§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
The LORD CHANCELLOR
said: My Lords, the Bill to which I have to call your Lordships' attention, is one of the shortest which has come under your consideration during this Session of Parliament. The sole object of the Bill is to omit certain words from the oath of abjuration which is tendered to all Her Majesty's subjects presenting themselves to take their seats in Parliament, those words being "On the true faith of a Christian," and which, being attached to the oath of abjuration, have the effect of excluding conscientious persons professing the Jewish religion from admission into Parliament. Your Lordships will readily see, from this description of the object of the Bill, that the subject upon which I have to address you is by no means novel; it has been, in fact, so often under your Lordships' consideration, that it cannot be expected that anything very new can be produced on the subject. Argument has been often urged in this and the other House of Parliament of a most cogent nature; eloquence the most splendid has been applied to it, and declamation almost inexhaustible has followed in the discussion of it; but although the subject is not new, and although it has been often before your Lordships, I think you will agree with me that these circumstances do not form any just reason why the subject should not again be submitted to your consideration. It has often been said that in the result truth always prevails, and no doubt it does. But, my Lords, it has pleased Providence that the discovery of truth should always be the reward of inquiry and deliberation, and that its brightness and force should not be always apparent upon the first view of the subject to which it is to be applied. Repeated consideration and repeated discussions have on many occasions at last placed subjects in such a light before the Legislature, that the most confident opinions 860 which had been before entertained—the most declared hostility and the most inveterate prejudices, have at last succumbed to the force of reason. The present subject, my Lords, is not at all to be excluded from that category. Your Lordships are aware that in years gone by the attempt to extend civil and religious liberty to the Jew, has put the whole country in a flame of indignation. Your Lordships know that in a former reign, when an Act had passed through both Houses of Parliament to naturalise foreign Jews, the ferment in the country was so great, and the alarm so high, that in the following year it was found expedient, or rather it was deemed imperative, to yield to the fancied necessity for the repeal of that law. For a long period after that were the Jews subject to all the civil burdens which attach to the other subjects of this country, and yet were excluded from all its civil privileges. But, my Lords, after repeated discussions, the opposition which had been so constantly made to the relief of the Jews from the disabilities under which they laboured, gave way, and your Lordships are aware that very recently an Act passed through the Legislature which admitted Jews to the exercise of municipal rights. It is, therefore, I think, abundantly proved, that there is no inconsistency, no impropriety, in again bringing the question under your Lordships' notice, upon which you have formerly given a hostile opinion. Amongst the characteristics which attach an inestimable value to your Lordships' House as a part of the constitution, this is by no means the least, that you afford a barrier to sudden innovation. Your Lordships' stake in the country, in common with the rest of Her Majesty's subjects, and added to that a stake of greater value, make your Lordships justly cautious when great alterations are proposed; and the country has frequently acknowledged with gratitude that this House has paused when alterations like the present were brought under its consideration, and have thus given time to the country to deliberate calmly on the changes which it might have sanctioned without sufficient consideration. But while your Lordships offer a barrier to sudden and dangerous innovation, it may be also known of your Lordships that it is not in this House that a permanent opposition is made to the general sense of the nation. Your Lordships deliberate, and deliberate cautiously; but if, after full deliberation, the sense of 861 the country is calmly and steadily expressed in favour of a particular measure, and your Lordships see that the innovation desired is not likely to be prejudicial to the country, then your Lordships yield to the wish of the nation; and numerous, indeed, are the instances in which your Lordships have given invaluable counsel and assistance in ameliorating and improving the existing state of things. The Bill that I now present to your Lordships has five times passed the House of Commons. You are aware of the fact to which I have already referred, that in aforetime the country, always alive to anything that affects its religion, was strongly excited upon propositions for the amelioration of the Jews, and that it has now expressed itself strongly in favour of the proposal for emancipating the Jews from the disqualifications to which they are now subject. Upon the present occasion, and upon previous occasions, your Lordships have had abundant opportunity of forming a judgment of what are the opinion and feeling of the nation upon the subject after further consideration. Will it be said that the absence of petitions in favour of this Bill is a proof and sign of the indifference of the country on the subject? It is, my Lords, a very unhappy time for such an argument. You have lately had an opportunity of correctly appreciating whether the people of this country have become insensible to anything which it thinks affects its religion—that religion which is established by law. Never was there a time when the country had shown itself more sensitive upon that subject; and although there have not been many petitions in favour of this measure, how different is the state of the petitions against it from that time when apprehensions were entertained that a course was about to be adopted which was likely to be injurious to the Established Church or to the Christian religion. I therefore say that a more unfounded conclusion could not be adopted than the conclusion that from the absence of petitions the country is indifferent to the fate of this Bill. The circumstances of delay which have marked the progress of this measure—the mere circumstance that such a Bill has passed the House of Commons five times—must have put the country sufficiently upon its guard; and if any well-founded apprehensions were entertained, if any opposition was deserved, those apprehensions would have been expressed, and that opposition 862 offered; but, notwithstanding that the Bill has been so often brought forward, how very few petitions have been presented in opposition to it. I have, therefore, to pray your Lordships to do an act of justice to the Jews. In calling upon your Lordships to make an alteration in the law, it will, perhaps, only be proper that I should recall to your Lordships' attention the position in which the Jews, as a body, are now placed—although there is very little relating to this subject that has not already passed under your notice. Whatever apprehensions have been heretofore entertained in regard to the Jews in respect to their admission to the rights and enjoyment of citizenship, it must not be forgotten that your Lordships have, contrary to former impressions, consented to put the Jews, in the fullest and freest manner, in the possession of that enjoyment and those rights. They are now capable of acting as magistrates; they are now capable of filling all municipal offices; they may now sit in judgment upon the life and death of Christians; and we now rely upon their oaths for all that is valuable in society—liberty and property of every kind are matters on which they have power to adjudicate. What is the experience of the manner in which the duties which correspond to those rights have been performed by the Jews? Who has been ever heard to complain of any injustice, any partiality, any misconduct on the part of the Jews in the exercise of their judicial and magisterial functions? None has been made that has ever reached my ears. Your judgment of them has been fully confirmed; the Jews have honourably performed the duties you entrusted to them, and you have permitted them to retain those rights, the duties corresponding to which have been so faithfully performed. What then remains to be done for these individuals who have proved themselves so trustworthy? That which the present Bill proposes to remove, and which is, I believe, the only barrier to the admission of the Jews to the perfect enjoyment of civil and religious liberty in this country. It cannot be denied that Jews are British subjects. Now, what are the rights of British subjects? I apprehend that British subjects are all, without regard to religious opinion, entitled to the free exercise and enjoyment of all civil rights, with one exception. In the language of a right rev. Prelate I entirely agree, when he said that all those rights 863 are trusts. I freely admit that there must he a capacity for the faithful and full discharge of those trusts before those rights can be conceded. Society, which is associated for purposes of mutual benefit and mutual advantage, affords no right to any man who is not able to discharge the duties which attach to the right. There are no rights inconsistent with the capacity for the faithful and full discharge of those duties; and if it should appear to your Lordships that there is anything in the faith or in the conduct of the Jews which prevents them from adequately discharging the trusts confided to them, I admit that I have no further ground to proceed in this matter. But I insist most respectfully, that no man can with justice and reason assert that there is anything in their faith, anything in their conduct, which unfits them for the full and faithful discharge of the duties of that position in which they seek to be placed. My Lords, what are the requisites for the full discharge of those duties? First of all, intelligence—have the Jews sufficient intelligence? Where will your Lordships find more? Do they understand and value the rights of property? Nobody better. [A laugh.] Do they furnish security, my Lords? I wish, my Lords, that to every proposition I have to assert, I could obtain from your Lordships so ready and audible an assent as that you have just given to my proposition, that the Jews are fully acquainted with the rights of property. But, my Lords, it is not an inconsiderable qualification for a legislator that he should understand and properly estimate the rights of property; and the good-humoured expression which has just fallen from your Lordships shows there are various senses in which the rights of property may be understood. When I used the term, I applied it to its best purpose. My Lords, in what manner do the Jews discharge all the social duties of life? I believe in the most exemplary manner. I believe they discharge them to as full an extent as their Christian brethren. I do not stop to inquire whether there is any difference between the conduct of the humblest of that class, and the humbler classes of other sects. I believe there is but little. I believe if there he any disadvantage, it is the result of the lamentable and degraded position in which they have long been placed by cruel and oppressive laws, and from which this Bill is calculated to relieve the whole community. My Lords, are they respecters of 864 oaths? Yes, they are. What occasions the necessity of my present intrusion upon your Lordships? It is because they are respecters of oaths, it is because they are respecters of the faith they have received from their ancestors, and because they will not do so as some have done—pledge themselves upon the faith of a Christian, which they are not—that the Jews are now excluded from Parliament. When I look at these British subjects bearing their equal burdens in every respect, discharging all the duties which attach to that relation in a manner perfectly unobjectionable—it seems to me that I throw a great onus upon those who seek to withhold from them a full and just participation in civil rights. My Lords, do you find them an association inconsistent with the peace of the country? Do you find them united for the purpose of disturbing the public peace? Are they found among the disloyal and the turbulent classes of the United Kingdom?—No. Do you find them active in commotions and agitations for the extension of civil and religious rights which they do not understand, and which, if they had, they knew not how to exercise?—No. Their conduct is altogether unexceptionable as subjects and as citizens. What, then, are their claims to those rights which I now propose shall be conceded to them? I will not in my own language state what I conceive those rights to be, but I will repeat them from a very great authority, who, in expressing his own opinion, embodies the opinion of other wise men, and has gained for himself an European reputation by the eminence of his talent. Vattel says—The prince, the conductor, to whom the nation has entrusted the care of the Government, and the exercise of the sovereign power, is obliged to watch over the preservation of the received religion, of the worship established by law, and has a right to restrain those who attempt to destroy or disturb them. But to acquit himself of this duty in a manner equally just and wise, he ought never to lose sight of the character in which he is called to act, and the reason of his being invested with it. Religion is of extreme importance to the peace and welfare of society; and the prince is obliged to have an eye to everything in which the State is interested. This is all that calls him to interfere in religion, or to protect and defend it. It is, therefore, upon this footing only that he can interfere; consequently he ought to exert his authority against those alone whose conduct in religious matters is prejudicial or dangerous to the State; but he must not extend it to pretended crimes against God, the punishment of which exclusively belongs to the Sovereign Judge, the Searcher of Hearts. Let us remember that religion is no further an 865 affair of State, than as it is exterior and publicly established; that of the heart can only depend on the conscience. The prince has no right to punish any persons but those that disturb society; and it would be very unjust in him to inflict pains and penalties on any person whatsoever for his private opinions, when that person neither takes pains to divulge them, nor to obtain followers. It is a principle of fanaticism, a source of evils, and of the most notorious injustice, to imagine that frail mortals ought to take up the cause of God, maintain his glory by acts of violence, and avenge him on his enemies. 'Let us only give to sovereigns,' said a great statesman and an excellent citizen, 'let us give them, for the common advantage, the power of punishing whatever is injurious to charity in society. It appertains not to human justice to become the avenger of what concerns the cause of God.'"