The MARQUESS of CLANRICARDE
A fortnight or three weeks ago a noble Earl (the Earl of Albemarle), who is not now present, put a question to the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) similar to that of which I have given notice. [See page 580.] I did not happen to be present at the time, but I have read the answer given by the noble Earl with considerable astonishment and alarm. The question referred to the intentions of Ministers as to the maintenance or repeal of the Act for the endowment of the College of Maynooth—a subject of very great and serious importance; and it is necessary that the country should have some clear and decided intimation of the course which the Government intend to pursue. Recollecting the conduct of the noble Earl who introduced the Bill in 1845, by which the endowment was made permanent instead of being confined to an annual grant, I confess I was astonished that he had any hesitation in stating distinctly the intentions of the Government with respect to that Institution. The question is one of 874 infinite importance, and far beyond the mere allowance of 26,000l. a year to a collegiate establishment. The question is not a mere question of money, but is a matter of national importance, and was so represented by the noble Earl in 1845. I will shortly recall to your Lordships' recollection the grounds on which that endowment was proposed to Parliament. When it was proposed to read the Bill for rendering the grant to Maynooth permanent a second time, a noble Earl (the Earl of Roden) moved, as an Amendment, that a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the character of the education given to the students there; and in opposing that Amendment the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) used this language:—They asked whether this measure was to stand alone? He replied, that this was to be taken by itself; but, at the same time, to be taken as an indication of the future conduct of Government. The Government desired that this measure should be considered in the eyes of the people of Ireland as a manifestation that the Government resolved to treat them with conciliation, and in a spirit as honourable to their Roman Catholic subjects as to any other portion of Her Majesty's subjects. This was not to be treated as the harbinger of future measures, but as an indication of what would be the conduct of the Government towards Ireland. He believed that it would be so received in Ireland."—[3 Hansard, lxxxi. 113.]Now, my Lords, I quote that for the purpose of showing the real importance of this subject, and that it is, as the noble Earl says, an indication of the policy which has been pursued towards Ireland and towards the Roman Catholics of that country for several years by successive Governments; and I wish to recall to your Lordships' attention the importance of throwing no doubt whatever on the continuance of that system of policy. The answer given by the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) on a previous occasion was, that there was no intention of interfering with the endowment of the College of Maynooth by the Government "at present." Now, my Lords, that qualification is a most important qualification. No person knows the value of language better than the noble Earl, and he knows that to use such a phrase on such an occasion must necessarily raise a doubt on the mind of every person who heard or read it, whether there was not some hesitation, some misgiving, some doubt on the part of the Government, as to the propriety of continuing the grant to Maynooth at some future period. I hope that none such is entertained. But this is a subject which 875 ought not to be left in the dark, but on which the Government ought to be clear and explicit. If I was surprised at reading the answer of the noble Earl on the occasion to which I have alluded, my surprise has been greatly increased within the last few days, because I have here the speech of no less a person than Her Majesty's Solicitor General, a gentleman of great eminence, professional and Parliamentary; which speech the position of that Gentleman with regard to the Government has rendered of the greatest importance. I will read one short sentence, which I think is pregnant with meaning, provided he speaks with all the authority which may naturally be supposed to belong to a person in his position. That hon. and learned Gentleman, the Solicitor General, in addressing the freeholders of Suffolk at Woodbridge a few days ago, used this language:—What I feel it my duty to say upon that subject is this, that although no man would be more reluctant, nay, no man would more steadily refuse than I would to be a party to any Act, however expedient, however just on other grounds, by which the good faith of Parliament might be compromised, yet I shall support, and cordially support, the Motion for a Committee of Inquiry into the whole circumstances attending that grant, which is about to be brought before the House of Commons. And if, Gentlemen, as the result of the inquiries of that Committee, and as the report of that Committee, it shall be found that, consistently with the good faith of Parliament, and consistently with what becomes all public men to observe, strict honour and integrity with their fellow-countrymen, it