The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE: My Lords, I beg leave, in pursuance of the notice which I have given, to move the second reading of this Bill—a Motion which has been delayed for a considerable time, undoubtedly not from any indifference to the importance of the subject, but from an anxious desire to meet the conve-
nience of any Members of your Lordships' House, justly entitled to take a part in this discussion. For myself, I must freely admit to your Lordships, nor do I conceal from myself, that this Bill, however important as a question of justice—as a question affecting the interests. of many of Her Majesty's most loyal subjects—is, nevertheless, not of a nature to excite that degree of interest which has attended other measures. I am well aware that it does not nor cannot excite that amount of interest, nor can it be discussed upon those grounds of prudence or possible danger or apprehension of the same magnitude, as those which have attended other measures for the removal of civil disabilities. No! it is but a small still voice which endeavours to make itself heard at your Lordships' door; but the question is whether that voice is the voice of justice? My Lords, I think I cannot do better, in the outset of those observations which I shall feel it necessary as briefly as possible to trouble your Lordships with, than to recall to your attention the state of the law upon this subject. It is always convenient as well as important, when we are about to make, or to consider the propriety of making, a change, that we should well understand what is the state of the law which it is proposed to alter. My Lords, you are not called upon to make any change in the constitutional law of this country. That constitutional law presents no difficulty whatsoever. It has been the characteristic of the constitution from its best times, and I trust will continue to be its distinguishing feature, that it abhors exclusion, it rejects disability, it requires those who propose exclusion and disability to make good the grounds on which they make such a proposition. For a long period of English history there was no exclusion whatever. Take your great constitutional Acts, take your great constitutional proceedings from the very birth of that constitution—from Magna Charta downwards—and you will find no enactment disqualifying any of the King's liege subjects from being elected or appointed to the stations which they were capable of filling. But the time did come when, not with the character of a permanent Act, not with any pretence to make it a universal and permanent law, but for temporary causes and for temporary purposes, it was thought fit to enact temporary exclusions. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth the first of these exclusions
took place, and certain oaths were prescribed which persons eligible to office or eligible to Parliament were required to take. Subsequently, in the 7th year of His Majesty King James I., it was thought fit to introduce an Act of Parliament which prescribed an oath and declaration; and here it is to be observed that, not avowedly, not with any mention of the Jews, not with any reference to the situation in which either they or any persons assumed not to be Christians were placed in England, but for another distinct, specific, and, on the face of the Act of Parliament, avowed purpose, namely to put down Popish recusants, an Act was passed in which these words were introduced, the effect of which, for the first time—but, as I shall show, not uniformly since—was to exclude persons of the Jewish persuasion from Parliament and from office. That Act was passed under these circumstances: there had been recently machinations discovered of a most portentous and alarming character—conspiracies which had for their object the subversion of the throne and religion of these realms. It was immediately after the Gunpowder Plot, when discoveries were made in many of which persons of the Roman Catholic religion were implicated; and it was known, at least it was imputed to certain persons of the Roman Catholic faith at that time, that they were not easily bound by any common oath, and it was therefore deemed desirable to frame such an Act of Parliament as should practically exclude them—prescribing an oath which would not admit of equivocation, and by which, unless they were prepared to swear in unequivocal terms their adherence to the Protestant throne and the constitution of this country, they would be ineligible to any office. For this purpose, without any mention of the Jews, without any allusion to such persons, these words were introduced, which no one can doubt were intended as a mesh through which no equivocation could pass, and which should effectually exclude persons not because they were bad religionists, but bad subjects of the realm. That was the ground on which the Act passed. This Act lived through the civil war; but after the Revolution the very first thing Parliament did, upon the establishment of King William and Queen Mary on the throne, was to consider the subject of oaths; and the result of that consideration was, that the oaths prescribed were, in the language of the Act, "hereby repealed, abrogated,
and made void." That is to say, the oaths, including that particular security which it is contended by some persons is a principle of the constitution, were upon full consideration, in the very best period of our constitutional history, distinctly, and in terms, annulled and made void; not by accident, not at a time when either political party or the Church slept; not in the heat of the moment when men's minds were diverted from the matter before them, and led to acquiesce in that which is dangerous from the absence of the precaution and vigilance which point out where danger is; but, on the contrary, at a time when every constitutional and religious question was carefully weighed and balanced—when there was a great difference of political opinion—when there was a great difference of ecclesiastical opinion—when the
differences between what was called the High Church and Low Church were at their utmost heat—upon due deliberation Parliament came to the resolution that these oaths should be abrogated; and it occurred to nobody to state or think, if those oaths were abrogated, certain persons not professing the Christian religion would get into Parliament. Such an apprehension was not stated, because such apprehensions were not felt. For thirteen years, and those eminently and by distinction, if any distinction can be made—years in which the principles of the constitution were most weighed and most valued—Jews were admissible to Parliament. Undoubtedly this did not continue; but why did it not continue? Thirteen years afterwards, at the close of the reign of King William, and just before the commencement of that of Queen Anne, at a very critical moment, it was thought expedient to revive the oath of abjuration. But let me ask those who look at the history of those times, is there the least vestige of an intention either to exclude Jews, or any others except Roman Catholic recusants and nonjurors? At that moment the name of the Pretender being recognised in France, and Louis XIV. then in the zenith of his power, and ready to promote by intrigue the interests of the Pretender in this country, it was thought, not unnaturally, to be a period when they should revive the oath of abjuration, for the purpose of excluding Roman Catholics from seats in this and the other House of Parliament; and that being the object, an object precisely analogous to what was held in view at the time the Act of James I. was passed, what could
be more natural than to recur to that very temporary Act, and introduce the same words to exclude Roman Catholics? Accordingly, these very words were carefully copied and inserted in the Act; and thus we find the words revived prescribing an oath, "on the true faith of a Christian." Upon that ground and upon no other—the accidental introduction of words of this description—certain persons, particularly Jews, though not in name, were excluded from seats in Parliament. Such was the state of things until a recent period, when, it will be in the recollection of all your Lordships, a petition was presented, I think, in 1830, from the Jews resident in the metropolis, complaining of their exclusion after your Lordships had admitted the Roman Catholics and others, removing all impediments that stood in their way by the prescription of oaths and particular declarations they were required to take. That petition met with a favourable consideration, and a Bill was brought into the other House of Parliament by certainly one of the most able, excellent, and religious men I ever knew, the late Sir Robert Grant. That Bill did not go through the other House of Parliament, but it was very favourably received at first. Two divisions took place upon it—in one the majority was for, in the other against the Bill; but in both those divisions I find among the supporters of that Bill the names of persons eminent for their attachment to religion and their great constitutional knowledge—among others I find the name of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley), who was then a Member of the other House of Parliament. That Bill was lost in the Commons. It was again introduced next Session, and then it passed by a considerable majority in the other House of Parliament. It came up to this House, and was introduced by a noble Lord who I regret is not now present, owing to his advanced years and infirmities—a nobleman whose high character entitled him to take a lead in questions of this nature, and whose eminent personal religion gave great weight to his advocacy of such a measure—I mean Lord Bexley. He moved the Bill in this House, but it was lost. I have now, my Lords, stated what has passed on this question up to the present time. This Bill is again sent up to your Lordships, having been carried in the other House of Parliament by three successive and considerable majorities. Why, then, my Lords, I think I have at least
made made out a case for your Lordships giving a serious attention to this subject, and for your well considering whether you ought not to adopt a measure repeatedly brought before you, with the sanction of such names, the support of such authority, and the concurrence of so many circumstances in the state of the world which should induce you to give a favourable consideration to any practical removal of any existing disability whenever you can with safety. I say you are called upon—I must add, you will be called upon again and again—to take this particular course. This, then leads me to consider what are the objections to the present Bill; and great as I think the weight to be attached to any objection based on religious feeling, before dealing with what may be called considerations of expediency, I will not pass over the opinion entertained more, I believe, by petitioners to your Lordships' House against the Bill, than by your Lordships who are about to vote upon it—that this is a religious question. I contend that it is not so. I contend that there is no precept of religion, no declaration of the revealed will of God, that can in the slightest degree preclude your Lordships from taking, as you are about to take, a view of this question with reference to its being dangerous, or free from danger, or from settling this important question by agreeing to this measure. Not only do I say there is no such precept—because if I could see there was any such precept, I believe honestly, far from moving the second reading of this Bill, I should be the first to leave such a measure unnoticed on your table, if I did not myself move your Lordships immediately and distinctly to reject it; but there being no such declaration of the Divine will—it being, on the contrary, manifest that from the very beginning Christianity had the character of adapting itself to existing institutions, although not of a Christian character, disclaiming every sort of interference, finding its strength, and recommending itself by the very fact that it did not interfere with political questions or political authorities; I ask your Lordships who this people are, whom, I contend, we are not required by any precept of religion to refuse to admit to a participation in civil and political privileges? I have said, that the Christian religion has made its conquests not by any exclusions—not by forcible means—not by Acts of Parliament—but by the conviction that it was Divine—by the exhibition of its
virtues—by the gentleness and benevolence of its teachings—by the holy and peaceful influences which it exercised on all who came within its reach. I sail, who are those people that we are called upon to exclude from the advantages possessed by Christians? Are they people with whom we Christians have no relations? Are they people, I again ask, between whom and Christianity there are no important relations in a religious sense, although they themselves are not Christians? Can we, my Lords, forget the connection between them and the religion which we believe in? Can it be forgotten that theirs is a nation whose religious laws you have adopted—a nation that for ages and centuries has been the means of laying the foundation of your religion—a nation that for years and centuries has been favoured by the Almighty —that their religion has been the means of preserving, in the midst of superstition, barbarism, and idolatry, the knowledge of the Eternal—and that God has walked before that people with a pillar of fire, guiding their progress, teaching them to avoid the delusions and snares with which they were surrounded, and enabling them to band down that state of things to posterity upon which state of things your religion is based and founded? Is it necessary for me to remind your Lordships that the commandments of that religion, the laws of that people, are your laws and your commandments, engraven on the stones that are set above the altars of your religion, and engraven on the hearts of the congregations that worship at those altars? Is this a people you are entitled to despise as unfit and inadmissible to the rights of fellow-subjects according to their ability to exercise those rights? On the contrary, they have filled an important situation in history, and we are bound to recognise them. Formerly, indeed, it might be said of the Jews—
Insula, dives opum, Priami dum regna manebant;
though I fear we Christians must add—
Nunc tantum sinus et statio malefida carinis.
Nevertheless, they are entitled to our best consideration. And when I am told that there is no relation between this people and ourselves—that we have no relations out of the pale of pure Christianity, I must take leave to dispute such a proposition as affecting a race so eminently distinguished for a brotherly love that might be called a Christian love; for good feeling and hu-
manity; and for the practice of charity and benevolence. But the other day I found in a sermon by one of the most eloquent divines ever heard in this country, a passage remarkably applicable, in which the preacher was summing up a comparative view of Christian virtues as opposed to Pagan virtues; and I will beg your Lordships to hear but a very few lines. The noble Marquess here read a passage from a sermon preached by the Rev. Robert Hall, which was to the following general effect:—
That one of the most distinguishing characteristics of Christianity, as compared with the wisdom and humanity of Pagan philosophy, was, that the compassionate consideration for the poor inculcated by the former, formed no part of the lessons taught by the latter. It never thought of the blessedness of him who considereth the poor; that you might have traversed the Roman empire in the zenith of its power, and while you met with monuments of pride and trophies of war, not one asylum of the poor was to be seen; but that it remained for the religion whose basis was humanity, and whose element was devotion, to proclaim to the world—'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.'
That description of Christian virtue, as distinguished from Pagan virtue, could not apply to the Jews. Have they not distinguished themselves by mercy, and charity, and benevolence? Have they not exhibited those attributes described by Mr. Hall as characterising Christian virtue in contradistinction to Pagan virtue? They are charitable, humane, and generous, supporting numerous hospitals and benevolent institutions; and though I may be told that they are indebted to Christianity, and not being Christians they have imbibed the virtues of Christianity, then I say in answer to that assertion, that if they have so imbibed the virtues of Christianity, it would be gross injustice not to give them the merit of possessing those virtues which they exhibit, even if they have imbibed them. I say that these are persons who are entitled to your Lordships' attention, and their claims are of a nature which deserve our greatest consideration. My Lords, I have shown that they are not precluded from obtaining these political rights by any claims of the interests of religion. The just regard for the interests of religion does not prevent us from giving to them the political rights to which they are entitled. Where is the danger to the constitution if we accede to their claims? Where is the danger to Christianity if we admit them to an equality of political privileges with Christians? It has been said that if you pass
this measure, and Jews are admitted to seats in the Legislature, you will no longer be a Christian Parliament. My Lords, I deny it. You will be still a Christian Parliament, in the same sense that everybody may be so called, considered with reference to that which is its general character and tendency. To enable anybody or anything to obtain a particular character, and for all useful purposes, it is not necessary that every particular of which it is composed should be homogeneous. You might as well say that the very standard which regulates your commercial transactions should not be called gold, because it contains certain other portions of matter which are not gold. Yet the gold so commingled. or alloyed, is the standard of value; it is gold to all intents and purposes of utility; its objects and usefulness are not impaired. How then can any person argue that the introduction of Jews would so alter the character and tendency which the Parliament of this country always had, and I trust always will preserve, namely, to support and maintain not only the existence but the predominance of the Christian religion? I never was able to discover why, when a person was enabled to act in concurrence with a large body of other persons infinitely superior to himself in station and numbers, he should be considered more dangerous than while he exists only as a unit in a multitude, or in a separate and independent position. You have already, my Lords, placed the Jews in that independent and separate position; and what use have they made of it? You have placed them in positions where they could be mischievous, if they were so inclined; and what harm have they inflicted on the constitution? A Jew can be a high sheriff, a juryman, a magistrate—nay, more, he can be empowered to appoint, aye, and to swear in constables—and during the recent disturbances at least two wards in the metropolis were under the magisterial charge of Jews; and what evil has come of those powers which you have conferred upon them? Suppose a Jew were to be brought to trial for high treason: if a Jewish high sheriff had the selection of the jury, it may be said that he might possibly use his influence to save that dangerous character; but, my Lords, we do not think that such an occurrence is probable—we do not fear it—and even the bare possibility of such a coincidence is no argument against a measure like this. A Jew may be sheriff, magistrate, or juror at present; but
it is said that the admission of two or three Jews into Parliament, in an assembly so numerous, will have a serious effect upon the Christian character of the Legislature. Now, in my opinion, my Lords, it is more dangerous to admit many professing Christians than those two or three Jews. I say professing Christians, and, I may add, persons believing themselves Christians, but who may, at the same time, be not properly and thoroughly acquainted with the truths and principles and doctrines of Christianity. You will find acts of the most objectionable character receiving the sanction of such persons; and I think that persons of that description are infinitely more dangerous to a Christian Legislature, because they are in the garb of Christians, than if they came openly in another avowed character. I will not multiply instances. You have throughout Europe instances of Jews admitted, and Jews excluded from participation in legislation; and I cannot see the difference as regards the safety of the Christian religion. In the last war in which Holland was engaged, many of the officers and men were Jews; but did any one, therefore, say that the army of Holland was not a Christian army—that it was an infidel army? No one ever put forth such an assertion. You are acting with the grossest inconsistency. In many parts of Her Majesty's dominions Jews are at this moment sitting as members of the Legislature by the authority of the law. In Jamaica, or in Canada, a Jew may be a representative in the Legislature; and by this day's post I have received a newspaper from Ceylon, which states that a Jew is a member of the Legislature of that island. Yet the bishops are safe in those colonies; and the religion of each colony is not affected by the fact that a Jew may be a member of the Legislature. Yet here it is thought by some that to admit the Jews would be to contaminate the character of the Christian assembly into which they entered. All who have a fair claim to political rights should be allowed to possess them; and, as I have already observed, Christianity does not preclude them. My Lords, I am unwilling to detain your Lordships longer; but I will beg of you to look back at the true character of that religion which you profess, and of the law under which you live. I will beg of you to recollect that that religion was humble and lowly in its birth and origin—that its Divine Founder, in most emphatic and solemn words, says, "My kingdom is not of this
world;" and that by favour of Divine Providence our religion, not by force and violence, but by gentleness, benignity, and persuasion, has extended its empire, and brought the nations of the earth under the shadow of its authority. And I ask you, if that be the principle which presided over the birth of that religion, and hallowed its progress, can we now, in the maturity of its strength and power, refuse to admit within the pale of that constitution in which Christianity has been and ever must be the predominant portion, a body of persons who can show a fair claim for admission? I believe that none should be excluded from the pale of the constitution unless disqualified in a political sense, and I therefore have great pleasure in moving the second reading of this Bill, believing as I do that it will add strength to the constitution, instead of imparting weakness; and believing as I do that the existence of the constitution of this country is bound up with the predominance of Christianity—a predominance which does not require for its support that we should exclude the Jews from those rights to which they are entitled by the fundamental rules of the constitution—rules which were never suspended unless by temporary Acts passed for temporary purposes.
