increased facilities of communication, which has rendered diplomatic intercourse of tenfold necessity—that owing to one transaction, and the prohibition to which it gave rise, you will consent that Her Majesty shall remain debarred from establishing relations from which so much good may arise, and from which if any evil should arise, it shall at once meet with the check, the control, and the reprobation which it would merit. The laws prohibiting the exercise of any temporal or legal authority by the Pope within these realms will remain untouched: it is not the object of the present Bill to alter them. There are no words which I shall object to introduce which will make this Bill more secure, or prevent the Roman Pontiff from claiming the shadow of sovereignty in these realms. The mere purport of the Bill is to establish diplomatic relations, which I firmly believe to be connected with the best interests of the country in time of peace, and might be of the utmost importance in time of war, which, at all events, were fit to be incorporated with that general system of diplomatic intercourse they carried on with all other nations of the world; not Christian nations only, but with Governments of every clime and creed, and which was in every instance unattended either by mischief or danger. The noble Marquess concluded by moving that the Bill be now read 2a.


addressed the House, but was scarcely audible. He was understood to oppose the Bill, on the ground that it was safer to adhere to the system prescribed by the present law. Nothing could be more dangerous than allowing another Sovereign, and that Sovereign the Pope, to interfere in the affairs of this country. If the people saw a Legate from Rome received, it would create an impression that Popery was acknowledged and established. If the present prohibition was removed, the other laws relating to the Pope's authority would soon follow. He moved that the Bill be read a second time that day six months. The noble Marquess who had brought forward the Bill in so eloquent and able an address, had admitted that it was necessary to make out a strong case in order to justify such a measure; and that was indeed the case when it was considered that the object of the Bill was to repeal two Acts of Parliament of such im- portance as those alluded to by the noble Marquess.


To declare the construction of those Acts.


said, that the noble Marquess who introduced the measure had placed it before them with two arguments, upon which he mainly relied: one was the expediency of such a communication with the Court of Rome as this measure proposed; and the other was based upon the inconvenience which would arise from a continuance of an indirect communication with that Court; the noble Marquess at the same time fully admitting that, under the existing state of things, whenever the occasion arose, some mode of communicating with that Court presented itself. The noble Marquess had alluded to the inconveniences which were calculated to arise from an indirect communication with the Court of Rome; but there was one very important inconvenience to which he had not alluded, namely, the inconvenience which might arise from the establishment of diplomatic relations with that Court. Might it not happen that from the establishment of such relations inconveniences would arise of such a nature as ought to deter their Lordships from agreeing to this measure? Had they considered the question as to whom the Court of Rome should appoint as Minister in this country? They had all seen recently certain rescripts, as they were called, written in Rome, and addressed to a portion of the British empire. He had seen them, and he would confess that he looked with jealousy upon them, although he would admit that those which had recently appeared were in the right direction, and suggested the impropriety of encouraging assassination, and pointed out the evils which must arise from such a course of conduct. The Bill now before their Lordships forcibly reminded him how very easy it was to slide into the language of Popery insensibly, for he found that the Bill declared that it should be lawful for Her Majesty "to receive at the Court of London any Ambassador, Envoy Extraordinary, Minister Plenipotentiary, or other diplomatic agent or agents whatsoever, of and accredited by"—by whom? By the "Sovereign Pontiff." He believed that this was the first occasion since the Reformation upon which those words, "Sovereign Pontiff," were used in any Act of Parliament. They were not used in the Acts referring to prœmunire, which had of late been so frequently referred to—they were not used in the Act of Succession—they were not used in the Act for preventing granting First Fruits to the Church of Rome; and so lately as the 10th George IV., called the Roman Catholic Relief Act, they were not used. All these Acts to which he had alluded, and all other Acts since the Reformation which referred to the subject, cautiously abstained from the use of a phrase which appeared to sanction the alleged supremacy of the Court of Rome; and therefore in those Acts he was usually styled the Bishop of Rome, although occasionally he was called "the Bishop of Rome, sometimes called the Pope." In the Act of George IV., called the Roman Catholic Relief Act, he was called the Pope of Rome, those words being used in the oath. This was a case of somewhat more importance than the mere words. The noble Marquess who moved the second reading of the measure stated that on the occasion of the accession of George the Fourth to the Throne the Pope sent a congratulatory message to the King; in answer to which a letter was written by His Majesty: whether that letter reached the Court of Rome or not, this was certain—that if the letter had been sent to Rome, it was sent in contravention of the opinions of the law officers of the Crown. [Here the right rev. Prelate read an extract from the opinion of the law officers of the Crown of that day, to the effect that as the Pope claimed authority, jurisdiction, and pre-eminence over the whole Christian Church, and certainly over the Roman Catholic Church in these realms, that any letter to him would be interpreted into an admission and recognition of such claim, and would bring the writer within the penalties of prœmunire; and it went on to say that the Legislature had, by carefully adopting the title "Bishop of Rome," instead of Pope, in the various Acts passed since the Reformation, exhibited an anxiety to avoid any such implied recognition of the Pope's supremacy.] The right rev. Prelate said, that the extract which he had quoted would clearly show to their Lordships that the letter referred to could not have been sent with the acquiescence of the law officers of the Crown. He (the Bishop of Winchester) thought that the title "Sovereign Pontiff" did not agree in its meaning with that opinion; and he hoped the noble Marquess would so alter the words of the statute as to remove this objection, and make the measure more in accordance with the views of those who did not admit the sovereignty and supremacy of the Pope. There was one point connected with a debate on a question of this kind on which he felt some personal anxiety. He was aware that there were several of their Lordships who professed the Roman Catholic religion, to whom these discussions must be distasteful; and he was most anxious, in any observations which he might make upon this Bill, to avoid everything which could be in the least degree disagreeable to those noble Lords, for whom he entertained the highest respect. One word more, and he would conclude. If they passed this measure they could scarcely stop there; they must go yet a step further. As well as the Acts cited by the noble Marquess, they must repeal the 6th chapter of the 13th of William III., for that Act contained these remarkable words, the more remarkable as being in an Act of the Legislature where such expressions would hardly be looked for. The right rev. Prelate here read an extract from the statute, nearly as follows:— Upon which said Acts "(referring to the two Acts quoted in the margin of this Bill, "the safety of Your Majesty's person and Government, the continuance of the Monarchy of England, the preservation of the Protestant religion, the maintenance of the Church of England as by law established in these realms, the security of the undoubted rights and privileges of the people, and the peace of this kingdom, do under God entirely depend. The right rev. Prelate concluded by expressing his intention to vote for the Amendment.