is possible to put an end to that grant, I, for one, shall rejoice in concurring with the Government, of which I am an unworthy Member, in an Act entirely to put an end to it.My Lords, I will now state what construction I think that this language of the Solicitor General will bear; and if I am mistaken I shall be most happy to be corrected by the noble Earl. It appears to me that Sir Fitzroy Kelly clearly expresses this opinion—that he considers it would he wise—that he considers it would be desirable—to put an end to the College of Maynooth, and that he has reason to think that he has the concurrence of the Government in that opinion; but that he is debarred from taking any step in that direction by some compact, or some engagement, into which it is his intention, and the intention of the Government, to inquire, with the view, if they can release themselves from this engagement, to put an end to the College of Maynooth. Now, my Lords, I do not know whether this is a correct construction of the meaning of Sir 876 Fitzroy Kelly; but it appears to me that the language of the hon. and learned Solicitor General conveys that impression to the minds of his audience as clearly as any man can wish to convey any impression to the minds of an assembly which he may have occasion to address. Now, my Lords, if that be so, I should like to know to what Committee the hon. and learned Gentleman refers. It must be one of which the Government have not given public notice in this or the other House of Parliament? The only notice which I have seen for a Committee on this subject in the House of Commons is the following, which appears in the Votes of that House. For Thursday next it appears there is a notice of the intention of Mr. Spooner to move for a Committee to inquire, not into any contract, not into any engagement, not into any matter of good faith by which the operations of the Government or Parliament are fettered, but to inquire into the system of education carried on within the walls of that institution—a totally different object from that referred to by the Solicitor General. But, my Lords, the question to be mooted next Thursday was mooted in this House in 1845. When the Bill for the permanent endowment of Maynooth was under discussion in the House, a Motion was made by the Earl of Roden, not that the Bill be rejected, but that a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the system of education pursued at Maynooth. That Motion was wisely rejected by your Lordships, and the Bill was adopted. I am not going to say a word about the course which the Solicitor General points out as desirable. It may or may not be a wise course to go into such an inquiry, and it may or may not he wise to consider whether the College of Maynooth is to be kept up or put an end to; but I say this, that it is a subject upon which the Government of this country have no right to leave the people of this country and of Ireland in the dark as to their intentions. If the Government entertain the opinion indicated by the Solicitor General, then that opinion ought not to have been promulgated for the first time by one of its inferior officers on the hustings at Wood-bridge to the constituency of Suffolk, but which ought to have been promulgated to the country by one of Her Majesty's Ministers either in this or in the other House of Parliament. I cannot imagine that the Parliament and Government of this country are bound by any contract to keep up an institution which 877 they may desire to put an end to. I utterly deny that that was the ground on which the grant to Maynooth was supported, or on which it ought to be rested. It may or may not be desirable to continue such grant, but to say that Parliament and the country cannot alter or repeal an Act of Parliament, is perfectly absurd. It never was so stated when the grant was made permanent. The case was not so argued by Sir Robert Peel in 1845. That right hon. Gentleman said on that occasion there were three courses open to the Government—first, to continue matters as they were—secondly, to put an end to the College of Maynooth—thirdly, to place it on a satisfactory footing. The question must be taken as a matter of policy in the way pointed out by the noble Earl, and must be decided on its own merits. If it be true that it was important, as the noble Earl declared it to be in 1845 to pass that Act declaring the permanency of the grant to Maynooth as an indication of the policy of j the Government toward the Roman Catholic population of Ireland, how infinitely more important must be the question of the reversal of that policy? This question is one of such immense importance that the Government must mate up its mind to announce its determination. If I was astonished first of all at the answer of the noble Earl, I was still more astonished at the language of the Solicitor General, because that hon. and learned Gentleman was Solicitor General to the very Government which originally brought in the Bill to render the grant to Maynooth permanent. He made no objection to it then; he was responsible then as he is now for any Act which may be passed. He supported Sir Robert Peel, and he now presents himself to a constituency as a person opposing the grant. This naturally brings one to inquire what was the conduct of