The EARL of ELLENBOROUGH: My Lords, I move that this Bill be read a second time this day six months. In doing so I must say that I never recollect an instance of a measure being submitted to the Legislature in which the smallness of the object bore so little proportion to the magnitude of the sacrifice by which it is to be attained. This question is a political question, but it is a religious question also. The noble Marquess has referred to history, and referred to a time when Jews might have sat in Parliament, because there was no legislative enactment to the contrary; but the noble Marquess knows well that in the times from which he selected his examples, no Jew would have dared to offer himself for any office; he would not have survived the day on which he did so. The noble Marquess knows perfectly well that in 1754 the Legislature was compelled to repeal an Act for the naturalisation of the Jews, such was the indignation of the people of England at even that small concession. But, whatever may have been the law technically, the Parliament has always been practically and exclusively a Christian assembly; and that character I
earnestly trust the vote of your Lordships to-night will preserve. The noble Marquess has also told your Lordships that you ought to respect the Jews, for it is from their law that we derive a large portion of our own belief. It is precisely on that ground that I repudiate the claims of Jews to become members of a Christian Legislature. It is because they believe so much of the Divine Law, and not more, that I object to the recognition of their claims to take part in the legislating for a Christian people. The Mahomedan religion is also founded on the Mosaic law to a great extent, and is more like Christianity than the religion of the Jews. But if this measure is to be based on the broad principle of disregarding belief in Christianity as a qualification for becoming a member of the Legislature, why limit the advantage to the Jews? Why not make it general? Why is the principle not boldly laid clown, that no matter what the religious belief of the person may be, he is admissible to Parliament? No! You dare not place such a principle before the people of this country. The proposed measure is placed by Her Majesty's Government on the narrow ground of advantage to a few individuals; and under the smallness of the object it is attempted to obtain the sanction of your Lordships to what will prove the destruction of the leading principle of the constitution. Your Lordships have been told that it is not just to exclude men on account of their religious belief; it has been argued, that the Legislature has admitted to Parliament classes of persons who professed belief in the Christian religion, but who differed from the Established Church. That Church, however, is the creature of the State; but Christianity is part and parcel of the common law of the land, identified with and inseparable from the State. I, for my part, do not object to the relaxations which have taken place; but I take my stand on the broad line of Christian belief, and would oppose its being passed over by the Jews. Great danger cannot fail to follow the adoption of a different course. Parliament has endeavoured to instruct the people, and, in doing so, to unite religious with general instruction; but how can that principle be carried out were Parliament to admit that it is a matter of indifference whether a man is a Christian or not? How can the truths of religion be taught, when, in the same breath, we state that the institutions of the country are founded
upon Christianity, but that it is not necessary that legislators should be Christians? It has been said that it is not just to visit the sins committed by the ancestors of the present race of Jews upon them. There is no intention to do anything of the kind. Their exclusion rests upon other grounds. They are excluded, not because their ancestors committed a crime eighteen hundred years ago. Not because they themselves would commit the same crime now, could the same circumstances occur. Believing as their ancestors believed, disbelieving as their ancestors disbelieved, the Jews of the present day must act as they did under an unchanged law. The Jews have no more right to complain of disqualification being attached to their religious belief, although possessed of all the other qualifications to seats in Parliament, than Christians have who find themselves disqualified by the want of some one or other of the qualifications which are required. The admission of Quakers, Moravians, and Separatists to Parliament, without being required to take the oath on the "true faith of a Christian," does not militate against the Christian character of the Legislature. The Quaker practically declares his belief in Christianity when he make the declaration that he is a Quaker. And the same remark applies to the Moravian and the Separatist. But, to remove the words "on the faith of a Christian," would be to open the door to the admission of men who were not Christians. Something has been said as to the various qualifications of the Jews in social life, and especially as to their charity. I readily admit that many of them have distinguished themselves much by acts of benevolence; but a man who is very rich may appear to be extremely charitable by exercising only a very ordinary extent of charity. But we must consider that we are dealing with this subject in a worldly as well as in a religious view; we must consider what is the social character of the Jew as a citizen. He stands one of a nation within a nation, totally distinct from that nation in every characteristic. In the midst of agriculturists or manufacturers, he is neither an agriculturist or manufacturer. The Jew does not labour; the Jew buys and sells at a small profit the fruit of the labour of others. There are few poor amongst them—no paupers. It is greatly to their credit that such is the case—I apprehend they provide for their own poor by a rate. There are a few
rich, but some very rich. They cannot intermarry with the people of this country. Except in the higher classes, they mix but little socially with the members of other religious associations. They are citizens of the world, rather than citizens of England. It is quite true that they are not aliens in this sense that they do not owe allegiance to another country; but there are no people in the world who can transfer themselves to another country with the same facilities as the Jews. Wherever a Jew goes he finds his own people, his own religion, his own language, and, at the same time, he finds all persons of his nation engaged in transactions similar to himself. I cannot therefore consider that they are, or ever can be, identified with the people amongst whom they live. It may be interesting to observe with what extreme facility Jews even of the highest class can transfer themselves, their property, and their religion, from one country to another; and, with your Lordships' permission, I will read to you what I read the other day in a journal, in an extract from the Memoirs of Sir Fowell Buxton, giving an account of the interview he had at dinner with the late Mr. Rothschild. Sir F. Buxton, in his diary, said—
We yesterday dined at Ham-house, to meet the Rothschilds; and very amusing it was. He (Rothschild) told us his life and adventures. He was the third son of the banker at Frankfort. 'There was not' he said, 'room enough for us all in that city. I dealt in English goods. One great trader came there, who had the market to himself; he was quite the great man, and did us a favour if he sold us goods. Somehow I offended him, and he refused to show me his paterns. This was on a Tuesday. I said to my father, 'I will go to England.' I could speak nothing but German. On the Thursday I started. The nearer I got to England, the cheaper goods were. As soon as I got to Manchester I laid out all my money—things were so cheap—and I made good profit. I soon found that there were three profits —the raw material, the dying, and the manufacturing. I said to the manufacturer, I will supply you with material and dye, and you supply me with manufactured goods.' So I got three profits instead of one, and I could sell goods cheaper than anybody. In a short time I made my 20,000l. into 60,000l."'
Such is the origin of the introduction of the great house of Rothschild to this country, and I will say, also, such is the origin of this Bill. It has been observed that Providence often avails itself of mean instruments to effect the greatest objects; and certainly if the effect of this measure should be to unchristianise the Legislature of this country, never was a great event
brought about about by a meaner instrument than the refusal of a Manchester traveller to show his patterns to a German Jew. The noble Lord has said that the Jews are eligible as magistrates, as sheriffs, and as Lord Mayors of London. I do not attach great importance to municipal dignities. Some of the most considerable men in every city refuse to hold them. I must confess I wish that Mr. Rothschild's ambition were like that of Cæsar, who said he would rather be the first man of a municipality than the second man in Rome. He might have attained the dignity of Lord Mayor of London; and sitting in the chair of Whittington, he might have proudly reflected that the advantage of the refusal of the patterns had had consequences as memorable as the celebrated adventure of the Cat. But the question before us is, I confess, too serious to be thus treated. I take a most serious and, I think, not an exaggerated view of the great danger now impending on this country in its foreign and domestic concerns. It is impossible for me not to feel that we are in a great crisis of the fate of this country. It is impossible, from what we have witnessed, and what we now witness, not to come to this conclusion. We ourselves have had a warning in famine, a warning in general distress, a warning in pestilence, a warning in the divisions amongst our people, still threatening the dismemberment of the Empire. When we look around us we see nations convulsed; the most ancient and powerful dynasty of Europe crushed in one day; the great empire of Austria broken to pieces like the potter's vessel; we see the disruption of some of the most ancient combinations of territory; the formation of new combinations of territory; nor have we the slightest power, reasoning from the past, to calculate in the smallest degree on the action, the policy, or the strength of the several new States which are rising out of the deep in which everything ancient has been absorbed. We see all the great landmarks of nations displaced; we see upon the Continent society itself shaken to its centre; we see the wildest schemes for its reconstruction, by men who without the smallest reference to the experience of the past, seem to think they have all wisdom for the future government of mankind. How long are we to remain, separated only by a narrow channel, untouched by the contamination of these evils? I trust your Lordships will apply
yourselves to the only path by which this country can be saved; that, regarding all the great principles on which the happiness of nations rests in all times, you will forego legislating for private purposes; that, whatever the temporary interests of men or governments, you will take a large view of public affairs; and, above all, that you will not deprive yourselves of all right to heavenly aid by decreeing this night the desecration of Parliament and the destruction of the exclusive Christian character of the British Legislature.
§ The DUKE of CAMBRIDGE: My Lords, it is a duty which I owe to myself to express my sentiments on the important question now under consideration. I think, in consequence of the situation in which I stand, as the President of the Jewish Hospital, it would be peculiarly wrong if I did not explain, as clearly and strongly as I can, my opinions on the subject of admitting Jews to Parliament. I have been acquainted with many members of that persuasion, not only in this country, but in that country where I lived for many years, and I have never hesitated to assist them in obtaining privileges which I thought could be safely accorded. I have, my Lords, the very highest respect for many individuals of the Jewish persuasion; and in consequence of the circumstance to which I alluded, I am of course brought into communication with many of them. I will not mention any names, but I will refer to the individual who went to Jerusalem, and made great sacrifices for the protection of his Jewish brethren, as one of those for whom I feel very great respect; and therefore, my Lords, I think it my duty to take the very first opportunity of expressing my views upon this subject, and of stating to your Lordships that, notwithstanding my feeling of personal respect for the character of many individuals of the Jewish persuasion, I cannot hesitate as to the course which I should take on the present occasion, because, my Lords, I feel that, as long as the British Government continues to be a Christian Government, we cannot admit the Jews to a share in the counsels of the State. I have thought it my duty at once to make this statement to your Lordships. I should have felt great satisfaction in affording the Jews any relief to which, consistently with my conscience, I could assent; but, according to my conscientious opinion, as long as this country is a Christian country, 1346 it is impossible to admit Jews to sit in the Legislature.
§ VISCOUNT CANNING said, that lie should not do justice to the strength of his convictions on this subject if he shrunk from stating the grounds upon which that conviction was founded; and he derived some courage from the speech of the noble Earl who had spoken against the Bill, because he thought that the cause which the noble Earl had espoused so warmly, and advocated with so much eloquence, owed its greatest point of strength to the appeal which the noble Earl had made to their Lordships' feelings, rather than to any dispassionate reasoning on the subject. The argument mainly put forward by the opponents of the measure, rested on the assumed unchristianising of the Legislature, which was said to be its consequence. That was an argument which it was difficult to deal with shortly; but the difficulty arose from an ambiguity in the use of a word, which was ordinarily intelligible enough—he meant the word Christian. A different meaning bad been attributed by the Legislature to that word at different times. Many years ago the Legislature of this country was Christian in the strictest sense. Nay, more, it was Christian in an artificially strict sense of the term, if he might be allowed the expression. The Legislature was closed against all but members of the Church of England; but it was afterwards thought necessary to change that, and to open the doors of Parliament to Roman Catholics, who regarded them as heretics—to Protestant Dissenters, who looked on the Church with the utmost jealousy—and to Unitarians, who regarded their faith as credulity, if not superstition. Thus the difficulty arose: they admitted Unitarians, but they exacted from them, as from all other sects, except the Quakers, Moravians, and Separatists, a declaration of certain political opinions "upon the true faith of a Christian." When those terms were imposed upon the Unitarians, it was done by the Legislature openly and advisedly; and when he was speaking of the Unitarians, he begged to guard against the supposition that he meant to impute to those who made that declaration that they made it with any equivocation or mental reservation. He had no such intention. On the contrary, he contended that Parliament, when it required Unitarians to make that declaration, must have meant them to take it in the sense in which only Unitarians could 1347 take it. What, then, became of the word "Christian?" When it was recognised by Unitarians as a legitimate description of their faith, clearly, whatever the definition of it might be, it must be held to include a faith which rejected the divinity of our Saviour, and the doctrine of atonement by His death. That, he thought, disposed of the religious part of the question; for if, when they spoke of Christianity, they did not include the divinity of our Lord, or the doctrine of atonement by His death, Christianity was but a shadow, and the sound of idle words; and he would not consent, for the sake of retaining that shadow, to commit, as he should commit if he opposed this Bill, an act of political injustice. The noble Earl had said that he was not prepared to punish the Jews on account of the great and awful crime of which they had been the perpetrators; but that, in his opinion, they were at liberty to punish them, because they had not since changed their creed, and, if the same opportunity happened now, they would treat the opportunity in the same way, and imbrue their hands in the same blood. Now, he (Viscount Canning) could see no justice in that; and he thought that the noble Earl would find great difficulty in carrying out that principle in the administration of justice as a civil governor. Doubtless, there were many persons to be met with daily, who would commit the crime of theft if they had the opportunity; but would it be just on that account to apprehend them and try them as felons? The principle of the law and of justice was, that unless they could be proved to be guilty, they must be treated as innocent. But there were other grounds, social and political, which were urged by the opponents of this measure as a bar to the admission of the Jews into Parliament. Their Lordships were told that they ought not to admit them, because their affections were set upon a land far distant from this—because they were incapable of social, or at all events national, attachments, and therefore, justly and properly deprived of the full privileges of citizens. He was afraid that there was much truth in this; but the question was, whether that was not attributable to the treatment which the Jews had received at the hands of this and other nations, rather than to any natural incapacity in the Jews themselves to feel the national sympathy which was felt by other people; and he thought that unless we could assert that, as a nation, we had 1348 taken no part in putting the Jews beyond the pale of society, it would be safer, fairer, and more just, to refrain from pressing that argument. There was one point which had not yet been touched upon in the present discussion, but upon which he wished to say a few words, because many contradictory statements and opinions had gone forth on the subject—he alluded to the state of public opinion in reference to this measure. He was not going to enter upon a consideration of the number or weight of the petitions which had been presented to that House; if he did, he believed that the result would not be unfavourable to the measure; but the best test of the state of public opinion on the subject was, he thought, to be found in a reference to that which took place on the occasion when, for the first time in the history of this country, a concession to the Jews was proposed. That took place nearly a century ago, when the Government of the day brought forward a Bill for the naturalisation of foreign Jews. The Bill was passed without exciting much notice; but no sooner had it become law, than such a cry of alarm and indigation was excited throughout the country, that the Duke of Newcastle, who was then at the head of the Government, felt it necessary on the very first day, he believed, of the next Session of Parliament to propose its repeal, and it was accordingly repealed. But what had happened now? The proposal now made was not that of a niggardly instalment of justice, but a proposal to admit them to the highest privilege of British citizens; and what was the result? The matter had been fully and deliberately discussed in the other House of Parliament; the measure had not been pressed forward with any undue haste; ample time had been given to the opponents of the measure to come forward with their objections; and what was the result? Within the last few days, it was true, a number of petitions had been presented to their Lordships against the Bill; but he was not at all sure that they were not counterbalanced by those which had been presented in favour of the measure; and as to public demonstration, meetings to address the Crown or the Government against the Bill—as to anything like that which was called popular agitation against the measure—their Lordships had not heard a word. What, then, was the explanation of this difference? It had been freely stated that Baron Rothschild owed his 1349 election for the city of London to the influence of his purse. He did not know whether that was so or not; but he thought that no man would be bold enough to assert that the influence of that purse would be sufficient to buy the silence or indifference of the whole community. Was there, then, a greater indifference to religion now than then? Had religion in general, or had the Established Church now, less hold upon the feelings of the people than it had a century ago? The direct reverse was the fact. The cause he believed to be this: with the increase of the population large classes of the community, differing from them in religious opinions, had sprung up into social and political importance; and that change had given rise to the question, whether it was just or wise to exclude any large class of the community from their fair share of interest in the councils of the State for their religious opinions only; and the conviction soon extended itself that such exclusion was neither politic nor just. The course of legislation during the last twenty years had had the effect of confirming that conviction, and of proving that religious tests might, with safety and advantage, be relaxed. That was the opinion not only of Dissenters, but it was the growing opinion of Churchmen themselves. All classes now agreed that truth had little to fear from comparison or competition with error; but that it had more to fear from reliance upon the support of accidental props and aids. If that, then, was the true explanation of the indifference with which this measure was received, it was a fair ground for the advocates of the measure to take, in pressing upon their Lordships to give to it their assent; and it had certainly had considerable weight in leading him to the conclusion that he was bound to support the Bill. He had nothing further to add, except to assure their Lordships that since he had had the honour of a seat in that House, he had never given a vote on any subject with a firmer conviction in its truth and justice than that which he should feel in giving his vote for the second reading of this Bill.
