§ Order of the Day for resuming the adjourned Debate on the Amendment to the Motion for the Second Reading, read.
§ Debate resumed accordingly.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
My Lords, it was not possible, and, in my opinion, it was not desirable that this debate should be confined within the narrow limits of the Bill before us. The truth is that all 170 eyes, and I think I may say all hearts, are fixed on the great questions which lie behind it; and this Bill has no interest whatever except in the relation which it bears to these; and yet, my Lords, I cannot help observing that, since the speech of my noble Friend who proposed the second reading of this Bill—the able and exhaustive speech of my noble Friend—attacks have been made and arguments employed against those who sit on this side the House which impose upon those who have had any responsibility in this measure the duty of giving to the House some further explanations of its origin and of its object. My Lords, the first great object of this Bill has been this—to give an assurance to the Irish people that the Imperial Parliament will deal, without unnecessary delay, with the whole question of the Established Church of Ireland. My Lords, I rejoice to say I believe that object has; been gained. Not even an adverse vote of this House upon the Bill which is now before us can prevent the substantial accomplishment of that object. We have raised the question of the Irish Church out of the domain of abstract and somewhat languid speculation, and we have placed it in the fore-front of the living politics of the English people. We have—I avow it, I claim it as an honour, and I do not repudiate it as an accusation—we have made the disestablishment of the Irish Church a great party question. This has been the accusation of noble Lords opposite—they have flung it in our teeth in every form of language. For this we have been censured severely, but not, I think, offensively, by many; members of the right rev. Bench. For this we have been censured in somewhat coarser tones by the members of the Government. The noble Duke the President of the Council (the Duke of Marlborough), who spoke on Friday night, told us in so many words that our policy was a dishonest policy. The noble Earl (the Earl of Derby), who was lately at the head of the Government, and who is still, I presume, its guardian angel, talked on the preceding night of the personal ambition of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Liberal party in the House of Commons; and he added some insinuations still more offensive, as it appeared to me, which he was good enough to say that he nevertheless did not insinuate. I can assure both the noble Duke and the noble Earl that this language excited in me no feelings either of irritation or of surprise. It is perfectly 171 natural that men in whose hands the noble instrument of party government has been for more than two years so much degraded, by whom it has been entirely dissociated from all definite political opinions, and therefore from all public principle—it is perfectly natural that they should denounce party government and party movements as opprobrious imputations. My Lords, I have not so learnt the Constitution of this country. I hold it to be the duty of great party loaders to associate their party with great public principles. I hold it to be their bounden duty and their highest honour to place in the hands of their party a standard, and to give them a political faith, provided that standard be a noble standard and that faith be a true faith. And, my Lords, I can understand also the denunciations of my noble Friend on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey). He likewise complained of what he called our party movements. I can understand this from him, because my noble Friend—with all his powers, with his long experience, his great abilities, and his incorruptible honesty—is nevertheless the very typo and leader of what may be called—I do not say crotchety politicians, but at least of eclectic politicians. But I was surprised to hear my noble Friend, in his speech on the first night of this debate, say that our conduct in this respect had given offence, and would ultimately give greater offence, to those wise and moderate men who ultimately, he said, had in their hands the destinies of this country. If my noble Friend really means those who are in the position that he occupies, and that in their hands are the destinies of the country, he is much mistaken. My Lords, it is perfectly true that it is very often in the power of third parties—small third parties, such as that with which my noble Friend is connected—to upset a Government; but it is hardly ever in their power to determine a policy. It was in the power of a third party in the year 1866 to turn out the Government of my noble Friend (Earl Russell); but it was not in their power to turn out the question of Reform. On the contrary, their conduct and their language did but precipitate Reform, and compelled it to be granted, even with larger concessions to extreme opinions than if they had never interfered. And I warn my noble Friend—indeed, he almost seemed to be conscious of the fact—I warn him that the small party he represents in this House—I am not sure that he represents any party 172 at all, for he appeared to stand absolutely alone—will, on these great questions of public policy which are coming on in respect to the Irish Church, be absolutely powerless and without any influence on the course of public affairs. Well, my Lords, that was our first object—to assure the Irish people that this question of the Irish Church would he dealt without unnecessary delay; and in order to give that assurance it was our bounden duty to connect our opinions, whatever they might be, with the conduct and with the fate of our political party. My Lords, there is no other test in this country, under our system of government, of the sincerity of a great public party than that of being willing to connect their fortunes with the measures which they propose. But, my Lords, we had also another object; and this object, I frankly confess may be entirely frustrated by the vote of your Lordships' House. That object was to save unnecessary waste in the funds of the Irish Church. I own I was infinitely surprised to hear the observations on this subject that fell from my noble Friend who moved the rejection of the Bill. He said he thought the only conceivable object of the measure was a little saving of money, and that he held to be an object of perfect indifference; that there was no want of money; in fact, there was such an abundance of money that he did not know what to do with it. This is the opinion of a noble Lord whose own project it is to divide that £650,000 a year of the Irish Church—which we are told is barely sufficient for the spiritual wants of the 700,000 Protestants—among the whole 6,000,000 of the Irish people! That is the project of my noble Friend; and yet he is the man who tells us that the funds are so ample that in point of amount he does not know what to do with them. My Lords, I apprehend that if there is one man in this House who, to be consistent with himself, ought, above all others, to desire to save money and economize the funds of the Irish Church, it is that Peer who proposes to divide them among all the sects of Ireland, and to introduce religious equality by the indiscriminate distribution of the revenue among the various Churches. I beg the House to observe that even in the Conservative view of the question it is no unimportant matter to save the funds of the Established Church from needless waste. We have not before us as yet the Report of the Royal Commission; we do not know exactly what amount of surplus 173 they may think may be derived from the funds of the Established Church; but we all know this, that there are more Bishops than necessary for that Church, and more livings than there are congregations requiring spiritual provision; and we cannot f for a moment doubt that among the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners must be, in any case, a certain diminution of bishoprics and a certain amount of consolidation of livings. Well, then, I say that every year you lose you are running the risk of losing the value of money, even although you should apply it strictly to the purposes of the Irish Church. For remember this,—that the Crown has not the power or the right of keeping vacant bishoprics that fall vacant—the Crown is bound to fill up the bishoprics; and, therefore, if one fell vacant next year when two, three, four, five, or six bishoprics might be deducted from the Irish Establishment, you are burdening the funds and the assets of the Established Church in. Ireland with a new life-interest, to the detriment of those to whom Parliament may ultimately determine to apply those funds. Therefore, in rejecting the Bill you are doing nothing but pure mischief, even though you determine to apply these funds in the most Conservative sense to a system of redistribution among the members of the Established Church alone.
§ My Lords, having said so much with regard to the two objects of the Bill—and I frankly admit that the latter is one of comparatively small importance—I wish to say a few words on another point connected with this Bill to which reference has been made in the course of this debate, and that is the relation which this Bill bears to the Resolution which has been passed by the House of Commons. It appears to me that a very indistinct conception of that Resolution is entertained by many Members of this House. The noble Earl lately at the head of the Government, in speaking the other night, referred to the fact that the Resolution of the House of Commons did not contain the word "disendowment." He was cheered from this side of the House, and in noticing that cheer he said he hoped we did not mean to take refuge in the quibble of a distinction between disendowment and disestablishment. I can assure the noble Earl that no quibble was intended by that cheer. There is a great distinction between disendowment and disestablishment, and it was not without a set purpose and deliberate and careful inten- 174 tion that the word disendowment was avoided and disestablishment was inserted in the Resolution. That course was adopted for the very good reason that, as far as I know, no human being proposes to disendow the Established Church altogether. The noble Earl referred to endowments derived from private benefactions. Although I think there has been some misunderstanding on that point, nobody has ever proposed to derive the Church of endowments derived from private benefactions. But more than this, under the scheme sketched by Mr. Gladstone, the Church is to be left in possession of the churches and parsonages and of some land adjacent, so that it could not in perfect strictness be said that the Church under that scheme is to be wholly deprived of its endowments. Besides, it is at the option and discretion of Parliament to what extent disendowment shall go; and an uncertainty would be created if the word disendowment were introduced. Therefore those Members of the House of Commons who voted for that Resolution are perfectly free to vote for any sort of compromise in respect to the endowment of the Church. There is another point which I wish to notice with regard to the Resolution of the House of Commons. That Resolution distinctly pledged the House to the principle of disestablishment, and it has been argued in this House during the progress of this debate that the Bill is to be read as one for disestablishment—not necessarily a Bill for disendowment, but for disestablishment. Now, I entirely deny that statement. It is perfectly open to any Member of this House to vote for this Bill and afterwards vote against any Bill, even for the disestablishment of the Irish Church. This is a Bill in its terms for the purpose of saving the waste of funds, and nothing else; the ultimate disposal of those funds will remain at the discretion of Parliament, and of this or of any future Government. Now, with regard to one of the accusations brought against us on account of this Bill, I wish to notice an observation made by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) who spoke the other night with such distinguished ability. If, he asked, this Bill had been aimed only at the saving of funds, why did we not adopt the usual and well-known course under such circumstances, and bring in a Bill that all Bishops appointed during the period of transition should hold their offices subject to the pleasure of Parliament? I can assure the noble 175 Marquess—and I am sorry that he is not here to hear me—that this course also was carefully considered by those who framed this Bill, and it was rejected for reasons which, I think, would be respected by the noble Marquess himself. We thought it inconsistent with the dignity and functions of such high officers in the Church that Bishops should be appointed to sees with an uncertain vote of Parliament hanging over them as to the emoluments afterwards to be attached to their position. The most rev. Prelate who presides over the Northern Province in England, and who spoke with so much energy on Friday night, said that, even with regard to vacant parishes, it would be difficult to get competent men to fill parishes under such conditions as this Bill imposed. With how much greater reason would the most rev. Prelate have argued that it was impossible to ask any clergyman to accept the office of Bishop under such conditions as those indicated by the noble Marquess? This argument seemed conclusive. We conceived it impossible to propose that such high officers should be appointed under such restrictions, and therefore we took the only other course which was open to us for the purpose of saving the funds of the Church—namely, by providing that during the interval no new appointment should be made to vacant bishoprics. Before passing from the immediate provisions of this Bill, allow me to notice some of the objections taken with regard to the interim arrangements which are contemplated. The most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of York) argued strongly that these interim arrangements would kill the Church by inches. Of course, that argument was entirely founded on the supposition that this Bill would not last only for one or two years, but for five or ten years, and that the Church would, therefore, be brought into a state of complete anarchy. Now, I can assure the most rev. Prelate that I agree with him that nothing could be more dangerous or more fatal to the interests of the Church in Ireland than such a state of uncertainty and confusion, and I must say that if I thought this would be the result of the Bill I should not support it. But I believe the only effect of this Bill would be to place all parties—the Church and Parliament, too—under such conditions that a compromise would certainly be come to in one, or, at the most, in two years. And on this point let me remind your Lordships that the 176 renewal of this state of suspension will remain absolutely in the hands of the House of Lords. This Bill cannot be renewed without the assent of your Lordships' House; and, therefore, I would say that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack who to-night will probably direct his great legal knowledge to show the technical difficulties that are in the way of the Bill, that if these are his only objections to the Bill—if he is willing to save the funds of the Church from needless waste, for purposes of which he might approve—then I beg him to allow the second reading of the Bill, and to propose in Committee such Amendments as he thinks necessary for carrying on fully the spiritual jurisdiction and functions of the Church; and I believe these Amendments would meet with no opposition from this side of the House.
§ I pass now to another question—not to the object but the origin of the Bill; to the question how and why it is that we came to propose it. On this point also we have been vehemently attacked. Your Lordships must have seen lately an account of a great public banquet given by certain Merchant Taylors, at which addresses were delivered by the Prime Minister, and by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. The noble and learned Lord said that during the last thirty years the Liberal party had been smothering their convictions on this question. Well, I am going to confess to the noble and learned Lord that, putting aside the ironical tone of this remark, I do not think his observation was substantially unfair. It is perfectly true of the convictions which on this subject have been long in the minds of men, and especially of the great majority of the Liberal party, that in one sense they have long been smothered. Your Lordships all know that public men cannot act upon their abstract convictions, except under certain conditions of the public mind. Every man concerned in public life must know that public men have many opinions in regard to the institutions of the country which they would be willing, if they could, to put into the shape of measures, but which the existing conditions of public feeling render it hopeless or even harmful to propose; and this has been long the case with the convictions of the Liberal party respecting the Irish Church. Can any one doubt—has it not been in fact notorious—that the Liberal Lenders, whether speaking in Parliament 177 or writing in reviews or in more substantial works, have uniformly declared that in point of argument the Irish Church Establishment was absolutely indefensible? It is true that thirty years ago, and perhaps at later times, my right hon. Friend who is now the great Leader in this movement (Mr. Gladstone) entertained different convictions, and I confess I was somewhat surprised at the interest and amusement which sonic noble Lords seemed to have in reading extracts from Mr. Gladstone's book upon Chinch principles, as to which it is sufficiently notorious that for the last thirty or twenty-five years he never thought that these abstract principles were reducible to practice. But I must complain of one quotation made by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby). In the course of his speech he referred to a speech made by Sir George Grey in 1865, and when he was reading the quotation my noble Friend near me said, "Why not read the speech of Mr. Gladstone?" "Oh, Mr. Gladstone," said the noble Earl; "certainly!" And with that almost lightning-like quickness for which he is famous, he immediately favoured the House, not with extracts from Mr. Gladstone's speech, but with what he represented to be the substance of particular passages.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
Well, my Lords, I remember being told by the late Lord Aberdeen, in rebuking me on one occasion for a quotation I had myself made, that he had never known but one debater in this House who was perfectly fair in quoting his opponents; but I am bound to say that, of all the Members of this House who require to have their quotations very closely looked after, the noble Earl is the chief. Now, I am not going to trouble the House with quotations, but I will refer the House to the speech made by Mr. Gladstone on the 28th of March, 1865. But I must observe that so notorious is it that this speech was wholly adverse to the Irish Church that it was published, I believe, as a pamphlet by the Liberation Society. There is not a single argument in favour of the Irish Establishment which the right hon. Gentleman did not then take up and traverse, with the obvious intention of cutting at the very roots and foundations of the existing public sentiment on this subject. It is perfectly true that my right hon. Friend had to resist a proposal of 178 bringing forward, at that particular time, active measures with regard to the Irish Church; and, of course, nothing is easier than to cite isolated sentences used in urging that argument which may appear, without reading the whole speech, to make his present course inconsistent with the course he took then; whereas any representation of that speech, as a whole, which would be even tolerably just, must exhibit it as a direct and obvious preparation for such measures as are now proposed. I must complain also of my noble Friend on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey), who likewise referred to this subject, and who is very fond of twitting us, and my noble Friend near me (Earl Russell) with having resisted his proposals in 1866. Why, what was the object of my noble Friend on the cross-Benches? We were then engaged with the question of Reform; my noble Friend hated Reform, and he wished to draw a red herring across our path. Is it not worse than idle—is it not childish—to blame us for not having brought forward the question of the Irish Church at a time when we had the great question of Reform in hand? And if, indeed, my noble Friend is as anxious as I believe he is for the disestablishment of the Irish Church, he ought to be grateful to us for our exertions and for the concessions which they ultimately produced from a Tory Government, for I can tell him this—that if he has any immediate prospect of seeing the disestablishment of the Irish Church, it is entirely owing to the passing of the Reform Act of last year, which is already casting its shadow before it. I have not a moment's doubt that the successive votes of the House of Commons on this subject this Session were votes which were entirely due to the sense which that House entertained of the public convictions of the country, and of the result of the coming General Election. Such, then, being the convictions of the Liberal party, and, of late years, the notorious convictions also of my right hon. Friend, what was it, I ask, that awoke those convictions into active life? I confess I was surprised at the tone which was adopted by my noble Friend on the cross-Benches with regard to the phenomena of Fenianism. He blamed my noble Friend (Earl Granville) for having even mentioned Fenianism, and said it was a most dangerous argument to state that the British Parliament was actuated by any considerations arising out of the atrocities of Fenianism. Now, I hope neither side of the 179 House will take so shallow a view of Fenianism. For my part I shall never forget the beginning of that movement. I remember very well that when the first letters came from my noble Friend, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (the Earl of Kimberley), telling the Cabinet that ships were likely to arrive with cargoes of arms for some secret conspiracy, and that the Government must take immediate measures for the defence of law and order in Ireland,—I really believed—I speak for myself and not for others—that my noble Friend, able as he is, and certainly not imaginative or likely to be imposed upon, was the victim of a hoax. When, however, that conspiracy became fully developed, when the Habeas Corpus Act had to he suspended in Ireland, I cannot understand how any noble Lord, no matter on which side of the House he sits, should speak lightly or slightingly of that movement. Remember, we are not acting while Fenianism is still alive, from any present fear. Fenianism has been put down—at least in its outward manifestations; but are you not willing to confess that making every allowance for the officers released from the civil war in America, and for the foreign clement introduced into Ireland—making every possible allowance for these considerations, are you not struck with the amount of support which that movement received among great masses of the population in Ireland? And do you not remember this significant fact, that until the explosion in Clerkenwell gave forcible demonstration of the atrocity and recklesness of those conspirators, that movement was not only unchecked, but was spreading its sympathy over larger and larger circles of the people, thus showing a most dangerous condition of the public mind in Ireland? If you doubt this, I trust your Lordships will allow me to quote the confession made by Lord Mayo on the part of the Government, Lord Mayo says—I do not deny that a great amount of dissatisfaction, I might almost say of disloyalty and dislike, to England and to English rule exists.That is the formal confession of the Government with regard to the condition of Ireland. Now, I ask was it not necessary—was it not essential—that the attention of public men should be called to this condition of things, after Fenianism as an active conspiracy had been put down? Was it not right that the conscience of the English people should be awakened to their dealings with Ireland? Was it 180 not necessary that, under these circumstance, we should turn our attention to the remedies which were to be proposed? I do not wish, I never have desired, to connect the Fenian conspiracy directly with the existence of the Established Church in Ireland. I believe it to be perfectly true that you never will content the Fenians by disestablishing the Irish Church. But what has that to do with the question? It is not in order to content the Fenians that we desire to act. It is to content that great mass of the Irish people in which Fenian conspirators find the pabulum on which they feed. It is to content that great mass: of the Irish people whom, we know as a fact, the Fenians were able, working upon the old leaven, to excite to discontent and disaffection. I sincerely believe that a great deal of the disaffection of the Irish people is purely traditional. My Lords, there is a wonderful continuity in the life of nations: terrible where the antecedents have been bad—happy, even blessed, where the antecedents have been good. And herein consists the folly—I do not use; the word in a disrespectful sense—of connecting the cause of the Irish Church with the cause of the Established Church in England. Whatever else may be said against the Church of England—this, at: least, must be said in her favour—she has been the symbol of national life at; great periods of our history, and that she has been—and, I trust, still is—the standard-bearer of the Protestant feelings and opinions of the people. But can it be said of the Irish Church that she ever has been the symbol of national life to the Irish people? Can it be said that she represents the religious feelings of the people? No, the contrary is the fact; and if the; disaffection of the Irish people is a purely traditional disaffection, at least you must admit that the Established Church is a traditional remembrance of the miseries and oppressions of their former history. In this respect I cannot for a moment doubt that it will to a very great extent pacify and conciliate the thinking and moderate people of Ireland, that this great anomaly and injustice, as we think it, should be removed from among them. Let me remind the House, before passing from the effects which Fenianism has produced, that it is not we alone on this side who may plead with truth that we were awakened to a stronger sense of our responsibilities in reference to this subject, and that we felt we were able to act with more effect upon the 181 public mind, in consequence of the outbreak of Fenianism. What happened in your Lordships' House on the very first night of the Session? Why, a noble Earl behind me (the Earl of Ellenborough), one of our most distinguished Members, whom we now hear far too seldom, confessed the impression which the events had made upon his mind, and suggested that we should endow the Roman Catholic priesthood as the true remedy for the evils of Ireland. My noble and gallant Friend on the cross-Benches (the Earl of Hardwicke), as gallant a politician as he is an Admiral, who never hoisted a false flag, and would never haul down a flag which he had once raised—he, too, suggested that we should aim at equalizing the position of the Irish Churches not by disendowing or disestablishing the Protestant Church, but by recurring to the old scheme of endowing the Roman Catholic priesthood. My Lords, I believe those two noble Earls were right in this at least, that such is really the alternative which is now placed before the statesmen and Parliament of England. You must arrive at equality either by levelling down or by levelling up. There is no question whatever as to what was the decision and the intention of Her Majesty's Government at the beginning of this Session. The noble Earl on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey)—who was so lavish of his censure on those with whom he substantially agrees, and so chary of his censure on those with whom he substantially disagrees—found great fault with us because we "took hold"—that is what he called it—of certain expressions as showing an intention on the part of the Government to endow the Roman Catholic priesthood. My Lords, I say at once that I think it was our duty to watch very closely the conduct of this Government in order to see what might be the direction in which they were moving. We have looked to the speeches of the Premier and other Members of the Government, and I should now like to read to your Lordships one or two extracts from those speeches, and I ask you what is the interpretation which ought to be put on them. In the first place, I find in the authorized speech—not the speech found in Hansard, but the authorized edition of the speech made by Lord Mayo on the 10th of March, these remarks—The question must be dealt with in a very different spirit from that which the advocates of entire abolition profess. The Presbyterians now receive a- grant from this House which is miser- 182 able in amount, and wholly inadequate to their requirements.Well, of course that points to an increase of the Regium Donum. There can be no doubt about it. The noble Earl proceeded—The Protestants of Ireland are content with the system which prevails, but are not averse to improvements and to such alterations of ecclesiastical arrangements as would make their Church better fitted to meet the wants of modern times. But we must not prescribe hastily. Of all the schemes which have been proposed, I object preeminently to that known as the process of 'levelling down.' It is said that if you cannot elevate and raise the institutions so as to make them equal, the only thing to do is to abolish them altogether. I object to that policy.The noble Earl goes on—If it is desired to make our Churches more equal in position than they are, this result should be secured by elevation and restoration, and not by confiscation and degradation.Now, my Lords, there is only one interpretation possible to be put upon that. If you are to bring about equality, not by levelling down but by levelling up, clearly you must endow the Roman Catholic priesthood; and you must give them not a small endowment as if by way of compensation for existing privileges, but an endowment of a substantial amount, such as would be equal to the endowment of the Protestant clergy. But, my Lords, that is not all. The Prime Minister, speaking only one week later, said—What always strikes me with regard to Ireland as a general principle is that you should create and not destroy…Nor do I wish to conceal my strong opinion that we are approaching the time when Micro must be a change in the status of the unendowed clergy of Ireland…I do not believe that the Irish Established Church will remain with respect to the other portions of the population—with regard to the clergy of the other portions of the population—in the identical position which she now occupies."—[3 Hansard, cxc. 1788–9–90.]Here, again, there can be no mistake as to the scope and direction of these words. The Prime Minister expresses his opinion that we are approaching a time when there must be a change in the status of the Roman Catholic Clergy in regard to the clergy of the Established Church. This can only mean that we should give them something of the privileges and something of the advantages now enjoyed by the clergy of a small minority of the people. Then, with respect to the endowment of the Catholic University, I confess I admired the simplicity of the noble Duke the President of the Council, when, after reading passages from Lord Mayo's speech, 183 he added that if what Lord Mayo spoke of was an endowment, he did not know what an endowment was. Let me again quote the words of Lord Mayo, from the authorized edition of his speech. I do not use the term in an offensive sense, but, if there be not exactly a quibble, it appears to me that there is an evasion on the part of the Government in reference to this; matter. They deny that they proposed an "endowment." Well, of course, if they did not make a Motion there was no formal proposition; but the question is, can anyone read this statement of Lord Mayo's without coming to the conclusion that the Government were ready to bring about an; endowment of the Roman Catholic University, and did substantially propose it to the House of Commons?—With regard to endowment, it will be essential, of course, if Parliament agrees to the proposal, in the first instance, to provide for the necessary expenses of the University—that is to say, the expenses of officers of the University, of the University Professors, and also to make some provision for a building.Why, my Lords, Professors are the very men we endow, if we endow anyone, when endowing Universities. If that is not endowing a University, I hope the noble; Duke will explain what is.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
I ask the noble Duke whether he considers the University of London endowed?
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
I consider any University endowed in which the Professors are paid by the State. Your Lordships will observe that the sentence concludes with the words, "and also to make Borne provision for a building." The noble Earl goes on to say, "But with regard to the endowment of Colleges, it is impossible to make any proposal of that nature at present." I repeat that to deny that a proposal of endowment was really made is a mere evasion. It was not a Vote, but it was a proposition which was to have resulted in a more definite proposal.
Well, my Lords, the Tory party having agreed that we must proceed to bring about equality, cither by levelling up or by levelling down, the Liberal party had to consider—were bound to consider—what course they should take in this great contingency of public affairs. And now, my Lords, I wish to represent to the House the opinion I have formed on this question of indiscriminate endowment. In the first place, I believe it to be impossible. You cannot do it. Public opinion, the public feeling of the country, would not allow you 184 to do it. To prove this I refer to the conduct of the Government. What are all these attempts to get rid of the obvious meaning of those statements in the other House of Parliament? No one shows more caution than the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government in feeling the ground he is about to tread. Wishing to know how the wind blew, he sent up those pilot balloons; but they did not float in the direction he desired. My Lords, here I must say that in these proceedings we see the full mischief of government by a minority. It is a great law of nature that all creatures which cannot live by strength are obliged to live by cunning. The present Government lives by cunning. It is a Government of manœuvre, and all Governments of minorities must more or less be in that position. But I hope that no Government, even of a minority, that may ever exist again, will govern so much by ambiguous phrases and by trying public opinion without committing itself to any particular policy. I say that an endowment of the Roman Catholic priesthood is impossible, and I refer to the consciousness of the Government that it is so as evidence of the fact. I will take another proof. I believe the language of the right rev. Prelates whom I have now the honour to address is witness of the fact that such endowment is impossible. I listened very attentively, and I assure them with very great respect, to the speeches they have made during the course of this debate, and I read carefully the speeches delivered by them at a great public meeting, at which I think there was a somewhat freer expression of opinion by the right rev. Prelates. Their position with reference to the endowment of the Established Church in Ireland is simply the position of ''no surrender." They have argued the question on the principle of property, and nothing else. There is in that language no concession, and no possibility of any compromise. The right rev. Prelates give no sign of their readiness to let a single shilling of the funds of that Church go towards the endowment of the Roman Catholic priesthood. More than this, my Lords, I have observed no indications that they have considered the state of Ireland as a whole. There is no suggestion from them as to how this dangerous disaffection, the existence of which has been conceded by the Government of Canada, by Lord Mayo in the House of Commons, is to be met, I think the motto 185 of all ecclesiastical governments might be written over every one of these speeches—"Non possumus." They may say that to devise remedies for Ireland is our business and not theirs. I admit it; but I say, under these circumstances, we are not bound—wo are not even entitled—to listen to their advice. They speak as ecclesiastics, and not as statesmen. And when the right rev. Prelates—as I fully admit they ore entitled to do—complain of our having acted in a party spirit, I beg of them to remember that they are victims of a party spirit with whose strength no other can compare. No kind of government, no esprit de corps, is so overpowering to those subjected to it as the feeling of fraternity among the members of Established Churches. My Lords, I do not complain of that. I consider it an honourable feeling on their part; but in considering the wrongs of Ireland it is impossible for us to follow their advice. The right rev. Prelate who, I believe, is to follow me in this debate (the Bishop of Oxford) wound up his speech at the meeting to which I have referred by saying, "Let us go to the support of our suffering sister." Let us then, my Lords, consider the advice given by the right rev. Prelates simply as the advice naturally arising from a strong feeling, almost amounting to personal honour, as to their duty in supporting the Established Church in Ireland. The right rev. Prelates may be actuated also by a feeling as to the ultimate effect of this measure upon the Church of England. But I beg your Lordships, to remember that we have had long experience in this House of the tendencies of the same feeling among the occupants of the Episcopal Bench. There never was a time when that Bench did not contain some of the ablest and certainly the best instructed men of the day, and I believe at no time has it contained abler, more noble, or higher-minded men than at the present moment. But I wish to put this question. Of those great changes made during the last thirty or forty years, the object of which has been to assail and remove invidious privileges of the Church of England, and which have all been productive of ultimate benefits, have they not been almost universally opposed by the great majority of the Episcopal Bench? I was very much struck with this when looking back a few years ago to some old debates, upon a question deemed at that time of immense importance to the Church—the repeal of the Test and Corporations 186 Act. We younger men look back with perfect horror to a system of making the sacraments of the Church of Christ the test for civil office; and yet a large portion of the Episcopal Bench opposed the change, and one of the Bishops said he believed the measure was only a step to other changes, using precisely the same language which is used now with regard to the Church of Ireland, and which has been used with regard to every change of a similar kind. That Bishop added that hardly a petition was presented to the House of Lords which did not contain a spirit of hatred against the Established Church of England. Where is that spirit of hatred now? I believe it to be utterly gone; and it is gone because of those very changes which were resisted by the Episcopal Bench. And so I believe the Church of England would gain strength by being dissociated from an institution which sins against every consideration of natural justice.