other Members of that Government; and that consideration makes it still more important that we should have a clear explanation on the subject, because there is no doubt that a great number of the persons who are now connected with the Government opposed the Act of 1845. In the division on the second reading of the Maynooth Bill, I find amongst those who voted against the endowment the names of Mr. George Bankes, the present Judge Advocate; Major Beresford, the present Secretary at War; Mr. Stafford, now Secretary to the Admiralty; Mr. G. A. Hamilton, now one of the Secretaries to the Treasury; Mr. Henley, now Presi- 878 dent of the Board of Trade; Mr. Christopher, now Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; and Mr. Disraeli, now Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have not quoted these names for the purpose of making any personal attack. But I say, when this ambiguous language is held by the Government on a subject on which there ought to be no ambiguity—when we cannot look to the conduct of the Government on this as we may on other subjects, so as to learn what their true policy is—I say it is a matter of the utmost importance to ascertain what their future policy is to be. I do not think any charge of inconsistency can be brought against individuals who may have been opposed to the Maynooth grant in 1845, and who now, after having seen that Act in operation, and having found that the results are not what its advocates alleged were to be expected from it, are yet not disposed now to repeal it. Still it ought not to be forgotten that they had been originally opponents of this measure. But when there is such ambiguous language on the part of the Government on a subject on which no ambiguity of language ought to rest, and when the House cannot look at the past conduct of the Members of that Government with any degree of satisfaction, it is a matter of the most pressing importance that we should know distinctly what their future conduct is to be. I do not think a charge of inconsistency can be brought against the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I had the advantage of hearing the remarkable speech of the right hon. Gentleman on the occasion to which I refer, and no doubt he grounded his opposition to that measure not merely upon the measure itself—though that was an element in his address—but the whole tenor of his speech was, that he had a want of confidence in the men by whom the measure was brought forward. Upon that ground he opposed it. I will quote his language now, because I think, in reference to this particular subject, he expressed general principles, which I think apply most strongly to the general government of the country, and which most strongly apply to the position in which at the present moment the Ministers and their adherents are placed. He says—Let us endeavour to put an end to the misconception and subterfuge which now surround us. If you are to have a popular Government, if you are to have a Parliamentary Administration, the conditions antecedent are, that you should have a Government which declares the principles upon 879 which its policy is founded, and then you can have on them the wholesome check of a constitutional Opposition. What have we got instead? Something has risen up in this country as fatal in the political world as it has been in the landed world of Ireland—we have a great Parliamentary middleman. It is well known what a middleman is. He is a man who bamboozles one party, and plunders the other, till, having obtained a position to which he is not entitled, he cries out, 'Let us have no party questions, but fixity of tenure.' I want to have a commission issued to inquire into the tenure by which Downing Street is held. I want to know whether the conditions of entry have been complied with, and whether there are not some covenants in the lease which are already forfeited."—[3 Hansard, lxxix. 565.]Now, the great principles there laid down are sound Parliamentary principles, and it does not do for the noble Earl opposite to send his adherents and Members of his Government down to popular constituencies of different kinds, and there to—I do not wish to use a disagreeable word—but, at least, to give in to their uninformed bigotry with the view of catching votes; to hold language which is likely to excite sectarian feeling, while at the same time it is of that doubtful character that men really cannot know what are the views of the Government upon which the affairs of the country are to be administered. I do not enter into the question of the maintenance or non-maintenance of Maynooth; but I say, if the noble Earl passes this question without any declaration of the opinions of the Government—if those opinions are to be got in different localities from different individuals—he will run the risk of exciting such a spirit of religious animosity and hostility as will not embarrass his Administration, but may lead to most serious comsequences for the Empire. It is not a fair or creditable way in which the Government are acting. It is not the way in which I believe the noble Earl can wish to act, and I have no doubt that in a straightforward manner he will answer my question as to what the intentions of the Government are with respect to the Maynooth grant.