§ The ARCHBISHOP of CANTERBURY began by saying that if he had thought himself at liberty to follow the dictates of his own inclination, he should certainly have given a silent vote upon this question; but since he had been placed by Her Majesty in the most responsible position of the Church, he felt that he had lost the privi- 1350 lege of being silent upon such a subject, especially when he considered that the religious character of their Lordships' House and of the country was involved in it. He hoped, however, that he should express his sentiments with as much deference to the opinions of those who differed from him as was consistent with the honest expression of his own. Their Lordships were desired to remove the disabilities which precluded members of the Jewish persuasion from seats in the Legislature. It appeared to him that they laboured under disabilities which their Lordships could not remove, and which hindered them from taking part in the counsels of a Christian nation; because, by the very circumstance of their being members of the Jewish persuasion, upon the most important questions on which those counsels could be engaged, they could not give a free or unbiassed opinion. Could he admit to a voice in the Legislature persons who, if they acted on their principles—and he had a right to assume that they would—must raise their voice against those questions which were most important to the safety of the country and the interests of that Church which he (the Archbishop) and their Lordships were bound by all means to maintain? The member of the Jewish faith must, if he acted up to his principles, be as diametrically hostile to the Christian Church as their Lordships would be to the promotion of Mahometanism. The noble Marquess said that they would form but a small voice in the Legislature; but if some measure of vital importance to the religious interests of the country should be defeated by a small majority, of which these Jewish representatives were a part, how could he complain, if he had himself contributed to give them a place in the Legislation? Should he not be reaping as he had sown? His Grace proceeded: But it is argued, that this objection comes too late; that we have gone too far to stop —we have relieved the Dissenter from his disabilities—we have relieved the Roman Catholic—and, to be consistent, we must admit the Jew to equal privileges. My Lords, I deny the inference. We have relieved the Dissenter from his disabilities; but the Dissenter, though he will not uphold my form of church government, will not commonly quarrel with my creed; and in all matters where the general interests of Christianity are concerned, independently of form or discipline, I may count upon his support, and find him on my side. 1351 We have relieved the Roman Catholic from his disabilities—I myself bore a part in that measure, and must give a similar vote if the question were to be raised again. I could not deny that a third part of Her Majesty's domestic subjects had a claim to a share in the representation. And I will acknowledge that if twenty-five or thirty in every hundred of our population belonged to the Jewish persuasion, a new element would be introduced into the question, which does not exist at present. But, my Lords, we are still within the pale of Christianity. We are not altogether a Church of England Legislature—we are not altogether a Protestant Legislature—but we are still a Christian Legislature; and so, with the assistance of your Lordships, I trust we shall remain. This would be a reason why I could not consistently with my conscience give a vote in favour of this Bill. But there is another reason which greatly weighs with me, and I hope will weigh seriously with your Lordships. The proposed measure (whatever may be supposed by the noble Lord who has just sat down) is contemplated with conscientious dislike and anxious dread by a large class of persons whom I cannot but regard as the most valuable members of the community, and who consider it as a sort of insult to the religion which they reverence and honour. We know that this is not intended; we know that the noble Person who first introduced the measure, and that other noble and honourable persons who support it, are incapable of supporting any measure which they believe to be injurious to Christianity. But the persons to whom I allude cannot enter into their views, and understand their arguments: they cannot make nice distinctions between questions viewed religiously, and questions viewed politically; and they believe that a measure of this sort goes to prove that in the opinion of the majority of the Legislature it is of little importance what a man believes or disbelieves. My Lords, it is very undesirable to give any grounds, whether just or no, for such an opinion; very undesirable to disgust the best members of society with the institutions of the country, or to encourage an opposite class in their indifference to all religion. And certainly there is some danger; for the arguments which claim admission into Parliament for the Jew do not rest there. The same argument which is pleaded in favour of Jewish legislation would scarcely exclude a Mahometan 1352 or a Hindoo, or any idolater whatever, whose residence in the land give him a claim to naturalisation, or whose wealth shall raise him to influence and distinction. If nothing else deterred us from this innovation, I think such an inference as this should prevent us from admitting the principle which leads to it, and determine us to reject the Bill.
The EARL of WINCHILSEA said, that he retained the warmest feelings of Christian charity towards the members of the Jewish persuasion; and if, by any sacrifice short of that which involved an abandonment of his faith, he could confer any benefit upon them, he would willingly make that sacrifice. Since the birth of Christ 1,800 years had elapsed, and still the Jews were beheld a miserable remnant of a people. They were a distinct, a peculiar people, bearing their nationality of character into every quarter of the world through which they were dispersed. They were the keepers and guardians of the Old Testament, which they were beheld carrying into every part of the world, the clearest evidence of the religion which they had rejected, and the strongest proof of the existence of that Saviour whom they had denied. They were still visited by the vengeance of Almighty God on account of their unbelief; and yet a Christian Legislature was now asked to abandon its own religious character for the sake of admitting the Jews to an equality of civil privileges. In his observations he was extremely anxious not to say a word which would be offensive to any member of the Jewish nation; but he opposed this Bill solely on religious grounds. He was bound to declare from the bottom of his heart, that after the most anxious consideration, he regarded this as the most unchristian measure which had been introduced into Parliament for a long series of years. He was compelled to allow that many of those Gentlemen with whom he had generally acted, and with whom he had been politically connected, had countenanced this measure; still he must state his opinion that it was a measure which did great violence to the religious feeling of the country, and offered a great insult to the honour and glory of the God whom he worshipped. But if those hon. Gentlemen had been told in their early days, when they first consented to abandon the religious principles upon which they originally stood, that they would live to see the day when they would be asked to agree to a measure like the
present, for unchristianising the Legislature of the country, they would have rejected the suggestion with the utmost scorn and indignation; and the position in which they stood should be a warning to the young men of this country, ever to abide most rigidly by their religious principles, from the very earliest moment of their entrance upon political life. The noble Marquess bad cited extracts from the Holy Scriptures. What did the noble Marquess think of this passage?—
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed, for he that biddeth him God speed, is partaker of his evil deeds.
These were the words of the Almighty, written in his revealed word for their instruction; and were there any of the right rev. Prelates who would say that they were not applicable to the present case? But, then, it was said, what harm could be done by the admission of a few Jews? Now, the answer to that was, that their admission involved a principle which must be equally applied whether the parties were many or few. If justice required the admission of a single Jew, he was just as much entitled to it as if there were 100,000. If, on the other hand, they could not admit them without sacrificing their Christianity, then they must stand by that, remembering who it was that had said, "The nation that honoured Him, He would honour;" and he would appeal to the right rev. Prelates opposite in what way could reverence for Him be shown better than by upholding Christianity—that religion which He came down from Heaven to propagate? This question was solely a religious one; it could be no other than a religious one. He objected to the present Motion more than he formerly objected to the admission of the Roman Catholics to legislate for a Protestant Church. He objected to the Roman Catholics because he felt and believed that Protestantism was the bulwark of our country; that it had, through God's blessed name, been the foundation of our civil and religious liberty. Could they look at what was now going on in the world, without being compelled to see that it was not by their own talents or their own power that they now stood firm? It was Christianity which had done it, and that Christianity they were now asked to give up. He was satisfied of this, that
England would soon be swept lower than any other nation on the face of the earth. The noble Marquess had told them that they had already admitted the Jews into many privileges, and that it was therefore absurd to deny them what was now asked. They were members of municipal corporations it was true, and they might be sheriffs of counties; but there was a wide difference between a man who administered the law, and a man who made the law. Yet this distinction they were now called upon to give up, for the sake, as it was said, of admitting 80,000 Jews to the right of sitting in Parliament, or rather for the purpose of admitting one Jew to sit in their Lordships' House, for that was the real question—that was to be the reward given to one of the Jews for services rendered to the Ministry of the clay, and particularly for services rendered to the illustrious individual who was at the head of it. But it was said the people were indifferent to this measure, and that their indifference was shown by the few petitions against it which were laid on their Lordships' table. But he must state that after the contempt with which the petitions of two millions of the people of England against the grant to Maynooth College were treated, they did not petition again. His advice to all who asked his opinion was, that, in the present state of the representation, neither House of Parliament would treat the petitions of the people with respect. He hoped this House would not pass the present Bill; if they did, depend upon it they would do much to shake the respect entertained for them by the people of England; and he was perfectly certain of this, that, if the right rev. Prelates voted for such a measure, within a year they would not have seats in that House. He said this as a real and sincere friend to the bench of Bishops. He would conclude by reminding the House of the words of Holy Writ:—
When your flocks and your herds, and your gold and your silver, and all that ye have are multiplied, and ye begin to say in your heart, Aha, my might and my arm hath gotten me all this, shall ye live? Ye shall surely perish, saith the Lord.
§ The DUKE of ARGYLL said, he was anxious, in a few words, to explain the vote which he was about to give; and if, on the first occasion on which he had ever had the honour of addressing their Lordships' House, it was on a subject of great interest and of great difficulty—a subject 1355 which had peculiarly divided the opinions, and still more the feelings, of wise and good men—he trusted the House would accept it as an additional claim on that courtesy and indulgence which their Lordships were ever so ready to extend to those who addressed them for the first time. And there was another claim which he was not ashamed to prefer. He was not ashamed to confess that, in considering this subject, and his own duty in regard to it, he had experienced some painful difficulty and doubt. After the best consideration, however, which he had been able to bestow, he had come to the resolution to vote for the second reading of this Bill. He should do so, at the same time, with feelings and opinions materially different from those which had been stated and expressed—not indeed so much in their Lordships' House, as in other places—by the advocates of the Jews. The noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government was reported to have said in another place, that he congratulated the country and the assembly he was then addressing, that not a few of the arguments formerly advanced by the opponents of this measure, had been abandoned during the course of the discussion. At a humble distance he would follow the example of the noble Lord, and he would congratulate the House and the country that not a few of the arguments advanced by the supporters of this measure, had been also abandoned during the discussion. They had not heard during the course of that debate—they had not heard from the noble Marquess opposite—any argument founded on the position that Christianity had no more to do with their legislation than it had with "cobbling." Yet such was the argument used—not in the heat of debate, but in a grave and studied essay—by a Gentleman who was then, he believed, a Member of Her Majesty's Government, the right hon. Gentleman the late Member for Edinburgh. For the great talents, the great attainments, and great eloquence of that right hon. Gentleman, no man had a greater respect than he had; and he only alluded to this point then, for the purpose of distinctly declaring that the principle that Christianity had nothing to do with legislation, formed no part whatever of the grounds on which he was prepared to support the measure before the House. But on the other band there were many of the arguments adduced against this Bill, which 1356 formed no part of the difficulty and doubt with which he had had to contend. The noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) who spoke second in that debate, and whose address seemed to produce so lively an impression on a portion, at least, of their Lordships' House, had said that the Jews were a "nation within a nation," implying, as he understood, that they were of the nature of aliens—aliens in their habits, their opinions, and their affections. The noble Viscount who had spoken from the bench below him, had argued that if the Jews were aliens, it was not so much their fault as ours; and he would appeal to the House whether there was not much force in this reply of the noble Viscount. For hundreds of years the Jews had been persecuted and oppressed—prevented from holding landed property, and from engaging in other pursuits open to the industry of other classes of the subjects of the Crown. But in point of law he did not believe the Jews were aliens; and whatever might be the truth of this position in other points of view, if there was no other objection against the Bill than that the Jews were foreigners in such a degree as to be incapable of representing the people of this country, he saw no reason why the Legislature should interpose to prevent constituencies from judging for themselves in respect to this. This was an argument which had had, he confessed, considerable effect on his own mind. It might be true in some senses, that the Jews were aliens; and it might be true, that in the fulfilment of prophecy they would be still more aliens than they had ever been before—God grant it might be soon!—but so long as they continued to live in this country, he saw no necessity for the Legislature refusing to allow constituencies to judge of their fitness to represent them in Parliament, although he by no means meant to argue that Jews ought to be so chosen. Then there was another argument which had been used by the most rev. Prelate who had spoken a short time before. He said, that he could not feel it to be consistent with his duty to admit to Parliament those who would be hostile to the institutions of that Church over which he so eminently presided. Now he would ask the most rev. Prelate, whether it was reasonable to anticipate from Jews one-tenth part of the hostility against our ecclesiastical institutions which was known to he entertained by Christian Dissenters? And if the fear of danger to those institutions, arising out of that hostility, had not pre- 1357 vented Parliament from freely admitting those Dissenters, he could not see that this fear was any adequate ground for the exclusion of the Jew. In truth, there was but one argument of any value or force whatever, against the Jews—the religious objection; and on this the noble Earl who spoke second in the debate, had almost entirely relied. It was said, that Christianity was part and parcel of the law of the land, and that it, was an anomaly. if not a shame, that those who were not Christians should represent men who were. Now, he confessed that the very vague and nominal Christianity which such methods of exclusion could alone preserve, was not in his eyes of the highest value. There were other and wider fields on which they could exercise their endeavours to preserve and to improve the Christianity of the Legislature. He asked them whether it was not the divisions among themselves—between Christian and Christian—which banished from the public discussions of Parliament every argument, every topic, peculiarly connected with religion. He hoped their Lordships would do him the justice to believe that he had not risen, on this occasion, with the idea that any arguments which he might use would influence their Lordships' House, or the vote of any Member in it. But he would most sincerely say, that if they could not separate their votes from the principle that Christianity had nothing to do with the legislation of this country, then he did not wish, he could not wish, that one Member of their Lordships' House should vote in favour of this Bill. But there was, as he had said, a long and wide field in which they might use their best endeavours to preserve the Christianity of the country; and he felt that this measure would be no impediment to those exertions. He had now only to thank their Lordships for the kind and courteous indulgence which they had extended towards him.
The BISHOP of ST. DAVID'S*: My Lords; If I should seem to have shown too strong a desire to take precedence in the debate over the noble Earl (the Earl of Winchilsea), who in every other respect is so fully entitled to it, I am sure that your Lordships will have done me the justice to attribute this apparent forwardness to the true motive. As I had reason to believe that the noble Earl was about to take the same side of the question with
* From a corrected Report.
the most rev. Prelate, I thought it might be more convenient, both for your Lordships and for the noble Earl himself, if he had an opportunity of answering a few arguments which I shall have to offer on the opposite side of the question. But I do not at all regret that I gave way to the noble Earl. I am glad that I had not spoken before I had listened to the denunciations which he has thought proper to pour forth. It has been my fate, on a former occasion, to accept a similar challenge thrown out by the noble Earl, and I shall not now shrink from a like course. I am not blind to the dangers with which we hare been threatened by the noble Earl; and I do not know to what extent it may be in his power to verify his own predictions. But I can only say, in the language of an infinitely greater man, on a far more momentous occasion, "The Lord's will be done; I must do my duty." My Lords, I should have felt it necessary to say a few words on the subject of this debate, if it had been only for the sake of a single remark; and it is this: Though the vote I am about to give will be in perfect harmony with that which I gave several years ago when a similar question was brought tinder your Lordships' deliberation; and though I have never looked back upon that vote—which happened to be the first I had the honour of giving in your Lordships' House—with any feeling bordering upon regret, still I wish it to be understood that I do not consider myself as bound in the slightest degree by the course which I then felt it my duty to pursue. As on that occasion I did not conceive that by the vote I then gave, I was pledging myself to take a step farther in the same direction; so now I conceive that I might, without any breach of consistency, have adopted a different conclusion from that at which I have actually arrived. And the same is probably the case with many of your Lordships. And as your Lordships are unfettered in this respect, so it gives me pleasure to think that you are under no external pressure or bias, to prevent you from exercising your judgment upon this question with perfect freedom. I rejoice that the sense of the country, so far as it has been expressed by the petitions which have been laid on the table of your Lordships' House, has been expressed in such a manner as to remove all possibility of an appeal to any motives foreign to your own convictions. I am aware that this has been treated by some
of the adversaries of this measure as a ground of hope; but with the view which I take of the subject, I cannot permit myself to consider it as a just cause for fear. But I must confess that I do not feel quite so sure that your Lordships are equally free from every other kind of bias. It has been asserted—as I think, very rashly and groundlessly, but, at all events, without a possibility of verifying the assertion—that the present measure proceeded from indifference to religion in those who proposed and sanctioned it. As to that I will only say, that if such was the case, we should be led to some singular results. Looking at the petitions which have emanated from various quarters on both sides of the question, we should be obliged to conclude that the spirit of religion was very unequally diffused over the surface of the land: that it was at boiling heat in one congregation, and at freezing point in another in the same neighbourhood. I
must confess, my Lords, I have no confidence in the indications of such a religious thermometer as this. But I am not hazarding a mere surmise, or a rash or ungrounded assertion, when I say that the class of persons for whose relief this measure is proposed, have not yet ceased to be the objects of a very general, hereditary, unreasoning prejudice, aversion, and contempt. Looking at the history of past times, I think it is morally impossible that this should not have been the case. Looking at the persecution and oppression which that people suffered in past ages, I hold it to be absolutely certain that, although that state of things has passed away, it must have left deep traces in the habits and modes of thinking prevailing among the people of this country. Now, my Lords, I do not presume to say that any of your Lordships are under the influence of such a prejudice. All I will venture to say, is, that if such be the case—if none of your Lordships are, or ever have been, affected by such a feeling—then I must acknowledge that I am the most prejudiced and the most bigoted person in your Lordship's House, for I must own that I have experienced it, and that I have had some difficulty in resisting it. But it is one which I have felt it to be my duty to resist, and which I should have been sorry to have allowed to have any weight, so as to overpower my conviction in favour of the conclusion I have come to. My Lords, I have made this remark, not so much for its own sake, as by way of introducing one of much greater import-
ance, for which I would bespeak your Lordships' indulgent attention. For, ample as is the discussion which this subject has undergone, much as it has been debated in print and speech, I have not observed that any notice has been taken of the point I am now about to propose for your consideration.
