§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
My Lords, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, the object of which is sufficiently indicated by its title, it will be my duty to explain to the House the grounds upon which it is proposed for the approbation of your Lordships. My Lords, I must confess in the outset that that is a duty which it is painful to me to discharge; because, my Lords, I cannot dissemble that to me, who have been for the last forty years and upwards a strenuous advocate, under all and the least favourable circumstances, of the claims of my Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen of this United Kingdom—who have omitted no opportunity and no exertion within my reach in and out of this and the other House of Parliament to procure the sanction of the Legislature to those claims which I conceived to be their due—it is most particularly painful to me to take any course which may by misrepresentation, by misconstruction, or misapprehension, be deemed inconsistent with the course that I have hitherto pursued, or to be in any way injurious to the feelings and claims of a body which I so entirely respect for their many virtues, and, in many instances, for their most warm and devoted loyalty. But, my Lords, it is not with them we have to deal, but it is with the conduct of a Foreign Power, and, my Lords, it is some consolation to me to consider that, in now addressing the House upon this subject, it will be no part of my duty to enter into any consideration of the character and doctrinal teachings of the 1064 Roman Catholic religion. It is also a consolation to me to think that, as I hope to be able to prove to your Lordships, in what I have to propose for your adoption this night, I have nothing to propose in the slightest degree inconsistent with the exercise of that religion, which, having once placed under the protection of the principles of religious liberty, we are still disposed so to protect. I have to show your Lordships, in the first instance, that a necessity has arisen for introducing some legislation on this subject—some enactment to guard against that which few persons can doubt has assumed the appearance, and in my view of this subject has had the reality, of an aggression upon the part of a Foreign Power. My Lords, I shall have to prove that the measure which I have to propose will not in any degree place any new impediment upon the exercise or administration of that religion. My Lords, if I do not prove both of these cases, I am ready to say—reject this Bill. If there has been no aggression—if nothing that has been done on the part of any Foreign Power is calculated to throw dishonour upon the Crown, and interfere with the prerogative of the Sovereign of this country, I say, reject the Bill, because it is unnecessary. If, my Lords, there is anything that interferes with the practice of that religion which we all wish should be practised, I say, again, reject this Bill, because you do not mean to withhold any part of those privileges, or of those rights, from your Roman Catholic fellow-citizens. But, my Lords, I have to state (and I shall have to state them very shortly, because all the facts are familiar to your Lordships), that within some few months past a Rescript and other documents have appeared sanctioned by the Court of Rome, and assuming to itself in this kingdom, in distinct and unqualified terms, the right to confer territorial titles in this country. My Lords, this right has been practically assumed; it has been loudly proclaimed, I will not say in what terms, because, as I consider them to be offensive terms, and I have no desire to add to any acrimony that may arise in the course of this discussion by dwelling upon the offensive nature and character of those terms, repeatedly used, ignoring the power and existence of the State and Sovereign of this country—it is sufficient for me, without dwelling upon those terms so ostentatiously employed, to deal with the act itself. I say that that act has been committed, that it is avowed, 1065 and that it has been committed and avowed without having been preceded, accompanied, or followed by any explanation calculated to mitigate the offensive character of that aggression. My Lords, I say that has been a peculiar character of these proceedings, and one with respect to which you have to deal. Now, my Lords, is that an assumption of any importance, or is not? My Lords, I need not recite to your Lordships the terms of the Bill which I have to propose, which is a short one, and which is in your Lordships' hands. The question that I have to answer is, "Why do you move at all under these circumstances?" My answer is, because the movement has been made against us; because that movement is of no insignificant value or consequence; because there is a degree of assumption of power in the terms which have been used upon this occasion inconsistent with the rights of the Crown. My Lords, it is all very well to say that these titles are of no consequence, are not necessarily attended with or accompanied with power. But, my Lords, if the assumption of these titles is left unnoticed and unreproved, the time will come when they will be followed by an assumption of power. My Lords, I say you must in the outset of the matter protest against that assumption. My Lords, can it be said that titles are of no importance? They are things of substance, although they appear to be only things of show. It was not because Mr. Selden, one of the most patriotic, and learned, and distinguished men that this country ever produced—it was not because he entertained a childish reverence for titles, that he spent a great part of his laborious life in an examination of their origin and nature—but it was because he felt them to be intimately connected with those monarchical principles to which he was attached, and because he considered them to have a most material effect—first upon the imagination, and subsequently upon the actions of men. I know that all the wisest men of this country have ever attached an importance to titles so used and employed; but if they have so regarded titles of a mere profane nature, how much more important must they have regarded ecclesiastical titles which a foreign Power has for its interest to dispose of by assumption, and by assumption only. My Lords, I have always attached great importance to this subject. I have always felt it to be a very wise system upon the part of this Government, more especially of 1066 the foreign department of this Government, that it has so steadily, and some have thought so stiffly, refused and prevented the use of foreign titles and foreign station in this country, except in very rare cases and under very rare circumstances. They have refused it because they felt that such titles ought to flow from the fountain of honour, and that the fountain of honour ought to be preserved untouched to the Crown, and to the Crown only. And Parliament itself, which has at different times, with caution, no doubt, interfered more or less with the prerogatives of the Crown in other duties and privileges belonging to it, has constantly observed the most entire forbearance on this point, and has never presumed to suggest to the Crown, or to interfere with the Crown, in that which it felt to be its first and exclusive prerogative and right, to determine who shall wear and who use distinctions of this nature. My Lords, this consideration reminds me of a somewhat homely saying of a Sovereign of this country, whom we all consider to have been one of the greatest, and whom even the Roman Catholics acknowledge to have been one of the ablest, of our Sovereigns—I mean Queen Elizabeth. I say this subject reminds me of a homely saying of hers (but which, like all her homely sayings, have a great deal of depth and of truth in them), when it was proposed to her, and urged upon her by some of her Ministers, to permit the ancestors of a noble Lord in this House, who had won great distinction in the East—in wars in which this country was not concerned, to wear certain orders and certain distinctions which had been conferred on him by a foreign Power she said, No; She did not choose to have her sheep tarred by other shepherds. My Lords, I say again, that this is a homely saying, but it is a wise one—one on which your Lordships will do well on all occasions to act. I say, therefore, my Lords, that this is in reality a thing of substance, though apparently a thing of form, and that your Lordships will only do your duty in preserving untouched in the Crown that right which has been so distinctly and ostentatiously assailed by a foreign Power. Now, my Lords, I would observe to your Lordships, that while we all resent these proceedings of the See of Rome, we have had an opportunity of showing at least that we recognise in the fullest degree that observance of form that attention to the rights and independence of other countries, which we claim 1067 from this and from every other foreign Power towards ourselves. My Lords, we have recently had an opportunity of showing that in our own time. Not many years have elapsed since we appointed a Bishop of Gibraltar, and a Bishop of Jerusalem. Now, my Lords, did we appoint these bishops in the same manner and in the same mode as the See of Rome has made these appointments of which we complain? No such thing. We gave to the Bishop of Gibraltar territorial authority, because Gibraltar is a territory belonging to the Crown; but to the Bishop of Jerusalem we gave personal authority only—implying thereby, that we claimed no right to create a territorial jurisdiction; and that, by appointing the Bishop of Jerusalem, we only meant to give to Christians resident in that part of the world the benefit of episcopal superintendence. Now, my Lords, nobody wishes to deny to the Roman Catholics of this United Kingdom the benefit of episcopal superintendence. We wish to secure to them such superintendence as they may think necessary for the exercise of their religion; and if they think it important to have episcopal superintendence, I should not be indisposed to allow them to have it, provided the appointment were unaccompanied by an usurped authority. But now, on the subject of recognising this foreign authority, I know it is asked why we have moved in this matter? and I know that there are some who, admitting the offensive character of the proceeding which has taken place, and the impropriety of the terms which have been employed, nevertheless are willing that we should do nothing upon this subject—who say, "The public feeling has been aroused, and not unnaturally; but who knows that that feeling won't subside? Do nothing; wait till it does subside. We admit that an aggressive act, or, at least, an act having the appearance of aggression, has been committed by the Court of Rome; but who knows that it will be followed by any other act, and who knows that any dangerous consequences will ensue from it; wait and see." Why, my Lords, I say that the surest way to produce these consequences—the surest way to maintain alive the state of indignation in this country upon this subject, would he to show to this country a Parliament determined to do nothing on this subject. I say that that is the way to encourage the Court of Rome; and every one who has observed the proceedings of that 1068 Court at different times, must have seen how it has felt its way in these usurpations, and observed which of them will be tolerated, and which will not—which admit of being repeated, and which will not—which admit of being aggravated, and which will not; and I ask, after observing the history and policy of the Court of Rome, as a temporal as well as a spiritual Government, are not your Lordships satisfied that no surer mode could be had recourse to of inviting the aggressions of the Court of Rome, than by showing the Court of Rome that you are not prepared to make a stand upon principle, or to express a national opinion upon this subject when the rights of the Crown are assailed. My Lords, I therefore think I have said enough to show to your Lordships that this is not an occasion on which it is possible, consistently with respect to the Crown, and with respect to the feelings of the people, for Parliament to remain silent and acquiescent, opposing nothing but a species of indifferentism to a course so distinctly marked, and so openly avowed. Well, my Lords, I will now go from that part of the subject. There remains for me a point which I hold to be no less important a part of the argument I have to lay before your Lordships, namely, to prove that the Catholic religion in the Catholic sense, and with legitimate Catholic objects, will in no degree be impeded or embarrassed by the operation of this Bill. And, my Lords, on this part of the subject I am justified in at once throwing the onus probandi upon those who may oppose this Bill, because it is for them to point to any one portion of the Bill by means of which this embarrassment can be effected. I am not now speaking of that interference, which I hold to be unnecessary—that interference which I hold to be unlawful, not under this Bill, but unlawful by the constitution and law of this country—by that law and constitution which was not less strong, but more strong, in Catholic times than it is now. Because, my Lords, I will only ask you to go back to the proceedings that took place in this country long ago, in reference to the acts of the Court of Rome—I mean the proceedings upon what is called Lalor's Case, which occurred in the reign of James I. [2 Howell's State Trials, 532.] Those proceedings you will find in the report of the law officers of the Crown. They state the reasons for the particular mode of proceeding which they adopted; and as these reasons are very singular and curious, I will take the liberty of reading 1069 them to your Lordships, because they are full of sense, full of meaning, and full of instruction with regard to the subject. They said—We did purposely forbear to proceed against him upon any latter law, to the end that such as were ignorant might be informed that, long before Henry VIII. was born, divers laws were made against the usurpations of the Bishop of Rome upon the rights of the Crown of England, well nigh as sharp and severe as any statutes which have been made in later times; and that therefore we made choice to proceed upon a law made more than 200 years past, when the King, the Lords, and Commons which made the laws, and the Judges which did interpret the laws, did for the most part follow the same opinions in religion which were taught and held in the Court of Rome.They go on, in a subsequent part, to say—For the Commons of England may be an example unto all other subjects in the world in this, that they have ever been tender and sensible of the wrongs and dishonours offered unto their kings, and have over contended to uphold and maintain their honour and sovereignty.My Lords, I say that these laws have over been in force for certain purposes, and were only partially repealed by what is called the Emancipation Act, which granted to the Roman Catholics of the United Kingdom immense privileges and immense advantages; but which wisely reserved to the Crown privileges upon certain points, including, amongst others, that most important one, namely, the right of appointing bishops to particular sees. My Lords, under the laws existing, as I have shown you, from a very early period, repealed only partially, and only sought to be so repealed under that Act by which you made them less severe, these bishops are prohibited from taking any title conferred by the Court of Rome. Under the Emancipation Act, nevertheless, all the functions, all the administrations, and all the duties of the Roman Catholic religion, have been satisfactorily performed. And, my Lords, I appeal to your recollection, whether when that Act passed, the Catholics did not express their gratitude for it? whether they did not express, by a public declaration, their entire acknowledgment of the kindness of Parliament in passing that Act? whether they did not state that that Act would confer on them inestimable privileges, for which they owed an infinite amount of gratitude? My Lords, I therefore say it is too late now to tell you that it is impossible to perform the functions of the Roman Catholic religion under that Act. You cannot be told, when the bishops 1070 have fully exercised their ministrations under that Act, when under the name of vicars-apostolic (under which name, as I have been informed, one-third of the bishops of the Roman Catholic world perform their functions) these bishops have been enabled to discharge satisfactorily all the functions which they had to perform—I say you cannot be told that this Bill will at all embarrass the exercise of the Catholic religion in this country. No impediment under the existing law has been offered to ordinations, to marriages, to any of these sacred rites which derive their authority from the Church, and which, we all admit, are necessary functions of a religious body—functions which, far from wishing to disturb, we must all wish to secure; but which, nevertheless, we contend may be secured hereafter as they have been secured hitherto, without any violation of the prerogative of the Crown. If your Lordships will look to the very full and instructive evidence which was given before a Committee of this House by Dr. Doyle, you will find a careful enumeration of all the rites and all the duties of the Roman Catholic religion. You will find that there are none of those duties and none of those rites described by him to be essential to the performance of the rites of the Catholic religion, which have not been since performed, which may not be performed, and which will not be performed, when this Bill shall have been passed into a law, without let and without hindrance, and with that satisfaction to Her Majesty's Catholic subjects which they cannot fail to appreciate when they come to see this Act stripped of all those misrepresentations with which it has suited certain parties and certain interests to cloak it. Now, my Lords, I therefore think your Lordships need not be under any apprehension that you are disturbing the functions of the Catholic religion. My Lords, I should be prepared to sacrifice much, and to incur risk, before I would consent to disturb the religious peace and religious independence of a large portion of my fellow-subjects. But because I feel there is no such apprehension, because I feel that there is no such intention, and that there is no such accidental result to be apprehended from this Bill if it pass into a law, I venture to recommend it to your Lordships' approbation. My Lords, if I am asked whether I consider this Bill to be essential to the maintenance of the Protestant religion? I must answer that I do not—because, my 1071 Lords, I am one of those that think the Protestant religion does not rest for its support on Acts of Parliament, or upon contrivances of any sort. My Lords, I am one of those that think it is with the Protestant religion as it is with a State. In the words of a celebrated lawyer, orator, and poet, I agree—What constitutes the State?Not lofty battlements nor laboured mound,High walls or moated gates.No—Man—high-minded man.And so I say it is, with regard to any religion, that its real security, and its best security depends upon the sincerity, the virtues and conduct of those who are its professors. But because, my Lords, I do believe it to be independent of protection as long as these virtues are preserved, I am nevertheless of opinion that it is incumbent upon the country and incumbent upon Parliament to proclaim its adherence to those opinions which I have expressed, and its determination to support the Crown in the maintenance of all its privileges, connected as those privileges are both with the State and with religion. And, my Lords, I think it is a duty which you owe to your Sovereign, it is a duty which you owe to the people of this country, to stamp these opinions with your approbation, and to recognise, by this declaratory enactment, what the privileges of the Crown, in connexion with religion, has been, and what you are determined it shall always be. My Lords, I therefore think that your Lordships will do well to pass this Bill, as I trust you will pass it, by a large majority. I believe there never was a moment when the people of this country were more resolutely determined to maintain their own faith, and to maintain their own religion, and, above all, to maintain undisturbed and uninterfered with, by any foreign Power, that most sacred gift of God to man, the liberty of conscience and the right to free inquiry. They are determined that they will preserve these rights; and I believe they are disposed, as far as is consistent with these rights, to give all due freedom and all due facility to the enjoyment of the opinions and religious liberty of others. But these have no right to come to us and say, "Because you have given us much, therefore give us more; because you have given us that which is essential to our character as citizens and inhabitants of a free country, allow us to encroach upon the prerogatives of the Crown." Why, my Lords, we might say to them—"We are 1072 disposed to withdraw no privilege; we give you all that you can have under the Emancipation Act, and under every law most favourable to you that has been passed within the last hundred years. Come to London, if you will, and build up a St. Paul's in London, although you would not allow us to build a St. Peter's in Rome. We have given you that which you do not concede to us; we wish to see those privileges undisturbed; but while you have them undisturbed, do not make it a part of your system to attack us, and assert that function which, beyond all others, Parliament has held most sacred as resting in the Crown, and in the Crown alone." My Lords, I beg to move the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ Moved—That the Bill be now read 2a.
§ The EARL of ABERDEEN
* said, that although he was always reluctant to obtrude himself upon their Lordships' attention, he confessed that on that occasion he had felt some anxiety to avail himself of the earliest opportunity to lay before the House the views which he took of the Bill now under consideration, and the feelings and motives which had induced him to adopt the course he had hitherto pursued, and in which he intended to persevere. In doing that, he was most certainly not disposed to imagine that he ought to entertain any hope of making an impression on their Lordships' minds, or of obtaining for himself any sympathy or concurrence from any large portion of the House. He merely desired to be considered as giving vent to the dictates of his own conscience, and expressing his deep conviction of what was due to the cause of truth and justice. It had always been his opinion that the great act of Catholic relief was carried in opposition to the feelings and wishes of a numerical majority of the people of this country. That was his opinion at the time, and it had been confirmed since by the demonstration he had recently witnessed, and the excitement that had taken place. This excitement had been general, and was perfectly natural, not only from the feelings in which it had originated, but from the active means employed to give it force and vigour. So far as it had been a demonstration of sound Protestant feelings, he entirely rejoiced and concurred in it. He thought it was highly satisfactory to witness it; and that it was of infinitely greater importance and value in the preservation of the Protestant religion of this country 1073 against any aggression than such a wretched piece of legislation as that now on the table of the House. But in so far as that demonstration had degenerated into a mere "No-Popery" cry, or a blind hatred of the Roman Catholic religion, as too frequently had been the case, then he had no sympathy with it. It was said that no such excitement as this had taken place since the Revolution. It might be so; and undoubtedly the opinions of the great body of the people of this country must be always treated with the utmost respect and deference; nevertheless, in matters of this kind, numbers were not infallible. Their Lordships would recollect that not since, but shortly before the Revolution, excitement of a somewhat similar description was produced by a somewhat similar cause. Their Lordships would recollect that on that occasion, to use the words of Mr. Macaulay, "the capital and the whole country went mad with hatred and fear." Their Lordships would recollect also, that, although that excitement was as general as the present, the country in a very short time became thoroughly ashamed of the delusion under which it had laboured; and he confessed that, when he felt oppressed by the unanimity which prevailed, and the numbers arrayed against him on this subject, he thought of the Popish plot, and was comforted.