And now, my Lords, I wish to say a few words upon this question of indiscriminate endowment from a different point of view. We are twitted by my noble Friend upon the cross-Benches (Earl Grey) with great cowardice in not avowing our sentiments as to the endowment of the Roman Catholic priesthood. He says, knowing what is the best thing to do, all politicians are so cowardly that they will not propose what they yet consider to be right. I am bound to say here—speaking for myself and not for others—that, in my opinion, such a measure would not only not be possible, but that it would not be desirable. If I were a Member to-morrow of a Committee, with absolute power to do what we thought best for Ireland, I would not vote for the alternative of indiscriminate religious endowment. My Lords, I have many objections to such a proposal. In the first place, I say that in the case of indiscriminate religious endowments yon have none of the peculiar advantages of an Established Church; you have none of that connection between Church and State which so many persons value, and in which (though in this I do not agree) some persons see the very essence of the Church of England as it now exists. My second objection is, that the funds of the Established Church are utterly inadequate for the purposes of division. If you divide some £600,000 a year, the income of the Established Church, among all the different sects in Ireland, you do nothing but damp their energies, 187 giving them in return a mere pittance in no respect adequate to promote their spiritual or temporal objects. Then, again, if you once begin to endow religious sects, where are you to stop? I do not see where you are to stop short of the Belgian or French system, which is that whenever a congregation, whatever its religion, amounts to a certain number, a right is thereby acquired to demand from the Government an endowment from the State. I say that is contrary to the whole genius of the English people; it never could be carried into effect hero, and I believe it ought not to he carried into effect. A Church in such a position as that I have referred to is a very different thing from an Established Church—it is merely a paid Church. What we mean by an Established Church is a Church in close connection—almost identified—with the institutions of the State. We have a noble example of what is meant by an Established Church in the Bench which I have now the the honour to address. There we see in the highest Court of Parliament, the great officers of the Church joined with laymen in the consideration of public affairs. In the northern part of this country, in the Church to which I myself belong, we have the same principle exhibited, only in a different order, and directed to a different object. Instead of having ministers of the Church sitting in Parliament, we have lay members from every Royal borough in Scotland sitting in the Convocation of the clergy. Under such conditions as these, I say you have a power and a spirit given to religious bodies which you never could have by mere stipendiary clergymen not otherwise connected with the State. I beg your Lordships to observe that all these are arguments against the system of indiscriminate endowment which are entirely apart from what may be called the bigotry of Protestant feeling in this country. I say again that if I had to vote as a member of an absolute Committee, I should not vote for the indiscriminate endowment of Churches in Ireland. Then, my Lords, if this alternative cannot be accepted—and in the opinion of many ought not to be accepted—we have but one remaining, the alternative of the disestablishment of the Church in Ireland.
And upon this point I wish to say a few words on the main argument of the noble Earl and the noble Marquess who spoke with such ability on Friday night—that is to say, with regard to what they call cor- 188 porate property. In the first place, I must observe that I think it a most dangerous argument to use to try and do away with the distinction which is inborn in the minds of all of us—the distinction between individual and corporate property. Talk of inflammatory speeches and Fenian addresses! I never heard such inflammatory speeches as I have heard in this debate from Tory Peers and Conservative Ministers. Some of those arguments will be repeated and studied and quoted in contests which may be coming—and this by men to whoso opinions your Lordships will not be favourably disposed. I repeat that there is a radical and fundamental distinction between individual and corporate property, and that the State may deal with one in a different manner from that in which it may deal with the other. But I say further, that even this is not the question before us. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) talked throughout his speech of the corporation of the Irish Church. The Irish Church, in that sense, is not in any way a corporation, and it can possess no corporate property whatever. Of course, it may be said that this is purely a technical argument, but I am answering one technical argument by another; and it is of immense importance not to use loose language with regard to a principle upon which the property of all of us depends. The Irish Church—meaning by that phrase the individual Irishmen all over Ireland who happen to be Protestants—is not a corporation, and has no property. Each individual Bishop is a corporation, and each holder of a living is a corporation; but Parliament has already assumed the right to deal with the property of these corporations. When you suppressed ten Bishoprics in 1833, you suppressed ten independent corporations, and you distributed their property among other corporations to whom it had never previously belonged. This is an indisputable fact, and I challenge any lawyer to contradict it. When the noble Marquess talked of property depending upon title I was about to ask him what is the title under which tithes derived from one of the suppressed bishoprics and given to some diocese near Dublin are held. There is no title whatever except the Act of 1833. I am not disputing the policy of the transfer at all, but I say it is a question of policy and not a question of property; that is my argument. Then your Lordships know perfectly well that whatever may be the abuses, or what are called the ano- 189 malies, of the Irish Church, whatever may be the over-proportion of Bishops or clergy to the congregations, these are not the anomalies or abuses which have raised any spirit of disaffection in the Irish people. It is idle to talk, in this point of view, of any mere re-distribution of funds within the Irish Church itself as a question of policy. It may be right or not; but no measure of that kind can be tried with any hope of success as a means of ameliorating the condition of the Irish people. One word before I pass from the question of property. I entreat your Lordships to observe that the doctrine of absolute property in the funds of the Church is absolutely inconsistent with any compromise whatever. If you stand upon the doctrine of property, you say that you never will consent to any compromise with regard to the division or appropriation of any part of the funds of the Established Church of Ireland. I ask the House to consider well whether that is a position to which they will be able to adhere.
Before I conclude, let me say a few words as to the very alarming opinions of my noble Friend the Chairman of Committees. The noble Lord said we have no right to deal with what he calls the property of the Church, because it is property "devoted to the service of God." Now, I have this fundamental objection to my noble Friend's doctrine,—I deny that money given to the service of the Church for what may be considered religious purposes is necessarily—observe, I say necessarily—given to the service of God. All the monastic property of the Middle Ages represented gifts for purposes which the donors regarded as religious, and yet I say boldly that those donations were not serving God's truth or cause. My Lords, we must judge whether money is or is not given to the service of God by the results which it produces, And we are free to judge of this from age to age. Our fathers so judged of the lands held by the monasteries, given, as regards the intentions of the donors, in a thoroughly religious spirit, and devoted by them, as far as that intention was concerned, to the service of God; but I say that our fathers judged, and all the civilized Governments in the world have judged, that practically that property was not spent in the service of God. And so I say you must judge of Churches in these matters precisely as you judge of all other human institutions. "By their fruits ye shall know them." If Churches produce good-will and peace 190 among men, then the money given to them is indeed devoted to the service of God; but if we, in the exercise of our reason, and judging from all the circumstances before us, political, social, and individual, come to the conclusion that the money given to the service of any Church is producing evil effects, we are entitled to judge that that money is not being spent in the service of Almighty God. My Lords, I believe there is a great confusion of thought in men's minds upon this important subject; I believe, and I think I may conclude from the argument of my noble Friend the Chairman of Committees, as well as from some of the speeches which have been delivered by right rev. Prelates, that there is some confused notion in men's minds to this effect, that endowments are the fulfilment of the great duty of Christian giving. Now, my Lords, the chief element in Christian giving is self-sacrifice. But there is no self-sacrifice in endowments. So far from, it, indeed, that endowments seem very often to have a damping effect on the inclination of members of Christian Churches to give. I was much struck by a remark which fell from the Primate of Ireland on this subject; he told us on Friday of the immense difficulty experienced by the clergy in getting in small subscriptions from rich members and rich supporters of the Established Church in Ireland. It is true he said things were mending in this respect, and I believe they are. I rejoice that they are mending, not only in Ireland but in England also and in Scotland. But, my Lords, I say it is a notorious experience of Established Churches that where you have the clergy provided for, not by our charity, not by our self-sacrifice, but by the charity and self-sacrifice of former generations, there is a tendency to make this an excuse for laziness and idleness, and for penuriousness in the Christian duty of giving. My Lords, I utterly repudiate the doctrine that we are not entitled to judge of the fruits produced by money given to Churches, and to deal with that money as statesmen are bound to deal with the revenues of all the other national institutions of this land. My Lords, I have never ridiculed, as many do, the doctrine of a State conscience, so strongly urged in his younger years as the foundation of Church Establishments, by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone). I believe that States have a conscience, and that Parliaments are bound to act by their con- 191 sciences:—but for Heaven's sake let us remember that consciences must be enlightened, that they must be enlightened by argument and by reason: because the most horrible crimes ever perpetrated by mankind—crimes which have been the Opprobrium of great men, and, alas! the scandal of the Church of Christ have too often been prompted by what men call their consciences. Not merely has the plea of conscience been put in in mitigation of guilt, but these crimes have absolutely been committed from the sincere promptings of a darkened, an unenlightened conscience. My Lords, the first dictate of my conscience in regard to such matters as those now raised, is this—that a Member of this House, a Member of Parliament, or a Member of a Government, is not only free to act, but is bound to act respecting matters of religion upon principles which may materially differ from those in which he should act as an individual. I cannot believe, for example, that my own private opinions in respect to religious truth entitle me to give the whole of a common and national fund to the support of the religion of a small minority of the people. My Lords, I am I confess a Protestant among Protestants; I hate the whole ecclesiastical system of the Romish Church; I believe it to be dangerous to the faith and injurious to the liberties of mankind. But I have the fullest confidence that the Protestant Church will be able to meet her opponents as well as and better than before, under the voluntary system. Let conscience be consulted—our State conscience—our conscience as public men. I entreat the right rev. Prelates, I entreat the Members of the great Conservative party, to put to their consciences this question—What would they feel as Irish Catholics if they saw a small minority of their countrymen in exclusive possession of the ancient ecclesiastical property of this country? I maintain that if there is any claim of property in the endowments of the Irish Church, the Irish Catholics have as good a plea as any others; for those who hold to the ancient mediæval faith of Christendom may most naturally claim that they should continue to enjoy the use of the funds originally given to those of that faith. The only answer to that claim is to assert, as I have asserted and do assert, the absolute right of the State to dispose of those funds as may be best and wisest under all the conditions of the case. I therefore entreat 192 noble Lords opposite and right rev. Prelates to sweep away this injustice, remembering this above all things—that injustice in all its forms—political injustice not less, but more than others, as affecting the character and temper of whole generations of men—is contrary to the law of God, and injurious to the interests of His Church.
THE BISHOP OF OXFORD
My Lords, although it may seem almost presumptuous for one sitting upon these Benches to venture to address your Lordships upon this subject after the denunciations of the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll)—after having been told that, being ecclesiastics, and necessarily bound to regard matters from an ecclesiastical point of view, we are no longer entitled to deliver any judgment upon any statesmanlike matter upon any statesmanlike principle; yet I venture to believe that not all the House of Lords will endorse that sentiment, in which my—perhaps prejudiced—eyes see written in large and broad characters the word "Presbyterian." Now, my Lords, the noble Duke has not only given us this proof of his determination to put us down, but he has, I think, shown to-night a courage—I will not say an audacity—which has exceeded the bounds even of his ordinary daring. The noble Duke began by dealing with the Bill and not with the general subject which is occupying your Lordships' attention, and in doing so he first of all fell upon the noble Earl on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey)—which is, I think, a great mark of courage—and it was with some warmth that he assaulted the noble Earl—whose speech, by the way, seemed to me so entirely to demolish this Bill, that I could hardly conceive what could be said in its favour after that speech was delivered; and what very much bears out the truth of my view of that speech is this—that until this brave man came into the field not a single person has dared to deal with the arguments of the noble Earl. Falling upon the noble Earl, the noble Duke attacked him for having said that really the funds of the Church were so ample that it did not matter if a little more was spent rather than have this Bill passed, which was to kill the Church by inches. But, my Lords, what did the noble Earl say? Instead of saying that the funds of the Church were so ample that it did not matter what was done with them, he said that if you put side by side the two great principles of justice to the Church in Ireland 193 and to its funds and the comparatively little loss which would be entailed by letting the Appointments of another year or another six months go on, he esteemed but lightly the money that was to be saved compared with the principle that was to be lost. The noble Duke then proceeded to assert, among other remarkable facts, that there were at this time in the Church of Ireland more livings than there were people, and that therefore there was no-thing—
THE BISHOP OF OXFORD
I wrote the words down. I am quite sure they did not convey the noble Duke's meaning; but that he said what I have stated there is no doubt. "There are in Ireland more livings than people to supply them" fell from the noble Duke's mouth, [The Duke of ARGYLL dissented.] No, you did not mean that, of course; but as it has been said, perhaps I may as well say that I hold in my hand at this moment a list, which I shall be glad to place at the disposal of the noble Duke, of twenty-two parishes in Ireland, the Church population of which vanes from 8,000 to 1,000, and the revenues, including pew rents, from £188, the highest, to £89 per annum, the lowest. There is therefore certainly a considerable number of livings very ill-endowed indeed at present in the Irish Established Church. I think, at all events, that I do not misunderstand the noble Duke's argument about disendowment. When the noble Duke told us that the word had been left out intentionally after the most solemn consideration of what the case required, and that the Resolutions which pledged the House of Commons to disestablishment were purposely not intended to pledge the House of Commons to disendowment, I began to breathe—I began to think that we must all have been misled, and that the organs which represent with such marvellous accuracy ail that passes in "another place" had in this instance been mistaken, and had led us to believe that hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen had spoken words which conveyed n meaning exactly the reverse of what they intended—because the impression that those words conveyed to my mind, and to the minds of most of those who read them, was that not only the disestablishment but also the disendowment of the Irish Church were the objects which it was sought to attain. But I had hardly taken that consolation to myself when the 194 noble Duke's succeeding remarks carried me back into the midst of my distress; because the noble Duke explained what he meant by saying that there was to be no disendowment. There was to be no disendowment, because the churches wore not to be taken away—churches which, as the Returns show, have been mostly built during the present century; because the houses were not to be taken away—houses that in still greater numbers have been built during the present century; and because the glebes are to be given back to the clergy, or rather a small bit of the glebe is in each case to remain untouched, that there may be just something to delight the poor man's eyes as he looks out of the window—glebes which for the most part have been given to the Church since she was reformed, which are still being given to her—so much so that there are no less than four now being conveyed to the Church in the diocese of Limerick alone. So much for disendowment. The proposal of the noble Duke certainly appeared to me somewhat to resemble the conduct of a highwayman who, after having robbed a carriage and taken away all the jewels and gold, in the greatness of his liberality gave back sixpence to pay the next turnpike. But, my Lords, the noble Earl on the front Opposition Bench (the Earl of Clarendon), not the latest but one of the former Lord Lieutenants of Ireland, did make it abundantly clear that he at least perceived that the disendowment of the Established Church was intended. Now, my Lords, the noble Duke was afterwards kind enough to take notice of the speeches delivered by my humble self and two of my right rev. Brethren in another place, and the main fault that he found with us was that we spoke very ecclesiastically, because we did not propose that the money which was now devoted to the maintenance of the Established Church should go towards the support of the Roman Catholics. But anyone who could suppose that conscientious Bishops of the Established Church, holding the positions we do, and professing the doctrines we profess, could propose that the money devoted to the teaching of the Reformed Faith and to the maintenance of the teachers of the Reformed Faith should be devoted to teaching and to the teachers of a religion whose doctrines are entirely opposed to our own, must, indeed, entertain a strange and an extraordinary opinion. Indeed, it reminds me of a sentence of the late Mr. 195 Henry Drummond, who in what was apparently absurd, frequently conveyed much that was sensible. "It seems to me exactly as if the head of a great house should pay his butler a small premium to preach in the servants' hall against their coming to family prayers." Now, my Lords, when I listened to those parts of the noble Duke's speech, I could not see why he could not concur with the alternative of this Bill suggested the other evening by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury), who showed that if the real object were to prevent the creation of new vested interests the usual form of enactment ought to have been resorted to, and those who accepted any appointments which might become vacant should do so on the distinct understanding that they accepted them subject to the will of Parliament. Now, my Lords, it was quite refreshing to hear that the noble Duke and those who differed from this course objected to it, because the high respect in which they held the Episcopal Office would not permit them to leave its holders in a state of uncertainty. And here, my Lords, I must remark that I have noticed a great inconsistency in this Bill, for the Maynooth Professors—for whom I entertain the same sort of respect as the noble Duke entertains for those who occupy these Benches—are to have their places filled up, and those who take them are to take them subject to any alteration that Parliament may make. There must be some reason for making this distinction. I did not know what that reason was, but we now learn that it really arose from a desire to honour the Episcopal Bench—a feeling which I, for one, should be glad to cherish and nourish in the noble Duke and his Friends.
The noble Duke, however, turned from the consideration of the Bill itself to the consideration of that which, after all, is the great question before your Lordships—not this particular Bill with its absurdities and impossibilities, but the great question on which this Bill is intended to prepare the minds of the people of this country—the disestablishment of the Irish branch of the Church, That, my Lords, is the real question; and that is the question which will be submitted to the constituencies of the country in the course of a few weeks. That is the question upon which, I believe, your judgment even upon this Bill itself ought to be founded. It is for that reason, and not on account of its 196 own intrinsic value—it is in itself insignificant, it is a mere pilot balloon on a greater subject—and merely to prevent the mischief of this Bill a bare majority against it would be sufficient—that I desire to see, as I hope I shall see, its rejection insured by a great majority of your Lordships' House; and I desire this to be the case in order that the country may be made to understand that the Peers of England are not prepared to secularize ecclesiastical property. Is it possible to separate the two things? It is said that the Government of England may accept this Bill, and that as they intend to pass some remedial measures and to distribute things much better, they really ought to pass it, because it will come in just in time to save a preliminary bit of legislation when they proceed to pass their own measure. But when I am told that this Bill is proposed in connection with the Resolutions carried in "another place," and that those who bring it in, bring it in with a view of carrying out the Resolutions, is it possible that, as a man of common sense, I can separate this Bill from that intention? Supposing a very good and wise member of the Society of Friends wanted to get rid of a "steeple house" in my diocese, and came to me straight from a meeting where it had not only been decided to pull down the church, but where the very scaffolding itself, necessary for the purpose, had been determined upon—would it not be absurd to imagine that I should listen to some such argument as this—"You won't, I am sure, object to my putting up a scaffolding against your church. You know you have often said that the little window near the top wants repairing, and you will find this scaffolding very convenient for the purpose. It is quite true that in some quarters there is an evident intention to pull down the entire building, but never mind what they say—recollect that your fane wants repairing, and let me put up the scaffolding." But I quite agree in one of the remarks that the noble Duke made towards the end of his speech—our decision on this subject ought to be dictated by the justice of the case. And, my Lords, whatever may be the other sins of my conduct in this House, I have not shrunk from the odium which my conduct in many cases entailed upon me, because I believed I was voting for what was just, and I believe that whatever is just is expedient.
Now, my Lords, to take one single subject which was dwelt upon very much by 197 the noble Earl (Earl Granville), whose speech in bringing this Bill forward was a most masterly speech—I do not say convincing, I will not flatter my noble Friend so for as to say that—but his argument appeared to be much like that of the counsel in Court, who, when the character of the unhappy man in the dock precluded the idea of saying anything in its favour—when the evidence was so strong as not to admit of contradiction, with a skill which could not fail to excite admiration, went round every promontory of danger, threaded each troublesome path, and wound up by an appeal to the jury, in which he covered the man, to his own wonder and astonishment, with every rainbow hue of excellence and prosecuted virtue, and appealed to their sense of truth and justice to send him back without a stain to his sorrowing friends. Now, among other arguments employed by my noble Friend, there was that great argument about the clergy reserves in Canada. First of all, my noble Friend urged that everything that it was now proposed to do in Ireland had already been done in Canada; that though every kind of evil had been prophesied, every kind of good had actually been the result; and that so it would be in the case of Ireland. But, my Lords, the change made in Canada with regard to the clergy reserves was not a disendowing of the Church. We gave an independent Legislature to that country; and the question was whether, having given that Legislature, we should refuse to allow it to act on this subject-matter, or leave it to them to form their determination. My Lords, following as I have always endeavoured to do in the path of justice, notwithstanding the enormous obloquy to which I was exposed, I ventured to say that I felt bound to leave the matter to that Legislature. But the Duke of Newcastle, who brought forward the subject, instead of assuming that there was to be a disendowment of the Church there, said in the speech in which he introduced the measure that he trusted the Legislature of that country were too wise and just to use the power we were going to give them for the disendowment of the clergy. The case was this—The clergy reserves consisted of an immense extent of land, little of it brought into cultivation, and presenting a bar to the cultivation of the back settlements; the clergy had no means of cultivating the land and making roads, and what the country do-sired was that this should not be a con- 198 tinued bar to the progress of the colony And when the measure was carried what did they do? By a liberal calculation the Canadian Government gave a large part of the value of these reserves to a corporation they founded to administer the funds for the benefit of the clergy; and so far was this from being any injury to them that it is a remarkable fact—and I mention it as greatly to his honour—the then Bishop of Toronto, one of the most outspoken men that ever lived, who sent his archdeacon over to pronounce almost a sentence of excommunication upon me for having supported the Bill, some six years afterwards sent the same man to tell me, "You were right; I was wrong"—that was the disestablishment—it gave us an immediate use of the property that was ours at a small sacrifice, which we could not otherwise have got. I ask your Lordships is that a parallel, a precedent, or argument for what you are now proposing to do with regard to the Church of Ireland?
My Lords, this is a very important question. We have been met with this taunt, that if we did indeed believe in the spiritual power which belongs to the Church of Christ we should not cry out so much about endowments. My Lords, no one has more implicit faith than I have in the power of the Church of Christ as a spiritual body—given a fair start—to do all that is needful for herself in this matter. But do not be deceived by these great sounding phrases. If you now disendow the Church of Ireland, do you put that Church in a fair position for providing for her own spiritual needs? The history of all countries and all times teaches you this—that the time of endowment is the time of a nation's youth; whether it be for ecclesiastical purposes or for educational purposes, for Universities or for Churches, it belongs to a nation's youth, not to a nation's age, to raise endowments. You might just as well, when you see a man cutting from off an ancient oak a certain part of the branches, tell him to go and plant it in the ground, and it will grow up another oak like that which sprung from an acorn, as say to me now in its age, "Disendow the Irish Church and trust to the vitality of your religion to re-endow it." And then, remember, bodies of men, laity as well as clergy, form habits, and the habit of an old endowed Church is to look at those endowments as their right, and not to look for money to other sources; and if at this period of the Church's history you suddenly disendow and cast it free of en- 199 dowments, you are not giving it the ordinary advantage for maintaining the support, of her clergy that you do at the period of starting a new institution. But, my Lords, this is not all. We are told that we are to disendow this Church because she is convicted in the face of the nation of a glaring injustice. We are told even that it does not matter what is done with that which is taken from her. What is that but saying we are dealing here with so open and convicted a felon that it is enough for justice to take from her all she has, although we cannot get the proper owner to restore it to—she must be stripped of everything because she is such a convicted robber? The argument of voluntaryism is a very favourite one; and a very remarkable statement has recently been made on this subject, to which I would wish to call your Lordships' attention—made not by the noble Duke, but by one to whom a great many look up—I mean Mr. Spurgeon. Mr. Spurgeon has written this letter concerning it. He was unable to attend the meeting respecting the Irish Church because—I mention it because I have a sympathy with him—of a severe attack of rheumatic gout; but he wrote a letter. He says—"It is in no spirit of opposition to the Irish clergy"—no, my Lords, nobody has any enmity to the Irish clergy when they propose to disendow them—everybody has the most wonderfuly feeling of interest in them, regard for them, anxiety for their welfare, and so has Mr. Spurgeon. He says—It is in no spirit of opposition to the Irish clergy that I would urge upon the House of Commons to carry out the proposed Resolution, for I believe them as a body to be among the best part of the Episcopal clergy and to hold evangelical truths most earnestly. But because they are the best of the clergy they should be the first to be favoured with the great blessing of disestablishment. They will only be called to do what some of us have for years found a pleasure and advantage in doing—namely, to trust to the noble spirit of generosity which true religion is sure to evoke. They little know how grandly the giant of voluntaryism will draw the chariot when the pitiful State dwarf is dismissed.Now, my Lords, allow me to set before you the other side of the picture—not by another writer, but by the same writer, viewing the same question from another aspect. In An Epistle addressed to the Members of the Baptized Churches of Jesus Christ, Mr. Spurgeon thus writes—Beloved Brethren,—An exceedingly great and bitter cry has gone up unto Heaven concerning many of us. It is not a cry from the world which hates us, nor from our fellow-members whom we 200 may have offended, but (alas that it should be so!) it is wrung from hundreds of poor but faithful ministers of Christ Jesus who labour in our midst in word and doctrine, and are daily oppressed by the niggardliness of churls among us. Hundreds of our ministers would improve their circumstances if they were to follow the commonest handicrafts. The earnings of artizans of but ordinary skill are tar above the stipends of those among us who are considered to be comfortably maintained. We are asked repeatedly to send students to spheres where £40 is mentioned as if it were a competence, if not more, and those who so write are not always farm labourers, but frequently tradesmen, who must know what penury £40 implies.Is that the provision the' Irish clergy are to have?I speak not without abundant cause. I am no retailer of baseless scandal. I am no advocate for an idle and ill-deserving ministry. I open my mouth for a really earnest, godly, laborious, gracious body of men, who are men of God, and approved of His Church. Are these for ever to be starved?Now, my Lords, it is because I do not wish to see the Irish clergy reduced to such a state that I protest against their being left to this specious protection of voluntaryism.
But, my Lords, the real point of the question comes back—is the assertion that the Church of Ireland is not injustice entitled to its endowments capable of being maintained? I maintain that it is not. The argument advanced for it will not bear investigation, and, on the other hand, the taking away of this property from the Church is an injustice. On what possible grounds can you say you are entitled to take it away? Does it not belong to the same body to whom it was originally given? Do they not do the same work—honourably, and as far as they could do it? If that be so the title to this property cannot be gainsayed. If you can show that a corporation does its duty no longer, you can only take away the property they enjoy where a cy près application is made by the Court, carrying out the spirit of the testator. Nor is the Church of Ireland the body to which these endowments were originally given. Her possessions may be divided into three portions. First, three-fourths of the whole of the Irish Church property was given between the time of St. Patrick and the conquest of Ireland by Henry II. to the native Irish Church. Do they teach the same doctrine? I maintain, and I defy anyone to contradict it, that the Church of Ireland at that time agreed more completely with the High Churchmen of England at this time than 201 with the Ultramontanists on the other side the Channel. In the first place they were jealous of the sway of the Chinch of Rome. They boldly refused to come under the Romish yoke. They were condemned by the Church of Rome as schismatics, if not as heretics, because they resisted the oppressions which were brought upon them. The Church of Rome forbids the marriage of the clergy; the Church of Ireland allowed it. St. Patrick's father and grandfather were married clergymen. Which, then, did the ancient Church of Ireland agree with—our Church or the Church of Rome? The errors of Popery have been from age to age wrong developments drawn out of truth. There is no original error in the teaching of the Church of Rome—it is all truth travestied—the worst of nil error, because there the savour of the old truth mingles with the poison of the new error. But, my Lords, observe—the lands which were given to the Church of Ireland were given when those evils in the Church of Rome had not yet risen to their height; but, such as they were, the Church of France and the Church of Ireland rejected them. St. Patrick learnt his Christianity in France, and, therefore, you may trace the tone he gave to the Irish Church to his training in the free Gallican Church, before he set forth on his mission to evangelize Ireland. The Irish Church as it then existed as a corporation is the Church which now exists. The Bishops and clergy of that Church, by lineal descent, have come down to the present lime, and my most rev. Friend, the Archbishop of Armagh, can trace up his lineage to St. Patrick himself, whereas the Bishops of the Roman Church who claim that descent are but the pastors of an intruded branch of a foreign communion, and are not part of the Native Irish Church. Now, my Lords, how is it possible to deny these two facts—first, the comparative identity of doctrine at the time when the lands were given, and next the certain identity of body, the historical unity of the Church then with the Church now? How can any man, therefore, say that the Irish Church has not a just claim? But the lands were only one part of their possessions; tithes were also given. Now, when were the tithes secured to the Church? I ask noble Lords who are pressing this Bill to attend to this argument. The tithes were given when Henry II. conquered Ireland. They were given to the Church at the Synod of Cashel, which declared it to be an essential part for ever of that Church that in all Divine things it should be one 202 with the Church of England. Well, the tithes were given to a Church which had a two-fold character—it was to represent the nationality not of what then was a conquered country, but of the whole Empire into which Ireland was then inserted, and t was to be governed by the laws which governed the English Church, and to be in full communion with it in all Divine matters. I ask you, therefore, on that principle which is the Church in full communion with the English Church and with the English nation—the body to which some would give these funds, or the body to which our fathers gave them, and to which I trust we shall preserve them? My Lords, I need not trouble you with any remarks about the third part of the possessions of the Irish Church, because it is admitted by everybody—even by the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll)—although the noble Duke s only for giving back a bit of each glebe—that all the glebes have been acquired by the Church of Ireland since the Reformation. Therefore, upon what possible ground of justice would you take away these glebes? Even the noble Duke would give the clergyman a bit of land at which he could look out from his cabin window. I say, then, that the claim of justice to these possessions rests with the Church of Ireland, and that it would be an injustice to take them from her. But is that all? That is only justice for the clergy. What of the laymen whom you have allowed to settle in different parts of Ireland? What of the 700,000 souls for whom you as a nation are mainly responsible that they are in Ireland? What about the poor man, cultivating the soil, and wholly unable if you pass such a Bill to obtain the ministrations of a clergyman? What of the fanners who sow the ground, and to a great degree have brought the soil of Ireland under cultivation? What of the small landed proprietors who have settled in every part of the country? Have they not a claim of justice? Are they not to be heard at your Lordships' Bar? Are you going to take away from them the provision which has been made for the souls of themselves and of their children, only because you are told that there are people who will never be easy until they abolish the Church? I say, therefore, quite as much for the lay people as for their clergy, the claim of justice is with the Irish Church.