§ It has been constantly assumed, and hitherto without contradiction, that it belongs to the very essence of the Jewish religion to inspire feelings of the utmost aversion and abhorrence towards that Person, who to us as Christians is the object of supreme love and veneration. This opinion, your Lordships will recollect, was the main point put forward in the petition presented by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Galloway) from the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; and it has furnished the strongest argument upon which the adversaries of the measure have founded their opposition to it. It was adverted to by the most rev. Prelate, and it was urged by the most rev. Prelate's lamented predecessor, as the main ground on which he felt it impossible to consent to any such measure as that which is now proposed. Now, my Lords, I may seem to be advancing a paradox, but I am stating my earnest and sincere opinion, when I express my belief that there is no adequate foundation for that assertion. I say no adequate foundation, for I do not mean to say that it has absolutely no foundation at all. As a matter of fact, I am ready to admit, that such bitter feelings may and probably do exist, and even prevail extensively, among persons of the Jewish persuasion. But then I wish to call your Lordships' attention to a most important distinction. The question which I would beg your Lordships to put yourselves is, whether this feeling, or this doctrine, is essentially connected with the Jewish religion, or not; whether it is of the essence of that religion, or only an accident which might be separated from it, so that the one might exist, and probably has existed, and does exist, without the other. I will state some of the reasons which strongly incline my own mind in favour of the latter view of the subject. Let it be supposed for a moment that this was the true view, and that there was no necessary connexion between the Jewish creed and that feeling of bitter hostility towards our Saviour. Still the actual prevalence of such a feeling, if it does prevail, might most easily be accounted for. It would be nothing more 1361 than the natural and inevitable consequence of those long ages, first of fierce controversy, and then of oppression and persecution, through which it has been the lot of the Jewish people to pass. However foreign such an opinion may originally have been to their religion, it was next to impossible that under such circumstances it should not have grown up and clung to it. Then if it were inquired, upon what ground such feelings are attributed to the Jews as something essential to their orthodox theology; I know of none but this—that they deny the claim which that Divine Person put forward with regard to his own character and office. But where, in this respect, is the difference between the case of the Jew and the Unitarian? Is it not equally true of the Unitarian that he denies that which we conceive to be, according to the plain sense of Scripture, the undoubted assertion of that Divine Person with regard to his own character and mission? And yet we know that the Unitarian is so far from regarding Him with any feeling of such a nature as that which on this ground we impute to the Jew, that he looks upon Him with a veneration similar in kind, if not equal in degree, to our own. I do not wish to be understood to deny that there is in other respects a very great difference between the Jew and the Unitarian; all that I am concerned to maintain is, that in this respect, which is the main ground on which the privilege which has been granted to the one has been withheld from the other, they stand upon the same footing. Still I am aware that these arguments may appear to be rather of a negative than a positive nature, and to rest rather upon conjecture than on evidence of the fact; and therefore I proceed to another consideration, which has weighed most with my own mind, and was what first led me to doubt the truth of the assertion to which I have referred. And this is, that I find a Jewish historian speaking of our blessed Lord, not in terms of the slightest disrespect, but describing him as a teacher of a pure morality, and as the victim of a cabal and a popular outcry, raised by the influence of the Jewish priests and rulers, and as condemned by them to an unjust punishment. I find a Jewish philosopher who was most devoutly attached to the principles of his faith, representing Him as one who asserted the claims of a spiritual religion, in opposition to the hypocrisy and formality which prevailed in high places in his time. I 1362 find the same philosopher assuming the possibility that a Jew might become a Christian, and arguing that he would still remain bound as much as ever by the Mosaic law. From all this I think I am justified in drawing the inference, that feelings of aversion and abhorrence toward our blessed Redeemer are not universal among the Jewish people, and that Jews who strenuously uphold their own creed may nevertheless regard Christianity without bitterness and hatred; and I would remind your Lordships that there are differences of opinion on religious matters among the Jews as among ourselves.
§ I have perhaps dwelt too long on this part of the question; but I considered it as one of so much importance as to deserve your Lordships' special attention. If I have fallen into error on this point, I have no doubt that I shall be followed by those who are able to correct it. Fortunately, however, the present question does not depend on the correctness or incorrectness of the opinion I have ventured to propose. Indeed, had it not been for the discussion which the question has undergone, and the variety of arguments which have been raised upon it, I should have thought it one of the simplest and plainest that could have been brought before you. The measure now proposed is one of a remedial and relieving character. It is a measure for the removal of disabilities under which a certain class of Her Majesty's subjects are labouring. It is therefore one of a kind which is at all times entitled to your Lordships' favour; and, if you are called upon to reject it, I apprehend it must be on some very plain, clear, and solid grounds. You will not be contented with any fine airy speculations, which we know may easily be invested with a show of substance and solidity by ingenious sophistry and eloquent declamation. This your Lordships would feel in any case. But the present measure conies before you under very peculiar circumstances. As we have already been reminded, a great constituency has made choice of a representative from among the Jewish persuasion; and the House of Commons has declared its willingness to remove the only bar which prevents that choice from being ratified and carried into effect. It now remains, therefore, for your Lordships to say whether you will tell that great constituency that they shall not have the representative of their choice, and whether you will tell the House of Commons that they 1363 shall not have the Member whom they desire to see among them. Being called upon to do that, I conceive that it behoves your Lordships to be quite sure that there are some strong substantial grounds of public expediency which require you to reject such a measure as this, or some clear inconvenience or danger which you would incur by adopting it. For my own part, the more I inquire what the danger or inconvenience is, the more I am at a loss to discover it. We have been told, indeed, that this measure is inconsistent with the safety of Christianity, and that it will be dangerous, and possibly ruinous, to the interests of the Church. Now, when your Lordships are desired to reject this measure as injurious to Christianity, I should be glad to know wherein the danger with which it is supposed to threaten the welfare of Christianity consists. Is it that it belongs to the functions of the Legislature to regulate the doctrines or to guide the destinies of the Christian religion? Or is it that there is ground to apprehend that, through the new influence winch this measure may be the means of introducing into the Legislature, Christianity may come to be persecuted and proscribed? I need only mention such a notion for your Lordships at once to repudiate it as utterly absurd; and I cannot conceive how any one can have seriously entertained it. But it has been intimated that the effect of this measure may be to expose Christianity to the danger, though not of any serious injury, yet of insult and dishonour: as if it was likely that the persons who may, through the operation of this Bill, be introduced into the other House of Parliament, would be so forgetful of the common decencies of life, so indifferent to the feelings of those among whom they sat, and also, I beg your Lordships to observe, to the feelings of the constituencies whom they would represent, and therefore so unmindful of their own interests, as to be willing, when opportunity served, to offer an insult to the Christian religion. There is indeed another kind of danger which has been represented as likely to arise from this measure—that we may be exposing ourselves to the Divine displeasure by such a mark of respect for a people whom the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Winchilsea) would have your Lordships consider as only fit to remain as a monument of Divine wrath. My Lords, I am very loth to touch upon this topic, lest the feelings with which I regard it as an argu- 1364 ment, should by possibility appear to be transferred to the sacred subject to which it relates; and I will only venture to observe, that if there is any reason to dread that the Divine vengeance may be impending over us, it would be rather on account of the crimes of which this nation was guilty towards the ancestors of this people in times past, than of any indulgence which we may show to them in future. At all events, I am sure, that by our conduct in times past, a heavy debt of guilt was incurred, and I am by no means so sure that it has ever been duly acquitted. Then as to the dangers with which this measure has been supposed to threaten the Church of England, I may dismiss that part of the subject with a single remark. It is true that although it does not belong to the Legislature to deal with Christianity as a spiritual religion, it has to deal with the temporal interests and the social relations of the professors of that religion; and though a Jew, when admitted to be a Member of Parliament, would not have a voice on any subject really affecting the interests of Christianity, he certainly might be called upon to vote on questions of very great importance to the interests of the Church of England. But the question is, not whether there is any anomaly, or incongruity, or danger, in that, but whether any new danger is introduced by this Bill which did not exist before and without it. And as to this, I entirely concur with the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll), to whose speech we have listened with so much pleasure. I must say, that if any question affecting the interests of the Church of England is to be discussed in the other House of Parliament, I, for one, should greatly prefer that it should be submitted to the decision of a Jew, rather than to that of a Dissenter. I do not mean by this to imply the slightest disrespect towards any Dissenting body which may have one of its members seated in the House of Commons; but, on the common principles of human nature, I conceive that a Dissenter must be subject to a much stronger bias on such questions, and must be much more hostilely disposed towards the Church of England, than a Jew can possibly be.
§ My Lords, I shall not dwell any longer on the question of expediency, the rather as I have scarcely ever seen a pamphlet on the subject—and I have read a great many, especially on the opposite side of the question—or a speech, in which it was 1365 not stated that this is not so much a question of expediency as of principle. I readily admit that it is a question of principle; and I am the last man in the world to undervalue the importance of principle. But if I am to estimate the value of principle by the kind of arguments to which that name has been given, in the discussion of this measure, I should be inclined to suppose that by principle was meant something opposed to facts and experience. If this is so—if principle is a thing of such a nature that the more you shut your eyes on the real circumstances of the case, the firmer the grasp by which you lay hold on principle—then I must admit that the weight of principle lies all on the other side of the question. But, my Lords, I cannot attribute the dignity of a principle to any of the arguments which I have seen adduced in opposition to this measure. With the utmost respect for the persons who have used them, I cannot consider them as anything more than a tissue of sophisms and fallacies which have already been so ably exposed, that I am almost ashamed to advert to them again. Some of them have been already repeated in the course of the present debate; and I have no doubt that, as it proceeds, your Lordships will hear a great many more. One of those arguments, which has been produced in a great variety of forms, is, that this measure tends to unchristianise the Legislature. How often has this objection been confuted by the simple observation, that the Legislature, after this measure shall have been passed, and shall have been carried into actual operation, will remain Christian, exactly in the same sense, and precisely in the same proportion, as the country itself is Christian! Your Lordships are not now, for the first time, about to unchristianise the country. That was done some two hundred years ago. It was done when the Jewish element was introduced into the population of this country. And I would beg your Lordships to recollect by whom that was done. Perhaps I may be permitted to mention an anecdote which occurs in a book with which it is possible that some of your Lordships may not be familiar. It is related in Spence's Anecdotes of Books and Men, and it rests on the authority of an eyewitness, Sir Paul Rycaut, who was present at a conference which took place at Whitehall, between the Protector and a body of the clergy of London, whom he had called together to deliberate on the question, whe- 1366 ther the Jews should be permitted to build a synagogue in London. I have an extract with me, but your Lordships will probably be satisfied with the substance. It is stated that on that occasion the clergy inveighed against the Jews, as a cruel and cursed race. The Protector did not deny it; but he asked them, in the first place, whether they did not hold the belief that the Jews were one day to be brought within the pale of the Christian Church? and next, whether they did not think that it was the duty of every Christian to promote so desirable an end by all the means in his power? The clergy, it may easily be supposed, answered both these questions in the affirmative; and then he proceeded to ask, if there was not a greater likelihood of such an object being attained if the Jews were brought into a country where they would have the advantage of seeing the Christian religion professed and practised in its purest form, than if they were suffered to remain in other countries, where it was disfigured by numberless corruptions? It is added, that this silenced the clergy. Now, I do not expect that it will have the same effect at this day with the opponents of this measure, nor have I quoted the anecdote with any such view; but I wished to point out to your Lordships, how little it could have entered into the mind of that great man, that in the measure which he was then desirous of introducing, though he must have known that he was about to settle in this country a body of persons who would remain to all time a constituent portion of its population, he was taking a step which would have the effect of unchristianising the country. Perhaps it may be said—But what would Cromwell have . thought, if it had been proposed to admit Jews into the Legislature? My Lords, I answer, that he never thought of that at all. Considering the difficulty which Cromwell found in persuading the clergy, and it may be added, the merchants also, to consent to what he then proposed in favour of the Jews, it was morally impossible that the idea of their admission into the Legislature could have entered into his mind. That was a question which he left for posterity to solve.
§ But there is another point of view in which this argument has sometimes been brought forward. It has been said, that when we admit into the Legislature persons who profess a different religion from our own, we are parting with the only security we possess for the conscientious 1367 discharge of the. duties of a legislator. It is admitted, that there can be no such security without a sense of religion; and it is assumed, that religious principles must be wanting in the Jew. Now, I wish your Lordships to see what is the real point involved in that multiplicity of phrases in which this argument has been wrapt up. Nobody disputes the importance of a sense of religion in a Member of the Legislature; nobody denies the influence of religion upon a man's views of morality, and consequently upon his practice. I readily admit, not only that the professor of one religion will differ in most important particulars, as to his moral sentiments, from the professor of another; I even go further, and say that, within the circle of Christianity itself, religious differences—as those of Catholic and Protestant—will give a distinctive tinge and shape to a man's notions of morality. But still it is clear that, after all, there remains a large common ground, on which it would be an absurd refinement to pretend that there is any difference between them in their sense of right and wrong. Is it possible to contend that a conscientious Jew would be prevented by his peculiar feelings of religion from doing his duty to the public in the capacity of a legislator? Do any of your Lordships consider it possible to draw such a refined distinction as to say that you could trace in the vote that a man would give upon any great public question, the effects of his particular views of religion? I will only say, that I shall be content if your Lordships will only suspend your assent to such a proposition as that, until you are sure that you thoroughly understand it.
§ Another objection equally fallacious and sophistical, which has been brought against this measure, is that it is an innovation upon the constitution, because Christianity is part and parcel of the constitution. But I would ask, What kind of Christianity is that in which this part and parcel consists? And what is that principle of the constitution to which this measure is opposed? I freely admit that the old principle of the constitution was one of absolute exclusiveness. It proscribed and excluded from all places of trust and authority, not only Jews, Turks, and infidels, but heretics and schismatics. It was only at a late period that this principle has been relaxed. But the innovation took place when that relaxation was admitted, and the principle which this Bill is said to oppose ceased, to 1368 form part of the British constitution. The principle has been gradually relaxed, and at length absolutely discarded. It is, therefore, not consistent with the real state of the case to represent this measure as an innovation on the constitution; on the contrary, if there is one thing which had been more clearly proved than another on this question, it is that the barrier which new happens to impede the admission of Jews into the Legislature, is the mere creature of accident—that it was net raised by the Legislature for that purpose, but for one totally different—and it now remains for your Lordships to decide whether it shall have an effect which it was never intended to produce. And, therefore, if your Lordships should reject this measure, it will be you who will be making an innovation upon the constitution, and introducing a principle which does not now exist in it. The principle of this measure is in perfect harmony with the most essential principle of the constitution. It is an indication of that elastic vigour, flexibility, and expansiveness, which are its glory and its strength. And it is to this very quality—by virtue of which the constitution is not a thing which must be broken to pieces before it will admit of any change—that this country is indebted for the immunity which it enjoys, and, I hope, notwithstanding the denunciations of the noble Earl, will long continue to enjoy, from those convulsions by which elsewhere society has been shaken to its centre.
§ There is still another branch of the subject on which I wish to offer a few remarks before I sit down, more especially as it is one on which I happen to find myself opposed to a person for whose opinions I entertain the highest respect—I mean the nationality of the Jews. It has been contended that the Jew is essentially an alien, and, consequently, disqualified for a participation in the privileges enjoyed by other subjects in this country. This opinion is strongly asserted in the writings of Dr. Arnold, the author to whom I have just alluded. It is there maintained that a Jew has no more right to take a part in legislation for the people of this country, than a lodger has to interfere in the management of a house in which he happens to live. Perhaps I might except to the illustration; for cases may be conceived in which a lodger would have a right to interfere in the affairs of the house in which he lodged, according to the interest he might have in it. But the jus- 1369 tice of the comparison is a point of little importance. There are other and stronger grounds on which I am obliged here to dissent from Dr. Arnold. In the first place, his opinion was evidently formed on the analogy of the Greek and Roman States, rather than on the existing circumstances of this country. In the history of those States he found a class which seemed to correspond to the condition of the Jews; and thus he was naturally led to adopt the views taken by the ancient writers of the position and relations of that class, and to apply them to the case of the Jews. But there was another cause which operated still more strongly on the mind of Dr. Arnold to give this direction to his opinions, and it is one which I think should prevent your Lordships from being much swayed by his authority on this question. Your Lordships are probably aware of the extreme opinions held by Dr. Arnold on the identity of Church and State. The admission of Jews to the Legislature appeared to him entirely irreconcilable with his favourite theory, and he was, consequently, strongly opposed to it. This I believe to be the ground to which his opinions on the subject may be most distinctly traced. And not only did they spring from a theory which few of your Lordships will be inclined to adopt, but they are carried to a length to which you would hardly be prepared to go along with him; for, in his opinion, it would not be inconsistent with justice or humanity, if the Government of this country should think proper to transport all the Jews settled among us—as was done with the Moriscos in Spain—to some other region. I do not know, if such a maxim was generally admitted, where this unhappy race would find a resting place for the soles of their feet, on the surface of the globe. But I think your Lordships will allow that an opinion derived from such an origin, and leading to such consequences, is not entitled to all the weight which would otherwise belong to that great and venerated name.