§ The EARL of DERBY
I am sorry the noble Marquess was not in his place in the House when a question was put to me on the same subject on a former occasion, for it might have saved your Lordships listening to the same answer now which I then made. In the first place, I believe the answer I then gave was not precisely as the noble Marquess has quoted it. What I said was, not that there was no intention on the part of Government to propose any alteration with regard to the grant to the College of Maynooth at present, but that the Government had no present intention 880 to propose any interference with the Act which was passed for the endowment of Maynooth in 1845; and I added to that statement a qualification, which the noble Marquess has not referred to, for I said that I had to observe, nevertheless, that the attitude maintained by the Roman Catholic Church, and the spirit of aggression which it appeared to have adopted, added very materially to the difficulties of those who desired in this country to defend the endowment. I must say that I think the difficulty of defending the continuance of the grant will be considerably increased by the speech just made by the noble Marquess; because there are only two grounds on which the vindication of that grant can rest. The first ground is that of general policy, and the second that of good faith, given or implied by the Government of this country. With regard to the second ground, I believe it is the one upon which, a large portion of the people of this country consent to a continuance of a grant very repugnant to their principles and feelings; but the noble Marquess throws over the question of good faith altogether, and thinks Parliament in no respect bound by good faith, or by any compact, engagement, or obligation, to continue the grant. The noble Marquess, therefore, rests the defence of the grant on the ground of the general policy alone. The policy of the grant, from the first up to the present moment, was the desire of giving to the Roman Catholic priesthood of Ireland, within the Queen's own dominions, a sound, liberal, theological education, in the hope and expectation that that liberality on the part of Parliament, continued from year to year, and confirmed by permanent enactment in 1845, would produce the effects which might naturally be expected—an enlightened and well-educated priesthood—one well affected to the Crown of this country—disposed to inculcate principles of charity and forbearance and peace among all classes—and loyal to the Sovereign, and obedient to the laws of the land. This, my Lords, was the principle of the policy which originally dictated and subsequently confirmed the grant to the College of Maynooth. The noble Marquess has stated that he could easily understand the conduct of those who in the year 1845 opposed the grant on principle, and who afterwards, when the law was passed—there the noble Marquess stopped, and would not say, "and when the fruit which it produced was clearly seen"—the noble Marquess said that he could easily understand the conduct of those 881 who, first opposing, afterwards supported the law, or at any rate did not press for its repeal, and that he did not see any inconsistency in their so doing. My Lords, I confess—and I confess with deep regret—that I think the converse of the proposition equally true, and that there may be, as there are, many persons who supported the original grant in the hope and expectation that it would produce far other fruits than it has produced, but who would be guilty of no inconsistency if they should have altered their opinions as to the policy of the Act, from the experience which they had subsequently acquired. My Lords, the noble Marquess, having more leisure time on his hands than I have, is able to study the newspapers, and to read the speeches of Members of the other House, and he has referred to some of them on the present occasion. But I must beg to disclaim generally, on the part of myself or of any Member of the Government, being here made responsible for any newspaper report of any speech on any hustings; but still more of being made responsible for any gloss or comment, or for the accuracy of any comment, which the noble Marquess may think fit to put on such supposed speech. I know nothing of the speech in question; but as far as I could collect from the speech of the noble Marquess, it would appear that Her Majesty's Solicitor General is of opinion that the policy which dictated this grant to Maynooth, has not produced all the good effects hoped from it. That opinion I believe the Solicitor General shares with a very large portion of the people of this country. I understood the noble Marquess further to say that the Solicitor General had stated to the constituency of Suffolk that a Committee was about to be moved on the subject. Now, as the noble Marquess has himself stated, no such notice of Motion has as yet been given by Her Majesty's Ministers in either House of Parliament; but a Committee, as the noble Marquess also stated, is about to be moved for, not, however, by any Member of the Government, but by an independent Member of the other House; and if that Committee should be appointed, and if the result of that Committee should be to prove, not only that the system of education adopted at Maynooth had failed of producing the fruits expected from it, but also the point which the noble Marquess seemed disposed to abandon, namely, that there was no obligation of good faith on the part of Government further to continue a policy 882 which had been unsuccessful, then the Solicitor General appears to think, that in that case, he should be ready to concur