§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
Moved. That the last three paragraphs of Her Majesty's most gracious Speech be read (Earl Granville)—agreed to; and the paid paragraphs accordingly read by the clerk:
The Ecclesiastical arrangements of Ireland will be brought under your consideration at a very early date, and the legislation which will be necessary in order to their final adjustment will make the largest demands upon the wisdom of Parliament.
I am persuaded that, in the prosecution of the work, you will bear a careful regard to every legitimate interest which it may involve, and that you will be governed by the constant aim to promote the welfare of religion through the principles of equal justice, to secure the action of the undivided feeling and opinion of Ireland on the side of loyalty and law, to efface the memory of, former contentions, and to cherish the sympathies Of an affectionate people.
In every matter of public interest, are especially in one so weighty, I pray that the Almighty may sever cease to guide jour deliberations, and may bring them to a happy issue.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords. I hope I shall not be misunderstood when I say there are special circumstances connected with the present occasion which make me feel that I am hardly equal to the performance of the honourable task which has been entrusted to me of moving the second reading of this important Bill. I can only trust to that indulgence and that forbearance which your Lordships have invariably extended to me. My Lords, I have given great—and. I am sorry to say, unavailing—consideration to the manner in which T could do justice to this Bill, so as at the same time to pay due respect to the House, and yet not be wearisome to its individual Members. It is the duty of him who moves the second reading of a Bill of this importance to show, in the first place, that what it Proposes is a thing which ought to be done: and, in the second place, that the provisions of the Bill are the right way of doing it. Now, I can conceive hardly anything more irksome to your Lordships, and therefore more painful to a speaker, than to go through the numerous and arduous details of a measure like this without being able to add new facts or impart new informa- 1638 tion to your Lordships. On the other hand, I feel that if I had to choose an opportunity of addressing a great, intellectual, and not uncritical assembly, I would choose that of trying to convey to them the conviction which I have entertained during my whole political life—that the Irish Church is a great anomaly, that it has not fulfilled the position which, it was intended to fill, and that it is a great injustice to the people of Ireland; and is, therefore, an obstacle not only to good administration, but: to all legislation in a reasonable, wise, and moderate spirit upon many other subjects which call for the action of Parliament. In proof of the necessity of this measure, I beg to refer to what has passed during the last eighteen months—not for the purpose of controversy, but merely to put the facts before your Lordships. Your Lordships will remember that leading Member of the late Government stated that Ireland was the principal question of the day, and that their policy towards Ireland, should he of a Liberal character. Again, Lord Mayo, the organ of the Irish Government in the House of Commons, admitted that there was much that was unsatisfactory in the position of the Established Church, and that there was an inequality among the religious denominations of that country which it was desirable should not continue. That view was confirmed by the late Government issuing a Commission upon the subject of the Irish Church; and I am quite sure that if your Lordships have read the Report of that Commission upon the limited question referred to it, you will agree that there is nothing in that Report to convince you that the Irish Church ought not to be dealt with. Then, my Lords, those who at that time formed the Opposition declared their policy last Session in the House of Commons; it was approved by a large majority of that House, and a Bill which was founded upon it came up to your Lordships' House, but was there rejected by a still larger majority. Now, I cannot say, notwithstanding the majority against it in this House, that I regret that that Bill was submitted to your Lordships. I had the honour of proposing the second reading; and after I had concluded the observations which I thought it necessary to make, there arose a debate which I have no hesitation in saying added much to the esti- 1639 mation in which your Lordships House is held by the public. That debate furnished at the time the most perfect compendium of the opinions of both sides on the most important public question of the day; and I am glad that your Lordships had that opportunity at a most critical moment of expressing your opinion to the country—a large proportion of which were then about to enter, for the first time, upon their newly-acquired franchise—and not only of expressing' your opinion by that large majority, but of supporting it by all the arguments which could be advanced in the favour of the course you took. My Lords, Her Majesty's late Government expressed an anxiety, which it was only natural that honourable men should feel, that having been defeated on a question of such importance, they should appeal to the country as soon as the technical difficulties which prevented that appeal being immediate should be removed. They did so appeal; and so confident were they of victory that the late Prime Minister, a week before the elections, declared to the citizens of London his conviction that the result of the elections would be to maintain him in power, at all events, for another year. The result, however, was not such as had been predicted; and Her Majesty's late Government were so struck with that result that they took the unusual, but, I think, creditable course, of immediately resigning their Offices, without waiting to test the opinion of the House of Commons, so satisfied were they that it was in unison with that of the people. This, I think, was a public spirited act on their part: and it had also this great advantage, that it was the only thing which made it possible, even with great exertions on the part of the present Government, and with much previous thought, to prepare a Bill and propose it to Parliament shortly after the opening of the Session. My Lords, Lord Stanley stated a short time since that approval of the principle of the Bill had been decided by those elections: while Mr. Disraeli himself stated in the House of Commons that in his view the decision at the elections amounted to this—that the country had decided that Mr. Gladstone should have an opportunity of dealing with the question of the Irish Church, but it had not given any opinion in favor of this particular measure. 1640 Now, from that latter part of this remark I must be permitted to differ entirely, for not only had the fullest explanation of Mr. Gladstone's general plan been submitted to the country before the elections, but it has been insisted on by the Opposition, in every discussion on this Bill on every stage, that Mr. Gladstone was bound in every particular to his plan and speeches of last year. Be that, however, as it may, Mr. Disraeli's admission is sufficient; for my present purpose, and I do not think it necessary for me to enter so fully as I felt it proper to do last year on the question whether or not it is necessary to deal with the Irish Church.
Now, your Lordships are technically supposed to know nothing of this Bill; but practically, as we all know, there is hardly one of your Lordships who is not well acquainted with the principles and details of the measure. I will take advantage of that assumption on my part in order to avoid going into minute details connected with every clause; but with the permission of the House I will endeavour to group the clauses, not according to their arithmetical arrangement in the Bill, but in the manner best calculated for the purpose of refreshing your Lordships' memories. But first, on the general principles of the Bill I may be allowed to make a few observations; they are contained in Clauses 2, 11, 12, and 13. The union between the Church of England and the Church of Ireland is put an end to, the Irish Church ceases to be established, ecclesiastical corporations in Ireland are dissolved, and Irish Archbishops and Bishops cease to have a right to sit as such in this House. This will take effect on the 1st of January, 1871. With regard to endowments, the present Ecclesiastical Commission will be dissolved, and the property held by it, subject to all existing rights, charges, and liabilities, will be transferred to a new Commission, which I will presently describe. These provisions will take effect on the passing of the Bill—supposing it should pass.
I now proceed to another branch of the measure—namely, the compensation to ecclesiastical persons or bodies affected by the Bill. All ecclesiastical persons holding freeholds are to be compensated in proportion to the net yearly income, after certain specified deductions, of which they may be deprived by the ope- 1641 ration of this Act—the amount to be ascertained and declared by the Commissioners. They are to receive an annuity equal to that net income during their lives and so long as they continue to discharge their present duties and the duties subsequently imposed on them with their own consent by the Representative Body of the Church—to be hereafter described—or if they are disabled from so doing by sickness or permanent infirmity, or any cause other than their wilful default. There will, however, be a deduction from this income in respect of the salary of a permanent curate, the question of permanency being decided by the Commissioners after both sides have been heard; but where the salary of such curate ceases in the lifetime of the person whose income has been subject to such deduction the latter will receive for the rest of his life a further annuity equal to the amount of such curate's salary. As to permanent curates, they are to receive an annuity equal to the amount of their present income, subject to the provision that that annuity shall cease if he should by misconduct, and without the incumbent's consent, be quit the curacy in respect of which the annuity is given him, or should, by reason of ill health or otherwise, become incapable of performing the duties. Other curates whom the Commissioners may deem not to be permanent curates will receive a gratuity at a rate not exceeding £25 for every year of service, the Commissioners being empowered in any case where the period of service does not amount to eight years to make up the gratuity to £200; but, in no case, is the gratuity to exceed £600. Private lay patrons will receive compensation after inquiry by the Commissioners; and diocesan schoolmasters, clerks, and sextons will receive an annuity equal to their net income of which they will be deprived by this Act. There are also other officials who will receive gratuities or compensation.
I now come, my Lords, to a point of considerable importance—namely, the application of the property as far as regards the benefices of the Church through the creation of a now body representing that Church. We have no wish to dissolve the spiritual union between the Church of England and the Church of Ireland; and therefore, although ecclesiastical laws will cease as such in the latter country, they will continue by 1642 voluntary contract and agreement until or unless they are altered also by agreement. Your Lordships are probably aware that Convocation has not met in Ireland for nearly 200 years, and there is a provision in an Act, passed in the reign of George II., and I believe directed against the United Irishmen, forbidding the assembly of any Convention or Synod of the Irish Church. These prohibitions are repealed by this Bill, and we believe that by that repeal the Church will be enabled to Constitute a body representing the Bishops, clergy, and laity. Her Majesty is enabled to incorporate such body by charter, and it is enabled, notwithstanding the statutes of mortmain, to hold lands to the extent that is in this Bill provided. With regard to the dealings between this new Representative Body, when incorporated, and the Commissioners, all holders of benefices may apply to the Commissioners to commute his annuity and the value of his life interest; and the Commissioners may, if they think proper, and with the consent of the Representative Church Body, pay the amount of such commuted value to the Church Body charged with the future payment of the annuity. Curates also, and any other persons having life interests in ecclesiastical property, are enabled to apply for similar commutation, with the consent, in the case of curates, of the incumbent as well as the Church Body. Any net building charge due in respect of any benefice will be paid to the incumbent on the commutation taking place. With regard to ecclesiastical buildings, all churches in ruin, or which are wholly disused for public worship, or which are not suitable for restoration, but which nevertheless may appear to be deserving of being maintained as national monuments by reason of their architectural character or antiquity, will be handed over to the Commissioners of Public Works for their guardianship and care. The churches which are in use will all be handed over to the Church Body upon their application and their declaration that they require them for religious purposes. Failing such application, a church built at the private expense of any person will on application be vested in the donor, or in his representatives if he have died since the beginning of this century, or in such persons as he or they may direct. With 1643 regard to school-houses, all these belonging to the Church will be vested in the Church Body, and will be dealt with in the same order. As to burial grounds those connected with churches vested in the new Body, or given by private donors, or exclusively used by the congregations will go in the same order as that which vests the churches. Burial grounds belonging to churches handed over to the Commissioners of Public Works will be vested in the guardians of the Poor Law union within which their parish may be situated. With regard to ecclesiastical residences, they will, on the application of the Church Body, be vested in them, subject to the payment of any life interest, and, in case of any building charge subject to the payment to the Commissioners of either the amount of such charge, of a sum equal to ten years' purchase of the annual value, estimated by the general tenement valuation. Your Lordships are probably aware that there are building charges upon the glebe houses amounting to £250,000. Your Lordships are possibly aware that since the Union the public have advanced £150,000, and another £100,000 has accrued for interest. It is calculated that under this arrangement the Com missioners will not be recompensed to the extent of more than 50 per cent. There are powers given by the Bill to attach thirty acres of land in the case of a see house and ten acres in the case of any oilier ecclesiastical residence, provided such land has been usually occupied there with, and additional ground may be added at a price agreed upon or fixed by arbitration, if such additional land is necessary for the convenient enjoyment of the residence. Private endowments given since 1660 will be vested in the Church Body if they apply for it: otherwise, in the; donor, or, if he have died since 1800, in his representatives. On this subject there are different views. Some hold that these private benefactions should at once merge in the public fund, and be treated exactly in the same way; while others would go back for any period of time where any record of private benefactions can be traced. Her Majesty's Government, however, have thought the date fixed in the Bill the most convenient that could be adopted, and we shall be ready now or in Committee to explain the reasons for the limit we propose. With regard to mixed 1644 endowments, it is proposed that private endowments may be sold or public endowments purchased at a rate applicable equally to both cases. All moveable, chattels, furniture, &c. belonging to any church or chapel will be vested in the Church Body, subject to any life interests.
And now with regard to the Presbyterians and the Roman Catholics. The Regium Donum, as your Lordships are aware, amounts to something like £45,000 or £50,000 a year. When that grant is discontinued it is proposed to deal with the Nonconformist ministers and their assistant successors in the same way as with the incumbents of the Established Church. Their annuities may, in like manner, be commuted. It is not necessary for me to remind your Lordships that the Presbyterian ministers stand in a different position from the permanent curates of the Church, and therefore the capital sum produced by the commutation will be paid to trustees. Maynooth College will be compensated by the payment of a capital sum to the trustees. With regard to these three bodies—the Established Church, the Presbyterians, and the Roman Catholics—there exists this difference between the three cases. The Church has endowments both for the purpose of religious ministration and also for educational purposes—I mean the endowments belonging to Trinity College. It is proposed to compensate the interests of those who are affected by this Bill, and not to deal in any way with the educational portion, which is not touched by the present Bill. The Roman Catholics have nothing at stake so far as regards their religious ministration, and they are only to be compensated for their educational establishment; while the Presbyterians will be compensated under both classes of endowment. As to the first of these classes, the Presbyterians have been compensated on the same principle as the Established Church, while the other classes will have exactly the same compensation as that which is given to the College of Maynooth. The same principle of compensation has been adopted in all three cases as nearly as circumstances would admit; and although the compensation, amounting. I think, to £7,900,000 in the case of the Established Church, and to only £1,100,000 in the case of the 1645 Presbyterians and Roman Catholics—one-third of the latter sum going to the Roman Catholics—is painfully out of proportion to the population, your Lordships will understand that that cannot he helped by the principle we have adopted. It is a curious coincidence with regard to the compensation given to the educational establishments of the Presbyterians and the Roman Catholics that, comparing these sums so given and the amount of population in each instance; they come, almost without a fraction, to the same result—namely, about 20s. for every twelve persons of each denomination.
I now come to the provisions of the Bill relating to the sale of the tithe-rent-charge. These have been described by some Members of the late Government as a bribe to the landowners—which was a little inconsistent with a subsequent attempt to improve the terms offered to that body. It is nothing of the sort. I believe no bribe of any kind would bias any one of your Lordships in the consideration you would give to any part of this Bill, but nothing of the kind is offered. It is simply proposed as a wise, fair, and almost the only practicable arrangement; and if it is advantageous in the long run to the landed proprietary of Ireland, I should like to know what possible improvement you can suggest for that country which would not in the long run be for the advantage of the landowners.
The next point of the Bill is one on which I confess I feel some satisfaction—I mean with regard to the residue of the property, and the application of the surplus, amounting to some £8,000,000, after the Church has been disestablished and disendowed. I do not know whether the experience of your Lordships will bear out my own, but as soon as Mr. Gladstone's plan was proposed last year, and up to the time when this Bill was introduced, there was no one with whom I conversed, whether a friend or an opponent of the Irish Church, who did not say—"You will find it easy enough to disestablish and disendow the Irish Church, but when you come to the disposal of the surplus, it is a rock on which you will infallibly split." Now, the framers of this measure have been so fortunate that hardly a criticism has been passed on this most important portion of the Bill, and hardly any alterna- 1646 tive scheme has been proposed except one to which I shall hereafter allude; there have been some jokes made, though hardly relevant when the question to be considered deals with the inevitable calamities of the human kind. The purposes to which we propose to apply the surplus are asylums for lunatics, the blind, the deaf and dumb, the training of nurses, county infirmaries, and also—which is the only exception with regard to unavoidable suffering—reformatories and industrial schools, which are much wanted. The advantage of this plan is in the first place, that though not strictly an ecclesiastical purpose, it is a religious purpose, and applies equally to every class and every district of Ireland. These purposes are now imperfectly met by the land cess a tax which presses more universally almost than any other tax upon the people. The proposal has also this further advantage, that it excludes any future agitation of the question, and if it can be finally settled it is obviously very desirable it should now be settled.
I now come to a series of clauses with respect to the constitution of the Commission: and I cannot help complimenting my noble Friend behind me (Viscount Monck)—not only for his own sake, but on the prospect of his labours being successful, if the Bill is carried—on the universal approbation which has been given to the constitution of the Board. It is to be composed of three Commissioners: one of them an eminent Judge; one of them my noble Friend who, though a Churchman, has avowed himself, differing from the Government, to be opposed to all Church Establishments, and who therefore will receive a stimulus to the utmost degree to show that a free Church can be made to work well; and the third a gentleman who entirely disapproves the principles of the Bill, but who, if it be carried, will devote his energies and abilities, which no body can deny, to the successful working out of its provisions.
There are some supplementary and miscellaneous provisions which it is hardly necessary to go into now, and which will be more properly reserved for the Committee if the Bill should reach that stage. There are some of these, however, which are important, as they deal with a question very much discussed last year—the mode of dealing 1647 in the interim with the patronage of the Church, either as regards the appointment of Bishops or of the clergy. Now it is proposed that the right of appointment shall be maintained; but that those appointments shall convoy no vested rights, and shall not constitute a freehold. With regard to Archbishops and Bishops, an Archbishop can only he appointed on the requisition of three Bishops of the Province, and a Bishop on the requisition of the Archbishop, or any three Bishops of the same Province, but that appointment will convey no right or qualification to sit in the House of Lords.
I may now congratulate myself, and still more congratulate your Lordships, on having exhausted the clauses, with the exception of the saving and interpretation clauses.
If your Lordships have followed me you will see that the Bill may be divided into four parts. Putting aside the appropriation of the surplus and the clauses necessary to the working of the Act, there are those clauses containing the general principles of the Bill with regard to disestablishment and disendowment, and the oilier clauses are all with regard to satisfying the equitable rights of persons affected by the Bill, and to giving facilities to the Church for its future conduct, such as may seem best calculated to promote its interests, by the new Body proposed to be constituted. Now, with respect to the general principle of the Bill, and the dissolution of the union between the two Churches. I venture to think that the argument will not be often repeated that there is something in the nature of the Act of Union which makes it impossible to carry out such an arrangement as this. I admit the value of the Act of Union: I admit the good it has already done, and the good—which I hope will be even infinitely greater—which it will do if your Lordships pass this Bill; but that Act is not the maiden fortress which it is sometimes represented to be, for it has already been infringed in some particulars by the Church Temporalities Act, and also by the changes in the Parliamentary representation of Ireland. Even, however, if it had not been infringed, to say that because an Act of Union was passed seventy years ago it is impossible that the majority of the English representatives, and the: majority of the Scotch representatives, 1648 joined with the majority of the Members representing the sister kingdom of Ireland cannot touch one portion of that Act, whatever public advantage they see in a change, is really an astonishing argument. My noble Friend who is to follow me (the Earl of Harrowby) evidently thinks, from what we have heard of his speeches recently, that our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects are in such a position that equal rights ought not to be given them. But how can he seek to strengthen his argument by an appeal to that very Act of Union, which was caused by Great Britain inviting Ireland cordially to unite with it at a time when a great Minister held forth hopes of Ireland being restored to equal civil and religious rights? With regard to disestablishment, it will be difficult for me to go through the main argument without breaking the pledge I have given to your Lordships. There is one point which I think is satisfactory—that the discussions of the last eighteen months seem to have brought about a very general concurrence of opinion, both among learned and unlearned persons, both among friends and opponents of this measure, that the Bill does not affect the question of the Royal Supremacy, according to the principles laid down in that very remarkable judgment of Lord Kingsdown in the case of "Long of the Bishop of Capetown." We hold that the Royal Supremacy exists in every part of Her Majesty's dominions. It exists in the colonies and in Scotland exactly as it exists in Ireland or in this country. We claim that nobody can get redress for the infringement of religious as for civil rights except by having recourse to the tribunals constituted by the Royal Prerogative. Even, however, if your Lordships take an opposite view—if you moan by the Royal Supremacy something quite different, something interfering with the religious regulations of an established religion—something, in short, of the nature of the Star Chamber—even taking that view Ireland will be put exactly in the same position as Scotland: and, as far as I know, the political and religious state of that country it does not make it undesirable that we should leave Ireland in the same position. The most rev. Primate of Ireland, who does not occupy a seat in your Lordships' House this Parliament, contended last Session that not only are the revenues of 1649 the Irish Church not excessive, but that they are not adequate for the requirements of that small community which constitutes the Irish Church; and in a charge he delivered last autumn the most rev. Prelate of Dublin somewhat complained of being taunted with the paucity of the numbers of that Church, and he intimated that this was not a necessary element in the discussion of this question. I contend, however, that it is a most necessary element to the inquiry. It is one of the most important elements if your Lordships consider whether the so-called national Church has answered The purpose for which it was founded, and also, on this particular joint. whether these large endowments are necessary for it. With regard to the paucity of its members, the most rev. Primate referred, as one of the reasons for the diminution of the Protestant population to. the massacre which took place in 1641—a massacre of Protestants by Catholies—in which he said the lowest estimate placed them at 40,000. Now, I rather doubt that, for a Protestant clergyman. Mr. Warner, after examining the depositions which still exist in Ireland, stared that they could not have exceeded 12,000. Even, however, taking it at the figure stated by the most rev. Primate. T would ask whether he forgets the statement of Mr. Hallam, who quotes Sir William Petty, that about that time no less than 500,000 Roman Catholics were wasted by the sword or by the plague or other causes, and that in Sir William Potty's opinion it produced such an effect that in something like two years it increased the proportion of Protestants to Roman Catholics from 2 to 11 to 3 to 11. A Return ordered by the Irish Parliament in 1767 shows that there were then 130 Protestant families, as compared with 305 Roman Catholic families. I read in a Conservative newspaper the other day an extract from a pamphlet, the title of which was not given, to the effect that in France, where all religions are paid by the State, the sum per head amounted to something like 10d. or a franc. On turning to the French budget under "Public Worship," I found that that statement is not quite accurate, and that the actual amount is about 1s. per head: find that the number of Protestants in France being about double the number of Protestants belonging to the Irish Church, it seems that the French Pro- 1650 testants receive for their religious ministrations as nearly as possible one-seventeenth part of those endowments which the most rev. Primate told us last year were inadequate for the requirements of the Irish Church. I say then that in proportion to its numbers the Irish Church has a larger endowment than any other religious community in the world; and, apart from that endowment, it is a religious community which, in proportion to its numbers, has probably the largest income in the world. To say, then, that that Church, with all the advantages, material, and otherwise, which we offer it, will be unable to do what has been done in Scotland and the colonies, without any such advantages, is to pay it a poor compliment. I really must apologize for bringing the case of Scotland so often before your Lordships. We all of its remember an opinion once expressed, that if would be for the advantage of this country if Ireland could be submerged for twenty-four hours. The mere possibility of so savage a suggestion supplies it moral. Without suspecting any of your Lordships of entertaining so inhuman a wish towards Scotland, I have a shrewd suspicion that, for the purposes of this discussion and during this debate, if you could possibly envelop the northern part of this said island in one of those thick mists to which that interesting portion of the country is exposed, your Lordships would be very glad to conceal Scotland during that time from observation. Whenever we are asked how Ireland would be benefited by the disestablishment of the Church, we point conclusively to the results shown by Scotland having resisted the establishment of Episcopacy; and when we are taunted with this measure as one of an anti-Protestant character, we naturally ask how it is that probably the most Protestant country in the world has, with one voice, always excepting the representatives of its Peers, declared its conviction that this is a just and reasonable measure? When we look at its Free Church, swarming like naked bees out of the parent hive, and immediately producing honey equal to the supply both of its religious ministrations and its educational endowments, I think it would be a positive insult to the members of the richest community in Ireland to doubt that they will supply whatever is wanted for their religious ministrations.