said, that he would not have taken any part in this debate if he had not been urged—indeed he might say compelled—by the example of his right rev. Friend to do so; otherwise, he should have regarded the question as partly of a technical legal character, which might be left to the judgment of those amongst their Lordships who were more conversant than himself with legal technicalities; and partly of a political character, which might be safely left to those of their Lordships and of Her Majesty's Government who were best acquainted with such matters. He had not considered the question as one which involved any points to which it would be necessary for him to address himself; and it was in that position that the case appeared to him after the luminous statement of the noble Marquess who moved the second reading of the Bill. The noble Marquess had shown that so far as the present law was concerned there were doubts as to the legal impediments which existed in the way of holding communication with the Court of Borne; and he (the Bishop of St. David's) would add, that to any one who was not conversant with the law, and who looked at the letter of the law as it stands, and in the common acceptation of the words, it would appear evident that by communion with the See of Home was not meant a mere communication with the Court of Rome as a temporal Power and as the seat of the sovereignty of the Roman States. That was, however, a legal question, with respect to which it might be necessary to declare the law; but he would say that it could not be maintained to be so clear, as the noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle) who moved the Amendment assumed it to be, that this measure was an undoubted and unquestionable infraction of the Bill of Rights. With regard to the political necessity for such a measure, he (the Bishop of St. David's) thought it was quite clear that such a necessity had been made out—that such a necessity not only existed at present, but had existed in former times—and that to legalise diplomatic relations with the Court of Rome, was only legalising the practice of all the Governments from the Revolution to the present time. It was quite clear that this measure caused no substantial innovation by legalising diplomatic relations with the Court of Rome, as it would only render that public, open, safe, and honourable, which had hitherto been done indirectly, and in a mode which was neither safe nor honourable, because it was private and clandestine. If no such precedents as those to which the noble Marquess had alluded were to be found, he (the Bishop of St. David's) should rejoice to know and believe that at the present day there existed a political necessity for such a measure; and his satisfaction at perceiving that necessity was heightened by the contemplation of the brighter prospects which were opening upon one of the most interesting countries and one of the noblest nations in the world; and he did not rejoice at this the less because it so happened that the illustrious individual who, actuated by the very genius of good sense, and influenced by a spirit of the most exalted patriotism, had taken advantage of existing circumstances, and placed himself in afar prouder position than that which any of his prede- cessors had ever occupied, by uniting the character of a temporal prince with that of the head of the Roman Church. Looking upon him in that light, he did not know anything in his (the Bishop of St. David's) character or position which ought to prevent him from paying this tribute of respect to that eminent individual. There was another view of the question, however, which their Lordships had been urged to take, for it had been suggested that this subject had a religious side and aspect; and he had therefore listened anxiously in order to learn what were the grounds upon which his right rev. Friend could found his belief that the interests of religion, particularly of the Protestant religion, could be affected by this measure; but he found himself unable to gather from the arguments of his right rev. Friend that there was any substantial ground for such an idea. The point upon which his right rev. Friend had dwelt most forcibly was, the use of an expression in the Bill relating to the individual with whom they were about to establish diplomatic relations, and which, his right rev. Friend had stated, described that individual in a character which was not recognised in this country. His (the Bishop of St. David's) opinion was different; he conceived that it was a familiar and common mode of describing that individual; and, he believed, it would be found that the phrase was frequently used in ecclesiastical history, and by Protestant writers, who described the head of the Court of Rome as "the Sovereign Pontiff." He was a temporal sovereign and also a Pontiff; and he could not see any objection to describing him as Sovereign Pontiff. But if that were the only objection there would be no difficulty in removing it when they went into Committee. He gathered, however, from some intimations which had fallen from his right rev. Friend, that his right rev. Friend had confounded in his mind two things which were very different, and which ought to be kept perfectly distinct in the minds of their Lordships, namely, the expediency of permitting Her Majesty to send an accredited Minister to the Court of Rome, and that of receiving an accredited Minister from Rome in this country. He hoped that with respect to this part of the measure, whilst, on the one hand, care would be taken to avoid anything offensive to the Court of Rome, as a temporal Power, due respect would be paid to the opinions of a large class of persons in this country, who viewed the question with jealousy. He would remind their Lordships that they must now consider themselves as legislating for the future as well as for the present; that they were establishing relations with the Court of Rome which would be permanent; and whatever confidence they might have in the character of the present Pope, care should be taken not to enter into relations with him, which with other parties and in other times might be found inconvenient. He ventured to throw out those considerations, though he was quite sure they would not have escaped their Lordships' attention; and he hoped they would be taken up by some noble Lord, in order to introduce some modification into the measure in Committee. Speaking of the measure, however, on the whole, he must say that he had heard nothing to shake his conviction that it was a measure absolutely required by the circumstances of these times; that it was one which was essential to the political interests of the country; and attended with no shadow of danger to the established religion. He hoped, therefore, that no slight scruple—no doubtful question of law—would prevent their Lordships from giving their assent to the substance of the measure that had been proposed.


said, he was astonished to hear from the right rev. Prelate, or from any minister of the Church of England, that the style of "Sovereign Pontiff" applied to the Pope was an innocent expression, and one which Protestant writers were in the habit of using. Why, every bishop was a pontiff; but the words "Sovereign Pontiff" would place the Bishop of Rome above all bishops. He knew no Sovereign Pontiff. He emphatically declared against the principle, for the first time uttered by a Protestant bishop in a British House of Parliament. He must frankly tell their Lordships that he had great difficulty in assenting to what had been said on either side of the House that evening. He thought the noble Marquess had failed to make a case for a reasonable doubt respecting the question of the legality of the Crown to act as this Bill proposed; the Bill said it was expedient to enable the Crown to act; and for that reason he was disposed to object to the second reading, and to think that it ought to be rejected at its present stage. He had no doubt whatever, in spite of all that he had heard, with great respect to the noble Duke who had addressed their Lordships, and to whom the country was so much indebted for standing forward at all times in support of the best interests of the country—and the highest of all were its religious interests—yet, notwithstanding what he had heard from the noble Duke and his right rev. Friend nearest him (the Bishop of Winchester), he could entertain no doubt on the subject. In the Bill was recited the Act of William and Mary, by which it was enacted, "that all and every person and persons who was, were, or should be reconciled to, or should hold communion with the See of Rome," should be excluded, and for ever incapable to inherit, possess, or enjoy the Crown. Now, any person who received absolution was said to be reconciled to the Church; and to hold communion with the Church was a special communication—communicare in sacris. There could be no doubt about the meaning; but if there were any question as to the power of Her Majesty to send a Minister to the Court of Rome, there was a more constitutional and safe course than to ask their Lordships to pass a measure fraught with danger, scandal, and alarm of every kind, and which would spread itself over every part of the kingdom. The safe and constitutional course would be to call upon the Judges of the land to give their opinion to their Lordships as to whether there was any reason for a doubt; and if they said there was not, then let this measure be brought forward by the advisers of the Crown on their own responsibility, and not under such a miserable pretence as the present, which made it apparently necessary, in order to secure the title of the Crown, that they should say it was expedient that Her Majesty should be enabled to establish diplomatic relations with the Court of Rome. It was true that Prussia and Russia sent embassies to Rome by whom all diplomatic business was discharged; but they did not permit a Romish Minister to come either to Berlin or to St. Petersburgh—London alone would have the high distinction of the presence of a Nuncio. Were we to see Rome raise her scarlet head at St. James's? If the Judges were found to say there was nothing to prevent Her Majesty from having a Minister at the Court of Rome, and it were thought necessary, let Her advisers take the responsibility upon themselves of adopting that course. But let them not allow the Pope to have an ambassador here. Let them look to the consequences of such an event. He was perfectly certain that times had been, and were likely to be again, when it was of the utmost danger to have a Minister near the Throne accredited from the Court of Rome. Let their Lordships remember that a Minister to this country from a foreign Court, was absolutely free from all responsibility. They could not proceed against him for any offence he might commit in this country; the policy of the world said they should not, and it was the recognised law of nations. Now, suppose there were—he would not say an emissary, but—an accredited Minister to this country from the Court of Rome, having his views directed against the Protestant succession to the Throne, or against any of the great Protestant interests of the country; and suppose he made his house the place of meeting at which should be hatched plots the most pregnant with danger to the peace and safety of the Crown, perhaps to join any foreign Powers that should be proposed to disturb the succession to the Throne—what might be the consequences? Let us remember that a large portion of Ireland had declared itself eager to join any foreign country that should be prepared to draw the sword against this. Could he hesitate to say that it was the duty of a Protestant country to provide against the possibility of a Roman Minister in England being the instrument by which these persons should safely combine and make common cause with the Ministers of those countries who were prepared to take the first opportunity of war. He put it to their Lordships' common sense, whether the case he now supposed was not one that would probably happen? He should have looked at this Bill with incomparably less suspicion if it had simply said that "whereas doubts had been entertained whether Her Majesty was enabled to have diplomatic relations with the Court of Rome, and it was expedient to remove those doubts, therefore," &c.; still by far the safest and most satisfactory course, in his judgment, would have been to call upon the Judges of the land. Having these views, he should decidedly vote with the noble Duke that this Bill be read a second time this day six months.