§ But this objection has been pushed still farther. It has been said, that the Jew is not only an alien by descent, but that he is incapable of those ties by which the feelings and interests of Englishmen are bound up with the prosperity of their country. It is alleged that here he must always feel as in a foreign land: that his heart must be in the birthplace of his religion, in Palestine. Now, there is so far 1370 a foundation in fact for this opinion, that the Jewish religion is a religion of hope. It encourages the Jews to look forward to a period more or less remote, when he shall be restored to the land of his forefathers. But, I must own, I cannot understand why on this account he should in the meanwhile be less attached to the interests of his adopted country, or should less faithfully discharge his social duties, than any other citizen.
§ Then it has been contended that no truly religious Jew can feel any desire for the object of this measure. It is asserted that the Jews, as a body, are indifferent to it, and do not regard it as a boon. There may be some truth in this; but in no other sense than a similar remark would apply to many bodies of Christians. For many such there are who consider the Apostle's language, "Here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come," as still applicable to their own circumstances, and who are prevented by their religious scruples from taking an active part in public life.
§ But, on the whole of this subject, I would observe, that the argument from nationality reduces itself to the question of religion. It is clear that nothing but the difference of religion has prevented the fusion of races from taking place in the case of the Jews, as in that of the refugees who settled in this country after the Edict of Nantes. Take away the religious difference, and there would be no more reason for treating the Jews as aliens, than any of the other races which compose the elements of our mixed population. The people among whom I habitually reside is separated from us by as great a difference, and one not only of blood, but of language; and in both respects feels itself to be more closely connected with its brethren on the other side of the Channel, than with its fellow-citizens to the east of Offa's Dyke. But this has not prevented them from being admitted to share all the benefits of the British constitution; and, I believe, that nowhere in the kingdom are there to be found more loyal subjects.
§ My Lords, I am too thankful for the degree of attention with which your Lordships have listened to me, to trespass any longer on your time. The interest I feel in the subject has led me, perhaps, to dwell upon it at an excessive length. But I cannot say that I look forward to the result of this discussion with any great anxiety. I am a believer in the force of truth, 1371 in the power of justice, and in the ultimate triumph of Christianity; and I am firmly convinced that by passing this measure, as you will be consulting the interests of justice, so you will not be impairing those of the Christian faith—that you will not be retarding, but rather hastening, the period of its final triumph. I believe that by giving your assent to this Bill, you will be hastening the approach of the time when the veil shall be taken away from the eyes of the people for whose relief it is designed; because I believe that every exclusion by which they are deprived of the rights enjoyed by their fellow-subjects, lays an additional fold to the veil which prevents them from discerning the truth. I am persuaded that by such means you are weakening the strength and degrading the dignity of Christianity. You are depriving it of its most essential character; you are robbing it of its brightest attributes; you are identifying it with invidious and irritating distinctions, and preventing it from accomplishing its great mission—that of promoting the glory of God by diffusing peace and good-will among men.
The BISHOP of OXFORD said, that, in rising to address their Lordships upon this important subject, he felt, in common with many others who, like him, were about to vote against the progress of this Bill, that he was put in somewhat of an invidious position, in being made to assume something of the appearance of refusing to his fellow-citizens a right to which it was assumed they were entitled. This had been assumed by every one of their Lordships who had addressed the House in favour of the Bill. The noble Viscount (Viscount Canning) who supported the second reading, spoke of the exclusion of the Jews from Parliament as a "political injustice." The noble Marquess, also, who moved the second reading of the Bill, told their Lordships that he moved it as a right to which that portion of Her Majesty's subjects were entitled. There was something painful in even seeming to stand in the way of any rights belonging to any one of Her Majesty's subjects; but there was something more than this in the question under consideration. If the Jews had a right to be admitted into Parliament, he should be prepared to do right, and, without regard to ulterior consequences, to throw them at once to the winds. But he contended that they had no such right. He thought this point a most important one in the discussion; for he believed that the assertion of
this right was the assertion of a principle which, if carried out, must be fatal to the constitution of this kingdom. No rights were better understood and defined, not only in this country, but under the Roman empire, than the jus civitatis, the jus suffragii, and the jus petitionis. To the former two of these rights the Jews were fairly entitled; but the jus petitionis, which was the right of admission to office, was, strictly speaking, no right at all. It was a right given to one set of persons for the benefit of all, and was not conferred for the benefit of the receiver in particular. Now, to speak of the Jew—by being a worthy member of society—obtaining a right to sit in those Houses, seemed to imply that the right was one conferred for the benefit of the person on whom it was conferred, and not one intended for the benefit of the public. The supposition that the having a seat in that House was a right belonging to those who enjoyed it, was one conceived in the very essence of Chartism; for if a share in the legislation was a great boon to the party on whom it was conferred alone, did not their position become untenable in justice when they withheld from others a
privilege which was the right of the privileged class alone, instead of being, as he conceived it to be, a trust to be administered for the benefit of all? Now, this seemed to him to show clearly that no man, or set of men, could say that they had a right to sit in Parliament. A seat in the Legislature was given as a trust to those whom the nation at large believed would exercise it best for the interests, not of themselves alone, but of the community at large. This was the reason why the Legislature had hitherto said, and why in future it should say, that, admitting it to be a trust, they could not permit that trust to be held by persons of the Jewish religion. And here, by the way, he might remark, in reference to an argument of his right rev. Brother who had preceded him (the Bishop of St. David's), that the nationality of the Jewish people did, in point of fact, prevent them from having such a trust entrusted to them. His right rev. Brother had dwelt strongly on this part of the case; but he (the Bishop of Oxford) would prove to him that there was nothing in his argument. One remark of his right rev. Brother had filled him with the most unfeigned astonishment. He had stated that it was not at all the race of the Jews that made them another people, but that it was their reli-
gion that had that effect. Why, that was the very point of their argument. Their argument was, that the Jew must be a member of another nation if he be a conscientious Jew, and that the difference between him and other British subjects was not one that a few generations could obliterate, after which the new stream would become blended with the old stream, so that no one could see any difference between them. They held that the Jew had a faith whose chief requirement was, that he was not to blend with other people—that in the midst of them he must remember the practices of his faith, and preserve himself from any contact with them, even in the midst of his daily mingling among them. He would not ask their Lordships to rely upon his mere assertion that this was the case; but he would refer, for the purpose of showing that the Jews did consider themselves a distinct nation, to a work written by Mr. Joshua Van Oven, called A Manual of Judaism, in a Conversation between a Rabbi and his Pupil. And here he would observe, that the opinions of men with respect to their religious doctrines and tenets were to be received with more or less weight, just as it was perceived that their opinions were delivered without bias, and without any great object in view. He thought that their Lordships would only need to be reminded of those examinations which were taken before Parliament, when another great question, something like the present, was in agitation, to be satisfied that a correct insight into the fundamental tenets of religious belief was more likely to be attained when no great object was in view, rather than in a period of excitement. Mr. Van Oven said, that the preparation of a certain kind of food was commanded for a certain kind of nation, which to this day prevented too easy a connexion between them and persons of a different faith. The country bad been told that the German Jew was a German, and not a Jew, and that an English Jew was an Englishman. But what became of this argument when those who put it forward said that the admission of Jews into the Parliament of England would probably put a stop to the persecution of the Jews in other countries? It would appear, therefore, that even in the minds of those who advocated the present measure, the Jews of all countries formed a part of the Jewish nation. He should show that this was certainly the view which the Jews themselves took of their own po-
sition. Mr. Van Oven, speaking of one of the great observances of the Jewish faith, said, "Such is the observance of one day by the whole nation throughout the civilised world." There was another passage to the same effect in a work written by Rabbi Krule. That learned person, addressing himself to a friend in England, said, "You are no Englishman, though born in England; you are a Jew." Again, he said, "Suppose your Bill is passed, you will soon say, London is our Jerusalem, and England our land of Canaan; we have no need now of another Jerusalem, or of another land of Canaan.'" What greater proof did the House need that the Jews were a nation within a nation? The people of this country must certainly either believe this, and that they would admit persons into the Legislature who in their hearts did not recognise an allegiance to the land of their birth, or else that they would admit infidels under the name of Jews, wearing the shell of a religion of which they had abandoned the reality. Now, if they admitted this, the argument as to the right of the Jew fell to the ground; for the right could only exist on the supposition that he was a member of this nation—even taking the term in its lowest sense, that of simple eligibility. He did not wish to bring any arguments forward unfavourable to the great interests of that nation, but the question was one of too much importance to allow of such feelings to influence him too far. He thought that the objections to the Bill were not entirely theoretical, but that there were practical grounds also for considering the Jews as forming a distinct nation. He could not forget that it was a French Jew who made it possible for the French Emperor to bring home his army, after the most disastrous of his campaigns; and their Lordships would also remember that, in the very extreme height of the war between France and England, an English Jew was found ready to contract a loan in this country for Napoleon. Taking it then to be established that Jews had not the right to admission into Parliament, what other argument had been adduced to induce their Lordships to pass this Bill? The noble Marquess had appealed to the kindness of the House, but if the Jews had rights there was no reason for appealing to the kindness of the Legislature; and he maintained that by passing this measure they would consent to an abandonment of the truth,
and confer upon the Jews a fatal benefit. He said a fatal benefit, because the danger to the Jew was the danger of infidelity. He stood in the position of being the professor of a religion which was once the true faith—that faith centering in the hope and promise that at some time there should rise out of his nation the blessed Saviour of mankind, and that hope and promise turning to corruption and rottenness if the Messiah came not. That people had gone on for 1,800 years, receiving a weakened tradition from their half unbelieving fathers; and how could it be expected that a race immersed in the pursuit of gain, with nothing to counteract that passion but a belief in the truth of their religion, would be benefited by an admission into the British Parliament? Abhorring, as he did, the cruelty with which the forefathers (so called incorrectly) of the Jews were treated, he contended that that cruelty was based upon truth, and was kinder than the false humanity which would teach this people that the revelation made to them was either false or an immaterial trifle. The Rabbi Krule had observed, "how little the word of God is regarded in this land, in voting for the emancipation of the Jews." The Jews must suppose that we were indifferent to our own faith when we admitted Jews to legislate for us. In the next place it was an utter fallacy to say that the Jews who now resided in this country, were the descendants of the Jews so cruelly persecuted by the Edwards and Henries. Every Jew who was now in England had come to England (or his immediate ancestors) within the last 200 years, and they been permitted to come on the condition that they would have shelter and kindness, but not political privileges. He would ask then what right had the Jews to the privileges claimed for them? They were like people who had been shipwrecked, and who had received shelter, and then claimed from those whose hospitality they had enjoyed the full rights of citizenship. And now with regard to what had fallen from the noble Marquess as to the claim of right, he did not inform their Lordships in what way it would advantage the community. He admitted that the right to the legislative office was given for the sake of those who were represented; and he would go further, and say that it would be some argument if the noble Marquess were able to state that it was for the good of any constituency that this right should be conceded; but which
of their Lordships would be prepared to admit that it was necessary for either an English Or Irish constituency? No doubt there might have been in certain cases certain advantages derivable from the election of Jewish representatives. Far be it from him, however, to say that he knew any such instance. He professed to have no knowledge of those "secrets of the prison-house." ["Hear!"] He repeated, for the information of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Clanricarde), that though he knew nothing about the secrets of the late election for the city of London, yet that he was not without sonic knowledge of the public history of that transaction. It was pretty well known that it was because the Prime Minister at the head of the Government, finding himself hard put to it for his election, thought it convenient, in order to secure his success, to connect himself with a firm where one of the partners found the capital and the other the character. Declarations in favour of removing Jewish disabilities might under such circumstances have been found exceedingly convenient. He was quite free to admit that there might be, and doubtless there were, English constituencies which, influenced by peculiar reasons, very earnestly desired that a Bill of this nature should pass into a law; and he had not forgotten that something like a threat was held out, that it would be better for their Lordships to pass the Bill now, because propositions for its adoption would be reiterated, and that in every succeeding year a similar measure would be introduced. But he would say to their Lordships, that if they believed it to be morally wrong, or even morally questionable for them to agree to such a measure, no consideration founded upon repeated introductions of the measure ought with their Lordships to have the least influence. There was no act by which they could more utterly stultify their own existence than by passing such a measure under the terror of such a threat. If not a Session were ever allowed to pass without the introduction of such a Bill, he still should say, let them not pass it unless they were convinced that it was morally right and politically expedient. One of the most important questions which this proceeding involved was how far its passing would unchristanise the Legislature. He would say this, and he would say it in no purely theological and in no mystic sense, but as a plain and practical truth, that its effect must be to unchristanise the Legis-
lature. The noble Viscount had said that the time was when none but Christians belonging to the Church of England were admitted into the Legislature of this country; but that now we admitted all classes of Dissenters who, in any sense, called themselves Christians; and he inferred, therefore, that the Christianity of Parliament was an unreal Christianity. Now this was a mistake; for all they could do in the first instance, as in the last, was to rely on the professions of men; and they had still got a Legislature composed of those who professed to be followers of the Christian religion. But that was a very different step from the step now proposed, which was the greatest step that ever a Christian Legislature was asked to take. They were asked to let in those who were not only not Christians but were even haters of Christianity—men either calling themselves Jews, being absolute unbelievers, or really Jews believing that the God whom we worshipped their ancestors betrayed, and justly slew, as a malefactor. The Members of both Houses must remember this, that ever since they had admitted Roman Catholics and Dissenters into Parliament, they were from that time forward no longer at liberty to assume anything known to be hostile to the acknowledged principles of those parties. He was well acquainted with an active Member of the other House, who told him that antecedently to the year 1829, he was in the habit of bringing forward Motions against that which he conceived to be the chief evil of Romanism; but be abandoned that practice from the moment that Roman Catholics were admitted into the Legislature, for he did not think that either House had a right to take anything for granted which was at variance with the known religions principles of those who had been admitted into the Legislature: that hon. Gentleman conceived, most justly, that his brother Members had as good a right to their opinions as he had to his own. If Jews, then, were admitted into the Legislature, it would be impossible to assume any principle inconsistent with their avowed opinions. He would mention a very important fact illustrative of the position for which he was contending—in the present discussion it was a great fact, and one to which he wished to draw the special attention of their Lordships. When extreme distress prevailed in Ireland, the Wesleyan body transmitted to the Committee of the British Association
for the relief of Irish distress a considerable sum, and it was arranged that a letter of thanks should be written to those who had thus liberally contributed to a good work; and the terms of the draught of that letter conveyed thanks to them for their "Christian charity." One of the Jewish nation was a member of the committee; his name need not be mentioned, but he took exception to the use of the word "Christian:" he would not have it, and his argument was this—"You admit me to sit here as a member of your committee; you admit me as a Jew: I will therefore not agree to have the proceedings of this committee conducted upon Christian principles. I say you are not charitable in consequence of being Christians; but in spite of your Christianity. I require that those words be struck out;" and the word "Christian" was struck out—ex uno disce omnes. Those who now came to them said, "No harm is intended with respect to your religion. What harm can possibly follow from the admission of a few Jews into Parliament?" This harm would follow, that from the day they legalised the annihilation of Christian distinctions, they could no longer appeal to Christian authority. On what principle was it they thought themselves commissioned to make laws that governed half the globe? Was it not because the law of England was based on the law of God as revealed by Christ Jesus? This was uniformly the ground held by the jurisconsults of the land: it was the ground held by Blackstone, who said that no human law was valid if contrary to God's law; and such of them as were not opposed to it, derived all their authority from this original. There was no other strength to which laws could refer, except to the strength of brute force; and never was there yet seen an infidel nation in which the introduction of infidelity had not sapped the foundation of all law, and brought with it anarchy and confusion, and the loss of liberty and peace. He begged their Lordships, therefore, to pause and weigh well what they were doing before they consented to a measure which would upset the profession of Christianity in the land, overthrow the basis of law, and sap the foundation of every one of their institutions. He felt that he had now pretty nearly exhausted all the arguments that it was necessary to bring under the notice of their Lordships; but he could not altogether avoid noticing some remarks which fell from a noble Duke whose presence in that House he hailed
with great pleasure. It seemed as if some persons thought that the doctrines of religion were separable from the business of legislation. But he must, again and again, remind them that the deepest wound that they could inflict upon the religious sympathies, the religious trust, and the moral trust of the people of England, would be accomplished by any attempt to separate religion from legislation. Much of what fell from the noble Marquess near him he had listened to with much pain; and not the least portion of that pain was occasioned by the terms in which the noble Marquess spoke of the important and unquestionable relations subsisting between Judaism and Christianity. He had spoken of Judaism as the cradle of Christianity; but if left to itself it would have been the tomb of Christianity. He had also heard words from the mouth of his right rev. Brother (the Bishop of St. David's) behind him which drew forth from those around the right rev. Prelate—he meant other Members of the bench from which he spoke —expressions of the most unmitigated dissent, conveyed in terms as strong as was consistent with the usages of Parliament. The language which his right rev. Brother had held, must, if unexplained, be alike injurious to the interests of religion and of sound legislation. Nothing was more calculated than those words were to shake the confidence of the people of England; and he doubted not that they slipped from his right rev. Brother in the attempt to carry out an imperfect argument. He did hope, then, that in thus alluding to them he would afford an opportunity to his right rev. Brother to state that he did not mean to convey that there was very little difference between Jews and Christians. His argument was this—that we admitted Unitarians, that the Jew was equal to the Unitarian, and that, therefore, there was little difference between the Jew and the Christian—that we Christians, therefore, differed little from those that despised that which was our trust through life, and which cheered us in death; who held that their ancestors had put to death a justly executed malefactor, whom Christians regard as the everlasting Son of God. He wished to remind their Lordships that Christianity was not a cold philosophy, but a heartfelt love and affection for the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, in whom it placed its hope and trust of eternal salvation. It was love, affection, trust, and confidence; while the essence of the faith of Judaism was an
intense and perfect denial of all that constituted the faith of a Christian. The Jew told the Christian that he on whom the Christian believed, was an impostor whom the forefathers of the Jew slew, and whose slaughter the modern Jew justified. Between the Christian and the Jew there was a gulf as wide as eternity itself. The Jew looked forward to the advent of a Messiah, and regarded the Christian as a false and blasphemous faith. Was he not right, therefore, in stating that if they passed this Bill they would be inflicting a wound on the religious feelings of the people of this land which they could never heal? The conclusion of the right rev. Prelate's argument was, that on these points there was ample room for difference of opinion amongst themselves; but this could not be, as Judaism rejected the Messiah, cast itself into utter darkness, and became an empty and unmeaning, but false and blasphemous faith. He thought, therefore, they were bound at all times, and in all companies, to say to bins who did not believe in the Messiah, "You reject him who died for you. You put yourself out of the pale of that salvation offered for your acceptance." With regard to the question of the petitions, something had been said about appealing to the country on this question; and the noble Viscount said there had been no outcry in the country against this measure. He thought, however, he could read the riddle of that silence. It reminded him of one of the pregnant sentences of a Roman author—
Non tumultus, non quies, sed quale magnæ iræ et magni metus est silentium.