1651 Now, with regard to another portion of the Bill, I have seen its provisions described, and they probably will be so described this evening, as conceived in a spirit of hostility to the? Established Church. Now, to one who has been able to watch the growth of this measure, and who knows the pains, the thought, the constructive power which has been expended on one of the most difficult tasks ever undertaken—the disestablishment and disendowment of this ancient Church, while respecting all equitable rights of persons connected with it: respecting also that great principle of religious equality as regards other religious to which we hold, but at the same time? wishing to give every facility to the Church to form itself in the future—it appears incredible that such an opinion should be held. It has arisen. I think, very much from the openness with which Mr. Gladstone detailed last year the whole scope of the policy he proposed to pursue, for since that time it has been made the basis for concessions perfectly inconsistent with the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church. It is this Bill which the Leaders of the party opposite intend—so we are informed—even without examination of its details, to reject on the second reading, and this they hope to do by the support of the right rev. Bench and by that of willing and unwilling supporters, some of whom, I understand, have even been summoned from across the Atlantic with the hope of rejecting the Bill. Now, I beg to say one word, and I do it with great respect, but considerable diffidence, to the Irish portion of the right rev. Bench. I feel all the difficulties of their position: they have hoisted—and I do not at ail wonder at it—the flag of "No surrender!" It might have been well, when the fall of the Irish Church seemed almost inevitable, that they should not have maintained so strict a reserve towards Her Majesty's Government. Of this I do not complain. Nay, I will go further; I can quite understand the reasons which influenced them, and I feel that it is the necessity of their position which obliges them to say "Not-Content" to the second residing of this Bill. But I venture to ask them whether this necessity of their position does not afford one of the strongest arguments for the measure we are about to take? It is the neces- 1652 sity or assumed necessity of their position which has guided the Prelates of the Irish Church for nearly 300 years. It was this necessity which made a man so eminent, so learned, and so otherwise amiable as Archbishop Usher declare to his Colleagues of the right rev. Bench that it was a sin to allow Roman Catholics to exercise their religion. It was this assumed necessity of their position which, at a later date, made them not only join in but prompt; all measures of restriction and persecution towards the great majority of their Roman Catholic fellow-Subjects. It was this which made them protect also against any relaxation of the same restrictions which were applied to their Protestant fellow-subjects. It was this necessity or misery of their position which led the Irish House of Lords—in which this Bishops were a majority—to pass those Penal Laws which make the blood run cold, and which make one wonder how any man, lay or cleric, could ever have sanctioned laws which enabled Judges from the Bench to tell Roman Catholic gentlemen that they had no legal rights, and that Papists could only live in Ireland by the connivance of the Government: Mr. Burke, speaking of the Penal Laws, said that by them the Irish Roman Catholic was deprived not only of his civil and religious rights, but of his rights as guardian of his own children, and that he only lived to show in his own person how every right feeling of humanity could be insulted. It was this which led them to oppose every relaxation of these Penal Laws; it was this that led them to oppose the emancipation of the Roman Catholics in Ireland; which has led them to offer resistance at every step in the advancement towards civil and religions liberty, and which leads them now—though I admit in a very mildform—to oppose that measure of justice to all religious denominations in Ireland which we venture to propose. Now, my Lords, I turn to the English Bench, I know that there are some right rev. English Prelates who agree with their Irish brethren, who think it would be a sin partaking of the nature of sacrilege if they were to vote for, or even not to vote against, the second reading of this Bill. But I also trust that there is on the right rev. Bench not an entire absence of opinion that our measure is just and is wise, and is not, therefore, 1653 to be opposed on any religious grounds. But with regard to the large majority of the right rev. Bench who cannot help regretting that this question was ever mooted, who regret that this question has arrived at its present stage. I would venture most respectfully to lay certain considerations before them which I am sure will receive attention at their hands. My Lords, filling the high position they do in this House, connected as they are with the Church, and being the only Parliamentary representatives of an ecclesiastical character, while at the same time they are by no means delegates of the clergy, they have no doubt well considered whether it is not their duty to take not only an ecclesiastical, lint a statesman like view of the effect which their course may have upon the best interests of that, magnificent and popular Establishment of which they are the ornaments and the supports. I can understand their delicacy in pointing out the great difference between the English and the Irish Church. I am told that one of the arguments used to them is this—if the Irish Church is disestablished your turn will come next. [Cheers.] I am glad noble Lords opposite prove the accuracy of the statement, although I do not admit the validity of the argument. It is also urged that if they do not take a decided course now they will be left without defence when that time comes. Now, my Lords, I will not go into the question of the difference between the English and the Irish Churches; but I cannot conceive anything more suicidal to the best interests of the English Church than that they should admit, either by word or deed, that the principal reasons for the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church apply in any degree whatever to the future disestablishment of a Church which stands upon so different a footing. I had occasion to read the other day a remarkable speech made by the most rev. Prelate who presides over the Northern Province—a speech made in one of the centres of our industrial population. I will only allude to one point in that speech, in which he impresses upon the clergy the necessity of getting a firmer hold upon the laity, and especially upon the working classes of this country. There was another charge of an eloquent character delivered by the right rev. 1654 Prelate the Bishop of this diocese, in which he points to some causes of the decline of the Church in the affections of the people, one of which he said was the separation—I think he said a growing separation—between the clergy and the laity. I may also allude to another fact. The most rev. Prelate, in a speech which he made in this House last year—a speech that was much criticized at the time—said that our policy would turn some 20,000 clergymen into political opponents: the expression was probably stronger than he intended, but I am bound to admit there was much truth in the remark. Now, my Lords, what was it that prevented the enormous majority who support Her Majesty's Government in the House of Commons at this moment from having been much larger? It was the defeats which their friends received in some of the counties. Those supporters of Her Majesty's Government who were defeated have given various reasons for that defeat; but in one thing they all agree—namely, that their defeat was principally due to the immense influence which the clergymen of the Church of England, acting with their schoolmasters, clerks, and sextons, brought to bear upon the rural population. Now, my Lords, there are some who regret that the clergy of the Established Church in this country should be able to exercise so much power. I am not one. I do not regret that they should have that power; and I think, moreover, the clergy were perfectly justified, if such were their conscientious convictions, in exercising their influence to the uttermost at the last election, previous to the decision of the country having been given on this question. But, if it comes to this—while the laity pronounce themselves—as they have pronounced themselves—in favour of the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and yet that policy is defeated partly by that clerical influence in the country at large, and partly by the votes and proceedings of the right rev. Prelates in this House—then, I think, I am not biassed in the slightest degree by party feeling in saying that that is not exactly the course which would tend to diminish the estrangement which is now said to exist between the clergy and the laity. There is another consideration which I would put to the right rev. Bench—whether it is desirable for the interests 1655 of the Church that the discussion going into the whole question should be conducted and decided under such irritating and exciting circumstances. Now, my Lords, I am not so presumptuous as to believe that any advice from me would have the slightest influence upon noble Lords at the head of the party opposite. On the other hand, I latter myself that if even by any unintentional carelessness I was to let out anything that sounded like dictation or menace, that would not have the slightest effect in inducing them to deviate from the line of duty which they have laid down for themselves. In saying this, however I am afraid dictation from a different quarter has had some effect on the course they intend to adopt. I have no doubt that the Loaders of the Conservative party have most deeply weighed all the circumstance by which they are surrounded. I cannot doubt that they have done that which the Duke of Wellington described as the golden rule of his life—before taking one step to decide what was to be, the next. I have no doubt that they have, decided, and probably communicated to their Friends, whether this rejection of the second reading is the beginning of a permanent opposition to the passing of this Bill or not. I have-no doubt they have reflected upon what is to follow; and if they have not made up their minds to maintain that firm position. I would ask whether they do not think it more for the honour and dignity of this House at once to state that, having declared their opinions against this measure, though they still retained those objections to their full extent, they would not venture to oppose that which had been demanded by the voice of the nation?
There is one argument which has been used, both in speeches and conversation, with regard to the course which this House should take. I have heard it stated that, if you allow this Bill to pass you will confess yourselves powerless, and that as the inevitable struggle must come between this House and the House of Commons, it is better that that struggle should be brought to an issue at once. Now I believe that that argument has been, the source of more unnecessary wars, not only among classes, but among nations, than any other argument ever employed. During my life I could almost count the times I have 1656 heard that argument used—at periods when there seemed to be some difficulty in preserving peace with our near and good neighbours the French—and I should like noble Lords to tell us what is their judgment now, or that of any reasonable being, in regard to the value of these arguments. Will noble Lords, adopting that argument to-day, tell me that this House is powerless? Why, looking round me, when I see your Lordships 'House crowded with representatives of enormous wealth, of great social position, and of eminent services rendered in public andprivatelife—when I see the precincts of this chamber crowded with Privy Councillors, with Members of the other House, with the representatives of Crowned Heads and great Republics, and our galleries adorned—if I may be allowed to say so—with a portion of the human race not altogether without influence—I venture to say that in this world never was erected a more magnificent platform on which men, by their wisdom, their eloquence and their knowledge, could influence the opinions of their fellow-men. But to look at it more practically—will your Lordships tell me—will your Lordships tell my Colleagues on this Bench that your Lordships are without power—we, who are charged every month, almost every week, with measures of the greatest importance, though they may not receive much popular attention, and who have to change, amend, postpone, withdraw those measures at the instance of your Lordships? My Lords, you have power—great power—immense power—for good; but there is one power; you have not; you have not, more than the House of Commons—more than the Constitutional Sovereigns of this country—more.I will add, than the despotic Sovereigns of some great empires in civilized communities—you have no the power of thwarting the national will when properly and constitutionally expressed.
I will venture now—to use an admirable word invented by a noble Lord opposite—to Hansardize. I will quote certain expressions used by noble Lords opposite last year, in order that I may show what your Lordships' opinions were then. I will first repeat, if your Lordships will permit me, what the noble Earl, who was then Leader of the House, stated. He spoke with that di- 1657 plomatic reticence which is supposed to characterize one in the position the noble Earl filled. He said very little, and it amounted to this—He complained that at the last General Election the question of the Irish Church was not even mentioned on the hustings. That was all the noble Earl said; but it implied a great deal. I am sorry to say I cannot find the quotation I had marked in the speech of my noble Friend the noble Duke opposite, who has taken so very warm a part in this matter, and who applied a somewhat humiliating phrase to the poor infant of which I had charge. I remember that he spoke of "kicking it out;" and I think he stated that he thought it was only due to the country that this question, instead of being decided at that time, should be referred back for another year for further consideration. I may refer also to words used, not by a Member of the Opposition, but by a most rev. Prelate, to the effect that the question was one on which the country had not at that time pronounced a decision. Then the noble Duke the late President of the Council (the Duke of Marlborough) said that by rejecting the Suspensory Bill your Lordships would give the people of England an opportunity, which he thought they ought to have, of calmly and quietly considering the question—a course which, in his opinion, we had refused. The noble Marquess below the Gangway (the Marquess of Salisbury) said he quite admitted, as every one should admit, that when the opinion of his fellow-countrymen had been freely stated, it was the duty of your Lordships to yield. The noble Marquess said more to the same effect; and I think the noble Marquess is the only Member on the Opposition who has alluded to the subject in the same way this Session. As far as I gathered, his expression of opinion the other day did not all vary from the declaration which he made last year. [The Marquess of SALISBURY: Hear, hear!] "What said the noble and learned Lord the present Leader of the Opposition (Lord Cairns) last year? After very strong words as to his opinion of the Suspensory Bill, which from his view I thought he was quite justified in. using, he said there were vast issues involved in the Bill, and that those issues had yet to be presented to the country in the great appeal to the enlarged constituencies. Then 1658 the noble and learned Lord went on to say that, in that great appeal, the Government of that day would stand defenders of all that the Suspensory Bill and the policy of its promoters would seek to overthrow; and, he added, by the result of that appeal the Government would be prepared to abide. [Lord CAIRNS: Hear, hear!] I am curious to hear the explanation of the noble and learned Lord will give to these word. The explanation which I have seen suggested, but which I should doubt he will bring forward himself, is that these words only meant that if there was a majority of the House of Commons in favour of that policy he and his Friends would not persist in maintaining' the late Government in power. If that were the meaning of the promise it appears to me to have been one of very small value. To me it appears conclusive that, if a man states he is determined to abide by an appeal, he does not mean taking on the very first opportunity every means in his power to reverse the decision of the country. There is another quotation with which I will trouble your Lordships, from a speech attributed to the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby). I think I can recognize it, although we all know how incorrectly these deputations are often reported. He is reported to have said, on the occasion to which I refer, that he was merely an independent Peer: but I venture to say—and I think your Lordships will agree with me—that when a statesman who has been three times Prime Minister of the country, who has led a large party, with an ability and brilliancy of which has been admitted by friend and foe, who continues—although having given up Office—to take an active part both in the deliberations of his party and in this House, adopts any course in reference to a public measure, it is perfectly impossible for him to throw away that influence and responsibility which have grown upon him, and say—"I am merely a private individual." The noble Earl said last year, in reference to the Suspensory Bill, that if your Lordships should say—"Not Content," the subject would come, without prejudice, under the consideration of a new Parliament. The noble Earl added, that your Lordships are always ready to bow to the deliberately expressed and well-ascer- 1659 tained opinion of the country; and he further remarked—"For my own part, I will say that there must be a very decided expression of opinion to alter my judgment on such a question as this."—[The Earl of DERBY: Hear, hear!]—The noble Earl cheers. I apprehend his meaning to be, that no such expression of opinion has been given by the country. My Lords, speaking of the dignity of the House, it is impossible not to feel that, the whole tone of the debate lust year, and of all those declarations from those who had a right to speak with the greatest influence and weight on the opposite side, led every one to expect they were anxiously appealing to the country in order to know its opinion—an opinion which they hoped would be in their favour. Will it really be dignified on the part of your Lordships to say now to the country—"We waited anxiously for the decision given at the General Elections: if that, decision bad been in our favour, it would have been a great fact: as it is to such an enormous extent, against us, it is nothing?" Why, my Lords, it reminds me of a phrase which we used to think very facetious at school, but which we never thought very logical even there—"Heads I win; tails you lose." My Lords, the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Cairns) is reported to have said he thought it would be desirable, in the proceeding for rejecting this Bill, that the Motion for its rejection should be confided to my noble Friend and Relative, and old Colleague (the Earl of Harrowby) who is now sitting at the table and he gave as a reason for that opinion that the noble Earl was not a party man. I can quite understand that the noble and learned Lord was really glad to secure the services of one of the most honest and conscientious Members of this House; but I must remind your Lordships that though my noble Friend has most conscientiously abstained from adhering very long to any one particular party in the State, yet, as regards this particular question he has not only thrown himself into the party opposite, but has absolutely made himself leader of an extreme party—I will not say faction—which appears to have had so much influence with the Leaders of the Opposition against the counsels of more moderate men. I have no objection that this Motion should be considered not to be of a party character; but, if so, I 1660 hope the same language will be held by every noble Lord opposite, and that, without reference to party, they will all do what they believe to be best calculated to uphold the interests of the country and the honour of the House.
My Lords. I have now to fulfil the pledge which I gave to a noble Baron (Lord Bateman) who put a question to me the other day somewhat irregularly, but which f understood at the time, and know now, was only put with the intention of clearing up a misunderstanding which he thought disadvantageous both for the Government and your Lordships' House. I am asked to speak, and I do so with some difficulty, as to some charge—though I do not know what the exact charge is—made against the Government. I am told that threats have been used by the Government, and that there has been a manner of conducting this Bill through the other House which, by anticipation, has been offensive to your Lordships. My Lords, a very sensible letter appeared in The Times of to-day, urging me to be "conciliatory" in my declaration of to-night. My Lords, I trust I know very well the true value of conciliation, and, except in the manner in which we are all liable to make hasty remarks in the heat of debate, I trust that I do not sin greatly against it. But if discretion is a good rule, truth is a better: and I believe that in this instance you wish me plainly and simply to describe what I conceive has been and is the position of Her Majesty's Government, Her Majesty's Government in this matter, as I need scarcely remind your Lordships, have taken immense pains to frame and complete a very large measure on the subject of the Irish Church. Your Lordships also are aware of the signal success with which that Bill recommended itself to the favourable consideration of a large majority of the House of Commons. Now, I understand that one objection taken to the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government is this—that they, backed up as they were by that large majority, refused to allow any Amendments to be made in the Bill in the House of Commons. Now, in the first place, the fact is not so. There am Amendments in the Bill as to matters of detail—some of them trifling, others of an important character; and one Amendment, invol 1661 ving a very difficult question, was positively postponed in Committee at the suggestion of the Prime Minister, with, the approval of Mr. Hardy and the acquiescence of Sir Roundell Palmer, on the understanding that it would be better to leave the subject for your Lordships' determination, on the complimentary ground that your Lordships would be the body most competent to deal with it. But, my Lords, there were also a certain class of Amendments which I own were rejected by a majority of the House of Commons, under the advice of Her Majesty's Government—I mean the class of Amendments which were proposed by Mr. Disraeli. I will venture to ask the noble and learned Lord opposite—who, if he did not frame these Amendments, must certainly have given his sanction to them, whether Her Majesty's Government were bound to regard them as bonâ fide Amendments, or in the light of Amendments proposed for the purpose of attacking Mr. Gladstone in front, rear, and flank, in order to find a weak point in his armour, and of endeavouring to find whether there was a possibility of breaking the serried ranks of the majority? It seems almost insulting to ask such a question, but if the Amendments were not bonâ fide Her Majesty's Government certainly would have been utterly unjustified in accepting them. If, however, on the other hand, they were put forward as being bonâ fide Amendments I should be very glad if the noble and learned Lord, when he speaks in the course of the debate, would explain their somewhat extraordinary character. I have referred the whole of them to a professional gentleman of great statistical eminence, who has worked out the results that would follow their adoption—the Paper is a very long one, but I have it in my possession—and he finds that without giving any compensation to Maynooth or to the Presbyterians, £1,300,000 of £1,400,000 would be required over and above the highest estimate at which this Bill places the Church property to carry them into effect. Under these circumstances, I should like to know whether Her Majesty's Government were right or wrong, or were in any way disrespectful to this House by anticipation, in refusing to accept Amendments which would entail such a result. My Lords, it is very difficult for me, and, indeed. 1662 it would be perfectly impossible for me, to speak for the House of Commons, or for any large portion of that body, but I have not the slightest doubt that the House of Commons was disposed to support Her Majesty's Government in any course they might point out as being the most just and reasonable that could, be followed under the circumstances. But, my Lords, supposing that every possible Amendment that by any strain of their judgment Her Majesty's Government could bring themselves to think consistent with the principle of their Bill had been acceded to, in what position would your Lordships' House have been placed? Why, it would have been impossible for the Government to have conceded to any single Amendment that your Lordships might think it right to make in the Bill. But as the matter now stands. I on the part of my Colleagues and myself, have to state that—proud as we are of the charge that has been committed to our care, and determined as we are earnestly to adhere to the principle and to the main provisions of the Bill—we are not only ready to gratefully welcome any alteration in the details which appeared to us likely to have a beneficial effect, but we should think it an absolute duty to carefully consider every alteration that may be proposed by your Lordships. More than that I cannot say, and more or less I ought not to say.
My Lords, the noble Earl opposite, whose forcible language so often carries conviction to the minds of his enthusiastic audience, has stated that the question of the Irish Church is not a question of politics, but a question of the Bible. What! the Irish Church not a political question? Will the noble Earl repeat that statement to your Lordships, who know something of the history of that Church since its establishment 300 years ago, and who know that the great bane of that Church is that, it has been constantly steeped in politics, and polities of the worst description? And now, when we come forward for the first time with a real and possibly a successful effort to deal with the question by taking away that political character from that Church, planted as it is in the midst of a population the large majority of which do not agree with its doctrines, we are told that the question is not a political one. I do not yield in respect 1663 for the Bible to the noble Earl; and when I look to that portion of the Bible which supplies Christians of all denominations with their system of morals. I find in it a precept which no repetition can render stale, which no misapplication can vulgarize, and which, in twelve short words, gives to us our line of duty as between man and man. My Lords, I will venture to ask again this evening a question which I asked last year—a question which had been asked scores of times before and hundreds of times since—will any of your Lordships answer that question, and say that if the relative positions of this country and of Ireland had been changed—if Ireland had been the stronger for three centuries, if she had imposed upon us a so-called national Church with which we did not agree, and which monopolized to itself all the ecclesiastical titles and all the ecclesiastical wealth of the country—should we, when that pressure was removed, have consented to such a state of things being continued? My Lords, that question has not yet been answered—I believe that it is unanswerable. Will the noble Earl who is about to move the rejection of this Bill commence his speech by stating in a direct manner—and we all know how perfectly honest any answer from him will be—that he can give an affirmative answer to that question? If the Holy Scriptures are to be dragged into this discussion, I say we have a right to claim that they are with and not against us when we are endeavouring, in the words of Her Majesty's gracious Speech, "to promote the welfare of religion through the principles of justice and equality," and when we wish to do unto Ireland that which, if she were the stronger, we should wish Ireland to do unto us.
