§ Order of the Day for resuming the Adjourned Debate on the Question, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time," read.
§ Debate resumed accordingly.
The EARL of WINCHILSEA
said, he could assure their Lordships, and more especially the Roman Catholic portion of them, that he was most anxious that not one word should drop from him that could in any manner give offence or pain; for however strong and decided his own conviction, it was not his wish in giving expression to them to offend others. During the long course of opposition to the Roman Catholic claims which had characterised his public life—which dated almost as far back as that of the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Lansdowne), a public life of nearly forty years' duration—he had never been influenced by any feeling of personal hostility towards the members of the Roman Catholic Church. He had been guided solely by what he conceived the true interests of the country; he had always endeavoured to uphold those principles upon which the constitution was founded, and by which England had attained her greatness and freedom. He had many friends among the Roman Catholics, of whose friendship he was justly proud; and, if he could have conceded their claims on the ground of private friendship, he should have been most happy to have made that sacrifice of his private inclinations. But he had always been convinced that there were principles in the Church of Rome which he never could admit, because they were inconsistent with, nay, intrinsically hostile to, civil liberty, and the spirit and genius of the British constitution, and to the existence of the Church of England. It was on such grounds that he had resisted to the last the passing of the Emancipation Act, and the admission of the Roman Catholics to the Legislature of this country. It was now twenty-three years since that Act received the Royal Assent; and when he now looked around him, he 1220 could not help lamenting the loss of many whose support he then enjoyed, or whose opposition he admired—many who agreed in what he then predicted would be the consequences of the Relief Act, and who, had they lived, would have seen these pre' dictions but too accurately verified. He had pointed out at the time the fatal consequences which he anticipated from the unfortunate concession of that Act. He had maintained then, and he maintained now, backed by the experience of twenty-three years, that equality of civil privileges never would satisfy the Church of Rome, and that we should find fresh claims put forward by its members of which we had never heard, and which would involve the country in new difficulties. He remembered that at that time he was frequently taunted as a narrow-minded bigot, and as a false prophet. He had borne the taunt with indifference, and had only replied that time would show which party was right in the anticipations drawn of the effects of that measure. It was predicted, on the other side, that peace and concord, tranquillity and harmony, would be restored both to this country and to Ireland, and that hereafter we should have no religious difficulties. Fearfully had those anticipations been disappointed, and no wonder, for Rome never gave up claims which she had once asserted, but only waited for an opportunity to enforce them. He would not weary their Lordships by any lengthened allusion to the measures which had been passed since 1829; but whether he looked to the severe blow and heavy discouragement which the Church of England had received by the reduction of half the number of its bishops in Ireland, or whether he looked to the attempt made to shut up every Protestant church in that country, which was only defeated by the stanch opposition of its Protestant inhabitants, or whether he looked to the fate which had befallen those who held that the Scriptures should be read in every school in Ireland, or whether he looked to the system of the Queen's Colleges, which had been instituted to conciliate the feelings of the Roman Catholics in Ireland, but which had failed in its object, because the Roman Catholics knew full well that every system of education must diminish, if not destroy, their influence, he found that all the measures taken by the Government were injurious to the interests of the Protestant Church, and were so far from satisfying the Roman Catholic clergy and laity, that 1221 they were even encouraged to commit a daring act of aggression upon the Crown of these realms, and Upon the religious feelings of their population. Melancholy indeed was the picture shown by the last census for Ireland, for it showed that by the awful judgments of the Almighty, upon that Popish country, of famine and pestilence, the Roman Catholic population had been reduced two millions; and he had no doubt in his own mind that, if a fair census were to he taken of the religious views of the people of Ireland, it would now show that the Protestant population of Ireland was nearly equal to the Roman Catholic. He had no doubt that if there were in Ireland freedom from that dreadful persecution which the Roman Catholic Church of Ireland still exercised over the population by denouncing from the altar individuals who left it, hundreds of thousands of Roman Catholics would come over to the Protestant Church. He firmly believed that in no other country in the world but this, would the priesthood of Rome have ventured on so daring an act of insult, or so monstrous an aggression on the civil power, as that which they had committed within the last nine months on the Queen of England. He would not, however, stop there. In no other country of the world would they have offered so brutal an insult to the feelings of a great Protestant community, as that which they had offered to us in the face of the whole globe; for the Pope, not content with outraging the Throne, and insulting the people, had ignored the very existence of the Church which they so cherished, and the very existence of Protestants in a Protestant nation. It was well said last night by the noble Marquess opposite, that we had not been the aggressors. No; the Roman Catholics had been placed in the possession of every privilege which we ourselves enjoyed; and he must deny what the noble Earl near him (the Earl of Aberdeen) asserted last night, that the appointment of bishops in ordinary was necessary to carry on the administration of the spiritualities of the Church of Rome. When the Emancipation Act was passed, nothing was said in the debates upon it, no evidence was offered in the various Committees which previously inquired into the subject, to show that vicars-apostolic were not sufficient to carry on the religious ceremonies and observances of that Church; and experience had proved that by vicars-apostolic its affairs might be efficiently 1222 administered. It Was difficult to trace the various circumstances which had led to this last daring net of aggression, and which had induced the Pope to think that he had any chance of success in it. He attributed the Pope's conduct partly to the mission of Lord Minto to Italy, and to his extraordinary proceedings in the course of that mission—a mission entirely unconstitutional, and contrary to those great and solemn acts of the Legislature upon which the Church and Throne rested; partly to the fact that successive Administrations in this country had acknowledged the titles of Roman Catholic bishops in our colonies; partly to the conduct of Government to the Irish Established Church, and its vain and weak attempts to conciliate the Irish Roman Catholic clergy; and partly and chiefly to a Romanising body of clergy in our own Church, many of whom had already gone over to Rome, and the rest of whom he hoped would shortly follow the example of their apostate brethren. Ha was one of the first to see what that movement in the Church, which begun some years ago, would end in; he had predicted that that movement would end in Popery, and he had lived to see his anticipations verified. He asked their Lordships whether the power of England was fallen so low that we dared not demand from the Pope reparation of the insult which he had offered to our most gracious Sovereign, and the instant withdrawal of the individual whom he had dared to appoint Archbishop of Westminster? A Cardinal who, under such circumstances, entered any other foreign State, would not have been allowed to remain in it twenty-four hours; and reparation would have been demanded for the insult to the Throne, and the outrage upon the feelings of the whole nation. He considered the present Bill as a paltry Bill—as a Bill below contempt, for it endeavoured to vindicate, in pounds, shillings, and pence, the injured honour of our illustrious Queen. He should certainly record his protest against such a paltry measure. He told their Lordships distinctly that, after such a Bill as this, the present would not be the last aggression of the Pope on the prerogative of the Crown, and on the feelings of Protestant England. This Bill was a direct encouragement to proceed onwards on the path into which he had already entered. He ventured to predict that within ten years from the present day the proceedings of the Pope, if not severely checked, would 1223 involve this country in tremendous confusion and ruin. He asked their Lordships to consider what the result would have been if we had offered to any other Sovereign in Europe the same insult which we had ourselves received from the Pope of Rome. We must either have withdrawn the insult, or must have been prepared to meet the worst consequences that could be expected. He anticipated that if we did nothing more than pass this Bill, we should soon have a synod of these bishops meeting in our own country, and ignoring the Legislature and all its proceedings. Did the Roman Catholic bishops in those synods confine themselves entirely to spiritual matters? Quite the reverse. In one of their late synods they had ventured to consider the whole question of landlord and tenant. Was that a spiritual matter? Nay, were they not even now sitting in a sort of synod, and declaring publicly that they did not care a straw for any laws which might be passed against them? He should not be doing justice to his own feelings if he did not offer his thanks publicly to the noble Baron opposite (Lord Beaumont) for the able and manly speech which he delivered last night. That speech did equal honour to his head and to his heart. It showed, at any rate, that he was not influenced by the ultramontane principles of his Church, and that he valued as he ought the honour and independence of his country. He believed that before long the majority of his Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen would discover that nobody would be more injured than themselves by this unprovoked aggression. As for this Bill, he (the Earl of Winchilsea) should not vote either for it or against it. It was unworthy of the great insult which it professed to redress; it contained no reparation for the gross insult offered to the Sovereign of Great Britain, and no reparation for the outraged religious feelings of this great and enlightened Protestant country.
§ LORD LYNDHURST
said, that the subject then before their Lordships was nearly exhausted. It had been discussed already for several months in the other House of Parliament, and last night it was very fully and very ably discussed by their Lordships; and he should certainly have hesitated to address their Lordships on the present occasion had it not been for some allusions which had been made to him personally by his noble Friend who had addressed the House so eloquently at the commencement 1224 of the debate (the Earl of Aberdeen), and also by his noble Friend the gallant Duke (the Duke of Wellington). He trusted that he should satisfy their Lordships, before he resumed his seat, that the course which he had hitherto pursued in order to give to the Roman Catholics a full participation in all the liberties and privileges enjoyed by the rest of their fellow-countrymen was not inconsistent with the course which he intended to pursue that evening in voting for the second reading of this Bill. But before he entered upon that topic, he would direct their attention to the Bill itself. It had not as yet been much considered in its details, and, therefore, adverting to the situation which he had formerly held in that House, he hoped that he might be permitted to express his opinion as to their operation and effect. The Bill divided itself into two distinct parts—the one declaratory of the existing law, and the other to a certain extent enacting a new law. The noble Marquess, who spoke with so much eloquence and good feeling last night, had confined his attention almost entirely to the enacting part of the Bill, and had made no remarks on the formal and substantial portion of it. The noble Marquess was desirous to show favour to his own puny bantling, rather than to the more vigorous propagation which had recently been forced upon him. Now, the first thing to be considered was, to what did this Bill apply? The Bill applied itself to a state of things which had resulted from the publication of a Rescript from the Pope. Now, considering the first portion of the Bill, what was the proper construction to be put upon it? The preamble said that "Divers of Her Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects have assumed to themselves the titles of archbishop and bishops of a pretended province, and of pretended sees or dioceses, within the United Kindom, under colour of an alleged authority given to them for that purpose by a certain Brief, Rescript, or Letters Apostolical from the See of Rome, purporting to have been given at Rome on the 29th of September, 1850." Now, this preamble spoke of pretended sees—sees properly so called in the Bill—sees appointed without the authority of the Crown—sees illegal and utterly unauthorised. It likewise spoke of attempts to establish such sees by a certain Brief or Rescript from Rome, which was in itself illegal and void; and it proceeded to enact, that "all and every the jurisdiction, au- 1225 thority, pre-eminence, or title conferred, or pretended to be conferred thereby, was and should be, and be deemed, unlawful and void." It followed as a matter of course that if the Brief were illegal and void, the jurisdiction which it created must be illegal and void also. What, then, was the point to be established? This was a declaratory law. Was the law correctly stated? He was the more anxious that their Lordships should inquire into that point, as it was not until the close of the discussions elsewhere that the amendments containing this clause were introduced, and therefore they were not so thoroughly sifted as other portions of the Bill. He apprehended that the mere statement of the facts which had given rise to this Bill would be in itself sufficient to prove that the attempt to create these pretended sees by the authority of the Pope of Rome was illegal by the law of England. What were the facts and the statement by which he proposed to prove that proposition? In a few words he would present them to their Lordships, in order that the conclusions which he had announced might follow at once from the facts themselves. A foreign prince possessed of ecclesiastical authority issued an ordinance, or Rescript, or Brief, for the purpose of creating sees in England, or rather of dividing the territory of an independent Sovereign into various territorial jurisdictions. He appointed persons enjoying ecclesiastical and spiritual authority to preside over those jurisdictions. One object was, to introduce into them a code of laws which was unknown to this country, and which, though a code which was sometimes considered by us—we had constantly and invariably repudiated. Another object was, that the persons appointed to these pretended sees should confederate together to oppose any measure of the British Legislature which should trench on their authority, or should be inconvenient to the exercise of their power. This ordinance was signed not only by the Pope of Rome but also by a council of foreigners—ay, of foreign ecclesiastics. A person raised to the dignity of Cardinal, an Englishman by birth, bearing his dignity without the assent or authority of his Sovereign, came to this country, and took upon himself the office of Archbishop of Westminster. As such he was enthroned. He published the Papal Brief without any attention to the laws of Parliament or the will of his Sovereign. He (Lord Lyndhurst) asked whether such conduct as this 1226 was not a violation of the independence of this country? He asked whether any lawyer of experience, whether any man of historical information, whether any man of common sense and understanding, could say that such an act was not at once unlawful and void? He was sure that his noble and learned Friend on the woolsack, and that all his other noble and learned Friends in that House, would not dissent from his proposition, for the bare statement of facts carried conviction along with it, and must satisfy all of the justice of his conclusion. He did not, however, intend to let the case rest here. It was a part of the law of England, and had been so from the very earliest times, that no see could be created without the consent of the Crown. That could not be disputed—it was clearly laid down by all our earliest legal writers. He would show that the practice had always been conformable to and consistent with the law. He could trouble their Lordships with cases on the point from the time of Alfred down to that of the Reformation; but he would abstain. In the reign of Alfred, in that of the Conqueror, in that of his son, in that of Henry I., in that of Henry II., and of Edward I.—and, indeed, in every successive reign up to the Reformation, with the exception of one rare case, in which the Pope had ventured to assail the independence of the English Church, numerous cases occurred, in all of which, with one exception, it was steadily maintained that the assent of the Crown was necessary to the appointment of a see. Was there any law to the contrary now? None of which he was aware. It was sometimes said that the assent of the Crown was necessary with reference to the temporalities. Undoubtedly the temporalities of the see were handed over by the Crown to the bishop of the see; but there was no ground whatever for saying that this was the ground of the principle. No jurisdiction, no temporal authority, no dominion over any of the Queen's subjects, could be exercised without the consent of the Sovereign, or, what was equivalent to it, of the Parliament of which She was a Member. But the case did not even rest here. What was the general law of universal Europe on this point? There was no text-writer on the law of nations who did not state that no see could be appointed to in any kingdom of Europe without the assent of its Sovereign. The principle was stated by them all plainly and broadly. Then, if this were the law of nations, by 1227 the principles of the common law, it became part and parcel of our common law. He had, then, the authority of the public law of civilised Europe for asserting that this was a principle which prevailed universally, and which never had been and never could be disputed. It was not for him to trouble their Lordships by running through a complete roll of cases, to show that the practice was in conformity with the general law; but he would cite a few illustrations of it, and he would defy any person to cite any respectable decision to the contrary. He would take first the countries which were in communion with the Church of Rome. In France, in the time of Pope Leo X., in consequence of some intrigue, an attempt was made to establish a new diocese in the archiepiscopal province of Lyons. The Pope issued a rescript establishing a see in that place. The King of France instantly remonstrated, and almost immediately the brief was withdrawn. About six or seven years afterwards the attempt was renewed; another remonstrace took place; and the brief was cancelled, But then it was said that that applied to the case of countries in communion with the Church of Rome, but not under a concordat; but the existence of a concordat was an affirmation of the principle. He would take a case in later times, when there was a concordat between France and the Pope. In the time of Charles X. the Bishop of Poictiers published a brief without the consent of the Crown, Complaint was made; the mandate was revoked, and the bishop apologised that he did it in ignorance. So that, whether the countries were in communion with the Church of Rome, with or without a concordat, the practice was in conformity with the principle he had laid down. What took place in Prussia? When the negotiations between that country and the See of Rome were depending, the Pope was desirous to establish there three sees; but he did not attempt to do it without the consent of the Crown. Far from it; but more than that—the King of Prussia refused his assent, and the act was not done. Then, what took place in the Netherlands under a concordat strictly in conformity with the law? The assent of the King of the Netherlands was requested to the appointment of three bishops. The revolution took place before the object could be effected; no attempt was made subsequently to establish those sees, and at that moment, notwithstanding what had been 1228 said, the administration of the Catholic Church in that country was carried on by vicars-apostolic—there was no episcopate. Again, what was the case with one of the cantons of Switzerland, that of Basle—a Protestant country—never in communion in modern times with the Church, and under no concordat? The Pope was desirous to establish a Roman Catholic see in that country. He applied, as a matter of course, to the Government, and, with the assent of the Government, the establishment took place. He had ventured to cite those cases in illustration of what he had stated; and he would repeat, that all writers on the law of nations uniformly and constantly stated that no see could be established in any independent country by the authority of the Pope without the assent of the Crown or the Government. The mere statement of the facts would carry conviction to the mind of every reasonable man that this act of the Pope was a violation of the independence of this country, and an infringement of the rights of our Sovereign. It was contrary to the law of the country with respect to the formation of sees; it was contrary to the law of Europe; and, therefore, he hoped their Lordships would concur with him in thinking that this declaratory part of the measure was sufficient to establish that these briefs were illegal and void. But further, he did not mean to rely on the statute of prœmunire passed in the reign of Richard II. He agreed with his noble Friend who spoke last night, that it would be unwise and imprudent to drag from their obscurity obsolete statutes, particularly statutes accompanied with such severe and heavy penalties; statutes that, in the language of the poet—Like an old lion from its cave, Went forth to catch its prey.But not only would it he unwise and imprudent thus to appeal to obsolete statutes, it was also unnecessary. There were some general words at the end of the statutes which were supposed to apply to the present case; but he would take upon himself to say that if any act were done that came within the scope of those general declaratory words, that act would be an offence against the common law of England, and, being so, would be illegal and void. He said also, that it would be imprudent and improper in the highest degree, according to his opinion and view, to refer to what was called Lalor's Case. We were going on harmoniously with the system of 1229 vicars-apostolic. We were content with that system. We considered it legal and proper in every sense. Lalor's Case was cited for the present argument to show that what was done in this instance was illegal and void. Be it so. He did not like Lalor's Case; there were circumstances in it that did not recommend it to his mind. What was the fact? The system we were desirous of continuiug was the system of vicars-apostolic. But that, according to Lalor's Case, was equally illegal and void; for that case was founded on the statute of Richard II., as applied to vicars-apostolic. Lalor was found guilty in four counties in Ireland, and suffered the penalties of prœmunire. Gould anything, therefore, be more imprudent than to quote that case. Now, the clause of this Bill was a declaratory clause; it declared and enacted, and therefore assumed the law to be before the Act as it would be after it; it introduced no new law; and he would ask their Lordships whether the attempt that was made by the authority to which he had referred to establish these pretended sees, was not a violation of the law of this country, and therefore whether not within the declaratory clause of this Act? He trusted that his noble and learned Friends would concur with what he had stated, or would draw some distinction which had not occurred to his mind. So much, then, as to the first part, the substantive part, of the measure. The Bill was not altogether the measure of the Government. Amendments had boon forced upon them at a late stage, and adopted by them of necessity. But there wore two other parts of the Bill besides that to which he had referred. It was very material that the whole measure should be distinctly understood, and it was with great reluctance, and not without some inconvenience to himself, that he went into these details. But the measure itself had not been much considered in the discussion of the previous evening, and therefore it was that he pursued the course he was taking. The enacting part of the Bill, contained in the second clause, was to this effect:—By the Relief Act any person assuming the title of an existing see, and so offending against the law, was subjected to a penalty. It prohibited