And now, my Lords, there is an argument with regard to the Church of Ireland as to which I desire to say a word—as to 203 whether that Church has done its duty. It has been argued that it was the bounden duty of the Church to convert the whole Roman Catholic population of Ireland, and that in that duty it has failed. Now, no one would have more rejoiced than I had the Irish Church succeeded in that great enterprise. But when you proceed to allot the blame—and if you do not allot the blame, what right have you to allot the punishment?—you must allot it to those on whom it ought to fall. And where is the blame to fall—upon the Church of Ireland, or the State of England? My Lords, I believe the great and master-reason of the failure of the Irish Church—for which you now taunt her—is because that Church was made the worst and meanest instrument of English misrule. Read, my Lords, the binning words of Primate Boulter—or, I will grant you, the exaggerations of the poet Spenser—or come down, if you like, to one soul incapable, as it seems to me, of a poetical idea—come down to Dean Swift, in all the hardness, the narrowness, and perhaps even the insanity, of his mind, and you will see who was to blame. Dean Swift describes what used to happen. He says—No doubt Die Queen's Government takes the best possible menus of sending Bishops to Ireland. But, unhappily for poor Ireland, the holy man after his consecration sets out in his chariot to travel down to the West Coast. But, as by the laws of geography he has to pass over Hounslow Heath, the highwaymen beset his cattle, they murder his servants, and pitch himself into a ditch. The captain of the highwaymen then puts on his small clothes and goes over to Ireland, where he acts as Bishop in his stead.My Lords, that is not at all such an over-coloured statement. If you go to Primate Boulter's correspondence you will find that if a clergyman lost his character here he was provided for in Ireland. That was the rule and not the exception. And then there were the penal laws forbidding the Irish people to learn to read. Did the Irish Church pass those laws? No; the Irish Church in those times was unable to do the work of an Apostle, and now, when she is able to do that work, men rise up, and for the ills that were committed by our forefathers they would visit her with extermination.
But then we are told that the object to he gained is so great that we must not look very closely into the matter. My noble Friend who moved the second reading of the Bill (Earl Granville) indulged in some exceedingly useful lectures upon the dangers that would result if we did not 204 assent to the passing of this Bill. He told us, when we said that evil would come to the Church of Ireland, that we were indulging in vaticinations which we had no sort of right to indulge in, and which would be probably contradicted by time. Allow me to remind my noble Friend that there are vaticinations, which are not unfrequent, as to, bright schemes of future felicity if we only make such and such concessions—but which not as unfrequently turn out to be fallacious. We have been told that peace and concord will dawn upon Ireland, and that true religious knowledge will be diffused over the land when the Church is disestablished. Will you allow me to read one of those vaticinations, because it appears to me to bear somewhat on the subject? It is a vaticination of a great man, J. K. Z.—I know him best by that name—the Right Rev. Dr. Doyle. Dr. Doyle was asked on a memorable occasion—Would the objection to tithes as they now stand be removed in any degree by giving admissibility to political power to the Roman Catholic laity?His reply was—Yes, I do conceive that they would be greatly removed." "In what way?—I conceive that the removal of disqualifications under which Roman Catholics labour would lessen considerably those feelings of opposition which they may at present entertain with regard to the Establishment, chiefly for this reason, that while we labour under the disabilities which now weigh upon us, we find that the clergy of the Establishment, being very numerous and very opulent, employ their influence and their opulence in various ways in opposing the progress of our claims; and I do think that, if those claims were once adjusted, and the concessions which we desire granted, the country would settle down into a habit of quiet, and that we should no longer feel the jealousy against the clergy of the Establishment which we now feel; because that jealousy which we do feel arises chiefly from the unrelaxed efforts which they have almost universally made to oppose our claims. We would view them then, if those claims were granted, as brethren labouring in the same vineyard as ourselves, seeking to promote the interests of our common country.How far these rose-coloured visions have been fulfilled in unhappy Ireland every Member of your Lordship's House must know. Whenever, therefore, we are told that this or that new concession is to remove those difficulties, I confess there arise in my mind new doubts as to the fulfilment of these prophecies. And when I tried to satisfy my mind on the comfortable side I had recourse to what I think is, perhaps, the best evidence—that of the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland—because they are more likely to know than other people what would probably be the result. There 205 was a great meeting of the Irish Roman Catholic clergy, with the Very Rev. R. B. O'Brien, D.D., V.G., Dean of Limerick, at their head, at which they drew up a declaration, in these words—Before the face of Ireland and the whole world we make this declaration.Your Lordships may sec from that how great the gravity and solemnity of the declaration is. The declaration goes on to say—We solemnly declare that the only means of effectually tranquillizing Ireland is by a restoration of her nationality. General legislation by the Parliament of Great Britain will never be equal to the task of teaching, cherishing, developing, and raising Ireland, Political economy will never do for a country like Ireland, any more than the ordinary food of health and vigour would do for the weak and sickly. The most exceptional legislation must be employed, the minutest knowlege must be obtained, the most persevering local inquiry must be instituted, and a full, heart-whole, and we would say, exclusive attention, province by province, must be directed to discover and remedy Ireland's wants; and these things an English Parliament cannot perform. An English Parliament has already too much to occupy it; an English Parliament will always proceed by fixed principles applicable only to organized communities, and they will not do for Ireland; an English Parliament will have to command a combination of parties who know little of Ireland, and cannot understand the necessity of entirely exceptional legislation—a thing absolutely essential to Ireland. And, above all, such a Parliament will never satisfy the yearnings of a whole people, whose intellects and whose hearts combine in the cry for nationality. A land tenure will accomplish something; removal of the Prorestant ascendancy, by placing the Protestant Church in the same position before the State as the Catholic Church, will accomplish much.(Cheers.) Yes, wait—Equality in education, and the removal of the anomaly of giving a freedom of education on the condition of people giving up freedom, will do its share—and we will hail any and all of them with thankfulness.Now for the cheer—But we feel bound to say that when all of them have been granted, safety from foreign danger, perfect development of home resources, and we repeat, above all, the heart of this country will require nationality.Now, is it not written in a book with which the noble Duke is perhaps familiar, "Surely in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird?" If those whom you are to make; eternal friends by the sacrifice of the Established Church of Ireland tell you, as they hold out their hands to receive the boon, "It will do nothing; it is only an instalment; it is not what we want; it is valuable to us as a means, as a pledge, as a step towards separation from England, but without that separation it will be worth nothing to us;" surely, I say, one must have even less sense than is possessed by 206 a certain bird to be deceived by these assurances. Well, then, the argument of expediency breaks down altogether.
I have been told by an authority I cannot doubt that certain words used by me at a certain meeting at Oxford will be very likely to be rudely handled by a noble Earl opposite (Earl Russell), who is to speak presently. I suppose I must make up my mind to that, but I adhere to those words, and think I can prove the truth of them. They were delivered under peculiar circumstances, and when I mention what these were there is not one of your Lordships who will not understand my feelings. I was standing among the youth of Oxford when the news arrived of the murderous attempt made upon the life of our Royal Prince. The meeting was thrilling with excitement, and I did say, and am not prepared to withdraw the words, "We are asked to confiscate the revenues of our Church to buy off assassins." ["Oh!"] I say I am not prepared to withdraw the words. We have heard a good deal about foreign friends and their opinions on matters which they, perhaps, know very little about; but there are certain things as to which it is safer to appeal to other men's judgments than our own, and, as the Scottish poet so earnestly desired, "see ourselves as others see us." One of the greatest of our foreign friends, Count Montalembert, attributes this movement against the Irish Church to the Fenian insurrection. Is our foreign friend to be trusted whenever he comes to a conclusion based upon misrepresentation, and is he to be cast aside when he is judging for himself what is the temper of the times? Is it, then, entirely untrue that this is an attempt to buy off this terrible and disgraceful insurrection? My Lords, I adhere to the assertion. Look at the newspapers published in the interest of these unhappy men. How do they receive the boon you offer them? One of their journals speak of this measure as "Our first victory." They connect together the two movements—their movements of evil, your movements of conciliation. But suppose for a moment that there was not this coherence between the two things—the belief that such a connection exists is still most fatal to Ireland, and therefore, ecclesiastic as I am, I say that the bringing forward of this measure at this time was an unstatesmanlike proceeding, because it was so certain that the sacrifice of the Irish Church would appear to be a sacrifice to the Fenian insurrection. If, then, the Irish people will not be satisfied—if we are told 207 that nothing but nationality or separation from England will satisfy them—is it not altogether inexpedient to introduce this measure? Is it not one of the most unstatesmanlike and unjust proceedings that A Legislature could devise? Is it not notorious that you are offering them a boon in a sense different from that in which you know they are prepared to receive it? And not only will their appetite not be satisfied, but they will take it as an attempt to deceive and cajole them, and will probably turn upon the giver with renewed vigour. Therefore, the measure is most inexpedient and most unslatesmanlike.
But then, I am told, we must remember that this is a sentimental grievance; that the Irish are a very sentimental people, and unless you remove their sentimental grievances you cannot get them to be at peace with England. Now, I know something about sentimental grievances. They mean this, either in individuals or in States,—a morbid sensitiveness as to some fancied wrong which, because it has not a real existence, is all the more difficult to remove. That is a sentimental grievance, and if given way to it becomes the most deadly poison. A man has a sentimental grievance against his elder brother because he cheats him out of the estate; and if we were in the days in which mad passion broke out into mad action, the tragedy of Cain and Abel would be enacted over again. Morally, the most dangerous thing a man can do is to cherish a sentimental grievance. We have sometimes heard of destroying a sentimental grievance by creating a real grievance, and I cannot help thinking that has been the attempt here, though it has been made in rather an Irish way. A real grievance is indeed to be created, only it is not in the minds of those who have got the sentimental grievance—it is on the opposite side. In old times, when a Royal pupil committed a fault, a boy was kept to be whipped for him, and it was supposed that the Royal pupil would in that nay learn his lessons better for the future by seeing another boy whipped in his stead. That practice was not, I suppose, found to work very well, for it has been abandoned. But it is revived now, and my most rev. Brother and the rest of the Irish prelates and clergy are to be whipped in order to heal the sentimental grievances of the Irish people. I do not think that is a very wise course to pursue.
It seems to me, indeed, that all the arguments advanced in favour of this mea- 208 sure break down when you come to look at them. There is, to my mind, the prime argument of justice, and the argument, which stands next, of expediency. Then there is the fact that you will not he able to support the Church throughout all Ireland if you deal thus rudely with it, and that, in sweeping away from Ireland that presence, you will be doing a deep injury to Ireland itself—not only to your co-religionists, supposing that you are Protestants, but to the Roman Catholics who reside in Ireland quite as much as to the English residents. I believe that the effect upon the whole of Irish society of the residence in that country of the men who are acting as now the Irish clergy as a body are acting is one which cannot be easily calculated. They spread good around them upon every side; they raise the tone of honour, of truth, and of piety; they exhibit what it is to have a conscience capable of acting in the concerns of a man with his God. I believe there never was a time when the Irish Church was doing its duty as it is doing its duty at this moment. Try it by any test. After the Revolution they received 100,000 members of their Church; there are now 700,000 members of that Church. And of whom do these consist? I venture to say it—they are the salt of the society of Ireland. They are, as a body, the men of the greatest education; they are the men who undertake the greatest labour; they are the men who set an example to their fellow-citizens in all the relative duties of social life. These are the fruit of the work of the Church in that land. Do not tell me that they would have been there equally if you had not had that Church. I point to the example of Cromwell's soldiers, who settled in parts of Ireland where there is no Established Church, and whose descendants are now, many of them, the hottest representatives of the Roman Catholic religion. There is not among individuals religious depth and fidelity enough to maintain old impressions for long if these individuals are cast into the midst of a hostile communion with none of the advantages of their Church. Even in its days of weakness you had in the Church of Ireland that which you have now. To whom did we look in troublous times for the maintenance of the full connection between the two islands? Was it not to those, in the main, whom the Church of Ireland had leavened with principles of order, loyalty, and submission? Is this a time when you can afford 209 to throw these men aside, when churches are being built every day, when schools are being multiplied, when glebe-houses me rising, when the clergy are improving in every one of their moral characteristics; when, I venture to say, they are becoming much better Churchmen and far less Calvinistic—is this a time when you should turn round on this Church, which has done so much for you, and with nothing to gain by the sacrifice, to slay her that you may appease a fancied sense of grievance? I, my Lords, cannot receive the noble Duke's statement that we are to regard this measure as a party question. I feel that if it were propounded to this House nakedly as a party move it would be rejected with the ignominy which I think it would deserve. But I cannot believe that it is so proposed. I believe that noble Lords opposite have persuaded themselves that they would promote the peace of Ireland by such a sacrifice; and therefore I have endeavoured briefly, but in the best manner I could do, to show that justice does not allow the sacrifice, and that expediency docs not counsel it. I have no doubt how your Lordships will decide; but I ask you to give your decision with the unwavering voice of those who are acting on high Imperial principles. I have heard it whispered that men have said they would vote for this measure, although they felt that it would be an evil tiling, because they knew it would not be carried. God forbid that there should be such an utterance from any one God forbid that the great moral issues involved in this case should be decided in that way by any man, as though they were the sport of a party move No, my Lords, if you do not look as much as I do to the religious aspect of the question, let me ask you to look at it as it affects the future state of England. It is not a question of the Reformation only. For 700 years, in Roman Catholic times as well as in the Reformed, your forefathers have been striving against the usurpations of Rome in a free country. The Statutes of Provisors came far before the Reformation. Your Plantagenet monarchs carried them and enforced them too. Henry III.'s reign gives you some grand examples of them. They knew the evil they were keeping out of Ireland. Are you prepared, upon the darkening of a summer cloud, to give up that which your Roman Catholic forefathers refused to sacrifice to the arrogant demands of Rome? Are you prepared to give to Rome—to give to the Roman Catholic hierarchy in 210 Ireland, and through them to the clergy under them, the power of nominating the representatives of that country in the Lower House of Parliament? My Lords, I heartily wish that all to whom the Reformed Faith is dear would carefully ponder this certain issue. What if by driving from the remoter parts of Ireland the scattered members of your Church now; living there you should hand over the representation of the sister island to the Bishop of Rome? If he is represented in the Lower House of Parliament by a serried phalanx of men bound above every other obligation to receive his commands and to carry out his will, what is the worth of the liberties of Great Britain, what the worth of the freedom of your Church of England?
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
My Lords, I have from the first felt it quite impossible to discuss this great—this unspeakably great—question in all its length and breadth upon the immediate issue before us; and that impression has been confirmed by what fell from the noble Duke who opened the debate to-night, and who spoke of the distinction between disestablishment and disendowment. When we were told that disendowment was not intended, and that a compromise would be made, I think your Lordships must have felt that we cannot properly discuss this question until the whole scheme is before us. We are now all engaged is dealing with different issues; some of us looking to the Bill itself, others to the consequences of disestablishment, others to the consequences of disendowment; and we cannot come to any consecutive and uniform treatment of the subject. When I first looked at this Bill I confess it seemed to me a measure of a most meagre and insignificant character, and one that would do neither good nor harm. No doubt, the argument of the most rev. Prelate who presides over the Archdiocese of York showed that certain inconveniences would result from the provisions of the Bill if it were continued in operation for any considerable time; but I do not believe, after the Reformed Parliament has met, that any long time will elapse before a substantial plan will be submitted to this House. But, be that as it may, the rejection of this Bill will not retard or advance by a single hour the disestablishment of the Irish Church. Disconnecting the Bill from all argument as to the extreme consequences which may ensue, and disconnecting it also from the Resolutions adopted by the other House, but which do not appear here, I confess I 211 am at a loss to conceive why the Opposition should be so anxious to carry and the Government so anxious to defeat this meagre and insignificant measure—a Bill that, it seems to mo, derives its main importance from the resistance that has been offered to it. My Lords, I am prepared to maintain, as strongly as any man can do, the integrity of the Church of Ireland—subject, I mean, to all those necessary and wise reforms which it must undergo; and I sincerely hope that whenever a full and substantial plan shall be submitted to this House, in the next Session of Parliament, we shall find your Lordships ready to maintain the Church, even at the hazard of your own extinction, and that your attitude will be as bold and fearless as on the present occasion. But I think the House should look at this question in the way in which I feel assured it is looked at by the country. Observe how the Bill has come up to this House. It came up backed by a very large majority of the House of Commons on its second reading. All its subsequent stages were there passed almost in silence, and, therefore, it reaches us with the apparent sanction of the whole of that House. I must say we have a right to complain that the House of Commons should have intended to throw upon us the responsibility of rejecting the measure. Moreover, it comes before us in a peculiar form, not only as bearing the sanction of the other House, but also the sanction of Her Majesty herself, whose name and authority are recited in the Preamble. Therefore we have two branches of the Legislature against one in this matter. The Bill also professes, and will go out to the country—although I do not say it is the actual intention—as demanding no more than a full and fair opportunity for discussing this question. Its rejection, therefore, by this House will be regarded as a refusal of that demand—a demand in itself legitimate. That is the light in which I am certain the Bill and its rejection will be viewed by the country. I now speak in the interest of the House of Lords, and I solemnly declare that I view with dismay—on an issue such as this, so feeble, so powerless, so totally unaffecting the great issue to be raised hereafter—I view with dismay its going out to the country, on the eve of a General Election, that this House had set itself against giving the opportunity of a full, fair, and legitimate inquiry. I know very well that will be the way in which the whole thing will be perverted. I know that is the senti- 212 ment which, is already beginning to prevail. I am not speaking my own sentiments alone, but that of many persons out-of-doors who are as anxious as your Lordships for the maintenance of the Church of Ireland. Thousands of those, who wish well neither to your Lordships nor to the Church are panting with eagerness for your Lordship's decision to-night, knowing that it is so liable to be perverted into an argument against you. If the elections were to be held a twelvemonth hence there would be time for public opinion to right itself: but as the elections will occur in two or three months, with all this mis-statement, calumny, and violence prevalent, I must say I do not wish this House to be exposed to the danger of misrepresentation without the possibility of explanation. It appears to me that this Bill has been constructed with a strategical purpose, as if with the object of inviting your Lordships to come down from the strong position you have occupied, and as you are descending the hill depend upon it there are thousands of Cromwells who will say, "The Lord hath delivered them into our hand." In a party sense, I can have no interest in the result of this contest, but I am bound to say that Her Majesty's Government could not have given to their Liberal rivals a heavier blow and a sorer discouragement than they would have done by passing this measure without a division. I am aware it may be said that this is the first step towards the main question—the disestablishment of the Irish Church. I think those who argue thus are justified in so arguing; but, on the other hand, I think others may be equally justified in maintaining, as I do, that this, though apparently a step in advance, is in fact no step at all, and yet it is a measure which, if resisted, will expose this House to no end of censure and calumny. Most earnestly so I say, that if we are to come into collision with the House of Commons and with the country, let it be upon some grand and vital measure; let it be upon something that the country can feel and understand, and not upon an issue so paltry, mean, and insignificant as this. I readily admit—indeed, I feel it intensely, that the main question with which we shall have to deal is, perhaps, the most solemn and most important ever submitted to our consideration. It has not only a civil, but it partakes very largely of a religious character. There are very good men who see their way clearly and conscientiously to the disestablishment of the Protestant 213 Church of Ireland. I venture to take an opposite view, and, perhaps, in taking that view I run into the opposite extreme, because I do as conscientiously believe from the bottom of my heart that if you proceed to overthrow the Protestant Church of Ireland by such means and for such purposes you will break up the foundations of our national existence, and take the first step towards a national apostasy. Now this Bill involves no principle, and is entirely a matter of policy or expediency. I had at at one time determined, with the view of escaping the snare which I think has been laid for the House of Lords, to vote for it. But I have now determined to take no part in the division. It is, I know, a pusillanimous course, and one which I am half-ashamed of; but I have taken it in deference to the most urgent entreaties and to the deep conscientious feelings of many who take a solemn, vital, and religious interest in this question, I confess my weakness in so doing, but I am willing to surrender that portion of my consistency in deference to the deep and earnest solicitations of persons for whom I have so profound and constant a regard.
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
My Lords, I shall not detain your Lordships any long time after the lengthened discussion that has taken place; but, holding the position I do as one of Her Majesty's Ministers, I do not think it would be right to remain silent upon so great an occasion—especially as to do so would be contrary to my inclinations. The noble Earl who has just addressed you (the Earl of Shaftesbury) described this Bill as a paltry one, and of such insignificant dimensions that your Lordships might have passed it without opposition; whilst the noble Earl who introduced it to your Lordships' notice (Earl Granville) described it as one of the greatest importance. I incline to take the view of the latter noble Earl. Since its introduction to your Lordships I have vainly endeavoured to ascertain from the speeches of its supporters the character of the measure and the probable results which may be anticipated should we pass it, and what are the special grounds which exist at the present time that did not previously exist, to induce your Lordships to adopt the measure. In endeavouring to discover its objects and its probable results, I am somewhat indebted to the noble Duke who spoke on Friday evening (the Duke of Somerset) with a candour which is so characteristic of his conduct both in and out of this House. I must say I sympathize with him on the 214 exceedingly uncomfortable position in which he must find himself placed—namely, the position of supporting a Bill which he described as perfectly unworkable, to be followed by measures of the purport of which he was entirely ignorant. Nevertheless, though he had not been asked to take any part in the Resolutions on which this unworkable Bill was founded, and though he is quite in the dark as to what is to follow. The noble Duke with exemplary faith in the party to which he belongs, intends to give it his support. Now one of the great objections I have to the passing of the present Bill is that it is the forerunner of some scheme for the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church. If any such scheme be in existence your Lordships have a right to demand that it be laid before you. But if there be no such scheme then that is a sufficient ground why your Lordships should refuse your assent to this Bill. I am forced to the conclusion that the Bill is brought forward merely in order to prejudge and prejudice a question which is avowedly remitted by common consent to the decision of a new Parliament. The operation of the Bill extends only to the 1st of August in next year; but is there a man in the country who will pretend to say that there is any possibility of a scheme for the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church, and for the appropriation of the funds which will accrue if such a measure be carried, passing in the meantime through this or the other House? This Bill virtually says to the members of the Established Church in Ireland,—"we have in our minds the disestablishment of your Church; we are not able at this moment to say whether it is possible to carry such a measure or not; but in the meantime and until we can carry it, we will hamper and cripple your ministrations, and, if we can do nothing else, we will bring your Church into such discredit as to render it powerless for good." It is not my intention to cite Hansard in order to prove the change of opinion which has taken place in many noble Lords on the other side the House in reference to this subject. I find no fault with those who honestly change their convictions, believing that the opinions they have held are no longer tenable, and that the progress of events and the force of circumstances required the adoption of a different policy. What, however, I do complain of is the fluctuation of opinion which has been exhibited by the other side on this question. The noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) the 215 other evening quoted the speech of Sir George Grey who, in 1865, speaking on the part of the Government in opposition to Mr. Dillwyn's Resolution declared that no practical grievance existed, and that in attempting to redress the theoretical a great shock would be given to our laws and institutions. He went further, and said that it was—The firm belief of the Government that the Irish Church could not be subverted without revolution and all the horrors that attend revolution.It would seem, however, as if the right hon. Gentleman had one set of opinions when in Office, and another set when out of Office. In 1844, when in Opposition, he thought the Irish Church a grievance, and we find him using much the same arguments and language as we hear now. He said in 1844—Among all the nations of Europe we find that Ireland alone is so peculiarly circumstanced that while seven-eighths of the population are Roman Catholics, and the remainder divided between Episcopalians and Presbyterians, there exists in that country an exclusive Church Establishment for the Episcopalian minority. This is a grievance that comes home to every man irrespective of the question of payment. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this question is one beset with difficulty, but I deny that it is a difficulty sufficient to deter a Minister of the Crown from dealing with it."—[3 Hansard, lxxiv. 841.]In 1865, being in Office, the right hon. Gentleman said—For these reasons, believing that the object avowed by those who have brought forward the Resolution is one which could not be attained without great mischief, being of opinion that no practical grievance exists, and that in attempting to redress the theoretical grievance a great shock would be given to our laws and institutions, I can have no hesitation on the part of the Government in opposing the Motion."—[3 Hansard, clxxviii, 402.]My Lords, I cannot help thinking that these fluctuations, these changes of opinion are somewhat traditional in the policy of noble Lords opposite. I will remind your Lordships of two lines written some forty years ago by a famous poet, whoso works have been edited by a noble Earl, a Member of your Lordships' House. Moore tells us that—As bees on flowers alighting cease their hum, So settling into places Whigs are dumb.During all the years the present Opposition were in Office, and when they could have calmly and quietly considered the subject of the Irish Church, they would not entertain it, and I hope that the poet way prove in this case a prophet also, and that if noble Lords opposite succeed to our places on these Benches we shall hear no 216 more of the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church. My noble Friend who introduced this Bill (Earl Granville) spoke of the Fenian insurrection as if to show your Lordships the necessity for adopting such a measure; but, my Lords, the grievance of the Established Church, if it be one, existed in 1848, when, during the administration of the Government, of which my noble Friend was a Member, an insurrection broke out in Ireland; and yet that Government did not then propose any such Bill. They relied on force—they trusted to the strong arm of the law; but they never suggested the expediency of destroying this Church as a remedial measure. There is another argument which my noble Friend made use of—namely, that the members of the Established Church in Ireland were in a minority as compared with the whole population. But is this new? Why they have been in a minority ever since the Reformation—it was so at the Revolution, it was so at the Union, it was so at the passing of Catholic Emancipation—and I ask is there any man alive who thinks that if a clause had been introduced into that measure for disestablishing and disendowing the Established Church, on the ground that the Protestants were in a minority, there would have been the slightest chance of that Bill passing? And it so happens that the Established Church in Ireland are in a less minority now than they were at any former time. Take three periods during the last 200 years at which the comparative numbers of the Established Church and the Roman Catholics have been taken. In 1672 they were as one in eight to the Roman Catholics; in 1824 as one in twelve; and in 1861 as one in six and a half. Again, my Lords, if you allow this argument of minority to prevail in respect of the Church, I venture to submit that you will be admitting a very dangerous principle. I do not see how you will be able to limit it to the case of the Irish Church. Are not the landlords in a minority? are not the fund-holders in a minority? are not the possessors of every kind of accumulated wealth in a minority? I do not see why the argument now sought to be applied to the Irish Church may not, if it be admitted in this case, be applied to them. Then we are told that Ireland will be pacified by this measure, or rather by the great measure which is dawning into existence, but which is still in a haze, even for my noble Friend who introduced this Bill. If it would pacify Ireland I admit there would 217 be something gained by it; but first of all will it satisfy any one? We know pretty well whom it will dissatisfy. It will dissatisfy the Protestant population of the country. The right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Oxford) vend to your Lordships an account of a meeting held at Limerick, from which it is perfectly clear that the Roman Catholic clergy who took part in that meeting would not be satisfied with the disestablishment of the Irish Church, because the Resolutions which were agreed to at that meeting point to the repeal of the Union as the measure which alone can satisfy them. They will take this and other measures if they can get them, but they will be satisfied with nothing short of a repeal of the Union. It may be said that the meeting in Limerick was held some time ago; but I hold in my hand a Resolution passed at a meeting which, as it so happened, was held on the very day my noble Friend introduced this measure. It was a meeting of the National Association held in Dublin, Mr. Alderman M'Swiney in the chair. In an account of the proceedings I find the following statement:—The Rev. John Boylan, P.P., Crosserlough, diocese of Kilmore, proposed the following Resolution:—'That while the action of political parties in the House of Commons has brought into bold prominence, at the present crisis. The Church question, we are compelled to declare that the settlement of the land question—the primary grievance of Ireland—claims our earnest and unabated attention; and we are determined to urge at the forthcoming elections the settlement of the land question, without which there can be no industrial progress, no permanent peace, no fixity of the people on their own soil.'So that, my Lords, we find that at one meeting the clergymen present will be satisfied with nothing short of a repeal of the Union, while at another we find a reverend gentleman proposing a Resolution which declares that no remedy will be effectual till the land question is settled. Your Lordships will observe that the proposer of that Resolution attributes to "the action of political parties" the fact that this Church question has been brought before Parliament. I made no such accusation; because, as my noble Friend (Earl Granville) has disclaimed any party motive in the matter, I felt bound to accept that disclaimer. I merely refer to the statement in the Resolution to show you the way in which the question is viewed by the Roman Catholic clergy themselves. I say, my Lords, that if you are prepared for such changes as this you ought at all events to be sure that you are going 218 to satisfy those for whom you intend to legislate. Another argument put forward in support of this Motion is that the Established Church in Ireland has not fulfilled the purpose for which she was intended—that she has failed as a Missionary Church. Now, my Lords, whatever may have been the case in former times, this reason cannot, with any fairness, be assigned at present, I find it stated that the Society for Irish Church Missions has raised within the last nineteen years, for exclusively Church work in Ireland, nearly £500,000; and that the operations of this Society have been carried on entirely through the machinery of the Established Church. It maintains 54 Sunday schools and 86 week-day schools, and its missionary agency comprises 34 ordained clergymen, 225 trained agents and Scripture readers, and 160 inferior teachers. 200 Sunday and 193 week-day services are held in each month, and the Scripture readers make about 9,700 visits during the same period. Then, my Lords, the Church Temporalities Act has been frequently alluded to. We are told that, as Parliament dealt with the Church by that Act, there is no reason why we should not deal with it now. But, my Lords, the Parliament of that day dealt with the Irish Church on a totally opposite principle from that now proposed—the two cases are entirely distinct the one from the other, as I shall show your Lordships by referring to the Preambles of the two Bills. The Bill now before your Lordships has scarcely any Preamble in the ordinary form; and accordingly when we want to see what its clauses are founded upon we must refer to the Resolutions which preceded it in the House of Commons. The first of those Resolutions, which declares that the Established Church in Ireland ought to cease to exist, is the real Preamble to this Bill. But here is the declaration in the Preamble of the Church Temporalities Act—Whereas the number of Bishops in Ireland may conveniently be diminished, and the revenues of certain of the Bishoprics applied to building, re-building, and repairing of Churches and other such like ecclesiastical purposes, and to augmentation of small Livings and to such other purposes as may conduce to the advancement of religion and the efficiency, permanence, and stability of the United Church of England and Ireland.Is there any similarity, my Lords, between a Bill having for its object "the efficiency, permanence, and stability of the United Church of England and Ireland," and one having for its object the disestablishment 219 and disendowment of the Irish branch of that Church? But, my Lords, what is this Church which you are asked to disestablish and disendow? It is the one Church established in England and Ireland. Of the Irish landowners it has the support of eight-ninths; and to disestablish a Church which is supported by eight-ninths of the landowners of a country seems to me an exceedingly unjust measure. I have endeavoured to put before your Lordships, with very few quotations, the views which I entertain upon this subject; but I must ask your Lordships' attention to a few words which describe, in better terms than I can employ, the exact position of the Irish Church. The passage is taken from a speech delivered in this House many years ago by a former Bishop of Limerick, who described the English and Irish Church in this manner. He said—On the whole, then, I would exhort those who love and venerate our Constitution, both in Church and State, to consider what we have at stake—the integrity of our United Kingdom and the Protestant Faith of this Protestant Empire. If one portion of the Church suffer, all must suffer with it. The Church in England and the Church in Ireland have no separate interests, have no separate being—they must stand or fall together. The united Church of England and Ireland is one and indivisible. It was made so by solemn national compact in the Act of Union. This identity constitutes the fundamental Article of Union; we might as properly speak of two Houses of Commons, two Houses of Peers, two Sovereigns, two complete Legislatures, the one for England, the other for Ireland, as speak of two distinct Churches. The national faith of both countries is pledged equally to maintain one Church, one King, one House of Commons, one House of Lords. If Parliament, therefore, were to subvert or to re-model the Church Establishment in Ireland it would break the Union; and if it break the Union it will enact its own destruction; it will enact a revolution; and of such a revolution the fruit would be nothing else than anarchy and public ruin.I fully concur with the right rev. Prelate that the compact so entered into between the Parliaments of the two countries has up to this time been solemnly and religiously observed. I believe the Church to be a bond of union between the two countries; and therefore nothing upon my part shall be done to strengthen the hands of the enemies of that Church to proceed with the work which they have commenced. But if this attempt upon the Established Church in Ireland be successful, it will be followed by other attempts to subvert the Protestant Constitution in England and Scotland. I should be very sorry to see the balance of the Constitution thus de- 220 stroyed; and I believe that if this attempt be successful such will be the result. Recollect, my Lords, if you destroy this Establishment you will by no means have destroyed all Establishments; you will be left with one great Establishment which owns its allegiance not to the Queen of England, but to the Pope of Rome, against the aggressions of whom this country has successfully and manfully striven for the last 300 years. I believe that this successful resistance has been mainly owing to the union in this country of a Protestant Church with a Protestant State; and upon the continuance of that connection will mainly depend the permanence of the Constitution as by law established in this country, and the maintenance of the rights and privileges of all denominations of Her Majesty's subjects.