My Lords, Her Majesty's Government thinking it desirable, in the existing circumstances of Italy, to increase and to facilitate the means of communicating with the Sovereign of the Roman States, has called upon your Lordships to give a second reading to this Bill. My Lords, I confess when I first heard of the measure, I considered it with some degree of anxiety. My Lords, upon all occasions when I have had to make propositions to your Lordships in relation to the state of the Roman Catholics in this kingdom, I have always considered it my duty, with the utmost care, to endeavour to form a judgment upon those provisions of the law upon which are founded the Reformation in this country and the establishment of the Church of England. Certainly, it was the intention of those laws that there should be no communication, either political or otherwise, between this country and the Sovereign of the Roman States. My Lords, these laws remain in force at the present moment. A great alteration was made in these laws by the measure introduced into this House by my noble and learned Friend Lord Lyndhurst, viz. by the 9th and 10th Victoria, cap. 58, by which law the penalties have been mitigated, and in some instances entirely repealed. But, my Lords, all the noble and learned Lords at that time in this House, the noble Lord on the Woolsack, the noble Lord who sits near me (Lord Campbell), and my noble and learned Friend Lord Brougham, stated positively that the enactments of the law remained as they were; that some of the Acts prohibited by those laws were offences at the common law; and that they all remained as misdemeanors, although the penalties of prœmunire were abolished. I remained satisfied with that assurance. I confess that I felt exceedingly anxious respecting the effect of this measure upon these particular laws, and intended this night to give notice that I would move a proviso in addition to the proviso already in the Bill—of a proviso declaring that those laws securing the supremacy of the Crown—that Her Majesty was supreme head and governor in all matters ecclesiastical as well as civil in England and the dominions thereunto belonging—should be considered as inviolable. I consider that this would be satisfactory to the people of this country, and it would be extremely useful in the measures to be adopted under the law, after it had received your sanction. It has been suggested to me that it would be probably more expedient to move a clause in the Bill, declaring that nothing contained therein should affect the laws which ensure the supremacy of the Crown in all affairs ecclesiastical and civil. In either of those two ways, as it may meet the approbation of your Lord- ships, I shall move an Amendment to that effect in the Committee on the Bill. Her Majesty's Government having desired to have a clear declaration of the law of England, and knowing that great advantages may be derived from regular diplomatic intercourse with the Sovereign of the Roman States, I am of opinion that it is desirable that that communication should be carried on regularly. If no other advantage is derived from it, you will have that of being certain to have true intelligence from responsible agents in a country in which Her Majesty's subjects have such interest as in the Italian dominions. Under these circumstances, my Lords, I shall support the second reading, and allow the Bill to go into Committee, in which I will move a proviso, which I will read to your Lordships, or else I will move an Amendment providing for the continued existence of the laws which I conceive it to be important should be maintained inviolable. The proviso is— Whereas it has been enacted and declared in the provisions of various ancient laws of this realm, that the Sovereign, acting by and with the advice and under the authority of both Houses of Parliament, should be sole and supreme governor of all matters ecclesiastical and civil within this realm and elsewhere within the dominions of the Crown of England; and whereas it is essential to the welfare of this realm that the said provisions as to the Crown and Government thereof should be invariably maintained, and it is expedient nevertheless to remove any doubt as to the competency of Her Majesty, her heirs, or successors, on the subject of relation with the Sovereign of the Roman States, be it enacted, &c. That is the Amendment which I propose to move in Committee; but if your Lordships should be of opinion that it is more desirable to frame an enacting clause, I shall have no objection to move it.