—Vattel, liv. i., chap, xii., s. 133.So, too, say I. If your Lordships can be satisfied that there is anything attaching to the Jews which renders them unfit for the full discharge of legislative duties—if there is anything in their conduct or principles prejudicial or injurious to the State, there is no ground on which I can ask you to pass this Bill. But if there be no ground for rejecting it on those accounts, let not your Lordships exclude them from privileges to which they are well entitled, on account of their private opinions, or of pretended crimes against God. Under such circumstances, upon whom is the onus? Upon whom rests the burden of proof, that men so conducting themselves should be excluded from the equal enjoyment of those civil and juridical rights to which the rest of their fellow-countrymen are admitted? I say the onus is on those who oppose; and, although I have not had the opportunity of considering, to the extent which I should have desired, the present subject, I have taken some pains to ascertain the nature of the objections urged against the admission of the Jews into the Legislature. I think they resolve themselves into two. One of these two is not very intelligible to my mind. It is said the Jews are of no country, and, therefore, they ought not to be admitted to a participation of political rights in any country. Why and how are they of no country? Is it because no country has chosen to admit them into a full share of political enjoyment, or is it not? But that is not the fact. When it is said they are of no country, is it meant that they entertain hopes, and look forward to some future period when they shall be restored to an united kingdom according to the predictions of their prophets? Does that prevent them being of any country? Have 866 they been permitted, until very recently, in any respect to become part of any country? They have not. It is what they prayed—it is what they asked. The period at which they may expect this prophecy to be accomplished, is distant and uncertain. Are your Lordships, therefore, to conclude that they will attach themselves to no country in the meantime—that they are not anxious to acquire rights in the country in which they are sojourners, and that they have no desire to become guardians of the property which their ancestors have gained? Where is the ground for the opinion? I apprehend that the Jews who have been born and bred in this country, who are for all essential purposes as much subjects as the men of any other religious persuasion, feel themselves just as much British subjects and of the country as any other sect. Will they have a less interest in the peace and prosperity of the country during that uncertain interval which is to exist until their restoration to Judea, if they are admitted to participate in our rights, than they have now when refused admission to them? I apprehend not. My Lords, admit them to the perfect enjoyment of their rights, and I apprehend your Lordships would soon see that every mark of distinction in a political and civil sense will be lost. I may, perhaps, be allowed to trouble your Lordships with an extract from the correspondence which took place between Mendelssohn, the celebrated Jewish philosopher, and the equally celebrated Lavater upon this very subject. Lavater wished to put certain religious questions to that eminent Jew, and that wish led to a correspondence between them. The Christian spirit displayed in the writings of Mendelssohn is remarkable—is equal, in my estimation, nay, superior to that of most of the persons calling themselves Christians, that I have seen or heard of. Mendelssohn, perhaps, might not take it as a compliment when I ascribe a Christian spirit to his writings; but everything that is mild, everything that is charitable, everything that is generous, is to be found there. In remarking upon the condition of his country, he says—The station allotted to my brethren in the faith, in civil society, is so incompatible with the expansion of the mind, that we certainly do not increase our happiness by learning to view the rights of humanity under their true aspect.He then proceeds—Our rabbins are so remote from proselyto-mania that they enjoin us to dissuade, by forcible 867 remonstrances, every one who comes forward to be converted…We are to hold up to him a faithful picture of the misery, tribulation, and obloquy, in which the nation is now living, to guard him from a rash act of which he might ultimately repent.Then he said—We alone consider ourselves as bound to acknowledge the authority of our laws, and this can give no offence to our neighbours.Again—I am one of an oppressed people who have to supplicate shelter and protection of the ascendant nations; and these boons they do not obtain everywhere without more or less of restriction.…What gratitude do not my brethren owe to the nation which suffers them, without molestation, to worship the Supreme Being after the rites of their ancestors; and the Hebrews should, therefore, be scrupulous in abstaining from reflections on the predominant religions, or, which is the same thing, in touching their protectors, where men of virtue are most tender.In another part of the same correspondence, he said—Joseph II., Emperor of Germany, issued (about 1781) the memorable 'Decree of Toleration,' which rendered the condition of the Jews under his sceptre comparatively comfortable.After this, he added—God, in his mercy, has raised up illustrious and virtuous individuals to rouse the better feelings of the nation against the oppression and sufferings of brethren living under their protection. … The riches of a country consist in the industry of its inhabitants. The liberality and toleration of Holland rendered that State one of the most fertile and wealthy of Europe. It is objected that Jews are too indolent for agriculture, and too proud for mechanical trades; that they would uniformly select the arts and sciences as less laborious and more profitable. But it would not be so if the restrictions were removed; 'men of genius and talent will of course embrace the learned professions; those of inferior capacities will turn their minds to mechanical trades, &c.' and each will contribute, according to his station in life, his quota to the aggregate of productive labour.Is there any reason to doubt the accuracy of that statement? Has anything like this occurred in our own country, and is there no cause here which would account for similar indolence? Have the Jews not been precluded from being apprenticed to any trade in almost every large town in the kingdom? Have they not been excluded from carrying on those trades which the subjects of the country were generally permitted to do? Certainly they have. And I have heard it remarked that the cause why so many of the Jews are connected with the trades in money and jewellery, is the result of a long association 868 —that the cruelty and persecution of the nations wherein they dwelt so frequently attacked their property and spoiled them, that it was found necessary to have it in the most convertible and portable form, when the necessity for their withdrawing from persecution might arise. Circum-cumstances have, however, now greatly changed. They may now be apprenticed, and many other restrictions have been removed; and those who make the remark about their aversion to trades, overlook the impediments which had been thrown in their way of pursuing professions like other men. The allegation that they have no country, ought to be no objection to the passing of this Bill; they have no divided allegiance, either spiritual or temporal. When you say they have no country, surely in whatever sense you say it, they cannot be, and are not, insensible of the value of the protection and the enjoyments which they possess in the country where they now reside. They have no rival allegiance—they have no country to whose prosperity they can look with more interest than that in which they live. Therefore I should say, the fact of their having no country, in the sense in which the term is used, gives the best security for the country which protects them. Can it be said they would be influenced in their allegiance, in their obedience, in their desire to advance the prosperity of the country, because they look for the accomplishment of distant and uncertain prophecies? You might as well suppose that the conduct and opinions of other men would be influenced by the anticipation of the millennium. In this country give them protection—give them the rights enjoyed by your other subjects—give them the enjoyment of the British constitution, and there is no reason to suppose you will have less faithful, less obedient, less loyal subjects of the Crown, than any other class of mankind. My Lords, I refer to what their conduct has been when under persecution, when under restriction, in order that your Lordships may judge what it will be when they are justly admitted to the enjoyment of more perfect freedom. I therefore submit to your Lordships that in reality, of all classes, the Jews furnish the least objection to the possession of proper qualifications for legislation. On the policy of such a measure, I will name to your Lordships the opinion of another man, whose name I have never heard mentioned but with the highest admiration, and the most 869 profound respect. He was a Dissenter, but a Dissenter gifted in a remarkable degree. The late Rev. Robert Hall, of Leicester, after alluding to the Jews, and stating that there could be no salvation except through the merits of Jesus Christ, said—Nor ought it to be forgotten that it is impossible to continue in the Papal communion without committing idolatry, a sin against which the most fearful maledictions of Scripture are pointed. Notwithstanding this, however, all candid Protestants acknowledge the possibility of salvation within the Romish pale.In another passage Mr. Hall said—We should, therefore, be inspired with an increased tenderness and respect for the seed of Abraham, as containing, notwithstanding its occupying a distinct fold, a portion of the true Church of God. If we can be induced to hope that He has still a people among them, we shall be ready to look upon them with something like fraternal affection, and to embrace every opportunity of reprobating and removing the cruel privations and restrictions imposed by Christian nations, who, absurdly imagining that they do an acceptable service to God by their persecution and depression, are in reality treasuring up wrath by aggravating the affliction of those whom He has smitten. It is surprising that any man can read the ancient prophecies with attention without perceiving that He surveys the treatment of His ancient people with a jealous eye, and that while He signalizes his displeasure against them by the course of His providence, He will enter into a severe reckoning with those who shall be found 'to help on the affliction.' A large arrear of guilt has been contracted by the nations of Christendom on this account; and in this age of liberality, when such mighty efforts are made to procure the removal of political disabilities on the score of religion, it is surely high time their attention was turned to the oppressed and persecuted children of Abraham. Their political emancipation and restoration to the equal rights of citizenship might be reasonably expected to soften their prejudices, and dispose them to a more faithful hearing of the Christian cause. As the basis of all social virtue is laid in justice, so by none should its obligations be deemed more sacred than by those who make loud professions of Christian zeal and exalted charity.My Lords, it is true that remarks of a caustic nature are sometimes made against the Jews; but that great and good man calls attention to the fact, that God will mark those who rejoice in their calamity. God hardened the heart of Pharoah not to let them go. I trust that God will not harden the hearts of the Peers of England against them so that they may not be admitted into the Legislature of this land. Although the Almighty, in the inscrutable ways of His providence, may think fit to afflict a portion of mankind, is it the part of a Christian to endeavour to aggravate 870 that affliction? Nay, is it not obvious that Divine vengeance has been brought down on nations for the perversion of that duty which Christianity commands? It is your duty to relieve distress. It is no part of your duty to add to the cup of bitterness which that nation has been compelled to drink. I would say, Leave to the Almighty the accomplishment of His own objects, and do you soften wretchedness and distress, and relieve the persecuted. Does any man suppose that by any act of his he can avert the accomplishment of prophecy, or add to its force? Assuredly not. The Jews undoubtedly have been placed Under the Divine displeasure; but that furnishes no ground, no pretence to a just mind, for withholding from them those rights to which their political station entitles them, and which they are competent to discharge. My Lords, it is next said, that this is a Christian country. Thank God it is, and I may say, thank God I believe it will ever remain so. But will any man say it will be less so because we admit a few Jews into Parliament? My Lords, who most unchristianises a country—the faithful Jew, adhering to his creed and his faith, refusing to adopt any form or obligation, the force of which he does not feel, or the indifferent (or it may be the infidel) Englishman, who will swallow all oaths re-pecting religion with perfect ease? What security do you take, what test do you apply, to provide that you shall have honest Churchmen in the Legislature? You do that, perhaps, which, in one sense alone, you can do. You call on men to pledge themselves in a certain form of words; but you cannot read their hearts. But is it certain that infidelity will be excluded from Parliament by abjuration oaths? Notoriously not. I say therefore that the words, "on the true faith of a Christian," ought to be omitted from the oath of abjuration, and that it is a form which ought no longer to be enforced. I say you will not less Christianise the country, and the Legislature will not be the less a Christian Legislature because you admit a few Jews into it. What danger can you incur? Surely, when men are assisting in all the exigencies of the State, you should show some disqualification when you exclude them from the enjoyment of political rights. Do you fear their loyalty? Do you fear the proper discharge of their duties in civil life? Do you fear that they can overturn your religion, or bring it into jeopardy? What must be the result of 871 the slightest indication of any such attempt? But of all men, who are the least likely to make it? The Jew will not admit you to his faith. His faith is confined to the seed of Abraham. He is too proud, too jealous of the promises to his nation. He has no rivalry to set up. It is said that his peace is in the peace of the city where he dwells, and he is told to pray for the peace of that city. Tell me the motive of the Jew to endeavour to impeach the Christian religion in any respect. Where is the evidence that the Jew has ever in any respect shown any disposition to make proselytes, any disposition to affect the Established Church? What gives at least one great security for the peace and prosperity of this country? Undoubtedly the Christian religion and the Established Church. And the Jew is interested in all that prosperity because it tends to the security of his own property. Not by the charms of eloquence calculated to withdraw your attention from the main subject—not by exaggerations and statements which experience and facts do not confirm—but by the words of truth and soberness let the House be informed, judging of the conduct of the Jew as a citizen, what is reasonably to he expected from him in the character of a legislator. You have peaceable and loyal subjects contributing to the wealth of the country, and having every motive to promote its peace. Whence does the objection come? Having examined the objections, it appears to me that the arguments resolve themselves into the two points I have mentioned, and they do not appear to be supported either by facts or arguments which ought to satisfy your Lordships' minds. Then, my Lords, if I am correct in saying that the conduct of these men throws the onus on those who oppose them, and if that onus is attempted to he discharged only by the objections I have mentioned, I ask, do they furnish any just ground for exclusion? My Lords, if you want to find an example of the sublimest adherence to faith, of the sublimest wisdom, and qualities of the highest order, where do you look? To the ancient Jews. Where do we find such specimens of divine truth, delivered with such force and beauty of lauguage, as are to be met with in the writings of the Jews? You have their failings recorded, it is true. But it has pleased Providence to record in those ancient chronicles the failings of great and good men for wise purposes—not to degrade their character, but that we might learn wis- 872 dom, and that "he who thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." Of all nations, which stands the highest in sublimity? The Jews; and there is not a nation that has not cause to envy them. Shall I be reminded, as an argument against this Bill, of the circumstance that the Jews had crucified our Lord? Is it for your Lordships to enter into the question how ancient prophecies, written when the Jewish nation was the favoured of God, but which predicted that His people should be the murderers of His Son, were fulfilled by the event? Your Lordships have good example how you should deal with this question. Our Saviour, at the moment when He expired upon the cross, said, "Father, forgive them! they know not what they do." Ought not this also to be the language of your Lordships? If they knew not what they did, and if it pleased Providence to blind them to the force of truth when the eyes of others were opened, who shall say that the decrees of Providence are not wise and good? I present to you, my Lords, the Jews as good citizens, as faithful to their creed, of which it is no part to make any attempt inconsistent with the public good in any temporal and every spiritual point of view. Why, then, withhold from the State the benefit of the wisdom and experience of these men? Or why from the Jews the rights to which they are justly entitled? Your Lordships having had the subject repeatedly under consideration, I pray of you to bestow upon it once again that intelligence and that wisdom which I ascribe to your Lordships; and I do trust you will perceive that, whatever impression you may have heretofore entertained, that wisdom and justice will dictate to you at last that there is no longer any reason for that exclusion of the Jews from those highest civil and political privileges to which they aspire. I call upon your Lordships to "do justice and love mercy." The noble and learned Lord then moved that the Bill be now read a Second Time.