My Lords, your Lordships, by the long and serious attention given to this subject have shown, I think, your conviction that it is one which cannot be disposed of by an abstract vote or by a Suspensory Bill. It is fully understood that we are now standing in the vestibule merely of a great national discussion, without any hope or desire to close it by our vote to-night. The greatness of this question can be only appreciated by men who, having studied the history of their country, have seen how this question of the Established Church of Ireland has mixed itself up with other matters, and how, having been discussed and thought about almost during a century, has burst out in the front rank. The question has been surrounded with many collateral issues; but as to the main question—that of the right of the State to deal with the Irish Church—I can have no doubt whatever; for to entertain a contrary opinion it would be necessary, as it seems to me, to go contrary, not only to the very spirit of Protestantism, but to the course of Church reformation of any kind. What has been the course of reformation in all Churches but to deprive them, to a greater or less extent, of properties received from the pious bequests of bygone generations, but which, in the opinion of these times, can no longer be beneficially applied to the purposes for which they were given? We have seen in Spain—a most essentially Catholic country, under the regency of Queen Christina, herself a most devoted Catholic—one-third of the land taken out of the hands of the clergy; and that has been since recognized as "an accomplished 221 fact." The change certainly has not been productive of the great advantages which were expected; nevertheless, it has had the effect of placing the ecclesiastical system of Spain on an entirely new footing. The same process is going on in Italy, and is being carried out, notwithstanding opposition in Rome. And there are many more instances of a like character. I cannot sec, therefore, how, in a Protestant country, and surrounded, as I am, by so many of your Lordships, who are possessors of property which formerly belonged to the Church, it can be contended that to touch any portion of the property of the Irish Church is an act of sacrilege. The right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Oxford) tried to be very jocular on the subject of what he called sentimental grievances; and he wished your Lordships to believe that these meant nothing more than wounded vanity, or feelings worthy of no serious attention. But I think that if we pay heed to the history of the world, all the great tumults, and difficulties, and revolutions, have sprung from what are called sentimental grievances; the line between sentimental and material grievance is so narrow that you never can tell when one will run into the other. Sentimental grievances have this peculiarity—that if you do not touch them in the right way and at the right time they become material grievances, and prove the source of great danger. Another point put forward is the supposed identity of the Churches of England and Ireland, as to which the noble Duke who spoke last read ft quotation in which that identity was asserted in the baldest form. My own opinion is that if it is held that the few hundreds of thousands of Irish Protestants form an integral part of the Church of England, then it must with equal force be held that the millions of those who do not belong to that Church must be held to form part of the great Nonconformist body. The Church of Ireland must, in fact, be taken upon its own merits, and must be regarded in the light of its own political circumstances. Disestablishment will certainly not utterly destroy the usefulness of the Irish Church as has been alleged. Let us consider what that Church might become; and become in consequence of her disestablishment. Have we not, for instance, a Church in India admirably served as to all its offices, affording to English Protestants the necessary ministrations, and yet it is not a State Church in the Irish sense of the 222 word, and it exists in the midst of a population, very greatly superior in proportion of numbers to the Roman Catholic population of Ireland? I see no reason why the same should not be the case in Ireland. Take it how you like, with regard to the Irish Church, as long as that disproportion of numbers exists it must still be the Church of the Conqueror—the Church of the Garrison. If I am asked how the question comes before your Lordships, I am told it has been brought forward as a party movement. The noble Duke said so to-night; but I cannot sec why that should be made an objection to doing what is in itself right; those who wish earnestly that a thing should be done are most likely to find the best way of accomplishing it. I think, however, some injustice has been done to the Government in respect of the Irish question. In. this I think the effort made by Her Majesty's Government to I conciliate the Irish Roman Catholics—although I do not think it was made in a wise direction, for national education ought not, in my opinion, to have been the first thing modified—was, nevertheless, and I do believe a good and generous effort, and I regret that it was not appreciated as it as it deserved. To apply a quotation which must be familiar to your Lordships—"Quod beni cogitasti aliquando laudo; quod non fecisti ignosco; virum illa res qucerebat." It did require a great man to do this: it required a great man because it was necessary that be should have the courage and the power to set himself in a great degree against what I will not call the common sense, but the common nonsense of the country. My Lords, had Her Majesty's Government boldly avowed the intention, even at the sacrifice of power, of conciliating the Roman Catholics, as Mr. Pitt proposed and as George III. approved, I verily believe they would have been successful. But I do not mean to say that it would be possible to introduce religious equality by placing the Roman Catholic Church in a position of dignity. I do not believe that the Roman Catholics will go against this Bill, because such a course would be contrary to their history and traditions. I believe that the only satisfactory way of solving the difficulty will be to place the Roman Catholics and the Protestants upon the same footing. At the present time no person can say that they are upon a basis of equality. Your Lordships must come sooner or later to the resolution to place the Protestant popula- 223 tion of Ireland on the same footing as the Roman Catholics, among whom they are sparsely scattered. The Roman Catholics of Ireland have won the respect of the whole of Europe by the tenacity with which they hold to their faith, and the greatness of their sacrifices to maintain that faith inviolate. I therefore trust your Lordships will throw no impediment whatever in the way of this Bill, but will clear the way to a statesmanlike solution of the greatest difficulty of modern times.
§ THE EARL OF BANDON
My Lords, my apology for venturing to address you on this subject is that I have been called upon to preside at one of the largest Protestant meetings held in Ireland during the last quarter of a century. I hope, as a layman, you will let me put in my plea in support of my claim to a vested interest in the Church of Ireland. I am merely repeating the sentiment of that vast assemblage when I declare my conviction that the property of the Irish Church cannot be confiscated. Those who attended that meeting in no way desired to curtail the privileges their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects enjoyed, but they were determined to maintain inviolate the great principles of the Reformation. They sought for no Protestant ascendancy, except that which was inseparable from the supremacy of their Queen and the security of the Crown. As a specimen of the manner in which the Suspensory Bill would work let me adduce an example from my own parish. The parish is large, but the income is so small that the clergyman would naturally not employ more assistance that is absolutely necessary, but he has two curates; and if we should happen to lose our incumbent in the course of this summer with this Bill in operation it would be in the power of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to place only one clergyman in their stead, or even to join the parish to another. If the Bishop were to die the case would be even more deplorable; the whole of the clergy would be without their chief. And what does this clergyman receive as his share of the enormous revenues of the United Church of England and Ireland? The net revenue of the parish is £19 19s. 3d. I have inquired into our title to this property, and I find it originally belonged to the Knights of Jerusalem, from whom it was confiscated and given to the Abbey of Mowone, in the county of Cork; but in course of time it was again confiscated. Well, you come to the question upon what 224 higher grounds does the property of my noble Friend, who receives the rectorial tithes, depend than the property of the vicar of the parish—for both were taken at the same time? But this Suspensory Bill not only suspended the property of the Established Church, but it stopped the grant to Maynooth. Were the present assailants of the Church prepared to say that all their legislation for the last thirty years with regard to Maynooth was totally wrong? Such, however, was the logical conclusion of their proceedings. Now, there was one statement made by the noble Lord who introduced this Bill to which I am anxious to allude, inasmuch as I think some refutation is necessary. The noble Earl repeated the accusation which has so often been made—that the Reformed Church robbed the Roman Catholic Church of its revenues at the time of the Reformation. But it is somewhat extraordinary that if such were the case there should be no record of the fact. By the Acts of Parliament of Henry VIII. the taking away of the properly of the monasteries was recorded; but there was no record to be found of any transfer of property from the Roman Catholic Church to the Established Church. Now, my Lords, we are told by those who support this that the whole of this Irish Church agitation is the result of the Fenian conspiracy. I happen to be a resident in that part of Ireland unfortunately where the Fenian boats lately landed. Being so near, I listened with the greatest attention to all that occurred at the time, and it struck me as somewhat curious that the connection between Fenianism and the Irish Church was never discovered till the late Government lost power; The Attorney General and Solicitor General of Ireland for the late Government, while conducting the trials against those members of the conspiracy who had been arrested, never even hinted at this alleged cause of Irish discontent. It is said we ought to defer to the feelings of the majority of the people in Ireland, and that it is for them to decide what should be the established religion. But, my Lords, how is that opinion to be ascertained, and to whom are we to refer the question? There are more than 2,000,000 people in Ireland who can neither read nor write, and are they to have a voice in the question, and to decide which Church shall be the established one of the country? I have been a good deal in the habit of mixing with the people of Ireland, but I never hear a single word 225 said about the Established Church. It is not until I come to London that I hear of complaint as to its existence. Let us pass a decree for its Abolition and our difficulties only commence, for to what purposes will you apply the money which you will obtain? the Roman Catholics profess—whether sincerely or not I do not pretend to say—that they will not consent to receive any of the emoluments of the Established Church. Do you intend to apply them to the reduction of the burdens borne by the public Treasury, or to the erection of harbours or other public works? And, my Lords, there is this extraordinary fact in connection with this Bill—that this is the first time that it has been proposed to the members of a Church to destroy that Church for its own benefit. It is a curious circumstance that in the time of James II. there was a Suspensory Bill brought forward for Ireland, which also passed the House of Commons, and there appears to have been some similarity between the Bill and one lately brought up to your Lordships' House, for Archbishop King told us that life-interests were to be preserved by James II.; but the Roman Catholic clergy of that day, not satisfied to wait their time, came, and before the livings were vacant took possession of them. I might quote the testimony of Lord Coke, to the effect that nobody will bring up his sons to study for a profession like the Church when they would have, after painful study, nothing to live upon. I might also quote from Sir Henry Bulwer's Historical Characters with reference to the property of the French clergy during the Revolution when Prince Talleyrand proposed to preserve the rights of the existing clergymen. Sir Henry Bulwer says that the clergy complained, not so much of the insufficiency of the provision made for them as of the grievance that their income of proprietors was changed into that of life-renters, and that the Bishop of Autun had mis-stated their case and justified this robbery. But, my Lords, we have been told that the Irish has failed as a Missionary Church. That statement I entirely deny. It is now thirty-four years since I defended the Irish Church in the House of Commons, and its condition has been greatly improved since then. Many new churches have been built, and the clergy are active and zealous; the Protestant population has enormously increased in proportion to the Roman Catholics; and although in some instances there has been 226 a slight diminution in the number of the Protestants, and I can state on the authority of the clergymen, that in the county of Cork, with which I am more particularly connected, the zeal of the Protestant portion of the population and their attendance at the services of religion has increased in a remarkable proportion. The clergy never were so active. The late lamented Primate said he found the Irish Church in difficulty and he left her in spiritual efficiency. Even of Roman Catholics there are many who regard the Irish Church as a barrier against the tyranny of their own clergy. If absenteeism is an evil, this Bill will greatly aggravate it, for its natural tendency must be to lessen the desire of the Protestant proprietors to reside in a country in which they are deprived of the services of their religion. He you prepared to take away that property which has belonged to the Irish Church from time immemorial, which was secured by the Act of Settlement, and guaranteed by an essential Article of the Union? The very basis of that Union was that there should be one united Church. If your Lordships will suspend nothing else by this Bill you will suspend the future peace, happiness, and prosperity of Ireland. The result will be that landlords will seek to have tenants of their own religion. I do not say that is the right thing to do, but it will be the inevitable result. We are told that the Church of England will not suffer if you attack the Church of Ireland. I think the noble Earl who held the Seals of the Foreign Office told us something that we should beware of. He said that to the Church of England the danger was not from without but from within. My Lords, we know what that danger is, and will you increase it by demolishing a Church, which, poor though she may be in this world's wealth, has been always pure in her faith and true in her adherence to the glorious principles of the Reformation. Dr. Jebb, Bishop of Limerick, says, "I know the State knows no separate Church of England or Ireland. The State knows of one United Church of England and Ireland." My Lords, I wish you would read a speech made by the late Bishop of London, (Bishop Blomfield), in which he told this House that if the Opposition were to destroy the Church of Ireland they would not be content. He says, that having once gained a victory over the weaker Church, they would be only encouraged to go on when the prize before them was so much greater. I firmly believe that it would be 227 the greatest possible evil for Ireland if you wore to destroy the Established Church. If you were to ask me what I would do in a political sense for Ireland I would implore you to leave her alone. If you would ask me what I would have you do to satisfy her people, I would say develop her resources, extend her railways, make her great harbours available to the shipping of the world. That will secure peace, which alone will enable capital to be introduced into the country. We are told that the people of Ireland are disaffected and disloyal. Was that found to be so when the Prince of Wales visited Dublin? I do not speak now of the reception he met with within the ancient walls of St. Patrick, but of the reception which greeted him from the people themselves in the streets of Dublin and the racecourse of Punches-town. My solemn belief is that if his Royal Highness were to visit Ireland again, be it in the South, West, or North, his reception would be equally enthusiastic, and if he were to visit the beautiful scenery of Killarney the mountains would be made to echo with the cordial cheers of a loyal people. My Lords, I would implore you to reject this Suspensory Bill. It is ruinous, mischievous, and would make Ireland miserable. I pray you, by the martyred blood of the Reformers, by the memory of your ancestors, who gained the glorious revolution of 1688, by the present peace and the future prosperity of Ireland, to reject the Bill. I would remind those who are about to appeal to the country of the oft-repeated but true lines—Facilis descensus Averni;Sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras,Hic labor, hoc opus est.
§ THE EARL OF GRANARD
My Lords, as one of the Peers who signed the declaration of the Roman Catholic laity in favour of religious equality I have some right to be heard upon this question. That declaration was a disclaimer of the statements so offensively reiterated that in Ireland there was a feeling of apathy upon this subject. That declaration was signed by the Irish Roman Catholic Peers, by all Roman Catholic Members of the House of Commons except two, and by the most eminent members of the professional and commercial classes in Ireland; and such a declaration must be looked upon as representing the opinion of the Roman Catholic laity of Ireland. In the course of this debate we have heard a good deal 228 about spoliation of the Church. But we have not heard of the alienation by the Protestant Bishops of so much of the landed property of the Church for the benefit of their relations, until the abuse was checked some years ago by an Act of Parliament, which made it illegal for Bishops to let see lands at a lower rent than two-thirds of their market value. Every Bishop, on appointment, refused the renewal fines; and when from this procedure the existing leases expired at the end of twenty-one years, he then let the lands at a merely nominal rent to some member of of his own family. Instances of this alienation have been frequent in most of the Irish dioceses. For instance there was a property worth £8,000 a year sold in the county of Meath, which had been bequeathed by a Bishop of that diocese (Dr. Dopping) to his descendants; and I believe that a great proportion of that property, like many others of a similar class, consisted of Church lands, which, being converted into perpetuities, are now lost to the Church and the State for ever—unless, indeed, the consciences of the present possessors are smitten by their own argument, and they restore the property. It certainly is remarkable that the persons most vehement against the spoliation of the Irish Church should be those who profited in a great degree by a similar line of conduct. My Lords, if you throw out this Bill, in what spirit will the great majority of the Irish people approach the hustings next November? With feelings of the greatest irritation—feelings, indeed, almost of despair at ever obtaining redress from the Imperial Parliament for the grievances from which they have so long suffered. Then there will be the smouldering embers of Fenianism. I do not know that Fenianism has much to do with this subject; but a passage from Mr. Maguire's book may be usefully remembered by your Lordships, in which it is stated that the Fenians in America would greatly deplore to see the grievances of Ireland redressed, because in that case their occupation would be gone. Lord Cornwallis described what occurred in the days of Protestant ascendancy, and the sort of conversation which was held at his table about the hanging, and shooting, and burning that went on. He says—The conversation of the principal persons of the country all tends to encourage this system of blood; and the conversation at my table, where you will suppose I do all I can to prevent it, al- 229 ways turns on hanging, shooting, burning; and if a priest has been put to death. The greatest joy is expressed by the whole company. So much for Ireland and my wretched situation.In another he writes of the principal persons of the country—The words Papists and Priests and for ever in their mouths; and by their unaccountable policy they would drive four-fifths of the community into irreconcilable rebellion.Such were the feelings of the ascendancy party in the days of Lord Cornwallis. And that this spirit is still rife in Ireland I think the language held at recent meetings of that party sufficiently proves. At a meeting held in the holy city of Orangeism,—its Mecca Enniskillen,—presided over by the rector, resolutions were passed that, if necessary, the Protestants would shed their blood as their ancestors had done; and one rev. gentleman, referring to the Coronation Oath, reminded the meeting that English monarch had lost his crown at the Boyne, and warned Her Majesty of what would happen if she broke her Oath. I will now quote from one of their lyrics, popularly ascribed to an ecclesiastic of the Province of Armagh; it is to the tune of "Lisnaglad," a well-known party tune—Woe worth the day that Erin's IsleTo a Popish King did bow;And Protestants, without a cause,Were hanged to feed the crow.Then Pope and Priest our pockets fleeced,And Protestant blood did flow.They took our Churches from us,And in them mumbled Mass;They cramped our feet in wooden shoes,And our money they made of brass.They wanted us to cross ourselves,And learn their Popish tricks;To scrape and nod to a wafer God,And worship the Crucifix.Is this the language of the mild and tolerant almoners—of the gentlemen who live among us as civilizers, while the rest of the nation, as the right rev. Prelate would have us believe, is a nation of assassins? ["No, no!"] The assertion that the removal of such persons would be a great injury to Ireland is almost as ridiculous as that if the Protestant Church were disestablished the Protestants of Belfast would leave that place in a body. I must say that I regret that nil the past history of Ireland cannot be buried in oblivion. But there can be no tabula rasa—these sad recollections affect the Ireland of to-day, and therefore we must deal with this question. Depend upon it the Irish people will never forget the 230 past, and the future of Ireland can never be one of contentment and of peace so long as the Established Church lasts; there will be neither peace nor prosperity in that country so long as the laws are not administered equally for the benefit of the whole people.
THE EARL OF CLANCARTY
My Lords, I am very sorry to interpose between your Lordships and the noble Earl who has just given way (Earl Russell); but connected as I am by birth, by property, and by every tie of sympathy and affection, with Ireland, so often, as now, selected as the battle-field for the conflict of parties in Parliament, I am anxious to address to your Lordships a few words, and they shall be very few, arising out of 'this debate. Although I shall give my vote with the noble Earl who has moved to defer the second reading of the Bill, I do not concur with him in the view he has taken of the Protestant Church in Ireland as an injustice or offence to my Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen. As a constant resident in Ireland, I am enabled with confidence to affirm that the Roman Catholics in general entertain no unfriendly feelings towards the Protestant Establishment. It is undoubtedly denounced, and in no measured terms, by the Romish hierarchy, who before the Emancipation Act professed such different views regarding it, but who now see no occasion to make such profession. By their influence the signatures of many of the Roman Catholic laity were procured to that declaration against the Established Church to which the noble Earl who spoke last alluded as having been signed by himself; but I am credibly informed that in the county of Galway, one of the largest counties in Ireland, and in which are very many and most respectable Roman Catholic landowners, only two of them would sign it, others having refused to do so, and that, too, in a county whore a great missionary work has been and is in active progress. My Lords, as an Irishman I protest against the wrong done to my country in stirring up religious dissensions and making her highest interests the sport of party. Ireland is often reproached for her backwardness in civilization and general improvement, and with being a disunited nation; but nothing so much tends to impede her improvement, nothing has operated so much to produce disunion and to stir up sectarian animosities among the Irish people, as the wanton and ignorant med- 231 dling with their religious interests. As a member of the Established Church I protest against this measure as a first step towards the suppression of the Reformed Faith in Ireland. Settlers in Ireland have been for the most part Protestants, and have purchased their lands subject to a deduction or rent-charge for the support of the Protestant Church, and on the faith of that Church being maintained—an assurance fully warranted by the Act of Union. Towards these the overthrow of the Protestant Establishment would be manifestly a breach of faith, no less dishonouring to the British Parliament than the proposal of it is to the character of British statesmen. Individually, as a member of the proscribed communion, I might complain of the wrong done to myself; but what is that compared to the wrong done to the humbler classes of Protestants? I may provide for my immediate dependants as in a foreign land, where the profession of the Reformed Faith is only recognized as an offence; but what is to become of the Protestant peasantry, scattered, it may be, in small numbers through the country, thenceforward as sheep without a shepherd? Thirty-six years ago you deprived them of the blessing of Scriptural education for their children by the suppression of the use of the Bible in the National schoolrooms; but you reserved to the parson the right, and you imposed it upon him as a duty, that, after school hours, he should give religious instruction to such children of his flock as he could get together. The clergy very properly declined to dishonour their mission as ministers of God's Word by accepting so impracticable an arrangement, and have done their best, without the aid or countenance of the State, to provide Scriptural education for the poor of Ireland. Carry out the policy of this Bill, and the Protestant poor will be for ever deprived, not only of the means of education for their children, but of the means of grace for themselves. Reference has been made to the shortcomings and abuses of the Church for a long period up to the beginning of the present century. They are undeniable; and though my most rev. Friend the Lord Primate of Ireland, and the right rev. Prelate who so ably addressed you this day, have with historical truth pointed out how much the British Government was responsible for those abuses, I cannot consider that the Church itself—by which I mean not alone the clergy but the educated 232 classes of the laity—was, therefore, in any degree excusable. When the mission was accepted to instruct the people in the Reformed Faith, it was no excuse for the neglect of doing so that the English Government acted in error, as they so often now do, with respect to the requirements of the Irish people. Dealing, however, with the Church Establishment as it now is, it is not in a satisfactory state, and presents anomalies that require to be corrected; but I trust that remedies for these may shortly be proposed as the result of the inquiry now before the Church Commission, and that your Lordships will be thereby enabled to assist in placing the Establishment henceforward upon a footing of greater efficiency, and that, instead of severing, you will draw closer, in the interests of the people of Ireland, no less than of the Empire at large, the union of Church and State. If the friends of the Constitution have seen with some alarm a Bill of so revolutionary a kind as that we are now considering sent up from the House of Commons, I think they may find comfort in the manifest growth of public opinion in condemnation of the measure. The discussions that have taken place upon it, and the influence of this debate, but especially the unanswered and unanswerable address of the noble Earl the late Prime Minister, cannot but conduce to a better understanding and appreciation of the security afforded to our civil and religious liberties by the maintenance of the Protestant Church in connection with the State. I regret that this Bill should have received the support of the noble Earl opposite who spoke third in this debate. His long residence in Ireland, prior to and during the period he held the Office of Lord Lieutenant, gave him a right to speak as one who knew the country. I was, therefore, much surprised and grieved to hear him speak as he did of the Established Church as an offence and constant source of grievance to the Roman Catholics, and that he should have pointed to it as among the causes of the Fenian insurrection. The aspersions cast upon the Church by the noble Earl will undoubtedly cause pain and disappointment to many who knew and respected him while acting as Lord Lieutenant. But the noble Earl himself has happily spared me the necessity of vindicating the character of the Irish clergy; for when the fire of his zeal in support of this party movement had in some degree subsided, he appeared 233 to have forgotten the strong but probably unconsidered expressions he had used; and, prompted by his honest recollection of the true character of that Church he had so condemned, he gave utterance to the following just eulogy of its ministry, which I have copied from the report of The Times:—I have not lived so long in Ireland without I having learned to appreciate the signal virtues of the Irish clergy, more especially of the working clergy. I know there are exceptions, but still the conduct of the Protestant clergy of Ireland, as a body, is most exemplary. To the extent of their means they are very charitable. They are not distrusted by their Catholic neighbours, and their removal from the parishes in which they labour would give cause for much regret.A stronger denial than this there could not be of his own statement in the beginning of his speech, that the Protestant Church—Is a constant source of grievance to millions of your fellow-subjects whom it is our interest to conciliate, and whom we have no right to offend.The noble Earl's predilections were, however, more towards the Roman Catholics than Protestants. He was accordingly among the supporters of the Maynooth Bill, and as there is some analogy between the proposal of the present measure and the introduction of the Bill for the establishment of Maynooth College, I would beg to call your Lordships' attention to it. Upon that occasion the country had been much disturbed by the agitation for the Repeal of the Union, and the monster, meetings held in furtherance of that movement became exhibitions of physical force imperilling the public peace, and manifestly designed to overawe the Government. Sir Robert Peel resolved to put them down, and succeeded; and, having vindicated the law, he announced, and had immediate recourse to, a policy of conciliation. This was shown in measures for the advancement of Roman Catholic ecclesiastical interests, but chiefly in the permanent endowment of Maynooth College, and its establishment as a Royal Institution. We now have the Fenian conspiracy nearly if not quite put down by the strong arm of the law. Though a movement essentially American, it has been imputed to Ireland, to the Irish Roman Catholics, and therefore, as after the Repeal movement, it seems in the view of noble Lords opposite to have entitled them to the inauguration anew of a policy of conciliation—a new concession to the Roman Catholic hierarchy, in the overthrow of the Protestant Establishment. But the noble Earl and the 234 Liberal promoters of the Bill appear to have overlooked a rather remarkable fact connected with it—namely, that it contains similar provision for the suppression of Maynooth College as for the suppression of the Church Establishment: that this net of justice to Roman Catholics of 1868 cancels that act of justice and conciliation to the same body that was voted by such large Parliamentary majorities in 1845. Can this have been mere accident, or have the friends of Maynooth discovered that the endowment of that College was not an act of justice, and, though announced by Sir Robert Peel as a message of peace, has not conduced to that end? If so, I would suggest to noble Lords opposite to pause and consider well, before they proceed further with their attack upon the Protestant Establishment, whether they may not be doing, instead of an act of justice to the Roman Catholics of Ireland, an act of dire wrong to the whole country, by destroying what, to the Irish no less than to the English people, is the surest bulwark of our national liberties—Protestantism in Church and State. But the promoters of this Bill appear to have over looked also another of its provisions of a like character—I mean the arrangement for the withdrawal of the Regiun Donum from the Presbyterians; that, in fact, this measure of so-called justice and liberality is simply a Bill for the total disendowment of all religious denominations in Ireland, and of confiscation to the Imperial Treasury, not only of all that was chargeable upon the revenue of the country, but of the property of the Church, deemed from time immemorial to have been consecrated to the purposes of religion. I do not think the interests of religion should be trifled with. Demands upon the Church funds are daily increasing, for carrying on the ministrations of religion. I hold in my hand notice of a meeting of the West Connaught Church Endowment Society, for the 4th of next month, to make arrangement for the endowment of three additional churches. The practice has been for the subscribers to the endowment of a parish or district church to make permanent provision for a salary of £75 a year to the incumbent, and the Church Commissioners, in that case, have augmented the salary to £100. Already in West Connaught, nine churches have been thus endowed, three are now to be added, and there will still remain seven in which congregations have been formed to be simi- 235 larly provided for. If you pass this Bill, all this must be put a stop to. What is there to justify you in arresting the progress of truth—the spread of the Reformed Faith among the poor of Ireland? I trust your Lordships will, by a large majority, condemn such a proceeding, and that the encroachments made upon the principles of our Protestant Constitution may be henceforth withstood. Religion is not a thing that a nation should disregard. I will conclude my address with the words of Mr. Gladstone, taken from his celebrated book on Church and State, as no words could more forcibly enjoin the duty of the State to uphold the Church—The time is now arrived when, with a view, if to no higher end, yet to decency and dignity of conduct, an answer should, if possible, be had to the question, whether it be or be not the manifest ordinance of Almighty God, that Governments have active duties towards religion—Christian Governments to the Christian Church. As was said of old—'If the Lord be God, serve Him; but if Baal, then serve him.' So it should now be said of the English people—if there be no con science in States, and if unity in the body be no law of the Church, let us abandon the ancient policy under which this land has consolidated her strength and matured her happiness and earned her fame; but if the reverse of both these propositions be true, then, in the sacred name of God, to the utmost and to the latest of our power let us persist.
