, who had given Notice to move that on Tuesday next the House do resolve itself into a Committee to consider the state of Ireland, said: My Lords, I fear that in the judgment of many of your Lordships, I shall hardly escape the charge of presumption in taking upon myself to introduce this subject to your Lordships' notice. As an independent Member of your Lordships' House, unconnected with any public Department, and not, therefore, possessing the influence which such connection would give, I may appear to be entitled to call upon your Lordships to express an opinion upon so momentous a subject as that I am about to bring before you. But, on consideration, it may appear that the very fact of my being unconnected with either of the great parties in this House may afford a good reason for my undertaking the duty I have assumed. Many of your Lordships, as well as myself, must have remarked that when the condition of Ireland forms the subject of private conversation, nothing is more common than to hear it said that there are certain measures the adoption of which would be useful to that country, but that it would be madness to propose them, because public opinion in England and Scotland is decidedly opposed to them. I will not stop to inquire whether that state of feeling be correct or not, or whether it be the fault of the people themselves, or of those who ought to be their leaders, that Ireland is in its present condition. Passing by that, I will only remark that, as long as public opinion in England and Scotland is believed to be what I have stated, we cannot indulge any sanguine hope that either the Ministers of the Crown, or those connected with them, on the one side, or the Leaders of the Opposition, who may expect to be Ministers hereafter, on the other side, will incur the risk of recommending measures not in accordance with public opinion. But if the duty is assumed by one who stands entirely unconnected with party, and who has long been withdrawn from the ranks of those who may hereafter be called upon to take part in the councils of the Realm 359 —I say that a person in that position is almost the only one likely to bring the subject before the House. Standing in this position I may not obtain the votes of many of your Lordships; yet, on the other hand, it will enable me, in explaining to you the grounds upon which I believe a change of policy towards Ireland is urgently necessary, to speak with an openness and an absence of reserve which, perhaps, could not be expected of one placed in a different position. I believe that by speaking with that plainness I may do something to prepare the way for that change of policy towards Ireland to which, I am perfectly convinced, Parliament will be compelled, sooner or later, to consent, and which will be the less likely to prove successful in proportion as it is longer delayed. In this belief I have thought it my duty to submit to your Lordships the Motion I am about to make.
Before I proceed further, allow me to say a few words with regard to the terms of my Motion. I do not move that the House shall, on Tuesday next, resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House to consider the state of Ireland, with any view of calling witnesses to the Bar of your Lordships' House. It is the old Parliamentary form of calling upon the House to express an opinion on the state of the nation, and to declare that there is something amiss which requires to be remedied. It is not necessary that such a Motion should have reference to the whole kingdom, and, fortunately, it is not necessary now that it should. I propose that it should refer to the state of Ireland only. If the Motion is assented to, when the House goes into Committee I shall be prepared to move Resolutions which I will ask permission to read before I sit down. It would be manifestly improper in mo to ask you to assent to the Resolutions now. All that I ask you to do now by your vote is to declare that the state of Ireland is such as to requite our immediate consideration. I do not wish to commit any noble Lord who votes with me to the opinions I may now express. My task is rendered considerably easier by the circumstance that Ireland has formed the subject of discussion this Session in both Houses of Parliament. Recently a noble Viscount on the Bench below (Viscount Lifford) called attention to it and gave a gloomy description of the state of Ireland, which I do not think any of your Lordships can say is otherwise than correct, During the late Par- 360 liament the same subject was several times brought before the House of Commons, and in the course of the long debates that then took place there appears to have been no difference of opinion whatever as to the existence of great evils in Ireland, although there was difference both as to the causes of those evils and their extent. As there is this general concurrence of opinion that Ireland is in an unsatisfactory state, I am spared the necessity of endeavouring to prove the fact by an array of facts and figures. At the same time, it will make my future arguments clearer if I venture to recall a few of what I think are the main facts of the case as seem to be generally agreed upon by persons of various opinions. I think it is agreed that the physical condition of the great body of the Irish people is somewhat better than it was a few years ago. Their numbers no longer press so closely as they did on the means of subsistence, and on the whole they are in a more comfortable condition. Employment, except during a small portion of the year, is uncertain, and what there is is badly paid, the people are somewhat better fed and somewhat better clothed than they used to be; but still they are lodged in a most deplorable manner. Their houses, if houses they can be called, are hardly fit for the habitation of civilized creatures. Agriculture, which is the employment of the great majority of the people, is in general rude and bad. There are a few well-cultivated farms here and there; but it is universally admitted that these are the exceptions rather than the rule. For the most part the soil is unskilfully cultivated, and as a consequence both farmers and labourers are so poor and obtain so little return for their exertions that the recurrence of two or three bad seasons plunges the country, except in a few favoured districts, into distress. Trade is confined to a small number of places, and it is carried on upon a small scale, in proportion to the number of the people, compared with the trade of England and Scotland. The most significant thing of all is, that the population, which in a wholesome state of society ought to be increasing, is undergoing by emigration diminution at a very alarming rate. There are many who do not consider that this is to be deplored—who think that emigration is the natural law for adjusting the supply of and the demand for labour, and who look to it as the means of eventually raising the condition 361 of the Irish peasant. I will not deny that in these respects emigration has its advantages. I am aware that it cannot be checked directly, and that it can only be diminished by improving the condition of the Irish people. But, at the same time, I am convinced that Ireland ought to maintain in comfort a far larger population than it at present does. I cannot see without great concern the rapid diminution of the population by emigration, for by it Ireland is losing the services of many of her most industrious sons, and the Empire is losing that which ought to be considered precious. Unfortunately, Ireland has long been distracted by political and religious animosity. Class has been set against class, and there is a general feeling among the people of alienation from the Imperial Government. The recent disclosures relating to the Fenian conspiracy afford striking illustrations of the state of feeling prevalent in the country, We find from those disclosures that so bitter is the animosity felt by a large portion of the Irish people against the Government under which they live that when they seek a new home on the other side of the Atlantic, instead of forgetting their hostile feelings under the influence of the better prospect that there awaits them, they manifest their hostility towards this country even more strongly than here. It appears that on their arrival in America the first use they make of their earnings is to subscribe large sums of money to a fund established with the avowed object of overthrowing the Government which they left at home. We know that very large sums indeed have been subscribed in America, and I believe in Australia also, and I believe that these collections form the main support of this Fenian conspiracy of which we have lately heard so much. My Lords, it is, in my opinion, a very striking circumstance that these Irish-Americans should be found doing so much to create or keep alive in the United States hostile feelings against this country. We have the strongest interest, and so also have the United States, in the two nations being I on the most friendly terms with each other, and, therefore, the existence of any circumstance which tends to prevent the existence of friendly relations between the two countries is deeply to be regretted. But the fact of these large collections having been made is of still more serious import. It shows what is the prevailing feeling among those classes in Ireland of 362 which the emigrants are chiefly composed; and, judging from the hostility they show when they are in a position to show it openly, I think it is hardly possible to exaggerate the extent of the hostility of the lower classes in Ireland to the British Government. The same conclusion, unfortunately, is forced upon us by what has happened with regard to the Fenian conspiracy in Ireland Probably there never was a plot more utterly wild and hopeless than the Fenian conspiracy, and yet even this plot has been able to command the active support of a great many of the lower classes in Ireland, and the sympathies of many more. This circumstance shows, I think, the state of mind which exists in that country; because, as has been well remarked, the agents of a foreign conspiracy, however well supplied they might be with money, and however well organized they might be, would have attempted in vain to enlist thousands of followers in England or Scotland for the purpose of overthrowing the Government. In Ireland, however, such efforts have unfortunately met with a certain amount of success. We have been told that none of the respectable classes, or, at all events, only a very few of those who had anything to lose have had anything to do with the conspiracy, or shown any sympathy for it, and the conduct of the jurymen during the recent trials goes far to prove the fact. My Lords, I rejoice to find that it is so; but I observe that it is stated by one who ought to know the feelings of the Irish people that the classes from whom jurymen were taken were alarmed at and opposed to the conspiracy because they believed it to be directed against all property and all existing social institutions, and not because they were in favour of the existing Government. Then there is another fact which seems to be generally admitted with regard to Ireland—namely, that the prevailing disaffection in that country is not produced by distress. Now, we know it very often happens that physical distress is the cause of political discontent. It was the cause of the Swing riots in 1830 and 1831; and the Chartist riots a few years later were, I think, clearly traceable to the pressure on some portions of the population. It has, however, been often pointed out that in Ireland disaffection does not exist in those districts where there is the greatest distress. For instance, there is more disaffection in the. South than in the poorest counties of the West, and it was a remark- 363 able fact that during the great suffering in the famine of 1847 political discontent was far less than it was eight or nine years afterwards, when, from the high prices caused by the Russian War, the people were comparatively prosperous. Indeed, this disaffection in Ireland is much more the cause than the effect of distress. The feeling of insecurity which exists in Ireland prevents the influx of capital into the country, and the development of those resources with which, whatever may be said to the contrary, she is very richly endowed by nature. How can you expect that men will embark in agricultural improvements or in great industrial undertakings when every day at public meetings speeches are made which, if they mean anything, mean that those who deliver them contemplate sooner or later the overthrow of the existing institutions of the country? It is, I think, perfectly clear that it is this feeling of insecurity which is the main cause which prevents the industrial improvement of Ireland. I believe that the description which I have now given of the state of things in Ireland—a description founded on the concurrent testimony of men of all parties—is an accurate one, and I think none of your Lordships will venture to deny the reality of the evils which I have mentioned. Now, if disaffection and poverty are the chronic conditions of Ireland, it is impossible to account for such a fact except by attributing it to the misgovernment of that country; and, indeed, I believe it is universally admitted that the evils of Ireland spring from misgovernment; but many of us think it is not the misgovernment of our time. It is often said that since Ireland was brought under the authority of the Imperial Parliament the old abuses have been remedied, and the ancient grievances removed, so that there remain no serious grounds for complaint. Such, if I rightly understood him, was the opinion of the noble Lord at the head of the Government expressed in the short discussion which arose the other night on the Motion of the noble Viscount on the Bench below me (Viscount Lifford). My noble Friend opposite, while condemning the old misgovernment, told us that we ought to look back with great satisfaction at the useful measures which had been passed since the Union, and that we ought to wait the result with patience, because evils like those which prevailed in Ireland were so inveterate that they could not be suddenly removed. Now, I agree with my noble 364 Friend that Parliament has passed many useful measures with respect to Ireland, and I agree with him also that the inveterate evils which beset that course cannot easily be cured; but I cannot admit that we ought to wait and see what will result from them unless we are convinced that there is at least a beginning of real progress. I would ask my noble Friend to recollect how much time has elapsed since the measures to which he alluded were adopted. We are now far advanced in the second half century since Ireland was united to England, and brought under the power of the Imperial Parliament; and thirty-seven years have gone by since the last remnants of the Penal Code were abolished by the Catholic Relief Act of 1829. My Lords, in six years after that the system of national education, from which such important results were expected, was established in Ireland; and it is almost thirty years since that fruitful source of bloodshed and violence, the levying of tithes, was put an end to by the Tithes Commutation Act, and since the Poor Laws were introduced into that country. It is nineteen years since the potato famine occurred—that frightful calamity which caused such a terrible amount of suffering to the people, produced such an enormous and sudden diminution in the number of the population, and led also to the establishment of the In cumbered Estates Act and the improvement of the Poor Law. The most sanguine hopes were entertained that a better order of things would have resulted from the various acts of legislation to which I have just referred. My Lords, since the In cumbered Estates Act was passed, I am not aware that any measure of considerable importance regarding Ireland has been adopted by the Imperial Parliament. It is, therefore, not less than seventeen or eighteen years since all the measures for the improvement of Ireland which the Imperial Parliament hitherto has been able to devise have been in complete operation. Surely that is a sufficiently long time to test the effect of these measures. If they had not produced a perfect cure, at least we might have expected to see by this time some undoubted symptoms of improvement and progress. But, I ask, has any man pointed out such symptoms? On the contrary, I find, when I talk about Ireland with those who, I believe, are best acquainted with her present state, they all concur in saying that in some respects the prospects of that country are more gloomy 365 than ever. They say that the state of political feeling is worse than it was some years ago. In this respect compare 1836 and 1866, and there can be no doubt that political disaffection and dislike to the British Government and Parliament are more wide-spread and more deeply rooted in the minds of the people at the latter period than they were at the former, My Lords, only very lately we were occupied in suspending the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland. Can any man assert, then, that the state of political feeling there is not getting worse?—and remember, the state of political feeling is the root from which all other evils arise in Ireland. If this is a fact, the case does not seem to be one in which we ought to adopt the advice of my noble Friend, and wait with patience. It is not one in which we should look on in listless apathy, waiting to see what may arise, without taking any active measures ourselves. It is a case for presuming that there must still be something greatly amiss in the laws or in the manner in which they are administered in Ireland; and it behaves us to apply the best energies of our mind to discover what the evil really is, and, when we have discovered it, to adopt the best remedies we can devise.