persons from assuming the titles of pretended sees, and he thought no reasonable person could object to the extension of that prohibition. The person who assumed the titles of these pretended sees committed an illegal act. If it were proper to prohibit the assump- 1230 tion of the titles of legal sees, à fortiori, it was proper to prohibit the assumption of titles of those pretended sees. No dissatisfaction had occurred with respect to that extension of the law. The next part was that which increased, he would not say the penalty, but the mode of enforcing the prohibition. By the present law the prohibition could only be enforced by the Attorney General. Mark what had occurred. That law had been in force for upwards of 20 years. He would not say to what extent it had extended the assumption of titles, but every one must know that that assumption had been carried by some individuals of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland to a considerable extent. No attempt had been made to enforce the prohibition; the penalty had been suffered to lie dormant. Now what could be more unwise than to prohibit an act, to declare it illegal, to provide penalties, and to suffer those penalties to lie dormant? Better would it be to repeal that statute than to leave it so. If the prohibition was to continue—if the penalty was to continue, let them adopt some means of enforcing it. What better means could be adopted than what this Bill proposed? At present nothing could be done without the consent of the Crown. By this Bill an informer might enforce it, so that he had previously obtained the assent of the Crown. What would be the effect of that? An Attorney General might slumber on his post; this Bill recalled him to activity, compelled him to give reasons why he would not proceed, and added responsibility to his conduct. Upon these grounds he thought it would be wise to adopt the additional means of enforcing the penalty, which was one of the Amendments introduced into this Bill. He had now directed the attention of their Lordships to various parts of the Bill, and explained to the best of his power its effect and operation. He had said that part of it was the law of the land; the declaratory part of it he thought he had established, namely, that Briefs issued without the consent of the Crown, for the purpose which he had stated, were illegal and void. No alteration of the law, therefore, was proposed to be made by this Bill in that respect. Its object was to meet a gross violation of the law. He was sure, therefore, that the Bill would meet with their Lordships' approbation. And now, having passed over this part of the subject, he hoped their Lordships would allow him to say a few words with respect to the course which he 1231 had himself pursued with regard to the Roman Catholics in this country. He was party to the Relief Act of 1829. He had the honour of holding at that time the Great Seal, and filling the seat now so well filled by his noble and learned Friend. He consulted with his Colleagues: he was satisfied, and they were satified, that not only was it a measure of justice, but, in the state of Ireland and of parties in the other House of Parliament, it was absolutely necessary. They were aware, on introducing that Bill, of the consequences to which it would lead so far as related to themselves; they knew it would lead to their relinquishment of office; but the question was of such a nature, their sense of duty was so strong, that they voluntarily incurred the risk, and afterwards did relinquish office. He took a principal part on that occasion, assisted by his noble Colleagues, in introducing the Bill into their Lordships' House, and supporting it in the active and vigorous debates with which it was assailed. He did not regret the part he had then taken. Further than that: he afterwards came into power at a subsequent time. His noble Friend who spoke so well on the previous evening on the other side of the House (Lord Beaumont), directed his attention to various Acts of Parliament, which, though necessary at the time they were introduced, as he admitted—though necessary immediately after the Reformation, had become a disgrace to our Statute-book. He referred the whole question of those Acts to a Commission. A Commission was at that time sitting with respect to the criminal law, and he directed it to sit and examine those Acts, which were very complex, and report to him how far they thought they might go in repealing them. They made their report, and in consequence of that report, two Bills were introduced and carried, expunging from the Statute-book the greater part of those Acts, and in others the extreme penalty imposed for the infringement of them. The object that he and his Colleagues who cooperated with him had in view was the extension of toleration to the Roman Catholics. Did he say toleration? He meant a full participation of all the rights and privileges of the rest of Her Majesty's subjects. That was the object he had in view, and he thought they had fully attained that object. But toleration would never satisfy the Roman Catholic Church. It had been [...]stated by his noble Friend near him (the Earl of Winchilsea) in the course of that 1232 evening's discussion. Toleration they wished for to save themselves from inconvenience, and further, as a stepping-stone to the attainment of power; but toleration as a principle was wholly alien to the Roman Catholic Church. It was acknowledged that they despised it. Had he good authority for that? He had strong and decisive authority. In a letter from the late Pope to the bishops of Belgium, he said, "They talk of establishing liberty of conscience. It is an absurd and erroneous maxim—it is a wild notion. I reject it with disdain." What was it that the Roman Catholics desired? Domination and ascendancy, and never would they be satisfied until they obtained the object of their ambition. Had the progress of science and light altered those principles? Had their designs changed from what they were in former times? Not in the least. What they were 300 years ago, they were at the present moment—hesitating when politic, blinking when necessary, advancing when it could be done with safety. They told us that their principles were eternal—immutable. But he would ask their Lordships whether there was any inconsistency in the course he was pursuing? He was willing and anxious that toleration and liberty of conscience should be granted to the fullest extent. But toleration was the very opposite to domination. Here, then, he took his stand; and because he conceived that this was the first step towards the establishment of that principle in this country, he voted in support of this Bill. But he would ask their Lordships whether they thought the Roman Catholics of Ireland had adhered to their promise? When the Relief Bill was under consideration it had been examined, criticised, and adopted, by those persons in whom the Roman Catholics of Ireland confided, and to whom they intrusted the care of their interests. It was sanctioned in every way in all the securities or supposed securities. The noble Marquess on the previous evening read you an address confirmatory of that statement. But what had happened. That Act prohibited the assumption of titles of existing sees. Had the Roman Catholics of Ireland regarded that prohibition? He did not mean to say it had in every instance, but to a very considerable extent it had been violated by various individuals in that country. Priests were forbidden to appear in their robes in public, but only in their places of worship; that prohibition was constantly disregarded. There was also a pro- 1233 hibition in that Bill, which he considered an important one, against the introduction into this country of Jesuits. There were certain limitations, certain restrictions, certain boundaries therein to prevent that prohibition from being attended with inconvenience or injustice; but the system had been carried on in defiance of the prohibition: they had acted in total defiance of it. Again, there was what he considered a most important and material prohibition against the establishment of monastic institutions in this country. It had been acknowledged that those establishments were the most effective means of making proselytes to the Roman Catholic religion. But there were at the present time in this country nearly twenty monasteries of men, established in opposition to that prohibition. He said, then, that the Roman Catholics of Ireland had taken all we granted, and more, but in return they had not given us a single thing which they themselves had promised, and upon which we relied. A noble Lord had spoken of the synod established in Ireland, and he had lately read the history and the proceedings of that body. An Act of Parliament was passed to establish colleges and places of education for the middle ranks of the people in that country. Every care was taken, as he could vouch, to prevent any exception on the ground of religion—every guard was inserted in that Bill to prevent a system of proselytism, on the one side or the other. Nothing could be more carefully considered than all the details of that Bill. It was a most beneficial measure; it was approved of by a large body of the Roman Catholic laity and also of the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland. Upon the death of the late archbishop, the Roman Catholic Primate, the ordinary mode of election was departed from, the Pope having in view a great ecclesiastical organisation in Ireland. Three names were selected by the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland, and out of the three names so selected, the archbishop was generally chosen. In this instance they were all rejected, and a stranger to Ireland, though certainly born in that country, educated in Italy, a monk, he believed, by profession, was raised to the Roman Catholic primacy. And for what purpose? To convene a synod. It was necessary to silence those Roman Catholic bishops who had approved of the colleges to which he had alluded. But how were they to be silenced? By the decree of a synod, which spoke by the ma- 1234 jority. A synod was convened; it pronounced against the colleges, and the Pope confirmed the decision. The result was, that the effect to the middle classes of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, of a measure so beneficially intended by Parliament, had been entirely lost. He referred to these instances as guards and beacons which they ought to keep in view, in considering these subjects. While speaking on the subject of education, he would mention a circumstance which he had seen sixty years ago, and which he had not seen mentioned since. He was then engaged in some mathematical pursuits, and, among others, the Principia of Newton passed before him. Their Lordships were aware that that work was couched in very short terms; a good deal was taken to be known, and in reading it a person was obliged to go through a long train of reasoning, to arrive at the conclusion. Why did he mention that? Two Jesuits, able mathematicians, took upon themselves to write notes on the Principia. Their notes were, he believed, quadruple in extent to the text. They were very learned notes, very laborious, and showed to the fullest extent that the authors of them knew full well every thing in the Principia—the principles upon which were founded the conclusions to which it necessarily came. An edition of the Principia was published with those notes, and their preface to the work was quite ludicrous. They said, "We have commented upon this curious work; we have shown the intention and conclusions of the author; but it must not be supposed for a moment that we assent to those conclusions, or that we differ in a single iota from the opinions and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church." What a monstrous conclusion it was to which the Roman Catholic ecclesiastics of Ireland had come, that the young men of Ireland should be withdrawn from the colleges to which he had referred, where they would have obtained sound learning, to be put under the tuition of the priesthood in Ireland? In the establishment of those Colleges everything was done for the purpose of preventing proselytism. And what took place? By intrigue and management, and violation of the law, the Roman Catholic clergy endeavoured to convert them into Roman Catholic colleges. But the Government obtained a knowledge of it, pursued the labyrinth, and found out the whole scheme. The system was discovered—the Government interfered, and 1235 what was the result? The Roman Catholic bishops, not being able to have everything their own way, immediately withdrew the children of the Roman Catholic Church from these beneficent establishments. He had mentioned these facts for the purpose of putting their Lordships on their guard with respect to the designs of that Church. He wished to resist, as far as he could, every attempt at encroachment. He would rescind nothing of what had hitherto been done—he approved of it, and if it were to come over again he should pursue the same course. But here he took his stand. Not one step further towards the attainment of power, of ascendancy, of domination, would he proceed. He adhered to the principle in voting for this Bill, his old principle of principiis obsta, and on that ground would Vote in favour of the second reading; and trusted he had acquitted himself of any inconsistency between the course he had formerly pursued, and that which he was pro-pared to take on the present occasion.
who was nearly inaudible, was understood to oppose the Bill, on the ground that it was not the description of legislation calculated to meet the evil, if evil there was. It was impossible for the Pope to establish a hierarchy in England without appointing districts and naming pees. The people of Ireland were in a state pf anxiety with reference to a Bill which was intended to aim a blow at their ancient hierarchy, which had never been disturbed, and they naturally viewed this description of legislation with alarm and distrust. The present Bill was infinitely more stringent than that first introduced; and this was the more unfortunate, because, after the original introduction of the Bill, he (Lord Vaux) had called upon the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Lansdowne), and inquired if the Bill would be allowed by the Government to be made more stringent than it then was; to which the answer of the noble Marquess was, that it would not. He (Lord Vaux) thought that he and others had been much misled by this assurance of the noble Marquess; and he felt himself in a very embarrassing position when he found that the Bill had been assented to by the Government in so much more stringent a form. He deprecated the Bill as a recurrence to the spirit of persecution, without any necessity or reason. If the Government had exercised a little more discretion and caution, they would have communicated with the Roman Catholics who, by their influence with 1236 their co-religionists, would have evoked an expression on the part of the Catholics expressive of the impolicy of attempting the re-formation of a hierarchy in this country. As the matter now stood, he confessed he regarded the issue with anxiety, and had now nothing more to say than he hoped, on this as on all other occasions, to do his duty equally to his religion and to his Sovereign.
The EARL of WICKLOW
said, he was not sorry, as a usual supporter of the Government, to be able to say that, in opposing the present Bill, he was not opposing any measure of theirs. It was well known in that House and elsewhere, for which portion of it the Government were responsible. The Bill had undergone changes very remarkable. A stringent measure had been originally introduced by the Government, founded upon a most imprudent letter written and circulated by the noble Lord at the head of the Government; and had Parliament met immediately after its publication, the Bill introduced would have been far more stringent. In the progress of the original Bill the Government saw the impolicy of the course they were pursuing, and relaxed, in a great degree, the force of their own measure, so that the measure, as intended by the Government to pass into law, became very inoffensive; and though he should have opposed it as unnecessary and unworthy of the Legislature of this country, and unfitted for its object, he should not have characterised it as severe. He should have opposed any such measure as unworthy, because not intended for the welfare of the subjects of this country, but as a miserable revenge upon a foreign Power. In the progress of the amended Bill, and in the very last stage of it, however, enactments were introduced into it against the will of the Government, but which, to the astonishment of the country, they had assented to and adopted. He was convinced that the Government had not given full consideration to the force and effect of the Amendments that had been successively proposed. And even after the speech of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Lansdowne), it was his belief that the noble Marquess did not understand the force of the measure he was propounding to their Lordships. He (the Earl of Wick-low) was the more convinced of this because it now appeared that the noble Lord (Lord Vaux), a member of the Catholic body, had—frightened at the prospect of 1237 the proposed legislation—obtained from the noble Marquess an assurance that the Bill would not be made more stringent in its progress through the House of Commons. The noble Marquess might say, that he was not responsible for the alterations made in the Bill by the other House. But surely, after what had passed, when the Government found enactments forced upon them against their opinion, and their own measure totally altered in its nature, it was their duty to decline to proceed further with the Bill. Yet, so far from this, not one word fell from the noble Marquess on the subject—their Lordships heard not from the noble Marquess any hint of alterations having been made in the Bill of the Government, whether with their assent or without it; but the noble Marquess merely recommended the measure as perfectly his own, as useful and beneficial to the country, and as not calculated at all to prejudice the interests of the Roman Catholic religion in this country. The Bill might really be divided into two distinct and different parts—the Government portion, and the Opposition portion. As now framed, it must either render illegal and void all the acts of the Catholic episcopate, and defeat the carrying on of the Catholic religion in the country, making it impossible to appoint Catholic bishops in England or Ireland, and invalidate all the acts of Catholic priests—or it must be (as he suspected the Government desired it to he) a dead letter, never carried into effect. In the latter supposition, was it becoming in the Legislature to assist the Government in framing laws not intended to be executed? Let it be observed, under the 24th Clause of the Emancipation Act, it was illegal to assume any titles at present used in the Established Church; yet from the time of the passing of that Act, these titles had been assumed (sometimes openly, certainly notoriously) in Ireland, where the bishops of the Catholic Church performed all the functions of the episcopate under these titles; and it was indeed impossible that they should otherwise perform them at all than under the very titles they were prohibited by the Emancipation Act from assuming. And it had been stated—he believed truly—that, when this clause was under consideration, the Catholic leaders pointed out to the Government the evil which must ensue from enforcing such an enactment, and they were assured that the clause was introduced as an apparent security for the purpose of carrying the Bill, 1238 but that it was never intended that it should he put in force. The Government, under the Emancipation Act, had the power of carrying out their own intentions, as no prosecutions could be instituted except by the Attorney General. And in the present Bill, when originally introduced, there was no "informers' clause." The Government, indeed, would have effected their own object better by simply introducing an amendment of a few words into the Emancipation Act, extending the prohibition of the assumption of existing titles to any new titles; and to such a measure probably there would have been little opposition. The noble and learned Lord (Lord Lyndhurst) had argued that the existing law was in itself sufficient to prevent the assumption of these titles; whence it would follow that the Bill was needless altogether. The noble and learned Lord had said, that the clause in the Emancipation Act ought to have been executed, and that the Attorney General of those days had slumbered at his post—the noble and learned Lord's own Attorney General—for the noble and learned Lord was high in office at the time, and was certainly responsible for the slumber of his own Attorney General, whom he could have easily awakened if he had pleased. It was now proposed that the Legislature should construct a species of "flapper," to prevent that learned officer from sleeping at his post in future. But he believed that few were at all aware of the extent of the evil which it would entail upon the country. No Attorney General could ever withstand the enormous pressure from without which would be exerted in order to get this Bill put in force. That powerful engine, the hydraulic press, which their Lordships could see in operation at the Great Exhibition, exerting its prodigious and marvellous power, would only be a poor illustration of the tremendous pressure from all parts of the country which would follow the passing of this Bill. There was no bigot in the country—no opponent of Catholicism, of whatever character, from the highest to the lowest—who would not evoke the agency of the Attorney General, in order to enforce the law. The law officers of the Crown would not he able to resist this enormous influence—they must perform the duty imposed upon them by this Bill; and it was impossible to predict the consequences. It was really extraordinary that the Government, after such injurious alterations had been made in 1239 their own measure, should not only go on with the Bill, but quietly propose it as if it were one they had all along approved of, and propounded as a useful and salutary Bill. He objected to the Bill, further, because the preamble upon which it was founded stated falsehoods. It stated that doubts existed as to whether the assumption of the titles was illegal. Why, so far from any one imagining it was illegal under the Emancipation Act, he believed every one must have seen that the prohibition was expressly framed so as to permit the assumption of any other titles than those mentioned in the Act. And so far from the measure of the Holy See being intended as an insult, it was a remarkable instance of a most studious effort to act without giving offence to the British Government; for it was a great sacrifice on the part of the Catholics to give up their old-established episcopate—the ancient sees of England. The right rev. Prelates present were aware that, although supported by the law of the land, the See of Rome had never acknowledged them as legitimate bishops, having invariably maintained that the Holy See was the sole source of episcopal jurisdiction; and this was the first instance in which (out of deference to the law of the land) the Holy See had abolished the ancient sees, so far only as the Catholic Church was concerned, and solely for the purpose of creating new sees for that Church, without giving offence to the Government or people of this country. To call that an insult was really unreasonable. But what was the course proposed to resent it? To inflict punishment—not on the party who did the act—but on our own fellow-subjects. The measure was not directed against the Pope. He could laugh at it. It was against the Catholics of this country that it would operate. It might remind their Lordships of a beautiful figure of Mr. Burke's, in which he represented a warrior directing a mortal blow at his enemy, but arresting his hand on seeing that the body of his own child intervened. It was against their own Catholic fellow-subjects that this Bill would operate, crippling and restraining them in the exercise of their religion—a wretched revival of that system of persecution under which, by penal enactments, by fire and sword, it had been sought, for three hundred years, to extirpate the Catholic religion; the only result being to rivet it on the country more firmly than ever. And did, not the Government, per- 1240 haps, but those who forced the provisions of this measure on the Government, think that they could do by such enactments as these what the whole powers of the country had been inefficient in doing? By the Bill now before the House they would show—what was not a safe principle to establish in regard to Ireland—that they were in the habit of passing laws to be violated by the people; and he expected no disturbance nor great excitement in Ireland in consequence of this measure, because the people there were determined to disregard it. They had but two alternatives to choose—either to pack up their goods and chattels and quit the country, where, if this Bill were respected, the Roman Catholic religion could not be respected; or, what he thought was more likely to happen, to laugh at the enactments of the measure. This he could not but contemplate as an unfortunate state of things. He had been surprised at the strong opposition of the representatives of Ireland to the Bill as originally introduced; for it was only in consequence of the amendments subsequently introduced that it became effectively applicable to Ireland. For the reasons he had stated he gave his most cordial support to the Amendment of the noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen).