My Lords, it is impossible for me to sit down without expressing my feelings of respectful gratitude to your Lordships for the remarkable manner in which you have conceded to me that indulgence and forbearance which I ventured to ask for when I commenced my speech.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Earl Granville).
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
My Lords, being little accustomed to address your Lordships at any great length, I have to ask your Lordships' indulgence 1664 if I fail to express myself in a manner adequate to a subject, of this gravity and importance, and I will at once say that I should not have presumed to take so prominent a part in this matter of my own more motion. I have no pretensions to represent any considerable body of your Lordships; but at a meeting of many noble Lords silting on this side of the House, which I was invited to attend, having stated my views upon the subject of the Bill now under consideration, I was requested by those who had the management of the proceedings to undertake the duty, the performance of which I am now about to attempt. I make this statement in order that your Lordships should, fully understand that I make no pretensions of my own to take the lead upon this question, and that I am merely accepting a part imposed upon me by others, believing it to be my duty to take any share assigned to me in a matter upon which I feel so deeply.
My Lords, the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville), in going through the history of this question, attributed its commencement to a speech of Lord Mayo, a member of the Administration of the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby), declaring line of policy to be pursued towards Ireland—a line of policy which those who sat on the Opposition Benches did not approve, and to which they therefore felt themselves compelled to come forward and declare an antagonistic policy of their own. I am not here to defend Lord Mayo or those with whom he acted—I was not connected with Lord Mayo or with the Government to whose views he gave expression—but, at the same time, I must inquire what was the declaration which was so eagerly caught up by the party opposite, and which made them feel the necessity of coming forward with a new policy for Ireland? It was an observation, or at least an indication, on the part of the noble Lord, that the then Government wished to do something to improve the position of the Roman Catholic priests of Ireland. Upon this a violent attack was made upon the Government, and that appeal to public opinion was challenged, the results of which we see in the change of position of the two parties. To this simple declaration is attributed the sudden conclusion on the part of my noble Friend and the party opposite, that it was imme 1665 diately necessary to initiate a policy entirely new—one never before heard of from any statesman, "Whig or Tory. It is not the policy of Mr. Pitt, but entirely the reverse; it is not the policy hitherto of any statesman of eminence; it is a policy which I venture to say is entirely at variance with their own most cherished views. "What was it then that compelled the present Government to come forward all of a sudden and proclaim a policy in opposition to their own creed; for I will affirm boldly that there was not a man sitting on the other side of the House who did not approve the very tendency into which Lord Mayo's speech betrayed him—there was not a man, I venture to assert, sitting upon those Benches, who did not approve the proposal to improve the position of the Roman Catholic priesthood? They all wish and desire it; but because the suggestion came from the other side of the House, they immediately made an appeal to the public in an opposite direction, and raised that flame of political prejudice which proved fatal to the Government. Now, was that honest? The matter, however, does not stand there. We have something to show us that, although, the public were not aware of it, the action which was thus taken was really a foregone conclusion on the part of noble Lords opposite. We know from well-ascertained sources that, in 1866, when Mr. Gladstone's Reform Bill was labouring under difficulties, the Roman Catholic Members made some difficulty about giving their support, and thereupon some negotiations passed between those who represented Mr. Gladstone and those who represented the Roman Catholics of Ireland as to the terms on which some sixty Members should give him their support. We have this fact clearly stated in a letter from the gentleman who negotiated the transaction; he tells us the whole story himself. Will you let me read the letter? In a letter to the Tablet, dated April 21, 1866, Mr. Dillon tells us—The course which the Roman Catholic party have resolved upon is to give an unconditional support to the Extension of the Franchise Bill. I say unconditional in this sense, that we have not gone to Mr. Gladstone and demanded formal pledges from him in respect of Irish measures as the price of our votes, but not in the sense that we are entirely in the dark as to what the Government are likely to do. The relations the National Association towards the Govern- 1666 ment may be thus shortly stated—The Association has put forward four claims; the reform of the land laws, the removal of the obnoxious oaths, freedom and equality in education, and the disendowment of the Established Church.This was in April, 1866, long before Lord Mayo's speech. The letter goes on to say—"The Government concedes the first two in full at once"—we know that an Oaths Bill did become law with considerable modifications introduced in this House to protect the Act of Settlement, which Mr. Gladstone had refused to protect in the Lower House—"they give an instalment of the third"—I suppose that last passage alludes to the charter to the Catholic University, which it was promised to the House of Commons should not be proceeded with without the further consent of Parliament, but which, as soon as the House of Commons had separated, was attempted to be given, though afterwards it was declared to be illegal—"and as to the fourth, they ask us to wait a little, as their hands are full, bidding us in the meantime ' God-speed." It is therefore clear that, in 1866, the Liberal Government of that day had made up their minds that they would deal with this question.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
I do not know whether he is dead or not; but the letter is one that is authoritatively written.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
That only shows how important it is that a Prime Minister should have an accurate knowledge of the transactions of his own Government, as to which he may sometimes be kept in the dark by his Colleagues. It. is possible, of course, that I may have been misled; but when we have a gentleman who was one of the chief negotiators coming forward at the time to give publicly the details of an arrangement with the Government of the day, it is only natural to suppose that he writes with some authority. The next authority I shall quote is one which will not be disputed. It is all-important in dealing 1667 with this measure to know the source from which it originated, and the views of those by whom it is supported. The Bill professes to be one which shall do something very beneficial for Ireland. Is it one which has arisen from the desire to do something for Ireland, or is it one which has its origin in pressure from another quarter? Let us see another of the parties active in its promotion. In September, 1867, the Liberation Society sent over a mission to Ireland, which had the assistance of Mr. O'Neill Daunt, who boasted afterwards, at a public meeting, that he had been the medium of procuring, from the heads of the Roman Catholic Church, an assurance that they would not accept an endowment from the State in case the Irish Church was disestablished. Thereupon, and upon this compact, the Liberation Society undertook that, in their hostility to all State Churches, the first attack should be directed against the Irish Church. The whole story is told in the reports of the society: they avow that this course was taken because they thought that, in attacking the Irish Church, they were attacking the weakest part of the English Church. Accordingly, it is necessary to consider the proposal of the Government upon a wider and broader basis—not purely as an Irish question, but as the opening of a campaign in which we know that we are about to be engaged—it is not a battle, it is a campaign, and the question is where shall we begin our resistance. My noble Friend (Earl Granville), I think, will admit that this is a grave question—a very serious question, going clown to the very roots of our Constitution, and mixing itself up with the Act of Union and with many of our most solemn pieces of legislation. Hence it is not a matter to be lightly taken up, or to be adventured upon without considering what advantages are to repay us for the very great disturbance that is thus created. And what I find fault with especially is the shallow policy of the Government in omitting to count the cost of the undertaking before they ventured upon it. They will say perhaps it is the fault of those who are raising an outcry against the Bill. You might just as well embark in a cockboat to cross the Atlantic and not expect the waves and winds to blow as expect that this measure should pass without excit- 1668 ing commotion. Why one of your own Colleagues has admitted that to propose such a change would be revolution. Sir George Grey said so only a few years ago. Mr. Monsell himself a Roman Catholic, and now a Member of the Government, told you something like it in the House of Commons. Those who oppose this Bill are called "fools," "bigoted," "narrow-minded." "intolerant," and other hard names, because they do not at once acquiesce in so great a change; but your own friends have told you that the change amounts to revolution, and the question is what are you going to get in exchange—what is the equivalent for all this? My noble Friend opposite is not unacquainted with the Coronation Oath; my noble Friend the Chairman of Committees from time to time has reminded him of its terms. I am not prepared myself to go the whole length with my noble Friend (Lord Redesdale), because I can hardly conceive it possible that there can be, a priori, an insuperable obstacle to subsequent, legislation under all possible circumstances. But, at the same time, I must acknowledge that it is a very solemn oath, taken upon a very solemn occasion; framed as a protection, and looked to as a bulwark. It cannot, therefore, be treated lightly; and those who regard it as of no value at all, and are prepared to deal with it in that spirit, seem to me hardly fitted to be trusted with the conduct of public affairs. We must look at the effect which the disregard of such an oath will produce upon the public mind; this must. I maintain, form an element in the consideration of your Lordships. I find the Coronation Oath has been appealed to on all occasions as a security and safeguard. Mr. Curran, speaking before the Union, said that Protestants would have the safeguard of the Coronation Oath; plainly, therefore, he, at least, looked upon it as a security. If time permitted, I could bring forward passages innumerable to show that from time to time the Coronation Oath has been referred to as a security for Protestantism. Is it now to be cast aside and treated as a figment? To do so is to shock the public conscience by leading men to feel that there is less binding force in the obligations of the Monarch to her people than they had hitherto supposed. I say again, it is no light matter, and that you 1669 ought to think how far you are troubling the public conscience before you deal with an oath so solemn as the Coronation Oath. Then, again, as to the Act of Union. For a like reason I cannot say that the Act of Union is in itself for ever an insuperable bar to all change—I do not believe that any act of legislation can tie up all posterity. But, at the same time, this is a very peculiar Act—it is a treaty between two nations. When we enter into a treaty with a foreign nation we do not feel at liberty to say that it shall cease—nothing warrants us in doing so short of a war, or of common consent. In this case have you the consent of the parties who looked upon this provision in the act of Union as a security, and who gave up their independence with great reluctance on the faith of it? No, the case is exactly the reverse. An assurance was given to quiet the apprehensions of one party as to the power of another; and now, at the request of that other party, you are taking away a great security from those to whom it was given. It is not surprising that the Protestants of Ireland should feel that they have a particular claim upon the protection of the Act of Union, and that you are shaking your hold upon them as members of the same union, when you propose so material a change in the compact by which they have been united. I mention these things, and lay some stress upon them for a reason which I shall afterwards state—not to plead them as insuperable obstacles to your proposed legislation, but as matters which must be weighed carefully in the consideration of this question, and which require a great balance of advantage to outweigh them. But, putting aside all the obligations of the Coronation Oath and of I he Act of Union. I would ask, is it really a. light matter to break up the Irish Church Establishment? Supposing your hands wore entirely freed from such obligations as I have referred to, is it, I repent, a light matter to break up the Irish Church? How have statesmen acted union the present question until within twelve months ago? Have not noble Lords, who have filled the most responsible positions, felt the importance of the Protestant Church in Ireland as a great bond of union and connection between that country and this? I have the words of high authorities on this point 1670 before me, and I will take the liberty of reading some of them, because they are so strong, and because they are not the utterances of men who say hasty things under the stress of party politics. I could quote from Mr. Plunket, from Mr. Burke, and also from a man who would not be held in the same rank, although his opinion is valuable for another reason—I mean Lord Castlereagh—who tells you the principle on which he framed and built, up the Union, Lord Castlereagh, speaking in an Irish Parliament, which he was persuading to give up their independence, said—I now proceed to that part of the question which concerns religion and the Church Establishment of this country. One State, one Legislature, one Church—these are the leading features of the system; and without identity with Great Britain on these three great points of connection we can never hope for any real or permanent security. The Church, in particular, while we remain a separate country, will ever be liable to be impeached on local grounds. When it shall once be completely incorporated with the Church of England, in will be placed on such a strong and natural foundation that it will be above every apprehension and fear front adverse interest, and from all the fretting and irritating circumstances connected with our colonial situation. As soon as the Church Establishment of the two kingdoms shall be incorporated into one Church, the Protestant will feel himself at once identified with the population of the Empire, and the Establishment will be placed on its natural basis.That, I think, my Lords, gives the Protestants of Ireland some claim to regard the Act of Union not as a common Act of Parliament. But what did Lord Castlereagh say in England afterwards, discussing a question of this kind? He denied that under the Act of Union the Protestant Church of Ireland could be at all modified. "No man," he said, "would suppose that any of the covenants of that Act of Union would be made the subject of legislation." That is a most important point in my estimation. I will now take leave to refer to some of those great names which smell sweet in the recollection equally of Englishmen and Irishmen, and I will read You their opinions in this matter. Sir Robert Peel says—I quote not the opinions of men prejudiced in favour of Protestant ascendancy, bound by the ties or stimulated by the excitement of party to uphold the predominance of the Church. I quote the authority of those who were the most powerful, the most uncompromising, the most effectual advocates for the removal of the Roman Catholic disabilities and the establishment of perfect civil 1671 equality among all classes of the King's subjects. I quote the authority of Burke, who, speaking of the Established Church in Ireland, considers it 'a great link towards holding last the connection of religion with the State, and for Keeping these two islands in a close connection of opinion and affection. I quote the authority of Plunket, who declared the ' protestant Establishment in Ireland to be necessary for the security of all sects, to he the great bond of union between the two countries, and who emphatically declared that to lay our hands on the property of the Church, or to rob if of its rights, would be to seal the doom and to terminate the connection between the two countries.' [Are these the words of a wild and bigoted Tory?] Lastly, I appeal to the solemn, the dying declarations of Grattan—of him who fought to the last hour of his existence with desperate fidelity in the cause of his Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen. In his last moments he had strength sufficient to dictate a paper, of which the following is a faithful extract:—'Resolved,—That a Committee be appointed with a view to repeal the civil and political disabilities which affect His Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects on account of their religion. Resolved,—That such repeal be made with due regard to the inviolability of the protestant religion and establishments. Resolved,—That these resolutions do stand the sense of the Commons of" the Imperial Parliament on the subject of civil and religious liberty, and, as such, be laid before His Majesty. These Resolutions contain my sentiments; this is my testamentary disposition, and I die with a lave to liberty in my heart, and this declaration in favour of my country in my hand.My Lords, I fully believe that it is essential to the cause of civil and religions liberty in Ireland that the Protestant Church should not be destroyed. Its destruction I am persuaded would put an end to all civil and religious liberty in Ireland. I know something; of Ireland myself. I have been there several times, find have had opportunities of studying it: and I know that civil and religions liberty has already little place there. I have seen a clergyman, still suffering from the injuries which had been inflicted upon him when he had been dragged from the death-bed of a sick man at the bidding of a Roman Catholic priest, because The man was a Protestant convert. I have seen a boy, bleeding from the beating he had received, because he went to a Protestant school. Now, if such things can take place under existing circumstances is it likely. I ask, when the support of civil authority is withdrawn from Protestanrism, when the Protestant clergyman is withdrawn, when the Protestant gentry are half driven away, as they will be, by feeling that they are humiliated in the sight of their neighbours, and deprived of that consolation, advice, and assistance which 1672 they and their children have heretofore enjoyed under the faith of the Imperial Parliament—that civil and religious liberty will be maintained in Ireland, not to say promoted and increased? Mr. Grattan held the same opinion, regarding it as essential to the existence of civil and religious liberty in Ireland that the Protestant Church should be upheld. We are told that the policy of the present Government is not a new policy, but that it is of sixty or seventy years' standing. I entirely deny it. We are told that the authority of Mr. Pitt exists in favour of this measure; but Mr. Pitt, although he wished to endow the Roman Catholic priests of Ireland, never suggested and never thought of such a thing as your principle of so-called "religious equality." His policy was exactly the reverse. I have referred to the opinions of Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Plunket, and Mr. Grattan, and let me say that I would rather be supposed to err with such men than to be right with Mr. Miall. Noble Lords are, more indebted to Mr. Miall than they seem to be. My noble Friend boasted of their discovery, after much labour, of the manner of disposing of their surplus—a question, he said, which had embarrassed every one. Well, only this morning I chanced to light upon the account of a debate in the House of Commons, in 1856, upon the question of the Irish Church, promoted by Mr. Miall himself, who made a very able and temperate speech. He was instructed to make that speech by the Liberation Society as the opening of the campaign. And what were the distinct propositions then made by Mr. Miall? It is a very odd circumstance that they wore, totidem verbis, the same as those of the Bill now before your Lordships. Mr. Miall recommends that the Church should be broken up, and he shows how it is to be done. On that occasion Mr. Miall said—Well, Sir, I would suggest, with a view to this, the constitution of a special Court for a limited term, analogous to the present encumbered Estate Court, and having at once the powers of an executive commission and also of a Court of Equity.Is not that the proposal here?I would vest in that Court the fee simple, if I may say so call it, of all State ecclesiastical endowments in Ireland. It would take possession at once of the fund standing in the name of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in Ireland, and to it 1673 would be annually paid the sum charged upon the Consolidated Fund for the endowment of Maynooth College, and the grants voted by this House for Belfast Professors and Nonconforming Ministers; but in the case of the endowments and property of the Protestant Episcopal Church, with the exception I have already named, it would come into possession only upon the decease of each existing beneficiary. The first claimants upon the funds thus accruing would be those clergymen who, in case of the abolition of Ministers' money, the repeal of the Maynooth endowment Act, and the discontinuance of the Regium Donum, are entitled to receive whatever they now receive from the State during the remainder of life. This list, of course, would be gradually cleared off by the death of the recipients. The second class of claimants would be the private patrons of livings, who have a right to expect full compensation for the somewhat anomalous, hut yet legally recognized, property which Slate policy would extinguish. They, however, do not number in Ireland above 300 altogether. The third class of claimants would be Protestant congregations, who have voluntarily expended their own money in the improvement of the Church property of their respective parishes.My Lords, I am afraid that class has been omitted here.I suggest that the Court should act as a Court of Equity in determining the validity and amount of such claims, subject to appeal, if it be wished, to a superior tribunal, and that it should be authorized to pay over to individual claimants, or to trustees on behalf of Protestant congregations, such compensation as may be legally awarded.That also has been entirely omitted from this Bill.The property left in the hands of the Court for the benefit of the Irish public would comprise Church edifices, glebe houses, lands, rents, rent-charges, etc. With respect to sacred edifices, I think, perhaps, the most satisfactory arrangement would be to leave Protestant Episcopalian congregations in undisturbed possession of them.So that Mr. Miall, the head of the Liberation Society, is quite as indulgent as the present Government.And in respect of land and glebes, the Court would have the power of sale. The rent-charges would constitute the main difficulty, because, if loft in their present shape, it would be necessary to maintain an extensive and costly machinery for their collection. I would suggest that power be given to the landowners to redeem them at—say ten of twelve years purchase. Well, Sir, the whole of the net property thus accruing to the proposed Court by the falling in of life interests ought, I think, in common fairness, to be expended in Ireland.But compensation to Maynooth and the recipients of the Regium Donum, which used to be charged on the Imperial Exchequer, is now to be thrown on Ireland. 1674I suggest that this property should be made available, in the first place, to the founding and supporting of infirmaries, hospitals, lunatic asylums, and reformatories, and that what is not required for these objects should be laid out, under the direction of a Board of Works, in the construction of piers, harbours, lighthouses, and quays, in providing arterial drainage, in deepening rivers, and in such other public undertakings as would best develop the great natural resources of the country.—[3 Hansard, cxiii, 734.]Now, surely, we have here a very curious coincidence. At that time Her Majesty's Ministers voted against it. Lord Palmerston made a very remarkable speech on the occasion; and I find on the list of those who divided against the proposal the name of "William Ewart Gladstone." Now, I do not mean to bring any charge against Mr. Gladstone because he changed his mind between the age of thirty and fifty-six; but surely this is a rather sudden change of opinion occurring within the last few years. I allude to the fact, because the proposal of Mr. Miall is, obviously, the very counter part and model of the present measure. We now therefore know the origin of the present measure. it is a measure of the Liberation Society as a part of a campaign against Church Establishments; and not a measure for purely Irish objects.
My Lords, I might point out at great length the importance which every one of our statesmen has attached to the maintenance of the Irish Church—I believe no statesman has ever before proposed its destruction. I say this is a perfectly new question; and that is one of the grounds on which I ask your Lordships to act. The noble Lords opposite, themselves, not many months back, objected to such a scheme. Even the noble Earl at the table (Earl Russell), till within a few weeks, was for levelling up—not for levelling down. Is there no difference between the two things? Is there no difference, as regards the feelings of the people of Ireland, between sweeping away the national Establishment and levelling up as regards the members of the different religious communions? Is there no difference as respects the Act of Union? Is there none as respects the Coronation Oath? I do not now say whether, in entertaining that view, my noble Friends opposite were right or wrong. I persist, then, in my assertion, that the question now before us is a new 1675 one, new to us, new to the country, and that is one, among other grounds, on which I shall ask your Lordships to read the Bill a second time this day three months, and thus give an opportunity for its re-consideration.