said, he would not attempt to follow the noble and learned Lord through the sermon he had just delivered; but in listening to the address of the noble and learned Lord, he could not help feeling thankful that the noble and learned Lord had delivered that speech from the eminent position which he occupied, and not as a bishop of the Church; and he was afraid if the Jews were admitted to Parliament, they would often hear the expression of 873 similar opinions. The noble and learned Lord had talked of the concessions which had been made to the Jews. He (Earl Nelson) was thankful for those concessions, but could not see why, when they had been made, the whole of the noble and learned Lord's argument should be directed to the condition of the Jews before the granting of such concessions. The noble and learned Lord confounded the Jews at the time of Pharaoh with the Jews of the present clay, and had argued that, because we had admitted them to civil and municipal offices, such as those of judge and sheriff, that we were to admit them to seats in the Legislature. The noble and learned Lord did not seem to see the difference between making laws and administering them. The noble and learned Lord lauded the benevolence of the Jew; but it was trifling with the argument to adduce this trait in their character, for whether they were benevolent or not—and he (Earl Nelson) admitted that they were—had really nothing to do with the question. The noble and learned Lord next alluded to the state of feeling in the country, and observed that the question had been carried five times in the House of Commons. In this, however, he was certainly mistaken, for he believed it had been assented to only four times. He (Earl Nelson), however, would rather take as an index of the state of public feeling, the majorities by which those Motions had been carried in the Commons, and the petitions that had been presented for and against the measure. The noble and learned Lord had admitted that few petitions had come up in favour of the Bill, but had himself accounted for the fact by observing that the country had been agitated by another question which had occupied them. If the feeling of this country was emphatically and progressively in favour of the admission of the Jews into Parliament, how was it that so few petitions had been presented in favour of this Bill? and how was it to be accounted for that the second Bill introduced for this purpose into the House of Commons had been carried by a smaller majority than the first? How was it to be explained that the third Bill, brought in last year, had been received with so much apathy, that it had never reached the House of Lords at all? And, above all, how could it have occurred that of all the majorities whereby the Bill had ever been carried, the smallest and most insignificant was the last? How did it happen that the majo- 874 rities had dwindled away, division after division, until the original majority of 90 had been reduced to 25? All these facts proved more eloquently than could a thousand arguments, that if there ever had been any feeling amongst the public in favour of this measure, that feeling was steadily and rapidly declining. The noble and learned Lord did not make much of the argument that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" were not intended to exclude the Jews. He (Earl Nelson) allowed, indeed, that they were not at first intended to exclude them; but in the time of the first two Georges there were two Acts passed, in which these words were considered as virtually excluding them, and as meant for nothing else. For in these Acts, which were for the purpose of naturalising the Protestant and other bodies in America, no other words than these, "on the true faith of a Christian," were considered as affecting the Jews. At all events, now, the words had the effect of excluding the Jews; and whatever were the reasons, right or wrong, for introducing them, it was for their Lordships to decide whether they would strike out the words. It had been said to be absurd to talk about a Christian Legislature, since the Legislature was not now Christian. It was true that in one sense the Legislature was not bonâ fide Christian; but that very fact was one of the strongest arguments against the Bill, for from that fact the relations between the Church and State had been greatly shaken. And was it right at such a time as this to increase the mischief, instead of removing it? In another sense, however, the Legislature was Christian. It was professedly Christian; and the profession, even if occasionally accompanied by deception, was still for good. If the restriction were removed, where would Parliament stop? Lord Shrewsbury had on some occasion said he wished Catholics to be as free to vote and use their own discretion as to matters of Church and State as the Jews would be under this Bill; and if Jews were allowed a seat in Parliament without being bound by any restriction as to the Protestant Church, how could the same liberty be refused to every class of Christians? He hoped their Lordships would see the injustice of allowing the Church to remain in her present anomalous position, and the danger of separation of Church and State, if the difficulties of her position were increased; and the awful responsibility which 875 would be incurred by Parliament if voluntarily and unadvisedly (for the country desired not the measure) the only standing ground interposed against the admission of infidels of every class were removed. He would add that he hoped their Lordships would well weigh one inevitable effect of the admission of such persons into Parliament, which would be" that the ordinary Parliamentary courtesy would gradually restrain the expression of those sentiments of attachment to the Christian religion, which surely should not be suppressed in the legislation of a Christian country. On these grounds he would move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
§ Amendment moved to leave out "now," and insert "this day six months."
said, he was surprised to hear the noble Earl declare that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" were, if not originally introduced, at least intentionally retained, for the purpose of excluding Jews. He thought it was agreed on all hands that these words had accidentally shut out the Jews, and were not originally intended for the purpose. Nothing could be more indisputable than that those words were only introduced to give an ordinary and solemn sanction to an oath taken by a Christian gentleman. Although, however, this was so, he would rather take the question on this broad ground—whether it were advisable to make the concession of civil privileges dependent upon religious professions? He perceived with some regret that the Bill only applied to gentlemen professing the Jewish religion; for he believed that upon the same grounds on which Jews ought to be admitted, those who professed any other religion ought also to be admitted. He should be glad to see a Bill framed upon that principle, and logically consistent, enabling any gentleman, of whatever religious opinion, to take the oath, and take his seat in Parliament, omitting the words "on the true faith of a Christian," whenever he objected to take them. The usual argument against such a measure was, that by excluding Jews the Christian religion was upheld. He could conceive that on general grounds of policy it might sometimes be advisable to exclude certain classes of citizens from the possession of full political rights; there might be grounds of State policy dependent upon the various circumstances of different countries and different times; but the principles of the Christian religion were irreversible and im- 876 mutable; and he did not believe that, if the Bill were rejected in the slightest degreee upon religious grounds, their Lordships would act, in any degree, in the spirit and essence of that religion. He regretted that the right rev. Prelates had been among the warmest opponents of the measure; and it was indeed chiefly owing to the eloquent opposition of some among them that such a measure was not already law. He ventured to ask those right rev. Prelates whether they found in the books or the principles of the Christian religion any injunction, or any shadow of countenance for the idea, that where Christians were in a majority in a State, it was their duty to reserve for themselves exclusive possession of the highest civil privileges? He did not believe that any such injunction could be found; and though in the present age no one would contemplate the revival of the system under which the Jews were formerly tortured, or slain, or banished, yet he maintained that, logically speaking, the spirit by which they were excluded from Parliament was practically the same. If their Lordships were bound, for the sake of upholding the Christian religion, to exclude Jews from sitting in the other House, on what grounds could they refuse, for the sake of preserving the purity of the Christian religion, to exclude Roman Catholics and members of dissenting communities? Of course he should be told there was a wide distinction between the cases; for that Catholics, Protestants, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Dissenters, Unitarians, and Quakers, however they differed, were of the same Christian religion, and were bound together by one bond of union and brotherhood. He wished he could believe it. He wished it could be said in any sense that Christians were bound together by any bond of union. On the contrary, unhappily, the truth was, that the most bitter dissensions that had ever distracted Europe had proceeded from the dissensions of Christians. And could it be said that the admission of Jews into Parliament would bring in any more elements of hostility? or were their Lordships, for the sake of a mere visionary dream of Christian unity, to continue a restriction which placed a stigma upon a most deserving class of Her Majesty's subjects? It was said that the Jews were aliens; but unless their Lordships looked to ancient prophecies—which surely could scarcely be cited in such a discussion, and in which it was stated that the Jews should wander over 877 the face of the earth, and at some time return to their promised land—how could it be said that they were aliens? They were no more so than the descendants of any families who had settled in England who were originally foreigners, but whose children were English in birth, and were Englishmen in right. Sometimes the money-power of the Jews was spoken of as an element of danger. Surely this was a most unworthy argument for a Christian. Had it never been heard of how Christian money was spent at elections to corrupt Christian men? and could it be pretended that any greater corruption would be introduced by the admission of Jews. It was said again, that their admission would poison Parliament—the great "artery" of the constitution. Had it, however, been forgotten, that every channel which led to that artery had already been allowed to be so "poisoned?" This was an argument which Christians would do well not to use. The Jews were permitted to occupy the highest municipal offices, and when the electors had appointed a Jewish gentleman to a high municipal office, and when by a long and faithful discharge of his duties he had obtained their confidence, with what consistency could their Lordships say to those electors that they must not elect him to represent them in Parliament? Surely this was not consistent; and he earnestly hoped that, by supporting the Bill, their Lordships would remove the inconsistency; and, above all, sanction the great principle that the possession of the highest civil privileges ought not to he dependent upon religious profession.