§ The DUKE of NEWCASTLE
My Lords, I did not at once rise after my noble Friend the noble Earl (the Earl of Wick-low), because two speeches in succession have already been delivered on that side of the question which I now rise to support. And, my Lords, I rejoice that I did not address your Lordships sooner, because even now I feel that I can hardly express the deep regret with which I heard the concluding passages of the speech of my noble and learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst). My Lords, so great is the attachment which I feel to him, the admiration with which I have ever looked up to him, the reverence (I might almost say) I entertain for him, and the respect with which I regard his position in this House, that it was with the deepest and most sincere regret that I heard him who was a member of the Cabinet which passed the Emancipation Act, who was the author of the Bill which removed from the Statute-book those obsolete penal laws which had been felt as a grievance for so many years by our Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen—it was with the deepest regret, my Lords, that I heard this great and eminent man supporting the Bill now before your Lord- 1241 ships on the grounds he put forward in the conclusion of his speech. My Lords, the concluding words of my noble and learned Friend's speech were "prince-piis obsta!" My Lords, my noble and learned Friend, appropriately enough, followed the noble Earl (the Earl of Winchilsea), but omitted to bear testimony, except indirectly, by the course he is now taking, to the consistency of the noble Earl. "Principiis obsta!" These words have been heard before. They were heard from the lips of the noble Earl, when, in 1829, he opposed my noble and learned Friend, who then thought it right, notwithstanding that appeal, to remove the grievances of the Roman Catholics, but who now calls upon you himself "principiis obstare." And upon what grounds? Upon the very grounds which were equally applicable to the measures which he himself supported in 1829, and proposed in 1814. My noble and learned Friend says that the Roman Catholic Church is not satisfied with toleration—that the Roman Catholics have ever sought for domination and power. These are my noble and learned Friend's grounds for supporting the present measure; and he declares that such has always been the case. Upon what ground, then, did he concede the claims of the Roman Catholics, on those occasions when he was opposed consistently by the noble Earl? and why does he now bring forward these statements, the truth of which to a certain extent I am not about to deny, for they are of the essence of the Roman Catholic Church? and being so, I say, my Lords, you ought either to have maintained those restrictive laws which you have successively removed since 1791, or you ought now to carry out the principles which you have adopted to their legitimate conclusions.
My Lords, it would not be becoming in me to enter upon a discussion of the very important legal point raised by my noble and learned Friend. There is probably no one in your Lordships' House capable of disputing on points of this kind with my noble and learned Friend; and certainly I am not. But admitting or assuming the law to be as stated by my noble and learned Friend, however it may differ from the statements of lawyers in the other House—if it be true that this act of the Pope, in forming dioceses within the dominions of another sovereign is by international law illegal and void, and that the consent of such sovereign is necessary on 1242 all occasions—and if, as my noble and learned Friend further states, by the same international law the vicars-apostolic, as they existed previously to the recent Rescript, were equally illegal—then I have a right to call upon your Lordships to consider seriously this state of the question. It is not any justification of the Bill now before your Lordships that it makes by statute illegal that which was by international law illegal before, for, if such be the case, its only result can be that, if the law is now confusion, it will then be "confusion worse confounded." For, supposing that the Roman Catholics of this country, instead of treating the act with defiance, were to memorialise the head of their Church to conform to the intention of the measure (which, however, has no direct bearing whatever upon the Pope himself), and suppose the Holy See to pursue that course, in what position would the Roman Catholics then be? The Pope could, if he chose, withdraw this Rescript, and the bishops appointed under it; but in what position would the English Roman Catholics then find themselves? Why, their previous position was alike untenable; the vicars-apostolic were as illegal (so my noble and learned Friend says) as their bishops are now; and surely, if they are to return to their previous position, they ought at all events to be assured by the Government that it will be recognised as legal, and that no opposition will be made to their vicars-apostolic. My Lords, is it necessary for me to say that, though this may have been the law for three hundred years, it has not been acted upon; and the consent of the Crown has never been, in fact, asked by the Pope or the Roman Catholics to the establishment of a bishopric. It was not asked with reference to the creation of a new bishopric in Ireland—the bishopric of Galway—or on any similar occasion; and the Papal Rescripts have appointed vicars-apostolic without any consent of the Crown in this country.
My Lords, I must be forgiven if I advert to one other part of my noble and learned Friend's speech. He complained of the remissness of Attorneys General, who, he said, had slumbered at their post, and he rejoiced that now the Legislature was about, by this Act, to carry into effect the 24th Clause of the Act of 1829, and to compel the Government to prosecute the prelates of the Roman Catholic Church who should assume the 1243 titles prohibited in that clause. If this is a course that ought to be pursued, I deeply regret that my noble and learned Friend did not earlier discover it, for every year that has passed since the enactment of that clause has led the Roman Catholic population arid prelates in Ireland to assume that it was intended by each Successive Government to be a dead letter; and although only twenty-two years have passed since the Act containing that clause became the law of the land, I might almost have called upon my noble and learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst), had it not been for his speech this evening to have treated that clause as one of those obsolete laws which it was once his delight to remove, so far from now endeavouring to give fresh life to what every Government had disregarded. My official connexion with Ireland was of too short a duration for me to assume to myself any knowledge of that country which may not be possessed by all your Lordships; but I know full well that if that clause was now brought into operation, after the whole course of our legislation since 1831—after we have seen the right rev. Prelate who last night occupied the front bench (the Archbishop of Dublin) acting in harmony, and co-operating for the social welfare of the people of Dublin and of Ireland, with a man who was assuming a title legally belonging to him alone, and prohibited by law—[The Marquess of CLANRICARDE: No, no!]—a title which was prohibited by law, even though the words "Roman Catholic" were inserted before the word "archbishop."
The MARQUESS of CLANRICARDE
denied that Archbishop Murray had ever assumed, as far as he knew, the title of Archbishop of Dublin.
§ The DUKE of NEWCASTLE
Unless I receive a much more positive contradiction than that now given by my noble Friend, I must maintain that I have no more doubt of that title being assumed by Archbishop Murray than I have that the other right rev. Prelate to whom I referred takes as he is by law entitled to do, the title of Archbishop of Dublin, and I could without any difficulty bring proofs of the truth of my assertion. But at any rate those titles have been conferred; and now in these days to revive a clause, to which, judging from the debates in Parliament at the time the Bill passed, the Government attached little importance, 1244 and never looked upon in the light of a substantial security—to revive Such a clause would be considered by the people of Ireland as a measure so vindictive, so fraught with insult to that country, that the consequences must be such as will be deeply regretted; for every evil which has hitherto attached to the Social condition of Ireland, and every difficulty which has hitherto attended its government, will be increased a hundred fold.
But I understood my noble and learned Friend to look upon this Bill in the light of a security, and if so, he must of course mean a security for the Established Church. I am prepared upon this and all other matters to act upon principles which would give proper security to the interests of all classes of the community, and to no institution of the country more earnestly than to the Established Church; but I should feel content to place my opposition to this Bill upon the ground of my attachment to the Established Church of this country. So far from seeking a security in measures of this kind, the days have gone by for the Church to rely for support on other arms than those of truth and her own energy; and the interests of the Church itself are directly at variance with any course which shall place the rights and the religious liberty of any class of our fellow-countrymen in jeopardy.
We have been told this evening, and throughout the long period that this subject has occupied the attention of the other House of Parliament, that the Queen's supremacy had been invaded by the measure of the Pope. I shall not go over the ground which was so ably occupied yesterday by my noble Friend (the Earl of Aberdeen) who moved the rejection of the Bill, nor will I ask with him what the Queen's supremacy is, but I will say that the Queen's supremacy in any sense in which it can be understood can attach alone to the Church established by law in this country, and has no jurisdiction whatever over the Roman Catholic Church, except in so far as the Queen has civil jurisdiction over all classes of Her subjects—in that respect, therefore, the supremacy of the Queen can in no way be invaded. The Rescript, of Course, confers ecclesiastical jurisdiction over those who belong to the Roman Catholic Church, but it neither has nor assumes to have any right in this country to enforce that jurisdiction—it claims canonical obedience, but only from those who voluntarily submit them- 1245 selves to the jurisdiction of that Church. This being the case, I am at a loss to conceive how it can be shown that the Queen's supremacy has been invaded. There is a great difference between a legal and a moral claim. In this case no one asserts that there is a legal claim; but the Pope asserts a moral claim over those who voluntarily choose to submit to him. That is just the point which has been raised with respect to the proper interpretation of the words of the oath of supremacy. It is the point which prevents two noble Lords from taking their seats in this House, because they choose to give a construction to this oath which we think it is not capable of sustaining, they saying that the oath falsely denies a jurisdiction which all know to exist—wc maintaining that it only denies a jurisdiction recognised by law and capable of enforcement. But we are told that the Queen's prerogative has been assaulted; and the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Lansdowne), in moving the second reading of this Bill, discarding all the arguments so stoutly maintained in the other House of Parliament, and by the public press, rested the whole of his case upon the ground of the Queen's prerogative as the fountain of honour having been invaded. Now I offer no apology for the manner in which the thing was done. I shall not only be ready to admit with the noble Earl (the Earl of Malmesbury) that there was a "want of common civility" in it, but I shall be content to give those documents any stronger terms of reprobation which any of your Lordships may choose to ascribe to them. But when the noble Marquess says the prerogative of the Queen, as the fountain of honour, has been infringed upon, surely my noble Friend will admit that titles, in the common acceptation of the word, are of two kinds. Titles such as those which every one of your Lordships possess, conferring certain rights as well as dignities, are derived alone from the Queen, and cannot be infringed upon without offence to the Queen's prerogative. But there is another kind of titles—indeed they are not, properly so called, titles, though considered so in common parlance, and are rather the designation of offices which some particular individuals hold—and such titles or appellations can only be derived from those who have the power to appoint to such offices. Such is the case with the titles of bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in this country. I 1246 apprehend that "bishop" does not strictly come under the designation of a title, though the temporal incidents of a bishopric give a different character to the right rev. prelates opposite; but the Roman Catholic bishops Stand in a totally distinct position to the bishops of our own Church. The Queen cannot appoint them. How, then, has Her prerogative been invaded? I cannot see that the assumption of a title which is not recognised by law, can be considered an infringement of a prerogative which has no power to confer such titles, though it may be open to other as grave objections. There are the Scotch bishops, who stand precisely in the same position; they are not appointed by the Queen; they have no real authority for their position in Scotland—yet there is a clause in this Bill by which the bishops of Scotland are exempted from the operation of it. This is decidedly an admission of the spiritual character of these appointments; and though while others are placed in a position which I do not think they ought to be placed in, I rejoice that the Scotch bishops are to be exempted, yet I must say that I look upon that clause as a self-stultification of the whole Bill.
It is said by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Lansdowne) "We do not deal by this Bill with the Roman Catholic subjects of Her Majesty, but with a foreign Power." I can find nothing in this Bill dealing with any foreign Power; but I find it inflicting penalties, and dealing in a harsh and unjust manner with the Roman Catholic subjects of Her Majesty. It is true, that by one clause you legislate against bulls; and I may be permitted to read what, in 1846, was the opinion of the noble Lord at the head of the Government upon this point. He said, "There are certain bulls of the Pope which are absolutely necessary for the appointment of bishops and pastors belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. It would be quite impossible to prevent the introduction of such bulls." Now, my Lords, although the noble Lord has, in all probability, changed his mind since then, and thinks he can now legislate against and prevent that which he said it was impossible to obviate in 1846, I cannot but think that this attempt does not justify the noble Marquess in stating that it was intended to deal with a foreign Power alone. But the preamble of the Bill goes very much further than the mere prohibition of bulls, and I think, after the speech of the noble Marquess last night, 1247 that that preamble does revivify and bring into full force and effect the Act of Richard II. This is a very serious view of the case, and one which has not attracted that attention in the other House of Parliament which it deserves; for even many of your Lordships who support this Bill will not be prepared for what I believe will be its necessary consequence. What were the laws under which Lalor was prosecuted—those old laws which, until now, were believed to be extinct, under which many eminent lawyers have expressed their opinion that no prosecution could take place, but which you are now prepared to revivify and give effect to? These laws do not relate to titles, but to something more substantial—to all jurisdiction whatsoever. Our ancestors had a definite object to pursue; but that object was not the object of the noble Marquess, or any of your Lordships. Our ancestors took care to put an effectual gag upon those mouths which they wanted to stop. But will their provisions, if revived, deal with the Roman Catholics alone? I believe not. I run a risk in hazarding a legal opinion in the presence of so many noble Lords learned in the law, but I submit it to the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack whether the effect of revivifying those laws will not be to enable, not merely the purposes for which they are re-enacted to be carried into effect, but also the purposes for which they were originally enacted? If such is the case, then the Dissenters, and amongst them that respectable and excellent body the Wesleyans, who have approached your table with so many petitions in favour of this Bill, may dread the future effect of the provisions of the measure; and even in these days, as in days gone by, the Puritans may tremble at the expectation of some fresh persecution which may arise by the resuscitation of these laws. And yet with such prospects before him the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) who spoke so ably last night, asserted that this Bill was only an extension of the 24th clause of the Emancipation Act. So far from that, it is making invalid that which, by implication at least, was made lawful by the Act of 1829, for that Act was silent as to all titles except those belonging to prelates of the Established Church, and it is reviving the old statutes which had become obsolete, to the prejudice not merely of Roman Catholics, but of other classes of Dissenters. To return 1248 for a moment to the observations of the noble Marquess, as to the dealing with a foreign Power, in what capacity has the Pope of Rome sent this Rescript of which you complain, and of which I complain so far as the tone of it is concerned? Not in his capacity of Sovereign of the Roman States, but as the head of the Roman Catholic Church all over the world. Does the noble Marquess mean to say that, two years ago, when the Pope was exiled from his country, when he was no longer a sovereign Power, if he had then sent his Rescript to this country, he would have tolerated it? That is a simple mode of settling the question—if he would not, then his argument entirely fails him—it is with the head of the Roman Catholic Church, and not with a foreign temporal sovereign, that we have to deal. So much has been said upon the subject of concordats, that I will not do more than allude to the question. That, it appears to me, speaking without reference to the objections which are raised against such a measure, would be the obvious remedy for many of the existing evils. But when you speak of concordats existing in other countries, so far as I am aware, nothing more is assumed in any of them than the power of consent, or veto, to the arrangements proposed from time to time by the Pope; in no country has there been exercised a power of positive and general prohibition such as is to be enforced by this measure before us. The prohibition of this act of a foreign Power, as you are please to designate it, cuts at the root of all toleration for the Roman Catholic religion, for if you forbid the Roman Catholics to communicate with the Pope, you interdict the free exercise of their religion. The priests of the Roman Catholic Church are appointed indirectly, and the clergy of a superior order, directly, by the Pope: no one can receive the power to perform the functions of that religion except through the medium of the Papal authority; so that the whole fabric of that Church in this country must fall to pieces if this enactment can be carried into effect. I can indeed conceive no greater absurdity than that you should ignore, as we do in this country, a spiritual power altogether, and yet claim the right of limiting the exercise of that spiritual authority. But we are told that this is not an act of spiritual but of a temporal authority. Then, if it is, I say the Bill is much too weak for its object; but I deny altogether that any proof has been 1249 given that this act of the Pope is of a temporal character; it is one of the many vague assertions which we have heard for the last six months, and I will, therefore, pursue this part of the case no further.
I gather from the speech of one noble Lord that he considers—and if he does he is not singular, for the noble Lord at the head of the Government based one of his main arguments in support of the Bill as it stood before the introduction of the alterations upon the supposition—that there are many Roman Catholics in this country who call for the protection of the Legislature. The noble Lord opposite participates in that opinion, and thinks the Legislature may be rightly called upon to pass this Act as a protective measure to Her Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects. I think that with that we have nothing to do. There would be an end to all religious freedom if Parliament were to be called upon to interfere in matters of this kind. Is not the connexion between the Roman Catholics and the Pope entirely a voluntary arrangement between the parties? To propose, then, to interfere by an Act of the Legislature to protect a certain class of religionists from the exercise of authority by powers to which they have voluntarily submitted themselves—is an act which, to my mind, would be quite at variance with every principle of religious liberty. It is of course a man's own choice whether he shall profess the Roman Catholic religion or not. In adopting that religion he is no doubt influenced by the same strong religious feeling and conscientious opinion which I hope influence all your Lordships, whatever religious views you may respectively profess; but has he not the power to leave the Roman Catholic Church if he was so disposed? This is not a singular opinion on my part, for within the last few days I have received a copy of the Declaration of the Roman Catholic Laity of England, strongly disclaiming any such protection. In that document are these words:—We reject with the utmost scorn and indignation the imputation that we wish for any interference between our revered prelates and ourselves, or require any protection for our rights and property against them and the powers conferred by the hierarchy. We regard every attempt made to represent a penal law against our bishops as a measure passed for our benefit and at our request, as an attack upon our honour. And we make this statement for the express purpose of depriving any person who may again hazard these insinuations (whether he be a professed enemy to our religion, or a secret foe within our own body) of all credit and attention.1250 I am sorry to detain your Lordships so long, but I do feel strongly upon this measure. I feel that I am one of a small body in this House impressed with strong conscientious convictions as to the impolicy and injustice of such legislation as this, and a deep conviction of the future evils and dangers which will flow from it, and I desire as far as possible to lay before your Lordships the views I entertain upon this subject.