Such was the silence that pervaded the country at this moment. It was the crushed silence of great indignation and great apprehension. If their Lordships passed that Bill, they would take the foundation from religion, and they would send a shock quivering through every institution of this country, which would not cease until it shivered them all into fragments. They would destroy the only basis on which every blessing could be secure, and they would change, by the passing of that Bill into a law, that into a settled opinion which people now only admitted in the form of an indistinct fear. He begged of them not to change the present absence of tumult, the now comparative quiet, into indignation amongst the population. There was one subject more, in connexion with the question, to which he begged leave to refer. He thought
that the present was the last struggle leading to a peculiar question. He thought the relations of the Church to the State afforded, at the present time, questions not of the easiest solution, and not the safest to defer settling. He thought those difficulties and entanglements any reasonable man would trace to this cause, that the Legislature, by a slow and certain progress, had been gradually more and more estranged from the Church of the country; that there was less confidence felt in the Legislature by the Church; that there was less facility afforded by the Legislature for carrying on the business of the Church. Now, what could increase that uncertainty more than the passing of the Bill before their Lordships? the effect of which would be the causing the settlement of matters belonging to the Church of England by a House of Commons at a Jewish level—the declaration that a Jewish level was a common level of profession on which all could meet. Surely that would lead to the severing of the relation between Church And State; and those who sought and Wished for such a severance were the parties who had looked with favour, or at least not with disfavour, upon the Bill. He (the Bishop of Oxford) had looked at the petitions which had been laid upon their Lordships' table, and he found they were almost exclusively from people who belonged to a certain league, which had for its object, the destroying the relation between the Church and the State. It was no wonder, indeed, that they should support such a measure. Let them only fancy a House of Commons dictating to a Prime Minister. Let them fancy a Prime Minister of this country owing, in doubtful times, when the words of ten voters might turn the scale, owing, at such a time, the existence of his Government to the bare sufference of a Jewish party. Let them then fancy a delicate question arising, which the Prime Minister should have to adjust with the Church, regarding the religion of the country—a question difficult at any time, but impossible to be adjusted when the Prime Minister would be suspected of a decided bias to a party hostile to that religion. The passing of this Bill would sooner or later lead to such a condition of things—sooner or later it would lead to the question—a question which he believed their Lordships were not as yet prepared to entertain—of separation between Church and State. He himself, for one, was not prepared for that separation.
Not for mere individual reasons was he unprepared to entertain that question, but for deeper and mightier motives. He was not prepared for such a separation, because he believed the Church herself, in the first place, would suffer injury almost irreparable; and, next, because the nation would suffer still greater evils from the separation. The Church of England separated from the State, would necessarily, in becoming a mere sect, acquire something of sectarian habits and interests; and the State would, in unnumbered ways, suffer the deepest mischief in being dissevered from the religious feelings and character of the people of this land. There were many questions, such as that of national education, which were daily arising, that would all, more or less, raise questions as to the treatment of different religious bodies; and because of the settling of the present question in lowering the House of Commons to the level of the Jewish profession, it would make it almost impossible to deal with those others. He besought their Lordships to think and pause. He besought them not to pass that Bill. He thanked them for the kind attention with which they had listened to him; and he only besought them to beware lest, under the influence of kindly frailty, they did that which might, perhaps, unchristianise this land, which would entangle those relations in matters of faith between the Church and the State—which would wound the religious sympathies of the people of all classes—which would give nothing in the way of union, strength, consistency, or character in return—which might, in short injure all, and could strengthen none of their present institutions.
§ The EARL of ST. GERMANS, with all respect for the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Oxford) should express his dissent from his arguments and the conclusions to which he had come. The degrees of citizenship spoken of by the right rev. Prelate, were distinctions known to the Roman law, but not recognised by the law of England. In England, all natural-born subjects had the same legal rights. The Bill did not propose to give a certain number of seats in Parliament to Jews, but to enable Christian constituencies to elect Jews as their representatives if they thought fit. It was true the Jews had been a separate and distinct nation, and that they also believed the day would come when their nationality would be restored. But that day was not distinctly named, and the 1383 promise had no effect upon their feelings towards the country to which they at present belonged. In the United States, in France, in Holland, and in various other countries, they enjoyed the rights of citizenship; and, as the noble Marquess had told them, in Canada, Jamaica, and other British colonies, the Jews were Members of the Legislature. There was therefore no reason for asserting that they were incapable of taking an interest in the affairs of the State to which they were subject, or of being useful legislators. As to the argument, that Parliament was bound to distinguish between truth and error, it had been already disposed of by a right rev. Prelate, whose absence be regretted (the Archbishop of Dublin); and his noble Friend (Lord Canning) had stated with great truth, that when they admitted to seats in the Legislature, persons who denied the doctrine of the Trinity, and yet refused such a privilege to the Jews, they were guilty of inconsistency. The allusion of the right rev. Prelate to the affair of the election for the city of London, was totally irrelevant. But as to his argument relative to the connection between Church and State, he entirely agreed in the sentiments expressed by him. No man would regret more than he (the Earl of St. Germans) the dissolution of that connection. But he differed with the right rev. Prelate as to the fear of such a consequence being the necessary effect of the present Bill. The right rev. Prelate, in fact, expected to happen in consequence of its passing that which he (the Earl of St. Germans) feared would be rather the result of its rejection. For if they refused that privilege to the Jews to which they had a right, merely because it would tend to weaken the connection between Church and State, those who supported the Bill would be apt to say, that if that connection were the only obstacle, it should be dissolved. There was no fear of opposition to the Church from the Jews. There was no idea on their parts of destroying the Church, and raising the synagogue on its ruins. There was far more danger to the Church from other Christian communities who were already admitted into Parliament. It was said, this is a Christian country, and that its Legislature ought to be Christian. Make the Jews eligible to seats in Parliament, and the number of .Jews in Parliament would bear as small a proportion to the whole number of Members as the number of 1384 Jews in this country to the whole population. The Legislature would still be as much a Christian Legislature as this country was a Christian country. It was admitted on all hands that the Jews were a loyal, peaceable, and industrious body; and if so, he saw no reason why they should be deprived of their civil rights. The Jews were, he believed, an eminently charitable people, and their poor bore a very small proportion to their general numbers. As a body, they had never been suspected of conspiring against the State in any country in which they resided; and he trusted their Lordships would, by passing the Bill, sweep away that last remnant of a barbarous system of legislation.
§ BISHOP of ST. DAVID'S, in explanation of a part of his speech which had been commented on by the Bishop of Oxford, said, that he was aware he had been treading on delicate and dangerous ground, and that he might be subjecting himself to misrepresentation, but still he was surprised at the use which the right rev. Prelate who had just sat down had made of his observations, and the construction he had put upon them. After all that his right rev. Friend had said, he was unable to conceive how his right rev. Friend could have been led to such a conclusion from his words: and the only explanation he could offer, which, however, he believed would be sufficient, was to state again what he had already said. He had ventured to say that, in the possible case which he had supposed, the feeling with which a Jew, such as he had described, might regard the Founder of our religion, might not essentially differ from the feeling with which He was contemplated by the Unitarian. He could not understand how it could be inferred from this that he meant to diminish the amount of difference between Judaism and Christianity. But certainly he had not said that he considered Unitarianism as a fair sample of Christianity.
§ The EARL of EGLINTOUN considered the present question to be one rather of religious principle than one involving matter of great political interest. It was for the sake of that religion which he revered, and that Saviour whom he worshipped, that he was prepared to give his opposition to the Bill. However excellent might be the lives and characters of the persons professing the Jewish religion, however peaceable and generous they might be in their social relations, and however useful they 1385 might be in their private capacity, he did not think that it was for the good of this country that those who were aliens to it—that those who were always looking forward to a return to the land of which they had been deprived by the judgment of Heaven, and who called themselves a chosen race and a separate people—should participate in the duties of legislation in a Christian country. There was something in the manner in which the petitions in favour of the measure were got up which might call for animadversion. Many of them had been got up by the London Election Committee, and they, therefore, could not be considered in the same light as if they were the spontaneous outpouring of the sense and feeling of a large portion of the community. He would call their Lordships' attention to the circumstances under which the Bill was presented to their consideration. The party who introduced and supported it, and who now occupied the Ministerial benches, had been in power for the greater part of seventeen years. That party had made large additions to their Lordships' House, and many of the right rev. Prelates who sat opposite owed their elevation to them. Through the whole course of their career, they had never thought fit to propose any Bill like the present, although they had made great changes in the constitution, until the leading Member of Her Majesty's Government had become a candidate along with a member of the Jewish persuasion for the representation of the city of London. The noble Viscount who had lately spoken, took his noble Friend to task for having said that the Jews of the present day would behave in the same manner to the Saviour if they had the opportunity. He, for his part, should be extremely sorry to coincide in such an opinion; he trusted that the punishment which that nation had received at the hands of the Almighty had taught them a better lesson. It had been urged, because they had already admitted the Jews to the elective franchise, and to municipal office, that they should go still further, and admit them to the Legislature. They had been told that they could not stop where they were; but he apprehended that there was little force or validity in the argument, for there was surely a very great difference between the elector and the representative. There was a great difference between an elector and a member of one of those assemblies by which the affairs of the Christian Church and of the Christian 1386 world were arranged upon earth. If Christianity were to be the basis on which all human institutions were to be maintained, then, indeed, should the profession of it be indispensable. The Jews had never possessed the right to sit in Parliament, and it was now proposed, in order to confer that right upon them, to strike out of the declaration the Name under which they could only hope to be saved. It was a mistake to suppose that the words which had been contemptuously termed the fag-end of a declaration were mere surplusage; in his opinion every part of an oath was equally sacred; and if there could be any words more sacred than others, they were those in which it was declared that it was taken "upon the true faith of a Christian, so help me God." It was true that the Jews believed in Moses and the Prophets; they had the same revelations, the same commandments, and the same Bible; but they denied that which crowned all their revelations—they denied the mission of our Saviour; and he, for one, would never consent to admit those who believed that the sacrifice on Calvary had been made in vain. The question was one not only interesting to Protestants, but to the whole Christian community; and it was no argument because they had committed one error—if the admission of Socinians or Unitarians were an error—that they should therefore commit another. He besought the House, in the utmost sincerity of heart, to pause well before they assented to the present measure, and to remember that they were legislating in the sight of the living God, and that they would have to answer for every act they did to that God whose name they now proposed to strike out as unnecessary.
§ LORD LYTTELTON considered that it was quite necessary that they should endeavour to frame to their minds what was the precise meaning of the word "Christian." He must assume, for the purpose of the argument, that Socinians or Unitarians were not Christians. He was speaking that which had been said before by persons of great authority. He was not prepared to deny that individually they were not Christians, but collectively, and taken as a body, they could not be looked upon as Christians. The Socinians denied the doctrine of atonement. But the Socinians and the Unitarians had been admitted. If it were admitted that that course was wrong, no one had proposed to 1387 disturb the arrangement. If any person did make such a proposition, he would be ready to meet them upon that question. He did not believe that they could stop here.
§ The EARL of HARROWBY said, they had been told by his noble Friend who had just sat down, and by other noble Lords, that whilst they admitted Socinians they could not exclude the Jews. He could not agree to that inference; for, they did not, in fact, admit Socinians as Socinians, but as Dissenters, who took the oath on the faith of a Christian. His noble Friend had alluded to a measure which was passed not very long ago, which, his noble Friend said, had been passed in their favour; but it gave them, in fact, no admission into Parliament—it merely removed some severe penalties which affected them. He could not venture to unchristianise Parliament; and, as he feared that this measure would have that effect, and would also tend to lower the tone of that great assembly, he should oppose the second reading of this Bill.
§ The EARL of YARBOROUGH had looked at this question with great anxiety, but the more he looked at it the more thoroughly convinced was he that he was only doing his duty as a Christian, and preventing persecution, by voting for the admission of the Jews. If a person wished to get into Parliament, he must feel himself persecuted if he were prevented from doing so by his religious opinions. He felt, then, that if he opposed this on religious grounds, he should not be discharging his duty as a Christian, and be thought it was but just that if a Jew were selected by a constituency, and there was no civil or political objection to him, he should be permitted to take his seat.
§ The EARL of DESART said, their Lordships must wish to preserve the Christian character of that assembly; but if Jews were admitted into Parliament, and were sincere in their religious opinions, they must be anxious to destroy all Christian institutions. He received them with every feeling of hospitality, but it did not follow that they should be admitted to any part in the management of our household. This was the only country that was not yet stained with anarchy, and this was not the time to give up our reliance on that Power which had preserved us amidst all the violence that had occurred elsewhere.