The noble Marquess had felt the painful position in which his duty had placed him that evening—he had felt that the act in which he was engaged was alien from the course he had pursued through a long political life. He (Lord Aberdeen) had, though differing from the noble Marquess on many, on most, subjects, humbly supported him in the efforts he had made in the cause of religious liberty, and in securing the rights and privileges of their Roman Catholic fellow subjects. The noble Marquess was the last person in the world deliberately to support or countenance anything that savoured of persecution or harshness. But the noble Marquess must recollect that persecution was a relative term. He did not speak of former times of persecution; but if they considered the difference of those times, it was very possible that measures which then might have appeared to be liberal and indulgent, would now have the character of a very scant measure of toleration. He had heard over and over again, twenty times in that House, from the woolsack, from Lord Eldon, of the great names of 1074 Lord Somers and Mr. Locke, who held the opinions which he had himself adopted respecting the condition of the Roman Catholics; but he (Lord Aberdeen) felt that, whatever justice there might be in those views in the days referred to, they were entirely inapplicable at the present time. The noble Marquess also turned a deaf ear to those professions of toleration from the woolsack. Notwithstanding the absence of the grosser evidences of persecution, yet he believed that Roman Catholics would feel this measure in its consequences to be a grievance intolerable, perhaps more so than those civil disabilities from which the noble Marquess and himself had united to relieve them; for although those disabilities might have been oppressive and unjust, yet it was at least within the province of the State to inflict them. But they were now going out of their province; the were dealing with that which was beyond their control, and were thereby inflicting wounds which, although not apparent in a material sense, would operate as severely on the conscience as the restrictions to which he had alluded. As had been truly observed by Mr. Hallam, in his Constitutional History, in dealing with religious sectaries there was no middle course between the persecution that exterminated, and the toleration which satisfied. They had for 200 long years been doing their utmost to exterminate, but they had failed: they had entirely changed their principles of government; and, especially for the last twenty years, they had made a rapid progress in extending the principles of toleration—a course they had adopted when they found that extermination failed. By the present Bill they were about to take the first retrograde step in the path of intolerance. How this would end, and to what it might lead, no man could tell. Now this Bill dealt with a matter purely spiritual, and, as such, contained the grievance to which he had referred. The noble Marquess would not deny that the creation of bishops was an act purely spiritual. It was true that they were accustomed here to connect with the episcopal character the incidents of temporal rights of Lords of Parliament, and of baronies, conferred by the Crown; but a bishop, as a mere bishop, had not only no temporal authority, but, properly speaking, he had no title of dignity. It was a spiritual office in the Church, and many existed without any of those incidents with which the episcopal character 1075 they were accustomed to recognise was clothed. If they denied a Church its regular government, they no longer tolerated that Church. Did they mean to refuse to the Roman Catholic people of this country the government of their Church by bishops in ordinary? If so, they did not tolerate that Church. All he desired was the regular constitution of that Church—the regular constitution of the Church under bishops—not the exceptional government as it had existed theretofore. No one would deny that the regular Church was governed by bishops and not by vicars-apostolic. He would refer to a remarkable statement of his noble and learned Friend behind him when he moved the repeal of the mass of odious statutes which had too long disgraced the Statute-book, and especially the statute of 13th of Elizabeth, which forbade communication with Rome. That forbidding of communication with Rome, in fact, denied the possibility of the existence of regular bishops in the Roman Catholic Church. His noble and learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst) said—They tolerated the Catholic prelates, and they knew that those prelates could not carry on their Church establishment or conduct its discipline without holding communication with the Pope of Rome. No Roman Catholic bishop could be created without the authority of a Bull from the Pope of Rome; and many of the observances of their Church required the same sanction. The moment, therefore, that they sanctioned the observances of the Roman Catholic religion in this country, they, by implication, allowed the communication prohibited by this statute, and for which it imposed the penalties of high treason. If the law allowed the doctrine and discipline of the Roman Catholic Church, it should be permitted to be carried on perfectly and properly, and that could not be done without such communication.It was absurd to suppose that Roman Catholic bishops could be created without the authority of the Pope. But, in addition to that statement, he found, in an answer to an address from the clergy by the right rev. prelate the Bishop of Norwich—an answer, he might be permitted to say, full of wisdom, moderation, and justice—that right rev. Prelate said—An episcopal Church is not tolerated if we interfere with its liberty to appoint bishops, to determine their number and rank, and to bestow on them any title, provided those titles infringe on no existing rights.Infringing on existing rights! Were there any bishops whose rights were infringed on? They could not suppose an episcopal Church to exist without those rights and 1076 privileges which they now denied to the Roman Catholic Church. He might rest his case here; but he would ask the right rev. Prelates, who regarded with such care the apostolical succession, how they would feel if the due exercise of that character and power were to be interfered with and thwarted so as to impede the regular function of that principle? Let them recollect that the Roman Catholics had adopted the same view of the constitution of their Church, and they were doubly bound to adhere to it, because they must refer to the supreme head of their Church as the source from which the power and sacred character of the episcopal body would be derived. He asked for the Roman Catholic Church no more than the State allowed to the internal government of every dissenting Church in the kingdom. He wished to put the Roman Catholic Church on no other footing than a dissenting Church. It was so regarded by law, and so he desired it to be.
Now, the history of this Bill was somewhat singular. There had been three editions of the Bill, all of which he had before him. It was certainly no rare event that any measure, in its progress through Parliament, should meet with many alterations, and should come to that House in a condition very different from that in which it was introduced; but when the Government, after mature consideration of several months, produced a Bill which they thought adequate to the urgency of the case, and which provided a remedy for this aggression of which they complained; and when, after it was read a first time, the proposers, of their own accord and mere motion, imparted to it a new character, and struck out all that constituted its force and vigour, and then, after another stage, allowed the Bill to be not only restored to the strength of which they had deprived it, but to receive additional stringency at the hands of their opponents, was a history not very intelligible. He could not understand the contrivances by which it had been brought into its present shape. The noble Lord the First Lord of the Treasury had offered the Bill in its maximum form of legislation for the acceptance of his right hon. Friend Sir James Graham and himself. Although less offensive than in its first shape, they still perceived in it the principle of intolerance and persecution, and they rejected it accordingly. It was fortunate they had done so; for most assuredly they could never have consented to such a change as 1077 had now taken place in the whole character of the measure.
His first great objection to the Bill was, that it was at variance with the fair interpretation of the Relief Act. By the 24th section of the Belief Act, it was enacted—That if any person after the commencement of that Act, other than the person thereunto authorised by law, should assume or use the name, style, or title of archbishop of any province, bishop of any bishopric, or dean of any deanery in England or Ireland, he should for every such offence forfeit and pay the sum of 100l.Now the fair logical inference from that provision was, that the assumption of titles not possessed by bishops of the Established Church was not forbidden. By a well-known rule of law, assertio unius est exclusio alterius. Again, that was a penal clause, and, according to the rules of law and justice, they were bound to construe it strictly, and not to extend it to that which was not expressed. He had the honour of being a Member of the Cabinet by which the Belief Act was brought in, prepared, and passed. He would not undertake to say what were the intentions of His Majesty's Ministers with reference to that particular point; he spoke only of his own impressions; but this he would say—he had been asked twenty times why the Roman Catholics had not Diocesan bishops in England as they had in Ireland, and it never occurred to him to suppose or say it was illegal. He thought it entirely depended on arrangements for their own convenience and pleasure connected with the government of their Church. Therefore, his conviction was undoubtedly that by the Act, and in fair construction their Lordships must admit it to be so, it was not forbidden. But there was another reason, which he thought still more conclusive. Let their Lordships observe that the clause provided that no person should assume the title of any see or deanery in England or Ireland; but no mention was made of Scotland. Why? Because in Scotland there were no bishops, no deans, no persons in possession of those titles that were recognised by law. There were certainly rev. gentlemen assuming titles in Scotland, and permitted to assume them; but they had no legal recognition, and therefore the law did not prohibit persons from taking those or any other titles in Scotland; but it prevented them from taking those titles which were in existence in England and in Ireland. He thought this demonstrative of the intention of the framers of that Act, 1078 because it would have been just as easy to prohibit the assumption of titles in Great Britain, as it was in England and Ireland, had it been desired. This, therefore, was the first great objection he had to this Bill. He thought it to be a breach of faith—a violation of that great Act which he humbly contributed to support; and he would not be a party to any provision that interfered with the privileges which he considered were intended to be conferred upon the Roman Catholics of this country.
But, let him ask, what had been the acts done to warrant this Bill? The noble Marquess had talked in high-sounding language of the aggression committed, and of the rights of the Crown which the Pope had invaded. But, after all, what was it? What act had the Pope really done? What was the head and front of his offending? Why, he had converted vicars-apostolic into bishops in ordinary. He (the Earl of Aberdeen) said that was the whole the Pope had done. He spoke not of the language by which this act had been accompanied. If their Lordships were going to outrage the feelings of one-third of the population of this country, in order to answer an insolent manifesto, let that be avowed. Now, in his opinion the Pope had a perfect right to convert the vicars-apostolic into bishops in ordinary. It was, in fact, to make a change from a system that was irregular and exceptional, to the regular government of the Church. As far as their Lordships and the Protestant people of this country were concerned, he wanted to know how the Roman Catholic bishops in ordinary differed from the vicars-apostolic? Had they more authority or greater revenues? Did the law regard them differently? Was there, in fact, the slightest difference except in their own church government, and the more regular administration of their internal affairs? None, that he could see; and when, therefore, the noble Marquess talked of territorial titles, he must remind their Lordships that the Pope must describe these bishops somehow. He must describe his vicars-apostolic as vicars of certain districts, comprising certain counties. And he must now describe his bishops in ordinary as bishops embracing the jurisdiction of one or more counties, according to the circumstances of the case. True, the Pope might have described the diocesee of these bishops by parallels of latitude and longitude; but he must have some mode of intrusting the faithful of his Church, in certain districts, 1079 to the authority and administration of the bishops placed over them. He said, then, that this talk of territorial titles, as if these titles conveyed any right or possession, or the exercise of any temporal jurisdiction, was a complete misapprehension of terms. It was the ordinary mode by which the Church of Rome appointed bishops. Look at the bishops lately created in a friendly Protestant State with which the Pope of Rome had a concordat—the bishops of Prussia. The most minute particulars, the names of every village, were described in setting forth the sees of these bishops. But these bishops in Prussia had no more power and authority because the sees were thus territorially described in which they held spiritual jurisdiction, and in which, let their Lordships recollect, they had no more authority than if they were described by any other mode. They had heard much of the establishment of a Catholic hierarchy in this country; but it was incorrect to say that any such hierarchy had been established. Nothing could properly be said to be established that was not established by law. So far as Protestants were concerned, there was nothing real in it. Did they suppose, because the Pope had issued decrees appointing these new bishops, that the law would give any effect to these rescripts or letters? None at all. The new hierarchy was constituted for the purpose of internal government and administration; but, as far as their Lordships were concerned, this new establishment had no existence except in words, and could not operate in any degree whatever upon the interests of the people of this country. This was the act which they had heard from high authority was the beginning of a system of despotic government, and of reactionary principles over the whole of Europe. This, according to the same authority, was the first step taken in this country, because we were the most free nation in Europe, and likely to feel more deeply the assertion of any such ultramontane and absolute doctrines. Vastly well; but let him refer their Lordships to what was the history of this change. A diocesan government had been at all times desired by the Roman Catholics, instead of the rule of vicars-apostolic. So long ago as under the Administration of Mr. Pitt, this change was desired by the Government of this country. Sir J. Hippisley, who was empowered to negotiate this matter between the Court of Rome and this country, said, in 1812, in a speech in the House of Commons— 1080That he obtained from Pope Pius VI., as well as from his principal Ministers, a declaration that such a reform would be granted whenever it should be desired by our Government.This was in 1794. Mr. Pitt's Government thought it best to have no direct communication with the Court of Rome, and he did not ask for this change; but that it was desired by him and by the Government of that day, was attested by the frequent speeches of Sir J. Hippisley. This change was not only desired by Mr. Pitt and other Members of his Government, who might be said to be inclined to despotic principles, but let him direct their Lordships' attention to the opinions and writings of an hon. Baronet, who was certainly no lover of despotism, who was one of the friends of the people in 1792, who was connected with the father of the noble Earl (Earl Grey), at that time Member for Northumberland. This hon. Gentleman was not only a man of extreme liberal opinions, but he was a Whig, and something more. In his letter to the Catholic clergy, urging the appointment of bishops instead of vicars-apostolic, Sir J. Throckmorton said—Our present government by vicars-apostolic is, then, contrary to the rules of the Church, the practice and regulations of the apostles, and was unknown in the purer ages of the Christian religion. Nor is there any power in the Pope which can legalise so irregular a system; nothing can justify it but absolute necessity. If it be proved that our present method is the only one by which we can obtain bishops, it would doubtless be better to acquiesce in it than to be totally deprived of their essential ministry. But this pretence has not been mentioned, nor is there the least ground to allege it. It must appear that a more easy and certain method may be adopted; and, as the laws of the Christian Church require it, is it not our duty, Gentlemen, to take the necessary steps to put it in execution?Ought their Lordships, then, to consider the establishment of regular bishops in the place of vicars-apostolic so gross an invasion of the prerogative of the Crown as it was represented by the noble Marquess, and as a proof of the despotic tendencies of the Court of Rome? In addition to the opinion of Sir J. Throckmorton, he might quote the statement of a right rev. Prelate, whom he did not then see in his place, the author of the History of the Church of England, who said, speaking on the subject—The real difference between the bishop of a see and a vicar-apostolic is, that the commission of the latter is only during the Pope's pleasure. Ireland has Roman Catholic bishops of her own, who are independent of Rome as far as Roman Catholics can be; and the members of that communion 1081 in England have much reason to complain that they have never been allowed this privilege.He therefore thought it trifling with their Lordships to pretend that that which was desired by men of all parties—by the Catholics themselves by their petitions over and over again—should be spoken of in the terms used by the noble Marquess. Be it recollected, too, that the real practical effect of the change to the Roman Catholics—for to their Lordships the effect was the same—was, that the Pope somewhat divested himself of the power he now possessed by the substitution of ordinary bishops for vicars-apostolic, for over the vicars-apostolic he could act as he pleased. He might recall them at a moment; they were merely his deputies and agents; whereas the bishops in ordinary could only be deprived for canonical offences canonically proved, and were, as much as Roman Catholics could be, independent of the Pope, certainly much more so than the vicars-apostolic.
But the noble Marquess had discovered that this was not only a violation and an aggression against the honour and independence of the nation, but he had also discovered that this act was illegal by the actual law of the land. Now, he could not assent to that doctrine. The Government had revived an obsolete statute, that had slept for 250 years, for this purpose—a statute, the existence of which, so far as its applicability to the present circumstances was concerned, had been unknown for that time. They had declared that such was the law. The noble Marquess had referred to the case of Robert Lalor, in the time of James I., the only unhappy instance in which this statute had been put in force. The noble Marquess had referred to the trial of Lalor, and he (the Earl of Aberdeen) wished to show, in the first place, that this statute of prœmunire had no application whatever to the act that had now been performed. Whatever Lalor's case might have been, the law was not applicable to the case of the late Rescript. If it were, then all he could say was, that it was quite as much applicable to the appointment of vicars-apostolic as to the appointment of bishops in ordinary. Why, Lalor himself was only a vicar-apostolic, and was proceeded against accordingly. If their Lordships would permit him to read an extract from Sir John Davis's report of Lalor's case, they would see that that law was applicable to a state of things entirely different from that which now ex- 1082 isted, and originated in motives altogether of another kind. Sir John Davis, giving a history of the statute of prœmunire, said—The (the Commons) complain that by Bulls and processes from Rome the King is deprived of that jurisdiction which belongs of right to his Imperial Crown; that the King doth lose the service and counsel of his prelates and learned men by translations made by the Bishop of Rome; that the King's laws are defeated at his will, the treasure of the realm is exhausted and exported to enrich his Court; and that by those means the Crown of England, which hath ever been free, and subject unto none, but immediately unto God, should be submitted unto the Bishop of Rome, to the utter destruction of the King and the whole realm.Thus the statute 16th of Richard H. was enacted to prevent the translations of prelates to Rome, to prevent the appointment of foreigners here, and the export of the treasure of the country to Rome. If the Pope had been satisfied to create fifty bishops, provided they had confined themselves to spiritual matters, and did not interfere with temporal affairs and the regalities of the King, he would have been made perfectly welcome to do so, so far as the framers of this statute were concerned. It was the temporal rights and claims which belonged to the prelates of the Court of Rome in that day that induced the Crown and the Parliament to resist the pretensions of that Court. But the law of prœmunire did not in the least apply to the new Roman Catholic bishops, who possessed no authority except that which their own followers conceded to them—who were all Englishmen—who were not going to export any treasure to Rome—who were perfectly welcome, so far as he (the Earl of Aberdeen) was concerned, to transport themselves to Rome—and whose temporal jurisdiction in this country was purely imaginary. The statute of Richard II. had, then, no application to the present case; but the Government had revived this Act by the first clause of the present Bill, and in a shape in which the most frightful consequences would ensue. The first clause made the appointment of these bishops unlawful and void. All the acts which these parties performed, therefore, were unlawful. The bishop who might consecrate, the bishop who was consecrated, and the priest whom the bishop might ordain, were all concerned in acts which were illegal and void. There was a highly venerated prelate who had acted with the universal respect of all who knew him—he meant the Roman Catholic Arch- 1083 bishop of Dublin. He was an aged man, and might soon be removed from his present sphere of useful action. His successor would be appointed by the Pope; but the archbishop himself and all concerned in his consecration were to be guilty of an unlawful act. Let their Lordships see what awful consequences must ensue. If the acts performed by the bishops were void, then the marriages celebrated by the priests they might ordain, the ordinations of the priests, and every act of the bishops so consecrated, were, under the first clause of the present Bill, null and void. In consequence of this declaration of the law, under these ancient statutes, it had been laid down by high legal authority that an indictment might be framed against any of the persons exercising "jurisdiction, authority, or pre-eminence," by virtue of the Papal Bull; and this without the permission of the Attorney General, but simply as proceeding against a person guilty of an unlawful act, for a misdemeanor. Now, if this were so, it opened up such a prospect that he really was unwilling, by any description, to encounter the circumstances which would follow from such an arbitrary and tyrannical law. There might be a difference of opinion among legal authorities respecting the extent of the consequences to which he referred; but at all events, with such a declaration of illegality and nullity, the most serious alarm was fully justified.
