§ The Order of the Day for resuming the Debate on the Amendment to the Motion for the Second Reading—which Amendment was to leave out ("now") and insert ("this day three months")— (The Earl of Harrowby)—read.
§ Debate resumed accordingly.
My Lords, before addressing myself to the remarks which I have to make on the question before the House, I may, perhaps, be permitted to apologize to the noble Lord behind me (Lord Lytton) for standing, as I am about to do for a short time, between him and the House. I am quite aware how much more worth his observations will be than mine; but by way of explanation I beg to say that I rose to move the adjournment last night, not knowing that he was about to do the same, and that being, as I believe, in possession of the House, I gave way because I understood that he was going to speak on that occasion. As this was not his intention, I hope there is no want of courtesy in my now availing myself of 1795 my claim to priority from having risen first to move the adjournment last night. I trust the noble Lord will accept this explanation.
My Lords, I was much surprised last night that my noble Friend (the Earl of Harrowby) who moved the rejection of this Bill, did not inform your Lordships what he anticipated would be the practical consequences of such a step. The noble Earl is a person of very great political experience, and of very great judgment and ability. He must be aware, that considering the circumstances in which this Bill was brought into the other House of Parliament and passed by it, he is, by asking us at once to reject this measure, inviting us to embark in an arduous and perilous contest with that House. My Lords, I think that, in asking you to take the first step in such a contest it was not unreasonable to expect that my noble Friend would have informed us what are the grounds upon which he believes that we can come out of that contest, with success, or at all events, without damage to our position and to the interests of the nation. But I heard very little indeed upon that point. I heard from my noble Friend a good deal about the Coronation Oath, and the arguments against taking away corporate property; but, strange to say, after dwelling at length upon these two points, he himself admitted that he considered the arguments in support of both these objections to the Bill to be unsound. But unsound as he considered them to be, he seemed to think, on grounds which I am unable to comprehend, that we ought to attach at least some weight to them. I also heard my noble Friend quote some very remarkable passages from certain speeches of eminent men, whose names carry great weight with them, giving their opinions with respect to the Irish Establishment. But my noble Friend forgot that these opinions were expressed in very different times from those in which we live, and that they were expressed in respect to a different state of society to that which now prevails, and do not, therefore, bear on the question now before us. I also heard various other things from my noble Friend to which it is not now necessary to advert—but I repeat that I in vain listened for that which was above all things necessary for my noble Friend's conclusions—namely, some argument to show that the rejection of this Bill would 1796 be of real advantage to the Church of which he has made himself the advocate, to the nation, or to this House. Now, I shall endeavour to address myself to this question which my noble Friend has passed by, and to state, as shortly as I can, what, in my opinion, would be the practical consequences of the course which he has asked us to take. But before doing so I must advert to one particular passage in the speech of my noble Friend, which seemed to imply that to vote for this Bill is not consistent with having voted against the Suspensory Bill of last year. Now, as I myself had the honour of moving the rejection of that Bill, I hope your Lordships will permit me to pause for a few moments in order to explain why, in my opinion, there is no inconsistency between the course which I took last year, and the course which I propose to take this year. It must, I fear, have appeared somewhat presumptuous in me to take upon myself to propose the rejection of the Bill of last year, and to refuse to surrender this task even to the noble and learned Lord who then sat on the Woolsack; but I did so, as I ventured to inform your Lordships at the time, for the express purpose of depriving that vote as far as possible of having even the appearance of being a vote in favour of maintaining the Church of Ireland upon its present footing. I objected to the Bill of last year upon various grounds, the chief of which were—that it was unjust to the Church to pass such a measure and destroy its existing organization before any new organization was created for it; that it would have placed this House in an unfavourable position for the future discussion of a permanent arrangement; and that it was fit that we should by our vote upon that Bill, express our disapproval of the manner in which the question had been brought before Parliament. I think the result has proved that upon these grounds it was right for the House to reject the Bill of last year. We have now a Bill before us for making a permanent settlement, and I believe that a very large number of your Lordships will agree with me in the opinion that it is a Bill which, if it is to pass, will require very material amendment. Now, I ask your Lordships whether, if we had passed the Suspensory Bill of last year, we should to-night stand in the same favourable position we 1797 now do for discussing these Amendments with the other House of Parliament, if it should differ from us as to the propriety of adopting them? Do we not stand In a much better position for discussing the provisions of this measure than we should do if a law were in force by which, in the event of the failure of the Bill from a disagreement with respect to its provisions between the two Houses, the Irish Church would be allowed to die by degrees from the absence of any legal power of filling up vacancies as they occur. I ask your Lordships, too, whether the events of the last twelve months do not amply justify the vote of last year as one implying condemnation of the manner in which this question was brought before Parliament? Let me ask you to compare the state of Ireland before the famous Resolutions of last Session against the Irish Church were moved in the House of Commons and its present state. You all, I am sure, remember a very remarkable debate in the early part of last Session in the other House on a Motion of Mr. Maguire as to the state of Ireland. In the course of that debate Lord Mayo, then Chief Secretary for Ireland, gave an account of the existing condition of Ireland. His description certainly was in many respects highly satisfactory. He told the House that every violent outbreak of Fenianism had been put down; that the authority of the law had been offectually enforced: that agrarian outrages had, for a considerable period, been becoming more and more rare; that both trade and agriculture were prospering; that the farmers were doing-well, paying their rents easily and willingly, while the wages, of labour had risen, and the constancy of employment was far beyond what it had been in former years. That description was sup-ported by many striking papers which he quoted, and it was not in the main. contested