The noble Marquess stated last night that the functions of the Roman Catholic religion have, hitherto, been satisfactorily performed in this country. Well, this may be the opinion of the noble Marquess. It may be my opinion. Until I saw the Rescript which has lately been issued, I was not prepared to express any opinion that the functions of the Roman Catholic Church were not properly performed in this country. But I cannot assume to myself to be a judge upon this question. I maintain that this is not a question for the noble Marquess or myself to exercise any opinion upon; it is solely and entirely for the consideration of the Roman Catholics themselves; and if they think those functions have not been satisfactorily performed, they have a right, so long as they do not infringe on the rights and prerogatives and religious liberty of other parties, to make any alteration in the internal discipline of their Church, which to them may seem most proper. And let me ask, is it a new thing for the Roman Catholics to desire the change from vicars-apostolic to bishops? By no means, on the contrary it is a question which, has been long agitated, and agitated too under the conviction that with the system of vicars-apostolic was associated the most despotic form of government which the Roman Catholic Church could exercise; whilst by the introduction of bishops, a fairer, and, if I may use the term, more constitutional form of government would be established. Indeed, there can be no doubt that such must be the case: vicars-apostolic are removable at any moment at the sole will of the Pope; whereas bishops once appointed can only be removed by the process of the canon law for a canonical offence. This difference, moreover, pervades all grades of the Roman Catholic clergy, from the highest to the lowest. I will also remind your Lordships that vicars-apostolic would never have ventured to do what, under the canon law, it is an historical fact that bishops have done; for many 1251 of your Lordships must be well acquainted with the fact, that ordinaries before now have rejected bulls issued by the Pope, to which they had valid and strong objections. We are told that we have reason to fear the spread of ultramontane doctrines. I am not going to dispute that point. I see with the greatest regret the spread of these opinions, not merely in England, where they are comparatively harmless, but in other countries, where they may be more hurtful. But if there be cause for alarm, and if the more moderate party in the Church of Rome is losing ground as against the more extreme, let me ask, against which party in that Church is this Bill directed? Is it against that which may be called the English party, or against the Roman party? I think, if there be any truth in history, the Bill is directed, unintentionally of course, but practically against the English party, and not against the Roman party in that Church. My noble Friend (the Earl of Aberdeen), in moving the rejection of this Bill, referred to the opinions and policy of Mr. Pitt, and to what was said or written by Sir John Hippisley on this subject. But my noble Friend did not tell the House that the case does not rest here. The contest has been of a much more important and pronounced character. Ever since the days of Elizabeth up to the passing of the Emancipation Act, a struggle has been going on on the question of episcopacy versus vicars-apostolic; between the laity, and the secular clergy of the Church on one side, and the regular clergy and the Jesuits more especially on the other, the latter contending eagerly for the appointment of vicars-apostolic. Then what change has taken place in these latter days? We are told the Roman Catholic Church is unchanged and unchangeable. But I will prove to you that the British Government has always advocated until now the appointment of bishops instead of vicars-apostolic. I hope you will pardon me for reading two sentences from the writings of Butler, showing the respective views of the English Government, and of the Papacy in 1586:—So far from offending Government, it was, throughout the reigns of Elizabeth and James, the wish of all their friends in power, that they should obtain from Rome the appointment of regular bishops in ordinary. It was justly observed that after such bishops are installed in their sees, they are only removable for a canonical crime, and by a canonical proceeding. Such bishops, 1252 therefore, might disregard, and even resist with impunity, such illaudable bulls as those of Paul III., of St. Pius V., of Gregory, and of Sextus V., which had so greatly injured the Catholic cause, and guard their flocks against them. In fact, so generally was it understood that the appointment of bishops would be acceptable to Elizabeth and her Ministers, that the Catholic opposers of that measure used this very circumstance as an objection to it, observing that it was impossible to suppose that any plan would be acceptable to their adversaries if they did not foresee that it would essentially prejudice the Catholic religion.The historians of those times, and for upwards of 100 years afterwards, show strongly that it was so: but without troubling your Lordships with quotations from any of those historians, I come to that very important year, 1681, when the great controversy arose about the oath of allegiance. A very large proportion of the Roman Catholic population and clergy were in favour of that oath, but it was strongly objected to by the Pope, who did everything he could in opposition to it; and the Roman Catholics of 1681 suffered for their loyalty and attachment to the Throne, and their readiness to subscribe the oath of allegiance, the same punishment which you now propose to inflict upon them, the deprivation of the bishoprics which they had so long desired. Berington said—Cardinal Howard writes from Rome, that unless the Roman Catholics of England submit to the Pope, and resist the oath of allegiance, the 'ill impression' at the Court will be such that they will be unable to obtain what they judge most important—the appointment of bishops.This controversy was not confined to England only, but for many years after the Reformation it was carried on in Scotland by the Roman Catholics of that country, who endeavoured to limit the power of the Pope on the one hand, and to extend the freedom of their Church on the other. The struggle continued throughout the reign of James II. Then at length vicars-apostolic were conceded, and soon afterwards a new phase overspread the religious aspect of the country. New penal laws were passed. Whether any serious attempt was made for many years after this period to get rid of vicars-apostolic, with the view to the introduction of bishops, I am unable to say, until we come to those times referred to last night. I apprehend what would have been the answer of the noble Marquess who moved the second reading, or what will be that of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Clanricarde) who, I perceive, 1253 intends to follow me in the debate, I apprehend he will give the same answer that has been given to a similar statement in the other House of Parliament, that in all those cases which have been referred to, the Government of the country was in favour of the change from the system of vicars-apostolic to that of bishops; but that in the present instance the consent of the Government had not even been asked. I will not disguise that, notwithstanding all impediments to communications between the Court of Rome and Her Majesty's Government, I deeply regret such a communication of the intentions of the Pope was not made. I think it ought to have been made. I think it would have been but right and just to this country to have made it. I think myself that the wisest and the most politic course towards the Roman Catholics themselves in this country would have been that the Pope should have communicated his intentions to our Government; but, as I said before, in answer to the taunt of want of "common civility," I say again, I do not consider, under all the circumstances, that the omission ought to be visited by legislation such as this. I am certainly not in the secrets of the Roman Pontiff; but I think, judging from what has taken place, and considering how the Pope and his advisers are likely to be influenced, that it is most probable that they assumed—and not only is it most probable, but they certainly had a right to assume—that this consent, though not given in form, would be given in substance; that is to say, that these appointments would be allowed to take place sub silentio exactly as every other similar appointment had been. Had the Pope and his advisers no grounds for such a supposition? The noble Earl who spoke last night quoted an extract from the speech of Lord John Russell on the 17th of August, 1848. I will not trouble your Lordships by repeating that quotation; but I will read you a few lines from a speech of the noble Lord, on the 13th of February, 1844. The words I am about to quote were uttered in the course of a remarkable speech respecting the establishment of the Roman Catholic religion in Ireland—a speech in which the noble Lord expressly declared that his policy towards Ireland would be to place the Episcopal Church of England in Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in the north of Ireland, and the Roman Catholic Church upon a footing of perfect equality in every respect. 1254 The words to which I wish to direct the attention of your Lordships are these:—At all events, I think that we ought to take away everything derogatory to the position and character of the Roman Catholic bishops. 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. You declare that Dr. Murray shall not style himself the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, but he is so, nevertheless, and a man of very high attainments and character in the eyes of the people of Ireland." [3 Hansard, lxxii. 720.]Again, what did the noble Earl the Secretary for the Colonies say? What were his declarations? That noble Earl, in a debate in 1846, distinctly said that he would be satisfied with nothing less, as regarded the Roman Catholic Church, than seeing the Roman Catholic bishops sitting upon the episcopal bench of their Lordships' House, side by side with the right rev. Prelates who now occupied it. Were these no encouragements to the Pope? Had his Holiness no right to assume, after the noble Lord at the head of the Government had expressed such opinions as I have quoted, and the noble Earl the Secretary for the Colonies had said that he would be satisfied with nothing less than that the Roman Catholic bishops should sit side by side with the right rev. Prelates of the Established Church in this House, had the Pope no right to imagine that Government would not have resented so much smaller a measure; or had he the smallest reason to apprehend that the noble Lord would have published that most objectionable and most ill-judged letter, the full evil of which has yet, I fear, to be seen, but when it is seen, will prove the noble Lord to have acted, however unconsciously, as the betrayer, instead of the protector of his trust?
I now come to a point which has been touched on by the noble Marquess the President of the Council, who said that he had no objection to Roman Catholic bishops, but only to their assuming territorial titles, or rather I would call them local designations. I think it will require very few words from me to show your Lordships that a bishop exercising episcopal jurisdiction in any district, must be known in some form or other by the name of some part of that district. A bishop must have some locus in quo. We have now, or within a few days we have had, in this country, the Bishops of Gibraltar and 1255 Bombay. They of course retain their dignity as bishops, though away from their dioceses; but in this country they have no episcopal jurisdiction. The noble Marquess himself, in the course of his observations last night, designated another right rev. Prelate as Bishop of Jerusalem, though no doubt he at the same time told your Lordships that the Government had studiously avoided assigning a district to the Bishop of Jerusalem. But, by using the phrase, "Bishop of Jerusalem," the noble Marquess had himself shown how utterly impossible it was to define the bishop whom he thus designated in any other way, because he would doubtless, in dealing with this case, have adopted a phrase more agreeable to his argument, if he had known how to do it. The late Bishop of Jerusalem was in the habit of signing himself with his Christian name, and the addition of "Hierosol:" Whether the present bishop perseveres in the practice, I cannot recollect. The fact is, that it is almost impossible to designate a bishop possessing episcopal jurisdiction over a certain district, without giving him the title of some place in his diocese; and according to the earliest Church history, the course has been to designate bishops by the name of the principal town or seat in the diocese over which they preside. I need not refer to the times of the Bishop of Antioch, of Alexandria, or of Ephesus; but to come to more modern examples, what was the origin of the clause in the Dublin Cemeteries Act? I do not press this as a proof of the legality of these titles, or their recognition by the Legislature; but merely for the purposes of my present argument. Will any one believe that the words "Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin" were introduced into that Act from oversight, or from any other motive than the impossibility, without most ridiculous circumlocution and danger of misconception and misunderstanding, of otherwise designating the Roman Catholic Archbishop presiding over that district? I will not press this question further, but I apprehend that there is no doubt that not merely the titles objected to by the noble Marquess, but the sees to which he does not object, will be prohibited by this Act; for the words of the preamble say—The attempt to establish, under colour of authority from the See of Rome, or otherwise, such pretended sees, provinces, dioceses, or deaneries, is illegal and void. And whereas it is expedient to prohibit the assumption of such titles in 1256 respect of any places within the United Kingdom:—And certain penalties are inflicted. I am not going now to discuss what may be the consequence of this legislation as regards the Roman Catholic Church in a spiritual but in a social point of view. An opinion has been expressed in the other House of Parliament by those who are competent to form an accurate judgment—and I can only say in confirmation I have the opinion of a most eminent lawyer, an attached member of the Church of England—that the consequence of passing this Bill in its present form will undoubtedly be to render invalid the appointments of the Roman Catholic archbishops and bishops in Ireland, and their successors, and thus to invalidate not only the ordination of priests, but the marriages which those priests perform. If such will be the result, I confess I cannot contemplate any greater or more vital social evil; and before this debate closes, I think such of your Lordships as are competent to give an opinion on the subject ought distinctly to state what is the real purport and meaning of this Bill, and still more, what is its legal bearing, and what will be the operation of it.
The noble Marquess strongly objected to the recent act of the Pope, on the ground that it was a parcelling out the country into dioceses. If this is an offence, it is not a new one. The country has been again and again parcelled out into districts without objection or remonstrance; and I apprehend no man will attempt to raise any difference between dioceses and districts, so far as this part of the case is concerned. The country was parcelled out into districts for the purposes of vicars-apostolic in the year 1688, and without any remonstrance, or its being imagined there was this great danger which has just been found out. It was parcelled out into four districts, for the purposes of vicars-apostolic, in the year 1688. In 1840 it was again parcelled out into eight districts for vicars-apostolic; and, if you like the use of the words, I will quote them again, and say that it has now been again parcelled out into thirteen districts for bishops, though I believe it is more correct to say, all that was done in 1850 was, that these eight districts of vicars-apostolic were again subdivided into thirteen dioceses for Roman Catholic bishops.
The noble Marquess complains that the Pope has ignored the Anglican Church. 1257 Why, my Lords, of course he has. I have said that so far as ignoring the Government I think he was wrong, and that whatever encouragement he may have received, and whatever circumstances may have taken place, he ought to have made the attempt to obtain the consent of the Government. But the ignoring the Anglican Church is one necessary element of the Roman Catholic religion. How can the Pope recognise the Anglican Church in any way? If the Pope were to recognise the Anglican Church in any way whatever, he would be admitting that his own system is an imposition, and that his own claims to supremacy and the position which he assumes over all Christendom, are a mockery and humbug. He now ignores the Anglican Church. So he did when vicars-apostolic were appointed in 1688. So he did when those districts were subdivided in 1840. So he did when the bishopric of Galway was constituted in Ireland. So he did, and so he has done in fact, on all occasions when he has exercised his functions as head of that Church over which he presides; and if you complain of his having parcelled out the country into districts, how can you overlook similar acts on the part of Protestant Dissenters? for I apprehend the same complaint must be made of every other religious body in the community. The Wesleyans have done so; and when the Free Church of Scotland seceded, they partitioned the whole country into districts, and nobody, so far as I am aware, complained. They regretted the secession, but looked upon the partition as a necessary consequence, and as absolutely essential for the carrying out a religious system.
I have assumed throughout my argument that when passed into law this Act will be carried into effect; and I have assumed this, because, in the first place, it is necessary to show its operation; and, in the second place, because I conceive there can be no more dangerous practice than for the sake of serving some temporary interest, whether it be of a legislative, governmental, or individual character, to pass laws never intended to be carried into effect. If the Bill is not to be enforced, the Legislature ought not to allow itself to be made subservient to the infliction of a wanton insult to the Roman Catholics. If it is to be carried into effect, I cannot but predict the greatest political and social evils. I think it will derogate from those acts which my noble and 1258 learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst) has been the means of passing. I think it will be the cause of offence to the Roman Catholic population, and the means of urging them to adopt views and opinions, and to pursue a line of conduct, which cannot be justified even by this kind of legislation. I think, that whilst it has this effect, it will also have the effect of degrading the dignity of Parliament. A noble Baron who spoke last night (Lord Beaumont) said, that he looked upon the Bill in the light of a protest. It is found very convenient to talk of this Bill as a protest. But who ever heard of a protest made by any individual or body of men, imposing heavy penalties upon their fellow-subjects? Will my noble Friend consent to pay any of the penalties inflicted by this Bill passed to enable him and others to protest against the words of the Pope and Cardinal Wiseman? If he merely wishes to protest, and if this were a mere form of protest, I should be most ready to join him, and I should have been most ready to have joined him at an earlier period of the Session, when a protest would have been possible. But I, for one, will not consent to give my vote in favour of a measure which, in the expectation even of those who pass it, is to remain a dead letter on the Statute-book.
We have been told that we must endeavour to check anything tending to spread ultramontane opinions, and that this Bill will have a chance of effecting that object. Now, on the contrary, I think it will increase the improper influence of the priesthood in temporal affairs. I believe it has already had the effect of producing a combination never before seen between the Roman Catholic clergy and laity in Ireland, not for spiritual but for civil purposes. Instead of acting in a way to produce such results as these, it ought to be the policy of this country to support the Roman Catholic population in the free exercise of their religion, but at the same time to take every legitimate means of detaching them from the overweening influence of the priesthood in secular affairs. I think this Bill, operating on the passions and feelings, common alike to all of us, will have the effect of drawing nearer those who have hitherto stood aloof from the improper exercise of the temporal power of Rome. I do not object under any possible circumstances to interference with that power. I object to any interference with the fullest and freest exercise of religious liberty; but if you will prove 1259 to me that an act of the Pope infringes I in any respect on social order; that it circumscribes free liberty of the subject; that it threatens to fetter (which no religion has a right to do) the free will and action of any person or any number of persons, either within the pale of his own creed or out of it—I will be as ready as any man, on social grounds, then to interfere. If you show me that religious houses in this country are conducted on a system at variance with the liberty of the subject, or infringing the municipal or civil law of the country, I am perfectly prepared to interfere and to apply a remedy to the evil. But the onus pro-bandi rests on those who propose such legislation, and they must first make out a case for interference. Allusion has been made, and more than once, to the Synod of Thurles. We have been told it is necessary to stop such meetings. I deprecate the tone and temper of that meeting as much as anybody. That meeting was certainly diverted from its object, and from its religious character, to a most strenuous opposition of national education. Yet I freely confess, if that meeting had teen restricted to the mere denunciation of the Queen's Colleges, I cannot see what right we should have to complain of their conduct more than of that of others who have equally denounced these institutions. It is well known that the hon. Baronet the senior Member for the University of Oxford designated them "godless colleges," and endeavoured to raise the religious animosity of the Protestants against them. I cannot understand on what principle we are to allow him to denounce them in his place in Parliament, and then turn round and say Dr. Cullen shall not denounce them at Thurles. I firmly believe that if these Colleges are in danger at all, it is not from meetings at Thurles, it is not from denunciations thundered by Dr. Cullen, bat it is from the spirit raised by such legislation as we are now asked to sanction. When the unfortunate letter of the noble Lord at the head of the Government appeared, I believe the Roman Catholic laity of Ireland were prepared to maintain their rights against priestly domination in this matter, and to exercise their privileges as free citizens, for they appreciated these colleges as one of the greatest boons (as in my conscience I believe they are) ever conferred on Ireland. I believe no denunciations from Thurles or elsewhere would have prevented them sending 1260 their sons to those institutions, had it not been for the feelings of pride, and, as I consider, false honour, which have been engendered in them by all that has been passing in Parliament this Session. But for these feelings I believe the colleges would now be fulfilling the high destiny for which they were founded. With reference to legislating on matters of a mixed character, where the spiritual interferes with the temporal, the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) alluded last night to the case of a poor man who had been excommunicated by a Catholic priest, in the north of Ireland, for no offence whatever, or at any rate for no spiritual offence. My noble Friend stated that the same arguments were used by the counsel for the priest in that case which have been used by noble Lords on this side of the House, and by others, in opposition to this Bill. I listened, therefore, very attentively to see how my noble Friend was about to conclude his narrative, and support his own views; but, to my surprise, the very case which was to support his argument proved that the existing law was sufficient for the purpose, for he told us that, notwithstanding these arguments of the counsel, the jury found a verdict for the plaintiff with 70l. damages. Here, however, you have a special Bill introduced to meet the case of an act which is not a temporal offence at all; and so far as the case referred to was made out by the noble Duke, it fortifies the position for which I contend; and I must moreover remind him that similar acts of excommunication have taken place in Scotland, though you have a special saving-clause for the Scotch bishops.