My Lords, in considering what may be the real cause of this unfortunate state of feeling in Ireland, one naturally looks to the speeches made during the last Parliament by those who are supposed to give the most accurate expression to the feelings of the people of Ireland. The principal points to which they have adverted are these:—They complain of what they call fiscal injustice; of the neglect of the Imperial Government in respect of public works and other measures for the development of the resources of Ireland; and lastly, they speak of what is commonly called "tenant-right." I confess that if we carefully examine what has been said on these subjects, it appears to me that the Irish Members have not succeeded in making out their case on any one of the points to which I have referred. With regard to the fiscal injustice towards Ireland, it appears to me, as the result of a careful inquiry, that England has nothing to accuse herself of upon this head. I think she has been not only just, but generous to Ireland. I believe that Ireland instead of paying more than her share of the burdens of the Empire pays less; and I think we can fairly challenge any Irishman to point out a single tax levied in Ireland which has a 366 tendency to either discourage industry or check improvement. In this respect the position of the small occupiers in Ireland will contrast favourably with that of the same class in any other country in Europe—with that of the small occupiers in France or Germany, for instance, as far as the demands of the State are concerned. So that, not only in respect of taxes, but also in respect to money voted in grants from; Parliament, there is no ground of complaint. Then as to the Imperial Government not having done more to develop the natural resources of Ireland by great public works, I cannot help remarking that this complaint is founded on a complete misapprehension of the functions of a Government. Save in very exceptional cases, the Government has nothing to do with public works. It is not by State money, but by private enter prize, and funds raised from local resources that so many magnificent public works have been constructed in England and Scotland. It is in this manner our canals have been made and our harbours and estuaries improved; that our docks have been constructed, and that channels which formerly admitted only small coasting vessels, now receive the largest ships in our commercial navy When the system of leaving these matters to private enterprize has been departed from, and the; money of the State has been expended on public works, it generally turns out that the money has been misspent, and only I evil results have followed—witness, for instance, the case of that costly folly, the Caledonian Canal. With respect to tenant-right the case seems to be much the same. Great fault has been found with the British Parliament for not passing various Bills which have been brought before it. But the more closely we study those Bills, the more, I think, we come to the conclusion that to have passed such measures would have aggravated instead of diminished the evils which they were intended to remedy. Some of those Bills involved such an infringement of the rights of property, that if they had been passed they could not have failed to aggravate the feeling of insecurity which unfortunately now exists, and thus to have discouraged still more the application of capital to the soil of Ireland. The Bills which were not liable to this fundamental objection have been so cumbrous, that if carried into practical operation they would not have removed, but would have increased, the existing difficulties connected with laud in Ireland. My Lords, I am 367 persuaded that the only sound policy in this matter is to leave landlord and tenant to settle their relations by mutual agreement between themselves, and with as little legislative interference as possible. I do not mean to say that the law of landlord and tenant is quite satisfactory in Ireland. It is confused, and requires to be simplified and made clear. I believe that law stands in need of material improvement. The alterations should be of such a nature as to increase the desire of the landlord to have solvent tenants instead of tenants who make the highest bids, and would induce him to give leases or agreements which would encourage tenants to employ their capital on the land. But granting that there are those faults, still we must remember that, substantially, the law of landlord and tenant in Ireland is the same as that in England. I am persuaded that the bad working of that law in Ireland arises less from the law itself, than from the extreme competition for land, which competition owes its origin to the stagnation of all other industrial pursuits besides those connected with the land, and enables the landlords to let their farms for more than those farms are worth to good tenants.
I do not believe, therefore, that it is possible to account for the evils afflicting the country by reference to the state of the law on the subject of land tenure. There must be something more seriously wrong at the root of the matter; and if we search for it honestly and diligently, we shall have no great difficulty in discovering what is the weightier grievance from which all these disasters have sprung. My Lords, it is a grievance which has not been unnoticed by public orators in Ireland, though it has attracted, I think, in this country less attention than it deserves. I allude to the fact that the whole Church property in Ireland is applied to the exclusive maintenance of the Established Church, while the Church of the great majority of the people is left without any State provision, and depends upon the individual contributions spared with difficulty by the poorest classes of the people. This, I am persuaded, is the weightiest grievance which lies at the bottom of the difficulties of Ireland, and I am persuaded that a plain statement of the facts of the case is all that is necessary to convince your Lordships of the extreme injustice of the present arrangements. Let me remind you that the Church property in Ireland formerly belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, 368 and that when the people of England shook off their connection with Rome, though the Irish people adhered to the ancient faith, the Church property was transferred to the clergy of the conquering nation, while the Church of the majority was left without any endowment whatever. To make that injustice more galling, at a later period the Presbyterians, who were as much Dissenters as the Roman Catholics and far better able to provide for their own wants, received the assistance of Parliament towards the maintenance and spread of their own religion, while none was given to the Roman Catholics. I venture to submit to your Lordships that it is impossible, on any ordinary principles, to defend the existence of such a state of things. I know it may be said that the tithes are not paid by Roman Catholics. But, surely, those who put forward such arguments as that have a great contempt for our understandings. The Irish proprietors acquired their property subject to the burden of tithes, and the portion of their land represented by that tithe was never, in point of fact, their own. The claim to have these tithes applied exclusively for the benefit of the Protestant Church, because they were paid by Protestant landlords, is just as sensible as if the proprietor of an estate sought to have the amount annually contributed from his estate in payment of mortgages applied for his sole benefit. The national property intended for the national object of teaching religion to the people has been diverted from the mass of the poorer population and applied to the exclusive use of a small minority, composed mainly of the wealthier class. Again, we have heard this state of things defended on the ground that the Church which now exists in Ireland is the real successor of the original Church, and the rightful inheritor of its property. That appears to me to be an argument of the most extraordinary kind; because whatever might have been the case at an earlier period, there can be no doubt that for some centuries before the Reformation, the Roman Catholic religion was in full possession of all the property of the Church and though the heads of that Church may have conformed to Protestantism the population did not. And to say that their property ought to be transferred to the Reformed religion, while the people remained of the old way of thinking, seems to me opposed to all the dictates of common sense and reason. It is said, too, that the maintenance of 369 the Protestant Church formed one of the stipulations at the time of the Union. But there really does not seem to me anything valid in such an argument. The Parliament of that day did not represent the people of Ireland, they were merely the representatives of a small minority; and it is idle to say that an arrangement made with that corrupt Parliament ought to be maintained against the interests of the great body of the population. The arguments in favour of the existing system seem to me not only to rest upon sheer sophistry, but to be contrary to the opinion of the whole civilized world out of the United Kingdom. You can read no account of Ireland by an unprejudiced foreigner, no statement of the condition of that country, in which it is not always stated that the Irish people have been grievously wronged by withdrawing the endowments meant for the religious instruction of the great body of the people, and devoting them for the advantage of the small minority of the inhabitants. And the grievance does not consist merely in the injustice of the existing arrangements; it extends to the manner in which for many years these have been maintained and defended. Look at the conduct of the Irish Parliament all through the last century. Could anything be more monstrous? My Lords, we know that up to a very late period every circumstance which could add to the despicable position of the Roman Catholics was retained. Not only did that Parliament, representing the Irish landlords, insist upon the collection of tithes for objects in which the people had no interest, but, in order to prevent a small diminution of income, refused to consent to any equitable arrangement whatever. Within the recollection of most of us this state of things continued. Do your Lordships not remember that not thirty years ago what was then called "the Tithe War" was still active? At that time tithe was collected only by military force. The tithe law in all its cruelty and injustice was maintained under circumstances calculated to make it still more detested, and remained so until a late period. The mode of collection afterwards was even more oppressive than that if possible, and you refused for a long series of years to make any improvement in the method of collection, lest there should be some diminution in the amount collected for the Protestant Church. At length, however, this system of things was abolished, simply because it could not be any longer 370 maintained, The tithe holder ceased to obtain any income at all, because the collection was so imperfectly carried out; and it was thought necessary to keep the tithe holder compensated by the payment of large sums from the Imperial Treasury. But the system broke down, and it was then, and then only, that Parliament consented to abolish it But something worse than the tithe system continued to embitter the minds of the Irish against, the Protestant Church. You all know, my Lords, what an atrocious code the old Penal Code was. There is not a man in this day who would say a word in its defence. It is admitted on all hands to have been the most detestable code of tyranny ever created in the civilized world. It was calculated not merely to oppress, but to demoralize and degrade those upon whom it was inflicted; and this monstrous code was passed, and enforced with a view to the security of the Church Establishment. My Lords, every step of relief from that code was taken with difficulty. I believe scarcely a single point of relief was granted, except under the pressure of urgent necessity and fear of the consequences of refusing. This, I need not remind your Lordships, was especially the case with regard to the last step of relief from that code—I mean the grant of Emancipation in 1829. Only four years before, when that measure had been passed by the House of Commons, it was rejected by this House; and when, after a time, it was found that the old system could no longer be maintained without the risk of civil war, the very persons who had been so long the instruments of maintaining it came down to Parliament and asked that this last remnant of the Penal Code should be repealed; and, accordingly, in 1829 we saw the great Act of Catholic Emancipation. And, my Lords, more than this. Even now, my Lords, we can hardly forget the old vicious principle. As lately as last year we were called upon to reject a measure which proposed to relieve the Roman Catholics of Ireland from a piece of oppression which had been originated with a mistaken desire to buttress the position of the Protestant Church Establishment, I need not toll you that I refer to the Oaths Bill, and in rejecting it this House was advised to maintain on the statute-book a law which imposes upon the Roman Catholics for the imagined security of the Protestant Establishment, but which they feel to be degrad- 371 ing and oppressive. My Lords, I say then that under these circumstances, if we suppose that the Roman Catholics of Ireland have the feelings of other men, it is impossible that they should not be deeply impressed with the injustice to which they are subject of devoting all the national revenues which originally belonged to the Roman Catholic Church to the exclusive support of the rich minority, while the poor majority are left to their own resources. And I say further that if they have the feelings common to mankind it is impossible that they should not resent this injustice. I have frequently been told that this is a complete mistake. I have been referred to the tone adopted at public meetings in Ireland. The Protestant Establishment, I am told, is not the grievance which forms the staple of their discussions and animadversions; and I have been asked whether the Fenians, who are equally opposed to the Catholic and Protestant clergy, have any interest in this matter. This is the language of shallow observation. It is not always the grievances most felt which are most talked of. It is not surprising the Catholics have not agitated so much upon this topic. Since the passing of the Tithes Commutation Act it is quite true the Irish Church has not pressed so much upon the great mass of the people, and therefore those who wish to excite opposition to the Imperial Government naturally dwell upon topics that make more impression in the mass of the people. But, my Lords, there is unmistakable evidence to show how acutely the upper classes feel the injustice done them, and how deeply they resent it; and do you suppose that you can have the superiors against you and not have the middle and labouring classes against you? Although the lower class may not feel so directly the grievances which press upon their superiors they take their tone from them. My Lords, the Government of Ireland has always had extreme difficulty in conducting its affairs. How is this to be explained except by the existence of a revolutionary feeling on the part of the higher orders of the Roman Catholics of Ireland? While they stand aloof and will do nothing to aid you, how can you expect that the mass of the people will be obedient? It is this I am persuaded, which is at the bottom of the disaffection of the Irish people, and in this direction we must look if we would cure the evil. Thus the questions that appear at first sight least connected with this great grievance of the Irish Church 372 all practically turn upon it; in short, my Lords, while this great grievance of the Irish Catholics exists, all the benevolent measures which you adopt for their country simply feed that feeling of envy of the Imperial Government which is at the bottom of the whole of the disaffection of the people of Ireland. I might pursue this topic further and point out how the Irish Church Establishment poisons the whole state of Society in Ireland, and prevents the people of that country from accepting measures which are intended for their benefit but I feel that I have already trespassed upon your Lordships' patience. I have said enough to show that there is a feeling of injustice rankling in the minds of a large portion of the people of Ireland, and this feeling must be removed before the people of that country will look with satisfaction upon any measures designed for their welfare. It is absolutely necessary therefore, if you wish to improve the condition of Ireland, to convince the people that you wish to deal by them justly in this great matter. If you do this my persuasion is that they will accept your good intentions in a corresponding spirit, and that you may succeed in restoring satisfaction to the people; but without it I am persuaded that you can expect nothing but failure. Much time has unfortunately been lost, and what might have been accepted willingly thirty or thirty-five years ago would not be so eagerly received now, but I believe that if you will fairly look the predicament in the face a settlement, and one that will be satisfactory, may still be arrived at.