by the other side. What was still more remarkable was that there were strong symptoms, during the whole course of that debate, that the spirit of religious animosity that has so long been the bane of Ireland was at that time comparatively quiescent. There were decided symptoms that even upon this burning question of the Irish Church there was something like a disposition in men's minds to listen to proposals for some arrangement; 1798 that, on the one side, a sense of the impossibility of maintaining things as they were was beginning to dawn; and that, on the other side, expectations of extreme and violent changes had not yet been created. Such was the state of affairs in March, 1868. Compare it with that which now exists. We all know that agrarian outrages have broken out with a violence which has been long unknown; that the spirit of insubordination, of disrespect for lawful authority, was never so rampant as now; and above all, and worst of all, it is but too clear that the spirit of religious animosity which divides Roman Catholics and Protestants has been inflamed and exasperated to the highest degree. Every account which we receive from Ireland shows the exceeding bitterness which prevails on both sides; and shows also —what to my mind is a matter of deep import and one affording great cause for sorrow—that the great body of Protestants in Ireland, Presbyterians, as well as Episcopalians, who have always been foremost in intelligence, in industry, in activity, and in attachment to the Crown and to the Constitution—that those men, who are our great hope for the future progress and improvement of Ireland, are now stung by a deep sense of the wrong which, as they believe, is about to be inflicted on them by the British Government and the British Parliament. Their passions have been excited to the utmost, and every Irish newspaper brings an account of some great meeting at which those feelings are expressed with the most intense vehemence. This is a state of things deeply to be deplored, but at which I own I cannot be surprised after the course which has been taken, It seems to me the natural consequence which might have been expected before- hand of the manner in which this subject was last year brought forward. No impartial man, as it seems to me, looking calmly at the matter, can fail to come to the conclusion that, however great may have been the success of the move that was made last year by those who brought forward the Suspensory Bill, however great may have been its success in advancing party interests, it has been most calamitous for the higher interests of the nation. But the evil has been done, and we cannot undo it. It only remains for us now to consider whether, in the actual state of things, it is likely to be better 1799 for the great interests involved that we should reject this Bill or accept it. Now, in considering that question, lot me remind your Lordships that by assenting to the second reading we do not pledge ourselves to take it as it stands. I hope and trust that you will agree to the second reading; but I equally hope and trust that, before it leaves this House, it will receive many essential Amendments. All we are now called upon to decide by agreeing to the second reading is this—that we are not prepared to insist that the Irish Church shall be maintained in its present position as a State Church, superior to the other Churches which exist in that country; that we will not insist upon maintaining a state of things which, rightly or wrongly, a very large proportion of the people of Ireland regard as degrading to them and as a badge of inferiority. That, and that only is the question to be decided. I will not follow my noble Friend who moved the rejection of the Bill into a discussion whether it is right or wrong to make a great change in the Established Church in Ireland. It seems to me that that question has been debated to satiety. I have myself during the last thirty-five years so often expressed an opinion upon it in both Houses of Parliament that I have nothing further to say, except this—that I am now, as I was then, firmly convinced that to maintain the Church of a small minority in exclusive possession of a rich endowment as a State Church, is contrary alike to good policy and to justice. I forbear, I say, from debating that question, because I venture to submit that even whether my opinion be right or wrong, the future maintenance of the Church as it stands is no longer possible. Everybody knows that no nation can be governed in opposition to its own deliberate opinion, and I hold that the deliberate opinion of this country on the question of the Irish Church was so decidedly given by the late General Election, that it is impossible to reverse it. My noble Friend (the Earl of Harrowby), I be-believe, does not himself deny that it is impossible for either House of Parliament to resist public opinion; but he says it must be the permanent opinion of the nation, and he is not satisfied as yet that the permanent opinion of the British nation has been declared in favour of such a change as is proposed. 1800 Now this is only the old story which we have heard so often, and on so many questions—that there is, or is just going to be, a great reaction. I cannot but doubt whether those who insist most upon this alleged reaction seriously believe in it; but, if they do, will your Lordships allow me very shortly to recall to your minds what has been the history of this great question? It is now just thirty-five years since it was first mooted in the House of Commons. It was then brought forward merely by seeking to obtain information as to the relative numbers of Protestants and Roman Catholics in Ireland; but even that attempt so opened the question that it led to the breaking up of the then Administration. In the next year (1835) for the first time it was distinctly proposed to make a very small part of the property of the Irish Church available for the general benefit of the people by what was called the Appropriation Clause in the Tithe. Bill. During the three or four following years the Irish Church was the principal topic of debate in the other House. My noble Friend behind me (the Earl of Derby) and myself, on opposite sides, took an active part in those debates. Now, at that time, the opinion in favour of making even so small a deduction as was then asked for from the property of the Established Church was exceedingly feeble, and was held by very few persons. It was so feeble, indeed, and was held by so few persons, that those who wished for larger measures, like my noble Friend at the table (Earl Russell) and myself were obliged to content ourselves with proposing a very small measure indeed—a measure commonly known, as I have mentioned, by the name of the Appropriation Clause— namely, a clause introduced into the Irish Tithe Bill for giving any surplus property of the Irish Church to purposes not ecclesiastical. Even for that measure, which would have been perfectly paltry and insignificant—except that it was meant and was taken as a mark of a conciliatory disposition to the great body of the Irish people, and in that sense was a measure of great importance —oven for that measure, reduced so low as this to secure support, we had in the House of Commons only a small and, I have no hesitation in saying, a reluctant majority; and the great difficulty which we had in defending the proposal—I 1801 speak, of