My Lords. I think I have shown from what source this measure proceeds. It proceeds from a negotiation with the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and from the urgency of the Liberation Society, who have made it so much their work for the last twenty years, that it is not surprising; that there should he some result. That society has been actually publishing' tracts for Sunday school teachers, telling them they are teach their children dogmatically, before they are able to understand the question that hostility to an Established Church is the first principle of the doctrine of Christ. When such fanatical measures have so perseveringly been had recourse to. I repeat it is not surprising that some effect should follow; and I believe that to the action of this society, which forms a common link between the various Nonconformist bodies, the result of the last election is to a great degree due. At any rate, it appears due to them, in a great degree, that Her Majesty's Government have taken up the question in its present shape. My noble Friend (Earl Granville) has told us that we should make a great mistake if we tie up the question of the Irish Church-with the English Church. If it is one this was just one of those mistakes which my noble Friend ought to have known beforehand would be made. Did he believe that when a part of the united Church was assailed the English Church would not feel itself wounded? We all know that the Liberation Society has attacked the English as well as the Irish Church; and it has told us plainly that this is the first movement in the direction of the abolition of all Church Establishments. When, therefore, the Liberation Society came forward and told us—we will make our first movement against the Irish Church, did my noble Friend believe that the English Church would be tinder no apprehension? And is it any wonder that the English Church should take alarm when it finds that part of the tactics of the Liberation Society are embraced by Her Majesty's Government, and that it should remember the well-known words 1676 —Jam Proximus ardet Ucalegon?" We have had assurances from Ministers, solemn declarations from Prelates, declarations on oath from professors of the Canon Law in Maynooth, that this property, held for 300 years, was by every law, human and divine, secure. If all these assurances are to go for nothing, at any rate any new assurances now made and given in favour of the Church of England cannot, under those circumstances, give us much comfort. If the doctrine of religious equality is to be maintained against the Irish Church, it may, at no distant day, be thought equally good against the English Church. There, is, undoubtedly, a great difference between the two Churches, but they have some things in common; they have their common Episcopacy; their common connection between Church and State; but, at any rate, if you proceed on the ground of a common religious equality in attacking the Church in Ireland, will not the same ground be available as against the Church of England? It is, indeed, no light matter to make a move in this direction. It creates great apprehension—it shakes all property, and although, no doubt, there are wide distinctions, as in the case of the Churches, between different kinds of property, Her Majesty's Government, before embarking in legislation of this description, ought to have anticipated that such general apprehensions would be awakened. The security of all property is unsettled. You cannot touch one great mass of property—£16,000,000 worth of property—without producing a corresponding effect on the market without' giving a severe shock to the security of all investments, to all property—first corporate property, and then even private properly. The effect upon investments in Ireland is already an ascertained fact. The Government cannot be altogether indifferent as to another effect of this Bill; they cannot consider the feeling which it has excited among l,500,000 of our fellow-Protestants in Ireland to be a matter of trifling concern. Hitherto it has been held to be a point of some importance to this country that we should have Protestant friends in Ireland; and we know that Roman Catholics, whatever other merits they may possess, have not that strong feeling of attachment to this portion of the Empire which the Protestants entertain. 1677 If this measure should be passed, do Her Majesty's Government expect that there will be more or fewer churches and parsonages in Ireland; or that there will be in that country a greater or smaller number of those Protestants whom it has always been considered so desirable to sec forming a considerable portion of its population? Some of their arguments would lead us to suppose that, in their opinion, after the passing of this measure, the number of Protestants in Ireland would not diminish, but that, on the contrary, they regard the proposal as an advantage to Protestantism, by relieving, as they call it the Irish Church from a state of bondage, and from an odious position. If so, how will the irritation supposed to be now existing be appeased by the measure now in hand? Is it to be expected that the people will draw a fine distinction as to the extinction of a State Church, because they are told that the rent-charge goes to the State instead of to the clergyman? It will be little satisfaction to the Roman Catholic if he sees the same external circumstances as before—the same churches, and the same ministers. If, on the other hand, there should be fewer Protestants and fewer Protestant clergy it would be a great loss to Ireland. You want more ministers in Ireland, and not fewer. Is it not known to every one that the Irish clergyman is regarded with confidence, and valued higher by the poor, who have no pecuniary connection with him than they have with the priests—for when they go to the priests they have to pay, but when they go to the Protestant clergyman they receive? It is no small matter in a country like Ireland, where there are not many resident gentlemen, to have a body of residents—respectable, kindly gentlemen in every district, firmly attached to England and the Church of England, and linked by bonds of friendship and amenity with their neighbours. Or do my noble Friends opposite expect that this Bill would make no change at all 5 If so, where will be the benefit? The only result would be that there would be the same number, only worse educated, worst; maintained, less able to help themselves or others. In any case this is a great revolution, and for what purpose—with what result? I have often asked Irish gentlemen, "Whig and Tory—"Do you really expect that you will 1678 do great at good in Ireland by tins Bill? "and I never met with one who said it would do the slightest good to Ireland. The cry is "Justice to Ireland:"—but is this justice to Ireland? I do not think it is. It is certainly a great injustice to take away from an institution which has not misused them the endowments which they have long enjoyed under solemn engagements, is it justice to the Roman Catholics? Having taken this property from the Established Church, do you purpose to give it back to those from whom you say it was robbed? You say—No, they will not have it," But, at any rate, this is not full justice. It is whole injustice to one party and only half justice to the other—if it is justice at all. It is merely a measure for the humiliation of Protestants and for the exaltation of Roman Catholics; but it leads to no permanent good. Do not the Roman Catholics themselves tell you, as the Romish Bishop Goss, of Liverpool, has done, that they should have their property back again. Are not the West minster Gazette and the other Roman Catholic organs constantly telling you this? Is this a measure of peace and conciliation to Ireland? I deny it altogether. The peasants will not be conciliated by it. They have not asked for it. Of the four propositions which were put forward for the benefit of the country the first is the land question, and the last is the destruction of the Church. In all the meetings held in Dublin and elsewhere in support of measures of this nature, the Roman Catholic hierarchy have been obliged to float this measure by the land question, or else they would never have been able to lift it over the bar.
My Lords, I should have very little doubt about your Lordships' conclusion upon the Bill if you were merely to express the sentiments you entertain upon it. Substantially it is the same measure which was foreshadowed in the Suspensory Bill which your Lordships rejected. My noble Friend (Earl Granville) has quoted the language of several of your Lordships who opposed the Bill last year, inferring' that they did not mean to make a permanent resistance to it, if that resistance was distinctly shown to be in opposition to the will of the people. The language quoted was that of the noble Marquess near me (the Marquess of Salisbury), who said that your Lordships 1679 must yield to that expression of public opinion which was permanently sustained. Now, I do not hold that this House can permanently sustain itself against public opinion: but I feel that the House has at least this grave function in the Constitution—to give time for the further consideration of such questions as this. As has been said, it is your position to resist the sudden breezes of opinion, but when the settled trade wind blows, you must give way. This House has on more than one occasion acted in such a manner as to enable the permanent public opinion to be ascertained and acted upon. We are now in more democratic latitudes; but we know very well that all democratic countries have experienced the necessity of establishing some check in order to insure the public safety against sudden impulses. In America, the most democratic country of all, particular pains have been taken to secure an efficient check. By the Articles of the American Constitution that Constitution can only be altered by a majority of two-thirds of each branch of the Legislature, and even then the whole result must be submitted to the people at large. We have no such protection. Our Constitution is even more democratic than that of America in this respect. In America they have the cheek of the Senate, which we have not; they have the check of their Federal Assemblies, which we have not; and. above all, they have the absolute veto of their President, which we have not; for we all know from the experience of the last century and a half that the veto of the Sovereign in this country is a fiction. If you increase the democratic element without retaining the existing checks of your Constitution you will end in having a pure and simple democracy without any checks at all. Is it reasonable that a measure not twelve months old, of so revolutionary at character, infringing the Act of Union in one of its most material points, disestablishing the Church in one of the three branches of the United Kingdom, and adopting a principle entirely new to legislation, not only in this country but in every country in Europe and everywhere except in the United States of America, should be hurried through in this way? Is it surprising with so new and revolutionary a measure that we should ask for further time to consider it? Moreover, 1680 I believe that the working classes—those at least who pay any attention to politics—are, at this moment, looking to your Lordships to give them that time for the consideration of the question which they think the importance of the subject deserves. If you now pass this Bill you will inflict a fatal blow upon this House. The democracy are expecting you to give them time; they are coming by hundreds and thousands, expecting and urging you to do so; they are holding public meetings, and doing everything in their power to express their wishes—and will you him and say—No, we are afraid?" Will you assent to the view of those who declare that, as this measure has been passed by the House of Commons, of course it must be passed by the House of Lords? I repeat that if you do so you will strike a grievous blow at this House, and at the Constitution, and will show a blameworthy disregard for the feelings and religious convictions of large masses of your fellow-countrymen, who are praying you to give effect to their wishes, and your own convictions. From that blow you will never recover, nor will you ever recover the place you will thereby lose in the confidence and affections of the people. I have had particular opportunities, enjoyed by few of hour Lordships, of mixing with the working classes of this country. I have seen them individually and in great masses. I know the strength of their religious convictions, and the hearty respect which they entertain for your Lordships. I am sure that this Bill goes against the well-considered opinion of the country; and, at any rate, I ask your Lordships to give further time to the country before this great revolution is accomplished. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time this day three months.
§ Amendment moved to leave out ("now") and insert ("this day three months.")—(The Earl of Harrowby.)
§ THE EARL OF CLARENDON
My Lords, whatever may be my opinion of the decision come to at the meeting of noble Lords opposite last Saturday week, and of the degree of foresight there displayed, I cannot but admit that they displayed great judgment in selecting my noble Friend (the Earl of Harrowby) as the leader of this attack—which I hope I may call a forlorn hope, and one 1681 which cannot possibly succeed. I think that great judgment was shown in selecting my noble Friend, because I doubt whether any other Peer could have said so many strong things with the same conscientious conviction that every one of them was true. My noble Friend is known to be no political partisan; he has pursued through life an independent course of action, and his opinions are always listened to with respect; but my noble Friend has brought his mind, by a process which I shall not attempt to analyze, to think that this Bill would be a fatal blow to this House and to Protestantism. Now, we are all accustomed to strong expressions, and occasionally to great misrepresentations on some occasions; and my noble Friend is old enough to remember various occasions of this nature when certain political changes were proposed. He must, for instance, remember the alarm exhibited when it was proposed to repeal the Test and Corporation Acts. He must remember the absolute severance of social ties which marked the progress of Reform in 1831. he must remember, also, the indignation excited in Ireland when my noble Friend opposite, then Mr. Stanley, ventured to alarm that twenty-two Bishops were rather a redundant allowance for the Protestants of Ireland, and suggested that twelve would be enough. He must remember the mass meeting of the Bishops and clergy of Ireland, who then and there resolved that the King would violate his Coronation Oath, that the Act of Union would be violated, and that the Protestant mission in Ireland could not survive if those ten bishoprics were suppressed. My noble Friend must remember still more vividly all that passed in this country at the time when the principles of Free Trade were first adopted, the conflict which ended in the repeal of the Corn Laws, and the manner in which Sir Robert Peel was driven from office and hounded almost to death by his own party for the patriotic manner in which he; carried out his own convictions. Precisely the same language is now held with respect to Mr. Gladstone; and in reading some recent speeches at Manchester, I was reminded of an incident which happened to myself, and which is not inapplicable just now. It was at the time of the agitation for the repeal of the Corn Laws. I happened to get into a railway carriage, 1682 only one seat in which was vacant, the rest being occupied by men of the fanner class, who were returning from an agricultural show. Their conversation consisted of bitter abuse of Sir Robert Peel, who they said they all knew was interested in the ruin of agriculture, because all his property was invested in the lands. I ventured to take the side of Sir Robert Peel, adding that I was not a personal friend of his and did not belong to his party; upon which the Nestor and spokesman of my fellow-travellers said—"Well, Sir, what you say may be true or false; all I know is that if Sir Robert Peel appeared in Salisbury market tomorrow morning there would not be a square inch of him left in five minutes." Judging from what one reads, Mr. Gladstone would be torn piecemeal in the same way at the hands of men whose fanatic zeal has been maddened by men much superior to them in education. My noble Friend (the Earl of Harrowby) has said that this is a new question, and that the measure now before your Lordships was brought forward for the purpose of outbidding Lord Mayo. A little later he proved to his own satisfaction that the scheme is entirely borrowed from Mr. Miall. Now, my noble Friend cannot be right in both cases, and I think he was wrong in both. There was no agreement with Mr. Dillon, or with those whom he represented. There was no understanding with the Liberation Society. The whole thing is a fiction existing in the mind of my noble Friend; its only foundation arises from the exercise—the lively exercise—of his imagination.
With respect to the Bill, so far from the subject being new to the country, it has been before them for the last year and a-half; there have been many discussions upon it; and it is so well understood by the country that I feel I can add nothing new and nothing of importance to the discussion—especially after the lucid and able explanation of my noble Friend (Earl Granville), who, I undertake to say, made this Bill, complicated as it is, perfectly intelligible to all your Lordships. Indeed, I think the speech is one will improve his official position in the eyes of my noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Derby), who said that the Government consisted of only two persons, Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Bright. But, after 1683 my noble Friend's speech in introducing this Bill, I think he will admit that the affairs of this country are administered at least by a trio. As the Bill has come up to this last court of appeal. I agree that we should solemnly, laying aide all prejudice, ask ourselves whether it is just and necessary that the Irish Church should cease to exist as an Establishment; and if so, does this Bill afford a means desirable and just? First, let me say how entirely I agree with my noble; Friend (the Earl of Harrowby) as to the virtues—I know them well—of the Irish clergy in the limited field which they possess. I know that to a certain extent the Irish Church does promote religion and morality, lint I have lived in Ireland before I became Lord Lieutenant. I have travelled much there, and as a sincere and earnest Protestant I learnt to sympathize with my Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen in the position which I saw them occupy. I never felt that more than I did in seeing crowds of poor Roman Catholics kneeling in the mud outside a miserable hovel of a chapel, when close by was a large and handsome Protestant Church almost unused. Well, how galled we should be if we were in the position of the Catholics, and if we felt that all the honours, dignities, and wealth were heaped upon those who ministered to 500,000 persons, while those who performed similar functions for 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 derived no advantage from the State. We felt, any Lords, that, the existence of the Church in Ireland was a gross and a raying injustice. We felt that it was looked upon by the great majority of the Irish people, and not without reason, as a badge of conquest. This is now a hackneyed term, hut it truly represents the state of things. It was established by force, and by force it has been maintained. In no other May could the Church of a small minority of Protestants be uphold in a Roman Catholic country. We did not, it is true, burn and torture those who professed another religion, as the Inquisition did; but we cannot hardly fail to look back upon that inhuman penal code to which my noble Friend be-hind me Las so feelingly alluded, without coming to the conclusion that it presents one; of the blackest pages in our history, and that, as far as we could, we endeavoured to make our proceedings as bad as those which have reflected so 1684 much on the Inquisition. The Inquisition took a more direct and blunt method. Such, my Lords, was our mode of carrying out freedom of conscience—out of it grew the system of Protestant ascendancy—and it is the spirit of Protestant ascendancy which has caused the Church in Ireland to be a political Church, to be kept up for political purposes, and thereby to be rendered one of the great grievances of that country. My noble Friend who has just sat down has very fairly asked why, if the existence of the Irish Church has so long been regarded as a grievance, those who felt that grievance so acutely have not sought to have it remedied before now; why we, when we were in power, never took the opportunity so much as to lift up one finger to propose a remedy? My Lords, the answer is simple. The fact is that, while the evil has been recognized by more than one statesman, there have hitherto been found to be too many difficulties in the way of successfully grappling with this question. At last, as with other questions, the time arrives when the existing state of things can no longer be tolerated, and when justice and common sense over-ride all the obstacles which stand in the way, and defy all consequences. It was the same with the first Reform Bill. All rational men were aware of the evils attendant on the rotten borough system; they knew that under that system the representation of the people was a mockery; yet it was long before any measure to reform it was introduced. No one knew how to set about the remedy till the highest authority in this House was heard one night to say that Manchester and Birmingham had no claim to be represented, and that East Retford and Old Sarum were integral parts of the Constitution. The evident scandal compelled Parliament to take up the question—and the result was the Reform Act and Schedule A. So it has come to be with the Established Church in Ireland. It is impossible that that Church can continue to be maintained in the position which it has heretofore occupied. The question of its disestablishment and disendowment has become the question of the hour. I do not care to ransack the pages of Hansard to see what Grattan or anybody else has said on the subject. It is a subject too grave to be degraded by a reference to personal or party considerations. 1685 I do not blame the late Government for the suggestion they made last year. The only blame that can be attached to them is that they did not see that it was impossible—that the country would not adopt it. At the same time it is impossible to govern Ireland as we have governed it heretofore. Foreign nations know our position perfectly well with regard to Ireland; that as long as Ireland continues discontented and unsettled, this country is to a certain extent crippled. All this proves the Utter be wilderment of one Government after another what to do to pacify Ireland. It is this crisis—this impossibility of going on as we have done—that has afforded Mr. Gladstone the opportunity—or I should rather say has imposed upon him the duty—of proposing a great and comprehensive measure—to provide for a great evil a sufficient remedy. To talk of this measure, as my noble Friend has done, as dangerous to Protestantism is a great insult to those who profess that religion in Ireland—and who not only profess it, but who own nine-tenths of the property there, and who have before their eyes the manner in which the spiritual wants of 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 of their fellow-country men are supplied, without aid from, or connection with, the State; and who have also before them the example, as my noble Friend behind me told your Lordships in an early part of the evening, of the Free Church of Scotland, who within the last twenty-five years have built 900 churches and provided between £300,000 and £400,000 a year for the support of their ministers. My noble Friend opposite says that if this Bill passes the Protestants of Ireland will emigrate, and that those who do not emigrate will become rebels: but I can scarcely believe that their faith is so feeble, or that their energies will be so paralyzed, that they will despair of that religion for which they have so often professed themselves ready to sacrifice their lives, merely because it no longer enjoys the favour of the State.
My Lords, I now come to the question whether your Lordships would be acting wisely, or patriotically, in rejecting a measure which has been sent up to you backed by so large a majority, from the House of Commons. I entirely concur in what has been said this evening by my noble Friend (Earl Granville) 1686 as to the constitutional power of this House as exercised in the rejection of the Suspensory Bill last Session. Many may regret the course which your Lordships then took; but so great is their respect for this House as a branch of the Legislature, and so anxious are they to see it occupy its legitimate position, and exercising its legitimate power in the transaction of public affairs, that I am sure there was a large amount of acquiescence in what fell from my noble Friend opposite last Session when he said that we should be dealing unjustly to ourselves and unjustly to the nation, if before we had ascertained what the real feeling of the country was on the subject, we gave our sanction to the measure which was then under our consideration. That was putting the case as it stood last year, in my opinion, very simply and very fairly. The Suspensory Bill was mainly upon this ground rejected by your Lordships, and an appeal was made to the new constituency, who were described by my noble Friend to be a more solvent, more intelligent, and steady class of voters. From the view taken by my noble Friend of the new electors I am by no means disposed to dissent. To them the question at issue was submitted, and what has been their verdict? Their verdict was unmistakeable, and it was that the Irish Church should be disestablished. So unmistake ably indeed was the opinion of the new constituency pronounced, that the late Government bowed at once to its decision, and retired from Office without venturing to meet Parliament. In taking that course I agree with my noble Friend in thinking that they acted patriotically: but it seems to me that an appeal having been made to the country, it would not be right or proper to disregard its decision. As I said before, the nation at large is, I feel satisfied, well disposed to see the House of Lords exercise its legitimate power; but then it will, I think, not consider that power to have been legitimately exercised if we contemptuously throw out a Bill such as that before us supported as it has been by an immense majority of the House of Commons. To the measure itself I attach the utmost importance—I believe it to be both just and necessary; but I own I care still more for the influence and position of your Lordships' House, and I cannot help feeling that that in- 1687 fluence and position will be seriously impaired if you take the course which the noble Lord who has just sat down asks you to take—a course which would, no doubt please the great Orange party and the "tall talkers" of some Irish constituencies—and which a considerable number of men—no feeble phalanx—who dislike the aristocracy and desire to see the influence of this House weakened in the country, would be glad to see you adopt. My Lords, the Bill which made household suffrage law was far more important, far more pregnant in its consequences far wore distasteful to the majority of your Lordships than this measure, and I only say that I heartily re-echo the words used by the noble Earl at the close of his speech in introducing the Bill, when he said—I only hope that in any course your Lordships think it right to take, your Lordships will not think it expedient or consistent with your duty to oppose the second reading.