The ARCHBISHOP of DUBLIN
said, that he had so very long ago, and so very frequently, placed on record his opinions on the question now under consideration, not in their Lordships' House only, but also in published and printed works, that there was the less necessity for his trespassing at any great length upon their Lordships' attention on the present occasion. But the very fact of his having explained his views on many previous occasions, rendered it necessary that he should address a few remarks to them, to show that neither the lapse of time, nor facilities for more mature deliberation, had in any degree modified those opinions which he had from the first put forward upon this important subject. He had not, either in respect of this question, or of that other question, scarcely less important, which had occupied their Lordships' 878 attention a few evenings since, changed the opinions which, through the press and otherwise, he had promulgated to the public many years ago:—on the contrary, he adhered to those opinions all the more stedfastly, because he found that neither by learning nor by ingenuity had any refutation of them been as yet devised. The grounds upon which he had hitherto voted for this measure were not those that were usually taken up by its other advocates. He did not mean to take exception to the arguments upon which others based their advocacy of this measure; but he claimed for himself, if not the merit, at least the distinction, of viewing the question through a different aspect. He had never advocated the admission of Jews into Parliament, but he had all along advocated the leaving the constitutional privilege of free choice to the electors. He had never advocated the cause of the Jew any more than that of the Hindoo, or the Mahomedan; but throughout his life he had declared that the restrictions ought to be removed which were now placed upon electors with respect to the persons whom they might think fit to return to Parliament as their representatives—unless, indeed, it could be shown that some political danger would arise to the commonwealth from the electors being permitted to make a free use of their own judgment. He had said nothing against the Jews, and he had sedulously guarded himself against saying anything in their favour. He did not consider that the cause which he was advocating was that of the Jews; he rather regarded it as the cause of the Christian inhabitants of this country, that no secular penalty or civil disabilities should be imposed upon persons of the Jewish persuasion. The real question at issue was this—shall the Christian population of this country be permitted to enjoy the unfettered exercise of a political right; or shall the exercise of that right depend upon the religious professions of the party in whose regard they may choose to exercise the right? Now, the more he thought, and the more he heard, and the more he read, the more profound became his conviction that it was in the highest degree impolitic and inexpedient to attach secular or civil disabilities to the profession of any description of religious opinions. Neither could he understand upon what principle of Christianity any such disabilities could be justified, seeing that the Divine Founder of Christianity had himself declared that 879 his kingdom was not of this world, and had enjoined upon his disciples the duty of rendering unto Cæsar those things which of right appertained even to that idolatrous emperor. Even at the risk of incurring the imputation of tedious repetition, he must again declare his conviction that this was not the cause of the Jews, but rather that of the Christians. The question which their Lordships were called upon that night to determine was simply this, whether the free Christian electors of this country were to he at liberty to send what man they pleased to represent them in Parliament, or whether the exercise of that privilege was to be encumbered by considerations having reference to the religious faith of the man by whom they might desire to be represented. The question was not whether Jews should sit in Parliament, but rather whether in this free and enlightened age the Christian electors of this Christian nation should have the right to choose whom they liked as their representative, or whether their hands were to be tied in that respect. He would vote in the affirmative of that proposition. He admitted that the present Bill did not take a proper hold of the subject, and he entirely concurred in a sentiment expressed by his dear and lamented Friend, Bishop Coplestone, which he found in a letter which had been recently published, that the question had not yet been placed on its true basis, and that a Bill having such an object as the present ought to have been introduced avowedly as for the removal of all religious disabilities, and not simply for the relief of the Jews. But although the Bill was not presented in that shape which would most faithfully illustrate its tendency, and although it was not brought forward in the manner most consistent with the principle promulgated, nevertheless their Lordships should seek to view it in its legitimate aspect, and should endeavour to arrive at a, right conclusion, and to do so on right premises. The Members of the Government did not always find it possible to take a great and comprehensive view of a question; they were oftentimes compelled by the difficulties of their position to apply a measure of great and universal importance to the purposes of a particular case. He gave the Members of Her Majesty's Government the benefit of this admission; but he should not be tempted by any such consideration to view the 880 question in any other light than that which he believed to be the legitimate one. Again, he said it was his deliberate conviction that they ought to remove all religious distinctions from the exercise of political rights, unless, indeed, it could be shown that such religious distinctions were inseparably connected with some political or civil danger to the community, and that was not even contended for in the present case. He had never said that there was no political danger to the community in the admission of Catholics into Parliament, but he had always said that it was better to brave that danger than to depart from the benignant spirit of the Christian religion. He believed that whatever danger threatened the Church, was greater from Roman Catholics and all classes of Dissenters, than from Jews. He had no apprehension that Jews would Judaize the State. It was said that the retention of these words in the oath, "on the true faith of a Christian," was doing honour to Christianity. He would retain the oath in its present form, if he could think that in its present form it did honour to Christianity; but he could not reconcile himself to any such conviction—he thought that the oath in its present form was a dishonour to Christianity; and he believed that it was an imputation on Christianity to suppose that it could be so honoured, and should be so supported. He trusted that no one would consider him as indifferent to the Christian religion; neither was he indifferent to Protestantism, nor to the Church to which he belonged—yet he did not consider that by the admission of Dissenters to Parliament he was doing dishonour to the Established Church, or dishonour to Protestantism by the admission of the Roman Catholics. If that were acknowledged, how could it be said to be a dishonour to Christianity to admit the Jew, if the electors thought fit to elect him? The cases were perfectly parallel. In a word, he could not comprehend how the religion of Christ could be strengthened or dignified by restricting the electors of this country in the exercise of a political right. He had heard it curiously alleged by some that the success which Providence had been pleased to vouchsafe to the British arms in India, was in itself a sufficient reason why such restrictive laws as these should be retained upon the Statute-book. Now, he must say that this train of reasoning appeared to him to be rather more remarkable for its ingenuity than for its truthfulness. He should be sorry, indeed, 881 that it should be thought that either calamity or defeat, victory or disaster, could make him indifferent to Christianity; but he confessed his total inability to comprehend how the victories in India could be connected with the maintenance of the civil disabilities—he would not call it of the Jews—but of the Christian electors at home. The State was always found quite ready to avail itself of the services of all persons, of whatever persuasion; and with respect to the victories in India, where would those victories have been, if all the soldiers who would not take an oath "on the true faith of a Christian" had been disbanded? Nine-tenths of them, he believed, were Mahometans and Hindoos; but yet the State was ready to make use of their services against the enemy, and would be perfectly consistent in making use of their services in that or the other House of Parliament, if the electors thought fit to choose them. He conceived that the electors had a right to demand this as British subjects, and still more as Christians and as followers of Him who declared that His kingdom was not of this world, and who disavowed all connexion with political ascendancy and political power, and had deprecated any attempt to use spiritual affairs for the propping up of temporal kingdoms.
§ The EARL of SHAFTESBURY
said, it is impossible to approach this question with indifference, or without a deep conviction that it demands our most serious and respectful consideration. The greatness of the principle involved, and the political feebleness of those in whose behalf it is urged, are weighty reasons, when combined, to command a more than ordinary attention to the measure now submitted to your Lordships. Yet, I much regret that this question has been revived. Nothing new has occurred to alter our opinions: the same proposition is before us, and we must offer it the same resistance; and, in fact, we must resort to the same arguments, for the question is so simple that it cannot be regarded in different lights. It is one altogether of principle, and does not afford the aid and variety of numerous details. I regret that the noble Lord who spoke last but one (Lord Wodehouse) made a remark to the effect that all those who opposed this measure were more or less tainted with a spirit of persecution, and that, though the time was past for the whip or the rack, yet the spirit of persecution remained. I regret that that obser- 882 vation fell from the noble Lord, for in what a way might it not be replied to? Might we not retort and say, that if we are tainted with a spirit of persecution, you are tainted with a spirit of infidelity? I will not use that retort, for I know you are not tainted with such a spirit; but I implore your Lordships to abstain from such imputations, and to allow this debate to be conducted as similar debates hitherto have been, both in this and the other House, with great moderation and fairness. I must, however, guard myself and those who think with me against a charge of bigoted hostility to the Jewish race; we do not reject them because they are aliens, though, despite the assertions of some of their friends, they are a distinct nation, and will ever remain so; but it is their concern, and not ours, if they choose to make the effort of sinking their distinctive honours in the confusion of the Gentiles. We do not exclude them as a disloyal, base-minded, or incompetent race of men, as an inferior class; very far from it; neither do we exclude them because they are few; the principle on which they stand and on which we resist is the same, whether they be one or 1,000,000. Still less do we exclude them, as it is often affirmed, and specially by the late Sir Robert Peel, in any sense of vengeance or chastisement. God forbid! First, we have no warranty to do so; secondly, we know not the descendants of the guilty; thirdly, for the matter of that, the Gentiles were, to say the least, quite as much partakers as they were of the sin of the crucifixion. The truth is, that our difficulties are not in respect of them as Jews, but arising within ourselves; not in anything peculiar to the race, but grounded on the rigour of our own principles. Here, then, is the simple issue; for the purpose of admitting the Jews to Parliament we are-summoned to make an alteration in the oath taken at the table by the Members of tooth Houses; and that, according to the terms of the Bill, "that whenever any of Her Majesty's subjects professing the Jewish religion shall present himself to take the said oath of abjuration, the words 'upon the true faith of a Christian' shall be omitted out of the said oath in administering the same to such person." The Jews now demand admission to the Legislature; it is, in fact, all that they can demand. On this point we have the authority of one of their own advocates, Dr. Van Oven, who said—"The only serious disability which remains to the 883 Jews is their exclusion from Parliament." Now, we venture to assert that, admitting all former demands to be reasonable, this is of a different complexion; it is one which I will endeavour to prove that they have no right to make, nor we, on our part, any power to concede. Now, consider what the Jew demands—look first to his peculiar character and position. We will readily admit that he is on honourable and upright man, liberal and humane, with adequate intellectual acquirements. But his very existence and profession are perpetual and manifest protests against the reception of Christianity; he declares it to be in all its forms, circumstances, and capabilities false and fraudful; he cannot take shelter, like the infidel, under the plea that, however erroneous it be, the general submission to it is beneficial as a means of public order, because the general acceptance is a reflection on himself, and stamps him with a disagreeable notoriety. This is the well-known creed and feeling of his nation all over the world, in every people and kingdom under heaven; it is, therefore, not the opinion and resolve of an obscure and scanty class, suddenly and capriciously entertained—it is the faith of a whole people, the inheritance from their forefathers, universally, openly, and consistently maintained. His very existence, as it were, depends on such public and determined protests; and, if he be conscientious, he must take no middle course—he must publicly assert it, seek by all legitimate means to diffuse it, and lend no aid, direct or indirect, to the advance of its adversary. Now, with all these feelings and principles, with all these open manifestations and secret sentiments, he demands a seat in the British Legislature, to make laws that shall indirectly affect the Church of Christ, and directly the Church of England, which is a branch of it; and this he does openly professing his hostility to the faith, name, and very book of our religion, admitting that the simple recognition of it condemns him. Nay, he does more. In this spirit, and with these declarations of antipathy, he summons us to make the concession by doing what seems to exhibit our utter indifference to it. He denies the "true faith of a Christian," and then summons us to withdraw the words as improper or unnecessary—he summons us, at least, to avow that the declaration is unnecessary. Is this within the limits of legitimate demand? Has any man a right to demand this of an- 884 other? Nor have we, I think, a right to concede it. Here is a declaration that, either actually or virtually, has been made by every one assuming a seat for more than 200 years. We are summoned to repeal it, not because it is false or unnecessary—for, if so, you would have moved its repeal irrespectively of this question, and when you abolished other needless oaths—but because it is inconvenient, and excludes the great antagonists of the Christian name. We cannot think that we have a right so do deal with solemn professions. If it were a question of repealing all oaths, the subject might be differently regarded, but it is a question not upon the principle of oaths generally, but on the expediency of this. We may give to the Jews a share in our privileges and our power, but we have no right to admit them to a share of government in ecclesiastical things, and simultaneously declare that Christianity is not necessary to the character of a legislator; no right to admit them to a power of making a public, legal, legislative effort for extirpating Christianity. You cannot quote the case of Dissenters, and Roman Catholics, inasmuch as, however hostile those persons may be to the Established Church, or to any other of our institutions, yet they are not, as in the case of the Jews, hostile to the very name and vitality of the Christian religion. Nor may you answer us, as the Lord Chancellor has done, by asserting the inherent vigour of Christian truth, and the utter impossibility of danger to it from the presence and activity of Hebrew lawgivers. We agree with you; but this is not a question of details, but one altogether of principle. Great principles are confided to our care, and given for our guidance, and we have no more right to surrender a principle for public or private convenience, than we have to do a dishonest action. I was astonished to be met here by the Lord Chancellor