He would dwell no more on that part of the subject, and he proceeded to notice what the noble Marquess had urged relative to the violation of the supremacy of the Crown, and the contempt that had been shown, according to the noble Marquess, to the rightful prerogative of Her Majesty. Indeed, this had almost been made a question of loyalty. The country had been called on to come to the succour of the Queen of this realm. If he thought that there was any peril of this kind, most assuredly there were few men in their Lordships' House who would more readily respond to that call than himself; but, believing that any danger of this kind was a mere chimera, he could not listen for an instant to such a call as that. He wanted to know how the supremacy of the Crown had been evaded. They could not expect the Pope to acknowledge the ecclesiastical supremacy of the Queen. They might as well expect him to approve of their Reformation. The Pope had acknowledged her practical and temporal power, but Her 1084 spiritual supremacy he could not acknowledge, and he acted over the Catholic members of his Church as if the Reformation had never occurred, and as the supreme bishop of the Christian world, But he wanted to know what this supremacy of the Queen was at present. He knew what it used to be; the denial of it was punished with death; but fortunately the supremacy of the Queen was not the supremacy of King Henry VIII., that sanguinary butcher, who made himself the Pope of this kingdom, and took upon himself the whole power of the keys. But the precise limits of that supremacy had never been accurately traced out and defined. Should their Lordships appeal to the right rev. Prelates for information on this point? He thought not; for they had had great difficulty in describing it for themselves. A short time ago an address was presented by the right rev. Prelates to Her Majesty upon the occasion of this so-called aggression. They might on such an occasion be expected to describe that of which he now so anxiously desiderated an explanation. In the first address to the Queen which was drawn up they said—An unparalleled insult has been offered to Your Majesty's prerogative, and to the Church of which Your Majesty is the earthly head in this kingdom.An exception was taken to this, as an incorrect description of the Queen's supremacy. It was said that the Queen was not the head of the Church in any such sense as was here set forth, and the phrase was corrected. The next attempt, made in the course of a week, was as follows:—An unwarrantable insult has been offered to the Church in this kingdom, over which Your Majesty's authority is supreme.Even that was not quite the thing, and, after a little further reflection, the right rev. Prelates fell back upon safe ground—upon the words of the 37th Article, which they had all signed, and which they knew must mean something, although it was not very easy to say precisely what. The right rev. Prelates finally adopted the following words of the 37th Article:—An unwarrantable insult has been offered to the Church and to Your Majesty, to whom appertains the chief government of all estates of this realm, whether they be ecclesiastical or civil.Nobody could be displeased with this, and he (Lord Aberdeen) certainly could not object to it. This, then, was the supremacy which was so much valued, and the invasion of which struck the noble Mar- 1085 quess with such alarm. After all, this supremacy was treated somewhat cavalierly by Her Majesty's Government two years ago, when the noble Lord, now the First Lord of the Treasury, among various devices to introduce the Jews into Parliament, in 1849, brought in a Bill which repealed the supremacy. Now, if this supremacy were so sacred, he thought it was rather disrespectful treatment to repeal that oath of supremacy so far as Members of both Houses of Parliament were concerned. But let their Lordships go a little further. He need not inform their Lordships that the spiritual supremacy of the Queen was utterly rejected by the Church and people of Scotland, and by the Episcopal Church in Scotland. The Pope could not interfere with the ecclesiastical supremacy of the Queen in Scotland, for there was none there in existence. In Scotland, however, the Queen must have seen that those who denied Her supremacy were among Her most loyal, devoted, and attached subjects. Therefore, although he (the Earl of Aberdeen) was quite willing to acquiesce in that supremacy, so far as he understood it, when in Scotland all religious denominations utterly repudiated it, he could not consider it so much endangered by the late Papal Rescript of which the noble Marquess complained. The Episcopal Communion in Scotland acted without the slightest reference to the authority of the Queen and the Government. A respectable gentleman in his parsonage in Essex very recently found himself made a bishop, and translated to the see of Moray and Ross. A few years ago a new see, the bishopric of Argyll and the Isles, was founded, established, and endowed by the liberality of a prelate of that Church. Let not their Lordships forget that prelacy was abolished in Scotland—nay, that it was prohibited in terms ten times more severe than any of their laws against the Roman Catholics. He wished these respectable gentlemen to call themselves what they pleased, and to allow their flocks to obey them accordingly. The Government had in this Bill provided a clause to which he gave his entire concurrence, and he only wished it was extended to Roman Catholics. The clause said that the Act should not extend or apply to any bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Scotland; but that nothing in the Act should give any right to any such bishop to assume any name, style, or title 1086 which he was not by law entitled to assume or use. That was exactly the feeling he wished to see displayed towards the Roman Catholics. He would recognise them in the same way. He would not give them any legal right or authority, but he would acknowledge them exactly as the present Bill acknowledged the bishops of the Episcopal Church of Scotland. He could see no difference between the two cases. That description of the condition of the Episcopalian Church of Scotland was the wise and just mode of dealing with the Catholic Church; and if they failed to do so, their Lordships would witness the universal feeling of disappointment and resentment, produced by measures so unjust, in the minds of their Catholic fellow-countrymen. It could never be supposed that he had said anything against the respectability of the Episcopalian Church of Scotland. He honoured, esteemed, and highly venerated the prelates of that Church, and he knew the great blessings which attended upon their ministrations, and had always regarded them with the utmost respect. He thought they had got all they ought to have, and he desired to have no more for that great body of our fellow-Christians the Roman Catholics.
The noble Marquess told their Lordships the prerogative of the Crown was in danger also. If the act of the Pope had given any temporal power or authority to the new bishops—if it had qualified them to be introduced as Members of that House—they might indeed think that the prerogative had been invaded; but to say it was in danger because the Pope made a Bishop of Birmingham or Nottingham was surely wrong, because Parliament had only to ignore, as they ought to do, and as the law already did, the existence of the new bishops. By the way, since Roman Catholic bishops were named to these new sees, he thought it would be a very good exercise of the prerogative to appoint Protestant bishops to them. Had the act of the Pope done anything to impede this exercise of the prerogative in this manner? Nothing whatever. It was said that there was a practical interference with the Royal prerogative, because the new prelates were named by a foreign prince. But had they just discovered that the Pope was a foreign prince? That might be a very good reason for not tolerating or for counteracting his designs; but it was too late to make that discovery when they 1087 had agreed to give full toleration to the Roman Catholics in this country, and had done that, knowing that the bishops of that Church could not be named except by a foreign prince.
The arrogance of the act had been strongly dwelt upon: he did not defend it; but to complain of the arrogance of the Pope, was to complain of his existence, because that arrogance was inherent in the character of his office: and from a person who told you he was the vicegerent of God upon earth, there was an end of all humility, even although he added that he was servus servorum Dei. The expressions regere et gubernare were stereotyped terms, used upon all similar occasions, and it was preposterous to suppose for a moment that they were used with a view to insult the Crown or people of this country. In Prussia their Lordships would find the same inflated language as had given such offence here; but, as the assumption was that of spiritual authority only, it could not be in the least degree connected with an aggression upon the temporal authority of the Government. A great sensation had been created by Cardinal Wiseman talking of governing a certain district; but he only meant that he should govern as Roman Catholic bishop in ordinary; and his speaking in that sense was no insult to the Government of Her Majesty as Queen.
The noble Marquess had said that we had to deal with a foreign Power, and not with our Roman Catholic countrymen; but if this Bill were intended to resent an act of insolence, it proceeded to do so in a strange way, for the Bill did not affect the foreign Power whence that act of insolence proceeded, but its vengeance was confined to the Roman Catholic subjects of the Queen in this kingdom. The Pope, it was said, insulted this country; and in return the country was called upon both to insult and oppress the Ionian Catholic subjects of the Queen. If the offence was such as had been described, and the indignation of Her Majesty's Government was so uncontrollable, it was an offence amenable to public law, and ought to be proceeded against by the State, diplomatically or otherwise; and, instead of enacting some wretched penalties against those whose religion compelled them to obedience in this matter, they ought to have addressed themselves to the fountain-head. He knew it might be said, as it had been said, though not by the noble Marquess 1088 opposite, that Her Majesty's Government to a certain degree had been precluded from taking that course by what had happened in that House in 1848, when a Bill was brought in to establish diplomatic relations with the Court of Rome, and when a clause was proposed and adopted prohibiting the reception here of any Nuncio from the Pope. That might be a very good reason by the way of pretext, but it was no reason that had any force or validity; for there was nothing in that circumstance to prevent the necessary communications with the Pope on this subject. Look to the great Protestant Power on the Continent—Prussia. That Power had always a Minister at Rome, but refused to receive a Nuncio. Look at Russia, a great schismatic Power. She also had a Minister at Rome, and never received a Nuncio. Hanover had a Minister at Rome, and, he believed, though he would not be positive, that Power never received a Nuncio. Therefore, he asserted that the clause he had referred to offered no impediments to the Government making known their opinions on this subject to the Pope. He had voted for that clause; and, upon reflection, he was of opinion that he did right in so doing. He was still of opinion that it was not desirable to have a Papal Nuncio in this country, for many reasons. In the first place, their Lordships would recollect that by the Treaty of Vienna precedence was given to foreign Ministers according to the date of their arrival at their posts. An exception—a special exception—was made in favour of the Nuncio of the Pope; and, by the effect of that, if a Nuncio were to be in this country, he would take precedence of all ambassadors and foreign Ministers. This was ever shown to be the case; at Paris, for instance, where Her Majesty's Ambassador had resided for five or six years, upon all occasions, public and private, he gave way in precedence to the Pope's Nuncio. He thought such a state of things would not be desirable in this Protestant country. Their Lordships would recollect that recently, just previous to the holding of that august ceremony by which Her Majesty in state opened the Great Exhibition, which had given so much satisfaction, an official notice appeared that the senior member of the diplomatic body would address Her Majesty on the part of himself and colleagues. That notice for some reason, the nature of which he did not know, but which probably was very sufficient, was 1089 not acted upon; but had it been acted upon, then, instead of the highly respected gentleman who would have represented the diplomatic body on that occasion, the Pope's Nuncio, if he had been sent to and received in this country, would have addressed the Queen. Now, he was not quite certain that it would have been altogether seemly and becoming that a Roman Catholic prelate, for such he must have been, should have immediately followed or preceded the most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of Canterbury) in the solemn duties he was called on to perform upon that day.
With respect to the proceeding which had led to the introduction of the present Bill, he repeated that no step was taken in the way of resenting what was called aggression against the quarter whence it proceeded. After all, among the persons who had the most reason to complain, was the Pope himself, for if they had endeavoured to entrap him into this act, they could not have taken any better course than that which they had pursued. The whole course of their recent legislation had had that tendency. Look at the Bequests Act. If that Act did not actually describe the Roman Catholic bishops with their sees, it contemplated the existence of Roman Catholic bishops with successors; and the Dublin Cemeteries Act described Archbishop Murray as Archbishop of Dublin, and allowed him and his successors to appoint chaplains. In the colonies they had done exactly all that the Pope had done in this country; and Roman Catholic bishops had been appointed in the colonies, and had received titles without objection. It was, therefore, strange that an act which had been done over and over again, should now excite such indignation in this country. Again, honours had been conferred on Roman Catholic Prelates at Her Majesty's Court, and, though those honours conferred no legal station or right, still, when they were reported to the Court of Rome, they must have encouraged the Pope in a proceeding which, on his part, was one of a perfectly regular and ordinary character. The noble Earl (the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland), in a published letter addressed to a right rev. Prelate, but manifestly intended for the perusal of the Pope himself, had spoken of his Holiness with the most profound respect. The noble Lord the First Lord of the Treasury had expressed himself in such terms as must have made 1090 the Pope confident that he was committing no offence in the step he had taken. In 1844 the noble Lord said—You provide by statute that they shall not be allowed to style themselves by the name of the diocese over which they preside. I think that a most foolish prohibition.In 1846 the same noble Lord said—As to preventing persons assuming particular titles, nothing can be more absurd and puerile than to keep up such a distinction.These were strong expressions; but they were made when the noble Lord was in opposition, and such declarations, perhaps, were not always to be taken as accurate exponents of the sentiments of a Minister. But here was what the Prime Minister said in 1848. Lord John Russell then said—I do not know that the Pope has authorised in any way, by any authority he may have, the creation of any archbishopric or bishopric with dioceses in England; but certainly I have not given my consent—nor should I give my consent if I were asked to do so—to any such formation of dioceses. With regard to spiritual authority, the hon. Gentleman must see, when he alludes to other States in Europe, that whatever control is to be obtained over the spiritual authority of the Pope, can only be obtained by agreement for that end. You must either give certain advantages to the Roman Catholic religion, and obtain from the Pope certain other advantages in return, among which you must stipulate that the Pope shall not create any dioceses in England without the consent of the Queen"—(Therefore the noble Lord took for granted that the Pope could create dioceses without the consent of the Queen),—"or, on the other hand, you must say that you will have nothing to do with arrangements of that kind—that you will not consent, in any way, to give any authority to the Roman Catholic religion in England. But then you must leave the spiritual authority of the Pope entirely unfettered. You cannot bind the Pope's spiritual influence unless you have some agreement. For my own part, I am not disposed to think that it would be for the advantage of this country, or that it would be agreeable to the Roman Catholics, that we should have an agreement with the Pope by which their religious arrangements should be regulated.He (the Earl of Aberdeen) concurred in those observations, which he thought remarkable for truth and sound reasoning; but then it afforded ground to the Pope for supposing that his religious arrangements would not be interfered with. But there was a noble Lord opposite (Lord Minto) who had or ought to have cognisance in this matter. When the noble Lord was at Rome, on the 22nd of January, 1848, there appeared in the Roman Gazette an account of a ceremony—the con- 1091 secration of a church, he believed—for which funds were to be collected in England; and the Roman Gazette mentioned, among others who were to collect the subscriptions, Dr. Wiseman, "now Archbishop of Westminster." One would have thought that the noble Lord must have seen that. The noble Lord shook his head; and if the Roman Gazette had been anything like the gigantic papers here, which required half a life to read, he could have understood its escaping the notice of the noble Lord; but every syllable in the Roman Gazette might be read over in ten minutes. The noble Lord might, perhaps, have been so much engaged in driving the Austrians out of Italy as to find no time for such a perusal; but if the noble Lord did not read the paragraph in question, surely some of his family might have been expected to point the noble Lord's attention to it, and it seemed impossible that that which made the conversation of half Rome should not have been brought to the cognisance of the noble Lord. By the Italian papers laid upon the table it appeared that the noble Lord had, on the 23rd of January, a long audience with his Holiness, who, as the matter was in no way remonstrated against, would naturally regard that as an additional reason for supposing that there would arise no ground of complaint against him for taking a step which was now called an aggression. Her Majesty's Government had certainly no right to find fault with the Pope for anything he had done, for they had themselves afforded him every species of encouragement in the course he had pursued.
He had now fatigued the House and himself, but he could not sit down without saying a few words with respect to the fatal effect of this measure on Ireland. Their Lordships were aware that the Re-script of the 29th of September last year only made bishoprics in England, and had no reference to Ireland at all. Therefore the proposed legislation, as regarded Ireland, had been thought by many to be uncalled for; and it was urged that legislation should be confined to England, in respect to which the aggression, as it was called, was committed. No doubt there was plausibility in that view; but he must agree with the Government so far as to think that, if the present Bill was to be passed at all, it must necessarily include Ireland; for to admit that the Queen stood in a different relation in England from that which She held in Ireland, would be to de- 1092 cide the destruction of the Irish Church. The Queen's supremacy was the same in both countries; and if any violation of it had taken place, it must equally be resented in both. But this consideration made him only feel still more strongly that the Government ought to have paused before they made up their minds to bring forward a measure which, without being urgently demanded in England, must necessarily produce such mischievous consequences in Ireland. It had been said that the present Bill was a declaration of war against Ireland. He would not use an expression of that kind; but if the Bill passed, unless it became, as he devoutly trusted it would, a dead letter on the Statute-book, they would never see peace in Ireland. The penalties imposed by the Bill, would, if brought into operation in Ireland, produce consequences he feared to contemplate. By a clause, perhaps the most odious in the Bill, it was provided that any communication with the See of Rome for the purpose of appointing bishops should be visited with a penalty, to be recoverable by an informer, with the consent of the Attorney General. Though that was somewhat different from leaving the matter entirely to a common informer, yet it placed the Attorney General in a position which certainly any law officer of the Crown must feel to be most painful, and against which, as he was informed, the law officers of the Grown had strenuously protested. But the clause, if carried into effect, would be attended with endless difficulties. A refractory priest, censured by his bishop, might go and give information of the bishop having received a bull of the kind referred to; and in a hundred other ways the clause opened the door to vexatious proceedings. He would fain believe that the Government wished to see that clause executed as little as he did; but others might not share in their wishes, and then there would be a renewal of those scenes of discord, animosity, and rancour, which for the last twenty years had been gradually subsiding.
He could not help availing himself of this opportunity of expressing his deep regret at the absence of two noble and learned Lords—two long-tried and able advocates of civil and religious liberty. They were prevented from being present in their Lordships' House that day; but he was in possession of their sentiments, and he knew that, had they been present, they would have expressed the most un- 1093 mitigated aversion at the step the Government were about to take. Instead of listening to his feeble advocacy of the cause of religious freedom, he wished their Lordships could but have heard, and been persuaded by, the mild wisdom of Denman, and electrified by the fervid eloquence of Brougham. The noble Earl concluded by moving that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
§ Amendment moved, to leave out "now," and insert "this day Six Months."