course, only for myself, and of the difficulty which weighed on my own mind—was, that the arguments by which we had to support it necessarily led to a much larger conclusion than that which we asked for. This was a fact which I did not for a moment seek to hide—which, indeed, I proclaimed as openly as it was then possible for me to do, and which was quite obvious to all. Small, however, as that measure was, and feebly as it was supported, it was sent up, if I remember rightly, three or four times to your Lordships' House, and on each occasion rejected; and the Government of that day, finding that the support it received even in the House of Commons and out-of-doors was so weak and feeble that it was impossible for them to persevere, abandoned the intention of making this small concession to the great body of the people of Ireland. The victory remained with my noble Friend (the Earl of Derby) and those who acted with him; but it was a victory which I ventured to foretell at the time would prove disastrous to the cause which they supported. That small and timely concession might, in all human probability, have averted the crisis to which we have now come; and I call upon your Lordships to remember this, because it is pregnant with instruction for the occasion now before us. After that, the subject of the Irish Church for many years was not seriously brought forward in either House of Parliament with the view to a change by any considerable party. It was mooted from time to time by various persons, and among others I myself raised it in the House of Commons in 1842, in this House in 1846, and again in 1866, without obtaining any result whatever. It remained practically in abeyance for a long time. The experience of what had happened between 1834 and 1838 had created a notion that the people of England and Scotland were deeply averse from any great change with reference to the Irish Church, and this belief was so prevalent among the leaders of all parties that they shrank from proposing any substantial measure on the subject. But in the meantime a great change of opinion was silently making its way. Discussions went on in the Press, and occasionally Petitions were presented to Parliament, while of the young men who came forward into active life a larger 1802 and larger portion was found to be impressed with the belief that things could not remain as they were with respect to the Church of Ireland; and every foreign writer of eminence, whether European or American—whether belonging to Catholic France or Protestant Prussia— with one voice declared that the maintenance of the Church of a small minority as an exclusive and wealthy State Church was contrary to all principles of justice. This opinion, put forth at first only by a small minority, but a minority including some of the most distinguished thinkers of the day—such men as Sydney Smith, Dr. Arnold, and many others who might be named — this opinion of the necessity of a change of policy, with regard to the Irish Church, gradually made its way through the whole body of the nation; and when at last the opinion of the nation was tested it was found that the notion that England and Scotland were hostile to the change was an utter delusion, and those who wished to maintain the Church as it stands were left in a miserable minority. Now, I submit that when an opinion has been thus slowly and gradually formed, and when at length it sets in a given direction with such strength and steadiness of current as that which is now running in favour of a change with regard to the Irish Church, such a tide of opinion will no more run backward than a river will run back from the sea. The opinions of mankind are progressive, and an opinion thus formed I say, will not be altered. What, then, becomes of this pretended re-action? Such a notion must be utterly dispelled from the minds of all rational men who will calmly consider what has been the course of events; and if so—if the verdict pronounced by the nation at the last General Election is really final, if it is the deliberate sense of the nation —surely your Lordships must agree that it is not a prudent course for us to take to set ourselves in opposition to the nation by rejecting this Bill. What will be the consequence of such a course? My noble Friend (the Earl of Harrowby), I suppose, does not for one moment believe that by throwing out this Bill he will get rid of it. It will undoubtedly come back again before us in a short time — possibly in a very short time. When it so comes back to us we shall have again to consider whether we shall accept it or reject it. Possibly my 1803 noble Friend and the House will be in favour of again rejecting it; but what will happen then? Will the House of Commons—will the British, nation—submit to see its deliberate opinion thus withstood? Is it not clear that a permanent difference of opinion between the two Houses will bring the whole machine of Government to a standstill, and that it cannot go on till, in some mode or other—it is not for me to anticipate how— your fruitless resistance to this measure will be overcome? In that case what shall we have gained? My noble Friend says we shall have gained delay—a little time—so that the nation may consider better whether it had made up its mind on the subject or not. Well, if there was any doubt upon that question, that might appear plausible; but there is none. I am, of course, not talking of the particular provisions of the Bill, for on those, I believe, the opinion of the nation has not been expressed; but as to the necessity of some considerable change, the deliberate opinion of the country has, I am persuaded, been finally made up and declared. Thus, for the sake of a few short weeks' delay in the passing of this Bill—for the sake of a very chimerical hope of reaction—you will have incurred all the certain evils which must attend its rejection by this House, and I ask your Lordships to consider what those evils may be. In the first place, you will have a continuance of the exasperation and excitement which now exist both in England and in Ireland. You will have a continuance of those meetings and demonstrations which tend to excite the people of Ireland almost to madness, and which will make it more than ever difficult for them, after the measure has been passed, to subside into that state of calmness and mutual forbearance without which no true peace can be enjoyed in Ireland. That is the first consequence. Then, what will be the consequence with respect to this House? If we defer to the obvious feelings of the nation at this moment, we may do so without dishonour. We shall be only doing what the majority of the House of Commons did in 1838. Just as they then deferred to public opinion—which was against an inroad upon the property of the Irish Church—so your Lordships would now defer to a far more strongly marked, and a far more decided opinion of the nation in favour 1804 of a change. You will incur no dishonour if you accept it now; but if you reject it, and if it comes back to us enforced by some strong measure—it is not for me to say of what kind, but we are certain that in some manner or other some strong measures would be adopted in order to enforce our compliance with the will of the nation—if we then yield to compulsion, not to our better judgment, it is quite clear that the respect felt for this House by the nation will be seriously impaired, and its moral power will