§ The EARL of ELLESMERE wished to say a few words before he gave his vote, 1388 which vote would not be the result of early impulse, but of as much reflection as his illness allowed him to give to the subject. If he had been borne along by the torrent of the eloquence of the right rev. Prelate opposite, and induced to believe that by voting in favour of this measure he should be doing anything which was calculated to lead to an indifference to the great interests of Christianity, then, in such a case, no consideration of public policy—no respect for any constituency—could induce him for a moment to pause in the adoption of that course, and to vote for the rejection of this measure. He was not one of those who thought that religious considerations could so far be separated from those that were political, as to be altogether absent from their view in discussing the great questions of legislation in this country; on the contrary, he thought that when the councils of this country ceased to be deeply imbued with religious considerations, the result of Christian reflection and thought, the blessing of Providence could hardly be expected to rest on their deliberations. But he could not believe, that because certain constituencies in the country might select Jews as their representatives, therefore Christianity was in danger. What would be the result if this measure were to pass? That a small number of persons of wealth, and character, and acquirements, of a particular religion, might obtain scats in Parliament. He would admit, that where the subject of their legislative exertions related to the temporalities of the Church, there would be a certain degree of incongruity in the fact of those who were not members of that Church legislating upon the subject. But if their Lordships considered who the parties were who were to be participators of this privilege, they would see that there was far less danger and far less inconvenience to be apprehended to the Church of England from the Jews, than from many Christian substitutes in the Lower house of Parliament. He had heard of denunciations of that Church from the conventicle, but he had never heard of any from the synagogue. And why did their Lordships admit any class of Christian Dissenters to the Legislature? Was it from any liking on the part of their Lordships to the doctrines entertained by those persons? No. It was because some of them considered it no longer just, and others no longer safe, to exclude from the common defence of the great interests of the nation those who had so large a share 1389 in them—that it was no longer right or safe to treat as aliens in the land those who, by their numbers, their rank, and their possessions, were rooted to the soil. Had the Jew in times of danger ever sheltered himself under the character of an alien? On the contrary, was it not the fact, that in the wars against Napoleon they had fought side by side with their Christian brethren for the emancipation of Europe? He had also understood, that in our Canadian colonies, when the standard of England was reluctantly upheld by many Christians, the Jews had rendered good service in behalf of this country. Some observations had been made on a subject on which he did not profess himself to be deeply conversant—he meant the nature and extent of the petitions which had been presented to the House in regard to this Bill. He understood that a considerable majority of these petitions were in favour of the measure; and, if the fact was so, he believed it was not attributable to the wealth and power and influence of the Jewish race in this country, but rather to the use which they made of their wealth, and their bringing it to bear extensively, comprehensively, and judiciously upon the charities of the country; and he confessed that this fact had operated with considerable weight upon his own mind. It had been said, that this country now stood in a singularly proud position. Our Houses of Legislature might be said to be the only ones in the civilised world which were at present free from undue external influence. It had been said, and he believed it was true, that the discussions of the two Houses of the British Parliament Would meet with attention and respect from foreign countries; and, if it should happen that the decision at which they conscientiously, deliberately, and calmly arrived, should be in favour of the Motion then before their Lordships, he did think it would have an effect upon the consideration which the Jewish race received in other countries in Europe. He believed, that our support and countenance were very much wanted—for he regretted to hear that, while in some countries of Europe legislation might be considered as having advanced in the cause of liberality, in others the old system of persecution and outrage had been revived. It was not his intention to specify any of these cases, or to interfere by discussions here with the concerns of other countries; but he thought the best homily he could read to them was 1390 his vote on this Motion. The success of that Motion would show that the British Legislature did not consider the Jewish nation as fit subjects for persecution or degradation in any shape. He begged to add, however, that he did not agree with those who held the exclusion of the Jews from Parliament to be persecution. He thought the question had suffered from such arguments as these. It was not on that ground that he gave the Motion his humble support; but because he thought it safe to the religious and political interests of the country, and just to the Jews, to give them a share in the making of those laws which they had hitherto obeyed so cheerfully, and in some respects administered so well.
§ LORD STANLEY: I should have been well satisfied, my Lords, to leave the decision of this question to the able, to the powerful, to the eloquent, and to the hitherto unanswered speech of the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Oxford); but I feel it imperative upon me not to give a silent vote while any possible argument remains unstated, although I feel it to be a question upon which the discussion has been well nigh exhausted, upon which I can offer nothing new to your Lordships, and on which it would be inexcusable for any length of time to trespass upon your patience. I think that your Lordships should at once reject this Bill. Noble Lords, in the course of this discussion, have laid much stress upon a doctrine which I rejoice to hear repudiated by my noble Friend the noble Earl who has just sat down, namely, that the free exercise of your judgment on this subject, by the rejection of this Bill, would be properly and duly stigmatised as a measure of persecution; and yet I could not fail to be struck with the apparent inconsistency of the argument of my noble Friend, because the declaration was immediately preceded by the expression, as the ground of my noble Friend's intended vote in favour of this Bill, that he thought your Lordships' conduct on this occasion must materially influence the conduct of other States with regard to what is properly and appropriately called "the Jewish nation;" who in some parts of the world are subjected to grievous persecutions and great hardships; and that be would endeavour to show by his vote this night that the English Parliament is wholly free from this spirit of persecution. My Lords, if the vote given to-night, whether in favour of this Bill or against it, be no indication 1391 of a persecuting spirit, I am at a loss to understand how the noble Lord reconciles these two conflicting arguments, and how his vote one way or the other can mark the hostility of this country to the persecution of the Jews. To the punishment of a man on the ground of his religious opinions, I am as much opposed as the noble Earl or any of your Lordships; but the question on which I draw the main distinction is this, that the protection of the law and the enjoyment of property, is one thing, and to deprive a man of that protection, on the ground of religious opinion, is persecution. But the privilege of enacting the laws of the country is not a right, but a privilege—a privilege, the absence of which is no persecution, no punishment, no penalty—the possession of which the Legislature has at all times maintained the right of hedging round with such conditions as it felt were for the benefit of the country. I must say that I heard with some surprise the historical summary with which the noble Marquess commenced his speech, the inference to be deduced from which was, that for the first time in the reign of Elizabeth, this intolerant exclusion of the Jews took place. The noble Marquess distinctly stated that it was not till the time of Elizabeth that this exclusive system on the ground of religion first commenced; and that when it first commenced, it had no reference to the Jews. Let me remind your Lordships, that until a recent period previous to the reign of Elizabeth, the subject was not only excluded on account of religious belief, but uniformity of religious opinion was enforced by penalties much more stringent than the refusal of a seat in the Legislature. So far from the Jew having a right to sit in the Legislature, the Jew had not a right to set his foot on British soil. Then the noble Marquess says that the statutes were directed against the only class of nonconformists of those days, the Popish recusants, and had nothing to do with the Jews; and then the noble Marquess goes to the times of William and Mary, and says that for thirteen years during that time there was no legal obstacle to the Jew being in Parliament—there were no terms in the oath, "on the faith of a Christian," during those thirteen years; but it is also true that there was no power for a Jew to obtain naturalisation, which was a necessary preliminary.
§ LORD CAMPBELL: It was not needed if he were born in England.1392
LORD STANLEY: If he were born in England, where was the power for a Jew to hold freehold property, and have a freehold qualification by which he could be admitted to sit in Parliament? Was not the oath, such as it was, administered to every person upon the New Testament? And although there were those absolute and legal impediments, the noble Marquess tells your Lordships that for these thirteen years there was a happy removal of the intolerance preventing Jews sitting in Parliament? To talk about the Jews sitting in Parliament in the time of William and Mary, is to argue on a case which is absolutely impossible to conceive; because, if in those days a Jew presumed to offer himself as a candidate for the representation of any city or town, borough or county, in England, he might have got through the first sentence, but he would not have been heard through a second. I will not detain your Lordships by entering on the historic points of this discussion; but that which I desire to lay stress upon is this—in which I entirely concur with the right rev. Prelate—that it is a privilege of sitting in Parliament and legislating, and not a right, to which every person is entitled. It is a privilege which the State confers on those persons who are properly qualified. Then comes the question, what are the proper qualifications for the Legislature in a Christian country? If it be true that it is an inherent right to which every British subject is entitled, what becomes of your pecuniary qualification? What becomes of your law by which you require that a person shall be of a certain age? What becomes of the right by which you exclude women? Why is it that, with the exception of the right reverend bench, who are, be it observed, in this House, and hold their seats in it because this is a Christian assembly—why, with that exception, is every clergyman of the Church of England debarred from a seat in this House? I ask, why? Because it is supposed that the woman, the minor, and persons who have not the required property qualification, are persons who are not qualified for the task of legislation. I admit that that pecuniary qualification is an arbitrary one. I take it that it is upon this principle, that persons who have such a pecuniary qualification, have such a stake and interest in the country, or are likely to have received such an education, as to enable them to give a free and independent and deliberate and conscientious verdict
with regard to the transactions of Parliament. Then, suppose you contend that this right is inherent in every British subject—has not every one of these a right to challenge your qualification and your restriction as an act of punishment, according to the noble Viscount—as an act of persecution, according to other noble Lords —or a remnant, according to the noble Earl on the cross benches, of an exploded system of persecution? Has he not a right to say, "I am a British subject—loyal, peaceable, well disposed, of a good moral character? not a man will say a word against me in my neighbourhood. I bear the highest character for loyalty and temperance, but I am debarred by the persecuting law, which says that unless I possess a certain pecuniary qualification, not only I shall not have a scat in Parliament, but I shall not have a right to vote."The qualification is imposed for the supposed good of the country. No one disputes the right of the Legislature to make the qualification. Is it a greater disqualification in a Christian assembly and a Christian country—in a country in which the law rests on the basis of Christianity—in which Christianity is part and parcel of the law of the realm—is it a greater or a less disqualification to say, "I have not a freehold estate of 50l. or 100l. a year;"or as a Jew, "I repudiate all that you hold most holy; I abhor that which you worship; I reject all to which you look up with reverence and veneration; and, as a sincere Jew, my desire must be to see your blasphemous religion trodden in the dust?" I care not what may be the professions of the nominal Jew or those nominal Christians to whom their religious opinions are like garments, which they can put on or take off at pleasure, but in which the heart, and conscience, and judgment, have no part. Although I admit that there is much in Judaism in common with Christianity—although I admit that "their law was our schoolmaster"—whilst I admit that there is much in common in the precepts of the Mosaic law and the Divine precepts of the gospel; yet I cannot forget that of all the crimes capable of being committed and punished with the greatest severity by the law of Moses, that of an attempt to put any created being upon the footing of the Invisible God, was the crime which was visited with the greatest severity. A Jew must believe even the second Person of the Blessed Trinity to be
a convicted malefactor, and justly condemned by the law of an offended country. I look with veneration to the great attachment of the Jews to their religion, they having been for many centuries the depositories of the Word of Truth. I believe the educated Jew to be a man honourable, conscientious, charitable, well-disposed, and loyal; but I cannot place the Jew, either with regard to his religious belief or with regard to his social condition. on the footing of any denomination of Christians, nor can I place him on the footing of other British subjects. It has been attempted to be argued that you have cut away the ground of argument against the admission of the Jews by the admission of other sects into Parliament; and some noble Lords have spoken about the ambiguity of Christianity itself, and have referred particularly to the admission of Unitarians. Now, my Lords, I have very great doubts about the accuracy of their faith—I do not understand their reading of the Scripture—I cannot comprehend the interpretation which I believe they put upon the Scriptures; but this I know, that if you were to tell a Unitarian that he was not a Christian, he would at once, and most vehemently, repudiate that assertion. He would say, though he is not convinced of the divinity of the Saviour, yet that he looks upon him as a creature sent from God; that he receives the doctrines of the Gospel as the revealed word of God; that he looks upon them with a reverence scarcely less than your own; and that in them he, as you, finds the guide of his conduct here, and places his belief and his hopes of salvation hereafter. I remember well when a discussion took place some years ago relative to the admission of Roman Catholics to seats in Parliament, some of the powerful arguments Used by my lamented friend, the late Sir George Murray, who had not long returned from high command. He said, speaking of the Roman Catholic and the Protestant—
True it is that in minor points, and in some not unimportant, they differ from you; true that they superadd to the Scriptures what you do not believe, but look upon as vain imaginings appended by man to the revealed word of God. Yet, remember, that Protestants and Catholics, when they go into the service of the same country, are subjected to the same danger, and are, perhaps, fated to fall under the same bullet; they go in the same belief of the same Saviour, in the same confidence in the same God, in the same belief in all the fundamental principles of their religion; and if it be the will of God that there and then they
and you should die together, they and you both look for the forgiveness of your sins, and the reception of your souls into immortality to the same Redeemer.
In thoses entiments every denomination of Christians concurs; yet those are the men whom the right rev. Prelate in this House tells you you must place upon the same footing with the unbelieving Jew. I had almost forgotten to observe that the noble Marquess at the commencement of his speech did me the honour to refer to a vote which I gave in 1830, in favour of the second reading of a Bill for the removal of Jewish Disabilities; and because, forsooth, this Bill bears the same title, the noble Marquess attempts, by implication, to fix upon me the charge of tergiversation for opposing this measure. The noble Marquess did not tell your Lordships, however, that at that time no Jew could hold real property—that no Jew could act as a magistrate—that no Jew could take part in municipal councils—that no Jew could take any participation whatever, even in the most ordinary transactions of domestic life. From all those disabilities I rejoice that the Jews are now freed. The noble Marquess might not have gone so far back as the year 1830; he might have traced me up to 1833 or 1834, when I voted in support of the Bill introduced by my noble and learned Friend the then Lord Chancellor (Lord Brougham), for the removal of all the remaining disabilities of the Jews, so far as their civil and social condition was concerned. But in that Bill there was no attempt, nor was there any question raised; on the contrary, it was admitted that the concession of all those civil and social rights gave no claim for admission into your Lordships' House.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE: I alluded to the first Bill.
§ LORD STANLEY: It is of little consequence. I only refer to it now, because I desire still to maintain and to impress upon your Lordships' minds the distinction between the granting of all social rights, and the performance of all public duties under the control of the law, in which no doubt the Jew will perform his duty as well as the Christian; and the right to join in making the laws in which the Jew is not fettered by anything but his own conscience; which conscience, if it be worth anything, must lead him to vote for measures hostile to the established religion of this country, and to Christianity itself. I 1396 have heard it said that a great constituency has returned a Member of the Jewish persuasion to Parliament, and that the Legislature ought not to resist the wishes of the electors. I do not, in the first place, admit that in all circumstances, and at all times, the particular constituencies are the best judges of the candidates who can really best represent their proper interests. Still less am I convinced of the right of any constituency whatever—be it the least or the most important in the country—to fly in the face of the laws of the country, and to elect a person to sit in Parliament who is disqualified by the law from taking his seat, and to insist that the judgment of Parliament should be overruled, and that such a person should have a seat in the Legislature. I must say my opinion is, that if the argument tells upon the question in one way or the other, it tells rather as an argument against the adoption of this Bill. If the city of London had elected a pauper, or a minor, or a female to represent them in Parliament, would it for a single moment be tolerated that that pauper, or minor, or female, should appear at the bar of the House, and claim the right to take his or her seat, because the city of London had so exercised its choice; and, knowing much better than the Legislature as a body, what was good for its own interests, had thought fit to return such a person? I am quite sure that that is an argument which cannot hold for a single moment. But then I contend that practically the Jews of this country are not of this country, but are a nation apart. As temporary sojourners within this country they are entitled to the hospitality and to the protection of this country; but they have no special British interests any more than special German interests or special French interests. They have the interests of the Jews at heart, not British interests, and, above all, not Christian interests. Now, I want to ask my noble Friend on the cross benches how his argument with regard to the admission of the Jews into the other House of Parliament would apply to your Lordships' House? Suppose it were thought convenient or desirable that that individual who has been returned to represent the city of London, should be allowed to change his foreign title for an English barony, and that, without reference to any constituency, the Queen, acting upon the advice of her Prime Minister, had thought fit to grant to him a British barony, how would my 1397 noble Friend's argument stand then? Neither in name, nor in title, nor, I believe, in undivided interests, is Baron Rothschild to be considered as an English citizen; and I confess I should regret to see him introduced into your Lordships' House, for I think it would materially interfere with the freedom of discussion. I do not deny that the Acts which have been passed for admitting Dissenters into Parliament, right and judicious as they are, have in some degree diminished the right of speaking, in both Houses, upon subjects of interest to religion. When the Legislature has once made the decision that all are equally entitled to the free expression of their opinions in this and the other House, every man feels there is a check put upon him, by inclination, by general feeling, and still more, by duty, to take care that he says nothing, in a personal or religious sense, hostile to the feelings of those whom the law has put upon a footing of equality with himself. Admit the Jew; and are we not, then, to be permitted to speak our veneration for Christianity? Are we not to express our determination to uphold the Christian character of the Legislature of this country? Yet what a contradiction in terms! To uphold the Christian character of your legislators and of your legislation, and yet admit as one of your co-legislators a person to whom every word spoken in favour of Christianity is a direct affront and offence, and whose views with regard to everything in which Christianity is brought to bear upon legislation must be hostile to the views of the majority! I do not apprehend immediate danger from the admission of three, four, or six Jews into either House of Parliament. I do not apprehend the least danger, unless, under very extraordinary circumstances, it is possible for a very small party to turn a nicely balanced scale, and so give a majority to a Minister. But, on the other hand, I ask what is the great object you have to gain in the admission of some two or three rich Jews into the Legislature? What is the advantage for which you are to set aside that which has been for centuries, and which I trust will continue to be for centuries, the principle of the legislation of this country, namely, its being based upon and made conducive to the support and maintenance of the Christian religion? This great question of principle lies, as has been well said, in a nutshell. This is a question not of detail but of principle. The question you, my Lords, have to solve this 1398 night—which I trust you will solve in the affirmative—is, whether you will not maintain the Christian character of this and the other House of Parliament; or whether you will, by flying in the face of the solemn and deliberate judgment of the country as proved by the comparatively small number of petitions in favour of this measure, repudiate that Christian character? The question you have to decide is, whether you will leave the country at large to draw the inference—which they cannot fail to draw—that this House is indifferent to the profession or non-profession of Christianity? By so doing, if unhappily that should be the course your Lordships should be induced to take this night, believe me you will produce upon the minds of the people of this country, and, above all, upon the minds of the soundest, the most reflecting, and the most religious portion of this community, a feeling which will alienate their hearts from the Legislature, and shake that confidence which in the main I believe this country places in the Houses of Parliament. I rejoiced to hear, in the speech of the noble Marquess, that he has no inconsiderable apprehensions with regard to the result of this discussion. He thought it fit and proper to warn your Lordships that if you rejected this Bill to-night, the question would again and again be brought before you. I hail that declaration of the noble Marquess as an indication of his feeling that this debate will not decide the question in favour of this Bill—that again and again it will have to be submitted to your Lordships' consideration; and if so, I trust your Lordships will act in accordance with what I believe to be the general feeling of this great country, and again and again reject the measure.