in any course which might be suggested, not in putting an end to the College of Maynooth, but in putting an end to the endowment of Maynooth. I concur with the noble Marquess in thinking that it is not by the speech of any individual on any policy—that is, not by a declaration made by an independent Member, or even on the hustings by Members connected with the Government, that the course of Government is to be guided. If there be any change of policy intended by the Government, I agree with the noble Marquess that it is here or in the other House that such a change of policy should be avowed. I must repeat, that Government have no present intention of altering the existing state of the law with respect to Maynooth; but I will add, that if circumstances should arise to alter the views which they entertain, and to lead, as a consequence, to an alteration of their course of conduct, ample notice will be given to the noble Marquess in this House, and to the friends of the noble Marquess in the other House, so that they may have an opportunity of taking such steps as they may think necessary, either for the purpose of opposing an alteration—not at present in contemplation—or for the purpose of taunting individual Members with supposed inconsistency between present principles and past conduct.
§ EARL GREY
said, that the answer of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby), was by no means satisfactory. The noble Earl, who was a Member of the Ministry which passed this grant, had, in 1845, represented the measure as one which it was of the gravest importance should be passed, and he had appealed to their Lordships, as statesmen and as Christians, not to reject the measure. Well, if the responsibility of imposing it was great, the responsibility of repealing it after it had been seven years in force, must be considerably greater. Their Lordships had a right to know what were the intentions of the Government upon this point. The noble Earl said that the Government had no present intention of proposing any alteration in the law with respect to the Maynooth grant. He laid great stress upon the word "at present," and threw out various reasons why it might be possible, indeed probable, that the Government might hereafter come to a different conclusion. This, however, was not a sub- 883 ject upon which the Government should allow any doubt to exist. The country had a right to ask the noble Earl to answer the question. They need not pledge themselves never to repeal the Act of 1845; but they should say whether the opinion they entertained in 1845 was altered or not. Did the noble Earl, who, in 1845, appealed to Members of the House of Lords as statesmen and as Christians, not to take upon themselves the fearful responsibility of rejecting that measure, did he still regard the measure in the same light? Did he think the endowment should be maintained, or that it should not? That was a plain question; and it was proper that the Government should plainly reply to it. A right hon. Gentleman—now a prominent Member of the Government—when in Opposition, contended with great ability and truth that it was necessary a Government should act upon some clear and distinct principle. It was questionable whether the right hon. Gentleman's observation was peculiarly applicable to the occasion on which it was made; but no doubt could be entertained as to the truth of the constitutional principle which it enunciated. Why, then, did not the Government shape its conduct by that rule? Every one was aware that great efforts were being made to excite strong feeling upon this question amongst the electors in different parts of the country; and it was not fair that the Government should stimulate that agitation, or increase the existing hostility between different religious denominations, by refusing to express an opinion either the one way or the other upon this subject. He hoped, therefore, that the noble Earl would give some more distinct answer to the question, as to whether he really adhered to the opinion which he expressed in 1845, or whether he had seen cause to abandon that opinion. It was also proper that it should be known whether the opinion was merely his own private opinion, an abstract opinion, like that which he entertained in favour of the reimposition of a duty on corn, or whether it was the opinion by which the Government was to be guided in its policy. The noble Marquess had not contended that it would be a breach of faith to repeal the Act of 1845; but he maintained that there was an implied promise to the people of Ireland that the endowment of Maynooth would be maintained. For his own part, he entertained a strong opinion that it would be little short 884 of a declaration of war against the great body of the people of Ireland to take away the grant from Maynooth, and at the same time to leave the revenues of the Established Church, and the endowments of the various classes of Protestant Dissenters, untouched. He hoped that in this important question the Government was not about to adopt the unfortunate course which they had taken with respect to corn, and to decline expressing any distinct opinion; that they were not going to permit Gentlemen occupying the position of the Solicitor General and of Secretary of the Treasury to fish for Anti-Catholic votes, while they themselves carefully avoided committing themselves to any line of policy upon this important subject. That was a course which it would be quite unworthy of the position in which the Ministry stood, and he trusted therefore that some Member of the Government would give a more distinct answer to the question than the noble Earl had given.