with the taunting query, "What do you apprehend?" We reply, that the sacrifice of principle is always perilous, and that no man can affirm that evil results will not occur because we are unable to specify them; they may be, and possibly would be, of a nature totally different from those that arise on practical questions, but, nevertheless, equally formidable. We maintain, therefore, that we have no right to concede this demand. We may give up what is our own, our safety, our dignity, nay, exclusive power or privilege, nay, the fabric even of the Church, if we 885 will; but we can neither assert what is false, nor, as in this case, consent to withdraw or suppress what is true. Mark you, my Lords, this is no ordinary matter; you do not assert in this oath, by way of exercise or amusement, that parallel lines will never meet, or that two and two make four; you assert the great and dominant principle of all public and private morality; you assert the alpha and omega of all legislation; you erect the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night to guide us on our path; and will you not, by this immolation of truth to expediency, be guilty of misleading many of your fellow-subjects, and teach them to believe that the assertion of such mighty principles is now become antiquated and unnecessary? Now, a very serious consideration arises, whether it would not be better, if such repeated changes are contemplated, to repeal oaths altogether? I should prefer things remaining as they are; but I should prefer that abolition to any further tampering, which is inevitable. I very much doubt the propriety of successive changes of an oath to suit successive occasions. Let us fairly understand what is the value of oaths. It has been said they did not keep out Bolingbroke, Gibbon, and others, and thus their value is denied; but how often have I heard their strength denounced in excluding Roman Catholics, and now Jews; but surely in quoting the oaths of Bolingbroke and Gibbon you take a very imperfect view of the oaths sworn at this table. They are not simply the personal assurance of the individual, but the declaration of the national sentiment. The nation cannot swear and profess; it therefore does so by its representatives. Bolingbroke and Gibbon took the oath and jeopardised their own souls; but they bore a public testimony and yielded to the principle of the nation. Many advocates of this measure say, the exclusion of the Jews was never intended by the words "true faith of a Christian." That may be good for a legal argument, and against those who maintain the admission of Jews to be unconstitutional; but nothing to us who resist it on religious grounds only. We do not say that we should have put into the oath the words now proposed to be removed in the case of the Jews; but we find them there, and we cannot retreat from them without a sacrifice of principle, and without declaring that the words and the sentiment are equally useless. The noble and learned Lord (the Lord Chan- 886 cellor) has said that the Jews are admitted to corporate honours, and has argued that there is an inconsistency in excluding them from legislative functions. But there is the widest difference between administrative and legislative functions. The first are given by a Christian head, and the party who assumes them knows he must use them for Christian purposes, and is bound within the limit of the law; but, in respect to legislative functions, the individual who discharges them acts as he pleases, and is responsible to no one. I know that Quakers and others have been admitted into the other House, who are not required to use the words "on the true faith of a Christian;" but they all approach the table professing Christianity, and do not profess to be antagonistic to the Christian faith. No one can deliberate on this question without a deep sense of the mighty debt that is due to the Jewish people from all the nations of Christendom. We owe them much, very much, for the wrongs they have endured, and much for the services they have performed; they ought to be "beloved for their fathers' sakes." I am sure I speak the sentiments of all who oppose their claims when I say that we would willingly show every honour to their orderly demeanour, their surprising energy, their intellectual greatness. We would make them every compensation, and atone for the past by the liberality of the future; but, unfortunately, they demand the roc's egg; they require that which is not ours to give, they seek from us (such is our opinion) a surrender of the truth; and we are compelled, with intentions and feeling the most friendly and respectful, to assume an attitude of apparent hostility. I am very loth to believe that this ambition to sit in the British Parliament, or to take part in the councils of any empire, is the predominant desire of the Hebrew nation—for a nation they are, and a nation they will continue to be to the end of time. It is vain for some Jewish advocates of the question to assert that they are lost, sunk, confounded in the mass of the surrounding community; it is an untrue and a degrading assertion; untrue, because directly opposed to holy writ, which declares that "the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations," and again untrue, because disproved to every one who reads a book, or converses with travellers, or perambulates the streets. Degrading it undoubtedly is, for it denies to them all the glories of their future ca- 887 reer—a career the most brilliant, the most extensive, the most durable, and the most blessed in the entire history of the human race. So much for them; for ourselves, we must reply that a great and holy principle has been confided to our charge; responsible for the sacred office, we must keep it in all its integrity. It is a principle, which, with every sentiment of veneration and sympathy, we will not, and we cannot, yield to any authority less than that which originally imposed it.
§ The EARL of CARLISLE
said: As on most subjects I would fain hope I have the happiness of agreeing with my noble Friend who has just spoken, so, when constrained to differ from him, I always respect and admire his principles and motives, and his courageous and consistent assertion of them, so much so that I am always inclined to regard my own opinions with some degree of suspicion when they do not accord with those of my noble Friend. My noble Friend has been recently most worthily selected to fill the very honourable post of Chairman of the British and Foreign Bible Society; and I could not hear his speech without regretting that in taking that chair he has not inherited the sentiments which his meek and pious predecessor, Lord Bexloy, always [professed on this subject. With respect to the question before the House, after the clear statement of the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack, and the arguments of the most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of Dublin), well worthy of his Christian character and logical reputation, and remembering also that when the question was last before your Lordships I stated my opinion fully respecting it, I should now hold it to be inexcusable in me to trespass long on your Lordships' time in recommending this question to your favourable consideration. The question does not admit of many fresh views or arguments, though, in my humble judgment, the lapse of time and the course of events have materially! strengthened the already subsisting reasons for its favourable reception. My noble Friend expressed his regret that an attempt should now be made to revive this question; but your Lordships will remember that the noble Earl who moved the rejection of the Bill, made it an express ground of argument against proceeding with it, that we abstained from bringing it before your Lordships' House last Session. Allusion has also been made to the absence of petitions. I do not pretend that there 888 has been any great number of petitions either on one side or on the other; but it was mere accident that prevented either myself or one of my Colleagues from laying on your Lordships' table a petition from the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Council of the city of London, which was agreed to this day without an expression of dissent, I believe, among the whole of that important body, and which proves that they persevere in those generous and liberal sentiments which they have hitherto entertained in reference to this question,; and which they have taken the most practical method of exhibiting. For the reason I have just stated, I wish to narrow my observations to one single point, the more especially because I believe it is the only one of any weight or substance with which the promoters of this measure have to grapple. I mean the conscientious view—the view of principle, as my noble Friend described it—the religious objection entertained to the measure; because, apart from this, I know your Lordships—as, indeed, has been admitted by some—would not apprehend any merely political ill consequence or danger from granting emancipation to the Jews. Their limited number, the character they have constantly borne in this country, and the whole tenour of their habits, are a guarantee against any such apprehension. Apart, also, from this religious objection, I know your Lordships would not grudge to your Jewish fellow-countrymen the attainment of wishes which so many entertain, of being placed on an even level with their more fortunate fellow-subjects. The only reason, I am persuaded, with the opponents of this Bill for refusing their assent to it, consists in a feeling on their part, as expressed by the noble Earl, that to give that assent would be an act, as it were, of disloyalty towards the Divine Founder of our religion; and that whereas the only thing worth striving for, or worth living for on earth, is the extension of His empire, such an association with His enemies as this Bill is said to contemplate, such an act of grace and condescension towards those who are represented as bound to protest against the continued existence of Christianity, would be to invade His rightful supremacy, and to deprive Him of a portion of His rightful honour. Now, if this objection were well founded, I fully admit that it would exclude all further controversy, and would quite conclude the question; but that is not the view I humbly entertain on this 889 question. He did not certainly treat this as a question of indifference, or look upon the religious objection as a thing which mainly belonged to the domain of theology, and which ought to be excluded from the concerns of life and the ordinary current of political affairs; but he held that loyalty, devotion, and attachment to any cause or to any service were best exhibited by imbibing as much as possible of its spirit, and exhibiting as much as possible of obedience to the principles which it entertained. Now, bow do I read the precepts of Christianity as I believe they may be legitimately applied to the question before us? I need not assure your Lordships that I should shrink from making any light reference to a solemn authority; but I feel that this is a question which, upon either side, can only be worthily discussed by being discussed upon religious grounds. There is, first of all, and always, then, the pervading rule of our divine faith, "Do unto others as ye would that others should do unto you." I admit that this must be construed, in the transactions of human affairs, with reference to the conditions and circumstances to which it is to be applied. But the circumstances of the case now before us are the admission of our Jewish fellow-countrymen to the share which naturally accrues to them in the legislation; and, therefore, in the practical government of the country of which they are the rightful citizens. Now, here, as applied to those special circumstances, comes in, I conceive, most expressly the authoritative declaration which has been quoted to-night by my most rev. Friend the Archbishop of Dublin, "My kingdom is not of the world." If His kingdom had been of this world, a special declaration of fealty might very properly have been required. The kingdoms of this world may very appropriately lay down such regulations as they think fit in matters pertaining to them. They may very consistently attempt to regulate the duties and privileges of those upon whom they confer the right of citizenship. It is quite true that the kingdoms which are not of this world have also duties and privileges of an infinitely higher character than any belonging to the kingdoms that are of this world; but, then, I contend that those duties and privileges which are not conferred by the kingdoms of this world ought not to be withheld by the coarse machinery of oaths, declarations, privileges, monopolies, and exclusions. I shall not go into the ques- 890 tion of the origin of the words which it is proposed to repeal. I believe it is generally admitted that their insertion into the oath of allegiance was the effect of political accident. You say you rely upon these words for excluding the Jews from taking any share in the legislation of the country. But the Jew is called upon to exercise many other privileges from which he is not debarred by the oath of allegiance; and those duties which he is called upon to administer, infer more delicacy and involve more danger—where questions occur, for instance, between man and man on the magisterial bench, or, it may be, questions concerning the sanctity of public worship—which the Jewish magistrate may, in many cases, decide by himself, unchecked by the presence of other magistrates; I say that these duties infer more delicacy and involve more danger than those which a Jew would be called upon to discharge in Parliament, where he would be checked, controlled, and watched by a large preponderance of Christian colleagues. But, as I said, I don't wish to raise the question of the origin of the words which it is proposed to repeal. The question which we have to deal with is this:—Is it, under present circumstances, advisable to retain them? And here I cannot help congratulating those with whom I act on the admission of my noble Friend (the Earl of Shaftesbury), that he did not think, it likely the words would now be proposed, if they had not been found already there. But with respect to the defence which is attempted to be set up for seeking to establish Christianity by the machinery of oaths and declarations such as this, I have to say that I conceive that if Christianity did require any test derived from itself to be imposed as a condition for transacting worldly business, it would be infinitely more in correspondence with the true spirit and genius of Christianity to impose such a test upon the ground of conduct rather than of belief. But your Lordships will all feel that that would not be practicable. To introduce a test of conduct, would probably be to introduce more evils than it would obviate; because it would only lead to hypocrisy and concealment. But if we find ourselves unable to exclude persons from taking a share in our legislative councils because they are profligate or profane, do not let us try to exclude those whose want of belief in the doctrines which we profess, may make them worthy objects of our 891 compassion, but whose conduct does not disentitle them probably to the esteem and confidence of their fellow-subjects. After all, this was the habit of Paganism, and not of Christianity.Jurandasque tuum per nomen ponimus aras.Christianity, viewed in the light of its sublime character, and its own divine pretensions, does not stand in need of any such earthly bulwarks. If these bulwarks are unavailing, as I conceive them to be—if Christianity does not require nor command—and I challenge the most vehement opponents of this measure to show me the place in which Christianity does require or command them—but, if Christianity does not require nor command them, then I contend that to act in the spirit—I will not here raise the question of justice—but I say to act in the spirit of kindness and generosity is the course which would be most consistent with Christianity. I have confined myself to the task which I originally prescribed to myself. I have not attempted to deal with the question of policy or prudence—I have not adverted to the topics which might have been brought forward respecting the disposition of constituencies with reference to Jewish representatives, or respecting the risk which you incur by persevering year after year in refusing your assent to a Bill sent up to you by the House of Commons on a matter concerning the composition of their own body. Neither have I alluded to that which I firmly believe—that sooner or later your Lordships will give your assent to this just and healing measure. I have urged it merely as a question of Christian principle, and I have only further to say that, seeing that your Lordships would be acting in accordance with the genius of the Gospel, and in conformity with the spirit of religion, "to do as you would be done by," especially where no danger can arise from so doing, I trust that your Lordships will not wait for a repeated experiment of this long-protracted struggle either with the nation at large, or the other House of Parliament, but that you will at once firmly and spontaneously give your ready assent to the second reading of this Bill.