My Lords, if I entertained all the apprehensions which have been expressed by my noble Friend the noble Duke behind me (the Duke of Newcastle), whose uniform sincerity and honesty of purpose render it altogether unnecessary that he should apologise for addressing your Lordships on this subject—if I concurred in the apprehensions which have been expressed by the noble Duke, and believed that this Bill, or a Bill founded on the principle of this Bill, was at variance with the spirit of those enactments on which I could repeat the strong language which was quoted by a right rev. Prelate opposite, but upon which I concur, in the language of the enactments, that much of the liberties of the country—much of the rights of the people of this country—a great portion of the monarchy of this country, mainly and essentially depend—if I could be persuaded that this Bill was contrary to those principles, and that it in the slightest degree endangered either the rights of the people or the rights and privileges of the Monarch—if I could believe that, by assenting to the principle of this Bill, we were in the slightest degree recognising, strengthening, or supporting any claim or pretext which the Sovereign of the Roman States may make to spiritual authority or temporal pre-eminence within these realms—no consideration of policy or expediency would induce me for a moment to hesitate; and, without doubt or difficulty, I should join with my noble Friend behind me in the direct negative with which he proposed to meet this question. But I confess I cannot go so far as my noble Friend appears to go in his view of the terrible consequences of the principle involved in this measure, or the apprehensions he entertains respecting it. I look upon the measure as one of great weight. I look upon it as a matter involving manifold and deep considerations of prudence and policy; but I do not look upon it as involving any dereliction of the principles upon which the Reformation proceeded—upon which the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement stand. At the game time, my Lords, when we reflect that the practice which it is now proposed to alter has existed for 180 years, or perhaps it is more correct to say for 300 years—that by the law and practice of this country intercourse with the Court of Rome during all that period was prohibited to the Monarch and subjects of this country—when we consider how deeply the feelings, the prejudices if you will, of the Protestant portion of this country are involved in the consideration of this question—I say it is one which your Lordships ought to approach with that respect which is due to the deep-seated religious feelings of the people, not less than to the importance of the measure. I say it is one which ought not to have been hastily introduced, and which ought not to be hastily carried through your Lordships' House. I say it is one upon which full explanation, not only to your Lordships, but to the people of this country, is due, and may be fairly expected by them. I say more—I say it with regret—but I say that the manner in which this Bill has been introduced is not such as we have a right to expect. My Lords, I do not stop to argue the question whether those doubts which are expressed in the body of this Bill, with regard to the proper construction of the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement, are well founded; I think it would be a waste of your time to enter into discussion upon a point upon which I can speak with no authority—upon which the highest and greatest authorities have been at all times divided. It is sufficient to say, that the noble Marquess himself, on the part of the Government, by the introduction of this Bill, has declared that great doubts do exist as to the proper construction of those statutes—it is not necessary to say more than that Government not only consider that great doubts exist, but that recognising that the practice for the last 180 years has been contrary to the interpretation which they seek to place on these statutes—the very form adopted in the Bills being in the form of an enacting Bill, enabling Her Majesty to do that which the provision of the Bill assumes She was unable to do—I say I will not enter into this question, nor into the historical details with which the noble Marquess favoured the House. The noble Marquess has correctly stated the circumstances connected with the accusation against Lord Castlemaine. But if the noble Marquess's attention has been recently turned to that period of history, he will not forget that the Duke of Somerset, on being desired by James to introduce the Nuncio of the Pope, declined to perform an act which he held to be contrary to the law of the land; and James, far from contending for the legality of the act, said that be should be prepared to grant a pardon beforehand. In reply, the Duke of Somerset stated, that a pardon granted before the commission of the act was no pardon. The noble Marquess seems to have assumed that up to the period of the passing of these Acts no legal impediment existed as to free communication with Rome. But the discussion of these doubts are needless, because the noble Marquess himself admits the doubts; he admits the construction placed on them is adverse to the view now suggested, and he brings forward this Bill to remove those doubts, and enable Her Majesty to do that which without this Bill She would be unable to do. My Lords, I will now proceed at once to the policy and to the principle of the measure. I must say that I think upon a measure of this importance, involving a change of the law, or at least a change of practice which has existed for a long period of time, if it was the desire of the advisers of the Crown that Her Majesty should be set free from restrictions which they believed to be imposed by the statutes to which Her Majesty mainly owes Her right to the Crown of these kingdoms—I say that the proper, regular, and dignified mode of proceeding would have been for Her Majesty, in Her Majesty's Speech at the opening of Parliament, to have announced Her desire to be freed from those restrictions, and to have called upon Parliament for its sanction to such a step. It may be said by the noble Marquess, that at the period at which Parliament met it was uncertain whether, on consideration of the state of matters existing at Rome, it would be desirable or expedient to introduce this measure. Admitting that plea, at least it would have been proper to have sent down a Message from the Crown communicating in the most formal manner the desire of the Crown, or rather the advice of the Ministers of the Crown. Instead of that, however, when your Lordships' attention was about to be called to a subject of a totally different character—when you were about to discuss the price of sugar and the complaints of the West India planters—at the moment when I had risen to present a petition to your Lordships—the noble Marquess rose, and with no more ceremony than if he were proposing to lay a turnpike trust Bill on the table, announced to your Lordships, without preface or introduction, a Bill to enable Her Majesty to enter into diplomatic intercourse with Rome. The noble Marquess said that we had fair warning on this subject—that before Christmas he had informed the House of the intentions of Government. It is quite true that before Christmas, upon a casual incidental discussion, the noble Marquess did state his own opinion that it would be desirable, as a matter of policy, that the Crown should be enabled to enter into diplomatic relations with the Court of Rome; but I deny that there was any intimation or warning whatever of any intention on the part of the Government to propose such a measure to the House. Now I must say that that is not the manner in which such a great measure should have been introduced; and I trust that your Lordships will not permit a great measure of this kind to be hastily slurred over, before the people of this country have had due time to ascertain its real bearings. I say this for the interest of the measure itself. If I had the honour of being the Colleague of the noble Marquess, I should desire to have the fullest time given for the country really to understand that there was no danger lurking behind the apparent object of the Bill. I think even now that the noble Marquess might have stated to us something of those proceedings which have been going on at Rome—something of the peculiar necessity for the introduction of this Bill at the present time, and under present circumstances—something of the disposition which, I presume, although not officially, he had ascertained to exist at the Court of Rome with regard to diplomatic relations—something as to the concession to public feeling in this country—something as to the restrictions on the intercourse which it is the intention of the Minister to introduce—if restrictions there be. The noble Marquess may say it is impossible he can state to the House what has passed at Rome, because it is known that the very diplomatic intercourse which that involves is already assumed to be prohibited by the law of the land. It may be very convenient, but I do not think it very correct, that upon one occasion the Government should take one course, and then upon another occasion, in precisely similar circumstances, they should take another course, just as they happen to suit the purposes of the moment. If there be an unofficial and undiplomatic intercourse which cannot consequently be laid before your Lordships, I am at a loss to understand the production of certain papers to which I shall call your attention with reference to the mission of this very Earl Minto, and the negotiations of Earl Minto at the Court of Rome within the period of the last three months. I do not know whether the noble Earl has followed the precedent to which the noble Marquess has adverted. Looking at the document with which for a single moment I shall trouble your Lordships, I say that if there be any impediment at the present moment to diplomatic intercourse with the Court of Rome, Her Majesty's Government, and Earl Minto, and the noble Lord at the head of Foreign Affairs, are in a very unenviable situation; because I find that on the 22nd October, 1847, the noble Viscount at the head of Foreign Affairs addressed to Earl Minto official instructions to the following effect:— I have to instruct your Lordship, when at Rome, to endeavour to persuade the Roman Government to recall the Jesuits from Switzerland, or at least to take some decided step with regard to them which may be calculated to lay the ground for an avoidance of civil war in Switzerland. Your Lordship's own judgment and the knowledge which, in your passage through Switzerland, you have acquired of the state of affairs in that country, and of the public feeling of the parties into which the Swiss nation is divided, will furnish you with better arguments on this subject than any which Her Majesty's Government can suggest; but of course your Lordship will not omit to press strongly upon the consideration of the Papal Government, that an ecclesiastical Power like that of Rome must above all things desire to prevent war, and to preserve peace among all mankind; and that in the present case the Pope has it in his power, by an exercise of his unquestionable authority, to remove at once a cause which threatens to involve a hitherto peaceful and happy nation in all the miseries and crimes of civil conflict. These were instructions to Earl Minto, Lord Privy Seal, a Member of Her Majesty's Government proceeding to Rome, and to the post to which he had been appointed. Here is the answer of Earl Minto:— Rome, November 13, 1847. I have to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordship's despatch of the 22nd of October, approving of the language held by me to M. Ochsenbein in my passage through Switzerland, and directing me to urge the Papal Government to take steps for the removal of the Jesuits from that country. I have already had some conversation upon that subject with the Cardinal Secretary of State, whom I found not altogether averse, to a certain extent, to the interposition of the Papal authority, if by such means a conflict might be prevented in Switzerland. If the question rested entirely on the establishment of the Jesuits in Lucerne, I think that the assistance of the Pope might be obtained for their removal; but I have not been able to state that anything short of the expulsion of that society from every part of Switzerland would satisfy the demands of the Diet. This the Pope is not prepared to require, and he is unwilling to give gratuitous offence to the Catholic canton of Lucerne by a partial interference there, from which no benefit might accrue. His advice is all that he has yet given on that subject; and it has, I fear, been given to those who are unlikely to listen to anything short of a command. If it be not too late, and Switzerland be not already the scene of war, I shall continue to press for the interposition of the Pope's authority, at least with regard to Lucerne. Now, my Lords, we have this fact in the face of a law which Her Majesty's Ministers assume to prohibit all diplomatic intercourse with Rome, and the existence of which law, and the impossibility of carrying on an intercourse under which, renders it necessary to introduce an abrogation of the law. We have these facts. An official instruction from the Secretary of State to one of his Colleagues as to the language which he should hold to the Pope in transacting the affairs of another country—the proceedings of Earl Minto at Rome, furnished with the instructions, and found- ed on the instructions—his conversation with the Cardinal Secretary of State, officially reporting to Her Majesty's Government the consequences and the progress of the negotiations—and these papers, in the most authentic and official manner, are laid before both Houses of Parliament by Her Majesty's command. My Lords, if this be not diplomatic intercourse, I do not know what is to bear that construction; and if it be true that, under the law as it now stands, such diplomatic intercourse and such official publication be not penal, I am at a loss to comprehend for what possible reason your Lordships are asked to pass this Bill. But, then, I say this; the Government are in this dilemma: they cannot refuse to produce Earl Minto's reports of his communications with the Cardinal Secretary of State in reference to the passing of this measure, and the establishment of diplomatic intercourse, upon the ground that they are private and unofficial. This, then, is the state of things—that the noble Marquess is not, according to his own showing, prevented by the present state of the law from sending any person whatever, of the highest authority, one of his own Colleagues, a Privy Councillor of the Queen, for the purpose of representing the views of Her Majesty's Government at the Court of Rome; but if that be the case, then, my Lords, I say that all the arguments of the noble Marquess which are grounded upon the inconvenience of the present system, under the present law, of establishing relations with the Court of Rome, are absolutely swept away by the very course which Her Majesty's Government have pursued upon the present occasion. The noble Marquess went on to say, that at various times, and from time to time, there had been direct communications between this country and the Court of Rome; but what were the instances which he adduced? Instances that occurred at the time of an European war, when you required "munitions de guerre et de bouche." Now I am not prepared to deny that there may be advantages and conveniences attending a direct recognised intercourse with the Court of Rome; but I concur with the right reverend Prelate that it is the duty of the Government and the Parliament well to weigh whether there may not be collateral disadvantages and inconveniences which more than counterbalance the advantages to be derived from that direct communication. My Lords, I must not be deterred, by fears of trenching upon delicate ground from stating my view as to the difficulties which may meet you at the very outset. We all take an oath that no foreign prince, power, or potentate hath, or ought to have, any spiritual power or authority within this realm; and it is right that we should distinctly consider and not delude ourselves as to the meaning of that spiritual power and authority of the Pope. I take it that the meaning of that oath is, that the authority of the Pope is one which rests upon opinion alone—that it is not upheld, enforced, sanctioned, or capable of being enforced by the law of this country—and that if any one of Her Majesty's subjects were to appeal to a court of law against any attempted interference by the Pope in the exercise of such authority, the court of law would set at nought the assumed authority of the Pope, and at once grant relief to the subject. But there is nothing in the law as it at present stands, which precludes the Pope from communicating with any individual—from communicating with the prelates of his own Church, as in a recent case, advising with them, and pointing out the course which they ought to take. That spiritual authority of the Pope is admitted by the Roman Catholics of this country. That spiritual influence cannot be denied by your Lordships. It is idle to pretend then that it is merely as the sovereign of a comparatively insignificant State in Italy that you desire to enter into these diplomatic arrangements with the Pope of Rome. If there were nothing more behind, this Bill would be an idle measure, which no Government would think worth its while to introduce. Whatever the inconveniences of the present practice might be, those inconveniences would have been submitted to, rather than you would have run the chance of creating a great ferment in the public mind by an unnecessary invasion of what has been hitherto considered a great constitutional principle. But, my Lords, this is what you mean by this Bill. You know that the Pope has influence over your Roman Catholic subjects; and you seek to obtain an influence over the Pope, in order to prevent his interference with your Roman Catholic subjects being carried on in a mode offensive to you. Now that is, in plain English, the object of this Bill, and I think that Her Majesty's Government will hardly deny that it is so. Does that object, if admitted, recognise the spiritual authority and jurisdiction of the Pope? My Lords, I think that it does not. I think that it gives to those letters from the Pope, whatever they may be, no further authority than they possess at present. They will come, in spite of you, whenever the Pope may deem it necessary to address the people of his own Church; and undoubtedly there may be convenience occasionally in having a recognised channel at the Court of Rome, through whom you may make your representations that certain particular advice may be detrimental or otherwise to the British Government. Now, I hope I am stating this part of the case fairly and candidly. I am certainly stating it as it strikes me, and I at once admit that there are circumstances in which it may be convenient to have a recognised envoy at the Court of Rome. But, my Lords, have you weighed the disadvantages which at the same time attach to this course? You give, it is true, no more weight to the advice of the Pope than it has in the minds of the Roman Catholics at present; but if ostensibly or openly you communicate or advise with the Pope with reference to the instructions which may proceed from him, you do, in my opinion, either one of two things. You either give an unnecessary sanction to those instructions, or you interpose a fruitless remonstrance. The right reverend Prelate (the Bishop of St. David's) who spoke in such commendatory terms of the present Pope, said very truly that we could not be certain that his successors would be disposed to use their influence in the same way that Pope Pius IX. was exercising his. I believe Pope Pius to be an amiable, well-intentioned, and sincere man; but whether he be a far-seeing, wise, and prudent man, or whether he have not hastily and imprudently engaged in dangerous reforms, I think it would be premature for us to determine. This, however, I will say, that of late years no man has succeeded to the Papal chair who seemed disposed to carry with so high a hand the spiritual prerogative and spiritual power of the See of Rome—no man who would tolerate so little interference on the part of any temporal authority with his spiritual functions—no man so little likely to attend to any representations from a temporal sovereign. It is quite true that upon a recent occasion the interference of Pope Pius IX. in the affairs of Ireland was of a most laudable and praiseworthy character; but how would it have been if his advice had been of a different character? I take a recent in- stance—the intervention of the Pope with regard to colleges in Ireland; and I must say, my Lords, that I look upon that as a most unfortunate interference on the part of the Papal See. I think it was ill-judged. I think if you had had relations with the Court of Rome you might have succeeded, possibly, in preventing the issue of those recommendations; but I think it is much more likely that, in spite of you, they would have been issued: and I say, then, that that would have been an act offensive to your Government, and that the Secretary of State would have found it extremely difficult to have abstained from withdrawing his Minister from that Court; and if that is likely to be so in the very first instance in which the Pope sets your recommendation at defiance, I ask if the result will not be infinitely more prejudicial to the good understanding between the Court of Rome and this country than if there were no diplomatic relations whatever between the two Courts? I say, then, my Lords, that I entertain very great doubts whether the advantages which may possibly be derived from the influence which your Minister may have at the Court of Rome, may not be more than counterbalanced by the danger of the antagonism in which you may be placed after you have established diplomatic relations. I do not go so far as my noble Friend (the Duke of Wellington) as to think that because Her Majesty's Government have laid this Bill upon the table of the House, we ought therefore, without hesitation, to give it a second reading; but I do say this, that if upon the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government a measure of this kind be submitted to the consideration of Parliament, I, for one, am not prepared upon the first day on which we have an opportunity of discussing the merits, objects, or character of the Bill, to refuse to enter into a further consideration of the measure—to refuse to consider such amendments as may be moved in Committee, keeping myself entirely open, after the amendments shall be introduced, to reconsider the whole question, and maintaining my perfect freedom of action either to support or oppose the Bill as a whole; and I do hope that if the Bill should go through a second reading to-night, and through Committee to-morrow, the Government will see the propriety of giving a considerable interval between the Committee and the third reading, in order that the country may have a full opportunity of considering its provisions. I do not think, my Lords, that any person has argued that it is an objection to this Bill that we recognise in the fullest manner, and in ample terms, the temporal sovereignty of the Pope in his own dominions; but when the noble Marquess goes a little further, and says that there is no question as to the reciprocity of such a recognition, I must beg leave to doubt whether that recognition has ever been made in terms consistent with the honour of the Crown of England. On the contrary, my Lords, I think that claims have been brought forward from time to time by successive Pontiffs wholly irreconcilable with the recognition of the sovereignty of Her Majesty. All the noble Marquess was able to state was—and I confess I felt surprised as I took down the words—that there never had been a refusal on the part of any Pope to recognise the sovereignty of any Monarch in this realm, "when it was convenient so to do." Why, my Lords, that implies, upon the other hand, that the Pope reserves to himself full power of abstaining from admitting that supremacy whenever it may be inconvenient for him to recognise it. My Lords, I entertain great doubts whether it is consistent with the dignity of a great country like this to enter into diplomatic relations with any sovereign without a clear, distinct, and absolute understanding, and the declaration of an entire admission of at least the temporal supremacy of the Queen in these realms; and if it should be proposed as an amendment in this Bill that such a distinct declaration and assurance should be insisted on, I shall feel it to be my duty to support that amendment. Again, is there any provision in the Bill giving the smallest safeguard as to the appointment of the ambassador from the Court of Rome? None whatever. But is there none required? If the Government think that there is not, then they differ in opinion from every other State, both Protestant and Catholic, throughout the civilised world. There is no State, however Catholic, whether Portugal, Spain, Austria, France, or any other, which does not by its own internal laws place restrictions on the exercise of diplomatic functions with the Court of Rome, which it does not seek to place upon the Minister of any other State whatever. But if it be necessary to adopt safeguards and restrictions in Catholic countries, in regard to diplomatic relations with the Court of Rome, it is still more necessary in a Protestant country, and most of all is it necessary in a Protestant country like ours, where there is great danger of the legitimate authority placed in the ambassador degenerating into a dangerous exercise of spiritual authority. Undoubtedly we cannot say that the diplomatic relations between Prussia and the Court of Rome have produced so little embarrassment in the temporal affairs of that country as to make that a very encouraging precedent for us to follow; but in Prussia it was made a sine qua non—there was a distinct condition—that no ecclesiastic should be received as a Minister from Home in the Court of Prussia. My noble Friend near me (the Earl of Eglintoun) has given notice of an Amendment, with the view of excluding prelates of the Romish Church from appearing as Ministers at the British Court; but Her Majesty's Government did not think it necessary to introduce such a provision into the Bill. I admit that there is a great distinction between the danger of having a Protestant envoy at Rome, and of having a Papal envoy in England; but if you impose no restrictions, I can have no hesitation in saying that the admission of a Papal envoy here, more especially if he is to combine with his diplomatic relations anything of a spiritual character, will be particularly dangerous to this Protestant country, and is calculated to excite the reasonable apprehensions of the people of this country. It may be that the privileges of an ambassador might not afford any additional facilities for the publication of bulls and rescripts from Rome. It may be so; but I think the people of this country will require to be satisfied that that is the case, especially when they remember that, by an Act passed two years ago, you abolished the penalties of prœmunire upon the introduction of such bulls and rescripts from the See of Rome. This Bill, however, cannot be construed as admitting bulls which are at present prohibited from circulation in this country; and I say, when you are about to introduce a Papal Minister here, that if you are deprived of that safeguard which Roman Catholic States have considered necessary for the peace and welfare of their dominions, still more does it behave you to make it clear that by the admission of an ambassador from the Court of Rome no greater facility shall, at all events, be given for doing that which the law of this country at present prohibits. These, my Lords, are the points to which I was anxious to direct your Lordships' at- tention, some of them, perhaps, calculated to satisfy the apprehensions of people out of doors, rather than to meet any real or great danger; others, however, calculated to meet real and tangible dangers founded on the experience of other countries, all of whom, without exception, have objected to an unrestricted intercourse with the Pope of Rome. Whilst I am not prepared on the one hand to join with my noble Friend (the Duke of Newcastle) in giving a negative to this Bill in its present stage—whilst I have reason to hope from the candour and good sense of my noble Friend that he will abstain from pressing his Amendment to a division—and whilst I cannot refuse to give a reconsideration to the Bill—I wish to repeat that by allowing the second reading I do not pledge myself to any further support of it, and must again express a hope that in a matter of such importance ample time may be given between the Committee and the third reading for the full consideration of the subject by the people of this country.