§ LORD BEAUMONT
said, that he could assure their Lordships that he had seldom addressed them under circumstances of greater difficulty, or feelings of more embarrassment. The difficulty, however, did not arise from any doubt in his mind as to the course he ought to pursue; but from the peculiar character of the subject, which made it difficult to convey to the minds of others the impression which recent acts had produced on his own. The present legislation on the subject had been viewed from such different points of observation by different parties, that it was difficult to place before them the subject divested of all sectarian prepossessions and partial considerations. This difficulty, however, had in one respect been materially removed by the speech of the noble Earl, inasmuch as the dangers which he anticipated as the consequences of the Bill, and upon which he most dwelt, were completely visionary, as he would presently show; and those very circumstances which the noble Earl had put forth as excuses for the conduct of a foreign Court were rather aggravations than palliations of the offence. When the noble Earl pleaded that the indulgence, if not partiality, shown by the English Government towards Roman Catholics in this country, and their religious establishments, was an excuse as well as an encouragement to commit an act of hostility against the State, and to violate the spirit of the constitution, he (Lord Beaumont) felt, on the contrary, that that very liberality and indulgence on the part of the Government should have been a strong inducement and a motive for the Court of Rome to abstain from anything which might possibly be offensive either to the feelings of the people of this country, or to the dignity of the Crown. Before, however, proceeding further, in considering the question, he must observe that he stood 1094 in a peculiar position on this subject. He was, as it were, isolated and alone: he differed from most of those with whom he was connected, and in whom he felt an interest, on the ground of early associations. It was true that he had received many private communications from members both of the clergy and laity of the Church of Rome expressing sympathy with him, and approval of the course he was pursuing; but as those correspondents did not dare to come forward and assert publicly their opinions, he could not avail himself of their support, or claim any advantage from their authority. He was prepared, therefore, to stand alone, and bear the whole responsibility of the statement he was about to make. He knew that his words would be subject to misrepresentation, and that, however clearly he drew the line between spiritual and temporal matters, there were those who would wrest the words which he might use in speaking of the one from their true meaning, and endeavour to make it appear that they were applied to the other. He knew that this, and more than this, awaited him; but he would abide the result, for, on his conscience, he was confident that he was right in principle and right in the line he had pursued. He was right as a loyal subject, right as a friend of freedom, right as an Englishman, and right as a Christian. With these strong convictions on his mind, he would proceed to grapple with the subject. In doing so, he would start by laying down that broad principle which he believed was the principle adopted and acted on by the noble Marquess below him. He would consent to do nothing either by the present Bill or any other Bill, which would interfere in the smallest degree with the most complete civil and religious liberty this kingdom could enjoy. He would do nothing which could prevent the free exercise of religion by any sect, or any body in this country—nothing that could in any way interfere with the full development of what, in a spiritual sense, might be deemed either necessary or desirable in the Roman Catholic or any other Church or religious community. He would, in the first place, examine the position in which members of the Roman Catholic creed stood, as individuals, at the present moment, and then he would examine into the position in which the Roman Catholic Church, as a Church, was placed in by past legislation. By the Emancipation Act, and more recent legislative measures, 1095 Roman Catholics, as individuals, were released from all disabilities, and entitled to the most complete freedom. They were at liberty to act as they pleased in the exercise of their religion; no interference was authorised with respect to their devotional habits or religious practices. A Roman Catholic enjoyed in this country, a liberty which he did.not enjoy in most foreign countries, and certainly not in any Roman Catholic country. He could worship as he pleased, where he pleased, when he pleased; he was allowed to do as much as he pleased, and was not obliged to do more than he pleased; he was in every way a free agent, and a free agent he (Lord Beaumont) desired that he should ever remain. So far as to their position as individuals; now as to the position of their Church. The Roman Catholic Church in this country was tolerated; it was more than tolerated, it was protected. No one had a right to interfere with it. It was allowed to build its temples, to have as many ministers to officiate within those temples, and to have as gorgeous a ceremonial as it thought fit or proper. It had full liberty to conduct its services and promulgate its ordinances in the manner it thought best; it had free communication with the Pope of Rome; it was at liberty to receive from him as many bishops or archbishops as he wished to send it. It could arrange its internal government without let or hindrance; no one dictated to it, no one assumed authority over it; nay more, it had the perfect power and full privilege of having, if it thought proper, a regular hierarchy. He (Lord Beaumont) would leave it every privilege it now possessed, and he should not be sorry to see those privileges used in obtaining for it something in the nature of a regular national or domestic hierarchy, in the place of vicars-apostolic, or the system lately forced upon it by the Propaganda fide in the letters of Pope Pius the Ninth. But be that as it may, such as he had described was the position of Roman Catholics as individuals, and of their Church as a religious community. Could they be better off? Could the subjects of the freest country enjoy greater freedom? Could any religious body be in a more favourable position, which was not a predominant body, ruling and governing over other religious bodies? Here he must lay down another principle, which is necessary to carrying out, to its fullest extent, the great principle of civil and religious li- 1096 berty, namely, that individual liberty should only be limited where it interfered with the liberty of another individual, that is to say, that one individual should not have the liberty to trample on the liberty of another. In the same way the liberty of one Church should not destroy the liberty of any other Church, any more than the liberty of one individual should go so far as to destroy the liberty of another individual: these limits were necessary to obtain the greatest amount of liberty to all. In the same way the independence of the Church must not destroy the independence of the country; he might go further and say that the independence of the country was necessary for the independence of the Church. That portion of the Roman Catholic Church which was in this country, was more independent than those branches of the Roman Catholic Church which were in Spain or some other countries, front the circumstance of this country being more independent than those countries in their relations with Rome. In fine, the liberty of Churches and individuals must in a certain degree depend on the independence of the country in which they existed. It was necessary to guard against the possibility of any external power possessing the means to coerce or to induce any parties in this country to combine for the purpose of injuring any liberal institution or anything which savoured of national independence, or which was part and parcel of the free and independent action of the constitution of this country. A foreign Power might possess spiritual influence, but ought not to possess spiritual dominion supported and enforced by law; for if it did possess the power of enforcing its spiritual ordinances it would destroy the free action of individual independence. These principles, which their Lordships must continue to bear in mind, led him to the definition of what was temporal and what was spiritual in the subject-matter before them. The whole question as to the merits of the Bill rested upon that ground. It was necessary to examine what was the spiritual character of the Roman Catholic bishops and clergy before the promulgation of the Papal letter; then to inquire what change had been effected by that Papal letter in that spiritual character. Previous to the Papal edict the vicars-apostolic were endowed with full powers to administer in every particular to the spiritual wants of their clergy and people. Nothing appeared to be wanting to their 1097 full spiritual character as bishops. He (Lord Beaumont) had been anxious to know and had asked again and again, but without effect, what was the difference in a spiritual point of view in the position and attributes of the Roman Catholic bishops before and after the Papal Rescript. He wanted to know whether there had been any addition or any diminution of their spiritual power and authority. He wanted to know whether there was anything which they could not do of a purely spiritual nature as well without as with the Papal letter. It seemed that the same curiosity had been excited in the minds of the Roman Catholics generally, for they had crowded to hear, as they were unable of themselves to guess, what were the new and extraordinary spiritual benefits to be conferred on them. They had listened to the inflated and bombastic language of Cardinal Wiseman; they had been told "that this country was now to revolve round the sun of Rome in a regular orbit like other planets; they were told that the greatest of blessings was bestowed by the Papal letter on this prosperous land." These and other equally bombastic periods had raised the expectations of the simple-minded Roman Catholics, and naturally made them impatient to know and enjoy the promised blessings. But, alas! how were all these expectations answered; what explanations given to all these inquiries? Why, that so far as spiritual affairs were concerned, no change whatsoever had taken place. Why, that so far as the Roman Catholic laity were concerned, that they were just in the position they were in before. Why, that as far as the Roman Catholic bishops were concerned, they were just the same bishops they were before—that nothing had been gained—that nothing had been lost—that nothing had been changed. His authority for all this was Dr. Wiseman, whose very words he would quote, and to whose published lectures alone he would refer. And here, in passing, he begged to say that he (Lord Beaumont) had little personal acqaintance with Dr. Wiseman, but that he knew him to be a gentleman and a scholar, and that he desired to be understood as speaking of him as such, however he (Lord Beaumont) might differ from him regarding the wisdom of his acts, or the propriety of his conduct in a political sense. Dr. Wiseman then said, speaking of the bishops—He is not, and will not be one atom more a bishop than he was before; not one of them extends in any way the limits of his ecclesiastical 1098 jurisdiction; not one of the bishops acquires the smallest increase of jurisdiction or authority over clergy, or laity, or property, or trusts, or any person or thing. Every bishop is where he was, as he was, what he was before.The sacraments would be as well administered, the services as well performed, and both would have the same effect, and no other effect. They might now meet in synod, but they might have done so before if they liked, for then as now there was no law to prevent synodical action if they chose to adopt it. They enjoyed, in other words, the freest self-government. Now, if this were true, and he had it on the authority of Cardinal Wiseman himself, he (Lord Beaumont) was warranted in assuming that, as regarded the spiritual character of bishops, there had been nothing changed—that their spiritual attributes were complete before, and that, as far as the spiritual necessities of the laity were concerned, no change whatsoever had taken place, nor was desired to take place, in administering to them. Now the same authority said that some change had taken place, and as that change was not of a spiritual character, it must of necessity have been of a temporal character. It was necessary, therefore, to draw the distinction between what was temporal and what was spiritual in the creation and nomination of a bishop to a see or a diocese. The whole was an ecclesiastical act, one part of which was spiritual, and the other part purely temporal. The creation of a bishop was a spiritual act; the imposition of hands upon a bishop, and the giving the pallium to an archbishop were acts of a spiritual character, and could only be performed by a spiritual authority. By these acts full spiritual powers were given. The Pope had thus complete liberty to bestow full powers on his bishops, whether they were vicars-apostolic or members of a regular hierarchy. No one objected or objects to his creation of as many bishops as he likes. He may send a hundred bishops or archbishops to this country; he may describe and fix the districts within which they are to exercise their functions; he may limit their jurisdiction to a county, a town, or a parish; he may, if he thinks proper, desire them, for convenience' sake, to give themselves each a distinctive designation; he may desire them to call one the Roman Catholic Bishop for Birmingham, another the Roman Catholic Bishop residing at Beverley, or that such a one should be Archbishop 1099 of the Roman Catholics of Westminster; he might have done all this before his edict; he might do it now; and he may do it after the Bill passes. This, however, is not what he has attempted to do. He was not content with the liberty he enjoyed, because that liberty did not go beyond the limits of the exercise of spiritual power. What, then, has he attempted to effect by these Letters-Apostolic? He has not, as has been already shown, done anything which affects the Roman Catholic laity. It was, however, well known to their Lordships that the laity of the Roman Catholic body were entirely excluded from the business of their Church, and were never consulted, and consequently had no voice in its government. Their duty was to obey; but that did not prevent them from pertinaciously inquiring if any change, and what change, in the position of their clergy had taken place. The answer, as he (Lord Beaumont) had already said, was, that no change in their spiritual character had taken place, and no change as regarded their position with the laity had taken place, but that nevertheless a change had taken place. The only conclusion, therefore, they could draw from the answer was, that the change was one of a temporal nature, and one which did not affect, and was therefore a subject of indifference to, the laity. Now, in the creation and appointment of a bishop to a diocese, there is a temporal part as well as a spiritual part, which together compose the complete ecclesiastical act. Throughout Europe, if the Pope makes the bishop, the Sovereign appoints to the see. The Pope in that case does all that is spiritual, and the Sovereign all that is temporal in the act. To a diocese certain temporalities appertain, and no subject can enjoy or administer these temporalities without the consent of its Sovereign. In the present case, however, as no temporalities were acknowledged as by law appertaining to the new sees which the Pope had created, no attempt had been made by that Act to transfer to an intruder the rights and privileges belonging to another. But though this consequence did not follow the recent act of the Pope, the appointment of a bishop to a see in an independent country was a purely temporal act. To prove this, he would quote an illustration from a recent act of Pio Nono himself. The King of Naples nominated a bishop to a see; the Pope consecrated the bishop in consequence. The King, finding 1100 the bishop too liberal a politician for his purpose, changed his mind, and refused to give him the see. He appointed another. The Pope consecrated the new bishop, who took possession of the see, the Pope in neither case disputing the right of the Sovereign of the country to nominate or to recall his nomination. A similar case has occurred in the same kingdom very recently. The bishops, however, were still bishops; and to prove still further the rights of the King of Naples to deal as he liked with his sees, the Pope appointed the bishops to bishoprics in partibus. He (Lord Beaumont) quoted this instance in preference to others, because, of all the sovereigns of the present day, the King of Naples was the most sincerely and devotedly attached to the See of Rome; and because the Pope, on the other hand, considered the King of Naples as the most devout and most dutiful son of the Church. It was evident that in this case the King on the one hand, and the Pope on the other, considered the appointment of a bishop as a purely temporal act. Now, it was a generally, or rather universally-received principle, that where there was the exercise of the temporal power, the Sovereign in whose dominions it was to take effect must have some say in the affair. The line which limited the spiritual portion of an ecclesiastical act, and defined where the temporal portion began was in some countries arranged by concordat, and in others by the common law of Europe. In both instances, however, the practice as well as the theory was the same. He (Lord Beaumont) had searched in vain for an instance to the contrary. Throughout Europe, sovereigns act as a matter of course in the appointment of bishops to their dioceses. Now, the Pope cannot and would not delegate any of his spiritual powers to any layman; therefore, in the case of a concordat the Pope must have considered the appointment to a diocese as a purely temporal act. Surely, then, if the appointment to a diocese is a temporal act, the creation of a diocese must, è fortiori, be a temporal act. It follows that it is a much greater usurpation of the temporal power and prerogative, inasmuch as it is purely an act of sovereign authority. So tenacious had been even the weakest sovereigns and smallest states of this their undoubted prerogative, that any attempt to create a diocese, or otherwise to interfere in the territorial arrangements of their kingdoms had been invaria- 1101 bly considered a casus belli. Even Parma and Ferrara, when independent, resisted such usurpation. He thought that he had now made out and proved the broad distinction which was drawn between what was temporal and what was spiritual. To the spiritual power of the Pope he would give the fullest liberty consistent with the liberty of the subject and the law of nations. He could not, however, leave it either to the Pope or to the Roman Church to interpret what was spiritual. The Pope and his adherents had shown their incapacity or at least unfitness for the task. For according to their doctrines they could comprise every act of sovereignty or of tyranny within the term of spiritual authority. He (Lord Beaumont) must protest against the doctrine recently put forward by some Roman Catholics in this country that the spiritual power of the Pope ought to extend to the limits which he, the Pope, in his infallibility thought proper to assign it. Such doctrine is Roman, and not Catholic, it is local and not universal, suited to the interests of the Vatican, and hostile to the welfare of distant churches; and would, if generally adopted, extinguish the independence of every Catholic country, and make Europe a mere jumble of conflicting jurisdictions. Such doctrines ought not to have come from either Englishman or freeman, for they were neither the doctrines of independence nor of common sense, but of slavery and usurpation. The declaration to which he had just referred was found in a published pamphlet signed by several Catholic Peers and other persons of that persuasion. He could not say they represented the intelligence of the Roman Catholics, but they professed to represent the body. He (Lord Beaumont) opened the pages in the hope of finding a statement of their rights, both as subjects of this country, and independent members of the laity. But to his horror, on looking into this precious document, he found that instead of boldly standing, as their ancestors had done in the time of Edward III., against all foreign usurpation, whether from Rome or elsewhere, instead of disowning any thought of submission to that tyrannical code which now regulates all things temporal, social, and domestic, within the Papal dominions—instead of finding the words of freemen, he found the following humiliating sentence:—We declare that the exercise of the spiritual authority of the Pope, belonging to him as the 1102 successor of St. Peter, can only be limited by his own free act and concession.He would read no more; but he begged their Lordships to mark the consequence of this concession. Why, any deed, however monstrous, done by a Pope might thus be defended. All acts done by the Popes were declared by the Popes themselves to be mere exercise of their spiritual authority. The excommunication of Queen Elizabeth was a purely spiritual act—the celebrated Bull, in cœna Domini, was a purely spiritual act; so, too, was the anathema against King John, so was the Bull Unigenitus. The condemnation of the Queen's Colleges, and every other interference with the domestic arrangements of the country, were proclaimed as being mere exercises of spiritual authority. Modern civilisation, as well as the true spirit of Christianity, revolted at the acts and edicts of several past Popes; yet they were all done and proclaimed as the due discipline and spiritual authority of the Church. They could not be impugned without condemning the interpretation put by the infallible head of the Church on the character and extent of his spiritual power. To this doctrine, then, as laid down in this printed declaration of the Roman Catholic laity, he (Lord Beaumont) could not agree. He could not agree to allow the Pope to fix himself the limits of his spiritual jurisdiction; he could not allow the Pope any right to do any of the acts to which he had just referred. Neither could he agree that one sovereign had a right to throw in the face of another sovereign a document which ignored the existence of that other sovereign. He found no excuse for any Court in Europe addressing the subjects of another nation, as though those subjects had neither laws nor institutions which they were bound to obey and maintain. It was said that such was the usual form of such edicts; but in that he could find no excuse. What spiritual end or moral good could be obtained by using language which, taken in its plain and simple meaning, heaped insult on insult—which was offensive at once to the dignity of the Crown and the institutions of the country—which was certain to wound the feelings of the susceptible, and excite the ridicule of the indifferent—which, literally translated and put in force, would amount to an overt act, in total violation of the common law of this country; nay, he would go further, and say, of the common law of any independent country, in fact, of the common law of nations. 