My Lords, after the arguments I have adduced, it may be said that I ought to propose some practical remedy. It may argue presumption in me to recommend to your Lordships any mode by which such a settlement may be arrived at; but, though by such a course I may incur some censure, I feel it necessary in support of my arguments to name some propositions on the subject and to point out to your Lordships how, in my opinion, justice may be done to Ireland, and the people of that country reconciled to the Imperial Government. I think that in all changes that may be made the two great objects to be aimed at are, first, to establish religious equality; and next, to avoid, as far as possible, the disturbance of existing interests. I would be the last to deprive any individual of rights to which by law he is entitled, but I cannot admit that the principles by which we re- 373 gulate our conduct towards individuals are always applicable to corporate bodies. I maintain, therefore, that in order to arrive at a satisfactory settlement of this question you must be prepared to make a largo diminution in the funds allowed to the Irish Church Establishment, The arrangement which I think may be made is this;—the whole of the property of the Established Church in Ireland ought to be invested in the bands of Commissioners, and these Commissioners should be empowered to divide the total income of the establishment among the Protestant Episcopal Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Presbyterians, in such proportions as each might be entitled to. In saying this I think that substantial justice does not require that the Roman Catholic Church should receive a share of those funds proportionate to their numbers. The clergy of the Roman Catholic Church are not permitted to marry, and as they have no families to maintain a smaller income would suffice for their requirements than would be necessary for the support of the clergy of the Established Church, and the grants to the members of the latter Church might be more considerable than the incomes assigned to the Roman Catholic clergy. These Commissioners, after the payment of all necessary expenses, should appropriate the remaining funds for the benefit of the several Churches in such proportions as may be determined upon. The money intended for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Church should, I think, be paid over to trustees appointed on behalf of that Church, consisting partly of Roman Catholic prelates and partly of laymen, and these trustees should have full power to apply the amounts placed at their disposal in the purchase of glebe-houses and other matters, and also in cases of necessity in paying the stipends of some of the Roman Catholic clergy. The distribution of these funds should be unfettered by any conditions, save those to be prescribed by Parliament and the necessity of laying before both Houses an annual statement. In the same manner, the funds intended for the benefit of the Irish Church Establishment should be placed in the bands of a body of prelates and laymen as trustees for that Church. It will be absolutely necessary that Parliament should grant to the Commissioners an annuity, to be charged upon the Consolidated Fund, sufficiently large when combined with the share which will accrue from the Church property to pay the present dignitaries and clergy of 374 the Established Church in Ireland the incomes which they at present enjoy; but as the payments to the existing holders of Church preferments cease, the proportion of the annuity thereby set free can be carried to the general account of the Commissioners and divided between the three Churches in the proportion prescribed by Parliament, The share assigned to the Presbyterians should also be placed in the hands of trustees, partly clerical and partly lay, which should pay the clergy of that denomination who are now provided for by the Parliamentary grant commonly called the Regium Donum. The result of this arrangement would be that the clergy of the three Churches—the Protestant Episcopal, the Roman Catholic, and the Presbyterian—would all be paid out of one fund by Commissioners to be appointed by Parliament, such fund consisting partly of existing Church property, and partly of a payment to be annually granted by Parliament, the whole to be divided in such proportion as should be fixed by Parliament. By this arrangement the Protestant Episcopal Church would in the first instance receive a larger share than it would eventually obtain. I think by some such arrangement as that I have proposed great advantages would be obtained. In the first place, the Roman Catholics have for many years past objected to any arrangement which reduced their clergy to the position of stipend diaries dependent upon the State; but by the arrangement I have suggested the difficulty arising out of that objection would be avoided, as the money would be paid to special trustees, who should be appointed in such a manner as would give the best security for their independence, and who should be subject to no control but that of Parliament, to whom alone they should be compelled to give a full account of their administration of the fund committed to their charge. So also with regard to the Protestant Episcopal Church, In the first instance, the income from the fund would be applied to pay the existing clergy; but as existing claims fell in, and the total amount available for that purpose increased, I think the trustees on behalf of that Church, consisting of prelates and laymen of that religious denomination, should be enabled to alter the proportion of the payments according to the wants of the Church, and so to pay the whole sum in the manner in which they may think would be best calculated to promote the real interests of the Church they represent. 375 It appears to me that this arrangement would give such an amount of freedom to the Protestant Episcopal Church as would be no small compensation for the sum which they might lose by its being carried into effect. But I venture to remark that this Church would obtain a far larger and more valuable compensation by being relieved from the stigma it now labours under of being maintained by injustice. Why is it that this Church has failed to make itself acceptable to the people of Ireland? I believe that it teaches Christianity in its purest form, and it has for many years had the services of a body of clergy deserving of the highest praise for their sincere devotion to the interests of their Church. Although I do not approve the Established Church of Ireland in its present form, I am anxious to pay the individual clergy the tribute that is their due, and to express the high respect I feel for them. The only way to account for the failure of the Established Church is to attribute it to the false position in which it stands. The Irish people feel that the Church is a standing injustice to them, and that it is maintained only by the superior power of England. I believe that to relieve it from this odium would do much to promote the real welfare of the Protestant Church in Ireland, and I do not hesitate to say that I am anxious to promote by all fair means its success. The mere possession of wealth by a Church will not enable it to influence men's minds; on the contrary, when the taint of injustice rests upon an arrangement which is sought to be carried out by money, it works far more harm than good to the interests you seek to advance. I am persuaded that the right rev. Prelates opposite will agree with me that true religion is a thing which cannot be purchased by money. My Lords, I have now given you the broad outlines of the arrangement I propose for your consideration; but, at the same time, to establish religious equality some additional measures of importance will be required, of which the most material one would be a repeal of the enactments prohibiting Roman Catholic Archbishops and Bishops from assuming the titles of their sees, which restriction is felt, and naturally felt, to be a great injustice. I therefore propose that this restriction should be removed, and that they should be allowed to assume, with the prefix of "Roman Catholic," their proper titles. My Lords, the Resolutions I have to propose are as follow:— 376
Such, my Lords, are the Resolutions which, in the event of your adopting my proposal for a Committee of the Whole House, it is my intention to move. They are far from including all the measures which I believe to be required for the benefit of Ireland I will mention one. For many years I have been of opinion that the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland ought to be abolished. My noble Friend who now holds the office (Lord Wodehouse) deserves great credit for the energy he has displayed in very trying and difficult circumstances. But that fact has not changed the opinion I have long entertained that the system of government of Ireland through a Lord Lieutenant ought to be done away. But, though there are many measures which might be adopted with advantage to Ireland, I have thought it right to confine the Resolutions which I propose submitting to you if you should consent to go into Committee to those subjects which I consider most urgent. I have concluded with the land question, because I think it of great importance, and if your Lordships should concur with me you will go far to show the Irish people that, while you are ready to act 378 with justice, you are not disposed to encourage that vague hope of alterations which would lead to mischief instead of good. The other Resolutions are principally confined to the Church question, and they lay down two great principles—principles by which, as was so well said in the other House of Parliament, in our legislation for Ireland we ought to be guided. The first is, that we should legislate, as far as possible, according to the wishes of the Irish people; and the second is, that in this important question of the Irish Church we ought to do full and impartial justice to the Irish people in the same spirit as, if the circumstances of the two countries were reversed, we should desire the Irish people should do unto us. My Lords, I am persuaded you are bound to adopt those principles, because they are founded on justice and good sense. Justice requires that we ought not, even if we had the power, to impose upon Ireland a system which we know if applied to ourselves would meet with the most determined opposition; and which was attempted to be applied to Scot land, and which fortunately evoked from the Scotch not only determined but successful resistance. On grounds of policy the case of Ireland seems still more clear. My Lords, it seems to me that Ireland as she is is a source not of strength, but of weakness. She constantly calls for deep anxiety from every reflecting statesman, and she would, in the event of our being involved in a dangerous foreign war, if her present state of feeling remains unaltered, be a source of serious danger. My Lords, I am persuaded that you ought to make an attempt to conciliate the Irish people. But I anticipate being told in answer to the arguments I have used that the policy I have recommended would not succeed in gaining the affections of the great body of the Irish people, while it would offend our only true friends—the Protestants of the North. It is not my wish, and still less is it my duty, in discussing this great subject, to avoid any difficulty that may be raised. I therefore do at once confess that I do not look for an immediate settlement of the affairs of Ireland from the adoption of the course which I recommend. I know that political evils of long standing admit only of gradual cure. But that is no reason why we should not begin. We ought not to allow that we have but little confidence in the power of justice. I am persuaded if you can only convince the Irish people that you mean to deal justly and fairly by 379 them, and to abate nothing of what is their due—if you do that in a kindly spirit I am convinced that by degrees their animosity will subside. When I say I recommend you to do full justice in a kindly spirit to Ireland I am far from meaning that that should be a spirit of great indulgence. I am persuaded that the mistakes in our past Government were occasioned by the circumstance that we had to a great extent to make up by indulgence from our shrinking to do full justice, and, therefore, we exhibited weakness in the administration of the law. At all events, we felt that there was something wrong and rotten in the whole system, and, therefore, we shrank from carrying the law fully and impartially into effect. Let us only do all that justice and reason require, and then we can put down party processions, whether of Green or Orange, with a firm hand, and maintain the majesty of the law against all who may attempt to call it in question, whether they belong to one party or the other. That is the policy which I am convinced you ought to adopt if you are disposed to restore peace and prosperity to Ireland. And though I am quite aware that in the first instance a change in our policy may make the Protestants of the North for a while discontented, yet I am convinced that feeling would soon subside. What creates those religious animosities which have been the cause of so much violence and bloodshed in Ireland is, that both parties feel that the existing state of things cannot be permanent. It is felt by one party that they must do all they can to maintain and by the other that they must endeavour by every means to overthrow the existing arrangement. But let an arrangement be once effected on just principles, and I firmly believe that before many years angry feeling on both sides will subside, and that the same spirit will prevail in Ireland which obtains in countries where no unjust domination and no religious ascendancy of one party over another exist.
- "1. That in legislating for Ireland it is the duty of the Imperial Parliament to adopt such measures as might be expected to gain the approval of an Irish Parliament, fairly representing the people, and expressing the opinion of the majority of men of education and intelligence in Ireland,
- "2. That the application of the whole income derived from Church property in Ireland to the support of a Church Establishment, for the exclusive benefit of a small minority of the people of that country, is unjust, and ought not to be continued.
- "3. That, with a view to the correction of this injustice, it would be expedient to vest the whole property of the Church in Ireland in the hands of Commissioners empowered to manage it, and to divide the net income derived from it, in such proportions as Parliament may prescribe, between the Protestant Episcopal, the Roman Catholic, and the Presbyterian Churches.
- "4. That it would further be expedient to grant to the said Commissioners such a permanent annuity on the Consolidated Fund as would be sufficient, together with the share of the income from Church property in Ireland assigned to the Protestant Episcopal Church, to provide for paying to the present bishops and clergy of that Church the full incomes they now receive. As these payments to the existing holders of ecclesiastical preferment cease to be required, the proportion of the annuity thereby set free, to be carried to the general account of the Commissioners, and divided between the three Churches in the proportion prescribed by Parliament.
- "5. That the proportion of the net income at the disposal of the Commissioners assigned to each of the three Churches ought to be paid to Boards of Trustees appointed to receive the same, and apply the amount for the benefit of the said Churches.
- "6. That the Board of Trustees for the Protestant Episcopal Church, should consist of five prelates and five laymen of that Church, and that, subject to the claims of existing holders of benefices and dignities, the said Commissioners should be empowered, with the approval of the Lord Lieutenant in Council, to make such changes in the application of the income of the Church as might be considered expedient with a view to the more effective performance of its duties.
- "7. That the Board of Trustees for the Roman Catholic Church should in like manner consist of five prelates and five laymen of that Church, and that the income placed at their disposal should be applied, at their discretion, to the building and maintaining of places of worship and glebe-houses, and to the payment of stipends to the clergy.
- "8. That the Board of Trustees for the Presbyterian Church should consist of five clergymen and five laymen of that Church, and that the income assigned to them should be applied, in the first place, to the payment of the stipends to clergymen now provided for from the Parliamentary grant known as the Regium Donum; and, secondly, to the general purposes of their Church.
- "9. That the said Commissioners and Boards of Trustees should be required to lay annually before both Houses of Parliament full accounts of their receipts and expenditure.
- "10. That the enactments whereby the prelates of the Roman Catholic Church are restrained from assuming the titles of their sees ought to be repealed, and that they ought to be allowed to assume the style of Roman Catholic archbishops and bishops of the said sees.
- "11. That with a view to the improvement of agriculture in Ireland, it is desirable that the occupiers of land should have greater facility for the secure expenditure of money on permanent improvements, but that the difficulties now complained of would be aggravated instead of being diminished by any enactment infringing upon the rights of property; nor could the object in view be attained by any change in the law, which, with out infringing upon these rights, would empower tenants to compel their landlords to pay for improvements, since the creation of such a power would probably induce landlords to exercise their right of resuming land held by tenants proposing to use it when not protected by leases, and would also tend to increase the reluctance of landowners to grant long leases to their tenants.
- "12. That it is the true interest of both owners and occupiers of land that they should be left free to settle the terms on which it is to be held by mutual agreement, with as little legislative interference as possible, but that it deserves to be considered whether the Irish law of landlord and tenant might not be made more clear and simple, and whether some changes in its provisions, especially the repeal of the enactments which give to landlords the right of distress, and a preference over other creditors, might not tend to make the owners of land more desirous than they now are to let it to solvent tenants, on conditions and for terms of years which would encourage permanent improvements."
My Lords, there are, I believe, two objections which will be advanced against the policy which I recommend. In the first place, it will be said that it would be unjust to the people of the United Kingdom to apply any portion of the public revenues to the purposes which I have indicated. Well, my Lords, if I did not feel that the Irish people had so much to complain of the injustice of the system by which they have been governed, I would have hesitated 380 to recommend the application of any part of the general revenues of the Empire to Irish purposes. I feel appalled when I consider the history of our government of Ireland, and how far we are from having redressed all the grievances of that country. I fully expect to hear the arguments that were used some time ago in the House of Commons with reference to Maynooth. It is said that it is a sin to give any support to the idolatry of the Church of Rome, and that we are not justified in contributing any money whatever to the revenues of the Roman Catholic Church. I meet that argument by saying that, according to the arrangement which I venture to propose, not a single shilling of English money would be applied to the support of that Church. The endowments of the Roman Catholic Church would be exclusively derived from Church property in Ireland; and the Parliamentary grant would go to the maintenance of the Protestant Church. I do not, however, rest my argument on so low a ground. I object to the present system as unsound in principle, and as directly contrary to the principles of the religion we all profess. Who gives us the right to say that the Roman Catholic religion is false? Who are we that pretend to judge the religion of a large proportion of the inhabitants of this realm? The fundamental principles of Christianity are held in common with ourselves by the Roman Catholic Church. We say that they have corrupted the pure truth by the addition of human inventions. They say that we have without warrant despised the authority which belongs to the Church. Who is to decide between us? If numbers are to be the test of truth as between the two religions, it is clear we cannot claim to be right. If, on the other hand, the soundness of doctrine is to be tested by the character and conduct of those who profess it, the Roman Catholics need not shrink from the test. True it is that the Roman Catholic religion has been disgraced by men who, under the pretence of spreading the truth, have resorted to cruelty and oppression, and have advanced their own worldly interests. But is our own Church, or is any Christian Church, free from the reproach of having been so disgraced? I am afraid it is not so. On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church can produce a long list of the names of men distinguished for their learning and virtue, and who have shown the sincerity of their faith by the purity of their lives and their devotion to 381 the good of their fellow creatures. What right have we to maintain that the religion held by such men was a false religion? And what right have we to presume that it is so clearly so that it is our duty to legislate for Ireland on that assumption? My own opinion on the differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism is very decided; but does that give me a right to impose my opinions on others? Have not the Roman Catholics the same right to their opinion that I have to mine? In a country like this, inhabited by men of various religious opinions, unless we are prepared to respect each other's opinions, and not hold that we ourselves are necessarily right and that those who differ from us are necessarily wrong, we must give up all hope of civil peace, and of the advancement of that true religion which consists, not in the profession of faith, but in the practice of Christian charity and virtue.