The MARQUESS of CLANRICARDE
wished to know whether he had correctly understood the noble Earl at the head of the Government to intimate that his course on this subject was dependent on the result of an inquiry to which he had referred?
§ The EARL of DERBY
said, that he had referred to what the noble Marquess had himself referred, and he added that he was aware, from the Votes of the House of Commons, that an inquiry into the system of education pursued at the College of Maynooth was to be moved for by an independent Member of Parliament, not by the Government. Further than that he said nothing, and further than that he would say nothing.
§ The EARL of DERBY
That is a question which the noble Earl has no right to ask of me, or any man; but, since the noble Earl has called me up, I will add this—that I am greatly disappointed in the result of the measure of 1845.
The EARL of MINTO
Then I understand the noble Earl to have stated that it is not his intention, as at present advised, to disturb the existing arrangement respecting Maynooth. I wish to know whether, in the event of an attempt being made from another quarter to disturb that arrangement, the noble Earl is prepared; on the part of the Government, to resist it?
§ The EARL of DERBY
If the noble Earl will put upon the paper a notice of his intention to move for the repeal of the Act of 1845, I will then intimate to him the course which the Government is prepared to pursue with reference to that question.
§ The EARL of HARROWBY
would be glad to know whether the noble Earl who had been cross-questioning the noble Earl at the bead of the Government himself entertained the same opinions on this subject as he did in 1845? If he did, be formed one of a very small body of persons. Very few persons in that House had found their anticipations with respect to the Act of 1845 fulfilled. The object of the grant was the education of a loyal Roman Catholic priesthood. Had that result been obtained? In the next place, the grant was intended to educate priests for Ireland alone; but there was reason to believe that the money was expended in training priests for the Colonies, and England as well. If this should prove to be the case, the question would assume an entirely new aspect. What he desired was preliminary investigation. The people of England should have an opportunity of knowing all the facts connected with the subject. He believed that facts had been much misrepresented in 1845, and that, among other things, the statements of the privations endured by the inmates of the College were incorrect. As the noble Earl (Earl Grey) had called upon the noble Earl at the head of the Government to declare whether he adhered to the opinions expressed by him in 1845, he called on the noble Earl to state whether he himself adhered to the opinions he then held as to the result of the measure?