be, if not destroyed, greatly diminished. Mark, too, the importance of that consequence with reference to the possibility of amending this Bill. I listened last night with the greatest admiration to the speech of the most rev. Primate (the Archbishop of Canterbury) — a speech which was equally remarkable for the force of its reasoning, the clearness of its logic, and its temperate and truly Christian tone, which was so worthy of the high station which he fills. He pointed out, in a manner which must have made a deep impression on your Lordships, the very great objections there are to many of the provisions of the Bill, and he also showed that it was capable of amendment. For my own part, I have no doubt it is so capable. I have no doubt there are Amendments, which it is in your Lordships' power to introduce, which would render it, upon the whole, a not unfair settlement of this great question — Amendments which would have the effect of putting an end to the invidious position of the Irish. Church as a State Church having superiority over other Churches with more numerous adherents, and which, while relieving it of the odium arising from that position, would, at the same time, secure it such a decent and moderate provision as would enable it in its altered circumstances, aided by those exertions which we are entitled to expect from its members, to continue to afford instruction in the Protestant religion to those who now receive it at its hands. And let me point out to your Lordships how vitally important it is that we should succeed in making Amendments of this description. It is too true — as was stated by several noble Lords last night, and I do not hesitate to adopt the argument—that to deprive the Protestant Establishment of some decent provision would go very far towards extinguishing 1805 Protestant religion in many parts of the country. I am told that it is a libel upon the Church to hold that opinion: but after what we heard last night from the most rev. Primate of the unfortunate circumstances in which it would be placed, I can hardly regard it in that light. What would be the effect of throwing these Churches entirely on their own resources? In the opinion of those best acquainted with Ireland, the undoubted effect of a measure of this kind would be to render it impossible for the Presbyterian and Episcopalian Churches to provide the public ministrations of religion for the scattered Protestants in a great part of Ireland. In what situation, then, would those Protestants find themselves? They would either have to allow their children to grow up without public instruction in any religion, or else allow them to receive that instruction from the Roman Catholic priests—thus forfeiting that Protestant faith which, in common with most of your Lordships, they hold so dear and value so much— or thirdly, they would be compelled to emigrate. Can your Lordships doubt that, practically, the effect would be to drive a very large proportion of the most valuable part of the Irish population from the shores of Ireland? In all human probability that would be the consequence, and I can conceive few greater misfortunes for Ireland or for the Empire. To carry Amendments, therefore, which will avert this result will be an advantage of a most important kind. And is there anything in the present state of affairs to lead to the presumption that to carry such Amendments is impossible? My noble Friend (Earl Granville), in answer to a question which was not formally put by a noble Lord on this side of the House (Lord Bateman), used language upon this subject which I really think was all that we could fairly expect from him. He professed a readiness to receive with all courtesy and fairness every Amendment that might be suggested in this House. I have no doubt he would do so; but, at the same time. I tell him frankly that I do not expect him to consent to Amendments as large as I should deem desirable. I am aware of the difficulty in which he stands, and I think, in all probability, he will not think it his duty to agree to Amendments such as I should desire; but is there not at 1806 least a fair probability that, though Her Majesty's Government may object to such Amendments, a majority of your Lordships may support them? If the most rev. Primate should bring forward Amendments conceived in the spirit of those which he shadowed out last night —Amendments which would be moderate in temper and would not infringe what I take to be the main principle of the Bill—that of putting an end to the system of giving extensive advantages to the Church of a small minority—is there any reason why your Lordships should reject them; and if you accept them is there any reason why they should not eventually become law? We may be told, I know, that the other House of Parliament will not assent to any Amendments of that kind. I think, however, we have no right to act upon such an assumption. I think it is highly probable that Amendments might be carried in this House which the Government may disapprove, and which they may think it would have been far better not to adopt, but that they may yet deem it their duty to advise the House of Commons to accept them. They will surely feel it to be their duty, as much as it is ours, by all fair means to avert the great misfortune of a permanent difference of opinion between the two Houses, and of a crisis to which such a difference would lead. I believe, in spite of some unfortunate symptoms which have appeared to-day, that they will feel it to be their duty to endeavour to avert evils of that kind, and will not be disposed arrogantly to insist on the absolute submission of those who differ from them to every particular of the Bill. I cannot believe that they can wish to force on a quarrel between the two Houses, with all the consequences to which it would lead. Now, my Lords, if we really do succeed in arranging this matter, if we can carry Amendments which will make the Bill, not perhaps such a settlement as we should all desire, but still a settlement which may fairly be acquiesced in, and in which all parties will find that they have gained much if they have given up something—if we finally become the means of so settling this great question, shall we not, I ask your Lordships, have improved the position of this House with the country as much as we should otherwise have lowered and degraded it? As the most 1807 rev. Primate most justly remarked last night, we shall indeed have given the people of England new cause to say— "Thank God we have a House of Lords." Our chance of amending this Bill, bear in mind, entirely rests upon our now accepting it. Now is the time. If we go into Committee now and consider the, details with the authority of this House unimpaired, with its character still high in the country, I believe Her Majesty's Government — I believe the House of Commons — will not be hasty in raising a difference between us; whereas if we now reject the Bill, and if it comes before us again, after we have been compelled; in the eyes of all men, to recede from a position unwisely taken, the case will fee entirely different. We shall then have men's minds excited against us. The House of Commons and the nation will both be irritated by what they will regard as our ill-considered and perverse resistance to the plainly expressed wishes of the nation; and Amendments which at this moment there would be a fair chance of getting ultimately accepted