§ LORD BROUGHAM said, he wished to commence his observations by expressing the great satisfaction he felt, in common with all their Lordships, at the temperate, and, generally speaking, the fair, candid, and charitable spirit which had prevailed throughout the debate. Generally speaking, nothing had been said uncharitable respecting the Jews—generally speaking, no personal matters had been mixed up with the discussion of this great question—generally speaking, there had been nothing slanderous or offensive said respecting any body of their fellow-countrymen. So far he joined with their Lordships in commending the spirit that had, for the roost part, prevailed through the debate; but so far, therefore, did he the more 1399 deeply lament that the discussion should not have closed without a great and glaring exception—an exception the more signal, and the more to be deplored, because it proceeded from the benches occupied by the Prelates of the Church. It had been reserved, not for the man who had shown himself the worthy and dignified representative of the Establishment at the head of which he had recently and most justly been placed, who stengthened and adorned his arguments by appeals to their Lordships' Christian feelings, himself displaying feelings of charity, forbearance, and meekness, truly becoming a Christian divine and prelate; but to afford the exceptions so much lamented, had been reserved for another Member of the right reverend Bench. It was after the most rev. Prelate bad made his speech that their Lordships were fated—be called it so for every reason, personal as well as hereditary—were doomed to the mortification as well as surprise of having that exemplary feeling—that tone of Christian charity, meekness, and forbearance, broken by unseemly discords—and the political question mixed up with religious and polemical controversy. Then it was that they had been told of the slanders which had prevailed, not privately but publicly, and which they were told they might read in the records of the newspaper press. Were they slanders ventilated in any proceedings in Parliament, in any Committee, or in any court of justice? No, but in a portion of the press. These slanders had there been propagated, and there these tales had been circulated; and, to be sure, it was because there had been a contest for the election of Members to Parliament! But this was not all. A partnership, it was said, had been formed, out of which arose the introduction of this measure, to which contest the Prime Minister in the other House had openly been a party, but at the cost and charge of an Israelite candidate. This had been slanderously stated. If anybody but a Prelate had said it, he should have said it was false, for false it was. Whilst that which was consistent with the facts was sneered and laughed at, and that which was not only inconsistent with truth, but the very reverse of truth—if it were told as the truth—was imputed against the conduct of a fellow-labourer with himself, be was entitled to say that he was a slanderer who thus attacked, and that the 1400 slander was foul as well as calumnious. The fact was—and he challenged inquiry—it was not true that the Bill originated in a job in the city of London. It was not true that Lord John Russell owed his election to Baron Rothschild. It was not true, but the contrary of the truth, that he was under obligations to Baron Rothschild; but it was true, and his written letter remained to prove, that he refused, at first, to be a party to the election. On what ground? Because of a contest. And what originated the contest? Why, the standing of the Baron Rothschild. So that, instead of lying under any obligation to the Baron and the Jews, Lord J. Russell was injured by the Baron's having come forward. He was prevented, in consequence of that event, from voluntarily coming forward himself; and it was only in compliance with the strongly-expressed wishes of his friends in the City, that he withdrew his refusal, and reluctantly consented to become a candidate. But when slander was driven from one point, it went to work again in another. It was said, "When the contest took place, the Baron did help Lord John Russell, and it was owing to the Baron that his Lordship got to the bead of the poll." Judging from his own election experience, he (Lord Brougham) should be disposed to say that Christian charity and Christian loving-kindness never exceeded the charity and loving-kindness of the Jews, if this representation of the matter were indeed true. The Baron was not satisfied with giving Lord John Russell votes enough to insure his election, but he gave him so many votes that he got above himself; nay, he gave him so many, that he got to the top of the poll, while be (the Baron) was almost pushed to the bottom. Thus were they asked to believe that by means of the kindness of the Baron—of whom, if this view were correct, they might well say that he was "an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile"— Lord John Russell was placed at the head of the poll, while the Baron was within a few votes of losing his own election. The right rev. Prelate, acting on the most approved maxims of dealers in slander—not that he imputed to his right rev. Friend any malignant feeling, for he sincerely believed that he was led away by that which caused many a spiteful thing to be said in debate without any such thing being meant, namely, the love of epigram, combined with the love of a cheer—his right 1401 rev. Friend went on very plainly to insinuate that one party was deficient in capital, and the other in character. For, said he, to this partnership of the two candidates, one without capital, the other character—plainly insinuating that one was poor in money, the other in good name. But suppose the origin of the present measure was a wish of Lord J. Russell to show electioneering gratitude to his fellow candidate—he (Lord Brougham) utterly denied it all—but suppose it all true, he (Lord Brougham) did not see why a good cause should suffer for such a reason as that. He did not think the worse, for example, of the great cause of emancipation in the West Indies, because that most feeble of political machines, the Provisional Government of Paris, had thought it expedient to propose the emancipation of the French slaves as a provisional measure. The measure was provisional, as being intended to provide the Government with popularity; but that did not prevent him from wishing well to the cause. So, also, whatever might be the object—however selfish, however impure, however interested—of this measure, he should give his vote for it on the merits. Now, his noble Friend who had spoken last (Lord Stanley), had, with his usual ability, and with most exemplary candour, stated that though he had great respect for all constituencies, his respect was not greatest for those who, flying in the face of the law, chose to elect a person whom they knew to be disqualified for a seat in Parliament. The constituency of the city of London knew no such thing—they were better lawyers than his noble Friend—they knew that there was in fact no law to disqualify a Jew from sitting in Parliament—not a shadow either of common law or statute law of the kind. All the arguments advanced against the Bill that evening were based on the supposition that the law excluded Jews—excluded them advisedly and aforethought, and because the Parliament was Christian. The citizens of London had a perfect right to elect a Jew. No declaration was required from a Jew or any other person—Socinian, Catholic, or Dissenter—before taking his seat in Parliament—that he believed in any one dogma of Christianity. He was required to declare that he abjured the claims of the Pretender; to swear that he believed the heirs of the Electress Sophia, being Protestants, to be entitled to the Crown, and to profess alle- 1402 giance to the Crown; this he was required to declare and swear on the faith of a Christian; but he was not called upon to declare that he himself was a Christian. He was required to swear to certain points of opinion, and to certain matters of fact; and the mode of swearing was to take an oath on the faith of a Christian. He (Lord Brougham) did not deny that a conscientious Jew felt it impossible to use those words; but what he meant to say—and on that point there could not be the least difference of opinion—was, that all the opposite arguments about a Christian Parliament, and all the vehement declamations about unchristianising the Parliament, were founded upon the gross legal blunder of supposing that the law as it at present stood said, "You Jews are ineligible to sit in Parliament—you shall declare that you are Christians before you are allowed to do so." This is absolutely and utterly untrue. The law says not one word or one syllable of the kind. It only says, you shall believe in the King's title to his Crown. What, then, became of all those arguments with which, he would not say they had been nauseated, but nine parts out of ten of which consisted in saying that the Legislature was a Christian Legislature, and that by sitting in the same company as Jews they would unchristianise it? Their Lordships had been warned that night not to pass the Bill, because such would be the consequence; they had been told that if the Bill received the Royal Assent, King, Lords, and Commons would be unchristianised. Now he need not say to their Lordships that they were not yet come to the point of being unchristianised; but what was to become of the unhappy House of Commons? Why, they were unchristianised already. Could the Commons come to the bar of that House by message, or in any other way, and by their words, acts, or desires, pretend to call themselves a Christian assembly? He did not know what would become of them; but assuredly it was not to be denied that we had a motley sort of legislation, half infidel, half Christian. Of Her Majesty he would only say might God long preserve Her in Her Christian character to reign over a tolerant and enlightened people! As for the Ministry, they were undoubtedly nearly as unchristian as the Commons. So that he was afraid they must stand before the world as half Christian, half Pagan—a Pagan House of Commons, and a perfectly Christian House of Lords. His noble 1403 Friend behind him had alluded to the short-comings of the law to keep the Legislature Christian. The object of the existing law, said he, was to preserve the Christian character of the Legislature; but had that been done? Did the law prevent any one but Christians from sitting in Parliament? Did it exclude all who were not Christians from among them? No, no; it had the fault, the incorrigible vice of all such attempts at legislation, namely, to keep out the honest man and to let in the knave. The Jew had been described as a man who would jump over any oath to accomplish his object—as a time-server, a sordid selfish man, a hypocrite, and a knave. But if such were his character, would he object to taking the oath that would admit him into a Christian Parliament? The infidel and the worshipper of Juggernaut were admitted to take the oath; and why should the Jew be excluded, if he were willing to take the oath? In truth, it was not Jews to whom these declaimers on Christianity objected, but honest Jews, conscientious Jews—it was not Christians whom alone they would admit, but knaves and tyrants. Let an Israelite be ever so firm in his own faith, ever so warm an opposer of ours, let him but become an hypocrite as well as a Jew, and your doors fly open to receive him. But another most notable reason is given for alarm. It seems, according to the right rev. Prelate, the instant they admitted one or two Jews, or allowed the right of the Jews to sit in Parliament, they stopped their own mouths from afterwards ever saying one word in favour of Christianity. That by allowing the right of the Jews to sit among them, they gave a virtual pledge never to say a word unfavourable to the Jewish religion. It was no such thing. They gave no pledge of the kind. Had nobody said a word in favour of the Protestant Church in the House of Commons since that assembly had ceased to be an exclusively Protestant body? Had his noble Friend behind him (Lord Stanley) never raised his voice—his "still small voice"—in favour of the Establishment since that period? For his own part he could say, that he had made speeches against even the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church since the admission of Roman Catholics into Parliament, and yet he had never been taunted with violating the principle of the Emancipation Bill. But his belief was, that a greater chimera had never crossed the human mind than the 1404 idea that because they admitted the Jews to the Legislature, they stopped their mouths from ever again saving a word in favour of Christianity, or against the Jewish doctrines. He would say most sincerely and conscientiously—God above forbid that he should see severed the Church and the State? He believed that such a severance would be injurious both to the Church and the State; but could any man hold that there was any risk whatever, that by passing this Bill, to which the House of Commons had already given its sanction, they were severing the Church and State? They had let in Dissenters who were opposed to all church establishments, while the conscientious Jew might have no such objection. But that was not all. They had let in Roman Catholics who were not only against the Establishment, but who were in favour of another establishment, which no Jew could be till the Temple were rebuilt—a thing which our own religion made us believe impossible. His belief was, that every step in the direction of freedom of conscience was favourable to the Church Establishment, and that they could not adopt a more safe course to promote its interests, than that of maintaining on all occasions the principles of a wise and tolerant Christianity. There was one fallacy in the arguments used by noble Lords who spoke against the Bill. They spoke as if there were a general exclusion by law and in practice of all but Christians from offices in the State. But that was not the case. There were many persons of the Hebrew persuasion who held offices. He knew many who were ornaments to his own profession, and who might obtain offices usually held by members of it. He knew one Chancery barrister who might be one of those who might hereafter enter that House and take his seat upon the Woolsack, and hear causes, even though not a Member. He himself had heard a cause and put a question before he took his seat; so might any Jew Chancellor. He might even put the question to their Lordships whether they would legalise that measure which would enable him to descend from the Woolsack and take his seat as a Member in this or in the other House of the Legislature. The doctrine involved in the Bill was this—that all the rights of subjects, and all the privileges to which subjects were entitled—that all enjoyments of subjects, and all the prerogatives and powers of subjects—ought to 1405 be accessible to all the King's subjects, who were not debarred by personal disability. That was the doctrine of the constitution; and to say that a Jew, because of his religious belief, should be debarred from those rights, was one of the flimsiest and grossest fallacies that ever was uttered. But did he (Lord Brougham) therefore consider that the preservation of the Christian character of the Legislature was a matter of no importance? Or that they were by such a measure to quit the faith of their forefathers, and that which until now they had themselves professed? No such thing. He said, that Parliament must continue Christian, notwithstanding that they did justice to the Jews, as it had remained Protestant and Episcopalian, although they had done justice to Dissenters and to Roman Catholics. There was nothing in the Act which tended to unchristianise Parliament. This was a measure which he felt bound to support, in consistency with all the principles he had ever maintained, and to which the debate of this night had only confirmed his adhesion.
§ The BISHOP of OXFORD begged to be permitted to explain one point to which allusion bad been made by the noble Lord who had just concluded. He was very sorry that he had been led, in the warmth of debate, to use an expression which had borne, as it seemed, an appearance of malice; but he really never meant any malice whatever. The expression had been brought out suddenly, by an expression used by the noble Marquess—by a word which bad fallen from him. And he (the Bishop of Oxford) took the most public opportunity of saying, that he never entertained the smallest idea that the noble Lord the First Lord of the Treasury had been privy to any bribery whatever, or that any other noble Lord, Member of the Government, or otherwise, had been so. And, therefore, it was simply true of his noble Friend (Lord Brougham) to say, after starting himself into a gallop by indulging in a little abuse of him (the Bishop of Oxford), that he believed the expression had not been maliciously intended, and that he (the Bishop of Oxford) had had no malice in using it. In order, however, that there should be no misapprehension whatsoever, he (the Bishop of Oxford) should say that he heartily regretted having, in the midst of a great argument, been led into the use of a word which seemed malicious. He did not intend to 1406 slander the noble Lord, and he now begged leave to withdraw the words altogether.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE replied: He had not misrepresented the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) when he said that he had voted for a Bill for the admission of the Jews. He voted for such a Bill in 1830, although he now saw cause for changing his opinions. With reference to the statement which he made as to the rights of the Jews, the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Oxford) had misunderstood his meaning. What he stated was, that the Jew, as well as every other subject of the Queen, when he became Her subject, had a right to be eligible to Parliament, if there was no sufficient reason shown to the contrary. And although the right rev. Prelate made light of the injury done to constituencies by the refusal of the House to receive the person whom they had chosen, he could assure him it was no slight grievance: the exercise of the right was one of those constitutional privileges which were dear to the people of this country, and had been the subject of controversy which had raised a flame from one end of the country to the other. He need not refer him to the Middlesex election; in that case the House of Commons were obliged to rescind the resolution by which they had endeavoured, for a quarter of a century, to deprive the country of this privilege. With reference to the London election, he could assure the House that not one shilling of the expenses of Lord J. Russell in that election were paid out of any other pocket than that of Lord J. Russell; and that it was the anxious desire of his noble Friend, during that election, to keep himself entirely separate from Baron Rothschild. In contending for the civil rights of his fellow-subjects, the last consideration of his noble Friend the Member for the city of London, would be one for his own personal advantage. The whole history of his life bore him out in that assertion ; and it would be well if every person in that House or elsewhere would imitate his example. And the proof of approbation of his consistent efforts was shown by his election by the citizens of London, who had conferred on him the greatest honour it was in their power to bestow.
§ On question that the word "now" stand part of the Motion, House divided—Content, Present 96; Proxies 32 :—128. Not-Content, Present 125; Proxies 38:— 1407 163. Majority against the second reading 35.
|List of the CONTENTS.|
|Archbishop of York.||Ellesmere|
|Westminster.||Say and Sele|
|Granville||Stuart de Decies|
|Thanet||Howard de Walden|
|Cloncurry||Stanley of Alderley|
|List of the NOT-CONTENTS.|
|Cholmondeley||Bath and Wells|
|Earl of Sandwich||Lord Elphinstone|
|Earl of Haddington||Lord Carrington|
|Marquess of Aisla||Lord Willoughby de Eresby|
|Earl of Lauderdale||Lord Belhaven|
|Earl of Shaftesbury||Lord Beauvale|
|Lord of Clonbork||Lord Rossmore|
|Earl of Ranfurley||Lord de Freyne|
|Duke of Cambridge||Lord Stafford|
|Earl of Orkney||Duke of Bedford|
|Earl of Eldon||Lord Talbot de Malahide|
|Viscount Lake||Bishop of Durham|
|Earl of Enniskillen||Earl of Radnor|
|Earl of Rosslyn||Earl of Lovelace|
|Marquess of Ailesbury||Lord Longdale|
|Earl of Longford||Viscount Exmouth|
§ Resolved in the Negative.
§ Bill to be read 2a on this day six months.
§ House adjourned.