said: In the first place I must express the extreme satisfaction with which I perceive that the noble Lord, with all his strong disposition to find fault—to scrutinise this Bill with a microscopic eye—to discuss every defect and every imaginary danger—that even he can find no greater fault with this measure than the manner in which it has been brought before you, and as to some points of mere detail; which latter objections arise, I think, from a misconception upon his part. The noble Lord began by finding great fault with the manner in which the measure was proposed, and stated that one of such importance, involving considerations of such serious political consequences, ought not to have been brought under the consideration of the House, without being in the first instance announced by Her Majesty in Her Speech from the Throne, or at least in a Message formally brought down from the Crown. That appears to me, however, to be wholly unnecessary. I do not think that a measure intended merely to clear up the state of the law upon such a matter, required to be introduced with all the formality for which the noble Lord appeared so anxious. My noble Friend (the Marquess of Lansdowne) merely exercised that privilege which belongs to all your Lordships, of introducing a Bill, of whatever importance, without notice. My noble -Friend did not make any observations upon introducing this Bill; but I ask your Lord- ships whether, in moving the second reading, he has failed to lay the case before you, fully, completely, and in a manner well worthy the importance of the subject? I ask you whether the case which he made out in favour of this measure, did not carry with it conviction to the mind of almost every one who heard it, and whether he has not proved in the clearest manner the necessity and policy of this measure? I really feel that I should be doing injustice to the able speech of my noble Friend, if I were to say more in order to recommend it to your Lordships' best attention. The noble Lord then complained of the shortness of time that is to elapse between the second reading and the Committee. Now I really am surprised at this objection coming from the noble Lord, for it was actually adopted at his own suggestion: the noble Lord said if time were given between the first and second reading, there could be no objection to take the Committee upon the next day after the second reading. To that proposition my noble Friend assented; and I certainly am astonished now that the noble Lord should censure the arrangement which he himself proposed. With regard to the interval to elapse between the Committee and the third reading, I should think the noble Lord and his party would not think it necessary that Government should give such an interval as would allow an opportunity to those who might be ready to try the hopeless task, to see whether the country could not be stirred up to a furious opposition to this measure. I know not whether any persons in or out of this House contemplate such a step; I can only say that the Government do not consider it their duty to allow more than the fair interval to elapse which Parliamentary usages require. The noble Lord quoted despatches which had been written to Lord Minto, together with Lord Minto's replies; and he argued from them that already there was a clear diplomatic intercourse between Rome and this country, and that if the penalties of prœmunire were consequent upon that intercourse, those penalties had already been incurred. It was never pretended that Lord Minto was in Rome for his own pleasure. He is accredited there—he has most important functions to perform; but at the same time he has no regular and proper authority to act as the representative of the British Crown. But that is our case. The very case that we bring forward in favour of this Bill is, that a necessity exists, and has existed in all times of our history, for intercourse of a public nature between this country and the Court of Rome, and that intercourse taking place, it ought to be rendered legal, regular, and above all suspicion. For my own part, I think the manner in which it has hitherto been carried on is most unsatisfactory, not only by the present Government, but by every Administration for years past, even by the noble Lord himself. Communications have always passed between the Court of London and the Court of Rome, but, as my noble Friend has said, always in an indirect manner, until at last a state of affairs has arisen in which it is absolutely necessary that those relations should be placed upon a better footing. And, my Lords, I say, that unless your Lordships are prepared to say that Her Majesty's Government would have been justified in not taking any measures whatever, in the existing affairs in Italy, such as allowing communications of a diplomatic kind to take place with Rome, I am not aware that any blame will rest upon us. I do not think, however, it would have been right that Lord Minto should have received the instructions he did receive, if Her Majesty's Government had not contemplated the step they have taken in submitting the present Bill to Parliament, and putting this intercourse for the future upon a regular and proper footing. I believe, however, that even upon the most technical instruction the law has not been violated; still if it were the settled policy of this country to prevent intercourse between Rome and England, and the measure we have adopted were improper, I think it would be contrary to the spirit, at all events, of our policy. But that has not been the policy either of the present or of any preceding Government. In the clauses of the Bill—[Lord STANLEY: There are no clauses.] That, my Lords, is a remark of the same character as the other minute criticisms of the noble Lord to which I have already adverted. It is true the Bill consists of only one clause. At all events, with regard to an ecclesiastic being sent from Rome, as an ambassador to this country, it is remarkable that one argment used by the noble Lord upon that subject entirely destroys the force of all his other objections to the measure. He quoted the case of Prussia, which prevents an ecclesiastic coming into that country as an ambassador. Does that, my Lords, rest upon any law? No: it rests simply upon the pleasure of the King of Prussia and his Government. They decline to receive an ecclesiastic. It is open to Her Majesty's Government, be they whom they may, in the same manner, if they find inconvenience to arise from the appointment of any particular person as as ambassador, to decline receiving him; but it does appear to me perfectly unnecessary, when that power exists in the Government, that an Act of Parliament should contain clauses specifying who are and who are not fit persons to be received. It would be found somewhat difficult, with all the noble Lord's extreme verbal ingenuity, to frame a clause (not clauses) to define who is a safe ambassador from the Court of Rome. I think, therefore, it is much better that it should be left to the responsibility of the Government for the time being to decide who should be received. I must confess I was also surprised at the noble Lord's argument, that because this is a Protestant State there was peculiar danger in our receiving an ambassador from the Pope. It appears to me that the probability is exactly the reverse. A Protestant state, I think, has very little to fear from that; a Catholic State, on the other hand, might have a great deal to fear. In point of fact, the danger, if there be any, to which the noble Lord adverted, arises from the circumstance that we are not all Protestants; but I think his apprehensions entirely unfounded. The noble Lord has also adverted to the Amendment which the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington) has signified his intention of moving in Committee. With regard to that Amendment, I can only say that I entirely approve of it. I believe, in point of legal effect, the Bill as it stands would be perfectly safe; but I freely admit that, in a matter of this kind, "assurance should be doubly sure," in order to tranquillise the mind of the country. Accordingly, my noble Friend (the Marquess of Lansdowne) has been in communication with the noble Duke, and his Amendment will be introduced either into the preamble, or in the enacting part of the Bill (and I should prefer the latter), in the manner that may be considered most convenient. But, after all, the noble Lord, and the right rev. Prelates who have spoken, admit the expediency of opening diplomatic relations with the Court of Rome. One right rev. Prelate, however, (the Bishop of Exeter,) suggested that the proper course to effect that purpose would be, not to ask the House to assent to this Bill, but to proceed by asking the Judges to give their opinions as to what the law actually is. I beg to inform the right rev. Prelate, that, according to the forms of this House, if the Bill were not before it, it would not have been competent for us to have consulted the Judges. The Judges are not consulted upon any abstract questions; they are only consulted upon any question which arises in the course of the legislative or judicial proceedings of the House. Of course, therefore, the suggestion of the right rev. Prelate could not be entertained. I must also observe, that the right rev. Prelate, having admitted the policy of allowing diplomatic intercourse with the Court of Rome and the Court of England, described this measure as something too shocking to contemplate. But it all turned out to be an imaginary terror. The right rev. Prelate tells us that the Bill compels us to receive and send an ambassador, whether the Crown may intend to do so or not. Such is neither the purport of the Bill nor the intention of its authors. All that it is intended to accomplish, and all that it will accomplish, is to place the law clearly and undoubtedly upon the footing upon which the right rev. Prelate says that it now rests, namely, to make it lawful for Her Majesty to enter into diplomatic relations with the Court of Rome, if, upon the advice of Her Majesty's responsible Ministers, She thinks it expedient to do so.