The EARL of WINCHILSEA
agreed with the noble Earl, that the question was one of a strictly religious character. The whole question lay, however, in a nutshell. Our Government was essentially Christian, our Legislature and everything connected 892 with the country was founded upon Christianity; and for the purpose of admitting the Jewish people into Parliament, we were called upon to renounce that Christian character. He solemnly believed that if their Lordships consented to the measure, they would do greater violence to the religious feelings of the great body of the people of this country, than, had been done by any measure which had ever passed that House. He believed that the principal reason why so few petitions had been presented to their Lordships' House upon the subject, was the perfect confidence entertained by the people that their Lordships would not for a moment entertain so unchristian a measure. This measure went to the removal of Christianity from the State; and if it were adopted, he defied them ever to shut the door against all infidels and heretics, of whatever class they might be; it would become perfectly unimportant whether he were a Christian of not. The noble Earl (the Earl of Carlisle) had challenged any one to resist this proposed concession upon scriptural grounds. Why, it was upon the grounds of Scripture that he chiefly founded his opposition to the measure. He found it expressly declared—"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not the Father nor the Son;" and, "He that abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed, for he that biddeth him God speed, is a partaker of his evil deeds." Would it, then, be said that such a concession as was contemplated by this Bill, was not in complete violation of this direction given in the inspired word of God? This was a most serious question, and, as he had said before, one of a strictly religious character. If they abandoned this declaration of Christianity, they might depend upon it that God, who had made that Christianity the very foundation of England's greatness—of her moral greatness and prosperity as a nation—would visit her people with those curses which had fallen upon the Jews for the rejection of that Saviour who died to save the world, and of that religion which we must consider as the greatest of all worldly blessings. It was not upon the ground that the Jews would abuse the privileges which they sought, that he opposed the Bill, but because he thought it could not be conceded without impairing the foundation of Christianity, on which England's greatness and God's blessing depended.
The EARL of WICKLOW
said, he had listened with the greatest attention to the speech of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Shaftesbury), who had spoken against the Bill, and he confessed it appeared to him that all he had said resolved itself into the oft-repeated argument, that because this was a Christian country, we ought to have a Christian Legislature. The noble Earl had stated, to his great surprise, that if these words now proposed to be omitted had never been introduced, no one would now have introduced them—because he inferred that the noble Earl thereby admitted the whole case to be against him. The noble Earl had proceeded to say that because for 200 years those words had formed part of the oath, Parliament had no power to make an alteration; but the noble Earl must have totally forgotten that in every alteration during those 200 years, for the admission to Parliament of sectarians, Quakers, and Roman Catholics, the words had actually been omitted, therefore the argument of the noble Earl on that point lost all its force. It was unnecessary for him to occupy their Lordships' time at any great length upon the one great argument, that because this was a Christian country it should be entirely a Christian Legislature, because the admitting that it was a Christian country was of itself a security against any danger arising from the admission of Jews to Parliament. But he denied that this was a Christian country in the sense in which the term was accepted by those who used it. The Jews possessed every privilege except that of sitting in Parliament. The Arians possessed every right, including the sitting in Parliament. So had the Socinians; and he asserted that from the true Catholic doctrine of Christianity the Socinians were as far removed as the Jews. He therefore must candidly admit that, considering the Jews as loyal, as honourable, and as conscientious a people as any portion of the community, he thought great injustice was done them by the Legislature still withholding the right of sitting in Parliament; and after the repeated declarations of that injustice by the other House of Parliament, and when no one could point out any danger, or even inconvenience, likely to arise from granting redress, should their Lordships still determine to resist, they would be exceeding their duty, in thus refusing the wishes of the people at large, and the demands of their representatives. Upon every princi- 894 ple he felt strongly in favour of the admission of the Jews; but at the same time he felt bound to say that he objected in the strongest possible manner to the mode in which it was now proposed to remove those disabilities. His objection was to the imposing on any of Her Majesty's subjects the necessity of taking any oaths, to which great objection arose. In 1849 the Bill introduced by Her Majesty's Government was entitled an Act to alter the oaths required to be taken by the Members of the two Houses of Parliament, excepting those professing the Roman Catholic religion; the preamble of the Bill declared that it was expedient to alter those oaths generally. The present Bill was not so framed; it was merely a Bill to regulate the mode of administering the oath of abjuration to persons professing the Jewish religion, and he was anxious to hear the reasons for Her Majesty's Ministers having abandoned their opinion of the expediency of these alterations. It was a monstrous injustice to those Members of this House and the other House who felt sincerely desirous that an alteration should take place in oaths generally, that the Government, having declared it expedient to make those alterations, should now abstain from introducing a measure for the purpose. Allusion had been made to the vast majority with which the Bill passed the House of Commons in 1849, and the diminished number now; but was not that fact to be traced to the imperfect character of the present Bill as compared with that of 1849? To show that some alterations were required, he need only refer to the Cemeteries (Ireland) Act. He asserted that if an Act was to be passed for establishing the spiritual power of the Pope in this realm, it could not be better done than by that Act. Therefore, to ask Members to come to their Lordships' table and declare that they did not believe that the Pope had any spiritual authority within this realm, was to ask them to commit a direct violation of truth. Neither was it just to call upon them to declare that the Pope ought not to have any spiritual authority within the realm, because they had admitted the Roman Catholics to the full participation of the rights of British subjects, and it was utterly impossible for the Roman Catholics to exercise their religion without submitting to the spiritual authority of the Pope. He was anxious that something should be done before a new Parliament was summoned. In the other 895 House it was quite optional whether those who were elected would accept seats or not, and only those who had no objection to the oaths would be likely to return to Parliament. But their Lordships, by their birthright, had a right to be legislators, and, therefore, upon them the force of this objection particularly pressed. The noble Earl had alluded to Lord Bolingbroke and Gibbon having disregarded the oaths, and having come, as the representatives of the people, to take the oaths which the people collectively could not take. He (the Earl of Wicklow) believed that such was the moral and religious feeling of the great body of the people of this country, that they would at once decline to take those oaths. It was only from the upper classes, from the aristocracy, from persons taking high office, and from Members taking their seats in Parliament, that those oaths were required. But if the Legislature were to pass an enactment that any person entering trade or business should be required to take the oath of supremacy—any enactment which would affect the great body of the people—he would venture to say it would raise a cry which would force the Legislature to make those alterations which he now so strongly pressed upon their Lordships. With these feelings he should be very reluctant to give his vote for the second reading of this Bill, but he overcame that reluctance in the hope that should it be read a second time, the House would make those alterations in Committee.