I do not ask your Lordships to assent to or dissent from the views I have expressed. I simply ask your Lordships to declare by your vote that the state of Ireland requires consideration, that she cannot be loft as she is, and that you are bound to make some vigorous effort to improve her condition, which has so long been a reproach to the British Crown. We have heard it stated in strong language hi this House, and perhaps it has been stated in stronger language in the other House, that the deep feeling of animosity against Russia, which prevails in Poland is conclusive proof of Russia's misgovernment of that unhappy country. May not, similar conclusion be drawn against us from the state of Ireland while she continues as she is? I have shown you that disaffection in Ireland has not diminished, but has kept increasing, during the last thirty years. While this state of things exists, every advance which Ireland may make in other respects only increases our peril. If she increases in wealth and population and still remains disaffected, our position will become far more perilous than it is now. We are therefore in this condition—that, until we succeed in gaining the affections of the Irish people, every measure we pass for the benefit of Ireland only increases the evils of which we complain. The necessity for applying to Parliament for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus was clear evidence as to the stale of Ireland; but I think it is the duty of the Government not merely to re- 382 press the outward symptoms of disaffection in that country, but to ascertain the true source of the danger, so that the danger itself might be removed. I cannot think that it is any excuse for them to say that they have been unable to devise measures for improving the condition of Ireland, and, removing the disaffection of the people, for such an excuse is the same as saying that they are unequal to the duties with which they are intrusted. Still less is it an excuse to say that these are measures which they cannot venture to propose, because they think public opinion in this country is not prepared for them. There are, no doubt, many cases in which Ministers of the Crown have properly abstained from proposing measures which they themselves were in favour of, but which, in their opinion, public opinion was not prepared for Such precedents, however, do not apply to cases where the highest interests are at stake. It is a degrading thing to suppose that the Government can properly deal with an important question like this by floating wherever the popular feeling may carry them. In cases like this it is their duty to act as guides; and they are bound, whatever may be the consequence, to propose such measures as they believe to be right, and to recommend to Parliament the course which they deem the best for securing the safety of the State. If they fail they are, at all events, preparing the way for the ultimate accomplishment of that which is right, and avoiding the possibility of allowing the nation, without warning and without check, to proceed on a course which must eventually lead to ruin. I say, therefore, that in a case of such importance as this the Government ought to have proposed a measure which was in their judgment calculated to avert danger from Ireland. After all that has occurred I the Government ought to have come forward and laid down some clear and distinct line of policy. They have not done so, however, and therefore the duty devolves upon us of declaring in the proper Parliamentary manner our opinion that the condition of Ireland is one which ought not to be allowed to continue without serious efforts being made for its improvement, and I now conclude my remarks with the Motion of which I have given notice.
§ Moved, That the House will on Tuesday next resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House to consider the State of Ireland.—(Earl Grey.)383
My Lords, I think that I ought, perhaps, to make some apology for addressing your Lordships at this period of the evening, when be many other noble Lords are anxious to offer some remarks on the important topics which have been brought under the notice of your Lordships by the speech of the noble Earl (Earl Grey). I thought, however, that it might not be displeasing to this House, and not inconvenient for the purpose of the impending discussion, that some one who, like myself, is not identified with any political party or religious sect in Ireland, but whose material interests are connected with the prosperity of that country, should submit to your Lordships such facts and considerations in connection with the present condition of Ireland as his own personal experience and observation will enable him to do. And in endeavouring to discharge that task I can assure your Lordships that my sole aim and anxiety will be to put the House in possession of what I believe to be the actual and simple truth, without any endeavour to exaggerate or distort it. In the first place, I beg leave, both as a Peer of Ireland and as a Member of your Lordships' House, to tender my most hearty thanks to the noble Earl for having given us this opportunity of discussing the state of Ireland. When it has become necessary to apply such a severe measure of repression to that country as the suspension of the Habeas Corpus, it is right and fitting that we should as soon as may be enter upon an examination of the relations subsisting between the two countries, and that we should, however disheartening the task may be, take down the volume of Irish wrongs, which it was hoped had been closed for ever by the remedies which past Parliaments have provided, and go again, item by item, line by line, through the whole of that sorrowful account. But though approving the course adopted by the noble Earl as far as it enables your Lordships to consider the condition of Ireland, it will, nevertheless, be my duty to ask your Lordships to negative the Motion upon two grounds. The first objection to the Motion is on the ground of form. I believe it would be most inconvenient if the House were called upon, whether it went into Committee or not, to pronounce an opinion upon Resolutions with which it has not had an opportunity of making itself acquainted. It appears to me that in the course which the noble Earl has pursued in making his speech and reading his Reso- 384 lutions, he has adopted the practice of the American duellist, who, first concealing a 12-barrelled pistol about his person, engages his antagonist in conversation, and then discharges the weapon at him through his pocket. But I also object to the Motion because I believe it is founded altogether on the erroneous assumption that the evils, the discontent, and the disaffection which it cannot be denied exist to a certain extent in Ireland are the result of legislation. In reality, however, they do not result from legislation, nor can they be removed to any considerable degree by any abnormal or exceptional legislation at the present moment. I do not for one moment mean to say that there are no remedial measures which can be applied to Ireland. Indeed, I should be sorry to make such an observation in regard to England or any other prosperous country; but what I do say is, that the subjects which are put forward as grounds of complaint by the promoters of the Fenian movement, and by the promoters of that wider sphere of discontent which also exists, though I believe it to be extremely attenuated, are not the result of any legislation or want of legislation, but are to be traced, in the first place, to a traditional hostility to this country, engendered by evils long since abolished; secondly, to certain peculiarities in the national character; and thirdly, to the operation of certain natural laws which neither the ingenuity of statesmen nor the legislative omnipotence of Parliament can pretend to control. Now, in order to ascertain how far this view of the case is correct, I would ask your Lordships to consider what are the things of which complaint is made by those who represent themselves as champions either of the Fenian movement or of the national party in Ireland. As far as I have studied the manifestoes issued by the leaders of the Fenian movement or their followers, I have only discovered three subjects of complaint within the competency of Parliament. The first of these is that which enlists the sympathy of the noble Earl—namely, the Established Church; the second is the right of the tenant to compensation for improvements; and the third, the extensive emigration. I ask your Lordships to examine the three counts of the indictment preferred against the Imperial Government. The first inquiry is as to whether the disaffection now existing in Ireland can be referred to any one of them; and the next is whether any change 385 which we could make would hare the effect of extinguishing that disaffection. Now, with regard to the Established Church in Ireland, the noble Earl has made a very rigorous and a very formidable attack upon that Church; and I do not appear here as the advocate or apologist of the Established Church system in Ireland. In a great deal which has fallen from the noble Earl I am disposed to agree; but what I say is this—that the presence of the Established Church in Ireland has not the slightest to do with the present disaffection, If the £480,000 a year which constitute the revenues of that Establishment were transferred by a prospective measure to take effect at the death of the present incumbents, I do not believe that would keep a single man from crossing the Atlantic or prevent the casting of a single Fenian bullet. The designs of the Fenians are directed as much against the moral supremacy of the Catholic priesthood as against the material emoluments of the Established Church. Persons connected with the Fenian movement have been heard to express regret at the passing of the Emancipation Act, on the ground that it kept men from their ranks who otherwise would have joined them. I am ready to acknowledge the anomalies of the Established Church in Ireland, and I am ready to argue the matter in the abstract—on general grounds of policy; but considering the humble position which I occupy in the Government. I think it will be more becoming of me not to follow the noble Earl through the details, or to trouble the House with any lengthened statement of my private opinion on the subject. I think it will be more convenient that I should proceed to the other subject, which other persons have considered to be a more essential element of Irish discontent—namely, tenant-right. My Lords, I admit at once that the inquiry how far the uneasiness which undoubtedly exists in the minds of the occupants of land is to be identified with the Fenian movement is a more difficult investigation than that connected with the Church: but, nevertheless, I am convinced I shall be able to show your Lordships that the agrarian revolution which the Fenians have in view in connection with the land is a thing entirely distinct from those extravagant pretensions advanced by persons who put themselves forward as the advocates of the tenants in Ireland; because while the small farmers are generally loyal and are interested in the security of land, their farmsteads and 386 their cattle would be the first sacrifices to a successful Fenian insurrection. I do not propose this evening to enter into a minute investigation of the nature of the transactions between landlord and tenant in Ireland. I may, however, observe that as estates in Ireland are so subdivided it is very difficult for a landlord dealing with a number of tenants who do not occupy more than thirty acres, and some whose holdings are as small as five acres, to find the necessary buildings and farm accommodation for all his tenants. Moreover, it has become evident of late years that these small patches of ground cannot be cultivated with advantage, and consequently the landlord is reluctant to build four or five farmhouses, where, if the farms were of proper size, one would suffice. The result is, that it has become the practice for the tenant to make the improvements himself; but I think it right to say that this rule is not without an exception. Since 1847 no less a sum than £1,800,000 has been expended by the Irish landlords in the improvement of their properties, and of that amount no less than £75,000 has been expended on farm buildings, and £4,500 on the erection of cottages. But, notwithstanding this, it must be admitted that improvement by the tenant is the rule; and I must say that the Irish tenant without a lease is in a much more unfavourable position than a Scotch or an English tenant. But in consequence of circumstances to which I have referred, the Irish farmer is placed at a disadvantage in another respect—namely, the unwillingness of some landlords to grant leases. I think they are wrong. On the other hand, the Irish peasant has such a desire for the possession of land, that the small farmer cannot be induced to pass from the condition of an impoverished tenant to that of an independent labourer. He will make any promise and endure any privations to acquire the possession of land. I can understand that in countries where side by side with the small holdings of the peasants there are other means of absorbing the extra labour of the peasantry, and where thus there are means of preventing the perennial division of those small holdings, small farms may be found to answer; but I am glad to have this opportunity of expressing my conviction that this system has been the curse of Ireland. In illustration of some of its evil effects I may observe that the small farmers, not being in a position to pay for labourers, are forced to take away 387 their children from school at the very time when they ought to be receiving such an education as would enable them to earn their own livelihood. As long as their father is alive these children live in a worse position than that of any labourer, and when he dies their sole ambition is to divide his farm in small patches among them. From this state of things has sprung up that unfortunate competition for land from which we have the unprotected position of the tenant. As long as the old management of estates prevailed the evils of the system did not display themselves so strikingly; but when under the operations of the In-cumbered Estates Act the old tenants were brought into contact with men of more businesslike habits who had bought the property to make money of it, those tenants became more sensible of their position; and hence the cry of tenant-right. But there could not be a greater mistake than to confound this appeal for what the tenants suppose to be their rights with the proposal of the Fenians for a re-distribution of land in Ireland; and it must be recollected that, no matter what law might be made to improve the relations of landlord and tenant in that country, such a law would not reach the people who are participators in this conspiracy. Such a law as this could be only prospective in its operation, and the question arises, how many people would it affect? The whole population of Ireland is 5,700,000; and the number of persons who hold farms is 438,000, and 164,000 of these hold on an average about ten acres; and these tenants, though they might benefit to a certain degree, could only derive the small benefit in proportion to their holding; and if you deduct the whole of the tenantry of Ulster, who are likely to lose more than they gain by any Tenant Right Bill that has the slightest chance of passing through the Houses of Parliament, your Lordships will see how infinitesimal must be the amount of discontent to be traced to this source. In fact, my Lords, it stands to reason that those very persons who are anxious for Parliamentary interference on the ground that they are about to lay out considerable sums of money on their farms would be the very last to jeopardize those important interests by embarking in so dangerous an enterprize as the Fenian insurrection. If it were necessary, I could prove that, were we to adopt some of the amendments in the law suggested by the more enthusiastic friends 388 of the farmer, though ultimately these might prove beneficial, in all probability in their immediate effect they would be more likely to stimulate discontent than to extinguish it. Take, for instance, a very favourite improvement suggested in the North, and which I admit might be beneficial—I mean the taking away from the landlord of the right of distraint. Suppose that such a law was seen to be impending in either House of Parliament, what would be the immediate consequence? On every estate in Ireland where a heavy weight of arrears exists, no matter how indulgent the landlord may be, to protect his own interests he would at once call in those arrears; and however satisfactory to the philosopher and philanthropist such a clearing up of old scores would be, it is very doubtful whether you could persuade the unfortunate tenant, who suddenly finds himself overtaken by an unexpected demand for payment to the landlord of all that is due to him, that the legislation productive of such a demand is of the beneficent character which it is represented to be. In fact, the misfortune of the state of Ireland is this, that for a series of years the fabric of society has grown on a wrong foundation. In consequence of what I shall call a dispensation of Providence, the re-construction of that fabric has in some