§ EARL GREY
certainly thought that his noble Friend (the Earl of Harrowby) had taken a somewhat unusual course; but it was one to which he had not the remotest objection. He was not aware that he had expressed, in 1845, any opinion as to the results of the measure, and for the best of all reasons, because he had not formed one. He did not support it in their Lordships' House, for he was not then a Member, and he believed he did not speak upon this question in the House of Commons. But, if the noble Earl wished to know his opinions, and whether he was satisfied with the results of the measure, he must tell him that he never expected very much from it. The Minister of the day had refused larger concessions, such as he (Earl Grey) thought 886 were necessary for the instruction of the great body of the people, and he refused to correct the anomalies of the Irish administration; but he granted this, at the same time, as a conciliatory measure to the Roman Catholics, which he (Earl Grey) believed would have been accepted in the same spirit. In that view he gave it his support. He (Earl Grey) had always thought, and he thought at this moment, that the state of things with respect to the endowment of different religious bodies in Ireland, was one which could not and ought not to be permitted. They had in Ireland the great body of the people professing the Roman Catholic religion; they had a Church endowed with very considerable wealth, drawn from property which, 300 years ago, was in the hands of the Roman Catholic Church, and which, in the opinion of that Church, was still hers. That property was now transferred to the minority. They had endowments for the Protestant Dissenters, who were more wealthy than the Roman Catholics. And while this was the state of things, neither from the public revenue, to which the Roman Catholics contributed, nor from the property of Ireland, which was taken from the Roman Catholic Church, from no source whatever, has the education of the people been provided for, except by this small grant that was given annually by Parliament to support the Roman Catholic College of Maynooth for the education of the priesthood. It appeared to him then, as it appeared to him now, that that was an anomalous state of things, which ought not and could not continue. If matters were reversed, and Ireland were to become the more powerful country, and such a state of things were imposed upon us by the Roman Catholics, he, as an English Protestant, would never be quiet until be succeeded in effecting an alteration of that arrangement. He judged of the feelings of the Roman Catholics of Ireland from what would be his own under similar circumstances; and he believed that such a state of things could not continue with justice to the Irish people, or with safety to the Empire. He considered that that injustice should be modified—perhaps as far modified and mitigated as the circumstances of the times and the then state of public feeling would allow; and those who proposed the measure did not differ from him in the reasons which rendered it necessary. It was with those views that he gave the measure his support; but to say he had any confident opinion that the measure would es- 887 tablish any good system of education at Maynooth, or that the system adopted then would work any marvellous good, was entirely contrary to the fact; but still he accepted it in the form in which it was tendered by the Government. Now, he hoped his noble Friend would confess that lie had perfectly and clearly explained his opinions; that, whether right or wrong, he had not shrunk from fairly and honestly explaining them. But whether these opinions were right or wrong, they were those which he had entertained from the time when he first took his seat in the other House of Parliament, and which from that to the present day had uniformly guided his public conduct.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
had certainly no intention whatever of taking any part in the conversation; but when his noble Friend near him (the Marquess of Clanricarde) was accused of having taken a somewhat unusual course in putting his question to the noble Earl opposite, he would also take a somewhat unusual course in answering a question which had not been put to him. He presumed, however, that this question had been addressed by the noble Earl on the cross benches (the Earl of Harrow by) generally to those who thought it their duty to support the measure of Sir Robert Peel, in order to ascertain what were their motives and expectations in giving that support. Having been one of those who strenuously supported the measure, he felt himself bound to state, on the present occasion, that though he certainly did not exclude from his consideration the hope to which the noble Earl opposite had adverted—that it might produce a favourable effect upon the Roman Catholic clergy—that was not the exclusive ground of his support. He looked to no such bargain as the noble Earl opposite seemed to think he did. He, therefore, did not adopt the ground which the noble Earl had assigned for his support; but he adopted the other which he had assigned, and which Sir Robert Peel gave as his reason for the measure—the importance to the Protestants of England that the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland should have as good an education as the Protestant clergy. That object was not only dear to Roman Catholics, but to every member of the community who, not being able to ignore or to prevent the existence of the Catholic religion in Ireland, had a deep and common interest in the education of that clergy being conducted according to 888 the most approved forms of the Catholic Church, and subject to the inspection and observation of