was prepared to vote against the second reading of the Bill if his noble Friend (the Duke of Newcastle) should press a division, because there never was a time when the people of England ought to be less called upon to make concessions to the Roman Catholic faith. He put it to their Lordships, whether the concessions to the Roman Catholics of Ireland had been received in a proper spirit; whether, in point of fact, the more that was given the more was not demanded, and the more ungrateful they were found. He would request his noble Friend, however, not to divide the House, because in its present state the Government would have a majority which might go forth as representing the true feeling of their Lordships, and so prevent a liberal and constitutional Ministry from giving plenty of time for its consideration by the country. But they lashed the country to it. His noble Friends on the other side the House he had always thought to hold the doctrine that the people of England ought to be consulted upon measures which affected their principles. He did not mean to say they had ever lashed the people to support and pass any measure which they considered improper. He felt, however, that this measure ought not to pass; but if their Lordships did go into Committee upon it, he would most willingly support the clause of which the noble and gallant Duke (the Duke of Wellington) had given notice. With his noble Friend (Lord Stanley), he thought it would be proper to prohibit ecclesiastics from being received as ambassadors to this country; and in Committee he would himself propose another clause for the purpose of preventing the ambassador from Rome, or any of his suite, under the privileges they would enjoy according to the law of nations, from distributing any bulls and recripts or other documents emanating from the See of Rome, which by law no subject of Her Majesty could distribute.