by both Houses will not then be entertained for a moment. Even should it be the wish of the Government in another year, or another Session, to consent to Amendments which will be then proposed even on a smaller scale than might now be carried, the Government itself will be powerless to accede to them. That is precisely what happened in 1831, as my noble and learned Friend (Lord Romilly) reminded you last night, when the Reform Bill was thrown out by this House. In October, 1831, the Government of that day — as I can testify from personal knowledge—were strongly disposed to accept any reasonable compromise for the sake of peace and of averting ail those evils which they foresaw from a struggle between the two Houses; but. unfortunately, this House was ill-advised enough to reject the Bill; and when a new Bill came before you in the next year—my noble Friend (Earl Russell) will bear me out in saying so—the Government no longer had the power, even if they had the wish, to agree to any important Amendments, [Earl RUSSELL: Hear, hear!] That is a lesson which surely ought not to be lost on men of sense. I call upon you not to repeat that mistake. This is an opportunity, and the only opportunity you will have, of endeavouring to bring 1808 out of a measure—which I agree with most of your Lordships in regarding as an extreme and ill-considered one as it stands—a rational and fair settlement of the question. It is possible, indeed, that I may be too sanguine, and that there may not be so good a prospect as I anticipate of our succeeding in carrying a good settlement of the question through both Houses; it is possible that the Amendments which we may think it necessary to carry and to adhere to may not be accepted by the other House, and that the Bill may consequently fail. We must be prepared for such a course. I submit to your Lordships that in that event the worst that can happen is the loss of the Bill, and the loss of the Bill under circumstances infinitely more advantageous to your Lordships than if you rejected it on the second reading. In the latter case it would seem that this House had refused to listen to the will of the nation—had refused to listen to any compromise on the subject—and was determined to maintain the Irish Church in all the enormity of its present position, to refuse all concession, and to maintain it as it stands. On the other hand, if we accept the Bill at its present stage and the House of Commons will not consent to the Amendments which we think it necessary to make, the question will assume a very different aspect. The Bill will then have been lost not because your Lordships are unreasonable, but because the House of Commons insists that we shall not only correct a grievance which really exists, but that we shall go further, and inflict upon 1,500,000 of the population of Ireland that which they regard as a mortal injury; that we shall insult and injure them, and refuse to consent to anything short of utterly depriving the Protestants of Ireland of the means of continuing their religion. If that is the issue on which we go to the country, I, for one, do not despair of the result. Of one thing I am perfectly certain — that if that is the mode in which the question is raised we shall have a far better chance of obtaining in our favour the verdict of that public opinion which must ultimately be the arbiter upon this question than we shall have if we take it upon ourselves to reject the Bill upon the second reading. It is now very nearly twenty-four years since I first had the honour of a seat in your Lordships' House, and 1809 in that long time it has been called upon to pronounce no decision which, in my opinion, was to be compared in importance to that which you are now asked to give by your vote on this Bill. The question you are now about to decide involves not merely the present peace of the, country, but the authority which your Lordships' House shall exercise in the future. I firmly believe that the rejection of this Bill at this stage would be nothing short of a public calamity, and I therefore most earnestly implore every one of your Lordships not to be induced to concur in its rejection, either by any pressure of party or personal considerations; that you will in this case consider the higher duty you owe to the nation; and, I would venture to add, weigh the heavy responsibility which will rest upon all those who are parties to the rejection of this Bill—a responsibility which will rest not only upon those who actively concur by their votes in throwing it out, but in a minor but still no inconsiderable degree upon those who contribute to the same result by altogether abstaining from using their legitimate power by voting in favour of the principle of this Bill.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN
My Lords, having only at a somewhat late period assisted at your debates, and having myself taken no share, or the very slightest share, in them, I would, had I consulted my own inclination on this occasion, have left the discussion of this question to abler and more practised hands. But there are times when we may not keep silence—when it is not permitted us to consult our inclinations— when it becomes us to throw aside any reluctance we may feel; and I address myself to your Lordships the less unwillingly, being sure that I shall find from your Lordships any indulgence I may need. My Lords, in the conciliating and courteous speech with which the noble Earl (Earl Granville) opened the debate last night he had a courteous speech for everybody within the House, and some for those who, I believe, were not properly within it; but, my Lords, if there was a hard, a strong, a rebuking word in the speech of the noble Earl, otherwise so gracious and so conciliatory, it was reserved for the Prelates of the Irish Church. The rebuke, indeed, was one to which we had been already subjected. It will probably be within the 1810 memory of some noble Lords here present that it was brought, in the opening speech of the First Minister of the Crown, as a sort of charge against us that we had held ourselvcs aloof, with one exception, and had not come forward to put ourselves in communication with the framers of this Bill. I must confess that since I have known the character of the Bill—since I have learnt that the principle of it is that everything shall be taken away from us that can be taken away, few things have filled me with more surprise than that we should ever have been invited, have received any encouragement or solicitation to do that for which we are thus reprimanded for not having done. I can imagine the garrison of a hard-pressed city invited to consider the terms of surrender, and to strive what of their lives and their possessions might be saved by timely capitulation; but an invitation to assist at a conference by which they were to be put to the sword appears to me a superfluous mockery. When the right hon. Gentleman thus reprimanded us he did not in the slightest degree insinuate or imply that if we had entered into any such communications we should have, in the slightest degree, modified the course the measure would have taken. It is now as plain as day—the principle of the Bill being what over and over again it has been affirmed to be—that we should and could have gained nothing, while we must have lost much by any such step as that for the declining to take which we have thus been found fault with. We should