§ THE DUKE OF RUTLAND
I am, my Lords, strongly opposed to the second reading of this Bill; I am opposed to it both on account of its disestablishment of the Irish Church and because of its disendowing it. I am opposed to it because I believe it to be absolutely unnecessary—because I believe it to be right and proper that the State should be in connection with religion and should be based upon it; and because I believe that while on the one hand the State derives considerable advantage from the connection, it is on the other hand of great benefit to the Church to be supported by the State; and because I believe that connection is the only security for all denominations of religion, and for the principle of civil and religious liberty. I also hold that the Coronation Oath and the Articles of Union alike preclude the possibility of the disestablishment of the Irish Church. With regard to the disendowment of the Irish Church, I am also strongly opposed to it, because I hold it to be wrong to take away from the Irish Church property which has belonged to it for upwards of three centuries. The opinions of certain statesmen have been quoted by my noble Friend who moved the rejection of the Bill, and when the measure was introduced in "another place" the authority of Mr. Pitt was brought forward. It was said that Mr. Pitt was for equality, and that being for equality it must 1688 be for the equality professed in this measure. Now, I recollect the letter of Mr. Pitt, which has been published by my noble Friend below me (Earl Stanhope), and which was written by Mr. Pitt, in 1796, to my grandfather who was then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. In that letter Mr. Pitt said—The Established Church, with legions of Papists on one side and a violent Presbytery on the other, must be supported, however decidedly, us the principle that combinations are to compel measures must be exterminated out of the country and the public mind. At the same time, the country must, not be permitted to continue in a state little less than war when a substantial grievance is alleged to be the cause. The majority of the laity, who are at all times ready to oppose tithes, are likewise strong advocates for some settlement. On the whole, it forms a most involved and difficult question. On all hands it is agreed that it ought to be investigated; but then it is problematical whether any effectual remedy can be applied without endangering the Establishment, which must be guarded and kept, and whether any arrangement could be suggested which the Church (who must be consulted) would agree to, adequate to the nature and extent of the evil complained of. In short, it involves a great political settlement, worthy of the decision of your clear and incomparable judgment.That was Mr. Pitt's idea of the manner in which the Established Church should be considered. I should like to know whether, in the present instance, the Irish Church was consulted on the measure intended to be proposed by Government. Now my Lords, the concluding portion of the speech of my noble Friend who last addressed the House (the Earl of Clarendon) chiefly related to the repeal of the Com Laws. My noble Friend said there was a time when Sir Robert Peel's name was execrated for having introduced the measure for the repeal of the Corn Laws. But the Corn Laws have now been repealed for some years, and we are all thankful for that measure. And my noble Friend taunted us with our opposition to that repeal, and to Free Trade. Now, I do not want to go into the general question, but I cannot help reminding your Lordships that it was only the other day that the subject of the increasing pauperism of the country was tinder your Lordships' consideration. I do not say that increase is owing to Free Trade, but I do say that it is under Free Trade that pauperism has increased, and. therefore, it is not fair that my noble Friend should taunt us with our opposition to Free Trade, and tell us that as no harm came from that 1689 measure so no harm would come from this. Now, the noble Earl agrees with Sir Robert Peel's opinion on the Corn Laws. Does he agree with Sir Robert Peel's opinion on the Irish Church, and the danger of such a measure as that which is now proposed? What did Sir Robert Peel say, in 1833 when the Appropriation Clause was under consideration?—If long possession and the prescription of more than three centuries wore not powerful enough to protect the property of the Chinch from spoliation, there would be little safety for any description of private property, and much less safety for that property which was in the hands of lay corporations.Those words were spoken in 1833 but they are equally true in 1869. Let us beware of what we are about. Let us not think that we can lay hands upon the property of the Church without endangering other property. This property is not the property of the State. The State did not give it, and the Stale has nothing to do with it. I will go even further, and say that it is not even the property of the Protestants of Ireland. It is the property of God and what you propose to do is to take away the property of God and apply it to secular purposes. I will venture to make one quotation from an eminent man, for whom I am sure the party opposite always had, and always will have, the greatest respect. I refer to Lord Palmerston, who, on the 1st of March, 1813, in the House of Commons said—but whatever may be the errors of individuals, I never can bring myself to believe that there would at any time be found in this House a sufficiently powerful and numerous Protestant party, so profligate in principle, and so dead to a sense of everything which would be due to themselves and to their country, as to barter away the religious establishment of any part of the Empire for the gratification of political ambition. But supposing, again, this combination of improbabilities to occur, and such a vote to be extorted from that House, I trust that there would still be in the other House of Parliament, in a Protestant Sovereign, and, above all, in the indignant feeling of a betrayed people, barriers amply sufficient to protect the Protestant Establishments of the Empire from profanation by such sacrilegious hands."—[1 Hansard, xxiv. 974.]If words stronger than these can be found I would gladly make use of them; but I believe that it would be impossible to find words more strongly condemnatory of the policy of the Government. And what argument has been used to-night or elsewhere in favour of this great act 1690 of wrong and injustice? We have been told that the Irish Church is the Church of a minority. That is true if you confine your view to Ireland; but if you take a larger view, and regard the Irish Church as a part and parcel of the English Church—as the United Church of England and Ireland—then the minority is converted into a majority; and it is only by regarding Ireland as a separate and alien country that the Irish Church can be called the Church of the minority. Would the fact that the Roman Catholics or the Dissenters had large congregations in particular towns in this country, be a reason for disestablishing the English Church? But I am told that we must disestablish the Irish Church in order to bring about equality. How can there be equality between truth and error? Formerly we used to hear that it was our duty to ascertain the truth and to abide by it at all hazards: and it was by taking that view and acting on that principle we attained our present greatness as a nation, and secured the blessings of the Constitution which we now enjoy. Equality! Is there no other equality than religious equality? Do you suppose we shall satisfy Ireland by giving the Roman Catholics of that country what you term religious equality? With your Lordships' permission I will read an extract from a remarkable article in the Tablet newspaper, the leading Roman Catholic journal, which bears on this point—We have always thought that it could be shown that if the Irish Church Establishment were abolished to-morrow—if its churches, lands and rent-charges were applied to secular purposes—or even to Catholic purposes—or if, leaving the Protestant Establishment alone, the Catholic Church were endowed by the State and put on a footing of perfect equality of wealth and privilege with the Protestant Church, we should only have dealt with one feature, with one symptom of the disease, and should not have reached the seat of the disorder, The wound of Ireland is, that whereas the great majority of the population of Ireland ate Catholics, such a large proportion of the soil of Ireland belongs to Protestants, and that Protestants form such a large portion of those classes which, by superior wealth and superior advantages, are raised in social station higher than the rest. This, we believe to be the root of the Irish evil, and it lies deeper, far deeper, than the Irish Protestant Church Establishment. We are perfectly convinced, and on evidence, than which demonstration could scarcely be more conclusive, that if the Legislature were to confiscate to-morrow every acre of land, and every shilling of tithe rent-charge now belonging to the Protestant. Church Establish- 1691 ment in Ireland, and were to deprive the Protestant Bishops and clergy of every legal privilege which they now possess by virtue of their belonging to the State Church, they would not have abated the Irish grievance, or cured the Irish disease; they would have only caused a change in the form of words by which the complaints of those who feel aggrieved now find expression.It is clear, then, that oven though you should destroy the Irish Church you will not, in the minds of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, have done justice to them. My Lords, the noble Earl who spoke last, (the Earl of Clarendon) said he wished to see this Bill passed, because by abolishing the Established Church we should be getting rid of a badge of conquest in Ireland. That I entirely deny. If such an expression can be applied with any truth at all it is applicable to the Roman Catholics in Ireland, not to the Protestants. If there is such a thing as a badge of conquest in that country the Roman Catholic religion is that badge, For 1,000 years after the commencement of the Christian era Ireland had nothing to do with the Roman Catholic Church. In a sermon preached by the Bishop of Lincoln, I find this extract from Wordsworth's History of the Irish Church—Laurentius, another missionary from Rome, succeeded Augustine in England. He wrote a letter which may be found in Bede's History, in which he describes the nature of his own reception first, from the ecclesiastics of Britain, and next from those of Ireland. He thus writes—'Before we entered Britain we held the British and Irish in great esteem, supposing that they conformed to the customs of the universal Church' [by which he moans the Church of Rome]. 'But when we had become acquainted with those of Britain, we concluded that those of Ireland must be better than they. However, now,' he adds, 'we have learnt, through a Bishop of Ireland, Daganus, who has come over to Britain, that the Irish do not differ in any respect from the British in their usages. For this Irish Bishop Daganus refused to eat at the same table with us, or even under the same roof.'Ireland was not conquered by this country till 1171. It was then conquered by Henry II. at the instance of Pope Adrian IV. It was conquered at the instance of the Pope of Rome; and for two centuries, I think, after that time it was under the Pope of Rome: but during those two centuries it was not move happy or more content than it was either before on since. If the Established Church is to be destroyed in Ireland, what is to be put up instead of it? The noble Earl who moved the second reading (Earl Granville) stated the leading 1692 provisions of the Bill with great fairness and perspicuity. The Bill proposes a nondescript sort of future ecclesiastical government for the Church. It would appear that the laity and the clergy are to meet together and arrange a constitution, and when the Government are sufficiently satisfied that the constitution so arranged represents the clergy and the laity, the Church Body will be enabled to become a corporation and to hold property. It is proposed that the Church Body so constituted shall have the churches now in possession of the Establishment, if they undertake to keep them in repair. The Government will not keep those buildings in repair for the members of the Church, though they propose to take from them £15,500,000 sterling, and to leave to them only those endowments which date since 1660. For the glebe houses and lands ten years' purchase will have to be paid by the Church Body; and then the Irish Church will be left to the voluntary principle. My Lords, the voluntary principle is one which I hold to be extremely objectionable. I think it is very objectionable in any country, but in Ireland it is more so than in any other. In the rural parts of Ireland the Protestants are very much scattered, and in some districts it would be very difficult for the clergyman to got a living on the voluntary system. The noble Karl who last addressed the House enlarged on the success of the Free Church in Scotland. I deny that there is any reality in the analogy which the noble Earl has drawn between the position in this respect of Ireland and Scotland. In a letter to The Times Sir James Elphinstone denies that the Free Church of Scotland can be fairly referred to in proof of live success of the voluntary system; and he gives this among other extracts from Dr. Begg's preface to a pamphlet by Dr. M'Naught—The actual state of things, moreover, is gradually threatening us with two of the greatest mischiefs that can befall a people—a famine of the Word in certain districts, and the multiplication of an unhappy class of starving, cowardly, and incompetent ministers, men who are the slaves of their fellow-men, and dare not boldly speak the truth, or act with manly independence By all means let us have the full experience of the Free Church proclaimed—the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.Now, my Lords, we have been asked how it is that the Church of Ireland will not be able to maintain itself on the 1693 voluntary principle when the Church of Rome has succeeded so admirably in doing so. No doubt the Roman Catholic Church has succeeded admirably in maintaining itself upon that principle, and that it is erecting enormous buildings out of its ample funds. We have the authority of the noble Earl opposite for believing such to be the case. But the noble Earl, in a subsequent part of his speech, forgetting what he had previously stated, proceeded, in contrasting the condition of the unendowed Roman Catholic Church with that of the endowed Protestant Church, to say that it made his heart bleed to know that the poor Roman Catholics were obliged to kneel in the mud for want of a church to offer up their prayers in. I contend that it is impossible for the Protestant Church to maintain itself in Ireland upon the voluntary principle; but the matter is very different as regards the Roman Catholic Church. Look at the power the Roman Catholic Church exercises over its members—look at the tenets of the Roman Catholic and at his spiritual faith—at his belief in the doctrines of transubstantiation, of confession, and. above all of purgatory. Why, the priest comes to him and tells him that the souls of some persons to whom he was deeply attached are in purgatory, and are suffering torments from which he can relieve them for a money payment to the Church Of course the poor man does not hesitate a moment, but pays the money on the faith that he is thereby relieving his relatives from horrible torment. But there is no such power belonging to the Protestant Church—and I thank God that it is so!—and therefore the cases of the two Churches are not to be compared. Even supposing that it has been satisfactorily shown that the Roman Catholic Church has been able to maintain itself under the voluntary system, that is no reason why the Protestant Church should be able to do the same. I believe that by taking away the endowments of the Protestant Church in Ireland, and forcing her to depend upon the voluntary principle, you will destroy her and deprive her members of all religious ministrations, more especially those who reside in the rural districts. I maintain that this is a new question, whatever the noble Earl opposite may say to the contrary. It is all very well for him to say that this is 1694 no new question, because Mr. Maguire and others have agitated it on previous occasions; but I maintain that it is a new question for the Government of this country to take up, and that therefore, it is a new question for the people of England, upon which we have a right and it is our duty to give them time for re-consideration. The noble Earl alluded to what I said on this point last year. I then asked that the question should be submitted to the people of England before we arrived at any definite decision upon the subject.. It is perfectly true that I did so then, and it is perfectly true that I do so now. I say—"Let the people of this country decide the question." But, my Lords, last year we had not this Bill before us. Neither your Lordships nor the people of England had seen this Bill at the time the elections tonic place. The Bill is totally different from what we were led to expect it would be. We were distinctly told by Mr. Gladstone that the funds of which the Irish Church, was to be deprived should, on no pretence whatever, be applied to the support of any religions body. This was the gist of the hustings' speeches, and it is recited in the Preamble to the Bill. But in the enacting part one of the clauses distinctly endows the Roman Catholic Church. In place of the annual, donation given, by Parliament to the College of Maynooth the Bill proposes to hand over to that institution, under the guise of fourteen years' purchase of its annual grant of £30,000. a permanent endowment of between £400,000 and £500,000. Under these circumstances I believe I am justified in stating that the principle of this Bill has never been submitted to the people of England, to the people of Ireland, or to the people of Scotland, for them to express their opinion as to whether it is a wise, a statesmanlike, and a patriotic measure. My Lords, it is for time only that I appeal. Your Lordships have a perfect right to pronounce judgment upon this Bill. I think you have a right to say—not that you will place yourselves in opposition to the will of the people of England, to the deliberate and reiterated opinion of the people of England—but that yon will give them time to consider Well a question of such constitutional importance—a question which, in our belief, violates the Queen's Coronation Oath, a question 1695 which, in our opinion, violates the Act of Union, and which will extend, not only; to Ireland, but eventually also to England. But your Lordships have a peculiar right to be hoard in this matter, because; the Bill actually proposes to deprive this House of four of its Members in the persons of the four Irish Bishops, whom it proposes to take from those Benches, and whose faces we shall see no more. Supposing we were to introduce a Bill into this House for the purpose of depriving the House of Commons of its Quaker Members, and then when the House of Commons came to consider the Bill, we were to say—''No, we the House of Lords in our supremacy have thought it right to pass this Bill, and, believing that we are supported by the opinion of the country, we will not allow you to say a word upon the question whether your Members are to be turned out of your House or not." My Lords, I feel deeply the grave importance of this question. I feel that the effect of this measure, if it is passed, cannot be confined to Ireland, but that it will also extend to England. I ask the noble Earl (Earl Granville) whether such is not the opinion of many of the supporters of the Government in the other House, and whether, in truth, the main object of a great body of their supporters is not to attain the destruction of the Irish branch of the United Churches of England and Ireland only, but the destruction of all Establishments, and among them that of the Church of England? My Lords, it is for these reasons that I shall feel it to be my duty to give my vote against the second reading of the Bill. Nothing shall induce me to vote for the Bill, which I believe, will strike out one of the Articles of the Union, and will result in the destruction of the Church of England.
§ VISCOUNT STRATFORD DE REDCLIFFE
My Lords, with every due consideration for the remarks of the noble Duke who has just sat down (the Duke of Rutland) I cannot help regretting that in the discussion of this great question we should be invited to go back into the ancient history of Ireland—to that remote period when all descriptions of evil abounded there, unchecked and unlimited. We do indeed find that in later times and under the pressure of urgent circumstances, the English Government made repeated efforts to di- 1696 minish those evils and to introduce a higher state of civilization into the Irish provinces. And yet the policy adopted for this purpose was so changeable, so ill-directed, and sometimes so violent in its prosecution that little or no good can be derived from recurring to its co-temporary ages. I do no mean to deny that there is a certain relation between those early periods and the present; but on the whole I submit that it is safer to lose sight of their details at least, and to try how we can most effectually produce a diminution, if not the entire removal, of those plagues which have so long prevailed in Ireland, and bring thereby all parts of this our Empire into harmony the one with the other. This, no doubt, is a noble and patriotic project—one which, even in prospect, fills the mind with the highest delight. But the difficulties commence as soon as we begin to consider the means of carrying it into effect, and I confess that they seem to me all but insurmountable. I do not well comprehend how the Bill proposed by Her Majesty's Government can be applied as a remedy for the existing evils without provoking a sense of injustice equal to that which we are anxious to remove. My Lords, the bearings of the question are so extensive and so complicated that I should almost shrink from addressing your Lordships upon the subject were it not that I wish to explain my reasons for voting in the manner I intend, having failed to obtain an opportunity of doing so when the Suspensory Bill was before your Lordships' last year, and having, in consequence, left the House without giving my vote. It is by no means necessary for this purpose that I should go at all deeply into the arguments which have been employed on either side with respect to the Bill. I need offer no excuse for confining myself' to such considerations as may justify personally the course which I think it my duty to take. There are in my opinion, two questions before the House, neither of which can be thrown our of view without the danger of our coming to a false conclusion—one is the question of the Church itself, the other lies in the position of this House with respect to the other House of Parliament. It is hardly possible to deny that difficulties of no common magnitude arise from both, and in order to take a statesmanlike view of the 1697 whole matter your Lordships must be careful to give due weight to the one as well as to the other. First, as to the Irish Church, it is painful to find that among the consequences of the Bill, when passed, there will be a part of the United Kingdom in which the relations between Church and State will entirely cease, and where a large body of people professing the Protestant faith will be left to provide their own religious nourishment with very precarious means. Further, as regards the consequences to the Church itself, we cannot overlook the manner in which that sacred Establishment of long standing is about to be deprived of its property. I have always been of opinion, that where property is left for a specific purpose, it should never be applied to any other purpose by those who are constituted its trustees, without a dear and urgent necessity, I might almost say, without an extinction, at least virtual, of the original object. Now, when we are summoned to sanction so large an alienation of Church property as that contemplated by the Bill, and expect to find that the new destination given to that property shall be as nearly as possible, akin to the uses originally designed, we hear, to our surprise and sorrow that no such arrangement is thought of but on the contrary, that the new application is, in many points, as far as possible from that which has hitherto existed. I affirm that these inadvertencies damp our hopes, and tend, in no degree, to promote the object professed by those who framed this Bill—namely, that of healing the wounds of Ireland, and bringing the two united islands into closer bonds of sympathy and concord with each other. Let me ask how it is possible to suppose that the clergy of the country, that the proprietors of the country, that the people at large in those provinces, at least, where the Protestant religion prevails, can sit down contented under such a change as this Bill suspends over their heads? Would they nor have the right to turn round upon us and to say—"Your ancestors established the Church in Ireland for our religious wants and social advantage it is true, but also at a time when your necessities required that the settlers should be the instruments of upholding and extending your authority. It was you who then for your own interests 1698 laid the foundation of the present system, and you are not now at liberty to cancel your own acts at our expense, and because those interests have assumed another aspect." But we are told that the result of this measure will be the conciliation of Ireland. Relying on expressions which have fallen from Members in the other House of Parliament, I conclude that if conciliation is the object in view it is meant to be obtained not by a single measure, but by a policy composed of several measures. Such being the case, Parliament was surely entitled to have the whole scheme of measures laid before it at once. To the ignorance in which we have been kept on the very important question of land tenure may be traced those mischiefs which are not only apprehended, but which in part have actually arisen; and as to the third most essential point—namely, that of education, we may justly complain of having been kept completely in the dark. We are at present required to deal with only one of the series. We are called upon to make a vast sacrifice, to be followed by other changes yet unknown, in order to conciliate the people of Ireland. But the question thus forced upon us is only a fragment of the scheme; and we have to wait for the remainder until it shall please the Servants of the Crown to enlighten us at some future, indefinite period. Under these circumstances I look in vain for reasons sufficient to warrant a hope that the Bill now before us will ever realize the expectations of those who have framed it. We can hardly imagine to what extent the pending measure is calculated to outrage the feelings and to provoke the resentment of that influential party which has hither to been the most ardently attached to British connection; nor can we reckon, with any degree of confidence, on the prospect which is held out to us of finding a compensation for this evil in the gratitude and contentment of the Roman Catholic majority. There is but too much reason to fear that the proposed measure, far from being one of peace and conciliation, will prove, on the contrary, a source of increased antagonism find bitter disappointment. Believe me, my Lords, I have looked most carefully into this question, and I can assure your Lordships that it was with much real reluctance I arrived at the opinions which I am now 1699 compelled to entertain. Such is the beneficence, such the grandeur of the object, to which the Bill is directed, that my natural wish is to promote its success, and I have taxed my humble faculties to the utmost in order to satisfy myself that I should be justified in yielding to that wish. But I must confess that my endeavours have failed, and I cannot evade the painful conviction that in passing the Bill, if such, be one doom, we shall drop the substance and re-place it by a shadow. I fear that the seed which my noble Friends behind, me have sown, will produce but a sorry harvest; I willingly give them credit for the best intentions. But we are not dealing with ' intentions alone—we have to legislate, and to legislate for the benefit of the country at: large. Now, this question of the Irish Church does not concern Ireland only. It is not a mere local question. In one sense or another it concerns the whole Empire, and its character is emphatically Imperial. It forms part of a political system, to the effects of which no part of the United Kingdom can be indifferent. One of the cries in its favour is "Justice to Ireland." But Justice is represented as holding an even balance, and her chief title to our respect is the strict impartiality with which she is supposed to treat conflicting parties. But what sort of justice is that which strips one party to the skin, and while it leaves the other as naked as before, consigns the alienated property to any wind that happens to blow? Another motive alleged for the Bill is this—It is said that the endowments of the Irish Church are a scandal, and especially that England, by maintaining it, discredits herself in the eyes of foreign nations. Granting that there is some appearance of truth in the reproach, was it necessary to sweep away the whole Establishment? Could not the Church and its adherents have been brought into better proportions with a loss unsparing hand? Was it wise, was it, just, to pull down the entire fabric because some of the stones were loose, and. some of little use? As to what foreigners may say of one institutions, I would not entirely disregard their impressions; but, judging from my personal experience, I conceive that their value might be easily over-rated. This country is too prosperous and too independent not to excite some feelings of jealousy abroad, and. of course, our 1700 Protestant basis of faith and government can never be acceptable to nations where Papacy prevails. The present subject of debate in particular must be attended in their minds with little sympathy and much prejudice against those amongst us who would break the fall of the condemned Church, and enable it to perform its duties when separated from the State and deprived of its wealth. It is worthy of remark that the imminent loss of those advantages has not called forth any facts, nor even any censures tending to discredit the character of its clergy. Prelate and curate have alike received from the most competent observers a just tribute of approval, a frank acknowledgment of their merits, and of the considerate conduct by which they have generally won the regard and even, in many instances, the confidence of their Roman Catholic neighbours. Nothing but high personal character, joined with the most charitable discretion, could have accomplished such a miracle. Religious differences and national prejudices gave way to sentiments inspired by esteem and judicious kindness. But greatly as these affecting circumstances plead for the Irish Church, it appears to me at the same time that there are reasons of quite another kind which may well make us hesitate before we adopt the extreme course suggested to us by the noble Earl who moved the Amendment. We have to consider the hazards attendant upon a serious and determined difference of opinion between the two Houses of Parliament. We have to weigh the consequences of throwing out a Bill which is backed by a very large majority of the Commons, who are understood to express the deliberate conviction of their respective constituencies. We cannot but take into our account the chances of having to accept hereafter even a worse measure than the one now pressed upon our acceptance. Be it remembered, too, that the character and honour of your Lordships' House are involved in these considerations. Nor is it a light matter to compromise the honour of your Lordships' House; whatever has that effect inflicts a wound upon the State, and puts to hazard the welfare of the nation itself. If the disestablishment of the Irish Church could again be referred to the suffrages of the country, if the public, in its largest sense, could be brought to view it, unconnected 1701 with that other co-ordinate question, who are to be the Ministers? I think a fresh appeal to the constituencies might be a wise as well as a just expedient. But the resort to so fair a test of the national opinion is not in your Lordships' hands. Nor can the result of the late General Election, nor the delicacy of our position with respect to the Commons be left out of the account, if a comprehensive view of the situation is to direct our counsels. Though the hope be somewhat against wind and tide, I venture, nevertheless, to hope that by going into Committee we shall obtain Amendments to the Bill, which may at least remove wane of the objections to which it is manifestly open, and the vote which I mean to give in this stage of its discussion will take colour from the hope of that improvement. I beg, however, to reserve the right of voting in a different manner on the third reading, if the Amendments adopted in Committee shall prove insufficient.