1103 He (Lord Beaumont) was sorry to hear the noble Lord defend the Letter Apostolic on the ground he had been combating, namely, that it was merely a spiritual act, and, therefore, merely spiritually binding on the consciences of those who were the willing subjects of the Church of Rome. Of course such subjects feel hound to religiously obey the spiritual commands of the Pontiff. They must, therefore, violate their consciences if they do not do that which the edict commanded them to do. The edict commands them to do that which is, and will be, declared to be unlawful. If it were merely a temporal matter they might, without offence to their religious feelings, decline to obey; but, as it is a spiritual matter, they have no choice left them. The noble Earl is perfectly correct that the act of the Pope was words without effect, that it had no force, that it could receive no effect from law, that no one was obliged to attend to it, that it did nothing, and undid nothing, and that, therefore, it might have been safely treated with the contempt it deserved, and that such a paltry display of impotent arrogance was not worth all the fuss that had been made, or taking any more trouble about. To a certain extent he (Lord Beaumont) agreed with the noble Earl; he thought that a ridiculous assumption of power had created more irritation than it merited; but, after all, ridiculous as it was, it was nevertheless an infraction, and an offensive infraction, of the spirit, nay even of the letter, of the law of nations. Government were therefore justified in noticing it, and he felt justified in supporting them. He would now consider in detail the position in which the late Acts were calculated to place the Roman Catholics of this country as subjects. He must remind the House that the hierarchy, professed to have been created, was not a hierarchy elected from among themselves and by themselves, but a hierarchy nominated and governed by the Propaganda. Upon this subject, namely, the nature of the hierarchy, he (Lord Beaumont) had received a great many letters from different quarters. Most of them, however, were written by Roman Catholic priests, but as the consequences might be serious to them if they were known to have made the communications to him, he would not mention the names—he would only say that two or three of them were men of distinguished ability, and he believed all of them men of sincere piety. He would quote one as represent- 1104 ing the feelings of many. That one said—A very general feeling exists among the English Roman Catholic clergy against being any longer under the Propaganda, even in spirituals, because it is a secret, exceptional, and despotic tribunal, that sets aside election arbitrarily, as in the cases of Wiseman, Cullen, and others, and is not tolerated in any Catholic State or real hierarchy.Now it had been said, that by the late Rescript, instead of increasing his power, the Pope had abandoned a portion of the power and influence he had previously exercised over the vicars-apostolic, giving it out to be understood that he had done away with the power of the Propaganda over the bishops of this country, and that instead of being arbitrarily appointed at Rome, against the wishes of the general body in England, the bishops in this country would be elected exclusively by the portion of the Church that was in this country. In Ireland, up to a recent period, the Irish bishops and clergy had enjoyed many of the privileges, and were invested with many of the attributes of a regular hierarchy. The appointment of bishops in that country partook of the nature of a national or domestic arrangement. The clergy themselves selected three names, and placed dignus, dignor, dignissimus before them, according to their ideas of their merits. The Pope, invariably consecrated dignissimus. He (Lord Beaumont) would be very sorry to see the Irish bishops lose this or any other right of self-government. He wished them to exert themselves to preserve, or rather to recover this privilege, of selecting the most worthy person to fill up the vacant see. Unfortunately that character of freedom and independence, which went to constitute them a real hierarchy and made them national, had been lately interfered with by the Pope exercising arbitrary power over them, and trampling on their hitherto acknowledged rights. He had lately taken no notice of either dignus, dignor, or dignissimus, but sent Dr. Cullen and other Roman favourites to govern Irish Catholics, though they had not been recommended by the Irish Catholic prelates. The same spirit breathes through the Rescript touching England, and had dictated the following passage:—We recommend the aforesaid archbishop and bishops that they transmit, at due times to our congregation of the Propaganda, full reports of the state of their Churches; for we shall continue to avail ourselves of the services of the said congregation in administering all matters appertaining to the Anglican Churches.1105 From this and similar passages in recent documents emanating from Rome, he drew the conclusion that it was the intention of that Court to draw still closer the ties which bound distant Churches to the Propaganda, and to destroy whatever spirit of independence had grown up in them. More emphatic evidence of this intention, so adverse to the independence of English Catholics, was to be found in a document recently published in the Italian newspapers. It was there stated that the Pope had determined to bring the practice and discipline of his Church in England into closer conformity with the usages of Rome; that he purposed to give to the ceremonies and preaching in this country a character more closely allied to the principles and customs professed and adopted under the shade of the Vatican; further, that it was his purpose to establish for this end a purely Italian Church in London, and to send over to officiate in it native Italian priests as models to their English brethren. Nay, he had been just informed that the very last appointment made to one of the pretended dioceses had been a reverend gentleman from Rome, who had neither received the sanction nor was much to the taste of the Roman Catholic body. But with this he must admit their Lordships had nothing to do. Parliament was not to come to the rescue merely because Rome lorded it over her spiritual subjects here. It ought not to be a ground for legislation, that the Catholic laity or the Catholic lower clergy were oppressed by their superiors. That was an affair among themselves. No one compelled them to submit. Parliament left them to do as they liked; they might obey or they might take no notice of the ordinances of either Popes or Churches. They were left free agents. He, for one, would never ask the Legislature to interfere to protect the Roman Catholics in this country from the overbearing domination of a portion of the priesthood. All this, however, was very well for their Lordships; but in what a painful dilemma were the most zealous portion of the Roman Catholics left! They must either bow down humbly at the feet of the Pope, and implicitly obey his injunctions, however opposed to their national feelings and loyal sentiments, or violate the behests of Rome, and thus quarrel with their Church. They themselves say that—a refusal on our parts to recognise the new bishops, their jurisdiction, their titles, or their 1106 sees, would, according to our conscientious belief, be a wrongful act, and a breach of the bond of unity which indissolubly binds us to the See of Rome.They were therefore in this position, that if they looked on the Pope's act with the eye of the law, and in the spirit of the constitution, they must consider the whole as null and void, and, if carried into effect, a breach of the law. But if, on the contrary, they looked on it as their Church commanded them to look upon it, they must consider it as having effect suo vigore, and doing all it pretends to do. In the former case they must allow that the titles conferred with so much pomp by the Pontiff were mere nicknames, and the announcement of the destruction of the ancient sees, and the establishment of a new hierarchy in their place, a harmless parade of idle words. They must say that Dr. Wiseman is only archbishop of the Roman Catholics residing in Westminster, and that no archbishopric of Westminster has been erected. They would agree, in fact, with Mr. Roebuck, who, in language which he (Lord Beaumont) refrained from using, had described the whole affair as a childish, meaningless, ridiculous display of impotence and folly on the part of a helpless priest; they would agree that his apostolical paper was mere waste paper; that as he has no jurisdiction here, he could do nothing here; that he has neither erected or suppressed anything; and that Canterbury and Westminster were just where they were. Of course if this were so, and if the Roman Catholics, not giving implicit faith and obedience to the Rescript, had considered that the Pope had literally done nothing, that he had neither suppressed the rights of ancient sees or created new ones, then all parties could have afforded to laugh at the pompous emanation of the Vatican, and all legislation on the subject would have been worse than idle. It would then have been easy to say that they could not make a law to prevent the Pope giving nicknames, albeit these nicknames were taken from towns and cities in England, and that it was useless to declare bulls and letters null and void because they were so already, and no new law could make them less than they were, because they were already nothing. But now take the alternative. If Roman Catholics could not conscientiously look on the Pope's Bull as a useless, meaningless decree, having no force or effect; if they regarded it as an obligation upon them, 1107 and felt bound faithfully to comply with its injunctions, and to give full force to its meaning; if they felt bound to do this, they must violate the law. The Rescript was not for them, as for the noble Earl, a mere form. It never was intended as a mere form; the Court of Rome meant this edict to be what on the face of it it professed to be. It was intended to have the effect of totally annihilating and destroying for ever all the ancient sees and dioceses which existed in this country before its promulgation. It was intended to hare the effect of suppressing the ancient archbishoprics of Canterbury and York, with all their rights, privileges, [and jurisdictions. The Rescript says—We, by the plenitude of our apostolic authority, take away and abrogate all power whatsoever of imposing obligation or conferring right from all customs at whatever period, even the most ancient or immemorial, they may have been introduced; further, whatever regulations in the ancient system of the Anglican Churches may have been imposed, shall henceforth carry no right or obligation with them.But that was not all. The Rescript went further on to say that—these letters-apostolic shall always be valid and in force, notwithstanding all rights and privileges of the ancient sees of England and of all Churches whatsoever, notwithstanding all things to the contrary whatsoever.Thus the Pope calls on all his faithful subjects here to sweep away the right reverend Bench on his (Lord Beaumont's) left, or, at any rate, the sees in virtue of which they sit, and to establish in their stead one metropolitan, and twelve suffragan bishops. But he was not content with merely this, for he goes on to decree—"that if in any manner any attempt shall be made by any person or by any authority, knowingly or ignorantly, to set aside these enactments, such attempt shall be null and void.Why, what was this? Was it not telling the Roman Catholics in this country to hold any act of the Legislature, or any Order of the Queen in Council, which might be opposed to his arrangements, to be null and void, and not to obey them? Was it not actually urging the subjects of this realm to set at defiance the constituted authorities of the country, and to rise in rebellion against the laws of the land? Was not this, under a spiritual guise, promoting disloyalty and disaffection in all those over whom he exercised spiritual authority: was it the act of a friendly Sovereign? was it the manner in which one country at peace with another should 1108 act? was it not on the contrary a direct interference in the most important and most jealously-watched interests of this kingdom, namely, obedience to the laws and respect to the Sovereign? Yet this was the very dilemma in which the Court of Rome bad wittingly placed some thousands of our fellow-subjects. Would Rome herself have been silent if the Crown of England had acted in the same manner towards it? If Protestant bishoprics had been attempted to have been created there, bibles distributed by the Government here, and the Protestant converts in Italy told to consider any decrees of their Sovereign contrary to the new jurisdictions null and void, would not in such a case the Pope have justly deemed this country guilty of a breach of international law? If so, in what other light could the recent appeal to parties in this country be regarded? They must take the documents of all foreign Powers in their clear and literal sense; and if they did so, they would find one portion of their countrymen engaged in an unhappy struggle between their duties as English citizens, and their obedience as the humble subjects of the Church of Rome. What were these unfortunate Englishmen to do? Were they to oppose the authority of the head of their Church, or were they to militate against the principles of the constitution? Their friends, both in doors and out, told them that it was a purely spiritual matter, as if that was any consolation; why, if it was spiritual, it was so much the worse, for it was then binding on their consciences. The Church used the argument to make them pay greater deference to the edict; the noble Earl and others used it to induce them to make light of it. It was at best an unfortunate argument, and had better never have been stated as a fact on authority. That the spiritual authority should override the temporal authority, is a maxim of the Roman Catholic Church; and if that maxim is applied in this case, the edict of Rome is to override an Act of Parliament. A choice must be made between the conflicting jurisdictions. Rome knew well enough that a struggle must ensue; she thought herself stronger than she has since found herself to be, and therefore knowingly provoked the contest. The noble Earl warned them of the consequences of the application of this Bill to Ireland; he (Lord Beaumont) allowed that it was a misfortune that they were obliged to do this or anything else which might 1109 give a handle to those who were ready to create confusion in that unhappy land; but the disturbances and violent proceedings the question had produced or was likely to produce in Ireland was no excuse, but rather an aggravation, of the Pope's offence against the country. It was not a mere error, but a crime, on the part of any foreign Court at peace with this country, to address a large portion of the population of England or Ireland in such a strain as it knew would create civil hostility and social confusion. The fact was, that this act was only a part or portion of a general effort now making in Europe to oppose or destroy liberal institutions. The noble Earl had alluded, albeit indistinctly, to the reactionary movement now in progress on the Continent; and he might have added, that the ultramontane party were the chief allies of that movement. It unfortunately happened that the ultramontane doctrines had for some time past been predominant in the Roman Catholic Church. This, at least, was the case on this side the Alps: a new light, it was true, of a very different character was breaking through the darkness which had so long reigned on the other side, but that circumstance had, at least as yet, no influence on the countries to the north of the Alps. In France, in Germany, in Switzerland, ultramontanism was the doctrine of the majority of those who still adhered strictly to the Catholic religion. It was easy to trace this fact to its source, and show the cause of this effect. It originated in the general indifferentism which pervaded those countries as far as Church matters were concerned; the great body of the educated classes or of the middle classes did not care about the question, and left to a few enthusiasts all discussion on the subject. When a more general zeal for the Roman Catholic faith pervaded the nominal followers of that religion, the Cisalpine party were predominant; but with the indifferentism which has now come over the industrious classes on the Continent, that party relaxed its exertions, and the ultramontanes remained still active in the field. The consequence was, that the whole Church had assumed that character, and a Gallican, or what was called a Cisalpine, is scarcely deemed a true Roman Catholic. The late proceedings taken in the name and by the authority of Rome were a necessary portion of this movement; they were attempts to bring the Roman Catholic establishment in this country into closer keeping with the 1110 character of the Church abroad; to give to the Roman Catholics here those ultramontane principles which govern the rampant Romanism of a party on the Continent; and to stifle and root out any liberalism which may have grown up of late years amongst the Roman Catholics of this country. It was an attempt to substitute what was Roman for what was merely Catholic, and to bring over the whole body of the laity (who were well satisfied with their position of equal civil rights) to the narrow-minded, illiberal opinions maintained by a few bigoted converts, who, by their fanaticism, had done more injury to their adopted religion than they had done harm to the faith of their fathers by leaving it; it was an attempt to inoculate with the extravagance and prejudices of those late-converted zealots, those honourable, straightforward Catholics of ancient family who were proud to conform and act up to the spirit of the free and independent constitution of these realms—it was an attempt to introduce priestly rule into what was purely secular, to put the laity beneath the foot of the clergy, and to give to the spiritual power what naturally belongs to the temporal authority. It was, above all, an attempt to introduce, what he hoped he should never see, the interference of the Church of Rome in the educational establishments of this country—to root out of Ireland all schools founded on liberal principles, and open to all persuasions—to destroy the Queen's Colleges, those greatest of blessings ever bestowed on Ireland—to undermine the national system of education, and thus, as it were, to build a wall round Roman Catholics, within which their minds could be trained in the doctrines of absolutism, and that system of blind obedience, which was the cornerstone of Rome—a wall which might successfully exclude those lights of science and literature which encouraged free judgment and free investigation—a wall, in fine, within which something in the way of an Index Expurgatorius might be established, which would guard Roman Catholics from everything in modern discovery or scientific progress, which, while it illustrated and reflected the spirit of the age, clashed with the obsolete doctrines and mediaeval prejudices of infallible Rome. This movement was a part of that system which suppressed chairs of modern sciences at Bologna—which warred against the Universities of France and Germany—which declared astronomy to be deism, and 1111 geology to be materialism—which forbids to its disciples half the literature of Europe, and bans as infidelity all modern philosophy. The end sought for by the promoters of this system was to crush all freedom of conscience and spirit of independence; and because it tended to destroy civil as well as religious liberty, the friends of absolutism, and the advocates of despotic thrones had combined to give it their temporary support. He (Lord Beaumont) believed that they were adopting an unwise policy in so doing, for though they intended only to use ultramontanism as an instrument to forward their own worldly ends, they would find it a weapon which, however dexterously handled, would break in their hands and wound themselves. They thought to gain to their own purposes the clergy and zealous portion of the followers of Rome, and to use their adherence as a tool for opposing the yearnings after liberty in the rising generation. It was for this that Austria had abandoned the wise and useful laws of Joseph II., and it was for this that Tuscany had allowed to be repealed the equally wise institutions of Leopold II. It was for this that both Austria and Tuscany had allowed religious bigotry to disturb those provinces, which before had, in consequence of the law to which he had referred, been, as far as religious questions were concerned, in a comparatively happy and contented state. Now, he (Lord Beaumont) firmly believed that what he had stated was the true character of this movement, and that the special act, to meet which the present Bill was prepared, was a part, and an important part, of that movement. In this full conviction he could not hesitate for a moment to join heartily in any attempt to protest against this daring invasion on the liberties of Europe—this war on the rights of conscience—this war on the principle of free judgment—this war on the very soul of civil and religious liberty—this war against literature and science—in fine, this attempt to force the world hack to the barbarism of the middle ages. He did not regard this Bill as a mere enactment against names or the assumption of titles of honour; he looked upon it as a declaration of principle, It was the expression of the will of this country; it was a declaration of national independence in spiritual as well as in temporal concerns. It was an avowal of our determination to oppose all interference with freedom of thought; it was, above all, a protest on the 1112 part of this free country against the attempt made to enslave the mind of Europe. A breach of international law had been committed, and an insult offered to the Crown. Government could not remain totally inactive under the circumstances. They must have done something. He would not say that what they had done was precisely that which he should have wished to have seen them do; but there was no choice, and he therefore accepted the measure of the Government in the light of a protest; not a very strong protest, but still a protest, against the spirit of absolutism of which Rome was the fountain-head, and of which the recent Bull was the exponent. He confessed that the details of the measure were not much to his taste. Had he been possessed of sufficient influence, or been the person to have acted in the matter, he would have humbly advised and have pursued a different course. He would have embodied the feeling of the country in a much more solemn and formal protest than the feeble document before them. He would have left pseudo titles and pretended sees unnoticed in their insignificance, and not have legislated against non-existing, though pretended jurisdictions: he would, however, have called to account the real offender, that is, the foreign Sovereign himself. He believed that he had never before in his life agreed with a noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Winchilsea); but on the present occasion he fully coincided in an opinion that noble Earl had expressed in a letter published some months ago. He would, as that noble Earl suggested, have sent a right-trusty servant of the Crown to Rome, and there have demanded a full explanation of the Pope's conduct, and, if need be, ample reparation for the insult. Had this course been pursued at an earlier period, much of the agitation which had shaken the friendly relations of different sects might have been avoided. He did not deny that that agitation had been natural, and even desirable, inasmuch as it was an expression of the national will; but in some instances it had degenerated into sectarian violence, and given occasion to the utterance of language breathing a dangerous spirit of rancour and bigotry. He was disgusted as well as grieved to hear Protestants who professed the doctrines of free judgment, giving vent to unnecessary narrow-minded and intolerant expressions of religious fanaticism. But the intolerance of some and the arrogance 1113 of others, was no reason why he should not do his duty by the country, and give his vote according to his conscience. They all knew that as far as the penalties went, the Bill would be a dead letter; but that was not a great demerit in his point of view, for it was as a protest, and a protest alone, that he gave his vote in favour of it. He had now, he trusted, clearly stated both his views of the case, and motives of his conduct. If in doing so he had used any expression which could give offence to any party, either within doors or out, he begged to assure those parties that no such offence was intended. He was anxious for the fullest as well as the most free discussion of the subject, and of his opinions of it. He was ready to listen to the objections and the views of others, in fact he wished the truth of the case to be elicited, and he would assure the noble Lords on the bench below the gangway, that he had their interests at heart, and would do nothing which he believed would injure them; but he must remind them that he had also the interests of the whole community at heart, and that he would do nothing to injure that great British society of which he as well as they were members. It was gratifying to him to have been allowed to have unfolded his mind at such length, and he begged in conclusion to thank their Lordships for the attention and patience with which they had listened to him.