have lost much; discredited ourselves with those on whose affection and confidence we shall have most need to rely, whose entire confidence we must have if ever the Irish Church is to be safely steered through the shoals and quicksands and rocks which are before it. Allowing ourselves to be paraded as being richer, we should have transferred to our own heads some of those resentful memories which will now cling around other brows. We might, indeed, have saved a certain, amount of odium to others—we might have made the operation of our extinction easier—we might have saved the heads- man some trouble, if we would have thus adjusted the block and sharpened the axe, and pointed out the exact vertebra of the neck on which we would have liked the decapitation to be effected, but 1811 I do not see that the utmost stretch of] charity demanded this at our hands. I ask your Lordships' pardon for occupying so much of your time with matter personal only to a few; Vat as we are making history now, as every act of every actor, even the most insignificant, in the great events which are now accomplishing themselves will often hereafter be brought under review, will be weighed in strictest balance, I would fain justify the course which we have pursued us the only one consistent with our own dignity, as that in which we did not consult otherwise than for the best interests of the Church; and notwithstanding the rebuke which we have received, I, for one, thank God that, with a true appreciation of that which was before us, we held ourselves aloof from entering upon terms of settlement and accommodation, that is, as we are now taught, terms of unconditional surrender; and, whatever may befall us, it will, in time to come, be some satisfaction to remember that in this, the crisis, it may be, of our Church's fate, we did not condescend to humiliation, which would have profited us nothing; that if overthrown and destroyed, yet that we were not active agents in our own destruction, nor willing accomplices in our own overthrow. You will feel, my Lords, that it best becomes me if I refrain from entering into the political aspects of the question before your Lordships, or of its bearing on the future of your House. I feel the weight of all which the noble Karl has spoken, though in has not convinced me. But this aspect of the question will be much more fitly left in other hands. What I say will move in another sphere. I will only hope the sanguine expectations cherished by the noble Earl (Earl Grey) will not be disappointed, though the ominous silence winch reigned on the Government Bench whenever he indicated that those Amendments to satisfy him must be serious and large, yields little encouragement to expect that Her Majesty's Ministers are prepared to depart from the principle of the Bill, which is to take everything from us which can be taken. But this much may be said on the matter—It seems difficult to pass on to the consideration of the Bill now before your Lordships without a few words on the higher principles which this measure involves; for, surely in the dissocia- 1812 tion of the State from all connection with the Church, in the renunciation by the State of all that authority which a wielding of the sword and sceptre in the name of God has hitherto lent it, in the unconsecrating of all those mysterious agencies which bind a human society, an experiment of tremendous magnitude is about, for the first time, to be tried. I say for the first time. Other States may have never appealed to or invoked these influences; but we shall have been the first to repudiate and renounce. There is a life of a nation as well as of individuals — there are judgments of nations as well as of individuals; but God has generations in case of nations to work in; but if indeed we have arrived at the last act of the Irish Church — if we have assembled here only to pronounce a funeral oration over the Irish Church—I would not willingly leave unspoken the labour of love in which that Church has been engaged for so many years. I have been so recently connected with the Irish branch of the State United Church of England and Ireland that, in the very necessity of the case, any influence I can exert upon it is comparatively slight, but of this I can speak—namely, what she has done, and what she is doing. The matters must be spoken of; but, my Lords, I believe the closer we can confine the debate of these evenings to the Bill actually before the House, the more that—without leaving to expatiate on more general topics, however attractive—we address ourselves to the examination of its leading features, we seek to appreciate the spirit which animates it, the more probable it is that this discussion will be useful, whether as beneficially influencing public opinion without, or leading us ourselves to understand what it is to which our "Content" or our "Not Content" will presently be required. Admitting then, provisionally, that some, Bill is required, it seems to me that certain equities of transition needed to be most religiously observed which, on the contrary, have been disregarded altogether. They needed to be observed; for, granting that we were in a false position, that it was an error to have maintained a Protestant Establishment in Ireland so long, or to maintain it at all, and that some measure or other—this or some other—is needed, yet this was your error, not ours. If any are to be pun- 1813 ished for it, it is not we, who are rather the victims of the error than the authors. It was you—you, the State— who, by professing to have made a provision for us—I use your own language, it is not mine, for I as little allow that you gave as that you can take away—it was you, who, professing to have made a permanent provision for her, who thus turned away from her the gifts and offerings of her children, the gradual accumulation of centuries, which would else have flowed into her coffers, but which were not given, because they did not seem needed—it was you who thus unlearned her children those habits of self-sacrifice and large liberality to the Church of God which doubtless they will learn again; but, in the very nature of things, only little by little—it was you, the State, who, by withdrawing from her her own assemblies, who, by prohibiting her from holding them, left her no opportunity of forming those habits of self-government, of mutual concert among her members, which are of such vital necessity to her in that new condition into which you purpose violently to thrust her. And now, having done all this, you are all of a sudden seized with a fit of repentance—a repentance it is true, which leads you to punish others and not yourselves; you are seized with a righteous resolution to do justice at all costs—all the costs, indeed, being the costs of others, and not your own; but we—you profess your-selves that, not for any fault of ours, but only because the good of the whole nation demands it—we must be brought down from our privilege and place. But if it be convenient to remove us, it should not also be deemed necessary to abuse us. If this ancient structure did stand in the way and there was need to take it down, we had a right to expect that it should be taken down as a temple is taken down, which it may be absolutely necessary to demolish, but whose stones move pity and remorse even in the minds of the unbuilders, while they call to mind all who have worshipped there, all who must be wounded