degree become necessary; but a state of transition in any community is always a state of suffering to a great number of individuals affected by it. Even by producing improvements which are likely to place the machinery of society on a better footing hereafter, by stimulating the progress of transition, you are very apt at the same time to increase the actual amount of discontent. Of one thing I am perfectly certain—that not any portion of the present disaffection in Ireland can be traced to neglect on the part of the Government in introducing laws for the improvement of the relations of landlord and tenant; although I may take this opportunity of stating that I think it would be very possible to improve that law and to render it, what it is not, as liberal as the law of landlord and tenant in either of the sister kingdoms. Now, my Lords, it only remains for me to notice the third ground of complaint cast in the teeth of the Imperial Government, and insisted on with considerable force by the noble Earl—namely, the excessive emigration which has taken place from Ireland during the last twenty years. It has been said by a very eminent per- 389 son in another place that deep-seated indeed must be the evils of any country from whose shores so vast a proportion of the population is compelled to flee. With that observation I entirely and cordially agree. But the question is, are these evils the result of legislation, or are they due to causes entirely beyond the power of any Act of Parliament to deal with? Let us consider calmly and dispassionately the nature of this emigration. In the first place, I must be permitted to correct three misconceptions—namely, that emigration only commenced after the potato failure; that it was principally confined to the Celtic portion of the population; and that it was mainly stimulated by evictions carried out by the landowners. The fact is, that in the ten years previous to 1841 more than half a million of persons had already quitted the shores of Ireland; and on a comparison founded upon the denominational Census of 1834 and 1861, it will be found that, although over the whole of Ireland the decrease among the Celtic portion of the population might have been in a more rapid ratio, yet that in the purely agricultural districts the Protestant and the Roman Catholic emigration was nearly identical. How very little influence upon the emigration from Ireland is to be attributed to evictions by the landlords will be seen when I mention to your Lordships that on an average the number of evictions during the past few years has been from 600 to 700 annually, while the emigration has been from 80,000 to 110,000. And that some such change was necessary is amply proved from the following simple fact, which is one of the most significant that ever came under my notice, and which is vouched for on the conjoint authority of Archbishop Whately, Archbishop Murray, and Mr. More O'Ferrall:—In 1841 it appears that five persons were engaged in the cultivation of the soil in Ireland, where only two persons were engaged in similar operations in England; though at the same time the total agricultural produce of England was exactly four times the total of the agricultural produce of Ireland. The fact is, that the whole fabric of the State at that time was based on one of the most unsubstantial and insecure foundations on which any country ever existed. From the landlord in his mansion down to the peasant in his cabin, everyone was more or less dependent on the potato. Undoubtedly every man in those days was happy enough, and I believe they are looked back to as "the 390 good old days before the potato famine." It is quite true that the poorest peasant could always find a patch of mountain where he could grow his favourite vegetable there were always stones and mud at hand out of which to construct a cabin; there was always a bog near at hand to cut turf from; there was always a handsome girl to make him the father of twelve children in about a dozen years; and there was always the domestic pig to pay the rent. Potatoes, pigs, and children were, propagated in a highly agreeable and freehearted manner. But, my Lords, will anybody tell me that this species of existence is one to be regretted, or re-established, if that were possible? Will anyone say that the thousands and thousands of energetic, industrious men who are now pushing their way in the world on the other side of the Atlantic have been nothing benefited by the change imposed upon them, not through any interference on the part of Parliament, but by a most merciful interposition of Divine Providence. It is quite true that to the people themselves the crisis of transition was a period of great discomfort and great physical suffering. Naturally they resented the change; they felt aggrieved at being compelled to leave the fields and glens endeared to them by so many happy memories. But, once having made the change, that they neither regretted it nor failed to benefit by it is proved by one of the most touching facts which has probably ever occurred in the history of any nation. Within sixteen years from the commencement of this emigration the people who had quitted their native shores, almost in the guise of paupers, had actually remitted no less a sum than £12,000,000 for the purpose of enabling their friends and relations to share the happier prospects which were being opened up to them in their new country, whose wonderful fertility and scanty population at once stimulated their industry and rewarded their labour. These remittances of money, it is needless to add, were long anterior to any suggestions of Fenianism. There cannot be a greater mistake than to imagine that emigration is anything but a benefit to those that go and those that stay. If we compare the density of its population with that of other nations, we find that Ireland is still more densely populated than any European nation. In every square mile in Ireland there are 181 persons, in France 177, in Prussia 171, in Austria 148, in Scotland 101, and in Spain 391 90. Unhappily, the resources of Ireland, mineral, manufacturing, or natural, are in an inverse ratio to its population. At this moment there are in that country no more than 815,000 persons engaged in the pursuits of commerce or manufacture, while in England 5,500,000 are absorbed by these industries. On the other hand, there are in Ireland twice the number of persons engaged in cultivating an equal area of land to the numbers that are so engaged in England—in fact, there are probably 300,000 families, or 1,000,000 of persons, dependent on the land in Ireland, more than are needed for its proper cultivation. Although some exception may be taken to these figures, which I have taken from the Census tables of 1861, yet, nevertheless, the great fact still remains unqualified that a large proportion of the people of Ireland remain hanging on, as it were, to the skirts of society, and standing aloof from the disciplined ranks of labour. But, my Lords, perhaps it may be objected, that if we were only to develop the resources of Ireland, we shall find occupation for all these millions. That is an observation to the force of which I at once bow. I believe Ireland is capable of sustaining a far larger population than it has yet borne—I believe there are a hundred fountains of wealth still to be unsealed in Ireland; but what I say, my Lords, is this—for Heaven's sake do hot keep thousands and thousands of industrious, able-bodied men in a degraded state of idleness until we shall have discovered the secret for unlocking those fountains of wealth and for attracting the necessary capital to work them. Of those who speak of developing the resources of Ireland, I would ask, how can you expect that the resources of any country can be developed as long as a state of insecurity prevails in the country? Thousands of years ago Aristophanes observed that Plutus was a most timorous person; and depend upon it Plutus is much too wise a person to trust himself in a Fenian agitation. Now, my Lords, in connection with this part of the subject it so happens that certain facts have come to my personal knowledge, and I think it desirable not only that your Lordships but also the public at large should be made acquainted with them. To those who have been carefully watching the progress of Ireland during the last three years I do not know that any symptom is so encouraging and hopeful as the evident desire which had begun to operate a short 392 time ago among English capitalists to invest their money in Ireland. I observed in the summer of last year that an English company which had been formed for the purpose of spending a million and a half of money in building speculations in Ireland had commenced operations within three miles of where I live by purchasing land. But the Fenian agitation declared itself, and rather than continue their enterprize the promoters of the speculation sacrificed the capital which they had already invested, and disappeared out of the country. Another case is that of a gentleman who, having made his fortune in Manchester, left England for Drogheda, the birth place of his ancestors, and from a feeling of benevolence towards his fellow-countrymen he established a large cotton manufactory. In consequence of the cheapness of labour and the advantages offered by the waters of the Boyne for the manufacture of cotton he was able to prosecute the industry with success, and last summer half-a-dozen of his friends in Manchester went over to Ireland, from no motive of benevolence, but simply from a desire to share in the profits of what they hoped would be similarly successful ventures. Then the tourists who visit Ireland during the summer were a very large source of revenue to many of the towns and villages in the south of Ireland. The number of visitors to Killarney alone amounted to 500, representing an expenditure of several thousands, a week; but immediately the Fenian agitation occurred the whole of them left. I myself met them returning from Dublin in a panic, and after September not a dozen visitors showed themselves in the place. I could multiply instances such as these, my Lords, to show the way capital was turned aside as it was in the very act of flowing into the country. And the worst of it is, my Lords, that at that time, I have no hesitation in saying, notwithstanding the statement made by the noble Earl, Ireland was in a very prosperous position. And at this moment I declare Ireland to be in a very prosperous condition. The noble Earl unfortunately took it for granted that we should be ready to accede to his statement when he spoke to us of what he called "the admitted decline of Irish prosperity." I will not trouble your Lordships with too many statistics, but I will mention a few facts which I have culled from authentic Returns, and these will show the kernel of the case. In 1865 the cattle of Ireland was valued at two millions of money more than the valuation of the pre- 393 vious year; and the value of live stock at this moment is £26,000,000 in excess of what it was in 1841. Then if we turn to other agricultural statistics we find that during the last year 125,000 acres of lay were brought under pasturage more than were cultivated in the previous year; and since 1841 200,000 acres of waste land have been reclaimed. Then we had 233,000 acres under flax last year, which is an advance of as much as 63 per cent on the cultivation of flax in 1861. Then, with regard to wages. The noble Earl stated that the Irish labourer was underpaid; but in my own county an Irish labourer can always earn 1s. 2d. to 1s. 4d. per day; in harvest time he gets not less than 2s. a day; a railway labourer earns from 10s. to 12s. a week, while the carpenter, mason, and skilled workmen generally make from £1 to £2 a week. And Judge Longfield, who, I believe, will be accepted as an authority capable of forming a correct judgment upon these matters, states that the actual rise of wages in Ireland has amounted to 80 per cent I within the last twenty years. Well, then, my Lords, if we again refer to the Poor Law, which is another test of the condition of the country, we shall find that in 1865 no less than 34,224 fewer persons were in receipt of relief than in 1863. If we turn to the police Return, we find the diminution of crime has been absolutely marvellous. The cases have been reduced from 10,000 in 1841 to 4,600 cases in 1850. Then, if we go to the deposit banks, we find that there has been an increase from £4,000,000 in 1863 to £11,000,000 in 1865, and at this moment they stand £1,000,000 in excess of the largest sum deposited at any sime during the last twenty years. If we look to our manufactories, we find that the power-looms in the North of Ireland have been actually doubled within the last five years; the exports of Belfast have doubled within one year, and although I quote from memory, I think I am justified in saying that the actual wealth of Ireland at the present time is £52,000,000 in excess of what it was in 1841. These facts, I think, show plainly enough that Ireland is far from retrograding; but I have something even more surprising still to relate. It is that Ireland has outstripped England in its progress in agricultural wealth. England's position in 1815 was stated at £41,000,000, and in 1856 it amounted only to £38,000,000; and whereas in 1815 the farmers' profits were put down at £21,700,000, in 1856 394 they were estimated at £24,224,000. It may, perhaps, be asked to what is the present disaffection of Ireland to be attributed if it is not to be accounted for by the existence of the Established Church or by the alleged unsatisfactory condition of the land question I believe that that question can be easily answered. Let us see for a moment what have been the invariable characteristics which have signalized the periods of disaffection in Ireland. In every case demonstrations of a rebellious character in Ireland have been propagated from without. In 1798 the rising in Ireland followed upon the French Revolution. In 1848, too, the events of Ireland were the consequence of European disturbances; and the abortive attempts of 1866 may be traced even more clearly to foreign influence. It may with great justice be demanded why the Irish people are always so willing to lend themselves to the wiles of these alien sedition-mongers? but that question is very easily answered. I must, however, first of all deny that the Irish people generally are disaffected. I believe that, as a whole, the Irish nation is essentially loyal and contented; but there does undoubtedly exist among the lowest class of the Irish people a traditional hostility to this country—a feeling engendered, no doubt, by the evil treatment that Ireland has met with at the hands of England during past centuries—a feeling which it is, of course, absurd to expect will disappear at once. Nothing, however, is more remarkable than the loyal and enthusiastic devotion which pervades the minds of the Irish people towards what they regard as a national cause. I would only remind your Lordships, as an instance of the attachment of the Irish peasant to what he considers his faction or party, of the feud which existed between two villages—I do not for the moment remember their names—in which the respective parties were dignified by the appellations of the "two-year olds" and the "three-year olds." Those factions availed themselves of every opportunity they could find to break their adversaries' heads, and to commit upon one another every kind of cruelty, and all on account of a dissension which had been completely forgotten in the lapse of time. When therefore a large number of adventurers spread themselves over the country, opening the beerhouses and scattering handfuls of silver in all directions, telling a poor and excitable population that an American fleet was on its way to Bantry 395 Bay for the purpose of bestowing upon each of the enraptured listeners a smart house and property, it is not to be wondered at that they have been to some extent successful, although it is satisfactory to notice that the victims of these delusions are confined to the most ignorant of the masses. Your Lordships now will observe that each successive attempt at revolution in Ireland has been weaker than its predecessors. In 1798 many members of the higher ranks of society in Ireland were involved in the rising; in 1848 the attempt was weaker, for it only reached the level of the middle classes; and now, in 1866, the movement is confined to the lowest and the most ignorant portion of the people. The disaffection which at present exists in Ireland cannot, I believe, be removed by any exceptional legislation which you may attempt. That disaffection is entirely unconnected with the Irish Established Church, and has nothing to do with the landlord or tenant question. It is, moreover, entirely unshared by those who have anything to lose, or by any religious community who recognize the first principles of morality. It has been propagated by filibustering hordes among the ignorant and uneducated class of the people, whose material comfort and social status have unfortunately been compromised by the changes which have taken place in Ireland since 1846. Although I have endeavoured to prove that the present disaffection in Ireland is not attributable to any want of proper legislation, and that it is not to be removed by special enactments, I am anxious to guard myself from the imputation of believing that no legislation is required for Ireland. On the contrary, I believe that much remains to be done; and when the suitable time arrives your Lordships will, I doubt not, give your best attention to any remedial measures which may be proposed. Still less am I disposed to think that nothing has been done by the moral influence of those who are connected with Ireland by ties of property. It is to them, indeed, that we have to look for assistance in our attempts to effect the regeneration of that country; and it appears to me that those who derive a large portion of their revenue from Ireland incur a very grave responsibility if they confine their interest in their fellow-countrymen and their tenants to ascertaining the colour of their money. It is not, however, only the benevolence or the generosity of the landed proprietors of Ireland that can effect a change in the 396 feelings of the people. What they demand is your sympathy, the actual presence of yourselves, your wives, and your daughters, moving among them in the villages, active in the promotion of works of charity, thus convincing the people that you regard them as your fellow-countrymen, and Ireland as your country. I do not, however, wish to exaggerate these influences. I believe it would be as wrong to place our hopes for the future prosperity of Ireland upon the exertions and influence of individual landlords as it would be to expect Ireland to be regenerated by exceptional Parliamentary legislation. It is on higher, wider, and more powerful agencies that we must fix our hopes; and those agencies have already commenced their operations in the more equal distribution of the population in the fields of labour and employment. In the meantime no other course is open to us but to pursue that policy so happily inaugurated by the present Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and with a temperate, firm, and irresistible hand to protect the industry, the property, and the education of the country against the evil designs of the unprincipled adventurers by whom they are assailed, and to save, as far as possible, the dupes of these adventurers from the consequences of their folly.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF ARMAGH