denied that one single reason had been shown for the passing of this Bill. If noble Lords would take the trouble to analyse the arguments laid before them, he fully believed they would not find one reason why such a Bill should pass, and most especially no reason had been given why it should thus be hurried through the House without giving the country due time to consider its provisions. He hoped that if the voice of the country was not at that moment heard, it would not be supposed that the nation was insensible to the importance and probable consequences of the measure. A noble Lord opposite had spoken of a learned ancestor of his (Lord Eldon's) who had affixed the Great Seal to a document bearing some supposed analogy to the present measure. But he would undertake to say, that he would, in considering the present measure, have taken time to deliberate. It had been unanimously admitted by those who had supported the Bill, that all that could be done in the way of holding communication with Rome, was being done at this moment, and had been done for several years, without the sanction of the Legislature. He did not think the country had been treated, with respect to this Bill, in the manner it deserved. The noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond) had alluded to the empty state of the benches; but he hoped that the country would know that many on the Opposition benches had remained to the close of the debate, for the purpose of nobly discharging their duty, by voting against this Bill. Was there any reason why the noble Marquess should not postpone this Bill until the next Session, when notice of its intended introduction could be fairly given in Her Majesty's Speech? As they all knew that Rome had claimed supreme authority in this country, in matters temporal as well as spiritual—now, before the Government asked the Legislature to pass this Bill, let the Pope withdraw that claim; let official documents be produced from Rome, showing that Rome had resigned her unjust demands. When Rome had done so, he would listen as heartily as any one to such representations as might hereafter be made in support of such a Bill as this. If the House went to a division, he begged to say, that he, for one, would be found voting with the noble Duke who had proposed that the Bill be read a second time that day six months; but he left it to the noble Duke to say, whether, in the then state of the House, he would press for a division.