to the quick and in the very sanctuary of their souls by what seems a profanation to them. We had a right to expect, that the words applied only to the barren tree—"Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground "—should not have been applied to us by one of the chief 1814 Ministers of the State; and, seeing that if it perishes it will perish by violence from without, and not by decay from within, we might have been spared the assurance that the Regium Donum and grant to Maynooth were buttresses to shore up the decrepid fabric. But, again, we had a right to expect that, as one of the equities of transition, whatever expectation of liberal dealing had been held out, they should be fulfilled to the uttermost letter. Grant, that on nearer view they may have involved some inconvenience, a little affected the symmetry of the measure, disappointed the hopes of some supporters who wanted nothing taken away if anything were left, still, if ever there was an occasion for recognizing the truth of that Italian proverb—"You are master of your unspoken word, your spoken word is master of you;" this was such an occasion, if ever occasion, to claim the beatitude of which the Psalmist speaks—"Give to him who promiseth to his neighbour and disappoint not." though it were to hid own hindrance, this was such. Let me remind your Lordships of expectations last year held out. On the 30th of March, last year, Mr. Gladstone said—In an operation so extended there will necessarily arise matters which are as much or more matters of feeling than of strict rule and principle; and as there will be likewise points which may be subject to fair and legitimate doubt, my opinion is that every disposition should exist to indulge and to conciliate feeling when it can be done, and in every doubtful case to adopt that mode of proceeding which may be most consistent with principles of the largest equity.In the same speech, Mr. Gladstone said—I am bound to say, in speaking of vested interests, that it appears to me at least a matter for argument and consideration whether we can strictly limit the phrase to those who are in possession of benefices, or whether some regard ought not possibly to be had—though it would be premature to give an opinion upon the point — to the cases of those who have devoted themselves to an indelible profession, which separates them from the great hulk of profitable secular employments, in expectation of the benefices which we have kept in existence by law under our authority, even though they may not actually have entered upon them."—[3 Hansard, cxci., 475.]A little year has passed. Members have been elected, sent to Parliament in the full faith that in the spirit of these utterances the Church will be dealt with, and now — I will not say the mask is thrown off, for I do not suppose for an instant it was meant to deceive, but the 1815 policy is changed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says—"There is no pretence for saying that we have been generous in framing this measure." Certainly not. But, then, why did you announce that you meant to be so? A little further, he speaks of the harshness and severity of the Bill. If he had added the extreme injustice, it would not have been beyond the mark. Again, he boasts—''We will make a great and important organic change, by which, not a single man shall suffer injustice. "Let us see what he intends by not suffering injustice. There are nearly 500 curates in the Irish Church content to serve for the present on very small remunerations in the faith that in due time they will succeed to incomes somewhat better than those on which they now exist. These have all entered on a profession which they cannot quit, and have received a character which is indelible. Now there is no recognition whatever of these reasonable, but now for ever blighted, hopes. These 500 men, expensively educated, many of them highly accomplished men, are stereotyped—save here and there by some happy accident, over which they have no control—in their present poverty; and in your petty anxiety, lest one or another might escape this life-long indigence, you have made the operation of the Bill to commence, not as every reason demanded, with January 1, 1871, but with the passing of the Bill—so intolerable has it seemed to you that the Church should have even a year's notice that it was about to be turned, stripped and naked, on the world. But worse than this, even this pittance is made a charge on the income of the incumbents employing them—with about equal injustice to both—incumbents and curates being tied together; for the natural relations subsisting between them others substituted, and, as I believe, seeds which shall spring up in miserable confusion, for some twenty years to come, sown broadcast over the whole Church. Now there might have been some poor excuse for dealing like this if there was any fear of the fund failing from which they claim to be satisfied. But what is the fact? It is, in the language of one supporter of the Bill, a surplus so large that nobody knows what to do with it; and Mr. Bright, on the same night, asked—"What. I should like to know, 1816 are we to do with this surplus?" Well, suppose you had proposed to do justice with it? Your vaunted works of mercy —of mercy, at the expense of justice— have a fatal flaw about them—at least, in the eyes of Him, who has said—"I hate robbery for burnt offering." The case of the incumbents of small livings is quite as hard—300, under £100; 259 more, under £150; and 121 with less than £200. Your Lordships heard what was promised about our churches—conceded to us, but not as a right—flung to us on the contemptuous ground that they were not marketable property, not convertible—that buyers would not easily be found; but this is not all, made over to us under conditions which may very probably involve the loss of them all, suppose we are unable to constitute a Church Body by January 1, 1871—unable to apply for them—for we are to be submitted to the indignity of this application—no humiliation is to be spared us, the Royal Commission are empowered to do with these churches of ours what they shall think fit. I am, indeed, ashamed, amid the wreck of mightier interests, while a measure is before us which will consign to poverty, to obscurity, to a life defeated of its just rewards, so many who have deserved far better than myself—I am almost ashamed even to allude, in passing, to such as are private and peculiar to myself and a very few others. And yet, my Lords, I ask you whether faith has been kept. No departure from the engagement that vested rights and interests should be respected, and that, not only in matters of property but of privilege, when we, the Bishops of the Irish Church, are violently thrust forth from their seats, in this, the most august assembly in the world, and this for no wrong of ours, but only to gratify those who take a pleasure in any humiliation of our Church in the persons of its chief office-bearers, and who cannot wait for this gratification till, in the ordinary way, leaving no successors, we shall vacate these seats of ours. Because we resist, because we resent not merely the thing itself, but the manner in which it is proposed, the tiling shall be done; we are taunted with unworthy apprehensions of the impaired power of the truth to stand by itself. But I do not see that elsewhere the truth—or what calls. I believe, itself the truth—does 