§ LORD ROMILLY
My Lords, I listened with attention to the speech of the Mover of the Amendment, but I do not think the arguments the noble Earl adduced were such as would in any degree justify your Lordships in rejecting the Bill before us. The noble Earl urged with great vehemence that this was a perfectly new measure, and that it had not been heard of or spoken of at any time previous to the last twelve months. But is not that an observation which may be equally made when any great measure is introduced? When any great men sure is first proposed for reforming the State, it is then, of course, perfectly new. It may indeed have been hinted at before, but when first formally proposed it lakes everybody by surprise. That was the history of the first Reform Bill of 1832. In fact, it was then urged that a reform in the representation would produce a revolution; and it was the fear of a revolution which deterred many persons from bringing forward that measure, which was ultimately produced by an alteration in the state of feeling in society, and a revolution would have been caused if that measure had not been carried. The noble Earl says that several great statesmen have slated that if they reformed the Irish Church it would produce a revolution. Possibly that might have been so some years ago; but the altered 1702 state of society and the increased knowledge of the people enable Ministers to carry measures which at one time they would have found it impossible to pass without producing public disturbance. Now, what is the object of this Bill? It is I apprehend, to lay down the first axiom of good government, which is equality; not equality in the sense referred to by the noble Duke (the Duke of Rutland), who seemed to think that in order to establish equality you must make all persons equal in property and everything else, but equality in rights and privileges; that every man should have the same rights and privileges as others have in respect to public estimation. And this is the object of the Irish Church Bill: the object of disestablishing and disendowing the Irish Church is to put all religions in Ireland on an equal footing. The noble Duke said it would be impossible there should be religious equality, because there cannot be equality between truth and falsehood. But what a statement is it for a statesman to make, that any religion is perfect truth and another is not, and therefore the one ought to be supported by the State and the other discouraged! The principle of all statesmen in modern days is that you should treat all persons alike in respect of their religious opinions, and that the State itself is not to lay down that this is true and that is false, and treat them accordingly. The contrary doctrine has been the cause and the excuse of all religious persecution at all times. It was stated by the noble Earl—and I think it is a remarkable advantage of this measure—that, with regard to its novelty, it has been brought, forward without any great pressure. As far as I know, no great measure has hitherto been introduced for Ireland or carried without some very great pressure from that country. The emancipation of the Catholics was produced by force in that country. But this is a measure on which, as far as I know, England and the Government of this country have, for the first time, spontaneously come forward to confer upon Ireland perfect equality as far as rights and privileges are concerned in one very important particular. Several noble Lords seem to think this Bill will destroy religion altogether; but I apprehend that is a total misapprehension of what is likely to occur. Consider what is disestablish- 1703 ment. It is nothing; more than this—that the Crown will not appoint the Bishops; that persons will not be endowed out of what originally was State property; and that no Ecclesiastical Courts will exist for the purpose of settling differences and disputes in the Church. But why is that to destroy religion? Why is not a man to hold exactly the same doctrine after that is done as he held before? Why will not the same number of members of the Church of England meet together and entertain their doctrines and discipline exactly the same as they had before? You have the instance of Scotland, where the state of the case is precisely what I have said. The Bishops are not appointed by the Crown, but elected by the members of the Church itself; and if any ecclesiastical disputes arise they are settled by the ordinary tribunals of the country instead of by special Ecclesiastical Courts. You will have in Ireland exactly the same state of things as you have now, with this exception—that the Church will not be maintained by the State, and that her Bishops and ministers will not be appointed by the Crown. What does experience teach in relation to this matter? The greatest experience of all is that supplied by the early ages of Christianity. Christianity made its way, in spite of every species of opposition, by the force and fervour of its disciples. In the case of Scotland, in the case of the colonies, you will find the greatest religious zeal and eagerness; and I am satisfied that if you put an end to the Establishment in Ireland the simple effect will be to create a great amount of earnestness and zeal, and an increase in the number of persons at present professing its doctrines and opinions in that country. At the same time by placing the riva1 Churches on an equality, you will put an end to the jealousy with which the Establishment is regarded, because it will be no longer looked upon as put there by the State to make proselytes. The Roman Catholics in Ireland, I have always understood, regard the members of the Established Church with much greater jealousy than they regard the Presbyterians. Whether that be so or not, in all other cases the members of different religious communities look upon each other as perfectly equal. The noble Earl (the Earl of Harrowby) says he 1704 has seen a boy beaten and bleeding in Ireland merely on account of an attempt at proselytism. That is one of the symptoms of the evil of the Established Church in that country, and if you put an end to it those things will cease, as they have ceased in other parts of the kingdom. Why should you not have the Church in the same position in Ireland as in Scotland? I believe there has been of late years a great increase of zeal among the members of the Episcopal Church in Scotland, You have next to consider the question of the disendowment of the Irish Church, and for this purpose I treat it as a corporation. On this subject, I would remind your Lordships that if a corporation does not answer the purpose for which it was established, or fulfil the duties for which it was instituted, the State according to all principles of good government has full power to deal with it. It is a recognized maxim in all political matters that if a corporation ceases to do that for which it was originally created, or does something which is injurious, it is not only the right but the duty of the State to put an end to the corporation. But in using these words I distinguish between the corporation in its character of a corporation and the members of the corporation, who unquestionably are not to be injured in their property. A Motion was made by a noble Lord (Redesdale), not now in his place, for a return of the number of cases in which the Legislature of this country has interfered with institutions, and put an end to them forcibly. I felt some regret that his Motion was not carried; he seemed to think that the return would be nil; but in truth it would have been difficult to obtain such a return owing to the great number of the cases. There were not only the cases of the monasteries and the chantries, but also those of the private Acts of Parliament putting an end to corporations which were found to be no longer of use. A corporation which does not perform, its duty to the State ought to be put an end to. The reason is that corporations are creations by the State for the purpose of the benefit of the State, and not for any private or particular benefit. The Church is a corporation of that description. I confess I heard with great regret the exclamations of the noble Earl and the noble Duke respecting the 1705 violation of property, which they urged would be occasioned by this Bill. I think the noble Lords do not consider what a dangerous blow they are giving to the institution of property by their arguments on this subject. No doubt there exists in Europe, and has existed, ever since the French Revolution of 1848 a number of persons who consider the institution of property to be a dangerous thing- and a great obstruction to civilization. I believe this class of persons is small, and that their object, if attained, would inflict a great calamity on mankind; but there are amongst them persons of knowledge and ability, and they have published many works on the subject. Now, the moment you attach the quality of property to nothing but a name—call it church or corporation, or anything you please—apart from individuals who are to enjoy it and treat this species of property in the same rank with private property, you give these persons the strongest possible argument against you. While you are trying to raise corporate property to the same level with that belonging to private individuals, they are trying to lower the property of private individuals down to that of corporations. And thus you strike a blow at that which you are so anxious to uphold. One word now as to the singular argument used by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Harrowby) as to the obligation imposed on the Sovereign by the Coronation Oath. In the first place, the paramount obligation on the Sovereign is to effect the good of the people, and for this purpose she is to perform those things which the three Estates of the realm—the clergy, nobility, and commonalty—recommend to her for that purpose. That is the paramount obligation of the Sovereign. The duties of the Queen are not in the slightest degree altered after the Coronation Oath. In former times it often occurred that years passed after the accession before the coronation of the Sovereign, but that made no difference. It is not necessary that any coronation should take place in order to give the Sovereign any right, power, or privilege whatever, or the moans of enforcing them. The essential principle of every oath is this—that it is understood in the sense of the person imposing it—that is in whose favour, and for whom it is made: and if that person disengages or releases you 1706 from the oath it no longer exists. What is the Coronation Oath? It is an Oath taken in favour of the people of England. Well, the people of England release the Sovereign from the Oath. How do they release the Sovereign? In the ordinary and regular manual in which only she could be released—namely, by the voice of the three Estates of the realm, who send up a measure to the Sovereign, saying—"We ask you to assent to this, and if the Coronation Oath imposes any difficulty we release you from that obligation." There was one other remark made by the noble Earl and the noble Duke which struck me with some suspicion—they earnestly insisted on having more time. Give us, they said, a little more time to consider this matter. The noble Earl who moved the second reading of this Bill (Earl Granville) has pointed out that the same observation was made last year when the Suspensory Bill was introduced; and it was then considered reasonable that the sense of the country should be taken on that particular point. Well, reasonable time was given, and the sense of the people taken upon it, and there certainly never was in my recollection any instance of an election more accurately and precisely adapted to one particular question; and a House of Commons was returned which sent up this Bill by a majority exceeding 100. What more time do you want? You are not going to dissolve again? The present Parliament may continue to exist for five or six years, and how often would you have this Bill sent back to you? Do you suppose such a course would be beneficial to the character and credit of your Lordships' House? It appears to me, my Lords, it would be the greatest possible mistake. I venture to say the severest blow your Lordships' House ever received was on your rejection of the Reform Bill in 1831. You have never re- covered it. The injury still remains. The people remember it; they treasure it up. The Bill was re-produced and carried by force through a reluctant and retiring House of Lords. I believe the existence of your Lordships' House to be ' a great benefit to the Constitution, and I should much wish that the credit and honour of your Lordships' House should be sustained; but that will not be so if your Lordships should think fit to reject such a measure as this, instead of putting 1707 yourselves, as it were, at the head of it, correcting and improving it to the utmost of your power. The noble Earl who introduced the measure has well said there is one thing you cannot do—you cannot thwart the people of this country. You may correct and improve the Bill, but you cannot thwart the people. I therefore earnestly entreat your Lordships to consider well what course you will take, and that course I sincerely hope will be to pass the second reading, and introduce what Amendments you think proper in the subsequent stages of the Bill.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, the two noble Earls who first addressed the House to night, very naturally appealed to the right rev. Bench—one warning us that unless we gave our assistance in passing this measure we should greatly injure the Church of England through the Church of Ireland; the other telling us that unless we helped to throw out this measure on the second reading our conduct would have the same result. My Lords, we have received advice on most of these occasions, and I trust we are always ready to profit by it; but after all, the best advice we can give ourselves is, to do that on each occasion which we think upon the whole will be the wisest and the best according to our own consciences. There never; has been any occasion on which I have risen to address your Lordships when I have felt this more seriously than at present; for indeed. I allow all that has been said by the noble Earl, who moved the rejection of the second reading, that this is a great crisis, and that on the wisdom, which is shown by the Members of the right rev. Bench in their capacity, and by this House in general in its aggregate capacity, depend issues which may affect not only the church of Ireland and the Church of England, but the destinies of this Empire among the nations of the world. Now, my Lords, putting the matter to my own conscience and endeavouring to decide what is best to be done in this particular emergency, I cannot agree either with those who urge us to accept the measure that is now before us without alteration, or with those who advise us at once to cast aside the measure without consideration. I was glad, my Lords, to hear the sentences at the close of the speech of the noble Earl who introduced the Bill, in 1708 which he seemed to hold out to us the hope that Amendments made by your Lordships, would be seriously and carefully considered by the Government and the House of Commons. I was glad to hear this, but, indeed, I could expect nothing else; for how could any Government, in the plenitude of its power, refuse to listen to Amendments proposed by such a House as this, if, when seriously considering the whole of this question in all the width of its aspect, they determined it to be right; that Amendments should be made? It is one thing to speak in the House of Commons with a majority of 120 at your back, and another to speak in this House with what I believe is a small minority; and, therefore, I cannot but believe that the noble Earl has only expressed the sentiments which must animate all his Colleagues who are Members of this House when he said that any Amendments which are proposed will be most seriously and courteously considered by the Government. My Lords, I cannot quite go with the noble and learned Lord who spoke last (Lord Romilly) in the view he took in the earlier part of his speech with reference to the security of property. He is entitled to consider himself a far better judge on such matters than I am; but at the same time I could not help thinking there was a little paradox in the statement that to confiscate some millions of property was a good way of giving security to property. On that point, however, I am no match for the noble and learned Lord. But with regard to the advantage to religion of confiscating the property dedicated to the service of religion from ancient times, and breaking up and utterly abolishing the old institutions which for centuries have been devoted to the propagation of religion. I think myself entitled to retain my opinion in spite of the noble and learned Lord, that religion will be more likely to flourish under such endowments than without them. I grant there is a sort of religion which does flourish in the absence of endowments. There is a sort of spurious religion which lives on the passions of the people. The curse of Ireland is the repeated political and religious agitation, on which voluntaryism necessarily rests. That is the great bane of Ireland, which I hope your Lordships will not encourage; and, so far as this measure, if carried without 1709 serious Amendments, would encourage agitation, so far, I consider it a measure fraught with the worst possible consequences. I should be sorry to see Ireland handed over to the tender mercies of a set, either of priests or of ministers of religion who, from the necessities of, their position, and in order to keep themselves alive, would be obliged to rely, the one upon superstition, the other upon Protestant fanaticism; yet, if there be nothing in the nature of an endowed Church existing in Ireland, I do not see how we can escape from that great national calamity. Of course, from the position which I occupy I had not the benefit of being present at the meeting where it was decided that the only thing to be done with this measure was to cast it forth from the House at once; but every Member of this House whom I meet in the street seems to have a lingering hope that the measure will pass, somehow or other, the second reading, and that you will then take it into your own hands and so model it as to make it express the real sentiments of this House. If I were asked what I wish had been done on this question. I might say that we may look back with regret to three years ago, when, if we had been wiser, we should have listened with more acceptance to the advice of the noble Earl on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey) who then invited our attention to this subject before political agitation in connection with it had begun. My regret is that the Prime Minister should have been at that time so much occupied with the coming Reform Bill that he discouraged any consideration of this important question. I regret also that the Commission on the Irish Church had not presented its Report before the exigencies of political party changed the aspect of affairs. I regret that the opportunity of quietly and calmly considering the subject passed a way. But the important question now is—what is now to be done? With the exception of the speech of the noble Viscount who spoke last but one (Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe), I cannot help thinking that this, the real question has not been very much touched upon in the course of the present debate. If anyone had come accidentally into this House, he would have thought that nothing whatever had happened since this time last year; but a great deal has happened, and in approaching the question we should con- 1710 sider what has happened and what it is possible for us now to do. I am certain your Lordships will not listen for one moment to the taunt that if your Lordships pass the second reading of this measure you will show yourselves to be an altogether powerless portion of the Legislature. Those who litter such taunts desire to make you powerless. Taunts like these come from the enemies of this House; and they are the friends of this House, in my estimation, who tell us to consider what the country has determined, and to make the measure—bad as I believe it to be—not so bad as it is now. We have had letters anonymous and signed, calling on us not to betray the Irish Church and not to facilitate the passing of this measure. I will say for myself and my right rev. Brethren that we are sincerely attached to the Irish Church. We know the excellence of the ministers of our Church in Ireland. We know the difficulties they have had to contend with; and we know that the blow which now injures them is very likely to injure us. Moreover, we know that we have the same cause at heart: and though this Bill talks of dissolving the union between the Church in England and the Church in Ireland, we feel that it is an union which is beyond the power of an Act of Parliament to dissolve. The union of the Churches is the union of our common faith and our common liberty—an union which subsisted before the Act uniting Ireland with England existed, and which will survive the present Bill should it be passed. We do not, however, desire—I at least do not desire—that this measure should pass as it now stands. I am anxious that your Lordships, giving the measure a fair and calm consideration, should set to work to alter it into a good measure, if possible. Since the Bill passed the House of Commons by a majority of 120, it seems to have been regarded both by friends and foes as a Bill admirably constructed for its purpose. Now this I deny. We have noble Lords among us who may be trusted with the examination of the details of the measure should it come before us; but I wish to point out one matter which seems to have escaped attention. From the middle of the Bill to the end it proceeds on the hypothesis that the Protestants of Ireland will voluntarily associate themselves into a governing body, such as 1711 Her Majesty in Council may approve, and thereby assist at their own execution. I do not say that the Bill might not work in some way even if the Protestants do not form that body; but what I maintain is this, that without this body voluntarily formed, it would work in a way totally different from that which it is intended. Now I do not see that it holds out any adequate inducements to the Protestants in Ireland to act in the manner contemplated. What are the inducements held out? Mr. Bence Jones says that the Bill professes to give to the Protestants of Ireland three Loons—first, the power of forming a corporation, and thereby receiving property. But that would be a very small advantage, for they may hold property through trustees, as the Roman Catholics do, without becoming a corporation. The second advantage you confer upon them is the right of buying their own houses at ten years' purchase of the land on which they stand—so that the somewhat, fictitious value which a clergyman has by his own industry given to his garden is reckoned at ten years' purchase, and he is told the Church may have his house, if he pays that value or takes on himself all existing liabilities. The third advantage is the preservation of private endowments since 1660, which are variously estimated, but in a calculation which has been laid before us, and which is not materially different from that made by Dr. Ball, they are stated to amount altogether to £8,000 a year. With regard to life interests, it has been said over and over again that they cannot be disregarded without a revolution. So that, in fact, when the life interests expire all that the Church will get will be the £8,000 a year. Now if the clergy threw themselves on the compassion of the people they could, obtain a much larger sum. These, so far as I know, are all the advantages you give to induce the Protestants of Ireland to form themselves into this voluntary body: and if they fail to do so, you may no doubt carry our the Bill in its own way, but you will carry it out with so much harshness and so much confiscation that you must, entirely fail in your object, and, by taking no pains to conciliate the Protestants of Ireland, you will have to begin de noro. I wish now to allude to two fallacies which have run through great part of the debates on 1712 this subject elsewhere. One of these is founded upon the analogy of what my noble Friend (Earl Granville) told us we should be afraid to allude to—the Episcopal Church of Scotland. Well, I attended only the other day a meeting connected with this body, and I confess that a more beggarly account of empty benches I never met with. Yet that Church numbers among its members some of the wealthiest landed proprietors of Scotland. However, it was rather as to the Church of another religious body in Scotland that the noble Earl told us we ought to take care what we said. The noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) ventured, notwithstanding that warning, to plunge into that land of mist, and the mist was partially dispelled—because I grant there is a great mist about this subject of the Free Church of Scotland. We have heard most brilliant accounts of the magnificent spectacle which that body has presented to the universe. I grant that it was a very grand spectacle when many years ago a number of men—most of them are now in their graves—went forth from their homes because their consciences told them to do so. Though I think their consciences were very much misinformed, still nobody can deny that it was a splendid spectacle, and one which at the time commanded the admiration of all. But we are told now that the movement is so triumphant that it covers every part of Scotland with churches, with manses, and with ministers, wherever they are wanted. But I hold in my hand the pamphlet to which the noble Duke alluded. It has a preface by one of the original seceders (Dr. Begg), who went forth from the Church at the same time that Dr. Chalmers and the other leaders of the movement went forth—and his account is that the thing has been an absolute failure; that whereas for a time it went on triumphantly, yet now the ministers in remote places are utterly destitute. Now, I do not say that this is a true account: but it bears the name of one of the leaders of this body, one of the original seceders with Dr. Chalmers. And he maintains this also—that they are gradually receding from the principles on which they went forth. We all know that the prophet and apostle of the system of Establishments was the great man who was the leader of that secession from Establishments (Dr. Chalmers), 1713 and that he thought that by some mode which was invented at that time of secession, the nearest possible approach to a large and ample endowment was to be secured for the Free Church. But the statement now made by his colleague is that the whole tiling is rapidly hastening away from this principle into the voluntary principle, against which Dr. Chalmers always protested, which produces in Scotland and elsewhere its usual fruits—pandering to the ignorance of the people, producing unnatural excitement on religious questions, and. after all leaving remote districts altogether unprovided for. Now, I venture to say that, if the account given by this gentleman is true, it shows that a good deal of mist exists, upon this question, and that it is difficult to ascertain the real state of the case. I will now say a few words to your Lordships on another matter. I was present the first evening of this Session, and I heard the noble Viscount the late Governor Genera1 of Canada (Lord Monck) speak in the most triumphant strains of the success of the Canadian Church. But I happen to know that at that time this Church was in the anxious throes of birth for nearly four months from the impossibility of finding any mode by which it was to elect a successor to my late venerable and lamented Friend the Bishop of Montreal: that proposal after proposal was made and rejected, and that the whole came to a dead-lock, as to carrying on the discipline of that Church, so complete that it seemed to threaten the utter dissolution of the ecclesiastical system. I know also—for I have soon the papers—that there was a general impression on the part of most Churchmen in. Canada that the plan had worked there badly; indeed, that there never would occur a vacancy on the Episcopal Bench which would not give rise to a certain amount of canvassing—which is bad in Canada, would be bad in England, and would be worse in Ireland. I read, also, certain papers respecting an episcopal election there in which it was stated that the Orangemen of Canada held a meeting—a caucus—and determined that unless the Orange candidate for the episcopate wore chosen they would—not exactly stop the supplies—but take some other step which would make all government im- 1714 possible. With these facts in my knowledge I was astonished at the triumphant tone in which the noble Viscount spoke about the Canadian Church. More than once, however, I myself have written to Canada in order, if possible, to gain some further information on this subject. I am aware that the difficulties with regard to the election of Metropolitan have happily been tided over, and that an admirable clergyman holding office in my own diocese has at last, after great difficulty, been elected to the office of Metropolitan; but I know that discord and ill-will prevailed for many months before his election. I come now to another point—namely, the sustentation of the clergy of Canada. It always appeared to me a mystery—which I attributed very much to my own want of understanding about questions of interest and capital—how it was that when the Church in Canada was deprived of its revenues—the life interests being capitalized—there was found a sufficient sum at once to pay all these persons their life interests, and at the same time to leave a large margin for the future sustentation of the clergy. Now, in Ireland, it seems to me that a great deal of dust has been thrown into our eyes, and very exaggerated statements have been made as to how those life interests are to produce a large sum for future use in the hands of the Church Commissioners. I wrote, therefore, to a person in Canada whom I know to be well-informed—a gentleman holding high office in the Church there—and I put this question to him—Whence comes the surplus after satisfying these life interests? The answer soon came. Your question, said my informant, is very easily answered, for the surplus comes "principally from the imagination." There is no doubt a way in which it may be obtained—namely, by lending the money at very high interest, which everybody knows is very bad security. The consequence, in some instances, I understand, has been bankruptcy; in other instances the trustees have managed to tide over the difficulty; but in most of these cases, I understand, they have merely paid the life interests, and then capitalized as each holder of these life interests died, and have not yet, though so many years have passed, appropriated any sums for the benefit of the clergy generally. How, then, has the 1715 Church in Canada been kept afloat? It has been aided in two ways—one by grants from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel at Home—and we may come to something' of the same kind in Ireland—and the other by a still simpler plan, for a very large portion of the lands of the Canadian Church were never confiscated, but are regarded as sacred, because they had been appropriated to particular livings. As was so ably put by Sir Roundell Palmer in the House of Commons, the example of Canada may be followed in Ireland: but if it is followed, it must certainly be followed in this—namely, in preserving to the Irish Church all those funds appropriated by private munificence to its several parishes or 'Bishops' sees in past times, that they may hereafter contribute to its support. I trust that, as the noble Viscount (Lord Monck) will preside—if the Bill passes—over the Church Commissioners, he will bring to bear upon the Irish Church his Canadian experience, so as to enable it to avoid the difficulties to which the Canadian Church has been subjected; at the same time, giving it the same justice as was given to the Canadian Church.