My Lords, if your Lordships are pleased to grant to the noble Earl the Committee for which he has asked, it will then, I think, be the proper time for me to meet his statements respecting the Established Church in Ireland. I will, therefore, for the present, confine myself to a few observations. It appears to me that the noble Earl wishes to disestablish us because the members of the United Church in Ireland form the minority of the population. But this calculation will only hold good if you sever the Irish from the English branch of the Established Church, and this severance would be contrary to the history of the last 700 years as well as to the Act of Union. In the year 1172, at the Council of Cashel, the usages, customs, and the doctrines of the Irish Church were conformed to those of the Church of England; and, to accomplish this object, in the reign of Henry II. tithes were for the first time established in Ireland. We have many instances recorded of the intercommunion of the Churches of England and Ireland in that time. In the Council of Constance, in 1414, the Ambassadors of the English King claimed a separate vote as represent- 397 ing the Churches of England and Ireland. The question was entertained by the Council, and, after discussion, was allowed. At the Reformation, in the oath of supremacy to be taken in Ireland, under the Irish Statute, 28 Henry VIII. c. 13, s. 6, the King was to be acknowledged as the supreme head of "the Church of England and Ireland;" and in the oath of supremacy to be taken in England, under the Statute 25 Henry VIII. c. 1, s. 11, the King was to be acknowledged as the supreme head of "the Church of England and Ireland." At the time of the Union the two Churches were consolidated into one. Lord Castlereagh, in proposing that Union, addressed the following words to the Irish Parliament:—One State, one Legislature, one Church—these are the leading features of the system, and without identity with Great Britain in these three great points of connection we never can hope for any real or permanent security. The Church in particular, while we remain a separate country, will ever be liable to be impeached on local grounds. When once incorporated with the Church of England it will be placed upon such a strong and natural foundation as to be above every apprehension and fear from adverse interest, and from all fretting and irritating circumstances connected with our colonial situation. As soon as the Church Establishments of the two kingdoms shall be incorporated into one Church, the Protestant will feel himself at once identified with the population and property of the Empire, and the Establishment will be placed on its natural basis. In accordance with these principles the 5th Article of the Treaty of Union enacted 'That the Churches of England and Ireland be united into one Episcopal Church, and that the continuance and preservation of the said United Church, as the Established Church of England and Ireland, shall be deemed and taken to be an essential and fundamental part of the Union.'Now, my Lords, the Act of Union was a national compact, and as long as that Act remains in force there is "one State, one Legislature, one Church," and that Church is the Church of the Empire, and consequently the members of the Irish Church do not constitute a small separate minority, but form a part of the Church of the great majority of the Empire. The noble Earl, in referring to the Act of Union, said that it was the Act of a Parliament which only represented a part of the people; but the noble Earl forgets that the Act of Union was approved by the Roman Catholic prelates acting on behalf of the Roman Catholic people of Ireland, and that the then Ro man Catholic Archbishop of Dublin was one of the principal agents who aided in bringing about the Union. It must, there fore, be admitted that the Act of Union was 398 not the Act of a minority, but was a national Act, approved at the time by the great majority of the Irish people. Neither must it be forgotten that the Established Church of Ireland comprises within it at least eight-ninths of the landed proprietors of the country, and that it is they who support the Church. The noble Earl says that the money comes eventually from the land. That may be perfectly true; but the tenant makes the best bargain he can with his landlord; he then pays his rent, and it can make no difference to him whether his landlord does or does not pay a portion of his income to the Church. By this means the Roman Catholic tenant never comes into collision with the Protestant clergy. It is true that one-ninth of the Irish Church revenue derived from the land is paid by Roman Catholics; but I have never heard that any one of them ever objected to pay their porportion—on the contrary, the payments are in every case made willingly and with regularity. I do not see any possible advantage that can accrue from adopting the proposal of the noble Earl to throw the whole property of the Church into one common fund, to be assisted by a grant from the Consolidated Fund, and then apportioned to the requirements of the three religious denominations in Ireland. In the first place, I think I can show by a few statistics that the property of the Irish Established Church is barely sufficient to meet its wants. There are altogether 1,510 benefices in Ireland. Dividing the whole net income of the clergy by these 1,510 benefices would give an average income of £245 to each benefice, which is £55 less than Mr. Justice Shee stated in 1854 was the smallest sum that should be given to clergymen. Again, the congregations are much larger than, perhaps, your Lordships imagine, the total number of Church people in Ireland being 700,000, or 459 persons to each of the 1,510 benefices, which is a larger average congregation than that of the country districts of England, if towns containing upwards of 10,000 persons are excluded from the calculation. Each of these benefices contains on the average 13,800 acres; so that the income of £245 on an average can scarcely be regarded as too high a remuneration for the services required from the clergy. Of the fund in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, about £30,000 is applicable to building, enlarging, and repairing churches, and this sum is not at all adequate for those purposes. The 399 Irish congregations, however, are extremely liberal, and within a very few years they have contributed upwards of £100,000 in aid of that fund. The noble Earl was also in error when he stated the property of the Roman Catholic Church was handed over to the Protestant Church at the time of the Reformation. In the first place, tithes were given to the Church of Ireland for conforming to the Church of England by Henry II.; that was the condition of the grant, and when the majority of prelates and clergy of the Church of Ireland adopted the reformation the property of the Church followed the change. No doubt at that time a great part of the abbey lands were given to the landed proprietors; but that was not transferring them to the rival Church. No less than 114,218 acres of glebe lands, which never belonged in any way to the Roman Catholic Church, have been given since that time to the Established Church. Again, the funds of the Established Church have been increased at different times by the liberality of private persons; so that much of the property of the Church as it stands at present may be said to be a new creation. Again, the value of the glebe lands was but small when they came into the possession of the Established Church, and above 700 glebe-houses have been built upon them, since the beginning of this century, whereby their value has been largely increased. Another very important argument in favour of the maintenance of the Established Church is, that it is the occasion of 2,000 educated gentlemen residing in the various country districts exercising a vast influence for good over the population, and that thus the great evil of absenteeism is in some degree mitigated. The plan sketched by the noble Earl would reduce the remuneration of the clergy to such a degree that no educated gentleman would accept it. The proposition, then, of the noble Earl would lead to no good; while, on the contrary, it would shake the foundation of property, would give contentment to no party, and would most probably be rejected by all. I therefore ask your Lordships, in your wisdom, to decline to accept such a proposition.
My Lords, while agreeing in much that has fallen from my noble Friend who introduced this subject (Earl Grey), I do not think that any great advantage is obtained from that argument which he intended to lay down—namely, that every other process of conciliating Ireland had been tried, and therefore it was 400 absolutely necessary to dis-endow the Irish Church, because there was nothing else left of which the Irish nation could justly complain, or which was in any degree remediable by law. I cannot entirely go with my noble Friend on that point. I believe there are many subjects connected with Ireland of a material character to the revision of which we may address ourselves with great advantage to that country. I quite agree with my noble Friend that the matter cannot be argued purely upon economical grounds. It is quite clear in all Irish questions—even including that of tenant-right, which would seem at first sight as much as possible nothing more than a matter of pounds., shillings, and pence—that there is a great deal beyond that, and that it touches the whole subject of the relations between landlord and tenant as produced in Ireland by the course of events. If that relation was the same in Ireland as it is in England, the question of tenant-right would never have arisen; or, if it had, it would have received immediate solution. We are not strangers to the name in England—it forms part of the customs of the country in a portion of England, and yet it never leads to any social disturbance or any political ill-feeling. And why? Because with us the relations between landlord and tenant are, on the whole, really satisfactory. Tour Lordships know that on your large estates your tenants-at-will have a perfect sense of security, not only in what may be called the customs of the country, but also in what may be called an honourable engagement. A tenant-at-will knows that as long as he pays his rent he is as safe as if he held under a lease; he makes his improvements and he enjoys them, and if he goes out of the farm the incoming tenant pays for them, and the tenant-at-will does not suffer. Now, unfortunately, you have not that relation subsisting between the landlord and tenant in Ireland. On the contrary, you have a continued and abiding distrust, which runs through the whole of that relation, and is the unhappy moral foundation, upon which all the evil rests. I do not pretend to say that this is the fault of the Irish landlord, for it originally rested on violent confiscation—confiscation still remembered, still rankling in the minds of the Irish people. And, this being so, I think the landlords of Ireland would do well to see whether they could not make some surrender of that absolute right of property which we in this country enjoy, and by 401 so doing derive considerable material advantage by conciliating their tenants. When I saw such a deputation as went up the other day to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this subject—some of the gentlemen who composed it may be said to hold extreme opinions, but there were some leading landlords of Ireland among them—when I saw their recommendation tending to induce the landlords of Ireland as far as possible to grant leases to their tenants, I could not help thinking that there was something in that deputation far beyond a mere demonstration of popular feeling. I do not mean to say that the landlords of Ireland could come into the same relations with their tenants which prevail with us in England; but it is impossible to read the blue book which has been laid before this House and not to feel that there is, from whatever cause, an abiding distrust between a large portion of the landlords and tenants in Ireland, to which I do think it will be necessary in some degree to apply a remedy. Whether that remedy shall be applied by some alteration in the law of contract, by determining that, when a tenant improves, the improvements which he makes shall be submitted to arbitration—which I think was the proposal of the noble Lord (Lord Dufferin) who lately addressed you with so much ability—or in some other way, it is not for me as an Englishman to say; but this I will say—it is impossible for any man who wishes for the permanent prosperity of the people of Ireland not to see that something must be done to alter the relations between landlord and tenant in that country. There is no doubt, if it were possible to determine what those improvements are, and to see that they are legitimate improvements, and not fictitious or collusive arrangements, in that case the landlord himself would be a considerable gainer, even though he placed himself for a short time in a less favourable position. There is another point, my Lords, to which I think the attention of Parliament must be directed, and that is the question of the education of the middle classes in Ireland. There was no man who hailed with more delight than I did the establishment of the Queen's Colleges, but it is impossible not to feel that these Colleges have not realized all the hopes with which they were initiated by Sir Robert Peel. At the present moment the number of Roman Catholics attending the Queen's Colleges is only about the same as that of the members of the Church of England— 402 thus showing that these establishments have by no means supplied the want of middle-class education to a large mass of the people. There is reason to believe that some arrangements are now in progress to remedy that defect, but as that question will probably come before us in a distinct form I will not detain your Lordships with the consideration of it now. I will merely say that when it comes before us I hope we shall not allow ourselves to be guided by our pre-possessions, or by considerations of what in the abstract we think best. Devoted as I have always been to the cause of mixed education in Ireland, and though I should give up any part of that system with regret, at the same time I think it might be well that we should do so. But, my Lords, the question to which my noble Friend mainly directed our attention was of a much more difficult kind. I cannot shut my eyes to the conviction that upon our settlement of that question much of the future of Ireland depends, and I say, with the greatest respect to the most rev. Prelate who has last addressed you (the Archbishop of Armagh), that the time is past when many of his arguments would have power even in your Lordships' House. In the present current of public opinion I do not think that the Irish Church can stand either on the basis of the Act of Union, or upon what is a much stronger basis, that it is admitted to be the religion of the land of Ireland. There is no doubt that according to historic analogy the Church has ever gone with the land, and