§ The DUKE of WELLINGTON
My Lords, it was my fortune many years ago to prevail on you to accept the Roman Catholic Relief Act, and I have felt it my duty on all occasions, and under various circumstances, to object to any legislation which interfered with that measure. All its provisions were well considered at the time. They were founded on the petitions presented to Parliament by the Roman Catholics, with the view of obtaining an Act of that kind. All the endeavours which for thirty years had been made in order to obtain what were called securities for the Church, accompanying concessions to the Roman Catholics, were taken into consideration, and after all the Catholic Relief Bill was proposed to your Lordships, and carried through both Houses of Parliament by the aid of very large majorities. I shall always feel it my duty to maintain the provisions of that measure; and, I confess, I viewed with alarm, and felt great concern at, the Bull and other papers which appeared in the course of last year, and 1114 under which a hierarchy was appointed by the Pope, and those other proceedings adopted which have occasioned the Bill now proposed to your Lordships by the Government, whose organ is the noble Marquess opposite, because it was apparent to me that it was absolutely impossible to pass over these things without having recourse to some fresh act of legislation. The Pope himself is a man of mild character—he was a popular individual—he sought popularity on all occasions, and he states in the very Rescript which he sent to this country that he was sensible there were two modes of providing for superior ecclesiastical jurisdiction over Roman Catholics in this country, and he discussed in this very paper those two modes of obtaining the object he had in view. One of those modes was the appointment of vicars-apostolic, and the other the appointment of Cardinal Wiseman to the Archdiocess of Westminster; thus creating an archdiocess in a district which includes the Queen's Palace and the seat of the Legislature, and, moreover, establishing in this island a regular Roman Catholic hierarchy, with the seat of an archbishop and several bishops. The Pope took this latter course, and relinquished the old mode of effecting his object, which had been recognised and approved by the Government of this country. Under these circumstances—the character of the Pope being such as I have described—I confess I was anxious to know what could have been the motive for the preference given to the new mode of proceeding. The noble Lord who addressed you just now, with so much honour to himself, knowing the position of the Roman Catholics—knowing the state of opinion at Rome—being sensible that a desire is entertained to stifle liberal opinions in this country, thought he perceived the drift of the Rescript in reading it. For myself, however, I confess I could not discover the drift of the proceeding until I read the attack made by Cardinal Wiseman on the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. Then it occurred to me what was the object aimed at. It was the old object of antagonism to the Established Church of this country, and the course was taken by the advice of Cardinal Wiseman, as he himself states. At the same time at which Cardinal Wiseman published the Rescript which notified his own promotion, he made an attack, entirely undeserved, on the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. I then could doubt no longer as to the ob- 1115 ject of Rome, and I saw clearly that something like this Bill which I now hold in my hand must be brought under the consideration of your Lordships, or that I must give my consent to certain alterations of the terms of the Relief Act. My Lords, I cannot concur in the proposition of my noble Friend that the Bill shall be read a second time this day six months. Circumstances have occurred which render it impossible for you to return to the position in which you stood before this act of the Pope was committed. The object of the passing of the Relief Act was to repeal all the laws adopted against the Roman Catholics, first at the Reformation; next, at the time of what was called the Popish Plot; and, thirdly, in consequence of the Popish reign of James II., and the War of Succession in Ireland, out of which, and its consequences, grew all the penal enactments against Catholics in that country. It was, I say, the object of the Relief Act to get rid of these altogether. But those who brought forward that Act—those who urged your Lordships and the other House to support it—repeatedly stated that nothing therein touched the laws on which the Reformation was founded. That was cautiously avoided. When we, the authors and promoters of the Relief Act, were charged with having touched the Reformation, we distinctly proved the contrary, and showed that we had done nothing to affect the laws by which the Reformation was established in this country. In 1846, however—in the reign of the present Queen—certain old statutes were repealed, and among them one relating to the introduction of Bulls into this country. If that law had not been repealed, it would have been impossible that the act of the Pope could have taken effect, and, consequently, all fresh legislation would have been unnecessary. Cardinal Wiseman would not have dared to come to England and published the Pope's Bull or Rescript, establishing the new hierarchy. The thing was impossible; it could not have happened. Under these circumstances, I say you cannot return to the position in which you stood when the Roman Catholic Relief Act was passed, or before the Act of 1846 passed, which repealed the penalties attaching to all the Acts with which it dealt, but left the acts themselves standing as misdemeanours. The legislation on the subject stands in this state, that misdemeanours may be committed, but cannot be punished. Under these circumstances, I say you cannot stand on the Relief Act, 1116 but must pass a measure to meet the particular act of the Pope complained of, and to prevent the repetition of such acts in future. I have no desire to infringe the religious privileges of the Roman Catholics; on the contrary, I wish them to enjoy every means of following their religion with perfect freedom. I would wish to make no alteration in the Relief Act, but I do not see how this measure can be avoided. I confess I view without apprehension the effect which this measure may have in Ireland. We have had a good deal of experience of the effect produced in Ireland by measures passed by the Legislature. There was the Relief Act. A great deal was expected from that, and it was said that it would put an end to agitation in Ireland for ever. But in the very year—nay, I believe, almost in the very month in which it became the law of the land, Irish agitation recommenced. How often, since then, has the Crown, from time to time, had occasion to complain of agitation in Ireland? How often has the Crown come to Parliament to demand additional powers for the purpose of putting down the agitation, or worse than agitation, existing in that country—the Relief Act notwithstanding? My advice to your Lordships is to do that which is just and necessary to maintain the power and prerogatives of the Crown, and to protect the subjects of this country, and no more; and you may rely on it you will have the support and good wishes of the loyal people of Ireland as well as of this country. Having the misfortune on this occasion to differ from my noble Friend the noble Earl who addressed your Lordships second in the debate, I felt it necessary to trouble you with these few words, to show on what grounds I intend to support the Motion for the second reading of this Bill.
§ The EARL of MALMESBURY
was understood to say, that if he thought the measure was calculated to be at all hurtful to the feelings of his Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, he should not vote for it. But all fear of interfering with their religious principles or privileges had been removed by the speech of one of the most distinguished of its members which he had just heard. His feelings on the subject were those of millions of the people of this country. He admitted that the character of the noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen), and the distinguished positions he had occupied, entitled his opinions to great weight; but, at the same time, as Secre- 1117 tary of State of a former Administration, it was his duty to see that the honour of this country should not be attacked or insulted by a foreign Power. Now, the present question he took to be this—that the Pope, a temporal prince, had, in the appointment of those bishops, in the face of Europe, and in the teeth of that great empire, declared that England was his fief, and that he would divide and govern it. It was to prevent the repetition of such an aggression that he recognised the necessity of the present Bill. He knew of no other country in which such conduct would have been tolerated; and he must say that the forms of common civility and common courtesy had been violated by such an unauthorised interference in the affairs of this country. The terms used in the Rescript were not usual in the case of one Sovereign addressing another; nor were they generally used by the Pope himself in addressing other Sovereigns. The noble Earl said, they ought to have attacked the man who had made the aggression upon them, and not their fellow-countrymen. Now, when the noble Earl was at the head of the Foreign Department, he had always considered him a peacefully-disposed person; but it would seem that, if he had been now in office, he would have adopted some other means of redress than the present. If the aggression was not met by an Act of Parliament, he (the Earl of Malmesbury) could conceive no other way in which it could be met sensibly and usefully than by sending one of Her Majesty's fleets to Ancona. The Government, at the same time, might have explained to other friendly Powers that they had no other intention in doing so than to oblige the Pope to retract those appointments which he had no right to make. That would have been the only other course, and that course he thought the noble Earl would never have consented to take. He need not remind their Lordships that in Queen Anne's reign, when an English nobleman was anxious to have included in his titles a French castle and town in Normandy, a correspondence took place between him and the Secretary of State, and it was considered right and proper, before the patent was made out, to obtain the consent of the French King. That principle had always been recognised. He believed if the present measure was properly applied and carried out, it would prevent the repetition of these proceedings, and he should with pleasure vote 1118 in support of Her Majesty's Government, although he did not entirely agree in the course they had adopted. He could have earnestly wished that his noble Friend—he meant a noble Earl who was not then in his place (the Earl of Derby)—had been there to explain again, as he had done once before, what his plan would have been in dealing with this question. The noble Earl stated that his line of proceeding would have been, first a declaratory resolution, by which he would have shown the Pope the feeling of the people of this country; and after that, having met the first head of the offence—the insult to Her Majesty, and the invasion of Her rights—after that, he would have obtained, by inquiry in both Houses, what position Her Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects really stood in both before and since the recent proceedings of the Pope. He thought the course suggested by the noble Earl might yet be followed out in another Session—for their Lordships could not rest content with this Bill, which dealt with only one part of the aggression. There were many points connected with the position of the Roman Catholic Church in this country which, in his opinion, called for serious inquiry. There was, for instance, the synodical power of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, which might be brought to bear on the minds of the Roman Catholic laity, in opposition to the laws and institutions of the empire. He thought, too, that it was very desirable to ascertain whether, after the changes which had recently been introduced into the organisation of the Roman Catholic Church in this country, Roman Catholics stood in the same position in which they had previously been placed; and if it should be found that they did, then the fears of the great mass of the people would be greatly diminished. Another fitting subject for inquiry was the state of the monastic establishments. Then, again, he thought it ought to be made clear what was the position of a Cardinal in England, that was to say, of a privy councillor of Rome, residing and exercising high spiritual functions in this country. All these points might, he believed, be even still advantageously investigated by Committees of both Houses of Parliament. But he would not trouble their Lordships any further. He thanked them for the attention with which they had listened to him; and, in conclusion, he had only to state that he felt much pleasure in supporting the Bill 1119 which had been introduced by Her Majesty's Ministers, and which, he rejoiced to find, had been strengthened by the Amendments of some Friends of his in the other House of Parliament.
§ VISCOUNT CANNING
said, he felt that the principle of religious liberty, which most of them had been in the habit of considering as secure in the constitution of the country, was, as rightly understood, involved in the present question. It was with some surprise he had heard the noble Marquess state in his opening speech that the matter with which their Lordships had to deal was the conduct of a foreign Power which had put dishonour on this country, and which had not been followed by any expression of an inclination to mitigate the offence. Surely the House would have a right to demand an explanation of the steps taken by Her Majesty's Ministers under such extraordinary circumstances, and to expect that they resorted to the usual measures of statesmen when a dishonour was placed upon the State. But the noble Marquess had most carefully avoided saying that the act of the Pope was an offence against the laws of nations, which had this peculiarity about it, that it pointed out, beyond all doubt, the mode in which it was to be vindicated. If it could be made out that a taint had been put on the honour of England, the proposal to send out a fleet to Ancona, little as was the favour it had met with in public, would have been really the proper course to have been adopted. He did not approve of direct hostility; but he thought Her Majesty's Government should show they had taken the other modes of obtaining redress through the representations of foreign friendly Powers, and had given the opportunity to the Pope of retracing his steps. They had been told no nation had offered to represent the feelings of England in this matter. Why, none of them had been asked; and how was the Pope to be made aware diplomatically of the offence he had given without such a communication; or did they expect him to take the initiative and recall his own acts? The noble Marquess had expressed an opinion on a former occasion that the act of the Pope was an usurpation; but he had not repeated the expression. A usurpation meant the assumption wrongfully of property belonging to another, and in that sense he could not understand how the Pope had been guilty of this offence. It would not be said he had assumed any power which belonged to the 1120 Crown. He had constituted here a hierarchy of his own Church. Could the Queen have done that? No, certainly not; and, so far from being able to create a hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, She was debarred almost from any communication with them or the Pope whatever. If the Pope committed an act of usurpation or of infringement, why was not the law enforced against those who were directed by him; as, for instance, in the case they had heard of St. David's see? He did not deny an insult had been committed; on the contrary, he admitted it; but the insult had been committed, not against the Crown or the nation, but against the Church of this country. He did not speak of the high flown bombastic language of Cardinal Wiseman, or with any reference to religious feeling. As far as one individual—and, he was afraid, a vain-glorious individual—was concerned, they might pass over his gratuitous insult, in his not very intelligible letter, in silence, and he certainly was not disposed to bring the machinery of Parliament to bear against it.
The DUKE of ARGYLL
* My Lords, at this late hour of the night, I shall proceed, without one word of preface, to deal with the main arguments before us. So far as these are represented in the speech of the noble Earl near me, who moved the rejection of this Bill, there are some to which I shall attempt no reply. First of all we had the argumentumad hominem, directed against the noble Lord at the head of the Government, founded on certain previous speeches of that noble Lord, and pointing to the conclusion that between his former course in relation to such questions—and generally the course of the great party with which he is identified—and the principles on which they are now acting, there is, to say the least of it, an apparent discrepancy. My Lords, with this argument I feel no interest in dealing. It has nothing to with the grounds on which the great majority of this House will, I trust, be prepared to vote. Neither do I conceive that we are called upon to deal with the arguments addressed by the noble Earl to the bench of Bishops. For my own part, I not only agree in the objections urged by the noble Earl against the manner in which some of the right rev. Prelates have sought to oppose the aggression of the Pope; but I avow my opinion, that principles have in some cases been propounded by them, involving everything that is most obnoxious and most fallacious in 1121 the pretensions of the Romish priesthood. With all this, however, we have nothing now to do. But since the noble Earl has dwelt so much upon the previous admissions of others, will he allow me respectfully to address a similar argument to himself. It may be in the recollection of the House that at an early period of the Session, during the Ministerial crisis, I took occasion to express the feeling, which I still entertain, of satisfaction that no Government had been formed in England on the basis of passing over, in total silence, an act which was in violation of the spirit, if not of the letter, both of the public law Of Europe, and of the municipal law of this country. The noble Earl immediately took occasion to complain, with some warmth, of the assumption—which he seemed to think injurious—that such would have been his course. He emphatically denied that he would have passed over in total silence the Papal act of which we now complain. In some form or other—though in what form he has never yet explained—the noble Earl seemed therefore emphatically to admit that the Government of this country must notice and protest against the act referred to. Now mark, my Lords, the consequences of this admission. We have before us, in that aggression, two documents only—one a Papal Rescript, the other a Pastoral Address by Dr. Wiseman. So far as the mere offensiveness of expression is concerned, the objection principally refers to the Pastoral. But I cannot believe that the noble Earl would have felt it consistent with his own high position, as a Minister of the Crown, to have called upon the Government or upon Parliament in any form whatever to condescend to notice the ridiculous pomposities of a proud and foolish priest. It must, therefore, have been the other document—the Papal Rescript—and not the Pastoral of Dr. Wiseman, that the noble Earl felt ought to be, and required to be, noticed in some form or other by the Government of England. Well—but what is it in that Rescript against which we are called upon to protest? Not the mere terms in which it is conceived, for the noble Earl has himself argued that its terms are nothing but the ordinary and usual terms used by Papal arrogance on all similar occasions. It follows, then, that it must be the act itself—the deed done by that Rescript, the giving of the titles, not the mere terms in which it was conceived—that the noble Earl would have felt imperatively called upon to 1122 notice in some form or other. But if the giving of those titles were perfectly legitimate—a purely spiritual act—why should the Government have noticed it at all? I come to the conclusion, then, that the noble Earl himself admits that the act of the Pope had in it something seriously objectionable—that it was not a perfectly legitimate exertion of merely spiritual power—but an act of such a character that silence on the part of the English Government would have been improper or impossible.
This being granted, the only question now for the House to decide is, whether the form of our national notice of this act of the Pope shall be legislative or not?—whether there is any principle which deprives us of the right of prohibiting by law the assumption of those titles, the pretended grant of which is admitted by most, if not by all, to have been a just occasion of offence. I shall not now argue on the particular form of prohibition adopted by the Government—or rather the mode in which they propose to enforce that prohibition. I wish now to argue on the point of principle, whether we have a right to prohibit by law the assumption of these titles; or whether there is ground for the strong language held by the noble Earl, that such prohibition is "unjust." My Lords, I seek for some general principle to justify such language; something which constitutes that prohibition necessarily in itself unjust. I see what the supposed principle is—I recognise it as having been involved in part of the speech of the noble Earl. First of all, it is said, that as we tolerate the Roman Catholics in the exercise of their faith, we are bound to tolerate everything requisite for the full and complete organisation of their Church: and when to this it is objected, that every country in Europe has found it needful to place restrictions more or less stringent on that full organisation, the reply is this—those restrictions are founded on no other right than that derived either from concordats, or from the fact of secular endowments being attached to the offices of that Church. Where no such concordats or no such endowments exist, no such right of restriction can belong to the civil government. The noble Earl did not lay down this principle quite so broadly as I am now doing, but he did refer to concordats as the basis on which those restrictions actually rested; and I find in the "Address of the Catholic Laity," that they emphatically take the 1123 ground, that they can be justified on no other grounds whatever. If the noble Earl declines to follow the argument to this extent, he, in fact, declines to found it on the only principle which bears at all on the question of right now before us. I proceed, therefore, to deal with it in the form in which it does bear on that question of right—in that which is logically taken by the Catholic laity—in that which, more or less unconsciously, more or less obscurely, is really involved in the reasonings of Protestant opponents of this measure.