The DUKE of ARGYLL
said, he was extremely anxious to follow the noble Earl on the cross benches (the Earl of Shaftesbury), haying listened to his speech with great interest and admiration, and although two speakers had intervened, he was still anxious so to follow him, because their Lordships must feel that his was an admirable, closely-reasoned argument, so far as argument on the subject was capable of being closely reasoned; and the two noble Lords who had succeeded had by no means exhausted that argument. He fully concurred with the noble Earl in deprecating, in the advocacy of this measure, any allusion to the spirit of persecution; for, although he did not believe that his noble Friend opposite (Lord Wodehouse) intended that phrase in an offensive sense, yet it must obviously bear an offensive meaning in the eyes of any one who agreed with the noble Earl on the cross benches (the Earl of Shaftesbury), 896 as it involved a supposition of facts totally inaccurate. He (the Duke of Argyll) should not easily forget having been present, four years ago, at a great public meeting in the city of Glasgow, at which the noble Lord at the head of the Government was present by invitation. He (the Duke of Argyll) attended merely out of curiosity, as an individual among the crowd, and he heard, with infinite surprise and regret, the noble Lord say on the platform that, for the purpose of enjoying a hit of persecution, the House of Lords had refused the admission of the Jews into Parliament. He deprecated such language in the mouth of any one, but, above all, he deprecated it in the mouths of those who were in a position of authority. He deprecated it the more especially because he had encountered the greatest possible difficulties in arriving at a conclusion on the question, and he had approached it, he knew, in no spirit of persecution; and the desire to retain disabilities on account of religious belief had no part whatever in his consideration of it. But the noble Earl had put the argument in so close and logical a form, that he (the Duke of Argyll) was compelled to admit that unless he could follow it, and point out some fallacies, he could not defend the vote which he was prepared to give. If the noble Earl would allow him, he would go through the argument seriatim. First, the noble Earl said the concession they were called on to make, was a different concession from any they had hitherto been called on to make. He admitted that it was different; but he held that it was different in degree, but not different in principle. The first statement which his noble Friend made was, that the presence of a Jew was a standing protest against the truth of the Christian religion. His noble Friend would admit, probably, that the presence of a Jew in a court of justice, administering the laws of a Christian country, or his presence in his own private dwelling, was not a standing protest against the truth of the Christian religion, in the sense in which he put it. The noble Lord said only that when the Jew was admitted to either House of Parliament, his presence was a standing protest against the truth of the Christian religion. He (the Duke of Argyll) admitted that, in a certain sense, the presence of a Jew in any society whatever was a standing protest against his belief in the truth of the Christian religion. Knowing that the Jew 897 did not admit the truth of the Christian religion, his presence in every and any society was a protest against his belief in the truth of the Christian religion; but it was not more so in Parliament than anywhere else. The noble Earl said, in illustration, there were certain words in an oath required to be taken by a Jew before he entered Parliament, though not in the oaths he was obliged to take before he entered other positions in society, and Parliament was now requested to withdraw those words because they were either improper or untrue. That was not the fact. That was not the ground upon which the demand was made. The ground was, that the words were not binding upon his conscience. The Jew said, "These words are introduced because they are binding on your consciences. I am perfectly fit to fill the situation to which I have been elected, and I am willing to take that oath, but I wish to omit those words, not because they are improper for the purpose for which they were introduced, but because I cannot fulfil that purpose. They may bind your conscience. I do not ask you to withdraw them because they are improper, but simply because they are not binding upon my conscience." He came now to the historical fact, with regard to the purpose for which they were introduced. The noble Earl evidently considered that they were introduced in the nature of a religious test. He (the Duke of Argyll) believed that it was historically untrue that they were in the nature of a religious test. He believed the words were solely introduced as the natural form of testifying, by an appeal to Christianity, the solemn obligations under which the Member took his seat. So far it was an argument for the demand. The noble Earl said, when they introduced Jews into Parliament, they would give them the power, so far as that might be, of extirpating Christianity, and that the object of a Jew must be to exercise hostility to Christianity. So far as the fact of the matter went, and so far as the actual condition of Jews went, as proof, he believed it was untrue that they possessed any proselytising spirit whatever. He did not believe that the Jews were anxious in any respect to inculcate their own, or to eradicate the belief of others. The noble Earl admitted that the influence might not be very great; but he said, so far as it went, whether it was the admission only of five or six Jews, it would be hostile to Christianity, but it 898 was a question of principle, and from the principle they could not depart a hair's breadth. Then he (the Duke of Argyll) contended that the principle had been already departed from. The noble Earl had drawn a distinction between the administration of the law, and the making of the law. But admitting that there was a difference, nevertheless the principle was gone. As a matter of fact the Jew was admitted to the elective franchise, although, by the accidental circumstance of the introduction of these words, he could not sit in Parliament. The Jew was an elector, and every elector exercised a legislative power, through which the House of Commons acted. Therefore, he contended that the Jew was already admitted to the exercise, in a minor degree, of the administrative power. He admitted it was in a very minor degree; but his noble Friend said the question was not one of degree, but an abstract principle; and he (the Duke of Argyll) contended that as the mere theoretical operation of an abstract principle, degree being excluded from view, the principle was absolutely gone already. Then the noble Earl next said, "But I have been told I may be answered that avowed infidels have been allowed to take these oaths." He admitted that was perfectly true, and referred to the cases of Gibbon and Bolingbroke, but then he said, "It is a very great satisfaction to my mind, that, although the electors chose a man, whom they knew to be an infidel, and the House of Commons, on admitting, knew him to be an infidel, it is an immense satisfaction to my mind that he was obliged to go through the form of declaring on the true faith of a Christian." He (the Duke of Argyll) confessed he could derive no pleasure whatever from that circumstance. He conceived that the allusion to that matter brought the greatest and strongest objection that could be brought against any oath involving a declaration of religion. They invited a hypocrite under high premiums to increase the amount of his hypocrisy, and the noble Earl said it gave him great satisfaction. [The Earl of SHAFTESBURY intimated dissent.] The constituency could not take the oaths, and it was acknowledged that the constituency knew Bolingbroke was an infidel before they elected him to take the oaths for them. It was also known to the House of Commons; and yet the noble Earl said it was a great satisfaction to his mind that Bolingbroke was obliged to take the oath, and declare on the true faith of 899 a Christian. [The Earl of SHAFTESBURY again intimated his dissent.] He (the Duke of Argyll) understood the noble Earl to say so, and if he was in error he did not understand him at all.
§ The EARL of SHAFTESBURY
explained that he did not express any satisfaction that the oath was taken by Lord Boling-broke and Gibbon; on the contrary, that it brought themselves into jeopardy. Whatever satisfaction he expressed was at the fact bearing public testimony to the observance of the principle.
The DUKE of ARGYLL
did not see the difference between the explanation and his statement. The instances referred to did bear testimony to the great public principle that all representatives should go through that form. But, so far as the public principle that the constituencies should only elect men who professed to be true Christians was concerned, that principle was broken through in knowingly electing an infidel. First, the constituency knowingly elected an infidel, and the House of Commons imposed upon the infidel a form of words implying that he was a true Christian. If he could understand the argument, the explanation of the noble Earl had not removed any of the surprise which had occurred to his mind on hearing the noble Earl express satisfaction in relation to those cases which he had quoted. But even supposing it was a satisfaction of the principle that Bolingbroke should have taken that oath, it must first be proved that these words were intended to establish any principle at all. The noble Earl seemed to admit that the words were not intended to establish any principle, for he said, if they were not in the oath, he should by no means wish to introduce them; but, since they were in the oath, he was not prepared to strike them out, because it would appear in the eyes of the people as an abandonment of Christianity. Would not the objection to the striking out the words be disposed of by the noble Earl instructing the people in the historical fact that they were not introduced for the establishment of any principle whatever, and that the abandoning of them was not intended as the abandonment of any principle whatever? The objection could he easily removed by the noble Earl passing over the opinion he now held, and joining the ranks of the supporters of this measure, who felt, as they were bound to feel, that no misapprehension ought to exist in the minds of the country, that in 900 doing what they proposed Parliament was declaring, or intended to declare, in any manner whatever, their indifference to the great truths of Christianity. There were other arguments against this measure, which the noble Earl did not use himself, which he heard often used in society. He had been told by many who were not very keen and anxious opponents to this measure, but were in this state of mind, that they could not bring themselves to the point of incurring the personal responsibility of withdrawing this declaration—they said they were willing to admit the Jew to every other society of which they were themselves members—they were willing to introduce the Jew to the Royal Society, or any literary society, because the objects of such societies were not incompatible with the opinion and feelings of his religion; but that it would be an improper thing to introduce a Jew into Parliament, which had to legislate for a Christian community. Now, it was not contended that the Jew was hostile to our ecclesiastical establishments. No one with a sense of justice, truth, or common sense, would say that the Jew was so hostile as those Christian Dissenters who were already admitted to Parliament, for he, of course, was comparatively indifferent to all questions of Christian polity. It was not contended that the Jew would not take care that the laws of property were sufficiently defended. It was not contended that in reference to any one principle of law—any ordinary action of the Legislature—the Jew was incompetent or disqualified. The noble Earl distinctly told their Lordships that the one simple point on which the Jew was to be refused admission was, what he called a principle, but for which he (the Duke of Argyll) would substitute the words—an ancient traditional feeling. As regarded the difference between Parliament and the Royal Society, it was said all our laws ought to be made in the same Christian spirit. He most fully admitted the principle; but he contended that the principle, if good for anything, was of universal application. Our inquiries into the laws of nature, of science, or of history, ought all to be conducted in a truly Christian spirit; and he was prepared to contend that, if the noble Earl would admit the Jew to any literary and scientific society of which he was a member, and would not admit him into Parliament, on the ground that their affairs ought to be conducted in a truly Christian spirit, the 901 noble Earl was guilty of a logical inconsistency. He (the Duke of Argyll) was prepared to vote for this measure, not merely because he had never been able to see an argument stated in clear logical form, which was not capable, more or less, of being cut up on close examination, but he was prepared to vote for it on the broad principle alluded to by the most reverend Prelate who spoke early in the debate. He (the Duke of Argyll) had immense admiration for that theory propounded by the late Dr. Arnold, with respect to the connexion between Church and State. He considered that in a theoretical point of view it was the highest position to which human society could aspire, that the Church should be at one with the State, and the State with the Church, on all occasions. But he must also recognise the fact that we lived in a time of great religious divisions and religious controversies, and probably in this world this theory never would be realised. Failing the full realisation of that theory, he feared they must fall back upon the opposite principle, that of keeping the civil and the spiritual wholly distinct. He was quite aware of the use which his noble Friend might make of that argument, and he would be quite prepared to meet him upon it on Monday night, if he should then choose to advert to it. In the meantime, he would repeat that the spiritual and the civil must be kept wholly apart and distinct; so that as it was admitted to be wrong to interfere with the faith of individuals, it might also be held to be neither just, nor right, nor reasonable, to demand that a man who was entitled in every other respect to sit in Parliament, should be excluded simply and solely on the ground of his spiritual belief.
The BISHOP of NORWICH
said, he could not consider the measure which was now proposed as in any way affecting the interests of the Christian religion, or the Christian character of this assembly. Surely no one would seriously contend that after the admission of Jews into Parliament there would be fewer Christians in the country, or that Christianity would be less real and vital than at the present moment. It seemed to he admitted on all hands that the oath which now excluded the Jews was not intended at any time to be a religious test, and no one could explain in what sense the character of the Christianity of the country would be affected by it. Let them look at the mat- 902 ter attentively. Did any one of their Lordships suppose that the Christianity of any one of them would be either more or less real and influential if Jews were admitted to the other branch of the Legislature than it was now? Or would any one undertake to say that the constituencies which had returned Baron Rothschild and Mr. Salomons to Parliament were less Christian than any of the other constituencies of the country? Or let them take it as a matter of principle. No one contended that the Christian character of the British people was injured by the admission of Jews to municipal offices, and to the position of magistrates. Why, then, should they hold that the Christian character of Parliament, which was the simple reflection of the nation at large, would' be injured by the introduction of a few Members of the Jewish persuasion? But while he contended that this measure was incapable of inflicting injury upon the Christian religion or the Christian name of the country, he must say that he saw something like an injury inflicted upon the Christian character by thus, year after year, refusing to deal with the measure which was embodied in this Bill. He could not but think that it was something disparaging to Christianity, that whilst they professed to be divested altogether of that wicked and persecuting spirit towards their Jewish brethren, which was the reproach of Christendom in former times, they were pursuing a course which he would not say was a remnant of the same spirit, but which, without doubt, had a tendency to revive the recollection of that spirit. He did not think that this was something disparaging to their Christianity as a nation. Let them set up as an index of their Christianity the profession of a creed by a body of men who were elected with a view to totally different qualifications; and he did not think that that would do a service, but rather he thought it would do a great disservice to the sacred cause of Christianity, by perpetuating as her safeguards tests of creed, which were neither real nor just. Believing that such conduct would do a great disservice to the sacred cause of Christianity, he would give his cordial support to the second reading of this Bill.