the State. That was the ground of a statesman, and upon that ground he supported the measure. He supported the measure also on another ground, and he should be glad to know from his noble Friend on the cross benches (the Earl of Harrowby) whether he had seen any reason to change his opinion in that respect. That ground had not been adverted to by the noble Earl, though it was at the time the measure was passed, and it seemed to him to be one of a very important character, namely, that it having been found necessary by every Minister during a period of thirty years to come down and call upon Parliament to do that which it was not willing to do without more or less reluctance, opposition, and strife, the measure was introduced as a kind of provision against a standing inconvenience, which was detrimental to the interests of the country, and calculated to excite strife, political dispute, and irritation. Therefore he, for one, felt obliged to the Government of that day, at the head of which were Sir Robert Peel and the noble Earl opposite, for the measure which they took, as far as in them laid, to put an end for ever to those disputes and animosities which had the effect of renewing and reopening a sense of grievances which it ought to be the object of all wise Governments to cover over, palliate, and, if possible, to obliterate. As he knew, therefore, the immense importance of avoiding the constant recurrence of these mischievous discussions, whether in or out of Parliament, he adjured his noble Friend opposite and the Government of this country not hastily to adopt any course that should lay the foundation once more for the perpetual renewal of those annual conflicts which would be sure to follow an annual grant, and which would be attended by all those evils to which he had alluded. He had thought it right to state thus much, because he had supported the measure, and was prepared to support it again, not with any desire or expectation—though he wished that such might be the consequence, of conciliating the loyalty of the Roman Catholic priesthood—but because he believed the public at large would be gainers by the maintenance of the vote; and he was sure no one in that House was prepare to say that by withdrawing the vote from that institution the loyalty of the Catholic clergy would be increased 889 Whenever the repeal of that measure came to be proposed, he hoped he should have the honour of supporting his noble Friend in opposing that proposition.
The BISHOP of CASHEL
protested against the statement made by the noble Earl (Earl Grey), that the property of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland was transferred at the Reformation to a Church and hierarchy representing the opinions of the University. No such thing happened. Of the Roman Catholic bishops at the Reformation the greater number embraced the Reformed faith, and continued in their sees. It was no more the fact that the Roman Catholic priesthood in Ireland were robbed of their property to be handed over to the Protestant priesthood, than that the Roman Catholic priesthood in England were robbed of their property to have it handed over to Protestants. The property in both cases passed the same way. The Church property in both countries was not given to the Roman Catholic clergy because they were Roman Catholics, but given for the maintenance of religious truth. The Church of England and the Church of Ireland stood on the same ground, and any noble Earl who stood up and accused the Protestants of Ireland of robbing the Roman Catholics of Ireland made the same accusation against the Protestants of England. No doubt, as the noble Earl had said, there was a larger number of Roman Catholics in Ireland than there were Protestants; but the Protestant Church of Ireland had been endeavouring, not without success, to bring the light of a purer religion to the Irish Roman Catholics. Conversions had taken place to a greater extent than was generally believed; and it was a singular fact that the majority of the people of Ireland who went to the land of liberty—America—and were freed from the persecutions of priests and neighbours, conformed to the Protestant Church. From the Quarterly Review he collected these facts:—The population of America was 23,000,000; 3,000,000 of that number were Irishmen horn in Ireland; 4,500,000 were of Irish descent; and of the whole number of 7,500,000 Irish in America, the annals of the Propaganda only claimed 1,663,000; thus showing how many Irishmen received the truth through the instruction given by Protestant ministers.
§ EARL GREY
admitted that at the time of the Reformation, Roman Catholic prelates went over to the Protestant Church 890 in Ireland as well as in England; but there was this remarkable difference, that in England the flocks went over with their shepherds to the Protestant religion; while in Ireland the pastors led the way, but the flocks refused to follow. He could not help adverting to the remarkable statement made by the right rev. Prelate at the conclusion of his speech. He said that when the Irish people emigrated to the United States they very often conformed to the Protestant religion, and he brought forward statistics to show that such was the case. He believed the right rev. Prelate was right; and what he said confirmed the view he (Earl Grey) had always entertained on the subject, that it was the injustice of the present arrangement which kept down the Protestant religion in Ireland. It was his belief that the injustice of that arrangement alone during the last three or four centuries, had prevented the inherent truths of the Protestant religion from obtaining due ascendancy among the people of Ireland.
§ Subject at an end.
§ House adjourned to Monday next.