My Lords, I deny that it is true, either historically or theoretically, that the restrictions put by all the Governments of the Christian world on the full organisation of the Romish system were founded ill any respect whatever, either on what are called State endowments, or on concordats with the Pope. Remember, my Lords, that we are now dealing with a theoretical explanation of an historical fact, which Romanists find it impossible to deny, and which they therefore endeavour to explain away. Let us remember, my Lords, that as a language must have arisen before its grammar can be written, so systems, of law have arisen in fact, before their principle has come to be explained in theory. It might have been true that ecclesiastical restrictions existed nowhere except in connection with the conditions referred to—without its having at all followed that the one was the actual cause or justification of the other—still more without its being true that from no other cause or justification could such restrictions have arisen, But I deny the fact, not less than the theory, of the connexion. It is not true that such restrictions have existed nowhere, except where there were endowments or concordats. It is not true that where these did co-exist, they were the historical origin of the restrictions. It is not true that when the theory of these restrictions came to be investigated by the great jurists of the Continent, they based them an the principle which is now asserted.
I appeal to the historical recollections of every noble Lord now present, whether the contentions which arose in every Christian State on the part of the Sovereign or the Government against the Romish priesthood, did not uniformly arise from an instinctive dread and jealousy of political dangers—arising out of the powerful action of a great organised hierarchy centralised under a foreign head. My Lords, I venture to as- 1124 sert as a matter of historical fact, that the ecclesiastical restrictions on the Romish Church have uniformly bad a national or political origin—that they were maintained to guard against political evils, and conger quently that, however they may have been made the subject of contest or of compromise, they take their origin in the essential rights of every civil Government in the—worlds—rights independent of, and anterior to, any agreement whatever with external powers. My Lords, I have high authority for the ground which I am now taking—both historical and judicial, Even in this country, where the restrictions upon the Romish Church have been severer than, in any other, their origin was the same—referring to the same kind of danger—and based on the same abstract rights. In one of the earliest of those magnificent speeches in which Mr. Canning conducted the cause of Catholic Emancipation, I find the following sentence; "In every stage of our preceding history, not religious tenets, but political disaffection, was the cause of the severities against Catholics; the penal code was not intended to exclude the believers in transubstantiation as a. sect, but to repress, pr disarm, or punish them as traitors,"
In every country it has been the same—in most the restriction being confined to the full organisation of the priesthood as the fountain-head of the dangerous claims against which it was desired to guard. I trust your Lordships have read those remarkable documents which have been lately reprinted—being the result of the labours of a Select Committee of the other House, appointed so long ago as 1816–17, to inquire into the laws affecting the Roman Catholic Church in the various nations of Europe. Among them your Lordships will find some forwarded by the late Sir Robert Gordon, relative to those laws in the kingdom of Austria. One of the great juridical works, most approved in that country, entitled, Enchiridion Juris Ecclesiastici Austriaci—and written by the Chancellor of the Bishopric of Lintz—lays down the principle that the right of the Sovereign to exercise control over the organisation of the Romish priesthood, rests entirely on the political dangers which the unrestricted action of that priesthood might entail; and comes to the same conclusion to which I have ventured to point the attention of the House, expressing it in these words: "A Catholic Sovereign has as Sovereign; neither more nor less rights and duties than 1125 another Sovereign who follows another Confession of Faith." Another great Continental Jurist, speaking on the same subject, says, emphatically, "To assert the right, there is, therefore, no occasion to look for an agreement between the Pope and the Sovereign."—Van Aspen,
Just conceive, my Lords, the consequences of admitting any other principle. Those States in which the Romish Church enjoys great privileges guaranteed by law—endowments, or of whatever other nature they maybe—are precisely the States which have least to dread from the hostile political influence of its priesthood; yet under the argument, these are the only States which are entitled to guard against such dangers. Those, on the other hand, in which the Romish Church is unrecognised by the law—States, whose institutions are Protestant—are precisely those which have most to dread from the dangerous powers which that Church is ever claiming, and ceaselessly endeavouring to usurp. They are, therefore, precisely the States which are most entitled, and most bound, to watch with jealousy, and restrict with firmness, the full organisation of its ecclesiastical system: and yet on the principle against which I am now arguing, such are the only States whose hands are tied. I repeat then, my Lords, that as it is neither true as a matter of history, nor sound as a principle of law, nor consistent with common sense, as a matter of reason and argument, that the right of civil Governments to restrict more or less the full organisation of the Romish ecclesiastical system stands on any lower ground than their own inherent authority to guard against every form of danger to their own Jaws and institutions—so we may safely feel assured that all the denunciations we have heard against the "injustice" of this proposed prohibition of certain territorial titles are based on assumptions utterly inconsistent with the fundamental principles on which the liberties of every State in Europe have been founded and maintained.
I pass, then, from the question of our right so to deal with the obnoxious titles, and would at once proceed to consider the arguments derived from the supposed inconsistency of this course with our own previous concessions to the Romish Church, were I not anxious to notice, first, another argument derived from an assumed analogy between that Church and other religious bodies. The noble Earl has himself, to- 1126 night, confined that analogy to the case of the Episcopal Church in Scotland; but by others it has been extended on the same principle to Wesleyans, to the Free Church of Scotland, and various other religious bodies. In respect to the Episcopal Church in Scotland, I freely admit to the noble Earl, that as the spirit and meaning in which the Bishops of that Church sometimes assume certain titles is equally offensive with that displayed by Dr. Wiseman, so it is equally our right, if it were worth our while, to prohibit that assumption; and waiving, for the present, the particular form in which such prohibition ought to be enforced, I, for one, have no objection to see it extended to the Episcopal Church in Scotland; but I protest against the argument, that because we do issue a prohibition in the one case, we are bound as a matter of principle to issue it in another. It is a mere confusion of thought to confound together the ecclesiastical districts of most religious bodies with the territorial claims asserted, and meant to be asserted, in the usurped titles of the Romish priesthood. Every "diocese" is indeed an ecclesiastical district, but every ecclesiastical district is not a diocese in the meaning attached to that word by that priesthood; and I deny that we can be called upon even seriously to debate the question, whether because ecclesiastical divisions of some kind or another are common to all, or almost all, religious communities, we are therefore bound to treat on the same footing, and with the same precautions, the clergy or ministries of any Protestant Dissenting Church, and that vast organised hierarchy, which for more than a thousand years has forced every Government in the Christian world into an attitude of self-defence.
And here, my Lords, I would impress on the attention of the House that you may be entitled and called upon to deal with one religious body in a manner very different from that in which you deal with others, in consequence of a difference between them in matters almost purely spiritual. Take, for example, the case of excommunication. If it is the religious belief of any body that such censure ought to debar from all Christian communion, and if, owing to that belief—in itself purely spiritual, that is to say, touching a matter of religious duty and obligation—its priesthood becomes invested with dangerous powers, you may deal with, and you do deal with, such a Church in a manner which would be grossly tyrannical in the 1127 case of other Churches whose religious belief on this matter is different. But then what becomes of the abstract principle laid down by so many of those who oppose this Bill—which we have had dinned into our ears week after week, and month after month, since this question arose, namely, that because we tolerate the Roman Catholic religion, we are therefore bound to tolerate the full and regular exercise of its ecclesiastical system? No function is more essential to the full organisation of a Church than the power of exclusion from its own communion; and if, on the fatal principle so carelessly asserted, you gave free reins to the Romish Church, none would be so dangerously, because none so powerfully, exerted. My Lords, I am dealing with no imaginary case. I hold in my hands a report of a most remarkable trial which took place in the North of Ireland, in 1844. The circumstances were these: a member of the Roman Catholic Church took it into his head that he might read the Bible in his native tongue. He next took it into his head that, as he might read it for himself, so also he might read it to others. Of course he incurred the enmity of his priest, who, after many endeavours to drive him from this evil practice, threatened finally the penalties of excommunication. He was a member of the Romish Church; he was amenable, in virtue of that membership, to its laws, and he was committing against those laws a great spiritual offence. At last, therefore, the sentence was pronounced—in the forms prescribed by the system of his Church. A bell was rung—a book was shut—a light extinguished; and, in conclusion, these horrible and blasphemous words were uttered from the altar: "My curse and God's curse upon Charles M'Loughlin, and upon all that work in the same field with him, or eat at the same table." My Lords, the effect of this excommunication, acting, be it observed, solely through the feelings of religious obligation entertained by the members of the same Church—was, that the man was nearly ruined. No one would deal with him—hardly speak to him. He was an alien in his own country, and among his own kin. But this was merely an indirect effect—the result of religious obedience to an authority acting in foro conscientiœ. Well, an action for damages was brought against the priest; and what was his defence? My Lords, if the opponents of this Bill had been retained for that defence, they could not more accurately have re- 1128 counted the arguments adopted, and the principles assumed by the lawyer who actually conducted it. You tolerate the Roman Catholic religion; you are bound to tolerate the full and free exercise of its regular ecclesiastical system—this is the principle which has been urged over and over again. Now let me quote the words of the counsel in the case in question:—This practice of excommunication is part of the rules or discipline of the Roman Catholic Church, and cannot affect Protestants. The plaintiff voluntarily submitted to the rules of the Roman Catholic Church: these rules are recognised by law, and the defendant had as good a right to exercise them as the minister of any other Church had to carry out the discipline of the body to which he belonged. By several recent Acts—the Charitable Bequests Act for instance—the discipline of the Roman Catholic Church is recognised," &c., &c.Fortunately, my Lords, there was a Judge upon the bench, and there was a jury in the box, who repudiated such principles, and the priest was fined some seventy pounds. I understand the cheer of the noble Lords who oppose this Bill. I never supposed that they would entertain any other feeling than satisfaction on account of this result; but then, I say, be more cautious in the statement of your abstract principles. I admit that our existing law is strong enough to prevent the exercise of that particular part of the Romish ecclesiastical system, however necessary it may be to its full and free organisation and government. But this is the very point of my argument. Why is our law strong enough to do so? Precisely because it repudiates the principle so often founded on by the opponents of the Bill; and I contend that that principle, if logically pursued, not merely dictates the rejection of this new law—proposed to meet a new case—but the repeal of existing laws, admitted by all parties to be essential to the peace and safety of society.
I now pass, my Lords, to objections to this Bill of another kind—not founded on assumed general principles, but on the special concessions already made by our law to the Roman Catholic Church. Foremost among the arguments of this class stands that which has been dwelt upon by the noble Earl to-night: I mean the argument derived from the Roman Catholic Relief Act. The noble Earl said he had been one of those who assisted in the preparation and passing of that Act, and that he specially objects to this measure because it tends injuriously to interfere with 1129 the settlement then come to, and that in this respect he specially dreaded its effects in Ireland. I ask your Lordships to judge of the force of this argument, when you remember that that very Act to which the noble Earl refers—that Act to which he was more than a mere consenting party—has a penal clause against the territorial titles of the Irish Roman Catholic bishops, and that, so far as regards Ireland, this Bill will have absolutely no effect whatever, beyond that of extending to two Romish bishoprics, not strictly coming under the terms of that Act, the same prohibition which it applied to all the other existing Romish bishoprics in that country. I see no objection in principle whatever against the prohibitions proposed in this Bill, which would not have applied with equal force to the prohibitions contained in the Relief Act. There is, indeed, one difference between the two cases: the bishoprics in Ireland were of ancient and venerable date, and the people of that country had been accustomed, I believe from time immemorial, to designate their bishops under the territorial titles which the Relief Act prohibited; whereas those which we now propose to disallow under the same penalty, are certainly entitled to no favour from their age, and are open to infinite objection as regards the manner in which, and the occasion on which, authority has been assumed to found them.
I proceed, then, to another Act on which much stress has not, I think, been laid by the noble Earl to-night, but which has been greatly relied on by others elsewhere who are opposed to this measure. I refer to the Roman Catholic Bequest Act, passed in 1844. I hardly know what consequences have not been assumed to follow from certain forms of expression used in that enactment, in respect to the orders and succession of the Romish priesthood. Of one thing, however, I feel sure, that if there be any noble Lords, or any right hon. Gentlemen, who are more bound than others to see that no construction be put on the terms of that Act which shall interfere with the right of Parliament to guard, whenever it may deem it needful to do so, against the evils to be dreaded from the unrestricted development of the Romish ecclesiastical system, they are those who brought in that Act Under the Government of the late Sir Robert Peel. My Lords, the history of a part of that enactment is remarkable. As the Bill was 1130 originally framed and introduced into the House of Commons, the Bishops of the Roman Catholics were not even designated as bishops. "Persons in holy orders of the Church of Rome" was the nearest approach which it was deemed prudent to make in describing their spiritual rank. In passing through Committee in that House, it was urged on the right hon. Baronet, then Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir J. Graham), by the Roman Catholic Members, that this intended omission of the natural designation of their priesthood would be construed as a positive affront—that it would be more courteous and respectful to the adherents of that religion if a less jealous spirit were displayed. The concession was made. "Bishops" and "Archbishops"—not of places or territories, but simply as over flocks belonging to their own communion—were words admitted into the Bill; and I beg your Lordships to attend to the words in which Sir James Graham announced this concession to the House. "He had demurred, and he still demurred, to the right of the archbishop and bishops of the Roman Catholic Church claiming titles as affixed to certain localities and districts in Ireland, but having no other desire than, as far as was consistent with the maintenance of sound principles, to tender that which might be acceptable to their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, the Government were anxious to make that tender in the form most acceptable," &c. Here, my Lords, we see not merely that the Bequests Act does not, in fact, use or sanction those territorial titles which are now treated sometimes as beneath the notice, at others as above the reach, of Parliamentary prohibitions, but we see farther that the omission of everything construeable into such use or sanction was not a matter of accident, but was deliberately weighed and considered, as involving a question of "important principle."
My Lords, I would here call upon the House to observe, in connexion with our previous concessions to our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, that two lines of argument have been taken against this Bill, which are in direct contradiction to each other. In one breath, we are told that we have no right to interfere with or restrict their ecclesiastical system, because they are in this country nothing more than a merely tolerated sect—that they enjoy no advantages—no position recognised by the law—that they are to be, therefore, 1131 treated as the Wesleyans or any other religious body, in this respect similarly placed. In the next breath, we are not unfrequently told that we have already gone so far in giving legal recognition to their prelates, to their titles of archbishop and bishop, and to their succession—that we have so formally facilitated them in the acquisition, and secured them in the enjoyment and transmission of corporate property—that we have no right now to turn round and impede them in the full and free completion of their regular priestly system. I am not now dealing with the form in which the argument has been put by any Member of your Lordships' House—although I think something of the same incongruity has been involved in parts of the reasoning we have heard to-night—but I own I have been astonished at the boldness with which these two contradictory positions have been alternately relied on out of doors, as the convenience of the occasion required. Your Lordships have all, of course, seen two pamphlets, published by a learned gentleman, a member of the Roman Catholic Church, with the mysterious words, "By Authority," on the back. In one of these, the one line of argument is taken—in the other, the other. In that which pleads the extent to which we have already committed ourselves to the recognition of the Romish priesthood, after quoting various statutory concessions, Dr. Bowyer proceeds thus:—The question now arises, what consequences flow from this legal status of the Roman Catholic Church in the British Empire. That Church is not barely tolerated, but recognised by or known to the law of the land—not as a mere abstraction and a mere set of speculative opinions, but as a body of persons known to the law, and having certain essential and characteristic features, without which they would cease to be what they are, and the most prominent and (politically and legally) by far the most important of which is their adherence to the spiritual authority of the Roman See.In another part of the same pamphlet, the same ingenious advocate tells us, "by authority," that, in consequence of another Act (Dublin Cemetery), we are bound to recogniseArchbishop Murray, as exercising spiritual jurisdiction within the diocese of Dublin. His successors are included in the description. His spiritual jurisdiction within the diocese of Dublin is recognised.And next, as a climax, we are informedThe canon law is pro tanto recognised as prevailing in the diocese of Dublin, and to be administered by Archbishop Murray and his successors therein.1132 Yet the writer of this pamphlet is not ashamed to tell us in another—also "by authority "—The law now regards the Catholic Church in England, not as the Church of England, but an a dissenting body, having no legal succession or benefices or dignities whatever.And observe, my Lords, that though this last assertion is, in words, confined to "England," the previous assertion was extended to the whole1 "British Empire"—"a legal status" was asserted for the Roman Catholic Church in the "British Empire." But even if this distinction, between different parts of the empire were consistently adhered to, what bearing would it have on the two arguments against this measure? Ireland is specially the country where, according to one, we are least entitled to interfere, because that in which we have made to the Romish Church the largest and most definite concessions. Ireland, according to the other argument, taken for the case of England, is precisely the country where we are most entitled to put restrictions on its priesthood, because there we have placed it in nearest connexion with the law. My Lords, I will give the opponents of this measure the benefit of the distinction between England and Ireland; and the most logical conclusion, I take it, would be this: In England, we are free to adopt it, because we have no concessions which can even seem to stamp inconsistency on our course; in Ireland, we are specially bound to do so, because, whilst no concession we have made is really inconsistent with its provisions, every one of those concessions not only gives us a clearer right, but imposes on us an additional obligation to mark the point beyond which advance will be treated as usurpation.
My Lords, I protest against the arguments which have been derived from our past concessions to our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects. We have done quite enough to show towards them the largest spirit of justice and toleration; and to demand from them a scrupulous respect for our established institutions and principles of law. But we have done nothing—absolutely nothing—which can interfere in the slightest degree with our perfect right to restrict the full development of their ecclesiastical system wherever it shall appear to us to involve the recognition of principles dangerous either as regards the present or the future.