§ LORD ABINGER
said, he would not have trespassed upon their Lordships' time, but for the taunt which had been thrown out, that no arguments were used in opposition to the measure. He agreed with the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury), 903 that whatever might be the technical effect of the oath, there could be no doubt that it was never intended by the Legislature that a Jew should be admitted into Parliament; and he was reminded by the arguments which had been used on the other side of the answer of a Grecian legislator, who, on being asked why he had not introduced into his code a punishment for the crime of parricide, replied, because he could not suppose that so great an offence would ever be committed. He would proceed to state an argument against the admission of the Jews which had occurred to his mind, and which he had never heard satisfactorily answered—not that he was vain enough to suppose that he could impart any novelty to the debate, but he must own that the argument had considerable weight on his mind. It appeared to him that the Jews, as a nation, were not entitled to demand complete participation in all the privileges of our constitution, until they placed themselves in a similar position, in point of manners and habits, with the British people. Now, the Jews had cut themselves off from alliance with all civilised nations, and kept themselves separate from the people of every other country. Now, he contended that every State which pretended to enjoy independence ought to possess in its legislature some conformity in religion, manners, laws, and customs. As an instance of what he meant, he might state that it did not seem to be advisable that there should be a union in one legislature of Boers, of Englishmen, and of Hottentots, or of the Poles and Germans, or of the Dutch and Belgians, or of the Hungarians and the Sclaves. These experiments in legislation had been often tried, especially of late years; but they had never succeeded, and he believed that the same differences existed with regard to the Christians and the Jews. He contended that the first duty of every nation was to provide for the free action of its different functionaries, and with that view to deny political association to all persons who differed so extremely from themselves as to leave little or no hope for harmonious and united action. A challenge had been thrown out that nothing but abstract theories had been objected to the Bill; he would, therefore, endeavour to draw some practical conclusions. Much toleration was extended to eccentric conduct in the name of religion; but there was a limit to this latitude. To illustrate this position by an extreme case: Thuggee 904 was a religion, yet not tolerated, because it was destructive of person and property; and if any sect or tribe should be found to propose a community of women and the exposure of infants under the name of religion, such a sect would be justly held the enemies of the human race. But much less a deviation from the general habits of mankind upon the great subjects of property and of marriage would constitute greater differences between nation and nation than the difference of climate or language. All government and laws related more or less to these two subjects. It was the latter in which the Jews differed from the rest of mankind. What other nation was so anti-social as to ally itself by marriage to no other people, and to suffer none to be allied to it? This was the secondary cause by which the Jewish nation had remained distinct and separate from all others; and for this they would continue strangers and sojourners in all other nations. It was said by a competent judge, and he believed it to be quite true, that the blood of the Chaldeans ran as purely in the veins of the Jews at the present day as it did in the time of Abraham. Now, what was the cause of that distinction? It was the same cause which had ever left them distinct—the cause which expelled them from Egypt—the cause which prevented their entire absorption—when conquered by so many various nations. No one contradicted the proposition that the Jews were a separate and distinct people, and he had pointed to the cause which had made them so—a cause which was not likely to be suddenly removed. Being thus separate by their own laws, if admitted into our legislature they would form a party having separate interests, and would act by a combined force. But their Lordships would observe that the ground which he took did not go to deprive them of all future anticipation in enjoying political privileges. If they would give up the usages and habits which now constituted them a separate and distinct people, then no doubt a very different question would arise. But at present he thought there was danger in admitting the Jews; and though their Lordships might fancy that he was something of an alarmist, he would mention a case in which there might be serious danger from the admission of the Jews. Suppose that twelve Jews in all were returned to Parliament, would it not be certain that these twelve Jews would be backed up and 905 supported by as many Christians; and 24 men, he need not tell their Lordships, closely compacted together, might, if they chose, dictate their own terms to the Government, and command whatever places or offices they chose to ask for. If the Jews were admitted into Parliament, the consequences must be frankly accepted. But one of those consequences would be that that party who were not the party of order, or friendly to our institutions, would receive a large reinforcement; and a time was coming when he thought all men friendly to them would feel it necessary to combine against the approaching storm. Would it be prudent to add the Jews to the number of opponents? He had no personal antipathy to the Jews; but he could not believe that in the absence of a common ancestry, kindred, literature, or a sense of chivalry, so intimately united with Christianity, the Jews would be patriots. But there was another reason against the measure. He believed that the better part of the country disapproved of the admission of the Jews to Parliament; and if their Lordships gave their consent to the admission of Jews to the Legislature, he believed that their influence and character in the country would sustain a blow from which they would not easily recover. The confidence which the country reposed in the House of Lords was strong, though it might not be loudly expressed; and as he had himself sprung lately from the ranks of the people, he had not lost the habit of representing them in Parliament, and he was sure he was speaking their sentiments when he said that their Lordships would lower their character in the country by acceding to this Motion, and thus giving up one of the greatest safeguards to the religion of the country. Let them, at all events, wait until by some change in their own laws, the Jews gave reason to hope that they might amalgamate with this nation, and thus become entitled to share in all its privileges.
§ The EARL of GALLOWAY
opposed the Bill upon Christian principles. It was written in the New Testament that without faith—that was, faith in Jesus Christ—it was impossible to please God. Now the Jew not only had not that faith, but so long as he was unconverted to Christianity, he could not have it; and therefore, in his administration of the affairs of the nation, he could not please God, because, though he had the Scriptures of truth in his hand, 906 he not only neglected but rejected the truth contained in those Scriptures, and was therefore unfit to legislate for a Christian people.
The LORD CHANCELLOR
replied. It appeared to him that the result of this debate might very shortly be summed up. There had only been two objections advanced against the measure, on which any stress was laid. One of these was, that the Jews were a separate and distinct nation; and the other argument was, or rather the result of all the other arguments was, that the retention of the words objected to in the oath involved a great principle, and that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" operated as a national declaration that this was a Christian people. Now, with regard to the first of these objections, he wished to know how it bore upon the question in hand. In what sense were the Jews a distinct people? Was it meant that they owed allegiance to any other Power and Government? Did they mean to gather from that proposition that they were less likely to continue to be good subjects after they were admitted to Parliament? There was no doubt that in a certain sense they were a separate nation, that was to say, they held that the great promises in the Old Testament, on the fulfilment of which they rested their hopes, were limited to the seed of Abraham, and with that opinion they refused to intermarry with other people, but preserved themselves as a nation separate from all the rest of the world. But how did that bear upon the present subject? How had that worked hitherto? Had that circumstance hitherto ever led the Jews to offer any resistance to the Government under which they lived? Had it induced them to form clubs or associations among themselves of which the objects were inconsistent with the peace of the Government—had they ever refused to discharge the duties attached to the rights of citizenship in the various countries in which they lived? If none of these things could be alleged against them, then what was the value of the argument? Supposing that they did hope at some future time to be restored to their own land, how did that bear upon the question of refusing them the rights of citizens during the period, uncertain as it might be, that they remained in this country? Or, grant that they were a separate people, they were still subjects of the State wherein they lived, bearing all its burdens, and interested in 907 its fortune and prosperity? What, then, was the practical effect of this argument? None whatever; for the noble Lord who used it had not followed it out to any useful purpose. Yet that was the whole amount of one of the objections urged against the measure. What was the other argument? They were told that the retention of the words "on the true faith of a Christian" involved a great principle. Now, he believed it was perfectly well known—it was an indisputable fact—that these words were not introduced with any other view than this—that the party who took the oath should pledge himself to its subject-matter on the Evangelists, as that which was most binding on his conscience. It had no relation to any one beyond the individual who uttered the expression—it was intended to bind him as an individual, and in no other respect. In this point of view, what became of the principle? But suppose it was maintained to be a principle in this respect, that it was intended as a declaration, uot of the faith of the individual who took the oath, but as a declaration of the faith of the nation, then he would ask their Lordships to inquire whether they had not already destroyed that principle? Did they require the Quakers to utter these words, or the Moravians, or the Separatists? No, they did not. What, then, had become of the principle? They had relaxed this oath—in most cases wisely—with reference to the classes to whom he had referred—and how could it be set up as a great principle in the case of the Jew? Then, it must be remembered, that the Jews had already been admitted to the office of magistrate, and to municipal places of trust and dignity. It had been contended that there was a great difference between the making of a law, and the executing it when made. But he must say, it appeared to him that the difference was all in favour of the executive. As a great man once said, "I care not who makes your laws, so that I am allowed to construe them;" so he said, that the mere making of a law was only a waste of so much parchment. The value of the law depended upon the hand that executed it. Now, if that were so, he was at a loss to conceive how they should scruple to entrust the Jew with the power of making the laws, when they had already entrusted him with the power of executing them. His noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Shaftesbury) had said, that it would he a great shock to the moral feelings of the 908 country if they passed this Bill; but why it should be more a shock to the moral feelings, than to allow them to be elected to the municipal offices, he could not understand. It had also been said, that there was no reason why this Bill should have been again brought before them, as it contained nothing new or distinct from the Bill which they rejected last year. But was it nothing new that the Commons should, year after year, send up the same Bill to their Lordships for reconsideration? The noble Earl said, the Bill had only been rejected four times; but he must say, that every time the Commons sent this Bill back to them, it came with renewed claims to their consideration. Their judgment, he was sure, would be received with great respect; but he need not say what would be the tendency of persisting in withholding their just rights from the subjects of this country with respect to the representation in the other House of Parliament. Did their Lordships think it would increase the respect in which they were held, if they told the Commons they had rejected the Bill last year, and that that was a reason for rejecting it again? Every one felt that the important and valuable position occupied by their Lordships, as an impediment to hasty legislation and change, insured them confidence and respect; but opposing that which he must take to be the sense of the country, as expressed by the House of Commons, would not increase the respect and love in which they were held. If they rejected the Bill, he could not promise they should not have it again. The right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Oxford), who had risen with an intention to speak, but whom their Lordships would not now have an opportunity of hearing, had in a most able speech last year addressed them on this question; but though the right rev. Prelate possessed all the qualifications of a statesman, he had in effect only proved that no strong objections could be made against the admission of Jews into Parliament; and if, after the arguments they had now heard, their Lordships persisted in rejecting the Bill, the general opinion would be, that they were not acting in the spirit of Christianity, nor in conformity with the principles they professed, in withholding their just rights from those who had given such proofs of their fitness for the enjoyment of all civil privileges.
§ On Question, that "now" stand part of the Motion,
§ Their Lordships divided:—Content,909
§ Present 60; Proxies 48; Total 108:—Not-Content, Present 82; Proxies 62 Total 144:—Majority 36.
§ Resolved in the Negative.
|List of the CONTESTS.|
|Grey||Saye and Sele|
|Minto||Stanley of Alderley|
|VISCOUNTS.||Willoughby de Eresby|
|Hamilton, Duke of||Teynham, Lord|
|Sutherland, Duke of||Dunally, Lord|
|Somerset, Duke of||Roxburgh, Duke of|
|Rosebery, Earl of||Campbell, Lord|
|Clarendon, Earl of||Fortescue, Earl of|
|Denman, Lord||Yarborough, Earl|
|Burlington, Earl of||Ducie, Earl|
|Howden, Lord||Kenmare, Earl of|
|Falkland, Visct.||Huntingdon, Earl of|
|Monson, Lord||Mostyn, Lord|
|Devonshire, Duke of||Abercromby, Lord|
|Dorchester, Lord||Bateman, Lord|
|Auckland, Lord||Vernon, Lord|
|Wenlock, Lord||Durham, Bishop of|
|Bolingbroke, Visct.||Lindsey, Lord|
|Glenelg, Lord||Godolphin, Lord|
|Londesborough, Lord||Hertford, Marq. of|
|Arundel, Lord||Milford, Lord|
|Lismore, Visct.||Lovelace, Earl|
|Methuen, Lord||Brougham, Lord|
|Spencer, Earl||Stourton, Lord|
|Kingston, Earl of||De Freyne, Lord|
|Leinster, Duke of||Sligo, Marq. of|
|Carew, Lord||Stuart de Decies, Lord|
§ Bill to he read 2a on this day six months.
§ House adjourned till To-morrow.