I think that some of your Lordships, in the course of yesterday evening's debate, asked what we should do, if we reject this Bill? I must remind your Lordships in passing, that this Bill has been before the Legislature of this country for five months, and what might have been advisable five mouths ago may be impossible now. Notwithstanding the arguments of my noble and learned Friend who spoke this evening—assuming the correctness of his law, which I really feel it would be treason in me to doubt—I cannot imagine what can be the breach of international law which he distinctly stated had been committed by the recent act of the Pope, and consequently every similar act for years past; but if such a breach of international law has been committed, I cannot but 1261 think that the plain and obvious course would have been to use those means which are open to all Governments to obtain redress, namely, through the medium of diplomatic intercourse. I think that such a step would not have been prevented by the Act of 1848, because, although a nuncio from the Pope could not, under the provisions of that Act, be received in this country, there is nothing to prevent our sending an ambassador to Rome, and obtaining that redress which the necessity of the case requires. I have said, however, before, that I think there was nothing in the act of the Pope to be complained of, save and except the language of the Rescript, and that no previous communication was made to the Government of this country. But though the tone of the Rescript itself was not agreeable to the feelings of the people of this country, and ought to have been avoided, it might be said that it was drawn up in the accustomed form. That excuse, however, will not apply to the language of Cardinal Wiseman: he is a British subject, and knowing well the religious feelings and prejudices of the national sentiment, the language of his pastoral letter was much more reprehensible, and he ought to have framed that document in terms which would have been equally well calculated to effect every legitimate object which he had in view, and less likely to engender those feelings of irritation which have been excited. Well, then, if this were the real offence—if insolence be the gravamen of the charge against the Pope and his Cardinal—what should have been done five months ago? It seems to me that at the meeting of Parliament it would have been amply sufficient, under these circumstances, if Parliament had stated, either by a Resolution or by an Address to the Crown, the deliberate views and opinions of the Legislature, and had declared—for this would have been the main and important element in the proceeding—the strong attachment of this country to the Protestant religion—thus undeceiving the Pope and others—if they were deceived, as has been stated by noble Lords in the course of the debate; and confirming by its solemn sanction the generally-expressed will of the people to maintain their independence of the See of Rome, and support the reformed religion of the country. For this purpose a Resolution or Address to the Crown would have been sufficient; and it is my firm belief that you would have obtained the only great ob- 1262 ject which you have a light to aim at, by securing the sanction of the three branches of the Legislature to the determined protest which had already been made by the country at large. At the same time I think, now that all this bitterness of feeling has been aroused, now that we have wasted the whole Session by the postponement of every great and important measure to this small and miserable Bill—miserable whether I look at it in regard to its capacity for good, or its power to prevent evil—I say even now it would be far better to reject the Bill altogether than to pass it, even though the necessary consequence would be that at this period of the Session, and so long after this "aggression" had been committed, nothing else could be done.
My Lords, I must again apologise for having trespassed so largely upon your Lordships' time. I am aware that my position in this House does not justify my doing so, and on any other occasion I should not have attempted it. But, my Lords, I feel that this is a step which no man ought to take without the clearest convictions of its necessity. Disguise it as you will, this is a step backwards in the course of legislation which you have pursued for many years past. You are reverting to penal legislation. This is but the small end of the wedge, and though the present occupants of the Treasury bench may not seek to drive it further, they may be succeeded by others, who, forced onwards by the same influences to which they have yielded, may feel themselves compelled to do so. There would then arise, nay I fear there will even now arise, such a state of things as existed previously to the passing of the Emancipation Act, and Parliament will be compelled to retrace its steps, but not without shame and ignominy. My Lords, I shall record my vote against the second reading of this Bill, knowing, at the same time, that I shall be in a comparatively small minority, but as a protest on my part against this kind of legislation. I am convinced that if our opposition could be effectual, it would tend to promote the religious peace of this country, and that the rejection of this Bill would be more conducive to the interests of that Church of which the Members of the right reverend Bench are the recognised protectors in this House, than any course of legislation which seeks to raise barriers against religious aggression, and which will leave behind it impressions of bitterness and 1263 disaffection on both sides of the Channel, more especially in Ireland, to which I, for one, cannot look forward without the greatest pain and anxiety.
The MARQUESS of CLANRICARDE
said, that he so far agreed with the noble Duke who had just sat down, as to look upon this measure as one of very grave importance. He would not venture to say one word on the law of the case, after the clear and juridical speech delivered by the noble and learned Lord, with all the authority which belonged to his position. He would, therefore, address himself at once to the arguments which had been used by the noble Earl opposite, and the noble Duke who had just resumed his seat, in favour of the Amendment. The noble Duke had argued in favour of a mere Parliamentary protest. If, however, the Pope or any of his advisers were to hear of an attempt to defeat their measures by a Parliamentary protest, they would have a very humble opinion of the sagacity of the Parliament of this country. Was he to be told that Parliament was to sit idle, when he saw not only the mobs in the streets, but the most influential corporations in the country, as well as the most learned bodies in the kingdom, coming forward with addresses to the Crown? Was it to be supposed that at such a time the Government had any option to remain quiet? The noble Duke had used an argument that appeared to him singular, for the noble Duke had said that the Pope had made no attack on the Royal supremacy, because the Pope's act was not recognised by law; now he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) could not understand how such an attack could be made at all, if the attack must be a legal attack. As to its being merely a question about titles, there was no objection to a person calling himself bishop of the Church of Rome; but it was a very different thing, against which serious objections might exist, if he were to call himself a bishop of a part of England without the consent of the Sovereign. It was urged that Roman Catholic bishops were not treated as bishops of the Episcopal Church of Scotland were treated, nor like the Wesleyan Methodists. But was there any parallel between the two cases, or any similitude between the communities referred to and the Church of Rome? Were their Lordships to ignore all history? The noble Duke had talked of the contest which had been going on for 300 years about vicars-apostolic and their authority, 1264 and yet he had not referred to the contests which had been constantly carried on during the same period between the Governments of all Europe and the Pope. The noble Duke said that the Government of this country had encouraged the Pope to take the step which he had done by the liberality and generosity of their measures; but he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) totally denied the force of that argument. The inference which he drew from it was precisely the reverse of that which the noble Duke deduced. Was there any ground for committing an act of aggression against a Government which had shown a disposition in every way to protect the Roman Catholics, and to give them all the religious liberty which they could desire? He really thought that the points which had been so much insisted upon, namely, whether bishops or vicars-apostolic were the best persons to administer the religious affairs of Roman Catholics, and whether we should open a communication with the Pope, afforded much too narrow a view of this question. It was impossible not to recollect, when this Rescript came into the country, what were the circumstances of the continent of Europe, and of this kingdom. Their Lordships knew that attempts had been made all over the continent of Europe to advance the Papal power and authority. If their Lordships wanted to see what steps were taken by the Papal Government to extend its influence and authority, and what were the objects for which that authority would be exercised, he recommended them to read the concordat which had been lately made between the Court of Rome and Spain. Let them look also to what had been attempted in Belgium, and done in Austria, upon the subject of education. Was it possible, then, to suppose that the state of foreign affairs was left out of view by the Pope when this Rescript was written? They knew very well that the Court of Rome had always two modes of aggression, and one of those modes was, when she had an object to effect in one place, to introduce discord and fermentation elsewhere. That was what had been done by that Court for the last two years. Let their Lordships look at what was done by the Synod of Thurles. The noble Duke had argued that the Pope's interference was confined to spiritual matters; but the Court of Rome set aside the clergyman recommended to a Roman Catholic archbishopric by the clergy of Ireland, and 1265 sent in their place a clergyman who for many years had not been connected with the country. What was the consequence? Under the direction of that Prelate the institutions which had been accepted with gratitude by the Irish Roman Catholic prelates were assailed, and this was done just before the aggression now under consideration took place. Were their Lordships then to be told that a Parliamentary protest would be sufficient to meet that aggression? He, for his part, thought that something more was wanted. He did not wish, however, that the Government should take one step further than was necessary for the exigencies of the case, or do more than prevent the exercise of the right which had been improperly assumed. He regretted, therefore, to see that an Amendment had been introduced into the Bill; but it was the House of Commons, and not the Government, who were responsible for that Amendment. The question for their Lordships to decide was, whether, looking at all the circumstances of the case, they would accept this Bill, so amended, as it was called—so injuriously altered, as he should say—or reject it, and throw it out altogether. That was the question before the House; and, looking at all the circumstances under which the Bill came before them, he would take it as it stood. The noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle) on the cross benches had said they might as well pass a Bill for preventing the free exercise of the Roman Catholic religion in Ireland as this; but the noble Duke seemed to forget that all it effected was to enforce the provisions of the Relief Act. Dr. Murray had been alluded to: now, he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) must say that a more learned, a more worthy, or distinguished Christian, did not live. But Archbishop Murray never called himself Archbishop of Dublin. Some said that he executed all his functions as Archbishop of Dublin; but he defied any noble Lord to point out a single case in which such a title as Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin had been admitted by any Irish court of justice. That the de facto nomination of priests by such a functionary had been recognised, he admitted; but no bull or rescript under which such title was conferred, had ever been recognised as a valid instrument. The noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen) had stated, on the previous night—So long ago as under the Government of Mr. Pitt, this change from vicars-apostolic to bishops 1266 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—'That 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 1791. Mr. Pitt's Government thought it wise 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. C. Hippisley."—Page 1079–80.But all this of Sir J. C. Hippisley and Mr. Pitt referred not to an act of aggression like the present, but to the question of giving the Crown of England a veto upon the appointment of Roman Catholic bishops; so that, in fact, no Roman Catholic bishop could be appointed without the consent of the Government. The noble Marquess then read an extract from a book (Butler's History) written by a member of the Roman Catholic Church, in which it was stated that in 1799 a meeting of Irish Roman Catholic prelates was held, who resolved that the Crown, in order to secure the loyalty of the hierarchy, ought to have a veto upon the appointment of bishops, and that as vacant sees occurred, they ought to be filled up by men approved by the Crown, and by none other. In 1810 Mr. Ponsonby read in the House of Commons a communication from Dr. Milner, in which it was stated that the Catholic prelates of Ireland were willing to give a direct negative to the Government upon the appointment of bishops; in case the first name was not approved of, to continue to present the names of persons to fill the vacant sees until the Government ratified the choice of one so presented. But the question their Lordships were now considering was of a totally different nature; it was not respecting the propriety of conferring on the Crown a power to veto Roman Catholic bishops, but to declare territorial titles assumed without the consent and in direct violation of the rights of the Crown, invalid. He would be sorry if this Bill should in any way prevent the free exercise of the Catholic religion: had he thought it would have that effect, he would not have joined his Colleagues in introducing it. When it was said this measure would affect the loyalty of the Catholics, he must say that he altogether rejected that supposition as monstrous and absurd. He believed that this law would be obeyed, and that the 1267 Roman Catholics would continue to be steadfast in the loyalty which they had always evinced. He looked back to history, and he found that the Catholics had been loyal when they had not, as now, a paternal Government. Our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects had now everything they could desire consistently with loyalty to their Sovereign. When the honour and rights of the Crown were invaded in former times, the Roman Catholics had not the privileges which they enjoyed now, and yet their Lordships well knew that in the most troubled and critical times the Roman Catholics had exerted themselves loyally and effectually to maintain the independence of this country against foreign aggression. He believed very many of the Roman Catholics did not approve of this aggression; indeed it was well known that many, and distinguished, members of that body did not approve of it, and he felt certain that no good and loyal Englishman, be he Catholic or Protestant, would have advised the Pope to commit such an act. He know pernicious doctrines were abroad; but he also knew that, in spite of these doctrines, information had spread, and intelligence had been widely diffused. When he referred to the great excitement which had prevailed throughout the country upon this subject, the existence of which he regretted on many accounts, he felt bound to say that it was the Pope who was responsible for it, and not the Protestants, who had merely expressed their indignation at this proceeding of the Court of Rome. He much regretted the step taken by Cardinal Wiseman. It had been asserted that the Cardinal had no means of communicating with the Government; but that was not so. He had abundant opportunities, and had even had an interview with his noble Friend at the head of the Government immediately before he set out for Rome. The requirements of the Roman Catholic religion did not demand the establishment of this hierarchy, although perhaps it might be thought to be a convenient instrument for promoting the views of the See of Rome. The noble Duke who had just sat down admitted that the manner in which the Pope had committed those acts was ungracious and insulting, but he ridiculed the necessity of legislating against wounded feelings; but, after all, feelings were realities in such matters, and whether they looked to nations in the 1268 aggregate, or to mankind individually, it would be found that nothing had a more material influence upon the destiny of our race than matters affecting their feelings. He looked upon the insult on the part of the Pope as gross and gratuitous, and though he wished the clause relating to informers was not in the Bill, he would unhesitatingly give his vote for the second reading.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
said, that he had listened with the greatest attention to the speech of the noble Marquess (Lord Clan-ricarde) who had just sat down, who, from his high position in Her Majesty's service, his knowledge of Ireland, and his connection with that country by birth and station, deserved to be heard with peculiar attention on the present subject. But the noble Marquess had disappointed his expectations, for he had failed to show them what good results this Bill was to effect; he had also failed to show whether its operation would be the same in both parts of the United Kingdom. The noble Marquess had referred to the speech of his noble and learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst), and had prudently relied upon the clear and brilliant statement made by that noble and learned Lord with respect to the common law of England; but he had not been able to extract from the eloquent statement of that learned person any definite exposition of the future operation of this particular Bill. Neither had the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Lansdowne), whose mitis sapientia so justly recommended him to the respect and confidence of their Lordships and of the country, entered into any explanation of the practical working of the measure; nor had he derived from the acuteness of the noble Lords who had followed him in support of the Bill, any more satisfactory information as to what it was and what it was not, and what would be its practical consequences. This surely was a most unusual circumstance in relation to a penal measure bearing upon the social condition of at least one great portion of the State. This Bill was, in fact, a severe penal measure, founded on religious distinctions. It was a measure which should be watched with a jealous and scrutinising eye; and which would be so watched by those whose dearest interests were at stake. He entreated the attention of the noble Lord on the woolsack to his question; and he called on him to explain what the operation of this measure would be on the 1269 ancient Roman Catholic hierarchy of Ireland, and what its operation in relation to those who were termed the intruders into pretended sees in England—he asked how it would operate on the one side of the Channel and on the other—he asked whether the law would he practically the same in both countries, and, if not, what the distinction would be. Assuming that the Pope had done a wrong, the House should remember that by this Bill they were not punishing the Pope, but their own fellow-subjects, wholly innocent of the imputed offence. Of all blunders it surely was the most strange to complain of the Pope's aggression, and to punish those who are not aggressors: to punish men, who, like the noble Lord near him (Lord Vaux), had been guilty of no offence whatever. A more complete Irish blunder had never been committed, in resistance to a Papal bull. But the Bill was more than a blunder—it was a complication of blunders and of injustice, to which it would not be easy to find a parallel. That any foreign potentate, whether the Pope or any other sovereign, should pretend to interfere in the internal affairs of this country, in a manner unauthorised by the common law of Europe, was an act which he was not there to defend. But what then? Because the interference of Parliament was called for, did it follow he was obliged to accept the present Bill as the means of settling the question? Just as well, if he were in sickness, might he be called on to take the first medicine prescribed for him by the most arrant quack. A more precious piece of quackery, a more complete piece of delusion, after all the excitement that had taken place, had never been presented to Parliament than the Bill now in question. In dealing with any religious interest it was the duty of statesmen to avoid all causes of irritation and excitement. But if unhappily compelled to irritate, let them do so only for the purpose of gaining some real security; let not their Act he at once active and efficient for evil, and powerless for good. Would the Bill be enforced? Did they believe it? Did they wish it? Let them see what had taken place recently in the case of the creation of a Bishop of Ross. Had Government instituted a prosecution? Had any address been moved against them for not so doing? Had, a question been asked in Parliament of the Government respecting that nomination? No, nothing of the kind. Again, when Archbishop 1270 M'Hale—for Archbishop he legally was, though Bishop of Tuam he legally was not—had affixed the style of "Tuam" to certain documents, Lord Melbourne, then Prime Minister, was asked distinctly whether he Was prepared to institute a prosecution; and Lord Melbourne, after having taken the opinion of his Colleagues, stated, in his place in Parliament, that it was the united opinion of the Cabinet that no prosecution should be instituted. And had any objection been made to this prudent caution by the noble Lords (the Marquess of Lansdowne and Earl Grey) at the time? On the contrary, they were parties to the declaration. Again; the House had been long aware that religious orders were increasing in England and in Ireland, notwithstanding the prohibitions of the Emancipation Act; but none of those noble Lords, nor had Lord John Russell, ever proposed enforcing the prohibitions of the Act of 1829 against the regular clergy. It was not inactivity, but a wise forbearance, which had led to that course. They had not prosecuted, because it would not have been wise or expedient to prosecute. It would be the same with respect to the present measure. What motive could there be found to carry on a prosecution under this Bill, which did not apply to prosecutions which might have been instituted under the previous law? What reason was there for supposing that the present Government should venture to act otherwise than they had hitherto done, or that any Government that might succeed them would be more ready to institute proceedings under this Act, than preceding Governments had heretofore been? The noble and learned Lord (Lord Lyndhurst), who had spoken that night with his old vigour and power, and with the full possession of his brilliant powers—which might he long enjoy!