My Lords, I shall not long dwell on an 1133 argument of another kind which has been largely elaborated in another place, and has been alluded to by the noble Earl to-night. The establishment of territorial of diocesan bishoprics, we are told, in-instead of vicars-apostolic, is a great limitation of the power of the Pope, and was actually keenly desired on this very ground many years ago by the English Roman Catholics, with the full sympathy of the Government, In opposing this change now, therefore, it is argued, we are evidently favouring, rather than discouraging, Papal power. My Lords, I am astonished at this argument being brought forward by those who have urged it. What was the admission which accompanied it in another place?—that there is at present a great ultramontane reaction in the Roman Church—that the party attached to the principles usually described under this term are to complete ascendancy—and that all the measures of the Papal Court are dictated in that sense and spirit. Then are we to be told—even supposing that our policy ought to be guided by any Reference to such considerations—that that party, so powerful at present, does not itself know how its own interests may be best promoted—nay, that it is so stupid as to recommend measures which directly tend to the discouragement of its principles? My Lords, I should prefer, on a question of this nature, to trust the sagacity of the Romish party, in preference to the arguments, however ingenious, of Protestant Members of the British Parliament. But apart from this general trust, I cannot Say I see much force in the reasoning founded off the former feeling as to the tendency of this measure, No man who has looked into the history of the past can fail to have observed how one identical measure may be the exponent of one set of tendencies at one time, and of a directly contrary set of tendencies at another. Everything may depend on the manner in which, arid the circumstances under which, such Measure may be adopted and enforced. Nor is it difficult to see how, in this case, the manner and the circumstances will afford a splendid precedent for the unbounded pretensions of the Roman Pontiff. The new pretended Sees not only take their origin in the breath of the Pope, but are founded on his assumed right to abolish by the same breath all the ancient bishoprics of England! A stable basis, truly! for a National Church of Roman Catholics—disposed and enabled 1134 to resist the undue aggressions of Papal tyranny!
My Lords, in conclusion, I would entreat the House to mark, so that the country may thoroughly understand, that this measure is not brought forward on account of any advance, real or supposed, which the Roman Catholic religion, as a system of purely spiritual belief, propagated by purely spiritual means, may be making in this country. I unreservedly adhere to the principle, that the advance of error, as such, ought never to be met by the arms of power, I trust, and I believe, that the apparent advance to which I have referred, is the current of an eddy, and not the main current of the stream—I trust, and I believe, that it is the advance of a passing wave, and not the advance of a rising tide. But if my belief on this point were other than it is, I would still adhere to the opinion, that the floors of Parliament form no part whatever of the field on which such dangers must be met. But let us remember, my Lords, that the Romish Church is not a mere system of belief, propagated by purely spiritual means it is an organised system of government, aiming at commanding influence over the Whole range of human affairs; and by outward and visible assumptions of authority, fitted to impose on the imaginations of the vulgar—and not without their strange effect on minds of a higher class predisposed to superstitious feelings of respect—it is ceaselessly endeavouring to establish precedents on which it may convert mere influence into solid and legal power. Although, therefore, we roust leave to others, or to ourselves, acting in other capacities, the task of Contending against theological opinions, there is one thing, my Lords, which Parliament can, and Parliament is bound to do. Whatever advance the Roman Catholic Church may be destined to effect, it is dot duty to ourselves, and to the generations which are to follow, to see that that advance shall not be made by footsteps proudly trampling on the ancient principles of our public law, and the sacred prerogatives of this English Crown.
The EARL of AIRLIE
next addressed their Lordships, but he spoke in so low a tone, and the noise from conversation in the House was so great, that even the purport of his observations could not be gathered in the gallery, further than that he was Understood to support the Bill.
The BISHOP of ST. DAVID'S
said, 1135 that he had not risen immediately after the noble Duke, on account of the remarks which had fallen from him with reference to some Members of the right rev. Bench, because he felt that he himself was not at all affected by those remarks. But, though he was not in the habit of obtruding himself upon their Lordships, except on those rare occasions when he felt it to be inconsistent with his duty to remain silent, he had never been more anxious to say a few words in explanation of the grounds of the Vote he meant to give, than on the present occasion. One thing which he particularly wished to observe was, that if he had conceived this to be an occasion in which the interests of the Church of England wore alone or were chiefly concerned, he should hardly have desired to take any part in the debate. Whatever interest he might take in the question as an individual, it was not as a member, still less as a bishop of that Church, that he desired to address their Lordships. He conceived it to he very doubtful whether the interests of the Church of England were affected by the recent measure of the See of Rome. He was not sure whether the Church had sustained, or was likely to sustain, any injury from that measure; or whether the moral excitement which it had created in the country had not been, upon the whole, more favourable to those interests, than any measure that could possibly be passed by Parliament would be. If, however, this were not so, and if this, instead of being (as he considered it) a political question, were one of an ecclesiastical character, affecting the position, the privileges, the rights, and the interests of the Church of England, then he cordially concurred with the sentiments expressed by the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) whose able speech had nearly exhausted the subject—that it was not to the Legislature that he would look for remedy or redress. He did not know whether, in this sentiment, he had the assent of his right rev. Brethren; but he believed he spoke their sentiments when he said that no provocation that could be offered them from without would ever induce them to wish to withdraw one jot or tittle of those privileges which had already been conceded to our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects in this country. In expressing that sentiment, he felt that he was only echoing those which were entertained by the great body of the clergy, as well as of the laity of our Church. He must, however, ac- 1136 knowledge that he had deeply sympathised with the feelings which had been so strongly excited throughout the country on the subject within the last few months, and he would take the liberty of briefly reminding their Lordships what were the causes of that excitement. He believed that there were three. In the first place, the people of this country had seen in the measure adopted by the See of Rome an extraordinary assumption of power. The language employed to express the nature of that measure carried their minds back to a period in our history when the Papal power was most absolute, and was exercised with the most pernicious and degrading influence on the liberties of the nation. If a Cardinal Legate had come to this country, preceded by a Pastoral, in the reign of King John, he could not have used language expressive of more absolute authority over this country in all its concerns, or greater superiority over the civil power of the realm, than was to be found in that Apostolic Brief of the Pope. Then, if the people of this country disliked the act in itself, they were not at all the more reconciled to it when they found that it was openly avowed to be only means towards an end, and that end the propagation of the Roman Catholic religion; for that was the avowed object of this aggression, and there was no pretence of any necessity to justify it. But this was not all. Offensive as the measure was, both in itself and in its professed object, the people of this country objected to it still more strongly because they looked upon it not as the last, but rather as the first, step in a long course of similar proceedings. Such had been the impression made upon his own mind, in common with most other persons, in the first instance, by the publication of the Papal Rescript. Yet he had suspended his judgment until he was enabled to compare it with the views and reasonings of other persons better qualified than himself to pronounce on the legal and political character of the measure, But after the most mature consideration he could give to the subject, he had been led to the conclusion that this act of the Church of Rome ought to be looked upon first as an insult, and next as an injury. As to the insult, there prevailed, both in and out of Parliament, as great a unanimity of opinion as had ever been expressed on any public question. Yet, strangely enough, he had seen his own name cited as an au- 1137 thority for the opinion that the act was not an insult, and it had been argued that before it could be properly construed as such, there must be proof of an intention to insult in the person who offered it. But he thought that nothing could be more fallacious than this reasoning: the argument was altogether inapplicable to this and to all similar cases. We could never enter into men's intentions: all we could do was to judge them by their words and actions. He certainly did not believe that there had been a deliberate intention on the part of the Pope to offer an insult to the Queen. That would have implied a strange mixture of folly and insolence in the Pope; and the more so, because it would have been utterly superfluous, inasmuch as any ambiguity in his expressions would be sure to be removed by his emissaries in this country, who would take care to give to his language, even if it was not offensive in itself, the most offensive interpretation; and the editors of the French and Irish papers had supplied the construction which should be put on the language of the Apostolic Brief. There was, however, no necessity for those aids, for the insult was obvious enough: it lay not in the language used, but in the act done; it consisted in passing over, in ignoring, in treating as non-existent, persons who had a right to be considered, who had a voice upon the question, who ought to have been consulted, and without whose concurrence and consent the measure ought not to have been adopted; so that the treating them as non-existent could not but be considered as an insult, whatever might have been the intention. But it had been said that, stripped of the swelling phraseology of the Roman Chancery, and the vapouring which appeared to be inseparable from documents emanating from the Court of Rome—which had been identified by the noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen) with arrogance itself—there was nothing either insulting or injurious in the Papal measure, and that it was neither an aggression nor an affront. He conceived, however, that there had been not only insult but injury, and that of a most grievous kind. They had often been asked to point out wherein consisted the harm and injury that would arise, either to the Church or to the State, from this measure of the Pope. But he contended that this was an argument which missed the point of the question, and that they were not obliged to point out 1138 all the remote consequences which might proceed from it in order to show it was injurious. If it had been established, as it appeared to be by preponderating authority, that the Papal Rescript was a violation of the law of the land, and that it assumed an authority to do that which no Sovereign in Europe had ever permitted to be done in his territory without his consent, that was sufficient for his purpose; it was not necessary to point out the precise character of the injury to be expected, or to prove that any injury would arise, or to trace out remote consequences; and he found the great weight of legal authority in favour of the position that, however harmless it might be in itself, and however small the change it might introduce into the condition of the Church, yet the arrogating a power which had always been reserved to the Sovereign of these realms, and which did not belong to any foreign Potentate, was an offence against our law, and against the law of nations. If it were said that it was scarcely worth while to legislate against an injury which appeared so problematical or inconsiderable, his answer was, that there was all the difference in the world between concession and compulsion—between giving away something of one's own will, and having it forced from one at the will of another. He had himself, on former occasions, at the Expense of much obloquy and other inconvenient consequences, advocated concessions to their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects; but he would not allow the same thing, or anything far less important, to be taken by a foreign Power without his consent. When he saw such an usurpation attempted, he thought that the honour and safety of the country required that a stand should be made, and that this violation of the Queen's prerogative should be firmly resisted. The noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen) had used an argument which he did not remember to have seen urged before. The noble Earl had argued that the present measure was a breach of contract with the Roman Catholics, on the ground that there was a clause in the Relief Act which prohibited the assumption of certain existing titles in the Church of England, and therefore (as it was argued) recognised by implication a right to assume any others; and therefore, as the assumption of these titles was not forbidden, it must be considered as lawful. He was not now concerned to inquire whether the construction put upon 1139 this clause by the noble Earl Was the true one or not. He might be willing to admit that there was something plausible in it; but be thought that no one would contend that the Legislature in passing the Relief Act ever contemplated such proceedings as this on the part of the See of Rome. The recital in that Very clause expressly declared that the Protestant Episcopal Church of England and Ireland, and the doctrine, discipline, and government thereof, are established permanently and inviolably; and could it be said to be consistent with the contract, if contract there was, that the Pope should at once sweep away that Church and its whole hierarchy? The Pope had pretended by a Stroke of his pen to sweep away one hierarchy which, whether bad or good, was established by law, and to establish another in its place. Was he then to be told that if there was a violation of the contract contained in the Relief Act, it had proceeded from those who had brought in the present Bill, and that it was not rather the act of the Pope himself? And was not this a breach of contract, compared with which that which was alleged (whether rightly or not) by the noble Earl, sank into utter insignificance? That was one point in which he thought the argument of the noble Earl signally failed. But there was another argument of the noble Earl's to which he had listened with still greater surprise. The noble Earl had appealed to the right rev. Bench whether they did not admit the necessity of episcopacy in their own Church, and whether they Would deny that it was equally essential to the Roman Catholic Church; and then he had asked how would they (the right rev. Prelates) like their own Church to be forbidden to have their bishops, and how they could consistently object to the Roman Catholic Church being placed under episcopal superintendence? Now, upon what supposition did that argument proceed? It could only proceed from a neglect of one of the most prominent and salient features of the case. It assumed that such superintendence had been wanting in the Roman Catholic Church. Now, if there was one point more notorious than another, it was that before this Papal Brief, the members of the Roman Catholic Church in this country enjoyed, to all intents and purposes, the full advantages of episcopal government. With reference to spiritual purposes, the old government answered precisely the same purposes that the new 1140 hierarchy did. He could produce abundant proofs of that proposition; but he would confine himself to three. One was the silence of the Roman Catholics themselves, who had never complained of any such grievance as they were supposed to have been labouring under. This, however, might be considered as a merely negative proof; but he had proof of a more positive character as to the light in which the previous government of the Roman Catholic Church was considered by a person who must be admitted to be a very high authority on the subject. The effect of the change wrought in the Condition of the Roman Catholics by the recent measure, had been described by that very eminent person in his celebrated Pastoral, in language, to which he (the Bishop of St. David's) could not do justice Without quoting its exact terms. He said—The silver links of that chain which has connected their country with the See of Peter fn its vicarial government is being changed into burnished gold"—A change which could be aptly represented by the substitution of one precious metal for another, could, he thought, hardly be considered as one of urgent necessity; but the writer proceeds to say—not stronger nor more closely knit, but more beautifully wrought, and more brightly arrayed.Such was the estimate of the alleged necessity conveyed by the splendid imagery of that gorgeous period. But, though a Cardinal was very high authority, there was one still higher; and this had spoken more clearly and to the point upon this subject than the Cardinal himself. Looking info Butler's Historical Memoirs of the English Catholics, he (the Bishop of St. David's) had lighted on a passage in which after distinctly explaining the difference between the vicars-apostolic and bishops in ordinary, Mr. Butler said—The Popes granted the vicars-apostolic license and faculties to use and enjoy all faculties which ordinaries use and enjoy in their own sees and dioceses.This then was the state of spiritual impotence and degradation, from which, according to the noble Earl's argument, the Roman Catholic Church in this country had been translated by the Papal Rescript; and this seemed enough to dispose of the argument, that the change was required to satisfy the spiritual wants of that Church. There were some other arguments which appeared to have made a considerable im- 1141 pression, and to which he, therefore, begged leave briefly to advert. It had been contended that they need not concern themselves about this act of the Pope's, because it only established an unendowed hierarchy. If, however, they were to submit to an aggression of this nature, and to give up what had hitherto been conceived to be rights inherent in the Crown of England, he trusted that it would be at least under the security of some better safeguard than the plea that an unendowed hierarchy might be safely invested with powers which would not be conceded in the case of an endowed hierarchy? Surely the whole course of ecclesiastical history proved that ft body which was not supported by any endowment, which had an unlimited career open to ambition and cupidity, was more dangerous and more difficult to deal with, than one which possessed an endowment. It was from an unendowed condition, and from a state of voluntary poverty, that the monastic orders had risen to a pitch of opulence and power, which had rendered them objects of jealousy and envy. Another argument on which much stress had been laid, was that the substitution of bishops in ordinary for vicars-apostolic, had always been opposed by the ultramontane party in this country. He believed, however, that the contests between the secular and the regular clergy, had turned not to much on this point as on the substitution of titular bishops in the room of the archpriest. But, without entering into this question, he would observe that any argument founded on that fact was wholly inapplicable to the present state of things. He agreed with the noble Lord Bear him (Lord Beaumont), when he expressed his regret at the ultramontane spirit which had spread over every part of the Church of Rome, which was still spreading, and which was more particularly gaining ground in those provinces of the Church which were most distant from the centre. In an Interesting work of Cardinal Pacca, which he had recently read, he found it said that the views and feelings which were represented by Bossuet and other great lights of the old Gallican Church seemed entirely to have vanished; and the Cardinal rejoiced to observe that there was a growing desire on the port of the French clergy to identify themselves and their interests more and more with the See of Rome. He was afraid that the same spirit was now displaying itself in this country, and that there was a close con- 1142 nexion between that spirit and the conversions which had recently been taking place from our Church to Rome. He believed with the noble Lord (Lord Beaumont) that those conversions would tend to corrupt the spirit which had hitherto prevailed in the Roman Catholic Church itself. No one who was acquainted with the writings of one of the ablest of those converts could fail to observe that they contained sentiments more ultramontane, more anti-national, more un-English, than anything that ever issued from the Italian press itself. A great Change was also taking place in the spirit and policy of the Court of Rome. It was impossible that any Pope, placed in the circumstances of the present Pope, after having been driven from his capital by his own subjects, and restored by foreign bayonets, should not begin to be aware that his authority could no longer rest on the support of the sscular arm. The consequence of that was that he was forced into an attitude of independence—into a state of aggression upon the secular authority of every State with which he had to deal, concentrating more and more his efforts on the establishment of his spiritual authority, and looking to that alone for the revival and extension of his secular power. But though oil these grounds, after the maturest consideration of the subject, he could give aft unhesitating vote for the second reading of the Bill, he would not pretend that he was completely satisfied with it. It was one, and only one, of several modes which might have been adopted for1 accomplishing the object. Another was that of a diplomatic representation rot the purpose of inducing the Pope to withdraw his Rescript. He was not very sanguine as to the success of such an attempt; and if it had failed, it would have left them to set about the work of legislation perhaps under some disadvantages, inhere was still another course which had been suggested by a noble Earl (the Earl of Derby), who unfortunately was not then present, which he would own he was inclined to view with a considerable degree of favour. It had been suggested that Parliament should in the first instance confine itself to a simple resolution; but should at the same time institute an inquiry in Committee to ascertain the practical bearings of the change introduced by the Papal Rescript, With a view to guard against any evils which might he likely to arise from it. And it was to him a great comfort to think that 1143 the present measure did not preclude such an inquiry; and he agreed with the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Malmesbury), who had said that this was not the end of the story. He should be sorry if this measure was to be regarded as a final settlement of the question. When he looked to the other side of the Channel, notwithstanding the encouraging assurances which they had heard from the noble Duke at the table (the Duke of Wellington), he could not help entertaining some anxiety and misgivings as to the result of the measure in that quarter. He admitted that in theory, it was necessary to include Ireland in the operation of the Bill; and that was one of the strongest objections to which it was liable. Indeed, when he considered the wide difference between the circumstances of that country and of this, he could hardly suppress his regret that the rigid exactness of theory, so far as Ireland was concerned, had not been tempered by considerations of practical expediency. But as it was, he saw no alternative. The measure before their Lordships might, at least, answer the purpose of a strong remonstrance, and might dispose the minds of the parties to come to some reasonable compromise on the subject. Meanwhile, it secured the inestimable advantage of keeping inviolate and unimpaired that deposit of the law, the rights and the privileges of the Crown and the empire, which had been bequeathed to us by our ancestors, and committed to our charge.
§ Further debate adjourned till To-morrow.
§ House adjourned till To-morrow.