therefore, although we are always told by foreigners that the Church in Ireland is something monstrous, there is really no reason why we should think so. It has gone hitherto with the land, and according to the prevalent notions of the relations between Church and State. It is not for me to tell your Lordships that the relations which have hitherto prevailed are considerably altered, and the arguments which at one time seemed absolutely omnipotent will now have little effect upon your Lordships' mind, I cannot go further without laying down what I consider a sound principle—namely, that in all our future discussions with respect to the Church in Ireland we must consider solely and simply the advantage of that Church to Ireland. We cannot take it in its relation to the Church of England or to the State of England—upon its own merits, upon its own utility, upon its own advan- 403 tages it must stand or fall. But there is another question intimately connected with that of the Church of England in Ireland, to which I think we might apply ourselves, and to which I should be glad that the attention of Her Majesty's Government were directed. It is more than thirty years since I called the attention of the other House of Parliament to the question of the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. I believe that if the measure proposed by Mr. Pitt, and assented to even by George III., and continually kept present to the minds of its authors, had been carried out, we should now have a different state of things in Ireland. The abandonment of that proposition has been one of the main causes of the little progress which has been made in drawing closer the relations between England and that country. Why are the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland so different from their brethren all over the world? Why is it that in every other country the Catholic clergy have always supported civil order and have been the great conservators of society in the State, while in Ireland they have been the promoters of treason and the engines of sedition? There was little else for them to do. There was no position in which your Lordships could imagine a priest, however honourable and right-minded, feeling himself sincerely loyal to England and devoted to the interests of the United Kingdom. I hope the able speech delivered a few nights ago and this debate will cause the subject to receive the attention of the Government. I do not believe what is said of the difficulty of dealing with this question. Let it not be approached in a spirit of domination—let it be approached in such a spirit that it cannot be implied we wish to gain anything from the Roman Catholic clergy—and means may be found to conciliate the heads of the Roman Catholic Church. The real question is the independence of the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland. Surely there is no degradation to the Catholics of Ireland in their clergy being placed in such a position that they shall not be dependent solely on the dole of the people. If they were not so dependent, how differently they would look on the question of emigration! If they were properly provided for, so that they were unaffected by the diminution of their congregations, they would not regard emigration as involving a pecuniary loss to themselves. They would feel themselves more on an equality with the clergy of the 404 Anglican Church in Ireland, to whom they would no longer present such a contrast as they do now. If you can begin by remedying to some extent the present anomalous position of the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland, you may come—as I believe you must some day come—to the ulterior question of the present condition of the Protestant Church in Ireland. I believe all these questions may come within the grasp of the statesmanship of the next few years. How it must shock, affront, and pain the Irish spirit, not in the lower class only, but in all classes, to feel that the priest is in a position of degradation, while the clergy of the Anglican Church are in a position of power, wealth, and honour. When a Catholic gentleman leaves his house for a barn, crowded with worshippers to the exclusion of numbers who remain outside, and on the way sees the pleasant Protestant church where service is decorously conducted, however loyal he may be, he must feel a sense of degradation, and a sense of injustice must rankle in his heart and prevent him feeling as one united with Englishmen. These are questions for the next few years, to be dealt with in a generous spirit, in a spirit of conciliation, and in the feeling that both Irishmen and Englishmen are subjects of an Imperial Government. Upon all questions of importance to Ireland let Irishmen show the united front Scotchmen do upon Scotch questions; and they will then be settled with less difficulty. I trust we may live to see the time when Irish difficulties will have disappeared, and when Irishmen and Englishmen may be a thoroughly united people.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
My Lords, the noble Earl who initiated this debate (Earl Grey) stated that he only wished us to declare that Ireland was in an unsatisfactory state; and had he confined his speech to the support of that proposition it would have been unanswerable, for it cannot be denied that the state of the country is eminently unsatisfactory, when three-fourths of it is disaffected; but the Resolutions which the noble Earl read to the House are so precise and definite in their character that his Motion of to-night must be construed by the light of them. The noble Lord the Under Secretary for War (Lord Dufferin) has described Fenianism as the last expiring wave of former antagonism; but it seems to me to be the greatest wave of all. Previous movements against this country were led by the higher and the 405 richer classes, and were backed up by an immense amount of patriotic sentiment; but Fenianism has the support of the lowest and least respectable class: it has descended to mere Jacobinism. It is more even than agrarian: it is an attack upon life, property, and everything that constitutes civilized society. Taking into consideration what is notoriously the present condition of Ireland, no reasonable man can deny that the state of Ireland is unsatisfactory; and, if so, it deserves the attention of Parliament, and justifies this Motion. The Under Secretary for War drew a pleasing picture of the state of Ireland, and described it as making pro gress in almost every department of civilized life—in the reclamation of land, in commerce, in the diminution of pauperism, in the reduction of crime. Indeed, he represented it as almost marching abreast of England. I do not dispute his knowledge of Ireland, but if this he so why is it that Ireland is in the state we know it to be? The noble Earl (Earl Grey), however, went beyond the condition of Ireland, and one-half or two-thirds of his speech was an attack upon the Irish Church. That is a question upon which I do not desire to enter at this time. The noble Earl has announced twelve distinct Resolutions. Of the twelve, two relate to land tenure, one is general, and the other nine go to the very existence of the Established Church in Ireland, proposing alterations so extensive as to amount almost to abolition. Of course, it is quite open to any Member of your Lordships' House to bring forward the question of the Irish Church; but when it is to be brought forward it is desirable we should have notice, in order that we may be prepared for the discussion. I do not think we ought to go into Committee, ostensibly to consider the unsatisfactory state of Ireland, which results from a combination of causes, and in reality to discuss Resolutions which involve the existence of the Established Church in Ireland. For these reasons, while agreeing with much that fell from the noble Earl, I shall feel it my duty to vote against his Motion.
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
said, he was decidedly of opinion that the Established Church of Ireland ought to be retained. He was in favour of the existence of Established Churches in all countries. Ireland furnished an extreme instance of an Established Church, and he did not wish to do away with it. He did not wish to see the voluntary system adopted in any 406 country; and he considered that it would be undesirable to mix up the funds of the Roman Catholic and the Protestant Churches. He would make provision for the Roman Catholic clergy, but not out of the revenues of the Established Church. The two things ought to be kept entirely distinct. He had been informed that the Regium Donum was insufficient and if such were the case it ought, in his judgment, to be reasonably augmented. With regard to the difficult subject of tenant right, he thought legislation ought to be mainly directed to facilitating voluntary agreements between landlords and tenants. He confessed that the speech of his noble Friend the Under Secretary for War (Lord Dufferin) appeared to him of rather too roseate a hue, when he spoke of Fenianism as the last wave of Irish discontent. Everything in the present state of the country was pleasing to his noble Friend. The people were loyal, wages were high; but still, everybody who could go was leaving the country. The emigration from Ireland was a very serious matter, and would deprive us of great facilities for recruiting our army. They must not suppose in dealing with Ireland when the last Fenian left our troubles were over; for unless something were done to improve the condition of the Irish people, we should have people like the Fenians (though they might not be called by that name) periodically making their appearance, because they would have good grounds for thinking it was the weakest part of the British Empire. Until Ireland was allowed to share in a larger degree than she had done hitherto in the prosperity of England, there would not be peace and quiet in the country.
THE EARL OF BELMORE
said, that he had listened with considerable surprise to the remarks which the noble Lord who spoke last but two (Lord Houghton) had made at the beginning of his speech. He lived a good deal in Ireland, and knew something about that country, and he could assure the noble Lord that, as a general rule, landlords did not seek to appropriate the property of their improving tenants. In Ulster, where tenant-right prevailed, tenants, unless evicted for non-payment of rent, on quitting their farms usually got as much, and often more, than their improvements were worth, or had cost them. Cases of hardship, sometimes, no doubt did occur, and these were often in cases where persons who had made their money purchased land, 407 and were anxious to make as much profit as possible. But, as a rule, tenants had confidence in their landlords where landlords were actuated by principles of justice and influenced by the feelings of gentlemen. With regard to the question of compensation, he fully admitted that a tenant who had laid out money on improvements had a right, if he quitted the farm, to receive the value of his improvements; but the great practical difficulty would be to obtain competent and trustworthy valuators; and, on the other hand, landlords ought to be able to set off deteriorations. Some tenants were very fond, for instance, of making a number of useless ditches, which cost a great deal to level when a farm was given up, and which, if made across the face of a hill (and hills in Ireland were very apt to be wet), did irremediable harm. Then as to the Irish Church, one of the main reasons why the Reformation had not the same success in Ireland as had attended it in England was well stated by Dr. Todd in his Life of St. Patrick. The rev. doctor remarked—It is highly probable that had the Reformation been presented to the Irish people in a Gaelic dress, and in the Gaelic language, it would have been accepted without difficulty. But, unfortunately, the reverse was the case. The Reformation was almost studiously brought into Ireland in ostentatious connection with the Church of the Pale and the English colonists; it was planted on the basis of Puritanism and iconoclastic outrage; and to this day the influence of that unhappy mistake continues to destroy the usefulness and paralyze the energies of the Irish clergy. The Reformed doctrines were regarded by the oppressed and degraded natives of Ireland as essentially English; and accordingly they were rejected without examination, and spurned with the detestation and abhorrence with which the English and everything coming from England were, as a matter of course, received; and, as if effectually to prevent the Reformed faith spreading among the lower orders of the people, no part of the Bible was printed in the vernacular during the whole of the 16th century, and no edition of the Prayer Book appeared in Irish till 1608, more than seventy years after the commencement of the Irish Reformation!At the Reformation, one-half the tithes were held by the monasteries, and passed into the hands of laymen; 680 parishes became impropriate, and 1,480 glebes passed into lay hands. Then the poverty of the clergy and the consequent union of parishes was another reason. Dean Swift observed—The clergy having been stripped of the greatest part of their revenues, the glebes being generally lost, the tithes in the hands of laymen, the churches demolished, and the country depopulated, it was necessary to unite small vicarages.408 And Sir John Davies, who was Attorney General and Speaker of the House of Commons in 1609, says that, in Cavan, many vicars had no more than 40s. a year, a sum which, even allowing for the difference in the value of money, was quite insufficient to support persons in that position. Then there was the tithe of agistment—that is, the title of dry and barren pasturage—concerning which, in 1735, the Irish House of Commons passed a Resolution that it ought no longer to be paid. The landlords, and probably their tenants, acting on this Resolution (although there was no statute passed), declined to pay this tithe, and it had never since been paid to this day. Some noble Lord had spoken of the wealth of the clergy, but their average incomes, excluding stipendiary curates, was only £245 a year, and there were 276 out of 1,570 benefices below £100 a year. So that the Irish Church should be considered as a poor rather than a rich Church; and if, as the noble Earl on the cross-benches (Earl Grey) suggested, the income were to be divided equally between the three Churches—the noble Earl shakes his head; well rateably—and why the noble Earl omitted the very important body of Wesleyan Methodists he did not understand—the provision each clergyman would receive would be manifestly inadequate. Why did he not propose to take the Regium Donum, and the Maynooth grant also, because if you were to take the endowments of one body for public purposes, it would logically follow that you must take the endowments of all. A noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) had talked of the very unsatisfactory state of things in Ireland, but he (the Earl of Belmore) rather took the view and approved of the figures of his noble Friend the Under Secretary of State for War. He thought that those who took their opinions not from newspapers and from speeches emanating from people whose object was to get up a case against the English Government, but from experience, would (putting the question of Fenianism, and the, he hoped, temporary discontent connected with it out of the question) agree that the country was steadily advancing in prosperity. Then, as to the question of railways, spoken to by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Clanricarde). No doubt, some of them were in a very bad condition, but he attributed this not to legislation, nor so much to local circumstances as to the manner in which they had been got up. If you pay 409 a contractor £3,000 in shares for £2,000 of work (and he was told that was a very moderate statement of what had been done in some instances), you could not expect prosperity. The noble Marquess compared them unfavourably with English lines, but he could not admit that the case was exceptional. Whilst the Irish system as a whole paid 1½ per cent on the average, the English Great Eastern line, which had about the same capital (or approaching to it), not only paid nothing to its ordinary shareholders, but had great difficulty in paying its preference shareholders. Some people said it was the duty of the Government to advance a large sum of money to subsidize, as he must call it, the Irish railway companies. One well-known gentleman (Mr. Dargan) laid it down that it was the duty of Government to advance, or, as was clearly pointed out by Lord Overstone with regard to another matter the other night, to lend the credit of Government to withdraw from investments in England in which it would otherwise be employed a sum of money—to do what? Why to set free a corresponding amount of Irish capital now invested in railway loans for investment in other ways. Now he (the Earl of Belmore) was of opinion that to subsidize trade in any way was very bad policy, and what was bad political economy in England could not be good political economy in Ireland. In conclusion, he was of opinion that the future prosperity of the country must be looked for, not from the results of legislation, but from the energy and self-reliance of the people.