said, he gave his cordial assent to the Bill, not so much because upon a former occasion the Pope had afforded facilities for our military operations, but because he was the spiritual head of a religion to which many of Her Majesty's subjects in all parts of the world belonged. With regard to what had been said respecting certain Catholic priests in Ireland, he apprehended that if the attention of the Pope had been called at an earlier period to their writings and speeches, they would not have remained so long unnoticed. The assumption of the title "Supreme Pontiff," was of little importance; he regarded it simply as a matter of form, and he did not at all participate in the apprehensions of the right rev. Prelate who objected to the appointment of an ecclesiastic as ambassador from Rome to this country. He believed, indeed, the best representative that could be employed would be an ecclesiastic, because it was principally upon matters connected with ecclesiastical polity that the Government of this country would mainly have to deal with the See of Rome. In fact, he regarded the apprehensions to which he referred as idle and chimerical, especially as it was perfectly competent for this Government to receive any person as an ambassador or otherwise. It was competent for the Pope to send any number of missionaries here of the different orders; in fact, they were in actual existence at this moment, notwithstanding what the law said against them. Was it to be supposed, however, that only the diplomatic agents of the Pope would be traced intriguing against the established laws and religion of this country? And were there not manifold instances of the representatives even of great countries having been arrested for violation of the laws of the countries to which they had been sent? Without supposing the accredited ambassador of the Pope would go the whole length which would justify his arrest, was there anything more easy, if the Government were dissatisfied with him, than to give him back his passports? Besides, this Bill did not compel Her Majesty to receive an ambassador from Rome; and if there were a less enlightened Pope than Pius IX.—one not disposed to listen to the representations of the British Government—the position of the British Government would be no worse than at present, for the Queen might at any time recall Her ambassador from Rome. Independent of general grounds, it was highly expedient that diplomatic relations should be opened with Rome. He referred, for example, to what had recently occurred in Malta between the late Governor and a Roman Catholic bishop. On the whole, therefore, he conceived their Lordships would not sanction the clause to be proposed by one of his noble Friends prohibiting the reception of an ecclesiastical ambassador. The clause of the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington) was of a different nature; and he (the Earl of St. Germans) should support a declaration of the supremacy of Her Majesty in all matters, ecclesiastical as well as civil. In conclusion, he should give the Bill as it stood his willing support, and he hoped its framers would not permit it to be marred.


expressed his conviction that it would be absolutely necessary to restrict the Court of Rome from sending an ecclesiastic; and if there was one point which supported that view, it was the argument that the spiritual authority of the Pope was recognised by a large body of Her Majesty's subjects in this country. The danger which would arise from an ecclesiastic being the ambassador was, that he might exercise spiritual authority over a large body of Her Majesty's subjects. All who professed the Roman Catholic faith would look upon him as invested with spiritual authority. That had been found a just ground of exclusion even in Roman Catholic States; and he was sure it would be found no less necessary in this Protestant country. No doubt could be entertained that the authority assumed by the Pope did derogate from the dignity and supremacy of the British Sovereign, and even from the temporal authority of the Crown. He, therefore, did not think it was right that Parliament should repeal laws founded upon such a state of things, without taking care that, on the other hand, this country received an assurance from the See of Rome that that Court did not lay claim to any temporal authority in any part of the Queen's dominions, and did not profess to exercise the power of absolving Her Majesty's subjects from their allegiance. For these reasons he should propose in Committee a clause to the effect that it should not be lawful for Her Majesty to receive any ambassador, plenipotentary, envoy, or other person from the Court of Rome, until after the Court of Rome had declared it did not claim, and that it distinctly disavowed, all temporal and civil jurisdiction, power, pre-eminence, or authority, directly or indirectly, within these realms.


, in reply, said he would leave it to the discretion of the noble Duke whether he would divide the House. Her Majesty's Government had not the least intention of making concessions to the Court of Rome by this measure. The grounds of it were, no concession to the Pope, but concession to expediency, arising out of necessity, and it was brought forward with no other purpose than that of promoting our own interest. He was extremely obliged to the noble Lord for having adverted to the visit of Lord Minto to Italy; and he begged to assure the noble Lord there was not one letter in the instructions to his noble Friend, nor one act done by him at Rome or elsewhere, which he was not prepared to defend, and to prove to have been attended with advantage to this country. It was that mission, indeed, which furnished the best, and strongest, and most unanswerable illustration of the necessity for this Bill. When the object was to prevent the dread of civil war breaking out in Switzerland, which might have agitated the whole of Europe, would the noble Lord, he asked, hesitate to take any step which was calculated to prevent such a result?


That has nothing to do with the argument against this Bill.


It has much to do with the objections which you urged, as shown by the way in which the noble Lord quoted Lord Minto's despatches. Lord Minto was not received in Rome as a Minister. He carried no instructions as Minister to Rome; and it was in the power of the Pope or of the Cardinal Secretary of State to say to him at any time, "We do not acknowledge you as representing the Government of Great Britain; we will not attend to what you say; we will not attend to your advice because you have nothing to show us that you speak with authority." Would it make no distinction in this respect to have the present measure passed? Would their relations with Rome be the same after this Bill was passed as it was before? Did the noble Lord want them to accomplish by secret means what should be fairly and openly done? Her Majesty's Government asked Parliament to enable them to carry on the business of the country by open and avowed means, and not by indirect means to effect what they could not openly avow. He would say again, with respect to the mission of the Earl of Minto, that the noble Lord was accredited to Sardinia, to Florence, and also, at present, to Naples; and that, on his way from Florence to Naples, he passed some time in Rome, where his efforts, he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) would say, without hesitation, were most beneficial to the country. And he would add, that the necessity of the Earl of Minto proceeding without any distinct mission, or any direct authority from the Government of this country, to Rome, was in itself the best illustration that he could have of the necessity of adopting this measure. He had again to say, that he trusted their Lordships would agree to the second reading of the Bill without farther delay. In that case, he proposed fixing the Committee for to-morrow; and, in doing so, he hoped that he would not be accused of adopting too early a day for proceeding with the Bill.

On question that the word "now" stand part of the Motion—Resolved in the Affirmative.

Bill read 2a.

House adjourned.

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