—seemed to have recovered also all his old hatreds:On revient toujoursA ses premiers amours,was the French couplet. But the noble Lord's version was different. The noble and learned Lord had returned not to his early loves, but to his early animosity. He had that night displayed the same indomitable eloquence, but the same unenviable bitterness which he (Lord Monteagle) remembered to have heard in the other House so powerfully exerted against the admission of Roman Catholics into Parliament, till a change came over the spirit of his opinion with a change of Adminis- 1271 tration, when that noble and learned Lord's voice, not dying away in silence, was exercised with equal eloquence on the other side of the question. But the noble and learned Lord had that night said that the reason why the clause of the Relief Act was not put into operation, was the negligence of the Attorney Generals. The fact, however, was, there was no negligence: it was a politic forbearance—it was justifiable, because it was not thought wise to commence such prosecutions; and what reason was there to suppose that the same reasons would not now prescribe similar forbearance to the present and to future Attorney Generals, even under the more stringent enactments of the present measure? But who was it that thus blamed Attorney Generals for their remissness? Why, the very statesman who had been for years Lord Chancellor, and who, as such, could have ordered a prosecution. He did not do so. He blames the inactivity for which he is himself responsible. But he must now beg leave to refer to the circumstances under which the original prohibition to assume certain ecclesiastical titles had been introduced into the Act of 1829. Unless these circumstances were carefully considered, much misapprehension must mix itself up in the present discussion. When the 24th section of the Relief Bill prohibiting the assumption of the titles of existing sees came under discussion, this whole subject was most carefully considered. On the 8th of April, 1829, a noble Lord, whom he might name in his absence, the Earl of Mountcashel, and who from his conduct on that occasion might claim to share with Her Majesty's Ministers the honour of paternity to the present Bill, dissatisfied with the leniency of Sir Robert Peel's clauses, proposed to augment their stringency. The late Earl of Malmesbury, who had been a determined opponent to emancipation, observed, in reply—I by no means intend to support this Amendment; so far from it, that, if it is moved to strike out this clause altogether, that shall have my support. I have opposed Catholic Emancipation on principle; but that question being at rest, I wish to see the principle that is adopted carried into effect without any restriction. Your proposed object being to promote peace, you ought to put an end to all differences and all distinctions. These clauses, which you call securities, are all a mere joke, a complete farce: they are worse than that, too, for they will tend to keep alive that irritability and discontent which you wish to do away with. I presume the clause is introduced to satisfy persons who attach importance to the as- 1272 sumption of these titles. I confess I think it a very harmless matter." [See 2 Hansard, xxi. 560.]Little did Lord Malmesbury suspect that what he had designated as a "joke and a farce" would have been converted into the form of a severe penal Act like the present, or that acts which he described as "harmless matters" should have occupied the attention of Parliament a whole Session! He (Lord Monteagle) left their Lordships to judge whether Lord Malmesbury's description was not the correct one. But what said the illustrious and gallant Duke who had charge of the Bill? Did he in 1829, any more than his colleague Sir R. Peel, set any great store on these clauses? On the contrary. "I admit," he observed,—"that the clause is no security at all. At the same time it gives satisfaction to the United Church of England and Ireland. I am aware that there is nothing in the clause that adds strength to the Church; but I am also aware that it gives satisfaction to many men."—[Ibid.]Yet some among their Lordships and elsewhere have been taught to consider the assumption of these titles as endangering the Queen's supremacy, and as inconsistent with the independence of the empire! Was the noble and gallant Duke right? and if he was right then, can we now believe that any security will be given to our Church by the revival of those religious animosities which the penalties and restrictions of the present Bill were calculated to engender? But he had another authority to cite. The late Lord Redesdale was not more known as a learned judge, than as an uncompromising Protestant. He, too, had been Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and must be presumed to have been familiar with the law and usage of the country. Did he defend the prohibitions? The very reverse. He observes—There is one difficulty in the clause, which I cannot see my way through. I do not know how these persons, who have long been called My Lord Bishop of Dublin, or My Lord Bishop of Kildare, and who have been thus recognised for years, can divest themselves of these titles, or act efficiently in their clerical capacity without describing themselves in that manner. If these persons exercise power, they must exercise it in that way.Lord Redesdale did not ask for any increased severity of law; he did not rely on the 16 Richard II., or seek to revive Lalor's case. On the contrary, perceiving that an adherence to the law would be inconsistent with the duties of the Roman Catholic bishops, he most wisely concluded, "For my own part, I think the clause will do 1273 no good." But, said the nohle Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Clanricarde), Archbishop Murray and the other Roman Catholic bishops had never assumed those territorial titles. His noble Friend was entirely in error. The late Lord Farn-ham, a witness of the most unquestionable Protestant authority, had, as well as Lord Redesdale, stated the very reverse in 1829. Lord Farnham honestly and wisely observed—I object entirely to this clause. I believe that, as to certain ecclesiastical affairs, the Roman Catholic bishops do assume these titles; but I cannot say they do so in any other manner. The clause may be evaded in a hundred ways. The penalty is inflicted on taking the title of any revenue or diocese. There is nothing to prevent them from describing themselves as archbishops or bishops in any diocese.But the use of these titles, which his noble Friend denies, has been both known and acknowledged in the most formal manner, and on the most solemn occasion. In the years 1824–25, the late Lord Liverpool had been persuaded by Lord Wellesley, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, to consent to the appointment of Select Committees in both Houses, before whom the most eminent Roman Catholic prelates were examined. The first question put to the late Bishop Doyle was the following:—"You are the Roman Catholic Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin?" The answer given was, "I am." Archbishop Murray was asked—"How many years have you been Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin?" Answer: "Since the decease of my predecessor in 1823." Archbishop Kelly was asked—"How many years have you been Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam?" Answer: "Since 1815." A still more significant question was put to Bishop Magaurin:—"What counties are under your jurisdiction in your diocese?" He prayed their Lordships to consider the import of those words, "diocese" and "jurisdiction," which were assuredly not used as designating any unlawful act, or any arrogant assumption. This examination was, it is true, before the House of Commons. But the House of Lords was not more scrupulous. Quite the contrary. With more than formal courtesy, the Roman Catholic Primate Curtis was asked—"Have the goodness to state to the Committee what are the different stations in the Roman Catholic Church, in the Province of Armagh, of which you are the head." Answer: "There is the Roman Catholic Archbishop 1274 titular Primate; the Bishop of Ardagh, the Bishop of Meath, the Bishop of Clog-her, the Bishop of Raphoe, the Bishop of Derry, the Bishop of Down and Connor, and the Bishop of Dromore." No indignation was expressed at this series of ecclesiastical titles, identical as they were with the titles enjoyed by the prelates of the Establishment. No demand for prosecutions, no threat of a præmunire. The legality of the whole was taken for granted, and the witnesses were treated with that courtesy and respect which they were sure to meet with from all Members of the House of Lords, whatever might be their opinions political and religious. If these precedents are rejected, as being antecedent to the prohibitory clause of the Relief Act, and if the observations of Lord Malmesbury, Lord Redesdale and Lord Farnham are set aside, as being only remarks made by individual Peers; he must, however, remind them, that all this took place when Parliament was exclusively Protestant, and yet no Address had been moved praying the Crown to direct the Attorney General to prosecute these prelates for so describing themselves. It was with a full knowledge of these facts that the Relief Act was passed. It is true that a penalty of 100l. was imposed. But no one dreamt of an enactment like the present, declaring the acts of the bishops, and the instruments of their appointment, to be unlawful and void. That dangerous expedient was reserved for the present time, and for Sir F. Thesiger's Amendment. He was therefore justified in saying that the Bill now before them was not only a departure from the principles of religious liberty, and fraught with injustice, but was manifestly contrary to the spirit, the intention, and the very letter of the Relief Act. But it was urged that the dangers he suggested were imaginary, and that no proceedings against the bishops would be taken, as the Attorney General would not give his consent to prosecute. If that were the case—if the officer of the Crown did not deal with these cases as he dealt with all others of a like character that were brought before him—they were giving the Attorney General the power of making the law instead of administering it; and unless their Lordships were prepared to defend the enforcement of the law when passed, they were not justified in passing it. If it was intended to suspend the law by the prerogative, if that were indeed to be done, 1275 he must say a greater juggle, a more barefaced imposture, than this Bill, he never knew. If they were as much in dread of the Pope as was reported out of doors, if they really wished to diminish his power, let them not raise up for him that worst of all pedestals—a pedestal of broken Acts of Parliament. If they passed this Act, and did not put it into execution, they were only giving a new triumph to Cardinal Wiseman. They would find, too, a distinction to arise in the working of the measure from the peculiar circumstances of the two countries, which would involve them in insurmountable difficulties. The late Sidney Smith, on being asked how he would deal with the Roman Catholics of England and Ireland, said, "Be cautious how you proceed—you may dissect a frog, but be cautious how you attempt to anatomise a tiger." He intended no disrespect to either country by the illustration, neither did his late respected friend; but it was suggestive, and pregnant with truth and meaning. He was ready to condemn the presumption of the Rescript in any way their Lordships thought proper; but let them not inflict penalties on their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects; let them not commit the blunder of extending to Ireland a measure which originated only in the aggression made upon England. The titles that were now said to be assumed in Ireland were known and used previously to this alleged aggression; and they had been recognised in the courts of law many years subsequently to the Relief Act. He would give some instances of this, which seemed to him to be conclusive. In 1845 a petition was presented to the Court of Chancery in Ireland on behalf of certain charitable trust estates. This petition was referred not to a Roman Catholic Master, but to a friend and connexion of his own, Master Henn, a gentleman whose learning and orthodoxy were alike undeniable. On the 13th January, 1846, the Master recommended the nomination, as trustees, of eight Protestants and eight Roman Catholics. Among the former was the Rev. Arthur Wynne, the Protestant Vicar of St. Peter's. Among the latter stood the following name, with the following official description:—"The Most Rev. Dr. Croly, Roman Catholic Archbishop and Primate of all Ireland." The report was objected to; it was argued before that eminent lawyer, Sir Edward Sugden, and a motion to vary the report was refused 25th April, 1846. Vacancies 1276 in the trustees having subsequently occurred, on the 24th June, 1850, the two vacancies were filled up officially as follows:—"The Most Rev. Paul Cullen, D.D., Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, and Primate of all Ireland, and the Rev. W, Ormsby, Vicar of St. Peter's." Is it not clear that the court considered the first designation to be as free from legal objection as the last? The next case he should cite was equally remarkable. It occurred in 1847, and was in the Rolls Court, before the Irish Master of the Rolls, Mr. T. B. C, Smith. Letters of administration, with the will annexed, had, it appears, been granted (8th May, 1847) by the Most Rev. John George, Lord Archbishop of Armagh, and Primate of all Ireland, to "The Most Rev. John M'Hale, of Tuam, in the county of Galway, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam." An affidavit in the cause was sworn on the 5th July, 1847, before Mr. Edward Litton, Master in Chancery, a strong Protestant. This affidavit was signed "John, Archbishop of Tuam." The case supported by this affidavit was disposed of before the Master of the Rolls; and so far was it from there being any objection to the affidavit, or to the title assumed by the deponent, that the motion against Archbishop M'Hale was refused with costs. He would only trouble the House with one further case—that of the Right Rev. John Cantwell, Roman Catholic Bishop of Meath, Plaintiff, v. Bernard Marten, the Commissioner of Charitable Bequests, and the Attorney General, defendants. In this case a reference was made to the Master in Chancery, Mr. Litton, who reported 16th April, 1849:—I find that Elizabeth Marten did bequeath her estate and effects to the plaintiff and his successors, Roman Catholic Bishops of Meath, on trust, to establish an asylum for distressed Roman Catholic clergymen. I find that the plaintiff is entitled, under this will, as Roman Catholic Bishop of Meath, to have the possession of these lands during his lifetime, and while he shall exercise the same spiritual jurisdiction exercised as Roman Catholic bishop in the diocese of Meath, in trust, &c. And on plaintiff's death or translation, such persons, being Roman Catholic bishops, who shall succeed him, exercising the same spiritual jurisdiction in the diocese of Meath as the plaintiff now exercises, will be entitled to possession of the land, &c, in trust," &c.He would ask how would such cases be dealt with after this Bill became law? But if his noble Friend Lord Clanricarde had not heard sufficient to convince him that the Ecclesiastical Titles, without being ostentatiously proclaimed, had been 1277 acknowledged by authorities much higher I than those of the Court Circular or a State Master of the Ceremonies, he would intreat him to hear the evidence given against the present Bill by Archbishop Murray, whose truly apostolic character deserved all the encomium that it had received on all sides. That eminent Prelate observes—Our Church is eminently episcopal. Our sacred ministry could not be carried on without priests, and we could have no priests without bishops, and no bishops but through the authority of the Pope. It is his business not only to name our bishops, but to point out the limits within which their jurisdiction is to be circumscribed. The portion of surface which contains the Catholic flock within those limits may be called a district, a see, or a bishopric, and the individual appointed to ordain priests, and to carry on the necessary functions of the ministry therein, may be a vicar-apostolic or a bishop in ordinary, with this difference, that the former is removable at pleasure; the latter is permanent, and therefore one step removed from Papal influence. Except as Archbishop of Dublin, I could not give a parish—I could not ordain one of my own priests—I could not communicate with the Pope—I could not grant letters dismissory, or ordination letters, or letters testimonial.What then will be the operation of a Bill which declares Archbishop Murray's appointment and all acts and jurisdictions under it unlawful and void? The eon-sequences wore what might have been foreseen. Many of their Lordships knew that there was a wide-spread organisation of the whole Roman Catholic body already formed in Great Britain and Ireland for the purpose of protecting their religion; and he would submit to their Lordships, that the Roman Catholics should not be left in a position of thinking they were again called on to struggle for freedom. If it were supposed they were really driven to engage in a contest for religious freedom, they would not struggle alone—they would be supported by public opinion, and by the sympathy and the co-operation of the Protestant community. If their Lordships knew that this law could not be executed—and the history of the past would give them abundant proof of what they must expect to find in the future—he begged their Lordships, by every consideration, by all that was due to their own dignity, by all that was due to the State, by the desire to keep undiminished the force and authority which ought always to accompany the law of the land, not to pass such a measure. If they believed that this measure was just and good, and that if when 1278 passed it could and would be enforced, though differing from them in judgment, ha would not quarrel with the logic of their determination. He begged them to profit by experience. Measures framed with one intent, when not founded on sound principle, frequently turned against their authors. Of this, the subject under consideration afforded a memorable example. When the Act for restoring Diplomatic Intercourse with Rome was passed, it was unfortunately rendered abortive by a clause carried by a noble Friend of his the Earl of Eglintoun. That clause rendered it unlawful to receive, as an ambassador, any person being in holy orders of the Church of Rome. This clause was prepared either for Protestant dignity or Protestant safety. Their Lordships were then sorely afraid of a priest; the result has been that they have imported a cardinal. They rejected a responsible nuncio; they have to endure an irresponsible legate. The same cause had produced also the letters apostolical now complained of. But for that unfortunate Amendment, we should not have had the aggression of Cardinal Wiseman. It would have been impossible for the Pope to have issued this Rescript without first communicating with the Government of this country, if there had been a Minister representing the Court of Rome in this country, or even if we had a Minister at Rome. He warned the Government, respectfully but earnestly, that, although there was a danger which they might escape in that House by casting the responsibility of Sir F. Thesiger's Amendments on the House of Commons, there was a responsibility which the people of Ireland would not permit them to forget—the responsibility of creating an agitation which would be the more enduring, because, he feared, it would be founded on truth and justice. He therefore implored their Lordships not to pass this Bill.