§ LORD LYVEDEN
said, that if his noble Friend pressed his Motion to a division he should fell bound to vote against him, though he agreed in many of his propositions. The time at which the Motion was brought forward was injudiciously chosen, and the manner in which his noble Friend's propositions were submitted to the House was inconvenient. A moment when insurrection was smouldering in Ireland would be an extraordinary one at which to deal with the questions now introduced for their Lordships' consideration. If their Lordships went into Committee of the whole House, they must discuss all the evils which were said to exist in Ireland; and as they could not remedy all those evils they would only aggravate them by discussion. Then the manner of the Motion was inconvenient, because he had never heard of a proposition to go into Committee without a Motion stating more definitely than did his noble 410 Friend's the object for which they were to do so. His noble Friend had read the Resolutions which he meant to propose in Committee; but no man could make up his mind on such Resolutions from merely hearing them read. The noble Earl ought to have laid those Resolutions on the table before he asked the House to go into Committee. In many of the proposals he agreed. Indeed, for a number of years such proposals had been with him a sort of programme of what the Liberal party ought to do in Ireland. It had long been his opinion that they ought to deal with the Irish Church and with the Catholic clergy. Their Lordships had heard that Ireland was discontented, and they had heard also that she was prosperous. Strange this indeed—disaffection and prosperity existing in a country at the same time! He did not think the discontent in Ireland arose from any present misconduct of the Imperial Government, or from the fact that certain measures might be useful for that country. There was always something to be done for England herself and for the colonies; and one might as well allege this as a reason why there should be discontent in the mother country and in our distant possessions, as say that the present discontent in Ireland was owing to the want of those useful measures. He believed the feeling arose from a long rooted hostility towards the conqueror arising from past misgovernment and from an intense feeling of nationality on the part the Irish. The object we should have in view was to remove every mark of domination in Ireland; and in doing this we should have to deal with the Irish Church. The most rev. Primate (the Archbishop of Armagh) had said that the Church in England and the Church in Ireland were one and the same. Technically, that was so; but it was not so in any man's idea of things as they really were, hardly anyone could bring himself to regard the Irish as a part of the English Church; it was thought of merely as the Church of a minority. It was hard to say what actual hardship was inflicted by its existence, but there was little doubt that its existence did foster a spirit of anti-nationality which in itself was a fruitful source of evil. His opinion, therefore, was in favour of dealing with that Church; but, at the same time, such enormous difficulties stood in the way of approaching the question at the present moment that he did not wonder that his noble Friend hesitated to grapple 411 with these obstacles, knowing them to be insurmountable. With regard to tenant-right, he left it to his noble Friend beside him to lecture Irish landlords on the subject of tenant-right, and he had not been at all surprised that the noble Earl who had just sat down (the Earl of Belmore) felt indignant at the tone that was taken towards them. He was not an Irish landlord himself, but was closely connected with many who were, and felt sure that, as a body, they lived upon as good terms with their tenantry as any of their Lordships in England. The question of payment to the Roman Catholic priesthood was one highly deserving of consideration when the proper time came; but, at the present moment, when all the Dissenters in England and a great body of the Churchmen would be arrayed against such a proposition, he was not surprised that his noble Friend felt unprepared to put it forward. He heartily deplored, however, that the subject had not been dealt with earlier, either at the time of the Union, or when Lord Ellesmere brought forward his Motion. A stipend offered to the Catholic clergy of Ireland would not only place them on a like Social footing with the Protestant, but would have the effect of attaching them to the State, though he was bound to say that in the recent instance they had shown themselves well affected and done all they could, he believed, to suppress insurrectionary tendencies. There were rumours now, as there always had been, that the Catholic clergymen would not accept payment at the hands of the State; but Mr. Sheil, speaking on the same subject, once said, "Give us a fund here in Dublin, and try if that won't effect the object." For his own part, he believed that a moderate payment to the Catholic clergy would act as a very great tie between the two countries. With many of the objects contemplated by the noble Earl in his Motion he fully sympathized, and gave him every credit for the ability with which it had been introduced. At the same time, he felt obliged to dissent from the course which had been suggested, and if the question were pressed to a division he must vote against it.
THE BISHOP OF DERRY
said, he felt reluctance in trespassing upon the time of their Lordships after the remarks already made by the Lord Primate. Having, however, come over expressly from Ireland to be present at this debate, he should be wanting to the position which he occupied 412 in the Church if he did not put forward briefly the view which he entertained. It was not difficult to account for the disaffection towards the Church in Ireland. Bearing in mind the unnatural and unholy combination which had taken place between the Liberation Society and the Catholic Association in Ireland, it was not surprising that there should be a ferment in the minds of the people, or that they should be filled with disaffection towards the Established Church. He had hoped that the ameliorating process of national education would be allowed to go on undisturbed; but, alas for Ireland! there were persons of extreme opinions who would not suffer education to have that weight upon the minds of persons' in that country which otherwise it would naturally exercise. Their Lordships should never lose sight of the fact that the same combination by which it was now attempted to unsettle the Church of Ireland, properly applied, would unsettle the Church of England also. Upon this question his feelings probably were stronger than those of many others, for he was himself an Englishman, and looking back with affection to his native land, and to his mother Church, he perceived but too plainly that the same appliances which were to work mischief in Ireland would undoubtedly work mischief in England as well. If their Lordships valued their own property, if they valued the Established Church in this country, they must take care how they swept from the face of the earth the Established Church of Ireland. For himself and for his brother Prelates he admitted that there were anomalies and inequalities in the Church of Ireland which they would be glad to see rectified. But it was one thing to rectify anomalies, it was another to endorse the sweeping observations made by the noble Earl on the cross-benches. Upon a matter of such serious importance he hoped that calm and collected feelings would come over the minds of their Lordships, and that by every means in their power they would encourage and enable the clergy of Ireland to fulfil their sacred duty, to be wholesome patterns and examples of peace and quietness among all Christian people. His own object and that of the clergy under him was to promote the peace and welfare of the country; and surely it would be a bad return for all their efforts if from time to time they were to be filled with anxiety as to the position which they were to occupy. Under the 413 Act of Union the Church of England and the Church of Ireland were one and un-divisible, and, if the compact was to be respected, they must stand or fall together. One in doctrine, one in head, one in hope and expectation, they had all the same object in view. Whatever, therefore, the measures which might be adopted with regard to the Church of Ireland, whether in that House or elsewhere, he trusted that they would only be sanctioned with the object of promoting the peace, welfare, and happiness of the country at large.
§ EARL RUSSELL
My Lords, it is one of the inconveniences attaching to the time at which this Motion is brought forward, that the temporary question of Fenianism has been connected throughout this discussion with the permanent questions affecting the welfare of Ireland. With regard to Fenianism, I believe my noble Friend the Under Secretary of State said what was perfectly correct when he contended that it was another of those movements coming from foreign countries; that as the movement of 1798 had been connected with the French Republic, and as the movement of 1848 was connected with the revolutionary ideas which were rife at that time on the Continent, so this Fenian movement of our own day has been connected with the American Civil War. There is, however, this great difference—that with the insurrection of 1798 were connected men of the highest aspirations and the noblest characters—such men as Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Wolfe Tone, and Emmet, who, though they were following a mere ignis fatuus, certainly did aspire, and I believe honestly, to give their country a better position. Those connected with the disturbance of 1848 were inferior men, though they—at least some of them—may have honestly sought the good of their country; but with those connected with the Fenianism of the present day, their bond of unanimity seems to have been a common desire for the robbery of the property of their neighbours. That spirit, I trust, will not be one of long duration, and it certainly is not one which ought to be connected with the general condition of Ireland. I think my noble Friend who brought forward this Motion (Earl Grey) had he gone over in his own mind the various changes that have taken place in Ireland, would have found that the changes for a long series of years have been favourable to the prosperity of Ireland. We all know that more than a century ago—about 414 1760—there were many circumstances consequent upon which there was such an increase in the population, and such an exceeding demand for the occupation of land, that wages became extremely low. In that valuable and interesting book by Sir George Cornewall Lewis with respect to the Establishment in Ireland, I read that the wages in 1836 were from 6d. to 8d. a day, and we have heard from my noble Friend that they are now from 1s. 2d. to 1s. Ad. There is, therefore, a great improvement in the wages of the present day. My noble Friend has mentioned, as among the evils that had afflicted Ireland, the collection of tithes. No doubt it was a very severe scourge, and none can read the speeches of Mr. Grattan without seeing how much the peasantry of Ireland suffered from the levying and collection of those tithes in small and minute portions. Well, that evil has disappeared altogether. The collection of tithe is made by an arrangement with the landlord and then transferred to those to whom the property is due, and there is no execution to be levied in default of paying them. My noble Friend who spoke early in the debate (Lord Dufferin) showed that the wealth of Ireland had increased, that the value of the stock at present was much greater than it was in former times, and, generally, he produced facts which showed that the dissatisfaction which prevails to-day arises from an entirely different cause from that which brought about former dissatisfaction; and he showed us clearly, I think, that the course of events in Ireland tends to progress and improvement. That, indeed, is the moral which I learn from the debate I of to-night. My noble Friend, however, I lays chief stress, in supporting his Motion, on the subject of the Church of Ireland. Now, my Lords, I can very well believe that the majority of the people of Ireland, seeing that the Church Establishment remains for the benefit of a minority, may feel that an evil and a grievance. But, when the question is as to what should be done by the Government and by Parliament in regard to the subject, I must say that; any such violent measure as my noble Friend proposes would, in my opinion, instead of remedying the evil, increase it to a very great extent. I am afraid that if my noble Friend were permitted to carry his proposed Act of Parliament into effect and divide the Church property of Ireland between the Established Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and Presbyterian Church, 415 he would create more religions discord, more heartburning, and more division than we have ever yet seen in Ireland. It is a simple thing to say—and my noble Friend (the Marquess of Clanricarde) spoke in the same sense the other night—that we ought to establish the Roman Catholic clergy, and give them their half of the funds of the present Established Church, or place them upon the Consolidated Fund of the country. I believe the latter proposition is the wish of my noble Friend. He is quite willing that the House of Commons should vote a considerable sum out of the Consolidated Fund for the Roman Catholics of Ireland; but I very much doubt whether the House of Commons would vote any such sum, and if they did they would raise the ire of some of those who inhabit the northern part of this country, for Scotchmen have a peculiar dislike to the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church. They think it contrary to their religious duty and injurious to the political framework of our Constitution to endow the Roman Catholic Church. Well, without discussing that question, I think it is quite easy to see that you could not possibly obtain from Parliament an endowment of that kind without producing the gravest religious animosities, and very great discontent, not only in the enactment of such a law, but afterwards in putting it in force. Even in countries that are almost entirely Catholic, such as Italy and Belgium, religious feuds are constantly arising on account of the relations between the Roman Catholic clergy and the State. While, therefore, I admit the evil of the present state of things, I am not ready to embark on a sea over which I can see passing nothing but a future of tempest. If, then, the course proposed is not to be adopted, it would certainly be unwise to go with my noble Friend into a Committee of the whole House. And really it seems to me that the whole purport of the proposition of my noble Friend is in order to upset the present Established Church, and to establish a sort of hybrid Church of Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, and Protestants. To that proposal I cannot consent. My noble Friend says I had not signified that the present Government had any intention of introducing in the present Session of Parliament any great measure with regard to Ireland. I quite admit that; and my opinion is that we should rather attempt from time to time to improve the law by well-considered measures than by introducing any vast changes 416 into the country. The noble Lord opposite expressed a hope that the Government would compensate those evicted from their holdings. That is a question of extreme difficulty, and should be dealt with very carefully. I quite agree with my noble Friend that some means should be established for ascertaining the fair and equitable compensation which should be paid to tenants so evicted. But it seems to me that Government and Parliament would be better employed in making sound alterations of a quiet character with a view to effect any improvement that may be made by such action; and I would agree with my noble Friend who suggested that for the rest we should rather trust to the energy and activity of individuals than be always looking to the Government to be constantly proposing grants for public works for Ireland, with a view of producing a fictitious prosperity which does not arise from the genius and industry of the people. With these few remarks, I may say that I must oppose the Motion of my noble Friend.
THE EARL OF WICKLOW
said, he should support the Motion, but remarked that he would not interfere with the Established Church, nor touch one shilling in its possession. It was, in his opinion, an underpaid rather than an overpaid institution. But still he agreed with the noble Earl on the cross-benches (Earl Grey) when he said that peace could never be established in Ireland until payment of some sort was made to the Roman Catholic clergy officiating there. But the noble Earl had stated that the whole of the revenues of the Church were in the hands of the Establishment. The fact was, however, that the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland possessed but a small portion of the tithes of the soil, the remainder being in the pockets of the landed gentry. The landed gentry, therefore, might reasonably be called upon to con-tribute towards the payment of the Roman Catholic clergy, who at present owed their support to the exertions of the poorer classes of the community. Such a measure would, he believed, do much to restore the peace and the tranquillity of Ireland, and the landed proprietors would thus be more than compensated for their pecuniary loss in the improved state of the country.
My Lords, I wish to say a few words before the conclusion of this debate. It has been objected to this Motion that it is not brought forward at the 417 right time; but it appears to me that this is precisely the time when such a Motion should be introduced, because a severe measure having been recently passed against the Fenian conspirators, the action of Parliament in the direction I have indicated cannot be attributed to motives of fear. The manner in which the Irish people generally have supported the cause of law and order warrants them in expecting us to legislate upon the grievances of which they can reasonably complain. After all that I have heard in the course of this debate, I remain of the opinion I originally entertained, that the question of the Irish Church Establishment lies at the root of all these difficulties. We uphold the English Church because we feel that it is of the greatest possible advantage to this country; we believe that the welfare of the people ought not to be left entirely to voluntary efforts, because it so happens that those most in need of instruction are least aware of their want, and least inclined, too, to make any sacrifice for the purpose of supplying their deficiency. But the feeling of the Irish people is against the Established Church in Ireland. The most enlightened advocates of the English Church have founded their arguments upon the success and benefits which have attended her efforts; but the Irish Church is incapable of effecting the same results because the people of Ireland are determined not to avail themselves of her agencies. You may argue this matter as long as you please, but the feeling, not only of the Irish people, but of the whole civilized world, is against you. Out of the United Kingdom I doubt if you will find a single man prepared to maintain that the existing Church system in Ireland is consistent with right and justice. I am persuaded that some change is necessary, and, if necessary, I do not believe that it can be effected upon any other principle than the one I have named. It has been said that the Roman Catholic clergy would refuse to receive a grant from the Consolidated Fund; and that is, no doubt, to a certain extent true—they feel that their independence would be injured by such a grant; but they have, at the same time, never ceased to assert their claims to what was formerly the national endowment of their Church. If, therefore, the Roman Catholic clergy were supported in the way I have proposed, I feel certain that they would regard it as no infringement of their independence. I believe also that it is for the interest of the 418 Protestant Church itself to submit to some diminution of its means, provided existing interests are taken care of, in order that this question may be settled. Sooner or later, the time must come when the present anomaly and unjust state of things in Ireland with reference to Church property must be remedied, and I can only wonder that the friends of the Irish Church do not themselves endeavour to make some arrangements while a compromise is still practicable.
§ On Question, Resolved in the Negative.