§ EARL RUSSELL
My Lords, I will endeavour, in consideration of the lateness of the hour, to compress as much as possible the remarks which I wish to offer to your Lordships on this important question. I have been struck with two things in the course of this debate; one is the great ability with which the question has been argued; the other is the great art which has been shown in avoiding the main question at issue, and in diverting your Lord ships' attention to other and irrelevant issues. That course was begun by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby), who, I am happy to say, spoke with his usual talent and energy, but likewise with some of the unfairness which I think is apt to characterize him. The noble Earl was the first speaker who attributed to personal motives the conduct of Mr. Gladstone and of those who have brought forward this question; for he said it was in order to further his ambition that Mr. Gladstone had brought the question forward. The noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Marlborough) said likewise that it was evident that there was some political dishonesty in the course which had been 236 taken by the Liberal party. To-night, too, the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Oxford) said the object of the Bill was to buy off traitorous assassins. Now I confess it appears to me that this question is grave enough and important enough to demand your Lordships' attention; and I think noble Lords might believe that the men who bring so important a question forward do so in the belief that it is for the benefit of the country that such a measure should be carried, and that they ought not to employ themselves in throwing dirt upon those who differ from them. This might be expected in particular of the noble Earl, because he is almost the only man whom I remember—he is the only Minister I ever heard of—who brought forward a measure avowedly for the purpose of maintaining his own position, expressing no confident hope that it would be for the advantage of the country. With regard to the insinuations of the noble Duke, I perfectly remember—being, unfortunately, old enough to have taken part in those transactions—that when in 1828 a proposal in favour of the Roman Catholic claims—then the question of paramount importance—was carried in the other House by a majority of 6, and being introduced into this House by the Marquess of Lansdowne, and here opposed and defeated by the Duke of Wellington, the Duke of Wellington had far too noble a mind to impute to Lord Lansdowne that he brought forward the question from any other motive than a belief that it was for the good of the country that the Catholics should be relieved from the disabilities under which they laboured. Now, I really do not see why the noble Duke should not have followed the great example of the Duke of Wellington, nor why noble Lords should not have stated their views of the advantage or disadvantage of this measure without imputing dishonourable motives to their adversaries. The noble Earl, not content with imputing motives, introduced into the discussion what certainly did not appear to me to be very pertinent to the subject—the grants which were made to the first Earl of Bedford—a question which was discussed long ago by Mr. Burke and Sir James Mackintosh, and which I thought, having been treated by those two great writers, might have been left for the future undisturbed. The noble Earl having alluded to that subject, I looked to what I had been lately reading in a volume of Froude respecting the con- 237 duct of the Earl of Derby at that time. I find that the Earl of Derby had a grudge against Lord Burleigh and the Earl of Bedford, and wished to clap them into the Tower. I find, also, that the Earl of Derby was expected to join in a great conspiracy, the object of which was to depose Elizabeth and put Mary, Queen of Scots in her place, and to restore the Catholic religion in this country. That was expected of the Earl of Derby, or, at all events, of his sons. Unfortunately there have been few families so much opposed as the Earls of Derby and the Earls of Bedford—they were as much opposed in that day as they are at present. Another topic which noble Lords have thought it necessary to introduce into their speeches, but which does not appear to me at all needed—it was especially the subject of the able speech of the most rev. Prelate who presides over the Northern Province—is the question whether the details of this Bill effect the purpose for which it is intended. The object of the Bill, as my noble Friend the late Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (the Earl of Clarendon) stated, is that the measure should be a preliminary to the disestablishment of the Irish Church, and its immediate effect is intended to be to prevent the filling up of any vacancies which may occur within the next twelve months, and so save some portion of the funds of the Chinch during that preliminary period. It may be, my Lords, that in the details of the Bill those objects are not provided for ns they would have been if the Bill had been brought forward by a Government in a majority in the House of Commons, and favourable to the views of those who have framed this measure. But whether it be framed in the most satisfactory way or not, that is a subject entirely for the Committee. If the most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of York) who objected so strongly to the Bill on that ground, and other Members of your Lordships' House who agree with him, enable us to carry the second reading, we promise him—as a noble Friend of mine has already promised this evening—that we shall be as complying as possible with regard to the details of the Bill. All their suggestions in Committee will receive our most careful consideration. Well, my Louis, however that may be, this is a great question, and one that deserves from your Lordships the utmost attention. You may think it right to further the Bill, or you may be of opinion 238 that the prescription of many centuries ought not to be disposed of so hastily, as it is said by those who oppose the Bill that we are asking your Lordships to deal with it; but, at all events, you will admit that the question is a great one, and one that deserves the consideration of Parliament. It has been said by, I believe, all authors who have written on the subject, that the use of an Established Church is to promote morality and religion, and thus to further the great ends of society. The Church of England does promote that object. If one goes into a village church he will see there, in the first place, the chief landowners of the parish; and, further, he will see all grades of people in the village, down to the labourers, attending there, listening to thanks being returned to God for His mercies—listening to the reading of the Holy Scriptures—and hearing spiritual instruction from the parish clergy-man. We see, therefore, that in this country the Church fulfils the office of an Established Church—it promotes religion and morality. But if we go to Ireland and enter a church, will you find there the population of a parish? You will find on the average, perhaps, 12 per cent of them. You may find a larger proportion in some churches, but you will find a much smaller proportion in others. The people—the real people of Ireland—are attending in other places of worship, where they are attending the services of a different religion and joining in a form of prayer different from that used in the Established Church. Therefore, in Ireland the Established Church fails in the object of promoting religion and morality among the great bulk of the population. Well, then, there is another duty discharged by the Established Church in England. The clergyman of the parish visits the inhabitants, attends the bedside of the sick, and exhorts them to repentance and ad ministers religious consolation to them—he holds out to them the promise of peace in this world and salvation in the next. But in Ireland in similar circumstances the people never think of sending for the parish clergyman—they look for spiritual consolation to other sources. It is true that in time of any general calamity—in any misfortune of a temporal kind—the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland extend words and acts of kindness to people of all religious persuasions, and in this way they are useful in that country. But is an Established Church intended for that purpose? According to Paley, Bishop 239 Warburton, Hallam, and other authors, its office is to promote religion, morality, and order among the people; and in this respect the Established Church in Ireland has failed—failed almost from the beginning. In this country the people joined the Reformed Church. We introduced that Church in Ireland, where the people did not change, but remained constant to the Roman Catholic religion. Well, but if the Church is no good in Ireland, does it not do some harm? It is obvious that the Roman Catholics in that country are placed in a position of inferiority as compared with the Protestants. It is singular that throughout this debate the fact of there being 4,500,000 of Roman Catholics in Ireland has scarcely been alluded to. Scarcely any speaker on the other side has taken notice of that proportion. They have commented on the fact of the clergy of the Established Church doing their duty towards the 700,000 members of that Church, as if the fact that the 4,500,000 received no benefit from their ministrations was not one worthy of notice. I think it fair to say that nothing can be higher, both as regards their education and their moral qualities, than the character of the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland; but when the clergy of one-eighth of the people are placed in a position of superiority over the clergy of the majority—when they have all the titles and dignities of an Establishment, it must be galling to the people to see inequality established among them. Of course, if the Roman Catholic priests have any influence—and it is well known that they have great influence—it must be, in some degree at least, exercised in showing the Irish people that they are considered to be degraded, that this Church has been introduced among them in the spirit of conquest, and that they are not in a position of spiritual equality. There is a third argument against the continued establishment and endowment of this Church—namely, that the promise made by Mr. Pitt at the time of the Union has not been kept. Mr. Pitt promised over and over again when introducing the Act of Union that he would carry out that Act on equal terms—that there should be equality as regarded all religions in Ireland. In 1805, on Mr. Fox's Motion, he explained what he meant by that declaration. He said that the Roman Catholics should have an endowment, and that this endowment would be given in such a way as that there should 240 be equality. That promise of Mr. Pitt, on the faith of which the Roman Catholics agreed to and promoted the Union, has never been fulfilled. I think it would be a relief to Ireland at the present day to have the priests paid by the State, so that the people should not be liable for those so-called voluntary payments now made to those clergymen, but we find that to be impracticable. My noble Friend who moved the Amendment (Earl Grey) would not concede that it is impracticable; but I own, from what I have heard for months past, that, desirable as I think it would be that the Irish Roman Catholic priests should be endowed, and the Established Church, though very much diminished, should still exist, I nevertheless consider that the project is now entirely impracticable, and that the only way by which equality can now be produced is by disendowing and disestablishing the Irish Church. Then why is this equality not to be thought of? It could not but happen if you were to introduce a plan of this sort that there would be many difficulties in the way of disendowment—that disendowment would require adequate preparation; but the question of disestablishment is entirely different. Disestablishment might be effected without any great trouble or delay; and thus the people of Ireland would feel, and the clergy especially would feel, that the ministers of all creeds—the clergy of the Protestant Episcopalian Church, the clergy of the Presbyterian Church, and the Roman Catholic clergy—were all upon equal terms. I have read with great interest the speech of Lord Mayo on the subject of Ireland. It appears a very fair speech—a speech very well considered and only failing in one point, and that the most important—namely, the conclusions at which he arrives. It is evident Lord Mayo thought—and I dare say the Government to which he belonged thought—at the commencement of the Session that it was possible to establish equality in Ireland by what Lord Mayo called "levelling up"—namely, by providing State incomes for the Roman Catholic clergy, and so placing them on equal terms with the clergy of the Established Church. That, perhaps, was not an unnatural impression. I am only sorry to see that Lord Mayo, instead of saying that the Ministry were now convinced that the attempt is impracticable, utterly denies having said anything of the kind. He now says that all which the Government 241 have in view is to give sonic salaries to chaplains of gaols and so forth—that is to say, perhaps, one-tenth or one-twentieth of what is given to the Established Church; and that he calls equality in the treatment of the different classes. It is evident this is no remedy at all—this is no fulfilment of the promise which he gave. As to what has been said on the question of disendowment there can be no doubt that in many cases the clergy would retain their glebes and glebe-houses; in many cases also there would be gifts of land to the Presbyterians and to the Roman Catholics. But these are questions of detail, which can only be settled as part of a great scheme. In former days it was the custom with your Lordships to inaugurate in this House measures of great public advantage. One noble Lord belonging to the party which sits upon this side of the House introduced n measure for "for the furtherance of public liberty;" a noble Earl at the head of the Tory party introduced another great measure called the Toleration Act. These were two great measures introduced in and carried through the House of Lords agreeably to the wishes of the people, and reflecting great credit upon this House. In the present century your Lordships have taken another course; I will not say whether it is as dignified or as safe as regards your Lordships, or as beneficial in the public interest. The Catholic claims were brought forward in 1805 by Lord Granville, and defeated by a majority of 129; in 1828 their were again brought forward by Lord Lansdowne, and rejected by a majority of 45. But the very next year the Duke of Wellington brought forward the subject, and carried his measure by over 100 majority. So likewise with regard to the Corn Laws. In 1843 a mere inquiry into the operation of those laws was defeated by a majority of 128; while a few years later the measure for their abolition was brought from the House of Commons and carried. With regard, therefore, to the Catholic Relief Bill, the repeal of the Corn Laws, and conspicuously, also, with regard to the Reform Bill, this House uniformly resisted, and then gave way. We may therefore expect—and we shall expect—that if the pending election produces in the House of Commons a majority equal to or greater than that which now appears in that House in favour of this Bill, your Lordships will then yield to the public voice and disestablish and disendow the Church which so many of your 242 Lordships now are actively supporting. From the speech of the noble Earl and of the noble Marquess who spoke late on Friday (the Marquess of Salisbury) I conclude that such is the course which they would recommend; and if they find by the working of the Be form Bill, of which the noble Earl is the author, that there is a great majority in favour of disestablishment and disendowment, they will be willing to give effect to that decision. But, if this be so, is it wise to throw out this Bill? Is it wise to refuse to suspend appointments which would facilitate the consideration of the subject hereafter; and in order simply to present an appearance of strength and force, to do an act with which you yourselves are not satisfied? It is, of course, quite uncertain what the Government will do. The strongest declamations have been made by the Premier; according to the right hon. Gentleman the whole foundations of the civil and religious liberties of the kingdom will be destroyed if Church and State are separated in Ireland, and results worse than foreign conquest will ensue. But we remember the speech of the Queen in Hamlet—Methinks the lady doth protest too much.Strong words and declarations are quite reconcilable with the design of poisoning the object of such exaggerated affection. I am not surprised, though I am much grieved, that my noble Friend on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey), who is in favour of a complete re-arrangement of the Church in Ireland, should have been the person to move this Amendment. It is quite true, as he says, that I did not favour his Motion in 1866. And I think if I had come forward as First Lord of the Treasury, and told your Lordships, or if Mr. Gladstone had come forward and told the House of Commons that we had two measures in contemplation—one for the reform of the representation from top to bottom, and the other for the reform of the Irish Church, persons would have concluded that we were quite mad. But I did not conceal at that time, and I never have concealed, that I thought the existence of the Irish Church was felt as a grievance by the majority of the Irish people. My noble Friend (Earl Grey) had a scheme for dealing with the Irish Church which I did not approve in 1866, and which I do not approve at the present time, because it is, in point of fact, impracticable. But during the time that he and I were in Office together, and when be conducted, with great ability, the ad- 243 ministration of the Colonies, we did not think it advisable to bring forward the Irish Church question, and we never did bring it forward; and I do not remember that my noble Friend ever insisted, during those five or six years, that the proper time had come for bringing forward the question. Measures ought to be brought forward at a time when public opinion will support a Government or an Opposition with regard to them; for it is obvious that a Minister may think a particular measure would be useful, but may see no possible chance of carrying it. Sir Robert Walpole chose his own time for bringing forward proposals which he desired to carry; and Mr. Pitt, in his second Ministry, did not bring forward the Catholic claims. In 1833, immediately after the Reform Bill had passed, the state of Ireland was taken into consideration; and now having again passed a Reform measure—it matters not under what Ministry—the time is again appropriate for dealing with the Irish Church. I may be asked to what I looked forward as the result of disestablishment and disendowment. What I trust will happen, and what I think is the tendency not only in England and in Ireland, but on the Continent of Europe and throughout the world, is that the differences which separated men belonging to the different divisions of Christianity will cease to have so much effect; and that men, call themselves by what names they may, will combine for great purposes, like those of charity, and will assist in their mutual relations only upon those great points of doctrine which they hold in common. My belief is that when the Church of Ireland has been abolished as an Establishment we shall see among Christians of all sects a greater and more general love for one another. It has been said that the splendour of the Crown will be dimmed if the Church be disestablished. I do not believe it; on the contrary, I believe that the Crown will possess no brighter gem than the country of Ireland pacified and drawn to us by a large measure of justice; I believe, moreover, that the three kingdoms will be joined by this act in stronger bonds of union, and the people of England, of Scotland, and of Ireland would vie with each other in the exhibitions of loyalty to the person and to the Throne of Her Majesty.
8 THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, it has been my fortune to attend to the course of this debate more closely than 244 most of your Lordships, and I must say, that however widely the views expressed may have differed, I think it cannot fail to be a satisfaction to your Lordships that the general current of the debate has proceeded with a fulnesss, an energy, and an ability, worthy both of the question and of the reputation of your Lordships' House. My Lords, if with regard to so much that has been excellent, I might venture to express anything of regret, it would be that there appeared to be in the minds of some of the speakers something of a doubt as to what was the precise significance of the Bill now before your Lordships. That such a doubt should exist is, I think, not to be attributed to us, but rather to the manner in which the measure has come before the House. My Lords, in the House of Commons it was stated on one side of the House, and accepted as correct upon the other, that this Hill was merely a "corollary." A "corollary" signifies an inference from a preceding proposition. In the other House the preceding proposition had been discussed, and had become the subject of a Resolution. That Resolution assumed this form—That it is necessary that the Established Church of Ireland should cease to exist as in Establishment, due regard being had to all personal interests and to all individual lights of property.My Lords, if I understand the meaning of words, that Resolution involves two consequences; it involves and implies the disestablishment of the Irish Church, and it involves and implies also its disendowment; because if it does not imply its disendowment, I would ask, what was the meaning of the reservation of one particular kind of property, the only property that was to be reserved—namely, individual property? The course adopted in the other House was convenient and distinct, because when the time came for the Suspensory Bill to be introduced it would have been vain in the face of this Resolution for those who promoted the Bill to have offered it to the House as anything but a Bill designed to promote the disestablishment and disendowment of the Church. And accordingly in that sense, and in that sense only, was it treated. But, my Lords, what have we seen in the course of the present debate? I am bound to say that the noble Earl (Earl Granville) who moved the second reading of the measure, in a speech to the great ability of which, if it were not presump- 245 tuous for me to do so, I would venture to offer my sincere tribute of admiration, the noble Karl frankly stated that the Resolutions of the House of Commons were involved in the present Bill; but to-night we have had new ground broken. The noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) who opened the discussion this evening, and who came forward, taking upon his own shoulders the responsibility of this measure, and putting himself forward almost as the originator of the measure, and certainly as the expositor of the motives and designs of those who introduced it before the public; that noble Duke, speaking as one of the authors of the Bill, stated it had not a word of disestablishment in it; and as to disendowment it was the greatest mistake to suppose, not merely that this Bill had anything to say to disendowment, but that disendowment had ever been gravely or actually considered or discussed even in the House of Commons. Now I want to ask the noble Duke, as he appears before your Lordships as one of the coadjutors in the preparation and launching of this Bill, does he mean to maintain that this Bill was not proposed to the House of Commons as a measure of disendowment? That question can easily be put beyond the possibility of doubt. The noble Duke was somewhat severe as to the use of quotations from debates in Parliament; and speaking of my noble Friend lately at the head of the Government (the Earl of Derby) with a courtesy which I think might be disputed, and a good taste that some persons might be disposed to challenge, he said that there was no person in the House who required to be more watched than my noble Friend. I beg the noble Duke will watch me in the quotation I am about to make, and I beg he will compare what I read with the report he will find of his own expressions to-night in the usual organs of information. Mr. Gladstone thus expressed himself on the 30th of March, in introducing the Resolutions to the Committee of the House of Commons—I think the tithe is not paid by the landlord; and as for the assurance of the Catholic party, I cannot consent that any such assurance" [that was the assurance in 1829] "should bind mo to uphold what I conceive to be unfair to the Catholics and injurious to the Empire. In this matter I say we should exercise our own freedom, and judge what is for the common good; and it is on the ground of the common good, I ask you to consent to the disendowment of the Established Church in Ireland."—[3 Hansard, cxci. 478.]246 My Lords, I only regret the course which has been taken because I think it has led to a confusion of which we have seen some fruits to-night. The noble Earl who generally sits above the gangway on this side of the House (the Earl of Shaftesbury), induced, I suppose, by the blandishments of the noble Duke, and the way in which he described this measure, has come to the conclusion that the Bill now before; your Lordships is a "meagre and insignificant Bill," and one which involves none of those important principles which the noble Earl who moved its second reading candidly admitted to be involved. My Lords, that the actual provisions of this Bill fall far short of the principles-which are involved in it I freely admit; but in what way the noble Earl has satisfied himself that a support of the Bill would not imply a support of those principles I am unable to understand.
My Lords, I am very much disposed to agree with was said by one of your Lordships, that, although it will be proper to consider the provisions and the working of the Bill, the provisions of the Bill are trifling compared with the greater and larger question, which was the subject of the first of the Resolutions passed by the other House of Parliament. But, at the same time, I think we ought not to conceal from ourselves what the effect of the working of this measure would be, supposing it were to receive your Lordships' assent. The mode in which the provisions of the Bill have been dealt with upon the Opposition side of the House has been somewhat singular. The most rev. Prelate who presides over the northern Province (the Archbishop of York), pointed out on a former night various consequences that would ensue from the passing of this Bill. He was replied to by my noble and learned Friend the Master of the Rolls Lord Romilly), from whom, if from anyone, I should have expected an answer to the objections which had been made. What answer, however, did my noble and learned Friend make? He said he had listened to the objections which had been made, and was of opinion that they could all be removed in Committee. But if my noble and learned Friend fully appreciated the character of these objections, and had my noble and learned Friend borne in mind the provisions of this Bill, he must have seen that the only manner in which these objections could have been removed in Committee would have been by striking 247 out every clause in the Bill. But my noble and learned Friend was followed by a noble Duke formerly First Lord of the Admiralty (the Duke of Somerset). The noble Duke spoke late in the evening, and with a frankness and freedom which left nothing to be desired. He said the Bill was one of those things which nobody could understand. He said he had listened to the objections of the most rev. Prelate, and he concurred in most of them. He said that, for his part, he was not responsible for the Bill, and he could not for the life of him see how it would work. He said further, that on the whole, he was disposed to look upon it as almost impossible. But, although it was unintelligible, although it was impracticable, and although it was almost impossible, yet, notwithstanding, the noble Duke was prepared to vote for the second reading of the Bill, in order that, through the medium of an unintelligible, impracticable, and impossible Bill, we might convey to the people of Ireland the conviction that we meant to deal with them in a spirit of conciliation. Well, now, perhaps your Lordships will forgive me, if as briefly as possible, and as simply as possible, I point out exactly what I believe will follow from this Bill.
I must, at the oustet, refer to a matter which, though small in itself, I should be sorry to suppose bad not been noticed by your Lordships. The title of the Bill, as it comes before your Lordships, is, "To prevent for a limited time new appointments in the Church of Ireland." Now, my Lords, I am not acquainted with any Church that bears that name. I know of one Church in Ireland, which is described in an Act of Parliament which has not been repealed in a very different manner. The Act of Union says—The Churches of England and Ireland, as now by law established, shall be united into one Protestant Episcopal Church, to be called the United Church of England and Ireland.That is the Parliamentary name of the Church now sought to be dealt with. And, my Lords, I take the misnomer, which the Church has received in the title of this Bill, only as an indication that the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll), and the other compositors of the measure, were afraid to state boldly and broadly that the Church they were about to destroy by their legislation was the United Church of England and Ireland.
Well now, my Lords, this Bill proposes to suspend for one year—though, as was 248 well said by the noble Earl on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey), we knew from past experience that that suspension will last considerably longer—the appointment of Bishops and incumbents of this Church. There are objections to this which lie upon the very face of this measure. In the first place, I object to it because you have at present a Church, which is entitled by law to the service of Bishops and clergy appointed in a continual succession, and you interrupt that succession and deprive the Church of those services, not because anything has been determined by Parliament, but because, at some future period, something may perchance be determined by Parliament with regard to that Church. My Lords, what does the Resolution which is said to be embodied in this Bill itself say upon this point?—That, subject to the foregoing considerations, it is expedient to prevent the creation of new personal interests, pending the final decision of Parliament.Now, my Lords, the final decision of Parliament is the decision of Parliament. The decision of Parliament is not the decision of the House of Commons. It is the decision of the Three Estates of Parliament, resulting in a legislative measure; and therefore, what is proposed by the Bill is this—that the functions and the working of the Church should be suspended and placed in abeyance, in order to see whether an attack to be hereafter made upon the Church should prove successful. But that is not all. I object to it also because, at the same time that it paralyzes the Church, it renders it impossible for voluntary action to step in and supply the vacuum, even if voluntary action was at hand. The episcopal and parochial action of the Church is regulated by law, and can proceed only through legal channels. So that, during this intermediate period, the Church would be placed in a position worse than that of any voluntary society in the kingdom. I object to it, in the next place, by reason of its unequal working. This is a measure which proposes to suspend the appointment of incumbents where the patrons are Bishops, but to leave the appointments free where the patrons are laymen. So you will have two parishes side-by-side, the same in area, the same in population, the same in spiritual exigency. They will both become vacant in the course of the year. In the one of them the Bishop is the patron; in the other a layman. The layman can appoint an incumbent. The 249 parish which is in the gift of the Bishop will be deprived of its incumbent. On what possible principle, on what rational or plausible ground, can you state to the laity of Ireland, that of the two parishes I have supposed, one is to be deprived of its incumbent, and the other is to continue to have its incumbent? But at the same time that the measure works in this way, I object to it because it works blindly. It strikes at one and the same time at the parish which has the smallest population, and the smallest need for endowment, and it strikes equally and at the same time at the large and populous parish, where the Church population is already overgrown, and where the Church with all its present appliances is unable to keep pace with the wants of the people. Observe, my Lords, the difference between this measure and that which it professes to follow—the measure of 1833. The measure of 1833 dealt with those parishes—and with those parishes only—in which there had been no service performed for three years. It suspended, as well it might do, those parishes until arrangements were made for incorporating them with other parishes. Under this Bill the populous parishes of Ulster, where there is the greatest difficulty in providing the ministrations of the Church to meet the demands upon them, may some of them become vacant during the year to which the Bill will apply, and it will be impossible to supply the vacaciesn when they occur.
My Lords, these being the general objections which lie on the surface of the measure, let me ask your Lordships to observe some other consequences that would follow from its working, which have not received the attention they deserve. I take the first stage of the Bill, which suspends the appointment of successors to Bishops and incumbents. Have your Lordships considered the effect of the measure on the families of a deceased Bishop or incumbent? There is hardly any see in Ireland, and there are still fewer parishes, where the incumbent has not, upon entering on the incumbency, paid a heavy charge to his predecessor; and the security given him for this payment by Parliament is, that he may in turn recover this charge against his successor. I have got before me a statement with regard to the position of seven Episcopal sees in Ireland, where the sums recoverable from successors amount to nearly £30,000. But when I turn to the position of the 250 incumbents, I find, in one diocese alone, that of Armagh and Clogher—taken not because it is more favourable to the argument, but because circumstances led to the return being easily obtained, the charges amount to £45,000. Your Lordships may, therefore, imagine to how considerable a sum these charges amount over the whole of Ireland. You have authorized and secured these building charges: you have them registered by Act of Parliament: they have become a Parliamentary security. In almost every instance in Ireland the incoming incumbent has paid the charges out of his little savings, and that charge has become the provision for his family in case of his death. I have before me an instance, taken out of many, in which an incumbent had to pay this charge on taking possession of the benefice. He had not the money of his own, but the trustees of his marriage settlement had £1,000 belonging to his wife, which was laid out on this building charge, and that has now become the only means of providing for his widow and children in case of his death. At present that is not only a charge on the benefice, but it is a personal debt due from the successor. A clergyman in Ireland, when he is appointed to a living, inquires into the charge upon it, and considers whether he has the means to pay it off, and if he is prepared to pay it off, he accepts the living. The course I have described will, I am sure, be attested by the right rev. Bench. The incoming incumbent pays it off by four instalments to the family of his predecessor. Now I am quite aware that the incumbency will be handed over to the Ecclesiastical Commission, as the Bill provides, "subject to the charge." I quite admit the charge will remain a charge on the benefice; but how will the family of the deceased incumbent, to whom it is a matter of life or death, be paid their little pittance? How will they be paid? The Ecclesiastical Commissioners have no funds wherewith to pay it. There is no successor personally liable to pay it. The Bill remains in operation for a year, and is renewed for one year or two years; the charge continues unpaid, and there will be the greatest difficulty in recovering the charge, that which ought to be paid without difficulty and to the day.
So much, my Lords, with regard to the action of the Bill in relation to incumbents; but let me now ask your attention to a few facts, as to the effect it will have on a 251 class well worthy your Lordships' consiperation—the class of curates. The author of this Bill (Mr. Gladstone) professed at the outset a tender and solicitous regard for the case of the curates. Let us see how that regard is manifested by this Bill. The average vacancies of preferments in the year throughout Ireland are about ninety. Take it that the measure remains in force only one year, ninety vacancies will occur. Of the preferments in Ireland one-fifth are in lay hands and four-fifths in the hands of the Bishops. Therefore, seventy-two of these vacancies will be in Episcopal patronage. The difference between the incumbencies in the hands of laymen and those in the hands of Bishops is very important. The layman is perfectly free to appoint whom he likes; he has no ties on him but the claims of friendship, or personal preference. But with respect to the Bishop it is altogether a different matter. The Bishops are the patrons in Ireland, to whom the curates may fairly look for the reward of their labours, and if they do not receive that reward from the Bishops they are not likely to receive it from anybody. I am happy to say, from my knowledge of the right rev. Prelates of Ireland, that this claim of the curates has on all occasions been fully acknowledged. I hold in my hands a very sorrowful list of names—a a list which is at the service of any of your Lordships who may desire to see it—of seventy-five curates in Ireland, who have, for upwards of twenty years, on their little pittance of £75 or £100 a year, been serving the Church in their curacies in the various dioceses in that country, where it is proposed during the next year to suspend the appointments to the incumbencies. Therefore, virtually and practically, the whole effect of the present Bill would be—because it is the incumbencies to which the Bishops have the right of presentation that the Bill will suspend—that some seventy out of these seventy-five curates will fail to receive their preferment in the course of the year which otherwise they might certainly expect. That, my Lords, is the glorious result of the first portion of this Bill, suspending the appointment to the vacant benefices.