My Lords, I must apologize to your Lordships for having trespassed so long upon your attention. I confess I feel that, with, some Amendments, we may make this a good Bill, though I grant it will be very difficult. There is nothing in the principle of the Bill which makes it impossible to throw back to a far earlier date the time from which private endowments may be calculated. I am much mistaken—if you have an opportunity of dealing with the measure in Committee—if you do not insist upon going back to an earlier date than 1660. There is no intelligible reason to be given for the selection of that date. Does any man believe that the Church of England came into existence in Ireland in 1660, and not before? What were Usher, Bedell, and what even was Jeremy Taylor, if they were not members of the Church of England? Did Jeremy Taylor, before he received the Bishopric of Down and Connor, hold different opinions from those which he entertained as Bishop? The thing will not stand examination, and therefore, the date must be fixed at a much earlier date than 1660. I also believe that your Lordships will insist that the same 1716 justice shall be dealt out to the Protestants in Ireland which is given to Maynooth. I do not grudge to Maynooth its fourteen years' purchase; but what is the distinction drawn between the two cases? If professors of education are to be supposed to live for a longer time than other people, and if a student of Maynooth, whose whole career is not generally more than some three or five years, is to have a fourteen years' interest for the purpose of reckoning compensation, I cannot understand why the Protestant incumbent of a parish should not receive the same measure. Therefore I say that whatever the basis on which you calculate the life interests at Maynooth, you should calculate the life interests of the Protestant Church in the same manner. Then, as to the glebe houses—if you cancel the building debt on Maynooth, with what face can you deal out a different measure to the Protestant clergy?—how can you ask the incumbents to pay for the glebe houses and the gardens which have been created by their own industry? It is altogether inconsistent with the Preamble of the Bill, which says that equal justice is to be dealt out to all parties. I venture to think, my Lords,—though, perhaps, I stand alone on the right rev. Bench in entertaining the opinion—that it would be a great advantage to the country if this measure could, in its details, have the benefit of your Lordships' full consideration. I cannot help feeling, my Lords, that if you were able out of this Bill to make anything' like a good and permanent settlement of this great question you would earn the gratitude of the country. I was waited upon a short time ago—as I daresay many of your Lordships have been—by a deputation from Ireland, and I ventured to put to them this question—"What is your policy with regard to the Irish Church? "The answer was in effect that if I gave them three months they would find a policy, but at the present moment I gathered they had none. The fact is that the real strength of the Government in dealing with the subject has been in this—that they have had a policy, and that others have not had the advantage of standing in the same position. Now, my Lords, there are probably two months more of this Session remaining, and I cannot but think that this House, comprising 1717 among its Members the heads of the Law find the heads of the Church, who may be supposed to understand something about this particular matter, a fair representation of the intelligence of the nation, and the great landed proprietors, is much, more likely to arrive at a satisfactory policy on this question than can be arrived at by any amount of agitation at meetings hold in Manchester, in Ireland, or in any other part of the kingdom. Though such a policy as I have ventured to recommend may not conciliate those who desire to destroy this House and its legitimate influence in the nation—though it may not conciliate the Ultramontane Roman Catholics on the one hand, or the violent political Dissenters on the other—yet I feel assured that you will carry with you the sympathies of all the moderate Roman Catholics in this country and in Ireland—especially of the Roman Catholic laity—if you step in and by a wise measure save them from that priestly dominion to which I believe they are quite as unwilling to submit as any one of ourselves but which the necessities of their position, and the change which has come of late years over the character of their clergy, so forces upon them that they are bound hand and foot. I am sure, my Lords, that if you were thus to send forth to the country a wisely considered measure, you would earn the gratitude of those; who are the very sinews and heart of the people of Ireland, those who are foremost in her industry and in all those qualities which constitute good citizenship—I mean the Protestants of the North of Ireland. If you are able thus to construct a measure dealing with this great subject, I am sure it will not be merely in words that the people of this country will now, as they did once before, thank God that they have a 'Mouse of Lords.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
My Lords, no one can approach this subject without feeling conscious of the great difficulties by which it is beset. I will not, however, waste your Lordships' time by making my excuses for taking part in this debate, nor by expressing any re-grot that the Bill under our notice has come before us, bound up—as it unfortunately has been—with the issues of party warfare. In the remarks with which I am about to trouble the House, I shall follow the natu- 1718 ral division of the subject with which we have to deal, and address myself first of all to the question of disestablishment, and then to that of disendowment. I certainly am not in anyway insensible of the advantages of an Established Church. Every sympathy, almost every prejudice, I have goes in favour of it. There are few persons who contend even now-a-days that society can well exist without the bond of religion; and few will deny that an Established Church contributes largely towards the maintenance of that bond; and while, my Lords. I cannot subscribe to all that has been said this evening with respect to colonial Churches, this, at least, I will say that what has been done in the colonies in Church matters is due not only to the spirit of voluntaryism, but sometimes also has been done in spite of voluntaryism. On the other hand—and I feel particularly called upon to say so after the course which this debate has taken—the advantages of an Established Church are rather advantages to the State than to the Church. There was a time when the Church was not connected with the State, and I have yet to learn that that was not the purest and, perhaps, the best period of her existence. There was again a time when the State sought a connection with the Church, because the Church was the first and prime element of civilization, and when the confession of the Trinity stood first on the Imperial Code. Again, there was a time when the union between Church and State was real—when every member of the State was a member of the Church; and lastly, there have been times when the Church was a slave of the State, when their powers were unequally divided, and when the slave was sometimes compelled to wear, not fetters of gold, but fetters of iron, the mere union of Church and State is not enough. Politically, the union of Church and State was never closer than before the French Revolution; while, religiously, society and the Church never stood further apart. Those were days of great revenues and high privileges, and. as I think they were sometimes falsely called, of the Gallican liberties. But the Church fell, and fell with a crash such as was never seen before, and such, as I trust, will never be seen again. Why did she fall? Because she was dependent on the State—because she was interwoven with the State—and the 1719 weapons of her destruction were not the weapons manufactured by the Revolution, but, as modern researches show, weapons wrought in the workshops of the ancien régime. But, in dealing with such a question as this, it must never be forgotten that the Church has two sides it has its temporalities, but it has its spiritualities also, and into the latter no State can enter, because there the rights of conscience are at issue. And this, after all, is a question, which is not confined to this House or to this country, It is a question with which all Europe at the present day is labouring; in one form in France, in another in Spain, in another in Austria. It is possible indeed, as I believe, to reconcile these two great powers—the temporalities and the spiritualities: but still the times are dangerous when you find the Church, compelled to fight at once for both its possessions; when Cæsar lays claim not only to the things which belong to him, but also to the thing's which are God's. The danger of this state of things is that you run a serious risk of confusion, and that in that confusion the higher is sometimes sacrificed to the lower object. Now with regard to this particular question—of the. Irish Church—how does the matter stand? It is not my place to endeavour to make out a case for the Bill which the Government have introduced. My object is rather to point out how far I can accept that Bill as applied to the special circumstances of Ireland and the Irish Church. Lot me in the firs place, say that I do not understand the ground which is taken by many persons in this House, and in the country on this subject. I do not quite understand the ground which is taken up by Roman Catholics, opposed as they always have been by traditional policy to such a change as this, and internally opposing in Austria at this very moment the ecclesiastical reforms there, and meeting them by precisely the same arguments as those used in the present case, by many of my noble Friends who are strongly opposed to this Bill. Nor do I comprehend the position of the Dissenters in England. I do not understand how they can reconcile it to themselves from their own point of view to hand over an undivided Empire to the Church of Rome. Nor do I quite understand the ground taken up by the modern school, who think the Church a use- 1720 ful appendage to the State, while they maintain that she should be kept in strict subordination to it. Lastly, it seems to me that those who honestly support this measure as the means of pacifying Ireland will find themselves grievously disappointed. On the other hand, however, I am bound, in candour and fairness, to say that I recognize some merit in the freedom from the control of the State which this Bill gives the Church in Ireland—that freedom from the control of the State which long kept her in a kind of slavery, which for so many generations made her the cesspool of official patronage, and which induced Swift to describe her as full of birds of passage who came to fatten and thrive on her revenues. My Lords, I admit that the Church of Ireland is the Church not only of a minority, but of a small, and even of a fractional minority; and no one would venture to propose to recreate it if it did not exist. It is true also that the Church of England in this country has, at various times, been more or less national in its character. In the time of William III., when a great break took place, that was more or less true of it; and since then the doctrines of majorities have been constantly adduced. And now, what is the state of things in the colonies? In those colonies which have representative institutions there is not the shadow of an Establishment left. In the Crown colonies there is, indeed, a quasi Establishment. It has been fostered too frequently by more of zeal than of wisdom; but at last the facts and circumstances have been too strong for us, and it is gradually crumbling and passing away, even against the; will of all the parties concerned—even against the will of its friends, and yet, to a certain extent, with their consent. I venture to say this with some confidence, because when I hold the Seals of the Colonial Office I entered upon its duties with a strong prejudice in my own mind in favour of an Established Church in the colonies. But I was gradually forced to see that it had become impossible, and that the principle of Establishment was gradually melting away, with the consent of both the great parties in this country. Look at the colonies that have representative institutions. In the words of the Canadian Act, you have not even the "semblance" of an Established Church in 1721 those colonies. In Malta you have a, Roman Catholic Church established by law—and, in fact, nowhere in the British dominions, except in Ireland, is the Church of a small fractional minority the Established Church of the country. But, then, it may be said that my argument may be carried further than I intend to go, and my noble Friend who spoke from the back Benches referred to the case of Wales. Now. I deny that there is any real analogy between the case of Ireland and that of Wales. The differences are very plain and obvious. They are not only in their physical conditions absolutely distinct, but whereas Roman Catholicism in Ireland has been an indigenous plant, Dissent in Wales is purely an exotic. While in the one country Roman Catholicism was planted centuries ago and has for generations—from time immemorial—been the religion of the people, Dissent in Wales has been introduced in recent times, and has been introduced by the sloth of the Church and the indifference of the State; I venture to hope and believe that it is now gradually being remedied by a better and improved system. But of one thing I I am clear—that the case of the Church of Ireland is not in any sense identical with that of the Church in England. Its history and its circumstances are all different. Its relations to the State and to the people are different; and I would venture to warn those who think that in this Bill they can seal the fate of the Church of England, that they will find the case a very different one. I would venture to remind them that the Government and its supporters stand as deeply pledged as words can commit anyone to the fact that the ease is entirely different between the two Churches. My Lords, it was said by my noble Friend behind me, who moved the rejection of this Bill (the Earl of Harrowby), that it was equivalent to a repeal of the Union. Without discussing that point too closely, I must frankly acknowledge that I failed to follow his argument. I do, indeed, think that, it was a misfortune that the union of Ireland with this country was originally a religious as well as a political one. It has not been so in the case of Scotland, and the beneficial results are to this hour before our eyes. And I cannot, for my own part, but look upon 1722 the problem to be solved rather as a national than a religious problem. It seems to me much the same problem in that respect as was the problem in 1828. Then, as now, there were three alternatives—emancipation, re-conquest, or repeal. You might almost describe our present position in the same language. Then, as now, there were the same resentments for the past, the same vague hopes for the future. Then, as now, Ireland was divided into two camps, and exposed to all the chances of a religious conflagration. Then, as now—because the parallel is really very curious—a very large part of England, at least, was adverse to the change, while Ireland was favourable to it, and just as the Union carried Roman Catholic Emancipation, so is the Union now carrying the present measure. Whether the Government, of that day were responsible for refusing all concession, and whether the Government at this day is responsible for promoting agitation, it is not for me to say—it is enough for me to repeat that it is rather a national than a religious problem. I know well how deep must be the shock to the feelings of the Protestant population of Ireland; for, after all, the question is interwoven with the feeling and habits of generations. I cannot, however, but believe that when the religious question is disentangled they will find that they have lost in no degree either their great political or social influence—because, after all, their courage, manliness, independence, and ability are inherent in them, and must, tinder any circumstances, assert their power, and these are qualities which, as no legislation can give, so no legislation can take away. And here I cannot help expressing my regret that in all the discussions on this subject in "another place" there should have been apparently so great a want of sympathy with them on the part of those who had the conduct of this measure. It has affected my own mind, and I can conceive how much more deeply it must have sunk into the minds of those who felt that their nearest and dearest interests were concerned. In the rigid silence that was observed—in the forced absence of all argument in reply—sometimes in the conciliatory words which were not spoken sometimes in the hard things that were said, I own I saw something that reminded me of the barbarous conqueror who, in lieu 1723 of argument, threw his sword into the scale. Well, my Lords, I now come to the question of disendowment. Disendowment, as I understand it is allied, in popular estimation, to two somewhat different things. It means, in the first instance, the appropriation of this property to religious uses; and, on the other hand, it means mere secularization. The measure of Her Majesty's Government stands somewhat between the two. I, for one, should greatly prefer the application of the properly to religious uses. I prefer it, because to take it away from these religious purposes seems to take away the best heritage of the poor; and because, if so taken away, it is likely to find its way into the hands of classes that least need it. But what, after all, is the moaning of religions uses? In the early Church, as your Lordships will remember, tithes were supposed to be applied to the three purposes—for the benefit of the clergy, for the maintenance of the fabrics, and to the relief of the poor; and the relief of the poor in itself formed a religious endowment. As far as I am personally concerned, I entertain no great objection to that portion of the plan proposed by the Government; but then, on the other hand, I am bound to say that that plan is scarcely homogeneous and consistent, that other objects besides the support of hospitals enter their proposal: and that the modern doctrine is emphatic that such an application of public money tends ultimately to pauperize rather than to relieve. Some of the supporters of Her Majesty's Government hold this view, and I must leave it to the Government to settle the question with them. But we are also obliged in this case to consider the question of secularization, because secularization forms one of the principles of this Bill. My noble Friend the Chairman of Committees has spoken on more than one occasion in very strong terms of what is proposed to be done by this Bill. He has called it plunder and spoliation. If it were what my noble Friend holds it to be his views would unsettle a very large amount of property in this country—property which has been settled for generations. If secularization in such a case as this was what my noble Friend describes it to be, I never would vote for it, and I can conceive no circumstances, either in this House or out of it, which would be 1724 sufficient to justify your Lordships to assent to such a policy. What does the secularization of corporate property mean? I think my noble Friend's description may be applied to the secularization of corporate property in cither of two cases—if the Sovereign puts the money in his pocket, or gives it to his favourites, as at the time of the Reformation; or if the State, taking it, turns out those who have life interests, without making provision for them as at the time of the French Revolution. For my own part, I draw a distinction between private property and corporate property in respect of the power of the State, for it appears to me that the law of England recognizes that distinction, and not only recognizes but has acted on if. It has exercised, by way or ordinary regulation, its right of interference with corporate property in the case of the reform of municipal corporations, in the case of the Charity Commissioners; it has exercised, by extraordinary authority, its right at the period of the Reformation. And going back further, and looking at the effects of the Reformation—of course, I speak of its temporal effects—if we take away the statutes of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, how many of the titles to property are taken away with them? How far the State is justified in interfering with the property of a corporation, which continues to discharge the duties for the discharge of which it was established, is a different question. The State has a double power. It is absolutely powerful over all property; but this is simply the force of the strongest. It has also a moral competence, bound by considerations of policy and good feeling and private rights; and that State is the wisest which acts in these matters with the greatest tenderness and forbearance. But, as a matter of fact, I admit the right of the State to disestablish and disendow; and, my Lords, though disestablishment and disendowment are not the same thing, I admit that if there be disestablishment a certain measure of disendowment does seem necessarily to flow out of it. But then arises the last, and perhaps the most important, consideration in connection with this measure—namely, what is to be the character and extent of the disendowment in this case? Must we look on the disendowment proposed by the Government as a gracious 1725 and generous measure of disendowment, or as a hard measure exacted in strict accordance with the letter of the bond? I will not trouble your Lordships with many figures; but I must say that my estimate of what the Bill leaves to the Church falls little short of that made by the most rev. Primate. On Mr. Gladstone's own calculation, we may take the capital of the Irish Established Church at £16,000,000. The charges, exclusive of £500,000 private endowments, and £250,000 building-charges, are £7,900,000; the surplus appropriated to hospitals, £7,350,000. These charges and the surplus so appropriated make a total of £15,250,000, leaving £750,000. Of this, £500,000 private endowments go to the benefit of the Church, and £250,000 are for building charges which the Church will have to make good, and which, therefore, must be deducted from the £500,000. There will remain then to the Church only £250,000. But if we take into account the expense of issuing a Commission similar to that which the Government proposed to issue, for which £200,000 has been mentioned as the cost. I will assume an outlay of £100,000; and thus only a beggarly £150,000 will ultimately be left to the Church. Is it not almost a mockery to propose that only such a sum as that should be saved to the Church out of her present property? Did any of us suppose last year that such a scheme of disendowment as that would be connected with the disestablishment of the Irish Church? I say nothing of life interests. We owe the Government no thanks for them. Those who are entitled to them may take their compensation and draw out the last farthing, leaving absolutely nothing to the Church—therefore, we have no right to take those life interests into account in considering what is to be done for the Church. I will not now dwell on the date 1660—so arbitrarily fixed on as the limit in case of private endowments—nor on the capitalization scheme, which, as it now stands, must end in utter failure, and other similar points; but I say the fact remains that only the inconsiderable balance of £100,000 or £150,000 will be left to the Irish Church when this scheme has been carried out; while within the last century the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has, under the protection of Parliamentary enact- 1726 ments, been allowed to accumulate property to the amount of £5,000,000 or £6,000,000, and has now an income of of £600,000 or £700,000 a year. If that be so, surely it is unjust to the Protestant Church in Ireland to place her in the position you now propose. Remember that her shortcomings, whatever they may have been, have been mainly due to the State. Remember all the promises made to her by statesmen representing all parties—the promises of Sir Robert Peel, of Lord Palmerston, of the present Prime Minister, of Sir George Lewis, of Sir George Grey, the promises of every Minister of distinction. We are told not to fear, for voluntaryism will do all for the Church in Ireland. Now, I have myself more faith in voluntaryism than many of the noble Lords who preceded me in this debate; but I do not believe that it can perform impossibilities. There is a great difference between voluntaryism in a new and in an old country. In a new country it is possible and convenient. It develops easily; it grows with the growth of the population and the wealth of the community. In an old country everything is, so to speak, out of proportion with voluntaryism, and it cannot develop itself in the same degree. It must be remembered that the provisions, even those which are favourable, in this Bill are rather against the success of the Irish Church with the voluntary system than in favour of it, because the very fact of life interests being granted to the clergy cuts and cripples the voluntary effort; whilst after a certain number of years these life interests will expire, and the Church will be thrown on its own resources. But whilst some of Her Majesty's Government say that the Irish Church will in time grow rich on voluntary efforts; on the other hand, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is reported to have stated that it was dangerous to have a Church too rich. But the right hon. Gentleman is reasoning like the Sicilian tyrant who took the golden cloak off the statue of Jupiter, saving that in summer it was too warm and in winter it did not keep out the cold. Wherever the truth may lie between those adverse opinions, I would beg to impress on noble Lords that if the question in this case be one of mere money, it is unworthy of the Government and of Parliament to haggle over it. For my own 1727 part, I think that in a case like this the wisest policy is to be generous. I quite believe, my Lords, that there are a great many in your Lordships' House who do not agree with the view which I have been induced to form upon this subject; but, on the other hand. I believe that there are a good many others who, while disliking the Bill, yet hesitate as to how far it is right to reject it. To these noble Lords I venture to appeal. I appeal earnestly to them in this great crisis to accept the second reading of this Bill—in the first place in the interest of this House, whose authority should not be unnecessarily strained; secondly, in the interest of the Church of Ireland, which can gain but little by delay; and, lastly, in the interests of Ireland itself, which ought not but which may, in the event of this measure being rejected, become a battle-field of desperate and dangerous faction. My Lords, we know that in this matter the responsibility rests upon Her Majesty's Government. Her Majesty's Government have accepted that responsibility. But though this is so. I would remind your Lordships that the power of protest—of solemn and powerful protest—belongs to this House. For my own part, I believe that there may be many of your Lordships, who, while seriously opposed to the Bill, may yet yield up their opinion to the extent of reading this Bill a second time without dishonour. After all they will not be yielding to the House of Commons. We have before now had differences with that House, and sometimes they have gained and sometimes we have gained. But in yielding up their opinion on this occasion they will not yield it up so much to the Lower House, as to what I understand to be the distinct and deliberately expressed opinion of the country. I am aware that my noble Friend who has moved the rejection of this Bill says that the country has not yet deliberately expressed its opinion upon this measure. But on the other hand, your Lordships cannot fail to remember how fully this question was debated last year—you cannot fail to remember how fully it was discussed at the time of the elections, and how large a majority of the Members of the House of Commons were distinctly returned in favour of a disestablishment of the Irish Church; a majority so large as to war- 1728 rant, aye, and even to induce, your Lordships to give this Bill a second reading. On the other hand, I venture also to think that the minority on this subject—a minority which is represented in the House of Commons—is so large as to require of your Lordships' House every consideration when this Bill gets into Committee. But my noble Friend, in moving the rejection of the Bill, also declared that the decision of the country upon the question is not final, and that time only is required that that decision should be reversed. My Lords. I am much afraid that my noble Friend is mistaken upon this point also. I think there are but few of your Lordships here present who in your heart of hearts believe that that decision is not the definitive judgment of the country; and if this should be the case, then we should be making a great mistake were we to misapprehend the feeling on the part of the country. It is in these aimless combats, if I may so describe them—in these aimless combats of the rearguard after the battle has been decided, that power is wasted, and that great opportunities are sometimes thrown away. My Lords, whilst I venture to thank your Lordships for having heard me with such patience, knowing how few there are among you who agree with me altogether on this subject, I must once and again entreat your Lordships not to strain your power unnecessarily, and not to defer concession until it can no longer have the charm of free consent or be regulated by the counsels of prudent statesmanship.