The LORD CHANCELLOR
said, that though the noble Lord found fault with the present measure, yet, although he admitted that something ought to be done, he had not suggested anything in its place; and he was at a loss to understand the charge of the noble Lord as to Ministers shrinking from the responsibility which they ought to have undertaken, for he altogether denied that they had done so. The Government presented the Bill to their Lordships, and recommended their Lordships to pass it, and they considered it a Bill which justified that re- 1279 commendation. They stated at the same time, "We should have preferred a Bill somewhat different; but it is necessary in our judgment to pass a Bill on the subject. We think this Bill, although not precisely in the shape we should have preferred it, has a tendency to accomplish the object which it is desirable to accomplish, notwithstanding the alterations that have been made." Was there anything unreasonable in that? Did the Government shrink from responsibility because they told their Lordships they did not approve of every line of the Bill, but at the same time, as a whole, they presented it to their Lordships' acceptance? What was the foundation of the imputation of the Government shrinking from responsibility? There was no ground whatever. They were responsible for the advice which they tendered to their Lordships. If this was an improper Bill, they were subject to censure; but if they could satisfy their Lordships that it was a Bill demanded by the interests of the country, one which they felt justified in recommending their Lordships to adopt, what was there inconsistent in their conduct, and how could it be said that they were not properly discharging their duty? Their Lordships were deeply impressed with the difficulty of legislating for Ireland in matters of religion. It was a question encumbered with difficulty: it was a question which had destroyed many Governments, and had embarrassed all. But what was the tendency of the argument of the noble Lord? Were their Lordships prepared to repeal the Act which declared the Church of England and Ireland to be inviolate? If not, were they prepared to support it? There was no other alternative. But if they were not prepared to support it, let not the separation be the result of a struggle. He should be glad to know whether the result of the noble Lord's argument was, "Let the Roman Catholics encroach, or the Pope encroach as much as he shall think fit, let them go from step to step, up to the moment of producing the greatest possible mischief, in the attempt to separate the Church of England and Ireland"—if that was the argument of the noble Lord, there was no stage in which they could venture to interrupt that progress of aggression. It was said, "You dare not enforce this Bill." The same language might be applied to any Bill. Were our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects in Ireland prepared to resist the law which Parliament should adopt? Was that 1280 prepared to be announced? How were their Lordships prepared to meet that case? They would not shrink from the question. That this Bill or any Bill would he encumbered with difficulties, was most likely. But the first question for consideration was this—Was it necessary to legislate at all? Noble Lords who entertained the opinion that it was not necessary, were of course justified in condemning the measure as useless. But the noble Lord (Lord Monteagle) did not concur with the noble Earl near him (the Earl of Aberdeen) in thinking this a trifling matter—a matter that could be passed over without notice; and he did not agree that it was not an encroachment upon the prerogatives of Her Majesty and Her rights of the Crown. Then if the aggression was not to be passed over, what would the noble Lord do? What had he suggested? Nothing. He condemned Her Majesty's Ministers' measure in strong terms—he applied hard expressions to the Bill. He stated that the noble Lord who brought forward the measure, seemed more fond of his puny offspring than of his more vigorous measures of former years. The noble Lord also mistook the manner in which his noble and learned Friend described the Bill. His noble and learned Friend had not a mind so constituted as to vote for a Bill which would become inoperative. The very contrary result was to be inferred from his noble and learned Friend's speech. A great deal had been said of the letter of the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government to the Bishop of Durham; but what would have been the feeling of the country if the noble Lord had not intimated that he considered it a serious matter? The noble Lord had written a letter, expressed in strong terms; and if he had not, what would have been the situation of the Legislature? Strong as were the noble Lord's expressions, they did not come up to the public feeling on the subject. What had been the course of legislation? Ever since the Emancipation Act, the Legislature, anxious to complete toleration, and giving credit to the Catholics for loyalty, had gone on in relieving them from one statute after another, until at last the impression had arisen in the country that Parliament was indifferent to the Church of England; and if it had not been for the spirited letter of the noble Lord, which disabused the public mind, and proved that while the noble Lord was the ardent friend of civil and religious li- 1281 liberty, his past conduct was not the result of indifference to the Church of England—the very Throne would have been shaken. That letter had allayed, it had not excited, public irritation. It showed the country that the matter was in the hands of the Government, and it was owing to that letter that the country was contented with so moderate a measure—it was owing to the confidence reposed in the integrity and good intentions of the noble Lord that their Lordships were discussing a measure so moderate that they were told by some that it was useless, and a dead letter, instead of a more stringent measure forced upon them by the country, on the supposition that the Government were not doing their duty. Had not what had occurred created a necessity for legislation? Look to the past history of the country. There had been a long struggle on the subject of the Catholic emancipation—a struggle which had quite as much of the political as the religious character. And indeed it was because the Roman Catholic religion was allied with absolutism, and had a tendency to tyranny, that most of the penal laws had been originally passed; and they were to be attributed as much to political as religious considerations. As time went on, the political considerations disappeared, and Parliament felt itself at liberty to say that the necessity for laws passed under particular circumstances had ceased to exist. The Legislature had yielded to its feelings of liberality; and believing that the Roman Catholics would be contented with an equality in civil rights, had (forgetful of the character of the Roman Catholic Church) at last relieved them from the penal laws. What had occurred since? Gradual, continual advances. It was not the laity but the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church, who, not content with equality of civil rights, aimed at power and dominion—not for spiritual purposes, but for temporal. And was it not natural that when the Rescript came out, the country, which had long thought Parliament had gone too fast, should have conceived that the mask was now thrown off by the Church of Rome; and that it was intended to establish a hierarchy in England first, and afterwards in Ireland? The step was sneered at as a slight matter. But their Lordships should remember that they had an Established Church in England and Ireland. It had been sought to encumber the subject with the question of 1282 the Royal supremacy. When their Lordships got on that question, they would have a long debate before them. He was prepared to state this, that the Queen was supreme in all courts which related to. ecclesiastical matters, and that was enough for his purpose. There was an Established Church, and there were ecclesiastical courts connected with it, of which Her Majesty was the head: and this, being a foreign Power, sent a document to this country, treating it, not as having no Church, but as having one which he could sweep away at pleasure, and parcelling out all England into dioceses, and giving it an ecclesiastical establishment and government. Was that consistent with the existence of the Established Church, and with Her Majesty's prerogative in regard to it? The Rescript restored the old government of the Church of Rome; the ancient Roman Catholic hierarchy was restored. And this was called the formal language of such documents. Why, it was the first example, in a country having a Church Establishment of its own, and in which the Roman Catholic religion is only tolerated, of the Pope presuming to re-establish the Roman Catholic Church. But this document declared the Roman Catholic religion to be restored as the religion of this country—that it had come again under the dominion of the Pope—and that all acts were null and void that attempted to interfere with that Rescript. Yet they were told that this act of the Pope was no insult to the country or the Church. Could any one doubt the law? No man could lawfully import any document which should affect the Queen, Her regality, or realm. Now the Queen was head of, and the only authority to constitute, courts of justice, and any attempt to assume that which could only be acquired by the authority of the Crown in respect to jurisdiction was contrary to law. No court could administer justice except under authority from the Queen. One of the counts in the indictment against O'Connell was for establishing courts of arbitration, and attempting to supersede the Queen's courts of justice. Well, here was a regular hierarchy established, in terms the most explicit, with all the jurisdiction incident to it. What authority had the Court of Rome to assume to it that? The noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle), for whom he had a great respect, had argued that it could not be any legal offence to assume to establish jurisdictions which had no legal power. But that was a per- 1283 fect fallacy. In Lalor's case, for instance, the defendant was indicted for assuming jurisdiction in foro conscientiœ; and although he disclaimed to exercise any power, he was convicted. He was discharged on the admission of his fault, but afterwards relapsed, and was then sentenced. It was said that the statute of Richard II., on which Lalor had been indicted, was an old and obsolete Act. Why, it was notorious that it was unlawful to receive bulls from Rome—that even the Government could not hold communication with Rome. The statute certainly had not been enforced in recent times. But that did not affect the question, for penal laws were not to he put in force on every occasion—that would be gross persecution—they were to be executed when the public interests called for their execution, and not where the acts done were followed by no injurious consequences. Such an occasion arose in Lalor's case; and the present was another, occurring as it did after a long course of constant aggression. It was impossible to pass it by. The opinions of the millions of this country were not to be treated with contempt. Recollecting the excitement caused by the Papal Rescript, let their Lordships conjecture what would have been the feeling of the country if the Government had attempted to pass it by in silence: the country would have resented the insult itself, and Parliament would have lost its confidence if it had not passed some very stringent measure. Then how was it to be met? Some had spoken of negotiation. But all the arguments urged in this debate would have been used against the remonstrances of the Government. A Resolution had been suggested by others; but how such a proceeding would have commanded any respect, he by no means saw: all the ridicule cast on this Bill would have been tenfold greater against proceeding by way of resolution. The Papal Rescript would have been acted upon, notwithstanding the resolution in their books and journals against it; and the country would have said that the Government had misled them by pretending to act by a resolution, and had done nothing. By the Bill, however, the Legislature indicated, determinately, that they did not intend to permit the Roman Catholic religion to advance so as to become dangerous to the Church established, nor so as to create a conflict between the two Churches, and produce a collision and an agitation which would shake the peace of the country. The 1284 Pope had sent a Rescript appointing persons to certain situations and offices. The Bill said, "This shall not be done. Parliament will not suffer it. The Rescript shall not be carried into effect." That, at least, was what Parliament said—what it would do was another question. But he contended that, at all events, the Bill was the more direct and dignified course to adopt. It was intimated that the law would be disobeyed. Parliament did not proceed violently; it commenced with moderation, but indicated a determination to enforce obedience, and if this measure were not effective for the purpose, to pass others—
The LORD CHANCELLOR
I do not understand the noble Lord's cheer. But, my Lords, I understand this—that if Parliament thinks that the interests of the country demand that a certain course should be pursued, that the assumption of the See of Rome shall be resisted, that Parliament is prepared to do its duty and to enforce its determination.
The LORD CHANCELLOR
Does the noble Lord mean that Parliament is not prepared to do its duty, or that it will be difficult to do it?
The LORD CHANCELLOR
But does the noble Lord avoid the difficulty? Is it any answer to say that past liberality made legislation difficult? Begin then with mild measures—give warning—indicate a determination—but do not pass the Bill if you meant to shrink from the duty.
The LORD CHANCELLOR
Does the noble Lord mean that your Lordships will shrink from your duty? I trust, my Lords, that there is no one else who will entertain the supposition. My Lords, I say the Bill is mild, and that it is so is its merit; but we think it will be enough, unless an impression should he created by what passes in Parliament, that Parliament is not prepared to do its duty. If the Catholic clergy have an impression that the Legislature will not use its power for the protection of the Church of England, your Lordships may expect rapid advances of Romanism; but I hope that the Bill will pass by such a majority as will render innoxious all such cheers as the noble Lord's, which import that Parliament is not prepared to do its duty. If this Bill infringed upon religious liberty, it ought to be viewed with suspicion; but he 1285 wanted to know what was religious liberty? Was it (as sometimes was maintained) the right of every Church to develop itself according to its utmost discretion? He denied it. Why, the Inquisition was part of what was involved in the development of the Roman Catholic religion. Persecution was essential to its perfect development. Look to Spain or Rome to see what toleration was! Take our ideas of religious liberty from those who asked it! Rather learn its principles from men like Locke, who laid it down that religious liberty was to be allowed to the extent to which it was consistent with the public safety; but that beyond that it should be restrained. What was this necessity, of course, must be dependent on times and circumstances. But it was a fallacy to treat the question as if it concerned the Roman Catholic religion. It concerned territorial bishoprics. He desired to know what spiritual functions of a bishop could not be performed by bishops in partibus, or vicars-apostolic? He ventured to say there was not one. Then the hierarchy could not be required for spiritual purposes. The Rescript did not pretend that this was so. The object was to set up a rival establishment to the Church of England. It was said a vicar in ordinary could not exercise regular episcopal jurisdiction. What then? The only effect was that he could not open episcopal courts, and administer ecclesiastical law. And why should he—seeing that the law of the land did not admit of its being done without the Queen's authority? What was the canon law which was administered in these ecclesiastical courts of the Roman Catholic Church? He would give a specimen or two from that part of it which related to legacies or wills. By the canon law a bishop de jure was executor of all pious bequests; and the Council of Trent gave to the bishop the power of changing a testamentary disposition on reasonable cause, and if the matter were doubtful, to refer it to the Pope. If a will was void for informality, it was valid for all legacies to pious uses, and so if the will were void for uncertainty. The will of a minor was also valid by the canon law, if it was for pious uses. If a legacy was bequeathed to a person who was deceased, which according to English law lapsed, that also by the canon law went to the bishop; and, besides affecting property, the canon law would affect questions of marriage and divorce. The canon law was in many cases practically mischievous—it 1286 was calculated to lead to conflicts between obedience to the law and obedience to conscience. Do not talk to him of law—give him the conscience of an honest man. What led a man to have any deference for the laws of the State? Conscience; and though he might be told that, if a man was by law told to do that which in his conscience he thought he ought not to do, he must be content to submit to the penalty of the law rather than violate his conscience; still in the case of Catholics the Church had the power of absolving them from disobedience to the law. If the fact, then, was as he had stated, that every spiritual office of the Church could be well administered by a bishop, although not territorial, the sole object of this Rescript was that the Catholic clergy in England should create a power which should increase their influence, which should give them more control, wholly independent of spiritual affairs. There was, therefore, no pretence whatever for saying that this Act would be an invasion of religious liberty, on the ground that the Roman Catholics could not have spiritual services to the full extent without these bishops. He was asked what was the meaning of the Bill? The object of it was to put an end to, in some instances, and to prevent, in all, the assumption of territorial titles in England. But he was told that the subjects of this country, particularly in Ireland, would not obey the law. Well, if this Bill passed, as he trusted it would, in such a manner as to show that Parliament was determined to do its duty, what was to be expected? He was asked, if the law was not obeyed, would it be enforced? That would depend upon circumstances. But he hoped there would be no occasion to have it enforced. However, he trusted that Parliament, by proposing the Bill, indicated that if the Catholic clergy should break the law—if there should be an attempt to rebel, or to raise agitation to offer resistance against the law—he trusted that Parliament would pass proper measures to cause it to be respected. We had given them fair warning; there could be no talk of surprise, or a breach of faith. And was it to be tolerated that a set of men who enjoyed the protection of the country in every respect, who were permitted the free exercise of their religion, and who had full protection for their property, should talk of rebelling against the law? The country was at an end if we were not permitted to vindicate the law 1287 —if we were to have a Government so pusillanimous as not to be ready to maintain the institutions of the country, the law had better remain as it was. He was of opinion, however, that this law should be as moderately exerted as the occasion would admit of. Various objections had been taken to the Bill, but none of them were of any weight. What other course would any one say should be adopted upon this subject? One noble Earl said, "Do nothing at all." Another, who was absent that night, said, "Resolutions;" and another, "An Address to the Pope." He (the Lord Chancellor) held that legislation was necessary, and that that legislation which had been adopted was not inconsistent with religious liberty. If legislation were adopted, it must be enforced, if it were meant to protect the constitution, the country, and the Crown. A charge had been brought against the noble Marquess, that the Government had committed a breach of faith with the House in adopting the subsequent Amendments which had been proposed. But the House of Commons insisted upon those alterations, and they did not make the slightest difference in the effect of the Act. The fault was found with the clause which made the Attorney General the prosecutor. He (the Lord Chancellor) thought it was most proper that, as a public servant, the Attorney General should be called upon to prosecute in such cases, and if he refused to do so, he was accountable to Parliament. A prosecution upon a religious subject, of all others, should be conducted upon the responsibility of Government. The question was, then, did the alteration so far affect the usefulness of the Bill as to render it injudicious in their Lordships to pass it? He contended that it did not. There was, therefore, no ground for alleging that there was any breach of faith on the part of the Government, and he called upon the House, therefore, to give its assent to the second reading of the Bill.
§ The EARL of ST. GERMANS
would not presume to address the House at any length at one o'clock in the morning, more especially as the greater part of his argument had been anticipated. He would confine himself to very narrow limits. He had listened with great attention to the speech of the noble and learned Lord, on the woolsack, with the view of hearing some reply to the observations of the noble Lord who had spoken before him (Lord Monteagle); but he had failed to catch a 1288 single syllable which could be considered a satisfactory answer. The speech of the noble and learned Lord was nothing more nor less than a "No-Popery" oration. It was, he thought, a speech better adapted for the meridian of the Mansion House than for their Lordships' House; and he confessed it was a speech which he did not expect to hear from a Whig Lord Chancellor in the year 1851. He would confine himself strictly to the Bill as now before the House. With regard to the alterations made in the Bill, he regretted that those Amendments which the Government themselves disapproved of and adopted, had been proposed by an hon. and learned Friend of his (Sir F. Thesiger) who held the office of Attorney General under the Government of Sir R. Peel, whose every measure was marked by a spirit of conciliation and liberality towards the Roman Catholics. The noble and learned Lord had said that the letter of Lord John Russell had had the effect of allaying the public excitement; and so, in like manner, it might be said that the proposition to trample under foot the Cardinal's hat was calculated to soothe irritation. The noble and learned Lord had discussed the penal laws; but he would appeal to their Lordships whether the loyalty of the Roman Catholics had not been acknowledged in many Acts of Parliament? He had heard with great regret some parts of the speech of the noble Duke at the table (the Duke of Wellington), in which he seemed to think that the great measure in which he had had so large a share had been in some degree unsuccessful in allaying agitation in Ireland; but he begged to observe that the leaders in the recent rebellion—if the transaction could be dignified by such a term—were not Roman Catholics, but Protestants, as in the original rebellion of '98. From the experience which he (the Earl of St. Germans) had had of Ireland, he thought he could safely assert that the effects of that measure were beginning to be felt until this ill-starred measure came in and put a stop to the amalgamation which was going on. The noble and learned Lord then went on to make himself the mouthpiece of the Roman Catholic laity, and assured the House that they did not approve of the proceeding of the Pope; but on that point he would rather trust, for his own part, to the declaration of the Roman Catholics themselves, which had been referred to by the noble Duke on the cross-bench (the Duke of Newcastle), 1289 which was signed by eight or ten Roman Catholic peers, and most of the principal Roman Catholic gentry, in which they approved of the act of the Pope, and expressed their disavowal of any intention to stand aloof from him in that proceeding. Then the noble and learned Lord said that this insult had been greatly increased by its proceeding from a foreign and temporal potentate. Now, at one time there had been an English Pope, and yet that would not have altered the complexion of the Act, had it been committed by him. The Pope was not necessarily a temporal potentate; and, as had already been observed, his Rescript would have possessed just the same force had it been issued from exile. It might happen that he might be dispossessed of his temporal sovereignty, or expelled from Rome; but his spiritual power would remain the same. Next, the noble and learned Lord proceeded to animadvert in strong terms on the insolence of the Pope in parcelling out the territory of this country into different dioceses; but he would ask the noble and learned Lord, whether the parcelling out of the territory into vicariats was not as much an aggression on the supremacy of the Crown as the parcelling it out into dioceses? The noble and learned Lord, he observed, shook his head. He probably meant that vicariates do not involve jurisdiction. [The LORD CHANCELLOR assented.] But he (the Earl of St. Germans) maintained that the cases were nevertheless substantially the same. The history of the Catholic Church in England had been so boldly sketched out by the noble Duke who had preceded him, that he should not attempt to touch upon it; from it, however, he was informed that from the death of the last Roman Catholic bishop, Dr. Watson, incessant efforts had been made to induce the Pope to create a regular hierarchical system in this country, which had been discouraged invariably by the Jesuits, and until lately the Roman Catholics had never been able to prevail on the Pope to comply with their wishes. But the noble and learned Lord asked where, among the great Powers of Europe, an instance had occurred of the Pope having been permitted to appoint bishops without the consent of the Sovereign? He (the Earl of St. Germans) confessed he did not expect, in a matter of civil and religious liberty, that despotic Powers would be set up for our example; we rather ought to set