Now let me go a step further. The next portion of the Bill is the provision providing for vacancies in sees. I confess that I hardly know the exact meaning of this portion of the Bill, and I expected to hear some explanation of it from the noble 252 Earl (Earl Granville), but as he did not think fit to enter into the point, I must take the explanation of it which was given by the author of the Bill in "another place." Mr. Gladstone says—The measures taken with respect to the suspended bishoprics are the same as those proposed by Lord Derby in 1833. Those measures will serve the purpose now.That is the statement of the author of the Bill, who must be supposed to know something about it. My Lords, no bishoprics were suspended for an hour by the legislation of 1833. The bishoprics which were then abolished were abolished upon the death of the Bishops who held them, and were immediately, without the delay of a second, transferred to the other bishoprics to which they were joined. It is therefore a pure mistake to suppose that there is any provision in the Act of 1833 that will serve as a precedent for what the Bill proposes to do. But that is not all. The Act of 1833 did nothing whatever with respect to the spiritualities of the Church; it was a Bill dealing with the temporalities of the Church only. Here is a Bill which appoints certain persons—we shall see presently who they are—the "Guardians of the Spiritualities," and an Act of Parliament passed in 1833, which did not mention spiritualities from beginning to end, is invoked as a precedent for the arrangement. But, in the next place, this Bill provides that—The persons designated by the Act of 1833 to execute the powers of that Act shall be the guardians of the spiritualities under this Bill.But no persons were designated by the Act of 1833 to guard the spiritualities, and no persons were by that Act "designated" for any purpose. This is a strange mistake to have been made, but it ought to be pointed out. What that Act did was this—it allowed the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to select out of certain persons (the archdeacons of the diocese, the dean, and vicars general) some one, not to act as guardian of the spiritualities, but to make certain official Returns, which had to be made from time to time, not with reference to bishoprics then suspended, but with reference to any bishopric which might at any time, even down to the present day, be vacant. The duties of these persons so selected were merely mechanical duties connected with the making up these Returns. But that is not all. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners are by the present Bill to appoint the guardians 253 of the spiritualities in every vacant diocese. At the present time the Archbishop is the guardian of the spiritualities of n vacant diocese, and why is he to be displaced for some person said to be designated in the Act of 1833, but who is not designated in that Act? But the climax of all this remains. The framers of this Bill were unacquainted with the ecclesiastical law of Ireland. They were not aware that the guardians of spiritualities, even if appointed, could not exercise those peculiar and statutory powers which are required for the government of a diocese in Ireland—powers as regards residence or non-residence of incumbents—as regards the licencing and regulating of curates, and other matters of the same kind, which are conferred, not by the general ecclesiastical law, but by the Act of Parliament passed in 1825, which makes the Bishop of the diocese personally, and not through his Consistory Court, the judge in all the ordinary questions arising between the Bishop and his clergy. Therefore, the appointment of guardians of spiritualities would simply leave the Church where a bishopric fell vacant in a state of anarchy and confusion, because none of those powers to which I have referred as belonging to the Bishops personally could be exercised by the guardians of the spiritualities.
My Lords, these are objections to the Bill which I challenge the noble Earl to answer. But I will go a step further, and ask, What is the provision made for filling vacant incumbencies? It is proposed by the Bill that vacant incumbencies shall be filled by stipendiary curates. I take leave, in the first place, altogether to deny that it would be possible in Ireland to obtain, in the course of a year, ninety stipendiary curates who, for an engagement which might terminate within a year, would undertake to move house and home, and take possession of one of these incumbencies, for the purpose of performing a duty during a certain number of months. But I say further, that, even if this were possible, it would ruin an incumbency to appoint a stipendiary curate under these conditions. It is impossible that he could have any sympathy with, or interest in, the institutions or in the laity of the parish. To fill up a vacant incumbency in this way would be most fatal to its permanent interest. Take, for instance, the case of a vacancy occuring in an incumbency in a populous town, where a stipendiary curate is appointed under the conditions I have 254 named. It would be impossible to supply the place of the former incumbent under these conditions with a man equal in power to himself, and the result would be that the congregation would be broken up. But, here, again, your Lordships will hardly believe it when I tell you, that in many cases the stipendiary curate under the provisions of this Bill could never come into existence. The proposal in this Bill which relates to the subject is, that the provisions of the Act of 1833 for supplying the spiritual wants of suspended benefices shall apply to the benefices becoming vacant under this Act. But what are the provisions of the Act of 1833 as to supplying the spiritual wants of suspended benefices? They are to this effect—It is to be lawful for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and for the Bishop of the diocese associated with them to make the necessary provision. But there may be no Bishop of the diocese, and thus you leave no means of appointing the miserable substitute in the shape of a stipendiary curate that may be required.
And now, my Lords, passing on from this, I come to the mode in which this Bill proposes to deal with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. When the subject was first mooted in the other House of Parliament, a very frightful story was told about the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Mr. Gladstone said it was absolutely necessary something should be done, because these Ecclesiastical Commissioners were in the habit of manufacturing—of "erecting"—benefices; and that within a very short period two benefices had been manufactured, in each of which there were to be found only four specimens of a class which he denominated "Anglicans." That produced a great effect in the other House of Parliament, and thereupon it was said, We must have a Resolution, not merely against Bishops and incumbents, but also against these Ecclesiastical Commissioners. A few weeks passed away, and it turned out that the whole story was an entire delusion. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners have no more power to create benefices in Ireland than any of your Lordships. Some person, no doubt, had told Mr. Gladstone this story. The truth, I believe, was, that two old benefices had been joined together under the Act of 1833, or some Act of that kind, by order of the Privy Council. The incumbent happened to die; the union could not be continued; the Bishop, I have no doubt for very good reasons, 255 refusing to continue it: and thus Mr. Gladstone was given to understand that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had created two new benefices. Accordingly, the idea of restraining the Ecclesiastical Commissioners from creating benefices has not appeared in the Bill. But what are the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to be restrained from doing, and what will be the effect? They are now to be restrained from making "grants" and "augmentations." Now I want your Lordships to observe what the consequences of that will be. Your Lordships are probably not aware of the manner in which grants are made by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. They are made in pursuance of the Act of 1833, and the way of making them is this—If there is a church wanted in a neighbourhood, and the inhabitants are willing to contribute, the Commissioners are known to be ready to make a grant correlative to the sum raised in the neighbourhood. The usual course, therefore, is, in the first instance, to collect money in the neighbourhood, to purchase a site, and, perhaps, begin to build. When the money is subscribed, the subscribers go to the Commissioners and have a grant made them. Now, so largely is this course followed, that I find that in the last thirty years subscriptions were paid into the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to the amount of £196,000, to set against corresponding grants, and during the last eight years this "slumbering Church of Ireland," which the noble Earl below the gangway (the Earl of Carnarvon) contrasted so unfavourably with the Church of England, has paid to the Commissioners—altogether apart from sums expended without reference to the Commissioners—no less than £103,706. Now observe, my Lords, you suspend by this Bill the power of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to make giants during the next year. And what will be the effect? It will be, that in those cases where money has already been given—where, perhaps, sites have been obtained, but the grants have not been actually made, you stop the power of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to fulfil the expectations which have been held out to those who have contributed on the faith of Parliament, and you compel the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to break faith with them. But that is not all. What about the augmentations? The case with regard to them is still more singular. The work of augmentation has also been pur- 256 sued by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners since 1833. I think it was Mr. O'Connell who said that this system of augmentation was the best feature in the Act of 1833. That Act provides that all livings in Ireland over £300 a year shall be taxed in order to collect funds to augment all livings below £200, and bring them up to that amount. Now that process of augmentation has been going on slowly indeed, as the funds have not been available to any large amount, but every year a certain number of these small livings have been augmented and brought up to £200. Now I have got a list of those whose turn would come next year, and I will just mention four of them, in order to show the sort of cases they are. There is Christ's Church, Lisburn, the net income of which is £125, the Church population estimated at 5,000; there is St. Paul's, Belfast, the net income of which is £125, and the Church population 6,000; there is Newtonards, the net income of which is £135, and the Church population 2,500; and there is Miltown, Armagh, the net income of which is £128, and the Church population, 2,340. These are samples of the cases which would come next for augmentation. But remember that the faith of Parliament is pledged to these augmentations, because the Act of Parliament, which you have not repealed, holds out this promise to the incumbents under £200 a year. Remember, also, that here you have got two vested interests to consider, not merely the interest of the smaller incumbents, but also that of those larger incumbents, who have been taxed and whom you are going to tax for the next year. But you have no right under the sun to tax the larger livings unless you augment the smaller ones; yet here you are asked to continue taking the money from the larger incumbents without applying it to the benefit of the smaller livings. My Lords, looking at the clauses of this Bill, which some of your Lordships appear disposed to see passed into a law, this would be its operation and effect. And I cannot avoid congratulating the noble Earl (Earl Granville), perhaps I should say the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll), and his coadjutors, upon the spirited form which their first effort at legislation upon this subject has assumed. They have been ingenious to inflict pain at the points at which it would be most keenly felt. The conscientious convictions which the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) ad- 257 mitted had for thirty years of Office been so discreetly smothered by the Leaders of the Liberal party, have at last burst forth, and a noble crusade has been formed—a crusade not to rescue or protect, but to overthrow all that is sacred; and the first victims selected by the gallant band of warriors are the expectations—based on the faith of Parliamentary promises—of miserable and underpaid incumbencies waiting for their long-delayed augmentations,—the preferments, anxiously looked for and now almost within his grasp, of the hardworking and ill-requited curate, and the little patrimony of the widow and the orphan, whose pittance is abstracted if its payment is endangered or delayed.
My Lords, before passing from this Bill, there is one other subject to which I would ask the earnest attention of your Lord-shins. I am not going now to argue the bearing of the Act of Union upon the great question of the disestablishment of the Church. That is a subject which is much too long to be considered to-night, and which may well be considered at some future period; but I do ask you to consider the effect of the Act of Union with reference to the present Bill. Upon the construction and bearing of the Act of Union, I will enter into no points of dispute, but will take the construction put upon it in words, for which the promoters of the present Bill are in the fullest degree responsible. It was only in 1856—which, I suppose, is within the Parliamentary Statute of Limitations—that a Motion was made in the House of Commons by Mr. Dillwyn, for the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church. Lord Palmerston was then Prime Minister. The noble Earl who moved the second reading of this Bill (Earl Granville) was a Member of the Government; so was the noble Earl near him (Earl Russell); so was the noble Duke who spoke to-night (the Duke of Argyll); so were the noble Earls beyond him who were formerly Lords Lieutenant of Ireland; so was Mr. Gladstone himself. We have, therefore, the collected opinion and determination of the Government of that day. Now, the only ground upon which Lord Palmerston opposed the Motion of Mr. Dillwyn, was the Act of Union. I do not say that he had no other objections, but that was the ground he selected as the answer to Mr. Dillwyn. Speaking for all the distinguished statesmen who composed his Cabinet, Lord Palmerston said—If that 5th Article has any meaning at all— 258 and it is preposterous to suppose that it is a vain delusion, and that it has no real and substantive intention—it must mean, in the common sense of mankind, that the Church of Ireland in harmony with the Church of England is to be maintained……Parliament is competent to deal either with the Church of England or the Church of Ireland according to varying circumstances; but it must deal with those Churches not in order to destroy them, but for the purpose of rendering them more effective in their operation."—[3 Hansard, cxlii. 766–7.]I observe that Mr. Gladstone voted with Lord Palmerston upon this ground. Well, that is a fair construction to put upon the Act of Union, and it is quite sufficient for my purpose. I do not enter into the question whether it is competent to Parliament to vary or repeal the Act or Treaty of Union. That has not yet been done, and I ask you this question,—Do you suppose it would be tolerated—would it be attempted—that the Church of England should be the subject of a Suspensory Bill of this kind for a year, or any other period, because it was intended at a future period to alter its constitution or stop its existence? If you will not so deal with the Church of England, I ask how is it possible, consistently with any adherence to the Act of Union, that you can deal in a different spirit with the Church of Ireland? My Lords, I asked would this be attempted with the Church of England. But I am bound to mention one occasion on which the attempt was made. The ancestor of the noble Earl, formerly Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (the Earl of Clarendon), in his History of the Great Rebellion, has given us an interesting account of the negotiations with the King at Newport, in 1648, and of the Convention which was extorted from the King at that time by the Commissioners who represented the opinions and policy of the Leaders of the Parliamentary party. It is a curious thing, and one would almost suppose that the proposers of this Bill had resorted to that precedent, that I find that the 2nd Article of that ill-omened Convention is in its wording almost the same as that of a Suspensory Bill. The consent of the King, says Clarendon, was extorted magna inter suspiria, to a measure for suspending for three years the functions of the Established Church in England, and for alienating and selling for the benefit of the State the lands of the Church, reserving only the ancient rents. That is the only precedent I can find for this measure, and as such I place it unreservedly at the disposal of the noble Earl.
I have detained your Lordships too long 259 upon this Bill. Allow me now, to make some observations upon those great principles to which, under the guise of this Bill, your Lordships are asked to assent. My Lords, in dealing with the question of the disestablishment and disendowment of the Church in Ireland, it will be convenient, I think, at this period of the debate, to get rid of some points that have been referred to, which seem to me to have no real bearing on the argument, and which rather tend to introduce perplexity and irrelevancy as soon as they are mentioned. I think we may assume that we are not going to hear anything more of the "intelligent foreigner" and his opinions. I think we may also entirely put aside any observations—of which only a few have been made—on what are called the inequalities of the Irish Church, as regards the amount of emolument received compared with the extent of the duty performed. My Lords, upon that head I have taken the opportunity of asserting, and I think the warmest friends of the Church have always asserted, an anxious desire to see every subject of inequality of this kind carefully examined and completely redressed. I believe the Irish Church has suffered much from this not having been done before; and for my part, I shall be better pleased the sooner that work is done. I think we may likewise put aside the reference which has been made once or twice to the case of Scotland, and the course taken with respect to the establishment of Episcopacy in that country. That case has no analogy whatever to the present. In Scotland there was an Established Church. That Church had endowments. No person proposed to disestablish that Church; no person proposed to take away its endowments; but the question, the only question agitated between England and Scotland in the reign of William III. was this—whether the Parliament and the Government of England should coerce that Established Church of Scotland to receive a form of Church government to which it conscientiously objected? I think we may also put aside this question—What would it be judicious, just, or expedient to do, supposing we were now dealing with Ireland as a new country, and were considering for the first time the question of religious establishments? That, my Lords, unfortunately, is not the question with which we have to deal. That was the question with which the colony of Australia, which has also been referred to, had to deal. It was also the question, 260 though not perhaps in so pure a form, with which the colony of Canada had to deal, when we left the disposal of the clergy reserves to the Legislature of Canada.
One other reference, and one only, has been made to a case supposed to be an analogy. I mean the case of Jamaica. That was alluded to by the noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) who sits below the gangway, and who was lately Secretary of State for the Colonies, That noble Earl made a speech which was addressed partly to the subject of the Irish Church, and partly to the subject of Her Majesty's Government. With regard to the Irish Church the noble Earl appeared to me to say about as much evil and as little good as he possibly could do. But with regard to Her Majesty's Government, I am bound to say he said nothing except what was evil. The noble Earl appears to think that, since the occurrences which happened in the spring of last year, virtue and honour have retreated from the public service and have retired into private life. The noble Earl even proceeded to make a suggestion that the Government, under the guise of defending the Irish Church, were really only seeking to prolong her existence for a short time, in order that they might have the satisfaction of destroying her themselves hereafter. Now, my Lords, if that is an hypothesis which presents itself to the understanding of the noble Earl as rational and intelligent, I do not know that there are any means of preventing him from entertaining it. But I venture to think that the Irish Church will hardly thank the noble Earl, entertaining as he does this theory, for the advice, which in consequence of his opinion he tenders to her, and for the course he is about to pursue in respect to this Bill; because, as I understood his advice to the Church, it was this, that in order to save herself from this apprehended annihilation hereafter at the hands of her friends, she ought immediately to surrender herself to be destroyed by her enemies. And the noble Earl, as I understood him, is perfectly willing to assist her in this operation by his vote on the present Bill. The noble Earl, however, said that nothing could be so grossly inconsistent as the conduct of the Government in defending the Irish Church at the time when they were disestablishing the Church in Jamaica. He said that the case of Jamaica was exactly parallel; that the case of the English Church was not the same as that of the Irish Church, 261 but that the case of Jamaica was the same, and there the Government was disendowing and disestablishing the Church. Now, my Lords, what are the facts? I am sorry to have to state them to a noble Earl who was Secretary for the Colonies. In Jamaica and other West Indian islands there are Bishops appointed by the Crown; there are parishes in those islands with archdeacons and parochial ministers. Now, nothing whatever has been done, nothing whatever is proposed to be done altering in any manner the establishment Bishops, archdeacons, and clergy in the way in which it has subsisted ever since it had any existence. From a very early period the dignitaries of the Church were supported by the colonies. The distress in the islands arising from emancipation was so great for the time, that the Parliament of England, as a matter of charity and as an eleemosynary gift, was content to pay out of the funds of the mother country a sum of £20,000 a year in order to eke out and complete the salaries of some, not all, but of a certain number of the Bishops and archdeacons in those islands. That payment has gone on for some time. It has attracted from time to time the attention of Parliament, and as the temporary pressure of the islands was passing over, and as the subject moreover of the application of the resources of the Imperial Exchequer for colonial purposes was better understood, a strong feeling was expressed by Parliament that this contribution ought to cease, but to cease only so far as the Imperial Exchequer is concerned; that is to say, that the colonies which have the Bishops, the archdeacons, and the parochial incumbents should be left to take this payment on themselves. This giant of £20,000 had been placed on the Consolidated Fund instead of on the Estimates, and therefore an Act of Parliament was necessary. The colonists are, I believe, perfectly ready to make provision for the payment of the Bishops and parochial clergy; and the whole of this great question of the disendowment of the Church in Jamaica turns out to be simply this—the transfer of the burden of £20,000 from the Imperial Exchequer to the Colonial Exchequer. Now I must express my regret that the noble Earl, in It is anxiety to make a thrust at Her Majesty's Government', should have allowed his judgment to be so blinded with regard to a simple, commonplace transaction of that kind as to magnify it in his own mind into a case 262 parallel with that of the present Bill, and with the disendowment and disestablishment of the Irish Church.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
May I be allowed to ask the noble and learned Lord this question, whether the colonists have undertaken, either directly or indirectly, to substitute any payment for the endowment for this country?
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My answer to the question is this—I believe the colonists are ready to make provision for the payment of the clergy of the Church; and as soon as the Act receives the Royal Assent, communications will be made to them by the Colonial Office, inviting them to put themselves in motion for this purpose. Whether, however, they do this or not does not signify a pin's point in the argument. There was no endowment to which we ever pledged ourselves. There was no contract whatever upon the subject. There was simply an eleemosynary donation of £20,000 originating in the distressed state of the island; and out of tenderness for the circumstances under which that donation was made, the measure, to which I have referred, contains a clause, providing that none of those persons who have gone out to Jamaica, upon the faith of this donation from the Imperial Exchequer, are to suffer during their incumbencies; and the Imperial Exchequer, during their incumbencies, will make good the sums they have been receiving. The noble Earl, however, who moved the second reading (Earl Granville) referred to Jamaica for another purpose. He said he understood the Government had consented, in the case of Jamaica, to a suspensory measure analogous to this Bill. The noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) told the noble Earl he did not know how strong the case really was, for that it was perfectly parallel. Now, what is the fact with regard to this suspensory measure, which is a different matter from the Parliamentary grant of £20,000 a year. There is in Jamaica a very singular colonial law, which is this—that all the parochial arrangements of the island are made for a term of years only. They all come to an end next year (1869); the incumbents and curates of the whole island hold their preferments for a term, which will then expire; and the whole of the salaries and of the work to be done will then be subject to a revision. In this state of things, Governor Grant sent a despatch to the Colonial Office, in which he thus expresses himself— 263The second measure is mainly of preparatory character, though it will also have the effect of producing an immediate saving to the revenue, of considerable importance in the present state of the finances of the colony. Under a colonial statute, the tenure of the cures of all the clergy of Jamaica expires with the close of the year 1869. At that time it will be legitimate to make any changes of system, and any reductions in number and pay, which may be thought proper on general principles. Great reductions in pay were made by the late Colonial Legislature at the expiry of the last temporary statute, by which the ecclesiastical establishment was regulated; and it has been perfectly understood by all parties here, that the re-arrangement of the ecclesiastical establishment after 1869 would be treated practically as an open question. For this reason I have proposed to the Bishop that no vacancy, occurring in the ecclesiastical establishment, shall be filled until a new scheme for supplying the religious wants of the island shall have been determined upon by Her Majesty's Government; and in this proposal his Lordship has acquiesced. I now submit this recommendation for your Lordship's decision. Already by the provisional introduction of this principle, an immediate saving, which I estimate roughly at about £2,000 a year, has become feasible, without public inconvenience or personal loss to any one: the details of which arrangement I hope to be able to send to your Lordship by next mail. I cannot too strongly express to your Lordship the obligation I am under to the Bishop of Kingston for the kind and liberal support I have received from him in my endeavour to improve the embarrassed financial condition of this colony, by economy in this department of affairs.The facts are thus very simple. All Appointments must come to an end in 1869; and it would be very foolish to appoint, merely for a year or two, when an entire change in the ecclesiastical arrangements of the island is already appointed by statute to be made. The Colonial Secretary sent a despatch in reply, in these words—I have to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch, No. 57 of the 24th of November, reporting the reduction effected by you in the ecclesiastical expenditure in Jamaica, and the steps taken by you with a view to a further reduction of it. I concur in your views on this subject, and approve your proceedings for giving effect to them. I have observed with satisfaction the cordial co-operation which you have met with from the Bishop.Now I think all this was a very ordinary and very natural transaction. Both the Governor's letter and the Secretary of State's despatch appear to me to be exceedingly proper. I believe the arrangement has nothing on earth parallel with the suspension of appointments proposed by the present Bill. If, however, my Lords, I am mistaken in this view, if it is the case that Her Majesty's Government do not, as was said by the noble Earl 264 (the Earl of Carnarvon), come into Court with clean hands upon this subject, if they are guilty of the flagrant and glaring inconsistency to which he referred, if that is the case, then, at least, it may not he unfitting, that in the presence of the accuser of the Government, I should remind your Lordships that the hand which is appended to that despatch is the hand of the Earl of Carnarvon.
Now, my Lords, as regards the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church, which is the real principle of this I Bill, there are two questions which have to be considered—justice and policy. It has been repeatedly said that the endowment and establishment of the Irish Church are an injustice. If, however, anything is unjust, there can never be much difficulty in putting your finger upon that which constitutes the injustice, and I listened to this debate with some interest to know whether we should be informed by any of the speakers what the injustice, as regards the position of the Irish Church and its endowments, was said to be. Well, my Lords, what is the injustice? If these endowments belonged to any other Church or body, I should admit at once that it was a great injustice, and that the Church ought not to have them. But is it contended that these endowments belong to any other Church? Is it contended that they belong to the Roman Catholic Church? Do you intend to give them to the Roman Catholic Church? Why, the Roman Catholic Church say that they do not claim them, that they do not want them, and that they would not have them. There is no case, therefore, of a rival claimant demanding these endowments, and asserting that they properly belong to them. Then is the injustice this, that wherever you have an Established Church, with endowments, that is of itself an injustice and an inequality as regards every person who is not a member of it? My Lords, depend upon it, we must face this question and must make up our minds how to answer it if that is said to be the injustice. Is the existence of the Irish Church, with its endowments, an injustice to everyone who does not belong to it? If this is the theory we are to adopt, then I maintain that it does not matter whether those who do not belong to it are 5,000 or 5,000,000. The injustice, if injustice there be as regards individuals, is the same. There can be no greater injustice as regards each individual of the 5,000,000 than there 265 would be towards each individual of the 5,000. Therefore, if that principle is to be laid down in support of this measure, it is one which applies to this country as well as to Ireland. A petition was presented the other night by a noble Lord (Lord Lyttelton), which I am desirous of treating with every respect. The petitioners stated that the Irish Church was an injustice, and that they could not support an injustice. I said to myself "Here are philosophers, literary men, men of reputation; I shall now hear what the injustice is." I read the petition and found the usual dogmatic statement, that the Irish Church, with its endowments, was an injustice, but I found nothing more. The question was thus left just where it had been. But the noble Lord who presented the petition took the trouble of giving your Lordships an explanation on the subject. If I am wrong he will correct me. He said that he did not understand that all those who had signed the petition, or the greater number of them, approved the scheme brought forward in connection with the present Bill. Many, or some of them, were in favour of a plan for dividing the endowments of the Irish Church among the various denominations in Ireland. Now, if these petitioners have adopted the view that these endowments belong to all the different religious denominations in Ireland, I agree with them that the present appropriation of these endowments is an injustice. I do not agree with them in their first proposition, that these endowments do belong to all the religious persuasions, but if they have arrived at that view, I can see what they mean by an injustice, and the conclusion at which they arrive is what might be expected from logical men. But, then, my Lords, that petition is not one in favour of this Bill, and the petitioners, on the contrary, are contending for a principle disowned by the promoters of this Bill. Well, but then it is said that the majority in Ireland do not accept the services of the Established Church, but profess a different religion, and that in this lies the injustice of the Establishment. Now, my Lords, if that is the principle we are to adopt—if what is just when those who have the endowments are in the majority is unjust when those who have them are in the minority, then the logical consequence must be that the majority are entitled to the endowments. I ask the noble Earl, who moves the second reading (Earl Granville), is it his proposal that the endowments of the Irish Church 266 should be transferred to the Roman Catholics; or is it that they should be divided among all denominations; or is it that the majority, whoever they may be, should have these endowments? If he repudiates each of these three proposals, then I am unable to see what is the injustice which he is going to remedy.
Now, my Lords, one word about numbers—a difficult and delicate subject to enter on. The point to be considered seems to me to be this. Is the connection between Church and State on Imperial question, or a local question? If it is an Imperial question, I apprehend that the I numbers you have to look to are the numbers of the Empire. If it be a local question, I want to know how far are you going to localize it? Are you going to stop at localizing it in Ireland? Why should not a proposition be made to localize it in Wales? You may depend that if you treat this as a local question, you must be prepared to carry out that principle far beyond the case of the Irish Church. If the question of Church and State is to be dealt with according to the exigencies of different localities, you cannot stop short at Ireland. Let me take a question which is analogous. You have now a Protestant Sovereign, a Protestant Head of the State, laws to secure that the Head of the State shall always be a Protestant. Is that an Imperial principle? I apprehend it is. That law is enacted and maintained because the great majority of the people of the Empire hold it to be a good law. But I want to know, if the question of the connection between Church and State is a local question, why the principle that the Head of the State should be a Protestant; should not also be a local question; and, if so, why should not the people of Ireland express an opinion upon it? Why should not an agitation be get up in Ireland to treat this principle as an Irish and not an Imperial question? My Lords, this is not so chimerical a supposition as some of your Lordships might be inclined to suppose. At a meeting of the Defence Association, of which Cardinal Cullen is the President, it has been made a subject of complaint that a law of this country inflicts the grievous hardship on Roman Catholics of entailing a forfeiture of the Crown on any Sovereign of the United Kingdom who should be converted to what is termed in I the Resolution ''genuine Christianity." More than that. My Lords, a supporter of this Bill in the House of Commons, 267 more advanced or more candid than his fellows, has made a proposition, which, I believe, has not yet been considered, that the declaration which secures that the Sovereign should make a profession of the Protestant religion, should be wiped out of the Coronation ceremony.