THE BISHOP OF DERRY
My Lords, any person who feels as profoundly as I do on this subject, and who occupies the position which I fill, must necessarily realize the importance of the grave and solemn issue now before your Lordships; and I think I shall require considerable sympathy when I address you. I am afraid that I am in danger because I am an Irishman—in still greater danger possibly because I am an Irish Bishop—of using strong words instead of strong arguments. But I am sincerely anxious on the present occasion to place a restraint upon my own private feelings while I endeavour to lay before your Lordships a line of argument and to adhere to it as closely as I can. I wish to address a few observations to-night to those who are the 1729 opponents of the Irish Church, and who are therefore the supporters of the present Bill, it is, indeed, the peculiar fortune of the Irish Church—I do not say whether it is her good or her bad fortune—that those who are her friends in one sense are her enemies in another—those who are the enemies of her Establishment, but who are the friends of her spiritual body. Her case is exactly the reverse of Israel of old—not "they who hate us" but "they who love us" would spoil our goods. Now, my Lords, I desire to remind such enemies of our Establishment and such friends of our Church that the action of this Bill will be to reduce our Church to voluntaryism pure and simple, or as nearly so as possible, and then I shall endeavour to prove that voluntaryism is absolutely unstated to the soil of Ireland. This Bill has been described as a generous and gracious measure; and we have heard to-night from several noble Lords of the generous and kindly treatment which we are likely to receive in the Amendments which will be introduced into the Bill in Committee. But, my Lords, there are some reminiscences which it is difficult to efface from the mind. It is hard for us Irish Churchmen to efface from our memories the manner in which certain Amendments were treated in "another place;" amendments obviously just and reasonable and declared to be such by sonic of the first lawyers of the age, whose predilections might fairly be supposed to be in an opposite direction. The noble Earl who has just addressed your Lordships (the Earl of Carnarvon) has laid down a distinction between the property of individuals and that of corporations. Now, I will not for a moment dispute that doctrine, but I have here a passage from Hallam, which throws additional light upon the subject. Mr. Hallam expresses his belief that the Legislature can alter the course of transmission in the case of corporate property, unless the succession has already been designated or rendered probable. Now, apply that doctrine to the case of the unfortunate curates of the Established Church in Ireland; and. at the same time, remember that Amendments as obvious as that which proposed to give thorn compensation for the loss of their prospects were rejected—that which proposed that the glebe houses, upon which such large sums have been laid out from time to time 1730 from the capital of the successive incumbents, should be given to the Church Body without reservation—that that which proposed that the second year of the reign of Elizabeth should be substituted for the mystical and wonderful date 1660, as that from which private endowments were to be respected, were met with either contempt or else by what has been described as the '-'conspiracy of silence." The noble Earl who proposed the second reading of the Bill dwelt upon the improvements introduced into the Bill in its progress through Committee in the House of Commons. But he touched rather lightly on the matter, and I have noted down the chief of those Amendments as far as they bear upon the Irish Church. I will now refer to them. In the 3rd clause we find the names of the Commissioners to be appointed by Her Majesty's Government. Against those names I have not one word to say. Among them I find that of a noble Lord who is now in this House, and whom I do not even know by sight (Lord Monck), but whom, notwithstanding the difference between our views on the subject of the Irish Church, I myself should have been the first to name for that office. In Clause 6 we find the salaries of the Commissioners fixed; they are respectable men and their salaries are eminently respectable. I have been informed that the insertion of the little word "as" will prevent our private plate from being vested in these most excellent Commissioners. In the 13th clause there is an Amendment, which I suppose I, as an Irish Bishop, should acknowledge with gratitude. After the passing of this Bill I shall be no longer a Spiritual Peer, but I am to be permitted to retain the title and precedence which I owe to the favour of Her Majesty. In Clause 24, in the original draft of the Bill, there was a provision, under which the Commissioners were to be permitted to keep up twelve of the cathedrals and churches belonging to the Irish Church as national monuments; but in the Bill as it now stands that clause is omitted. I am not one of those who complain of the omission of that clause—at least, in the form in which it was drawn—but it certainly is not an omission on the side of generosity. Generosity! I say of this Bill, Nil generosum, nil magnificum sapit; it is intensely grinding and penurious—it 1731 is as niggardly of its gold as it is of its words. But I recognized, for the first time, with much gratitude, a really excellent provision in the 14th clause, by which the compensation to beneficed persons and clergymen other than curates is not tied down to the discharge of their present duties, and in which provision is made for the case of those Bishops and clergymen who may be sick or disabled. But I do assert that the Bill, as a whole, leaves nothing to the Church as distinguished from individual members of it. It provides only for the life services of the present generation of incumbents. It has been made a subject of much congratulation that the churches have been left to the Protestants of Ireland. Now, really, my Lords, considering that it can be distinctly proved that since the abolition of church rates £800,000 have been laid out upon these churches by the private and voluntary gifts of Irish Churchmen themselves, I do not think that any great generosity can be urged in this matter. To-night I heard a sum of about £8,000 a year referred to; but, with that exception, I think it may be asserted that this Bill as it stands does reduce us almost to the voluntary system, pure and simple. I will ask your Lordships' attention while I endeavour to show that voluntaryism is absolutely unfitted to the soil of Ireland. The arguments drawn from voluntary Churches in other parts of the world are in the highest degree precarious. We shall all of us. I dare say, remember some words which were spoken by the noble Lord (Lord Monck) at the beginning of the Session in moving an Address to the Crown. The noble Lord spoke about his experience of voluntaryism in Canada. I need not dwell on facts which have been so often brought forward to show that the parallel fails: it fails constitutionally, it fails materially, and, as one who has taken considerable pains in the working of the Propagation of the Gospel Society, I say, with all respect for the noble Lord's talents and equally undoubted sincerity, it also fails practically. At the beginning of a memorable debate with regard to Establishments we were reminded that there were two aspects under which they might be viewed. I believe we shall find, in like manner, that the voluntary system in Canada is one thing as soon in the bird's-eye view 1732 of a Governor General residing greatly among the French population of the provinces, and, perhaps, seeing the voluntary system under the soft and rosy light thrown over it by the richly-endowed Roman Catholic Canadian Church; but I can assure your Lordships many of the pastors and clergy of the Canadian Church speak in very different terms, and write home in something like anguish. They tell us that they are quite unable to fill up any vacancies in their stations, while the French Roman Catholic population, with their richly-endowed priesthood, increase by hundreds every year, and boast that in ten years they will trample out the English and Protestants and drive them from the country. That is not a very encouraging analogy to propose to us. A great deal has been said about a pure voluntary Church. I will not dwell on the analogy of the Free Church taken up by the most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of Canterbury) with such power; but the analogy of the Scottish Episcopal Communion is still less encouraging. The Primus of Scotland reminded his clergy last year that within a century after the disendowmont and disestablishment of the Scottish Episcopal Communion her clergy were reduced from 1,000 to forty-two. She has at present, I believe, only 30,000 members and about 170 congregations. Recently a strenuous attempt has been made to raise the income of its Bishops to £500 a year, and of the clergy placed in permanent benefices to £150; but with what result? At the last meeting of the Scotch Church Society it was announced that they were only able to bring up the percentage to some 10s. 8d. in the pound. I ask you whether you wish this analogy of the Scotch Episcopal Communion to be applied to Ireland? Do you wish the Protestants of Ireland to be absorbed in the religion of the majority? Do you wish to cover the land, North, East, South, and West, with the thick darkness of Ultramontane superstition—to "make a solitude and call it peace?" Let us look at the working of voluntaryism on the soil of Ireland itself—let me speak of the Presbyterians of Ireland, as far as they are a voluntary body. Mr. M'Allister, of Belfast, a very competent authority, compiled some statistics in the interests of the Presbyterians themselves, showing that there are 600 Presbyterian 1733 ministers under the General Assembly in Ireland for whom the State grants a provision of some £40,000; and that of these there are fully 100 ministers with incomes of £95 per annum, and that of the assistants there were many with salaries ranging from £50 to £70 a year. "Imagine," said Mr. M'Allister, "what a life of poverty, distress, and martyrdom these men must lead, especially if they have wives and families." With such painful facts under their own eyes, if one did not know the exquisite pleasure of humiliating a successful rival—the refined enjoyment that all truly liberal minds of modern stamp feel in reducing to primitive poverty those whose office they do not the least in the world believe to be primitive in its origin—it would be difficult to credit that any sane man, knowing of the existence of such distress, could wish to put ministers of his own communion upon the voluntary system. By this handful of voluntaries among the Irish Presbyterians, it is asserted that the Church will get on much better without endowments. They themselves, however, like the old lady who shrank from a dose of antimony, but thought it quite natural to take the same thing as tartar emetic, have no objection to perpetual endowments for their own lifetime under the delightful name of annuity. Then we are desired to look at the voluntary system as it exists in the Church of Rome. I wish to speak with all consideration and tenderness for the views of noble Lords who may differ from me; but I think there can be no offence in saying that in those moments of reflection which will come to every man's mind, when he looks forward to a dim and distant future, the Roman Catholic sees before him a long period of suffering, which may be abridged by definite acts; and when he also sees something far higher and nobler than that—when he looks in imagination to the spirits of the loved and lost, when he looks back on all the unkindness which may have taken place in life, what man with a man's heart would not coin that heart into gold if he could only help them? As long as the coarser motives of fear, and the finer motives of love remain, the Roman Catholic priesthood will always have a tremendous leverage. But truth compels me to add that the peasantry of Ireland 1734 are surrounded by a marvellous organization. Only fancy—in that happy and favoured district, where Father Lavelle and his parishioners understand each other so thoroughly, that any difference of opinion upon subjects celestial or terrestrial may be accompanied with such disagreeable consequences—only think of a peasant wanting to resist the so-called "voluntary system." I will now read to your Lordships a passage from a speech of a person of the highest genius and authority. In this speech the eloquent speaker declares that the voluntary system does not appeal to the law for support, and then describes the characteristics of that system "whether depending upon due or undue influence." [A noble LORD on the Treasury Bench: Whose speech is that?] It is Mr. Gladstone's definition of voluntaryism! The Irish peasant is either not a voluntary at all, or if he be a voluntary, it is in the same sense as the soldier whom Sheridan saw carried off by a picket with drawn bayonets to do do his duty. I have hero Returns, which I believe to be authentic, of the fees ordinarily paid in one diocese of the Roman Catholic Communion. They are under various heads—masses, stations, mortmain, Christmas offerings, Easter offerings, &c.: and, my informants tell me that, according to the means of the people, those various dues amount to £150, £200, or £300; and, in parishes, where there is a large population, to £600 or £700 a year. Speaking in May, 1867, in answer to the Member for Londonderry (Sir Frederick W. Heygate). Mr. Gladstone said that the wealthy Protestant landowners ought not to be afraid of the voluntary system, which was applied in town and country to the Roman Catholic population living by the sweat of their brow. ["Hear, hear!"] I will answer that argument, which I see is received with favour by noble Lords behind me. We have heard, not only of this Church Bill, but of a Land Bill, which is in the pocket of some Member of the Government—a Bill which is to substitute a native Roman Catholic and Celtic proprietary for the present Protestant and so-called foreign proprietary. If you are going to get rid of the Protestants, how on earth are you to work this voluntary system? Not content with cutting off the supply of water, you choke up the 1735 well with stones and sand, and then you tell us—"Go, in Heaven's name, and drink abundantly." The success of the voluntary system does not depend at all on the rich few—it mainly depends on the middle and poorer classes—on the many who have just enough to be able to afford something. I say, this Bill leaves us voluntaryism pure and simple; and that voluntaryism, pure and simple, is utterly unsuited to Ireland. I am not now arguing with those who are the enemies of religion in general, or of our Reformed Church in particular. I am sure that none of those will be found in this House, with whom the cry of justice to Ireland is accompanied by some whistle, perhaps, to the Liberation Society over a hedge. I am speaking in this House, I am sure, to many who are earnest and conscientious supporters of this measure, and who think that in some way, which they cannot explain, it is sure to do good to Ireland in the long run: and I desire to say to them, firmly but respect fully, that they cannot justify their course of action on a question like this by arguments of that kind. I entreat your Lordships, as you value the Word of God—as you would not extinguish the one beacon-light on a dark shore—as you would not take from a handful of peasants that religion which is to them a source of instruction in life, and of consolation in death—draw back your hands from this measure of spoliation. I am sure we have no cause of complaint in the kindly and genial spirit in which the noble Earl Karl Granville) behind me performed his task this evening. It was very refreshing, after the very different treatment we have met with from other quarters, to be treated by him in so courteous and so considerate a manner. Many harsh and unscrupulous epithets have been applied to the Irish Church; and I feel it right to say something in answer to the charge so repeatedly made that that Church has always been a most intolerant Church. I deny the charge. A vein of tolerant principle ran in the worst times through the Irish Church. I might cite many instances of this, but I will mention only one which I have not seen noticed elsewhere. In 1762—the days of Primate Stone—Bills were brought in under the influence of temporary panic, to re-enact the Penal Laws in Ireland against the ad- 1736 herents of the Church of Rome; but those Bills were thrown out by the influence of Primate Stone and four other Prelates who publicly denounced the treatment to which the Roman Catholics were subjected in his time, and demanded a relaxation of those laws. My Lords, I must protest against the use of the epithet "intolerant," as if the Irish Church had a peculiar claim to it. That is simply throwing dust in the eyes of the people. You are condemning the Irish Church of the last century because it did not act upon principles not then recognized, and which had not then become a part of the heritage of public thought. If you judged other bodies and other men as you judge that Church, who would escape scatheless? Calvin justified the execution of Servetus, and held that heretics should be punished by the sword, and he refers to that great light of the Western Church St. Augustine in support; and Locke, in his Essay on Toleration, specially excepted the Roman Catholics from toleration. I do not wish to say anything disrespectful of the Scotch Kirk, but in 1712 it expressed itself astonished and afflicted at a monstrous Act for preventing the disturbance of religious worship conducted according to the Episcopal communion. We are often told that the Irish Church has always been intolerant and the English Church always tolerant. A very beautiful antithesis. But what are the facts? We have all heard the very cordial declaration, as I take it, of the present Government that it is strongly in favour of the principle of Church Establishment for England. In the month of February, 1851, a distinguished Member of the present Cabinet (Mr. Bright) showed his partiality for the principle of Church Establishments in a speech which I will take the liberty to quote—I do not blame this Church (the Reformed Church of England) as being worse than any other Church, I only say that any other Church under similar circumstances would have brought about the same result. In the reign of James I. it was a Church of tyranny and persecution. In the reign of Charles I. it did much to overturn the monarchy; for Prelacy united with the Crown was so heavy it sank the Crown. In Charles II.'s time Dissenters were persecuted right and left, and all the members of the sect to which I belong were, I believe, in prison."—[3 Hansard, cxiv. 250.]I say that if you look at the matter fairly, and compare the Irish Church with her compeers, she has not been 1737 so much more intolerant than other Churches and other people were. And when we consider how many Irish Protestants, sonic of whom are still alive, supported the measure of Catholic Emancipation, which they were so often told would give complete peace to Ireland—when we remember that Government patronage has been accorded by successive Governments in at least as great a proportion to members of the Church of Rome, and when we know that for about half-a-century it has been absolutely out of the power of the Protestants of Ireland to persecute the Roman Catholics, it is idle at this time of day to talk of our intolerance. We have also been frequently told that our Church is not a national Church. I confess I was surprised to hear that phrase applied to our Church in the presence of another Church, which speaks another language and owes allegiance to an alien head. It appears to me a bad sign of the times. Disguise the fact as you will, there are, after all, more nations than one on the soil of Ireland. Surely, it is the part of a wise Government to reconcile them and, as far as possible, to fuse them into one. Our fathers, in legislating for Ireland, thought there was only one nation to be considered—namely, the Protestants. Now you are going to repeat their error, but in a more fatal form; for you are about to forget that there are Protestants in Ireland as well as Roman Catholics. We are often told that the Irish Church has failed in her mission—I ask, in what sense has she failed in it? Has she failed in moralizing and Christianizing her own people? No one asserts that; her worst enemies admit the contrary. Has she failed in contributing to theological, ethical, and general literature? Has she failed in influencing even those Irishmen who are without her pale? 'Why do you not find in Ireland the intolerance of Spain or the ethics of Escobar? I believe it is greatly owing to the fact of the presence of the Protestant Church which you choose to forget. Surely all will admit that that Church has brought to bear the humanizing influences of science and literature upon the nation's life? I know that these are not a Church's highest work; they are not the fruit of the tree of life; but even when men will not partake of the fruit, which it offers; them, still, it is at least something that they are benefited by the 1738 leaves of the tree that are for the healing of the nations. That being so, I think I have a fair right to complain of the language which is indiscriminately used to excite prejudice against the Irish Church, whether it is deserved or is not. If you proceed—it has been said—to take away the abuses of the Irish Church, why, there would be nothing left. I quote another passage with great pain—Memories, traditions, associations, privileges; well may they be said to be like the angels of evil, polluting by their presence the temple of the Most High.I appeal to the high and chivalrous nature of him who uttered those words. I ask—not was it true, but was it chivalrous, kind, or generous to use such words as those in reference to the Irish Church, which must convey pain to thousands of Irish men and women? The days have been when Ministers of England have not thought it beneath their high dignity and character to speak with hushed reverence of the presence of the Almighty in that very temple. I mention this with pain and regret. But the most striking instance of this argumentum ad invidiam I ever heard, was supplied by an argument on the 27th clause of the Bill. The Prime Minister said in Lancashire some time ago, that his opinion was that the feeling of the country, apart from logic, would never tolerate that if the clergy and laity were disposed to continue the use of the parsonages and churches they should be taken from them. What did the Law Advisor of the Crown say upon that subject? He spoke of the maintaining of the globe houses of the Irish clergy as a national and sentimental grievance, because it would lead to a contrast being drawn between the miserable cottage of the priest and what he called the very magnificent parsonage of the Established Churchman. My Lords, has it come to this, that we are to be taunted and hooted because our ministers are educated gentlemen? You may remember that Lord Bacon in his famous discourse on the plantation of Ulster speaks of two harps—the harp of David, that drove out the spirit of superstition, and the harp of Orpheus, that expressed the spirit of civilization. [Cheers.] Now, I suppose by that cheer we are to throw the one into the river because its notes offend the majority, and to fling the other 1739 after it because of its echo. I confess I did not expect in an assembly of English gentlemen to hear a panegyric on nastiness, or an apotheosis of filth. I will now, my Lords, say a few words on some of the pleas which have been presented to us for voting in favour of the second reading of this Bill. First of all, it is said that there is no counter policy. There are only three courses it is said—to level up, to take the plan of the Church Commission, or the Bill before your Lordships. It would be sufficient to answer that ours is a policy of preservation, while yours is a policy of confiscation. But I am by no means sure that another policy might not be provided. The minds of English statesmen are not so poverty-stricken that they cannot find their way out of this difficulty. We have been told again and again that the office of this august Chamber is not to act against the clearly - expressed and ascertained will of the nation. But I venture respectfully to ask in return, is it so certain, that this particular measure is the will of the nation? We were reminded by the noble and learned Lord (Lord Romilly) that this House had lost some of its prestige and influence by its rejection of the Reform Bill. But, I ask, is there any parallel between the two cases? Where are the large and excited mobs making wild and fanatical declarations? On the other hand, look, my Lords, at those gigantic and unparalleled meetings which have been held against the Bill both in Ireland and England. Consider again the number of Petitions which have been presented against the measure. I believe that some amongst us who, with the best and kindliest intentions, are disposed to support the second reading of this Bill, because, like the right rev. Prelate behind me, they think that they will be able to manipulate it to their liking, and take all the evil out of it. They wish, as it were, to minimize the amount of evil it contains. For myself, I can only see one possible conclusion. I can only say that I think the only proper course for every brave and honest and Christian man who entertains conscientious convictions on the subject is to minimize the evil by resisting the measure, not to maximize the evil by taking part in its support. The Protestants of Ireland with one voice call upon us to reject the Bill. 1740 They call upon us to do so, because, they say, its title is disrespectful to Protestantism—its Preamble somewhat disrespectful to Christianity. They protest against it because it goes far towards dissolving essential and fundamental conditions of the Act of Union—because it is unjust to a portion of the clergy, and still more unjust to the laity of Ireland. They say it violates distinct pledges given to the English nation at the time this great issue was taken. They tell us—and our own common sense tells us—that it is fast dividing our unhappy country into two hostile camps. We decline to take any act or part whatever in a measure which we know to be pregnant with evil consequences, as surely as we know anything that has not actually come. We shall vote against it because we believe that it will practically produce a nominally atheistic nation under the real dominion of a papal Legate. We desire to oppose it to the last, because, whatever may be the intentions of those statesmen who have brought it forward—however high and pure they may be—influences have been at work which even they can hardly estimate at present; because to us it seems to be stamped in every line with a spirit of undying hostility to the Protestant religion; because we believe that the fissure which it will create cannot end till it has overthrown every Established Church in these islands; and because we are convinced that such being the case it is fraught with danger and confusion to the Empire.
§ On the Motion of Lord LYTTON, the further debate adjourned till To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past Twelve o'clock A.M., till half past Ten o'clock.