them an example, than take one from them. But he would ask whe- 1290 ther it did not make a great difference that a concordat had been concluded between these Powers and the Holy See—at least in the great majority of instances? for in that case each party gave up something—Rome gave up spiritual power, and the country gave the temporalities. That, he thought, although he spoke with diffidence, was the old law of this country; at least something like it was to be found in Bracton, who seemed to him to lay it down most clearly, and to point out the fallacy which ran through the most of the arguments used by their Lordships, and that was, confounding the spiritual with the temporal. The distinction was a very narrow one; so narrow as to give rise, he believed, to most of the disputes which had arisen between our Kings and the Popes. He could assure their Lordships that no man could be more opposed to any encroachment on the temporal power of the Sovereign of this country than he was; but he did not see that in this case any such aggression had been committed. But since much was rested on the assumption of titles, and the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Lansdowne) had said that the Queen was the fountain of honour in this country; he begged to remind the noble Marquess that many titles were accepted from foreign Powers by subjects of Her Majesty, without the smallest sanction or congnisance on the part of the Queen. The noble Marquess would see, by an almanack, that there was a largo number of counts and barons in Ireland, not one of whom, he believed, had assumed the title with the sanction of Her Majesty; and in this country was one who had attracted considerable attention to himself—the Baron de Rothschild. The fact was, the title of bishop or archbishop was not a title of honour, but of offices in the Church; they were no more titles of honour than were the titles of archdeacon, priest, or deacon, being no more than titles of an office in the Church, and not beyond the Church. No doubt in this country, and in most European countries, there was connexion between Church and State, and the bishops had been placed in a station of honour, dignity, and power, so that it was difficult to discover the idea of a bishop from that of a man of rank and wealth. Selden spoke of bishops as being only spiritual barons; and the very fact that the Government had not thought it necessary to prohibit the title of bishop from being used in the Episcopalian Church of Scotland was a proof 1291 that they themselves did not consider it as a title of honour, which could only be conferred by the Queen. The same exercise of authority had been used by the Pope in the United States of America, without the slightest remonstrance; but although there was no Established Church in that country, yet if there had been any infringement upon the temporal power, America, as jealous of it as we could be, would have resented it. That, then, was a case in point to the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack, in which a similar exercise of authority had been permitted. The noble and learned Lord who spoke early in the debate (Lord Lyndhurst), stated, the effect of the statute of Richard II. was to put without the protection of the King, any person who should in any case infringe upon the authority or dignity of the King, or the temporalities of the Sovereign, and that it was on that ground that Lalor was punished. Dr. Wiseman said, in disposing of those cases which came before him as a coadjutor to assist the bishop of the diocese, he would be governed by the canon law. Therefore, it was not at all clear that they were not more in danger from the canon law than was supposed. [The noble Earl quoted an. extract showing that Dr. Wiseman had stated at the bar of the House of Lords that English vicars-apostolic exercised episcopal functions, and Sir W. Follett, in examining him, presupposed the exercise of the canon law.] He maintained that all the objections which had been urged against the system of government by the regular bishops, applied with equal, if not greater, force to vicars-apostolic. In fact, the principal difference between them consisted in the fact that the bishops were more independent of the Pope than the Vicars-apostolic were. The Irish Roman Catholic bishops had refused to obey the Pope; but the vicars-apostolic in England, who were altogether dependent upon the Pope, were obliged to obey his Holiness. If therefore they wished the Roman Catholic bishops to continue dependent upon the will of Rome, their Lordships should pass this Bill; but if they wished to see them more independent, they ought to allow the measure of the Pope to take effect. For his own part, he wished there were no Roman Catholics; he was no admirer of their creed; he was firmly attached to the Church of England; but he felt that he must take facts as he found them. He found, then, that there were in this kingdom 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 of Roman 1292 Catholics, and how was he to deal with them? Was he to ignore their existence? or was he, as the Government now proposed, to prefer a bill of indictment against them? It was impossible to take the latter course with any chance of success. It had already been tried for 300 years and failed. Had the Government forgotten the lesson of experience on this subject? The Catholic Relief Bill had been granted because a civil war was apprehended. Was there nothing to be apprehended from such legislation as this? The noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington) said, in 1829, that he was induced to concede Roman Catholic emancipation from a fear of civil war; but it very clearly appeared from the speech of the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack, who, indeed, to do him justice, had spoken in a manner that could not be misunderstood, that penal enactments were not only to be passed, but rigorously enforced. In short, their Lordships were only at the very commencement of a course of penal legislation. For his own part, he must say he thought it was well the people of England and Ireland should know this—should know the intentions of the Government, and how far the exercise of the Roman Catholic religion was to be prohibited—that the functions of the Roman Catholic bishops were to be annulled, their acts invalid, and themselves to be prosecuted—that the existence of a third of the population of the United Kingdom was to be ignored—and that, in fact, some of the most severe provisions of the penal laws were to be revived. He ventured to ask the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack a question which had been previously put to him, namely, how far, and in what manner, they intended to carry out the provisions of the Bill in England and Ireland? It was the duty of their Lordships to ascertain, before they sanctioned the Bill, to what extent its provisions would be brought into actual operation. The noble and learned Lord had spoken with ridicule of the proposition of his noble Friend (the Duke of Newcastle) to address the Queen on the subject. That course was adopted with good effect some years ago in the case of the repeal agitation in Ireland; and he did not see why it would not have had as good effect in the present case. The noble and learned Lord had adverted to the evils which would be certain to follow the existence of the new hierarchy in England, if not counteracted by the present Bill; but none of those evils had oc- 1293 curred in Ireland, where a similar hierarchy had existed for 300 years. The fears of the noble and learned Lord were therefore mere chimeras and bugbears. The Pope had always created bishops proprio vigore, without any interference on the part of the Sovereign. In spiritualities the Pope had always been supreme, and it was about temporalities alone that disputes had arisen between him and Sovereigns in the early periods of our history. "I think," continued the noble Earl, "I know something of Ireland. I am sure I take a great interest in all that relates to the people of that country, and I can unfeignedly declare that I never felt so strongly and deeply on any political question affecting them as I do upon this. I cannot contemplate the adoption of this Bill without dismay. You may put down rebellion with the sword; but, my Lords, how will you contend with'Th' unconquerable will,And study of revenge, immortal hate,And courage never to submit or yield?'These are among the consequences which you have to apprehend, and I earnestly hope your Lordships will not adopt a measure which will again rivet on the Roman Catholics those fetters which the continued efforts of the greatest statesmen this country ever produced have but lately succeeded in striking off." He would give his hearty support to the Amendment of his noble Friend that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
The EARL of MINTO
was anxious to offer explanation upon two points with respect to which reference had been made to him personally. When he was at Rome he had some conversation with the Pope on the question of establishing diplomatic relations between his Court and this country. He told the Pope openly, that we would not be willing to receive in this country an ecclesiastic as his representative. The Pope said, he could not undertake to send a Minister who was not an ecclesiastic; but he added that need not occasion any difficulty in the transaction of business between the two Courts, because we might adopt the course suggested by the noble Earl who had moved the Amendment (the Earl of Aberdeen)—the course taken by the Government of Prussia and Russia—and accredit a Minister to him. On that understanding matters stood at that time; but when a clause, supported by the noble Earl, was introduced into the Diplomatic Relations Bill in their Lord- 1294 ships' House, the Pope said to him (the Earl of Minto) that that circumstance had entirely altered the state of the case, and that after that Parliamentary refusal to entertain such a Minister from him as could alone represent him, nothing on earth should induce him to receive a Minister accredited from this country to Rome. Under these circumstances, their Lordships could judge whether it was possible, supposing it to have been expedient—a point upon which he offered no opinion—to have maintained with Rome the diplomatic intercourse which it was supposed would have prevented the occurrence of the event which had given rise to the Bill before the House. And now a few words with respect to another matter. The noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen) had stated, that while he (the Earl of Minto) was at Rome, a paragraph appeared in the Roman Gazette announcing that subscriptions were to be raised for erecting a Roman Catholic church in London, and that among the persons appointed to receive subscriptions was Cardinal Wiseman, "Archbishop of Westminster." The noble Earl seemed to think it must be very odd if he (the Earl of Minto), living in Rome, had not seen this announcement in Roman Gazette. The fact was, he never heard of the paragraph until he learned its existence from the noble Earl last night. Since he entered the House that evening, he had been furnished with a copy of the paragraph, and it certainly did appear the Roman Gazette stated that the vicar-apostolic had been created Archbishop of Westminster. On a former occasion he stated he was aware that an intention existed of creating Cardinal Wiseman Archbishop of Westminster. Every one knew it. It was spoken of on all hands. At the time, however, when the paragraph appeared, he understood some difficulty had occurred on the subject, and he then had reason to expect that the elevation of Cardinal Wiseman would not take place. However, it was evident that in January, 1848, the Roman Gazette spoke of an Archbishop of Westminster existing. If he had happened to have seen the paragraph, he would have looked on it as one of those inaccuracies which appeared in that newspaper, and others of the same sort. He thought he could perceive in the paragraph evidence that Cardinal Wiseman was not the person referred to. The cardinal was not named in the paragraph, and he believed that it referred to Dr. Gregory.
§ The EARL of ABERDEEN
What difference does that make? The paragraph speaks of an Archbishop of Westminster.
The EARL of MINTO
It certainly showed an intention to create somebody Archbishop of Westminster. Of course, he was aware of that intention, as he stated before, long before he visited Rome. He only wished to state that in point of fact the paragraph never met his eye.
§ EARL FITZWILLIAM
entirely concurred in the propriety of introducing the Bill. He did not agree with the Bill because of the insult offered to the Sovereign and the country, but because he believed that the creation of a Roman Catholic hierarchy with territorial titles, was intended to propagate the Roman Catholic religion in this country. He approved of the measure on that ground, and he hoped it would be passed into law. The Bill was unsatisfactory in its provisions, but he would accept it in preference to having no legislation at all. He viewed with alarm the long vista of future legislation which the Lord Chancellor had opened. The Government ought to have introduced a sufficient measure at once. He had a word to say to the other House of Parliament. He had also a word to say to Her Majesty's Ministers in the other House of Parliament. They ought not to have kept this Bill in the other House five months, because at this period of the Session, when their Lordships were driven as it were into a corner, they were compelled to take this Bill in its present shape, or none at all. He thought a very serious error had been committed by extending this Bill to Ireland. He considered that error the more grievous, because in his judgment the Roman Catholic religion should be placed on an equal footing with the Protestant religion, and there should be what he would call a co-establishment of the two religions in Ireland. It had been said that in high quarters the conduct of the Church of Rome had excited more indignation than fear. That, however, was not his feeling. He regarded the conduct of the Roman Catholic clergy with more of fear than indignation. When he looked round and saw the influence which these persons exercised, and the qualities which they possessed, fitting them to win the hearts of the common people, he was not without anxiety as to the result, particularly when he saw how the intonation of the service, and all the pomp and circum- 1296 stance attending the celebration of the rites of that religion, had made their way into the weak minds of many of the aristocracy. He had confidence in the middle classes of the country; but though he was standing in the House of Lords, he would tell their Lordships that he had very little confidence in the aristocracy. The House had a great duty to perform, and the middle classes thought that this duty would not be performed if the Bill were passed. He had been told that agitation had been calmed, and had gone down; but the thinkers and the speakers on the subject nine months ago felt quite as strongly now, if not more strongly, than they did before. He must say that he voted for this Bill with great pain, as he did not quite see what would be its effect; and he thought his noble Friend who had spoken from the cross benches (Lord Monteagle) deserved a more distinct answer to the question he had so pointedly put, than his noble and learned Friend on the woolsack had given to it. He trusted it was not yet too late to hear what would be the legal effect of this Bill—a Bill which was not altogether approved of by the Government, but which had been forced upon them by certain Members of the House of Commons. Before sitting down, he would take the liberty of stating what would be the character of the Bill which he should have taken the liberty of recommending. He would have made the assumption of titles an offence, but he would have attached no penalty, but left the Courts of Common Law to deal with that offence. He would have had it declared that no subjects of Her Majesty should use any title, civil or ecclesiastical, conferred on them by a foreign Power without Her Majesty's consent. The practical use he would have made of such a power would be to prohibit the use of ecclesiastical titles in England; but he would have allowed them in Ireland, thinking that the position of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland entitled it to that privilege. Therefore, though he would vote for the second reading of the Bill now before them, yet that would have been the measure he would have recommended.
§ The EARL of HARDWICKE
said, that this was a Bill which satisfied no one; it had been introduced by Government, but they were not satisfied with it, from the alterations and amendments made in it; and his noble Friend on the right, a distinguished authority in the House, had directly opposed it. For his own part, he 1297 said he should vote for it with the greatest reluctance, and only upon the strong necessity of maintaining the honour and dignity of the Crown. That was the ground on which he would vote, and he would not offer another argument upon the question; but he must say that a noble Friend of his. if the necessity of providing for this had fallen upon him, would have conducted the case in a very different way, so as to satisfy the country, by investigation of the whole of the circumstances, that something efficient would be done, and that the relations of the Roman Catholic hierarchy to this country would be satisfactorily arranged. He more than doubted what might be the effects of this Bill on Ireland—whether it would be possible to carry out the view of the Government in that country; and without saying what might be the consequences in England, he was convinced that, instead of satisfying the country, the Bill would raise new questions, and that when they had passed this Bill, they had not reached the end of their legislation on this subject.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
rose to reply, and said, that there were two general reflections, which had occurred to him, in the course of this debate, which had afforded him much satisfaction. The first was, that in the course of this lengthened discussion he had not heard a single attempt to justify the proceedings of the Court of Rome for the manner it had acted in this affair. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Aberdeen), who had gone the nearest to apologise for the proceedings adopted by that Court, had found no other reason on which to ground his apology than this—that these proceedings were no other than the habitual arrogance and assumption displayed by that Court. He hoped, however, it was not the opinion of the noble Earl that that systematic course of arrogance and assumption was to be met on the part of England by a systematic course of submission. What he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) claimed was, that though bearing much which the Court of Rome was accustomed to do, this country should use their own judgment, and if the proceedings of that Court assumed an offensive character, that they should be prepared, in the name of the country and of the Sovereign, both to declare that they would not submit to it, and that they would adopt such means as were necessary for resisting it. The other general observation from the whole course of the debate which was most grati- 1298 fying to him was, that in all the variety of opinions that had been expressed, and the feelings which all entertained in a greater or a less degree of the character of that aggression, it had not occurred to one of their Lordships, and he believed it had scarcely occurred to any one out of doors, that it would be right to retrace their steps in the great cause of liberality which they had observed towards the Roman Catholics of the United Kingdom, and to deprive them of the rights—the inestimable civil rights—which had been conferred upon them. He would reply in a very few words to an argument which had been put in a somewhat logical form by a noble Earl on the preceding evening. The noble Earl said, "What has the Pope done? It is necessary to the Roman Catholic religion that it should be administered by an Episcopal Catholic hierarchy. The Queen had no power to establish a Catholic hierarchy beside the Church of England, and it is therefore necessary that we should permit the Pope to establish a hierarchy." Why, it was not for establishing a Roman Catholic hierarchy that we protested against the measure of the Pope, but because he had attempted to establish a British hierarchy. Who had ever attempted to object to the appointment of Roman Catholic bishops to preside over the Roman Catholic Church? He said no man had done so. Let the Pope do what he thought just and necessary in regard to his own Church, but let him not attempt to do it by establishing a British jurisdiction. Again, the noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle) had said, that this Bill was not so much an Act against the Pope as against our fellow-subjects professing the Catholic religion; but he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) would ask in what way they could proceed but by attacking those instruments which the Pope employed? Let those parties refuse to be the instruments of the Pope in his illegal acts, and they would stand acquitted of all guilt and all punishment; but if they submitted to act under the Pope's jurisdiction, and to act in contradiction of the authority of the Queen, they must abide the consequences. Let them teach the Pope that he could not employ such instruments in this country, and they would administer to him a most useful lesson, which would have the effect of preventing him from proceeding in that career which had been justly described as indicating an intention of extending his system over every parish in England where he could erect the Papal 1299 authority. It was said that by this Bill we were taking the first steps towards hindering the Roman Catholic religion, by penal enactment. But how otherwise than by penalties could we prevent anything that we desired to put a stop to? The Emancipation Act itself was accompanied with penalties. He could not sit down without paying a tribute of praise to the noble Lord (Lord Beaumont), who might he said to represent the Roman Catholics in that House, for the good feeling, moderation, and temper he had displayed in his speech. O si sic omnia omnes dicissent! If all had come to the examination of this question in the same fair and unprejudiced spirit, it might have been brought without difficulty to a more speedy and satisfactory issue. He denied that his Colleagues in the other House had yielded immediately to the efforts to make the measure more strigent. On the contrary, while some verbal Amendments had been admitted, many efforts to increase the stringency of the Bill had been defeated, and others had been given up on their Movers finding that the Government would give them no support, amongst which was the most objectionable Amendment of all—that which would have given the power of filing an information to the common informer. On other occasions Her Majesty's Government had, it was true, been defeated. And his noble Friend said, that having then sent up the Bill with the Amendments so introduced, they were answerable for them. He denied that. They were answerable for the effort to carry an effective measure. These Amendments did not affect the principle of the Bill; and was it anything new that, such being the case, the Government, being defeated on these particular Amendments, should have consented to go on with the Bill? His noble Friend had himself been a Member of a Government that very wisely accepted the Municipal Reform Bill when it was sent down from that House with very great amendments. Her Majesty's Government, thinking that it was important that a public declaration of opinion on this important subject should go forth, would not, because some alterations had been made in its machinery, abstain from inviting their Lordships to carry this measure into effect, and thereby to secure the benefit of those provisions which were necessary for the maintenance of the Queen's prerogative. He believed that there was nothing in the Bill which would at all invade or embarrass 1300 any of the ministrations of the Catholic Church; but should that appear to be the case in practice, he should feel bound to come again to Parliament to give the Catholics that full extent of religious liberty to which they, as well as every other class of Her Majesty's subjects, were entitled, under the protection of that House and the sanction of the Crown. He was not there to contend that the Bill met every difficulty of the case, for every person who had studied the history of modern Europe knew that the separation between the spiritual and temporal power was one of the greatest difficulties with which modern legislation had had to contend. What he looked for from the measure was, that, passed by the majorities by which it had hitherto been, and by which he was sure it would be finally sanctioned, it would disabuse the Pope of Rome more effectually than could be done by any other means of that unfortunate error into which he or his advisers had fallen, that there was a party in this country, becoming daily more numerous and powerful, who would receive any measure extending his power and fortifying his authority, not with opposition, but with readiness and joy. Upon these grounds he begged their Lordships to read the Bill a second time. He trusted that none of the prophecies which had been shadowed out with respect to its operation in this country, and more especially in Ireland, would be verified. Undoubtedly, if the Irish people, sufficiently prone to misapprehend the spirit of British legislation, should take the meaning of this Act from two or three speeches which their Lordships had heard that night, it could not fail to create great discontent in that country; but he was convinced that when they should find that in practice they were still guaranteed every privilege, civil and religious, which they had hitherto enjoyed, that their feelings, however tumultuous, would subside, and that harmony would prevail, which it was the duty of the Government to secure by every means in their power.
§ On Question, That ("now") stand part of the Motion, their Lordships divided:—Content, Present 146; Proxies 119–265:—Not-Content, Present 26:—Proxies 12–38; Majority 227.
§ Resolved in the Affirmative; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Friday next.1302
|List of the CONTENT.|
|H. R. H. the Duke of||Romney|
|Stanley of Alderley||Walsingham|
|Seaton||Willoughby de Eresby|
|EARLS.||Bath and Wells|
|Leicester||Howard de Walden|
|Leven and Melville||Methuen|
§ House adjourned to Thursday next.