My Lords, I have thus tried, and tried in vain, to find out what is the injustice complained of by the advocates of this Bill; and now let me ask you—for this question of injustice has two aspects—to consider what is the injustice on the other side? The subject is too broad to take in all its details; but let me refer, in order to show the working of a measure of disendowment, to two important elements of the property of the Irish Church. I will take first the glebe lands. I do not mean the glebes themselves, for they are comparatively small matters, nor do I speak of the small patches round the residences of the clergy; I speak of the glebe lands constituting a large item in the property of the Church in Ireland. The glebe lands in Ireland amount in round numbers to 133,000 acres. In the province of Armagh alone they amount to about 112,000 acres. I do not suppose I over-state the value of those lands—they are said to be about the best in Ireland—when I say that they are worth considerably more than £100,000 a year. Now, what is the title to that property, and how were these glebe lands given? Let me read to your Lordships a very short extract from Mr. Hallam's account of the settlement of Ulster by James I. He says—From a sense of the error committed in the Queen's time, by granting vast tracts to single persons, the lands were distributed in three classes, of 2,000, 1,500, and 1,000 English acres; and in every county one-half of the assignments was to the smallest, the rest to the other two classes. Those who received 2,000 acres were bound within four years to build a castle and bawn, or strong court-yard; the second class within two years to build a stone or brick house with a bawn; the third class, a bawn only. The first were to plant on their lands within three years forty-eight able men, eighteen years old or upwards, born in England or the inland parts of Scotland; the others to do the same, in proportion to their estates. All the grantees were to reside within five years, in person or by approved agents, and to keep sufficient store of arms. They were not to alienate their lands without the King's licence, nor to let them for less than twenty-one years. Their tenants were to live in houses built in the English manner, and not dispersed, but in villages.That was the scheme of settlement generally; but the instructions with regard to assigning glebes were in these words— 268The Commissioners are to assign to the incumbent of each parish a glebe, after the rate of threescore acres for every thousand acres within the parishes, in the most convenient places, or nearest to the churches; and, for the more certainty, to give such glebe a certain name, whereby it may be known.My Lords, the Commissioners proceeded under that Order to allot the glebe lands; and if your Lordships have the curiosity to look into the matter you will find in your Library, through the recent publication of the Patent Rolls, the terms of the grant of every one of those glebes. I will take the limitations of two of these, by way of example—To hold for ever to the incumbent and his successors in free, pure, and perpetual alms for all services"—a title in frankalmoign, as good a title as a fee-simple—"with a covenant for the building of glebe houses; and in default His Majesty reserves permission to enter, and by the hands of the dean, archdeacon, and two justices of the peace, to collect the issues and profits of the lands until the buildings shall be finished; and no person shall let or set any of the glebes contrary to His late Majesty's instructions, upon pain of forfeiture of five shillings an acre.In another grant, the only other example that I shall give—All the preceding lands are to be held by the incumbents and their successors for ever, in free, pure, and perpetual alms, on condition that they shall build substantial residences.Now, my Lords, observe what the consequences were. This was the Plantation and Settlement of Ulster. Not only did the incumbents settle and comply with the conditions imposed, not only did they reclaim the lands allotted to them, but the settlers who took the 1,000 acres, less the sixty, induced by this grant for the maintenance of their religion, imported or immigrated with other Scotch and English settlers. They reclaimed the lands of Ulster, and that province, which, according to Sir John Davis, was immediately before one waste and desolate wilderness, became the garden of Ireland. Money was laid out upon it, men came into the country and settled there with their families, and if you now touch these glebe lauds, which were so granted, you unsettle the settlement of Ulster. You take away that which was the most important element of the settlement; you interfere, not merely with the interests of the incumbent and his successors, but those rights and interests of the laity who staked their fortunes in Ulster and made Ulster what it is, you entirely confiscate. I need not remind your Lordships that the greatest amount of wealth, prosperity, and energy that was ever 269 brought into Ireland was introduced by means of that very settlement. So much for the glebe lands, and for the £100,000 or £200,000 a year of the income of the Irish Church which the glebe lands represent. Now, my Lords, turn for a moment to the tithe rent-charge. I cannot at this hour go into the history of that portion of the possessions of the Church, and after the speech of my right rev. Friend this evening, what I can say must fall far short of what you have already heard. But I ask you to take one short and simple view of the results of confiscating the tithe rent-charge. Eight-ninths of the land in Ireland belongs to Protestants. The purchasers in the Incumbered Estates Court were, it is well known, as to the great majority, Protestants also. Now, let me ask your Lordships to take the case of a single one of these purchasers, for we shall never understand the bearing of the question till we look at individual cases. Let me suppose the case of a purchaser of land who buys a whole parish. He is a Protestant; he naturally looks for the enjoyment and instruction of his religion, and to the advantage of having a parochial clergyman upon his estate. He knows that in some way or other this parochial clergyman must be provided for, and he knows, when he buys or inherits the land, that there will be payable out of it a sum (say) of £500 a year tithe rent-charge, which will be applicable to the support of that minister whose ministrations he values. Now, if you confiscate the rent-charge and apply it to secular purposes, what is the practical effect on the layman? Never mind the clergyman; let him take care of himself for the present. You thereby require this Protestant owner, the purchaser of a whole parish, to provide another £500 a year, in order therewith to provide for the minister whose former means of support you have confiscated. That brings us face to face with the character of this measure. It is not a measure in which the vested interests of the clergy are really so much at stake. And I can conceive nothing more nearly approaching to mockery than a Resolution which says that the Irish Church is to cease, due regard being had to all personal interests and individual rights of property—that being afterwards interpreted as meaning the individual interests and rights of property of the clergy. I am very anxious for the clergy and their well-being; but they appear to me to be of all persons the least interested in this 270 question, because their interests for life are to be secured. The persons whose interests are overlooked are the laity. I have given your Lordships an instance—a proprietor buys a parish knowing that there are certain outgoings intended to provide for a clergyman; having bought the parish, he finds these outgoings confiscated by your legislation to some wholly foreign purpose, and is by that means compelled to supply the deficiency by another payment of equal amount which he never reckoned upon at all. Let me put a homely illustration—here is a parish hospital with ample endowments for its support; let us suppose that an enlightened legislator resolves to apply its endowments to some other purpose, providing at the same time that all vested interests shall be respected. The hospital is full of patients, and it has a good staff of medical and other officers. An actuary is brought in to value the amount of interest which each patient may be supposed to have for his sojourn in the hospital, and to value the life-interests of the staff. The amount of this valuation is secured, and then it is said that all vested interests are respected. No doubt all interests are respected, except the not unimportant interest of the parish for which the hospital was originally intended. And then, my Lords, if this enlightened legislator were to find that the compensation took up two-fifths of the endowment, he would, according to the view of the promoter of this Bill, tell us that be preserved for the hospital two fifths of its property! Now, this is exactly what you propose to do with the Church; the clergy are all to be compensated with money, the parishes are to be simply robbed of their endowments.
Now, my Lords, let us turn to the policy of the question—the pacification of Ireland. That was a question dealt with somewhat summarily by the noble Earl (the Earl of Clarendon). The noble Earl who has had some experience of Ireland, said, "I never supposed that this measure would do anything for the pacification of Ireland. I don't think it will, but at all events," he said, "if we pass this measure we shall have satisfied our own consciences." That was the view of the noble Earl. Now, my Lords, I am quite sure that your Lordships would be quite willing to do anything in reason to bring ease to the conscience of the noble Earl; but at the same time I am bound to say that when one considers the number of years 271 during which the noble Earl has been in Office, and dining which be never, that I am aware, opened his mouth upon this subject, I cannot help thinking that this chronic state of uneasiness of conscience has not, upon the whole, caused him much discomfort. But, my Lords, I think your Lordships would do well to consider whether this Bill, which you are asked so suddenly to pass to the great injury of one class of the population, will have any good effect in producing that harmony we all so much desire to see? Now what is the foundation for the idea that this measure will lead to the pacification of Ireland? In the first place, is it the case that the Established Church in Ireland has been the cause of the antagonism of races which has so undoubtedly and so long prevailed? I should like to answer that question in the words of a Roman Catholic historian, also a great poet, who gives us a statement from the Roman Catholic point of view, as to the history of the Church of Ireland, Mr. Moore says—At the period when all were of one faith, the Church of the Government and the Church of the people of Ireland were almost as much separated from each other by difference in race, language, political feeling, and even ecclesiastical discipline, as they have been at any period since by difference of creed. Disheartening as may be sonic of the conclusions deducible from this fact it clearly shows that the establishment of the Reformed Church in that kingdom was not the first or sole cause of the bitter hostility between the two races.Now take the present time, and I ask what reason is there for supposing that any of these Fenian movements, which we all look on with abhorrence, are in any shape or form connected with the Established Church? Has any member of that body ever suggested anything of the kind? On the contrary, have not the whole of the attempts of Fenianism been designed to obtain possession of the land in Ireland, to effect a separation of the two kingdoms, and to establish what has been called the nationality of Ireland? Well, my Lords, what as to the Roman Catholic laity of Ireland? It is impossible not to observe that the Roman Catholic laity of Ireland have discovered that the measure which has been so temptingly held out to them, and which they have been asked to support, does in reality give them nothing, and may deprive them of much which they now have. Every day I read in Roman Catholic organs appeals to the laity, upbraiding them for being utterly indif- 272 ferent to the great work being conducted in England by their great apostle, Mr. Gladstone. Then, is there any foundation for imagining that the Roman Catholic priesthood, with their great influence over the laity, would, upon receiving a measure of this kind, induce the laity of Ireland to be satisfied, and influence them to ask for nothing further? If your Lordships believe that, you will act in entire opposition to the declared position and opinion of the Roman Catholic priesthood. Your Lordships have heard of the circular issued from a meeting of the Tenant-right Society in the county of Meath, the meeting being attended by the Roman Catholic Bishop and Vicar General, and the circular being signed by two Roman Catholic priests. In that circular they say—The one, the great, the solo question for Ireland, is the land question; other agitations, such as that against the Established Church, are got up for party purposes, would infuse an clement of bigotry into the already sufficiently disturbed relations between landlord and tenant, would effect the ruin of thousands of tenants, and precipitate that social catastrophe we are anxious to avert.My Lords, I could not help being struck the other day by a pamphlet which was sent to me, purporting to be written by the Rev. Mr. Malone, a parish priest of Belmullet in Ireland, and who writes to my noble Friend lately at the head of the Government (the Earl of Derby). He sums up the case of Ireland against England in these words, and your Lordships will see that he does not even mention the Established Church. His propositions are—First, that Ireland, by Divine right, belongs to the Irish race; second, that England never had a right to dispossess the people of Ireland third, that England does, nevertheless, dispossess, extirpate, and indirectly put to death the people of Ireland; and, fourth, it will be a question for consideration whether the people of Ireland have a light to resist and overthrow any Government that thus violates the fundamental principles of right and justice in her regard.My Lords, if, as I am convinced is the case, this agitation against the Church is not an Irish but an English question, and an English anti-Church agitation, let me ask you to consider what will be the probable effect upon the Protestant population of Ireland? I do not claim for the Protestant population of Ireland any indulgence, I do not claim for them any privilege, I do not claim for them ascendancy of any kind; but I do claim for them this—I claim that it shall be recollected that they represent by far the greatest amount 273 of the education, of the energy, and of the prosperity of Ireland; and that so far as they have been introduced into and settled in Ireland, they have been introduced and settled to civilize, and to cement the union between the two countries, and to plant in Ireland the seed of that freedom of thought, and speech, and action, which are among the most glorious fruits of the Reformation. What, then, I ask, do you suppose will be the feeling of the Protestant population of Ireland, if dealt with in the manner that this Bill proposes to deal with the endowments of their Church? I do not mean to say, as has been said by others, that the effect will be to produce anything like resistance by physical opposition. But, ray Lords, I do say this—that legislation of this kind, viewed by them, as it must be viewed, with resentment and a sense of injustice, cannot fail to induce in their minds feelings which must in the highest degree be detrimental to the realization of that close connection which we all wish to sec prevail between this and the sister country. Upon this point I am anxious to refer to testimony which the promoters of this measure will regard with greater favour than my own. Sir George Grey, when a Colleague of all the noble Lords who sit on the front Opposition Bench, and speaking in the House of Commons on behalf of the Government of which they were Members, said, no later than 1863—Whatever I may think of the wisdom and policy of establishing an exclusive Church of the religion of a minority in a country, without making any provision for the religion of the majority of the inhabitants, it is impossible to get rid of the fact that this Church has existed for centuries, has become interwoven with the institutions of the country, and could not be subverted without a revolution. That revolution I, for one, am not prepared to recommend."—[3 Hansard, clxxi. 1714.]My Lords, in the same debate a right hon. Gentleman, who represents perhaps more than any other Member of Parliament the Roman Catholic opinion of Ireland—I mean Mr. Monsell—said—He disclaimed all idea of supporting the Motion from a desire to overthrow the Established Church of Ireland. That, he admitted, could not be accomplished without a revolution, and he was not prepared to face a revolution for such an object."—[Ibid. 1716.]The noble Earl (Earl Russell) seems surprised at that opinion; the noble Earl will therefore allow me to quote his own words. I should not venture to go so far back as 1846 if the noble Lord had not referred to his opinions at that time, and endorsed 274 them in the pamphlet he published only last year. He said—I believe that with respect to what some have proposed—namely, the destruction of the Protestant Church in Ireland, there could be no worse or more fatal measure sanctioned by Parliament. I believe that it would be politically injurious, because I believe that many of the most loyal in Ireland, many of those the most attached to the connection with this country, would be alienated by the destruction of that Church to which they are fondly attached. I believe that, in a religious point of view, it would be the commencement of a religious war; that there would be that which does not at present prevail, the most violent and vehement attack upon the Roman Catholic Church, and that the Roman Catholics themselves would be the first to complain of the destruction of the Protestant Church.My Lords, I believe these opinions are not overstrained, and that the effect of this policy on the population of Ireland will be either to perpetuate the war of races, which was rapidly dying out, or else—and this is a result to which some agitators look forward with avowed pleasure—to unite them in a common hostility to England.
Now, my Lords, for its effect on the social well-being of Ireland. That is disposed of in a word. There is no evil in Ireland, by the admission of everyone, so great as the evil of absenteeism. Disestablish the Irish Church, and you produce two classes of absentees, which have hitherto not existed—one class, the Bishops and clergy, who have been the most numerous and most useful of the resident gentry of the country. The other will be that class of those laymen, who, having no longer the services of the Church to which they belong, will have every temptation held out to them to cease to reside in the country. And hero again I am happy to be able to quote the words of the noble Earl in his pamphlet this year. He says, speaking of the destruction of the Protestant Church—It would manifestly check civilization, and arrest the progress of society, in the rural parts of Ireland. In connection with education it would deprive Ireland of the Parliamentary grants which now flow from the Imperial Exchequer.My Lords, I turn next to the effect on the welfare of the Church itself. I admit that, as a member of the United Church of England and Ireland, I look with great anxiety to this part of the subject. My Lords, I do not wish to enter into any theological argument. I certainly should be very sorry to reciprocate the announcement in the recent Encyclical from Rome, that one of the dogmas of the present day, which are 275 to be reprobated, is the idea that Protestantism is a form of Christianity. I am willing to extend the most perfect respect to the sincere opinions and convictions of the Roman Catholic Church, though I do not agree with them; but I may, at the same time, be excused for preferring the doctrines maintained by my own Church, and for feeling alarm and jealousy at any policy which would be injurious to the spread of those doctrines. Now, the noble Earl, in moving the second reading, assured us that he was perfectly satisfied that if this Bill passed the Church would be amply supported; that she might safely rely on her own exertions, and would even rise to higher prosperity and greater vigour than she has ever yet enjoyed. My Lords, even if this view of the results of disendowment were true, still if the endowments are the property of the Church, the observations of the noble Earl would be but little to the purpose. It is very much the same thing as if some person, surveying the ample rent-roll and possessions of the noble Earl, and, being led by circumstance? to take what the noble Earl terms a "calm and dispassionate view" of the great inequalities in the division of property, should go to the noble Earl and say to him, "You are committing a. great mistake; with your commanding eloquence, your unrivalled tact and great abilities, if you would only be content to give up any reliance on these adventitious sources of wealth which you possess, and launch forth upon the strength and support of your own powers, you would not feel in the slightest degree the want of what you surrender; and in a few years you would come back to me and tell me how much happier, how much richer, how much more influential you are, and how much you find your general welfare improved by having taken my advice." I doubt very much whether the noble Earl would think that a persuasive or consolatory mode of argument in his own case. But, my Lords, I deny that the assumption is true. I fully admit—I am thankful to believe—that the spread of the great truths of revealed religion has taken place, and will take place, notwithstanding the want of endowments. But I apprehend it is an entirely different thing where you have the case on the one hand of a Church that never has possessed endowments; which has taken root, and extended its branches, and pushed itself forward, from time to time, just as its strength and num- 276 bers enabled it, and as means were supplied to allow its efforts to be made; and where you are dealing, on the other hand, with a Church which has grown up and grown old in the possession of endowments, and where, by a sudden and hostile wrench, you propose to tear away its supports. I know that it is the fashion to say, "Look at the case of the Free Church of Scotland, how it has repudiated endowments, and has provided for the sustenance of its own ministry." There is no kind of analogy between the two cases. In Scotland you had a Church, which, under the stress and pressure of conscientious conviction, was, by its own action, rent asunder into two parts—one of which retained, and the other of which for conscience' sake, surrendered those endowments which had belonged to the body as a whole. That same conscientious conviction—that same pressure which brought about this severance, became, as it always will become, a source and motive of liberal action, amply sufficient to supply the place of those endowments, which, for conscientious reasons, were given up. It is a very different matter with regard to a Church in which there is no desire to give up, no conscientious scruple which demands the surrender of, its endowments; but whose endowments the State forcibly carries away. My Lords, it is said that the Church of Ireland ought to rest upon the support of the members of the Church of Ireland. I have not the least doubt that in the large towns in that country the Church would continue to be supported. It would be supported at a sacrifice, but the sacrifice would be made, and the Church maintained. But what would happen in the country parts of Ireland, inhabited by a sparse and scattered population, amid the wilds and amid the agricultural districts of the country? I apprehend that this would happen—that thinly sprinkled Protestant population of those parts would either emigrate, or in time—and that no distant time—be absorbed into the religion of those by whom they are surrounded—the religion of the Church of Rome, and become subject to all the political influences connected with that Church.
And now, my Lords, I turn to the connection between the Church in Ireland and the Church in England. I do not wish to over-state this part of the argument. I admit that there are large, very large, differences between the Church in Ireland and the Church in England, as regards the 277 circumstances of the two countries and the circumstances of the two Churches. But your Lordships must bear in mind what you are asked to do. You are asked to deal with this question, not in reference to circumstances, but upon principles—upon the principles of justice and equality; and if you lay down the principle that the existence in Ireland of an Established Church having endowments is an injustice and inequality as regards anyone who does not belong to it—and that is the principle upon which you are now asked to act—then I want to know why the principle is not to be applied to England? Supposing this was to happen, supposing the Church in Ireland were to be disestablished, and, several years hence, some statesman were to get up and say, "Let us look back at the debates that occurred upon the Bill for the disestablishment of the Irish Church in 1868, and we shall find it laid down that the Irish Church was an inequality and a hardship upon those who did not agree with it, and are we now to have this inequality maintained in England?" What answer could we give? I do not see how the principle of equality can be applied to one country and not to the other. Is there to be equality and justice for Ireland and inequality and injustice to England? Bear in mind, my Lords, that we have had ample warnings upon this point. These opinions are not mine; we have had warnings on the subject from every body of men, who, as far as I am aware, are anxious for the passing of this Bill. As regards the Roman Catholic body, do they say that they are anxious only for the disestablishment of the Church in Ireland, and that they do not suppose that anything that is done in Ireland will become a precedent for dealing with the Church in this country? I was much struck by reading, only the other day, in the Westminster Gazette, a prominent organ of the Roman Catholics of England, an article headed "The Catholics of England and the coming Election"—The independency of the Nonconformists is a loss unclean tiling in our eyes than the Royal Supremacy. We have suffered less—England has suffered less, by it than by the fatal principle introduced by the Tudor religion. In the work of disestablishing, first the Irish, then the Anglican Church, we can, though without sharing their principles, join hands with the earnest and religious Dissenters of England.That is what the Roman Catholics of this country say of the matter. Now let us see what the Dissenters say. Do they say, 278 "We want to abolish this anomaly in Ireland, but to leave it untouched in this country?" I take the words of Mr. Miall on this point—The Irish Church question will not be finally disposed of before the public mind will be prepared to entertain proposals in reference to the Scotch Kirk and the Church of England. As it has been with one Establishment, so probably will it be with the others. Their time is fixed. An impulse will come unexpectedly and from an unanticipated quarter. The ordinary barriers will be broken down. What is taking place now is full of encouragement to such as are content to labour and to wait. They need not ask, 'Who will roll us away the stone from the sepulchre?' In the appointed hour they will be relieved of their perplexity by the intervention of some unlooked-for messenger from heaven. Mr. Gladstone is but now treading on the verge of a wide region of change, He knows not whither his convictions will ultimately impel him. He may be regarded as raised up and qualified by Divine Providence for great and beneficent purposes.But the noble Earl (Earl Granville) said that those who foreboded any danger on this score to the English Church were "prophets of evil." Well, one of these prophets of evil is now sitting beside the noble Earl and has just addressed your Lordships in support of this Bill. The noble Earl (Earl Russell) said no later than last Session (1867), in moving for the Commission on the Irish Church which is now sitting—A third course would be to 'secularize' the Church funds; that is, to adopt the voluntary principle in regard to the Church in Ireland; to establish no new Church and to abolish the Establishment which at present exists, giving to education, or to any other object of general utility, the revenues which are now absorbed by the Established Church in Ireland. Of course this proposal contemplates securing a life-interest to the present holders of benefices in the Church, This is a plan which I have often thought might be realized, but it has very great defects in it. In the first place, you immediately destroy, as far as Ireland is concerned, the principle of Establishment. Such an example would hardly be lost on the Dissenters of this country. Although the cases might be very dissimilar, those who strove for the destruction of the Church Establishment in England in favour of the voluntary principle, would avail themselves of the precedent to overthrow the Established Church here. I therefore think it would be unwise in us to assent to a Bill embodying that view, even if it came from the House of Commons.My Lords, I am sorry to say that there was much of the speech of the noble Earl to-night which I was unable to catch, but I suppose I ought not to doubt that he means to act by voting against this Bill, as he said he would not quite twelve months ago for he then held the opinion that it would be unwise to assent to a Bill em- 279 bodying the policy be then condemned, that is, the policy of disestablishing the Church in Ireland, even if that Bill came up to us from the House of Commons. Well, my Lords, but then the noble Earl the late Secretary of State for the Colonies (the Earl of Carnarvon), says that for a Government to assert that danger may accrue to the English Church from the destruction of the Irish Church is a wanton—nay more, is a reckless—nay most, is a criminal tiling; and Her Majesty's Government are wanton and reckless and criminal for attempting to bind up the fate of the English with that of the Irish Church. Now I want to know, if my house adjoins my neighbour's and both stand under the same roof, am I guilty of a wanton, of a reckless, of a criminal act when, even although my foundations are deeper and my walls thicker, and my beams broader and my joists more fireproof than my neighbour's, I venture to suggest that if a fire breaks out in his house it may possibly extend to and injure mine? But then we are told that the Church of England need not have any fear because she is firm in the affections of the people. My Lords, I believe she is firm in the affections of the majority of the people of England, and I should be very hopeful of her safety if those who had to decide it were the people of England. But those who say so, assuredly forget how any question affecting the Church of England will come to be decided. Will it be decided by the people of England? My Lords, it will not. It will be decided by Parliament, by the House of Commons. And whom will the House of Commons represent? My Lords, do not imagine yon will have all at once a gross and open measure proposed in the House of Commons to disestablish and disendow the Church of England. There will be nothing of this kind, but you will have, year after year, measure after measure proposed, bit-by-bit legislation, all having the same tendency, and all going to impair in some way or other the standing and coherence of the English Church. And who will vote upon these questions? The people of England? No. There will be the representatives of Ireland; rather more than one-half of them representing constituencies flushed with the recent triumph over the Church in their own land, and eager to add to that triumph. We know how they will vote. Then there will be the remainder of the Irish representatives, returned by constituencies stung 280 with resentment and grief and pain at the way in which they have been treated and betrayed. We can imagine how they too will vote. Then you will have the Scotch Members, at present almost all returned by constituencies holding voluntary opinions, and who, if as Mr. Miall says, the Scotch Kirk is to be the next victim, will have no establishment of their own left to defend. You will have them added to the Irish Members. Then there will be the representatives of English constituencies, no small number, who are influenced by voluntary opinions; and in that state of things, will the affections of the people of England be able to preserve, inviolate, the safety of the English Church?
I must now, with your Lordships' permission, add a few words on the effect which these proposals will have on the security of property. I think it is very important that we should understand upon what principle we are invited to act as regards ecclesiastical property. The proposition now is to secularize, for the first time, property which, from time immemorial, has been devoted to ecclesiastical purposes. Remember, in the course of our Parliamentary history, this has never yet been done. What is the true view of the position and nature of ecclesiastical property? The noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) says it is perhaps a technical view to take, but that there is no corporation of the Church; that there are individual corporations, such as Bishops and incumbents, but that the Church itself is no corporation. My Lords, this is indeed a technical view, because it is one which wholly fails to comprehend and to appreciate the broad and substantial view of the question. No doubt, a lawyer will tell you that you have in the Church individual corporations, such as Bishops, and rectors, and incumbents. But for whom do they hold the property they possess? Is it for their own enjoyment and benefit? Can they do what they please with it? Certainly not. They hold it as trustees for the whole Church, for the laity and the clergy alike; and in that sense, in that larger and wider view, in that comprehensive and corporate capacity, the Church, and not the individual corporations are the persons entitled to the benefit of the property. Now, it is said that there is a great distinction between ecclesiastical and private property. I never said there was not. The distinction is this—with regard to private property, every owner of it has a right to do with it what he likes. 281 With regard to ecclesiastical property, because it is held in trust for others, that trust has to be protected, and therefore, as to property of this description, the State has a duty to perform. But the only duty which the State has to perform, and the only power which the State, morally speaking, possesses, is the duty and the power to see that the trusts are executed, and that a proper object of the trust remains. And, my Lords, provided the trust is executed, and the object of the trust remains, I maintain that Parliament is no more competent, morally, to deal with property of that kind than it is to deal with private property. That is the whole principle applicable to the case, and the only question is, as to an abuse of the trust or a failure of the object. Now, as to any abuse of the trust, we have had every speaker admitting that, whatever may have been the case in times past, the clergy of the Church in Ireland are now performing their duty in a manner worthy of all praise. Well, then, has there been a failure in the object of the trust? The noble Earl (Earl Granville) contended there was, and he made it out in this way—He said that when Queen Elizabeth confirmed these possessions to the Irish Church, she had a full expectation that the whole country would become Protestant, and that the endowments would, therefore, be for the benefit of the whole country. Now, I do not in the least know, nor I think does the noble Earl know, what Queen Elizabeth may have thought with regard to Ireland; but it is certain that when Queen Elizabeth confirmed the English Church in its possessions, she intended—for she mode her intent extremely clear—that there should be no nonconformity, and that the whole of England should conform to the English Church. Therefore, you might as well say that because the expectation and intention of Queen Elizabeth were defeated in England, there was a failure of the objects in their entirety which she had in view. But it has been said that there are no converts made in Ireland. I should be prepared to controvert that statement, but it is not possible in this House to examine into the case of individual converts. But let us take a broader view than the view of individual instances. We are told now that the great statistical authority as to the Irish Church in the days subsequent to Queen Elizabeth is Sir William Petty. I will accept his authority, although it is, I think, Mr. Hallam who says that Sir 282 William Petty's conjectures are "prodigiously vague." Well, Sir William Petty says that at the time he writes, at the close of the 17th century, there were 100,000 Churchmen in Ireland out of a whole population of 1,100,000. That is, one in every eleven. There are 700,000 now. If you multiply 700,000 by 11, you get a population of something like 7,500,000, whereas the population of Ireland is only 5,500,000. Therefore you have a Church in Ireland, according to Sir William Petty's calculation, increasing in a very much greater ratio than any other denomination since the time of which he wrote. If that be so, then there is no failure of the object of the trust. You have, therefore, neither of the grounds which would justify the interference of the Legislature with ecclesiastical property. Then, my Lords, are we right or are we not, in saying that the security of property must be affected by legislation of this kind? My Lords, what must happen? The next time there is a Government to be attacked, the next time that some device has to be discovered for organizing a "calm and dispassionate" attack on something that excites the envy of those who do not possess it, what more easy than to say,—taking a case which attracts considerable attention—"Let us deal with private endowments?" I understood the noble Duke, who began the debate to-night, (the Duke of Argyll) to lay down broadly as his opinion, that "any money given to Churches the State might deal with as it thought fit." Well, between the case of private endowments and the case of corporate property the transition is quite easy. And how will private property be dealt with? Not, probably, by some proposition to confiscate it, but by measures to interfere with entails and with settlements, and with descents and successions and wills, and thus to establish the principle that the State has a right to change the disposition of private property; and for such a proceeding, legislation like the present will become a precedent. In the pamphlet of I the noble Earl (Earl Russell) he refers to the estates of the Bedford family. The noble Earl says the case of those estates is different from those of the Church, inasmuch as the heir of the Duke of Bedford succeeds to the Bedford estates as a matter of course; whereas with regard to a bishopric, the new Bishop does not succeed as a matter of course. My answer to that is, that the heir of the Duke of Bedford succeeds as a matter of course as long as 283 you maintain the present law; the successor of the Bishop succeeds as a matter of course as long as you maintain the present law; but if you alter the present law as regards the one, I want to know what security you have that the law may not he altered also as regards the other? I will not enter into the anecdote the noble Earl (Earl Russell) has told us tonight, when he said an Earl of Derby of an earlier date had shut up the then Earl of Bedford in a castle. But the noble Lord did not tell us what that Earl of Bedford had done.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Oh, he only wished to shut him up! The noble Earl, I think, suggested that the Earl of Derby did this because the Earl of Bedford would not join the conspiracy to dethrone Queen Elizabeth. I only referred to the subject in order to remind the noble Earl that there is another version of that story, which states that the Earl of Derby of that day was supposed to have been poisoned by the Jesuits because he would not enter into the conspiracy himself.
But, my Lords, how will this measure bear upon the supremacy of the Crown? You have now a Protestant head of the State. You have in each country of the United Kingdom, in close connection with the State, a form of the religion of the Sovereign. You have this secured by a tripartite contract between the three kingdoms. For, my Lords, it is an error to suppose that the contract on this subject is in the Act of Union with Ireland alone. In the Act of Union with Scotland, in 1706, it is made a "fundamental term" of the Union with Scotland, that the Sovereign of Great Britain shall undertake to maintain, and preserve inviolately, the settlement of the Church, as by law established, "within the kingdoms of England and Ireland." The same stipulation is again made a "fundamental" term of the Union with Ireland a century later. You have thus in Ireland the Sovereign of the United Kingdom the legal and recognized head in matters ecclesiastical as well as civil. But you have in Ireland, side by side with the Royal Supremacy, an ecclesiastical supremacy asserted, which ignores and sets aside the supremacy of the Sovereign. And if you withdraw and terminate that part of the Royal Supremacy which the connection of the Church with the State asserts and recognizes, you leave 284 the rival and antagonistic supremacy in undisputed possession of the field.
My, Lords, I wish to say a few words about the origin of this measure. I never wish to inquire into the motives for the course of action of public men. But we have had the consideration of that question thrust upon us. We have been told by the noble Earl (Earl Granville), repeating what has often been said before, that what led to the proposal of this Bill was a statement which is alleged to have been made—but which never was made in the sense or meaning which is alleged—by the Government in the other House of Parliament with reference to their policy towards Ireland. My Lords, I think the noble Earl has himself shown that this measure was determined on by its author long before. He told us that in a conversation he had with Mr. Gladstone at the commencement of last, year, Mr. Gladstone stated to him that one of the first duties of the Liberal party would be to undertake the question, in the sense in which it has now been undertaken, of the Established Church in Ireland. And, my Lords, in the pamphlet to which I have already referred of the noble Earl (Earl Russell) who sits beside him, which I cannot suppose was given to the world without some consultation with the party with which he always acts, the noble Earl (Earl Russell) announced that it was not for one moment to be endured that this Session should pass without a proposition being made in Parliament by the Liberal party through Mr. Gladstone, with regard to the Irish Church. If that be so—when it was Mr. Gladstone's conviction expressed to his Colleague last year—and when it was the conviction of the noble Earl (Earl Russell) at the commencement of the present Session, I want to know how it can be pretended that this attack upon the Irish Church was occasioned by, or was the consequence of, the statement erroneously attributed to the Government in the House of Commons? But that is not all. That conversation with Mr. Gladstone, we are told, occurred at the beginning of last year. Now, in the summer of 1865, Mr. Gladstone, then a candidate for the University of Oxford, wrote to one of his constituents who was seeking for some explanation of his views on the Irish Church; and at that time he said—The question of the Irish Church is remote, and apparently out of all bearing on the practical politics of the day. I think I have marked 285 strongly my sense of the responsibility attaching to the opening of such a question. One thing I may add, because I think it is a clear landmark, in any measure dealing with the Irish Church, I think—I scarcely expect ever to be called upon to share in such a measure—the Act of Union must be recognized.Now, this was in the summer of 1865, and there having been in the interval no Parliamentary discussion on the subject whatever, it is perhaps a pardonable curiosity which leads me to ask how it came to pass that within eighteen months Mr. Gladstone, in consultation, we are told, with the noble Earl (Earl Granville), announced to him that, in his opinion, it was the first step in the policy of the Liberal party to proceed to destroy the Irish Church? The noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll), with that happy view which he ever takes of the failings and imperfections of every creature in the horizon, except the one who himself pronounces the criticism and the condemnation, referred to my right hon. Friend the First Minister of the Crown, and spoke of the cunning of animals who could not protect themselves by strength. Now I should be sorry to use, with reference to this letter of Mr. Gladstone, the term "cunning," I believe it was written in perfect sincerity, according to what Mr. Gladstone at the time believed. But what I do say is this, that the most cunning of all the cunning animals to which the noble Duke referred, if he had desired to baffle and mislead the innocent and unsuspecting person who made the inquiry, could not have been more happy or adroit in the expressions he used than was the author of this letter.
My Lords, the noble Duke says the great office of party discipline and party warfare in this country is to identify the fortunes of a party with great public measures. I agree generally in that view. But I ask, is this measure a great public measure in the proper sense of that term? That it will have a great effect upon the Church which is to be the subject of it I entirely admit, but by a great measure I mean a measure well-considered in all its parts, and as to no part of which there is any reticence or desire to conceal the whole scope of its effect and operation from the I party who makes it their political programme. Now, can that be said of this measure? You propose to disestablish and disendow the Irish Church; what do you propose to do with the funds of the Church? You are going to apply them to Irish purposes; I ask to what Irish purposes? Are 286 you going to apply them to the relief of the poor? I apprehend not; that would be simply taking the burden off property which now bears it. Are you going to apply them to the primary education of the people? If you do, it will be a strange benefit to Ireland that simply deprives Ireland of some £300,000 or £400,000 a year, which at present flows there from the Imperial Exchequer. Are you going: to apply them to the higher or middle class education of the country? Do you not know that the Roman Catholic Church distinctly and uniformly refuses to have any participation in donations of that kind, unless they have them on their own terms, and upon a system of education which you; have always refused to admit? You object to those who would alter the arrangements of the Church by taking the endowments of one parish and carrying some part of them to another. Are you going to apply these funds to Irish purposes in the particular parish from which the endowments emanate? I want to know how that is to be done? What is the reason why there is this concealment as to what the intention is with regard to these funds? My Lords, there is one explanation, and lone only, that I can give, and that, I am; sorry to say, whatever in other respects I might think of the measure, deprives it, to my mind, of the character of a great measure—I say the object of the concealment which has been practised as to the appropriation of these funds is to render possible the temporary concurrence of the votes of those whom you know perfectly well it would be impossible, if you were at once to reveal the appropriation you are about to make of these funds, to combine for any united course of action.
My Lords, I feel I owe your Lordships a very sincere apology for having so long delayed you in my comments on this Bill, and on the policy of its promoters. Let me, however, say one word with reference to the advice you have received from various noble Lords who sit on the front Opposition Bench as to the principle on which yon should perform your duly with regard to this Bill. Several noble Lords sitting on the Opposition Benches have referred, I thought with some bitterness, to the effect which the Bill of last year will have on the constituencies of the country. My Lords, it appears to me a strange thing that these noble Lords who have always professed to be such very ardent reformers, should, whenever they come to 287 speak of the legislation of last year, never fail to communicate to your Lordships the impression that they look on that legislation with apprehension and regret. The noble Earl (the Earl of Clarendon) spoke of the leap in the dark which you had taken. I know the noble Earl is not the author of that saying, but he made it port of his argument. He said you did not know what the new constituencies would be, and he recommended you to pass this Bill, because the future was so much in uncertainty. I must confess, my Lords, that the noble Earl's reasons would have led me to a different conclusion. This Bill has passed the present House of Commons which is about to come to an end. That House itself said that the ultimate decision as to the fate of the Irish Church was not; matter for them—that it ought to be remitted to a future Parliament, The noble Earl does not know what that future Parliament will be—he does not know whether it will approve or disapprove the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church. Now, these to my mind are reasons why the whole question should be allowed to go to the new Parliament un affected by this Bill, in order that it might; deal with that question with full freedom, But the noble Earl (Earl Granville) who moved the second reading, not, I agree, in any words of menace, but in more of blandishment and entreaty, asked your Lordships; to take no course which would bring you into collision with the other House of Parliament. My Lords, I value the honour of your Lordships House, and the harmonious action of the two Branches of the Legislature, as much as any of your Lordships; but I maintain that the way to promote this harmony is for each House frankly, fairly, and respectfully, to discuss on its own merits every question which comes before them, and, if necessary, on every question to pronounce their opinion by their votes. My Lords, if the day should ever come when a measure carried in haste through the other House of Parliament, and brought up and presented to your Lordships for the first time, shall be accepted by your Lordships, not because you approve of it—nay, while you disapprove of it—but merely because it has been carried by a majority in the House of Commons, the influence, the independence of your Lordships' House, the respect of the country for your Lordships—nay, more—the respect of yourselves for yourselves, will be at an end. My Lords, differing there- 288 fore from the noble Earl as to the duty now devolving upon you, I ask you to reject this Bill. I might well be content to do this on the score of the vices and defects of the Bill itself, and of the perverse and blundering ingenuity with which it endeavours to accomplish the worst possible thing in the worst possible way. But I ask you to reject this Bill on higher grounds. I ask you to reject it because it is the commencement of a policy upon which your Lordships have not even yet been consulted, but which policy you will be taken to have accepted if you approve this Bill. That policy is nothing short of the devotion to secular purposes of the funds hitherto held sacred, the severance of the Union of Church with the State, and the curtailment of the supremacy of the Crown. The fruits and consequences of that policy, in our opinion, will be, not the pacification of Ireland, but the perpetuation of the conflict of races—the undermining of the security of property—the arrestment of the progress of social improvement and toleration—and the quenching—so far as it is in the power of legislation to quench it—of the light of the Reformation in that country. My Lords, these are the vast issues involved in this Bill. These are the issues involved in your Lordships' decision now, and they are the issues yet to be presented to the country in the great appeal to its enlarged constituencies. My Lords, in that appeal—for I agree with the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) that it is fitting that a Government should uphold a standard of political faith—in that great appeal the Government will stand as the defenders of all that this Bill and the policy of its promoters would seek to overthrow. By the result of that appeal we are prepared to abide; and, my Lords, be that result what it may—and I, for one, have confidence in the t true heart and faith of the country—a nobler cause for which to fight—a fairer field in which to stand or fall—no Minister and no statesman need desire.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
, who spoke amid cries of "Spoke," "Order," was understood to say: After the charge of inconsistency which the noble and learned Lord bus brought against me, I trust the House will not refuse me one moment for personal explanation. There are two cases to which the noble and learned Lord has referred—the suspension of certain ecclesiastical offices in Jamaica, and the disendowment wholly of the Church 289 in the West Indies, as far as this country is concerned. I admit that upon the recommendation of the Government and the Bishop of Jamaica I sanctioned the Bill for the suspension of certain ecclesiastical offices in Jamaica. But where is the inconsistency? I sanotioned a Suspension Bill and I am prepared to vote for a Suspensory Bill this evening. Her Majesty's Government have sanctioned a disendowment scheme to the extent of £20,000. [Cries of "Order" and "Spoke" continuing, the noble Earl sat down.]
§ EARL GRANVILLE
, rising to reply, said: My Lords, I like to believe that it was partly out of personal kindness, though chiefly from the obligation to give the utmost latitude to an advocate of a prejudiced cause, that made your Lordships so indulgent to me on the first night of this debate. I wish I could make a return for that indulgence by complete silence tonight. But there are a few observations I feel bound to make, and I am afraid: that the feeling of your Lordships will be somewhat similar to that of the Earl of Derby so often referred to in the course of this debate upon the score of "shutting up." The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack was, I am sorry to say, unintentionally, inaccurate in his reference to the noble and learned Lord the Master of the Rolls. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack said that my noble and learned Friend had admitted that there were several objections to the measure. I asked my noble and learned Friend what objections he had admitted, and he replied, "None whatever."
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I beg the noble Earl's pardon. What I said was that the noble and learned Lord, after listening to a good many objections, in reply said that they could be removed in Committee.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
Well, the noble and learned Lord then said that a noble Duke sitting by my side (the Duke of Somerset) had stated that the provisions of the Bill were impracticable. I asked my noble Friend if he had said that the Bill was impracticable, and he replied that he had not.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The noble Duke's words—I have them by me—were "I cannot conceive myself how it is to work."
§ THE DUKE OF SOMERSET
, amid considerable laughter, rose to explain, but his remarks were inaudible.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
Now, my Lords, I quite agree with that noble and learned Lord who argued that the great question was that of the disestablishment, or, as he put it, that of the disendowment of the Irish Church. That question is one which it is very difficult to deal with at all, and yet we find one of our most distinguished Parliamentary and forensic advocates, in speaking for two hours and three-quarters on this great question, throwing away just one hour by London clock in discussing the minutest and the most trifling details, and then throwing away another quarter of an hour in an attack upon a late Colleague of his Colleagues, exhibiting an evident reluctance in approaching the core of the subject. Now, with regard to this Bill and its provisions, I have in my pocket two briefs—one for an English and the other for an Irish lawyer of considerable eminence—which would explain any one point on which I could not give an offhand answer. If this Bill had gone into Committee I could have shown your Lordships that there was no real ground for all those difficulties which have been conjured up. But, as the noble and learned Lord occupied, I believe, an entire hour in elaborating that technical argument, I suppose I should take about three in going over the same point, and, therefore, I presume your Lordships will give me the benefit of the doubt, and prefer that I should go on to some other point. The noble and learned Lord's argument reminded me of what was said to me by a noble and learned Lord, a political opponent, who always treated me with the greatest personal respect. I remember asking Lord Lyndhurst whether the singular manner in which he condemns what he had to say was a work of nature, or whether he tool; much trouble about it. In his cheerful manner he said, "We must take a little trouble, eh?" and then he added, "The great difficulty lawyers have is that at the Bar we are always obliged to use all our arguments, and in Parliament we can only use our good ones." I think it would have been better if my noble and learned Friend had omitted that long disquisition on property, and for my part I shall decline to occupy your Lordships' time in discussing the case the noble and learned Lord put to me which was in every part of it so purely hypothetical. I wish, however, to say one word regarding what fell from the noble Earl on the cross-Benches. The noble Earl, who, disliking a motley crew, is the Leader of 291 this opposition to the attack upon the Irish Church, finds fault with us for two reasons. We ought to have adopted his proposal made a few months after the first suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. But if we had done so we should have utterly failed, and any change in the Irish Church might have been delayed for twenty years. He also complains that now, when we do be with almost certain prospects of success, we do not adopt his plan; but we believe his plan is not acceptable to the Catholics, and is against the conviction and feelings of the English and the Scotch. I have hopes, however, of again fighting in the same ranks with the noble Lord, since he has declared that he prefers disestablishment to the present state of the Church. Now, perhaps, the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees will allow me to say one word about his speech. The noble Lord repeated the arguments I attempted to answer, he has appealed to us to believe in his sincerity, and has urged us to use plain words in expressing what we think. I desire to express in the plainest words of the English language my belief that my noble Friend is one of the most honourable, most sincere men and politicians I know, the least likely to say one thing and to do another to-morrow; but if I am asked to say in plain words what I think of certain portions of his speech, I must, with all respect to your Lordships and to my noble Friend, acknowledge that I had rather do no such thing. I prefer quoting from a modern poet to describe that speech—In holy horror, in pious grief,He solemnly cursed the rascally thief;Never was heard such a terrible curse;But what gave riseTo no little surprise,Nobody seemed one penny the worse.Any of your Lordships who know how serious a matter it is to have an intellectual encounter with one right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Oxford) must sympathize with me in having to meet the whole Bench. But it is in their numbers that I look for safety. I must first thank the Bishop of this diocese for having given me such complete reparation as to the motives of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) and his Friends. The most rev. Prelate the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of London, and the Bishop of Oxford, feeling how strongly the colonial cases bear upon the Church of Ireland, have brought forward arguments to prove that these Churches were still in connection with the 292 State. The Archbishop gave as reasons the participation of the Bishops in the acts of the Legislature and the Church Assemblies under local Acts. I believe that if the facts were as stated they would not support this argument. The noble Earl the late Secretary for the Colonies (the Earl of Carnarvon) showed that he was wrong, and I can vouch for the accuracy of the answer which he gave in manner and in substance. The Irish Prelates have approached the subject with a dignified melancholy, as men who fear an injury to themselves, their clergy, and their flocks, but my right rev. Friend who spoke to-night (the Bishop of Oxford) spoke with a merriment, a lightheartedness, and cheerfulness which, while it jarred on his Irish Brethren, must have acted as balm on those of his English Friends who had persuaded themselves there was danger for the English Church. But there is as great discrepancy between the right rev. Prelates themselves; and the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London says that if the Church is disestablished the Catholic clergy, decked out with foreign honours, will have such a social superiority that the Anglican clergy will be crushed. Another right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Killaloe) says that the measure will give no satisfaction, because circumstances make it impossible that the Catholic clergy would ever be raised to the social position of the Anglicans. Which are we to believe? I must say, at this point, that I feel some little hesitation to proceed. I do not know whether your Lordships perceived that if there was perhaps a slight amount of theological hatred which tainted some of the speeches with regard to the Roman Catholic clergy, they all treated the Roman Catholic laity with great delicacy and consideration. While the other right rev. Prelates have contradicted each other the right rev. Prelate appears to have contradicted himself, and wishing to prove the sacredness of Church property and the necessity of the connection between Church and State, he proved conclusively by figures that the Church has continuously had taken from her portions of her revenue till only about one-eighth remained of them, and by a long historical statement that the State thwarting and impeding the Church in every direction had been her bane and the cause of her miserable failure. I hope the most rev. Primate will not think it personal or disrespectful of me if I say that it is impossible to approach him 293 without seeing, through his dignified deportment as a great Prelate, Nature has given him a warm and kind heart. Yet such is the pernicious influence, not of the Church, but of its invidious position in Ireland, that the Head of that Church was the only lay or spiritual Peer that reproduced the famous allusion to blood, language, and religion as distinguishing the Catholics from the Protestants. I remember as if it was yesterday, though it is thirty-six years ago, hearing the passionate protest almost screamed by a great Irish orator against this insult to his countrymen. He asked an enthusiastic British House of Commons whether, from Assaye to Waterloo, those aliens in blood, language, and religion had shown less heroic valour than our own glorious England, and alluding to the last decisive day, he asked, amid the peals of approving indignation, whether the blood of England, Scotland, and Ireland had not flowed in the same stream and drenched the same field, and turning suddenly to the brave and generous father of a noble Lord here present, and forgetful of Parliamentary forms, he exclaimed, "Tell me, for you were there?" I own I then thought the phrase had ceased to exist. The right rev. Prelate and the President of the Council seemed to think it unpatriotic and un-English of Lord Clarendon and myself to quote the opinion of foreigners, although it was on my part an answer to a foreign argument of the Prime Minister. So the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury), who objects to catchwords, does not like what he has christened the "Foreign friends' arguments"—arguments brought by us from foreign drawing-rooms, If he means by such only the places were the most frivolous of fashionable society meet, I deny the fact. If he means places where my noble Friend and I have met statesmen, great lawyers, literary men, and eminent persons belonging to the aristocracy and middle classes of some of the great capitals in Europe, we admit and rejoice in the fact. Now, my Lords, I cannot think that a little intercourse with foreigners would deteriorate the beneficial character of the great influence which the noble Marquess is sine to exercise in this country. The noble Marquess has lately made acquaintance with the railway world, which must have at first appeared almost like a foreign country to him. I trust it was not there that he learnt to take so black a view of human nature as he described himself to entertain. But one great 294 lesson he has certainly learnt—that powers are given to railway companies properly, and for the public good, to take land for which money is no compensation to some owners, to destroy churchyards consecrated to God, and in which have been placed the ashes of dead, to destroy homes where the poor live and factories where they work, with compensations to those who are proprietors, but with none to those who have to seek other homes and other workshops. And the result of the lesson has been shown in this debate. The noble Marquess entirely abandons the high property argument of the noble Earl below him. He recommends compromise, and with the word compromise all the high-flown arguments that have been used of sacred property, sacrilege, &c., go out by the window. I admit that the bulk of foreigners know as little of us as in many instances we know of them; but I will say that there are Frenchmen, Germans, and Italians by whom I should shrink from being examined on some nice points of our constitutional history and law. Of course, when the Lord Privy Seal tells us that the Irish Church is the most sacred portion of the British Constitution, and that it is one of the legs of the Church of England; and when the President of the Council says that the House of Lords represents the innermost mind and the will of the nation, while the House of Commons—I do not know whether any Members of that House now hear me—only represents the impulses and declamatory power of the nation, of course that makes an end of the matter. Again, if M. Guizot or Professor Rancke and others—not fashionable dandies, as the noble Marquess may think, but sincere Protestants—were to tell you they object historically to the Irish Church, because while the English Church has every claim to call itself self-reformed, the Irish Church was forced upon Ireland in opposition to the wishes of the people; if they said that, out of deference to the laws of language, they objected to a Church being called national which only ministered to the wants of a small fraction of the population, and lastly, for political reasons, that they believed there must be some cause why Poland and Ireland were the only countries where the Roman Catholic clergy were not ultra-Conservatives; if they objected morally to the Irish Church because the foreign Protestants believed it was a duty to do to others as they would wish to be done by, and that we should certainly not submit in 295 England for a month or a week to such a state of things—of course we should recognize the wisdom of our Government and the ignorance of the foolish foreigners; but still the noble Marquess might admit, with Charles Fox, that you might get some information in conversing even with the stupidest man; and he might even learn that when he describes what has been proposed ns the most complete form of spoliation—that more masterly completeness of spoliation has been shown elsewhere. I will now say a few words on what fell from the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby); but any objections I may have felt to the tone of "No surrender" in the greater part of the noble Earl's speech vanished when I heard two sentences towards the close. He said—I quote from the report in The Times, which I cannot doubt is accurate, for it is so like language which I have heard before—Your Lordships are always disposed to yield as far as you can to deliberately expressed and well-ascertained opinions of the House of Commons.And he added—And it must be a very decided expression of opinion to alter my judgment on such a question.I do not know whether the noble Earl will contradict me.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
Yes; I am sorry to correct my noble Friend. What I referred to was the ascertained opinion of the country, not of the House of Commons.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
The fault is not mine, it is that of the very accurate reporter of The Times; but the correction suits my purpose as well. But there are other points which have given me pain. In my first speech I protested, and I think rightly, as to the introduction of the name of the Sovereign and the Coronation Oath into this question. I stated what was the construction put upon the Coronation Oath by great lawyers and great statesmen. I stated—what nobody can attempt to deny—that whatever the construction of that Oath may be, it applies equally to the colonies and to the mother-country. I also reminded your Lordships that the present Sovereign has on several occasions, by the advice of different Ministers, and on one occasion by the advice of a Committee of Privy Council, specially summoned for the purpose, given her assent to Bills disestablishing various Churches in the colonies. I might have added that it was done with the full consent and approbation of one who well knew 296 the rights and duties of the British Crown—the most sagacious and most beloved councillor and guide that any Sovereign or woman ever had. Well, the noble Earl after this, referring to my having deprecated any discussion on this point, made a declaration which if he had been a novice, instead of the greatest debater, perhaps, in the world, would have convinced me he was unable to deal with facts, and had preferred making his speech as he had originally prepared it. He said—You cannot relieve the Sovereign from the obligations of the Oath. She is bound to protest when, in acting on Her Minister's advice, she takes a step in direct violation of her solemn declaration and Oath that she will maintain inviolate the United Church of England and Ireland.The noble Earl goes on to add that—The Oath would be violated if Her Majesty endorsed a proposal to disendow or disestablish that which she has sworn to maintain implicitly.My Lords, I do not understand this argument. Either one thing or another. Does the noble Earl deny the statement I have quoted?
§ EARL GRANVILLE
It is a very singular thing that the noble Earl should not recognize his speech, of which I believe every noble Lord on this side remembers, if not the words, at least the substance; and it has been reported by accurate reporters in the morning papers. I say I do not understand his argument. Either there must be that which I have described—namely, an obligation on the part of the Sovereign to adhere to the law as it is now, or as it may be, or it is an Oath to God from which no earthly power can absolve her. The noble Earl repeated twice that there were some persons who seemed to think the Queen could have no opinion, and had no personal obligations. I do not know to whom he could allude—not, I think, to any Peer on this side of the House, for we are as zealous as himself of the Queen's Prerogative, and as devotedly loyal to Her Majesty's person. The Queen has exercised during a long and successful reign a beneficial influence on the course of public affairs. It has been great and beneficial in consequence of Her Majesty's intimate knowledge both of the principles and details of our Constitution, and because her people believe and know that she never has moved, and never will move, even under injudicious advice, one inch 297 from the path which she believes the Constitution prescribes. The noble Earl, on a former occasion, pledged the majority of this House—greatly increased by the chivalrous, though, I think, mistaken, feelings which have animated the Episcopal Bench, and not inconsiderably increased by the numerous creations of the last two years—to reject this measure before it had seen the light, and before it was known by what majorities in the other House it would come recommended to your Lordships. I believe the effect of that threat was to give strength and spirit, if it did not, as some positively assert, increase the numbers of the majority in the other House; and I have always felt that the mention of that threat might have the same effect upon the country. If there was no qualification, I feared an exciting and dangerous effect; but the words which I have already quoted from the noble Earl's speech will, I hope, induce the people to see that all that is required is for the constituencies to enable the next Parliament to give a very decided opinion in order to destroy opposition in this House, and that it will offer no stolid obstacle to their wishes. With this feeling I trust they will calmly and dispassionately—for I like the words, though they grate upon the noble Marquess's ears—that they will calmly and dispassionately examine the arguments to which I believe the debate in your Lordships' House has made such valuable additions. I have little doubt of the result. There will be great difficulty in settling some of the details for the disestablishment of the Irish Church; much time will be taken to make the preliminary arrangements; but in a very few months the battle of justice and religious equality against an ascendancy which is politically wrong, and is injurious to the Protestant religion will be fought and will be won.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF ARMAGH
In explanation, I beg to say that there is a wide difference between the application of the words which fell from me the other evening, and of those which the noble Earl has referred to. The words "The Irish are aliens in blood, language, and religion," were taken up as an offence to the Irish nation. The words I used were used in a sense very different. They were not intended to be offensive. What I said was that the 700,000 Irish Churchmen were not aliens, but were of the same blood as yourselves, and I said so because I wanted to show our claim to your consideration Dud to justice.
§ On Question, That ("now") stand Part of the Motion?—Contents 97; Not-Contents 192: Majority 95.300
|Cleveland, D.||De Mauley, L.|
|Devonshire, D.||De Tabley, L.|
|Leeds, D.||Ebury, L.|
|Saint Albans, D.||Fitzhardinge, L.|
|Somerset, D.||Foley. L. [Teller.]|
|Sutherland, D.||Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)|
|Ailesbury, M.||Granard, L (E. Granard.)|
|Normanby, M.||Harris, L.|
|Townshend, M.||Hastings, L.|
|Abingdon, E.||Houghton, L.|
|Airlie, E.||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)|
|Carnarvon, E.||Leigh, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Lismore, L. (V. Lismore.)|
|Cowper, E.||Londesborough, L.|
|Craven, E.||Lovat, L.|
|De Grey, E.||Lurgan, L.|
|Denbigh, E.||Lyttelton, L.|
|Ducie, E.||Lyveden, L.|
|Essex, E.||Meredyth, L. (L. Athlumney.)|
|Fortescue, E.||Methuen, L.|
|Granville, E.||Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)|
|Minto, E.||Monson, L.|
|Morley, E.||Mont Eagle, L. (M. Sligo.)|
|Russell, E.||Mostyn, L.|
|Saint Germans, E,||Northbrook, L.|
|Sommers, E.||Penhurst, L. (V. Strangford.)|
|Suffolk and Berkshire. E.||Petre, L.|
|Zetland, E.||Poltimore, L.|
|Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessbtrough.) [Teller.]|
|Halifax, V.||Rollo, L.|
|Sydney, V.||Romilly, L.|
|Abercromby, L.||Sefton, L. (E. Sefton)|
|Belper, L.||Seymour, L. (E. St. Maur.)|
|Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)|
|Somerhill L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.|
|Calthorpe, L.||Stafford, L.|
|Camoys, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Stratheden, L.|
|Chesham, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Churchill, L.||Sundridge, L (D. Argyll)|
|Clandeboye, L. (L. Dufferin and Claneboye.)||Taunton, L.|
|Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Cranworth, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Dacre, L.||Westbury, L.|
|Canterbury, Archp.||Buckingham and Chandos, D.|
|Cairns, L. (L. Chancellor.)|
|York, Archbp.||Mar. lborough, D.|
|Armagh, Archbp.||Northumberland, D.|
|Beaufort, D.||Rutland, D.|
|Abercorn, M.||De Vesci, V.|
|Ailsa, M.||Doneraile, V.|
|Bath, M.||Exmouth, V.|
|Bristol, M.||Hardinge, V.|
|Exeter, M.||Hawarden, V.|
|Salisbury, M.||Hereford, V.|
|Winchester, M.||Hill, V.|
|Abergavenny, E.||Sidmouth, V.|
|Amherst, E.||Strathallan, V.|
|Annesley, E.||Templetown, V.|
|Bandon, E.||Bangor, Bp.|
|Bantry, E.||Carlisle, Bp.|
|Bathurst, E.||Durham, Bp.|
|Bradford, E.||Ely, Bp.|
|Brooke and Warwick. E.||Gloucester and Bristol, Bp.|
|Cawdor, E.||Killaloe, &c., Bp.|
|Chesterfield, E.||Kilmore, &c., Bp.|
|Coventry, E.||Lincoln, Bp.|
|Dartrey, E.||Litchfield, Bp.|
|Derby, E.||Llandaff, Bp.|
|Devon, E.||London, Bp.|
|Dudley, E.||Manchester, Bp.|
|Effingham, E.||Meath, Bp.|
|Eldon, E.||Oxford, Bp.|
|Ellenborough, E.||Ripon, Bp.|
|Ellesmere, E.||Rochester, Bp.|
|Erne, E.||Salisbury, Bp.|
|Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)||Worcester, Bp.|
|Grey, E. [Teller.]||Abinger, L.|
|Haddington, E.||Aveland, L.|
|Hardwicke, E.||Bagot, L.|
|Harewood, E.||Berwick, L.|
|Harrington, E.||Blayney, L.|
|Harrowby, E.||Bolton, L.|
|Hillsborough, E. (M. Downshire.)||Boston, L.|
|Home, E.||Brancepeth, L (V. Boyne.)|
|Jersey, E.||Braybrooke, L.|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)|
|Malmesbury, E.||Castlemaine, L.|
|Mansfield, E.||Chaworth, L. (E. Meath)|
|Manvers, E.||Chelmsford, L.|
|Morton, E.||Churston, L.|
|Nelson, E.||Clarina, L.|
|Portarlington, E.||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)|
|Powis, E.||Clinton, L.|
|Romney, E.||Clonbrock, L.|
|Rosslyn, E.||Cloncurry, L.|
|Sandwich, E.||Colchester, L.|
|Selkirk, E.||Colonsay, L.|
|Shrewsbury, E.||Colville of Culross, L. [Teller.]|
|Stradbroke, E.||Congleton, L.|
|Strange, E. (D. Athol.)||Conyers, L.|
|Tankerville, E.||Crewe, L.|
|Vane, E.||Crofton, L.|
|Verulam, E.||Delamere, L.|
|Westmoreland, E.||De L'Isle and Dudley, L.|
|Wilton, E.||Denman, L.|
|Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.||De Ross, L.|
|De Saumarez, L.|
|Bangor, V.||Digby, L.|
|Bolingbroke and St. John, V.||Dunboyne, L.|
|Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)|
|Clancarty, V. (E. Clancarty.)||Egerton, L.|
|Farnham, L.||Rayleigh, L.|
|Feversham, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Fitzwalter, L.||Rivers, L.|
|Gage, L. (V. Gage.)||Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)|
|Grinstead, L. (E. Enniskillen.)||Saltoun, L.|
|Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.)||Sheffield, L. (E. Sheffield.)|
|Hay, L. (E. Kinnoul.)||Sherborne, L.|
|Hylton, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Kesteven, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Kilmaine, L.||Sondes, L.|
|Kingston, L. (E. Kingston.)||Southampton, L.|
|Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Lovel and Holland, L. (E. Egmont.)||St. John of Bletso, L.|
|Lytton, L.||Strathspey, L. (E. Seafield.)|
|Moore, L. (M. Drogheda.)|
|Northwick, L.||Thurlow, L.|
|O'Neill, L.||Tredegar, L.|
|Oriel, L. (V. Massereene)||Tyrone, L. (M. Waterford.)|
|Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)||Vernon, L.|
|Penrhyn, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)|
|Ravensworth, L.||Wharncliffe, L.|
§ Resolved in the Negative, and Bill to be read 2a on this Day Six Months.