1817 therefore forego or renounce such secondary helps as are within its reach, or desires to go naked and unarmed into conflict with the armed falsehoods and frauds with which in a world like this we needs must do battle. It is a mockery; and, did we not know that it was not so intended, it would be an insult to us to assure us that we are about to enter into a land of milk and honey, when we know that so far as you can make it is a wilderness, stripped and denuded of everything which could afford sustenance and support. Your vade in pacem we put back with something of indignation, and not without a recollection of other occasions when the same words of dismissal were used. Again, I cannot but think there is little generosity in the assumption which is often made that all our misgivings about the future spring from doubts how far the liberality of Churchmen in the matter of money will meet our needs. My most rev. Friend said he did not for a moment under-estimate the financial and administrative difficulties that would attend the working of the Bill. But there are other difficulties incident to it of a far graver and more important character. Let us suppose that arrangements can be, and are made, for supplying all the scattered Protestants of Ireland with religious teaching, it will still have to be considered that the quality of that instruction is as important as its quantity. Are the Protestant clergy of Ireland for the future to be drawn wholly, instead of only in part, from the lower ranks of society? Will it be desirable to exchange such a ministry as we now possess for a ministry such as may be seen in many countries, dependent wholly on the favour of the people, and incapable for that reason of maintaining that position of independence which is essential to its usefulness? That is one difficulty to be apprehended, but it is not the only one. We Irish Churchmen are men of like passions with yourselves. We—as many of us as take interest in such matters—belong some to one school and some to another school of theological thought. We have, if you like so to call them, the same passions, prejudices, exaggerations on one side and the other as you have here. And with all this your Bill would compel us to settle—and to settle within a year, for we cannot go till they are settled— 1818 questions out of number, the most difficult and the most delicate—such, for instance, as the restraints which the Church shall impose on itself to bar any capricious changes affecting its doctrine or its discipline—the relation of the clergy to the laity in the future government of the Church, the election of Bishops, the rights which the congregation should have in the choice of its ministers, with many more. Why, there are hero questions, upon each one of which, in former times, society has been torn asunder, and Churches rent in twain, and all these we shall have to settle in that temper which defeat leaves good men, untrained, unused to action in common. Imagine the English Church, many times stronger than ours, exposed to a similar trial—that all the outer bands and bonds which help to keep it together were suddenly withdrawn—that it was submitted to an experiment like, that which be of the aged king in the Greek story, whom his credulous daughters cut to pieces and threw into the cauldron, with only the promise of the Colchian sorceress that he should come out renewed in perfect youth. Despite these promises, are you quite sure that it would come out at all? I believe it would, but the crisis would be a tremendous one even as that before us is; and we surely have a right to resent all that language; which speaks of it as otherwise than full of difficulties and danger and distress. Let me at the same time say and repeat that, despite all the statements of future mischief for us which have been wrought up into the texture of your Bill, I, for one, do not despair. It is in the spirit of resolute endeavour, that we who possess a painful pre-eminence in the Church of Ireland shall all address ourselves to whatever tasks may lie before us. And if at any time we have been, or shall be tempted to be, prophets of ill, we shall be pleased with nothing so much as the defeat of our prophecies and the putting to shame of our fears. For, indeed, it would be a miserable triumph to be able to turn to the authors of this Bill, and to say—"We warned you that you were planting the seeds of dissolution in the heart of the Irish Church, that it was impossible it could survive such a shock as you have prepared for it; and even so it has proved." That were a miserable triumph; but there is a triumph that 1819 would be well worth the winning, if it were permitted us to say—"Your legislation might only too easily have destroyed us—not, indeed, that such was your intention, though it was the intention of others behind you and urging you on—but by God's good hand upon us we have left the worst peril behind us, we shall live to hold forth the Word, and to witness in Ireland for those truths that have made England great, prosperous, and free." That were, indeed, a triumph, and to have the smallest share in winning it I would welcome joyfully all the painfulness, anxiety, and toil which for many a year to come—for the whole life possibly of those who are elders in the Church—must be the constant; portion of those who occupy the foremost places in the Church of Ireland. You may succeed in carrying your measure; and you may succeed in carrying it with all its injustice un-removed. You are strong; but as morally it deserves no success, so inevitably it will meet with none. Conceived in fear, a testimony of the craven spirit of English statesmanship—it is not respect, gratitude, or affection that it will win for you. Those who hated you before will hate you still, with only this difference—that their hatred henceforth will be mingled with contempt; they will know there is nothing which may not be extorted from your fears. Your measure boasts itself to be one for the pacification of Ireland. Certainly there is a grim and ghastly irony which your Hibernia Pacata presents already. The olive branch which you hold out to her is disdainfully returned upon your hands, but returned dripping with blood. In what language is this measure spoken of by those whom it is most meant to please. A very dreary farce, three days ago, the Irishman called it. I could only wish that it were not likely to be a very dismal tragedy as well. There are conflicts which can yield no triumphs —nullos habitura triumphos—and such the Roman poet prayed that his people might never wage. Such a conflict you are waging. You succeed, and what will you have done? You will have alienated friends, you will not have conciliated enemies; you will have thrown down much, you will have built up nothing; you will have withdrawn no one ingredient from the ever-seething cauldron of Irish discontent; but will have 1820 added fresh ones to it, and kindled into fierce activity the flames which are now smouldering and now blazing beneath it; you will have staunched none of the old fountains of bitterness, while at the same time you will hove opened new ones in a land already too full of them.
THE BISHOP OF ST. DAVID'S
I wish to say a few words on this great question, as it is one on which it would be impossible for me to give a silent vote, because the vote which I shall fuel it my duty to give would inevitably be exposed to very grave misconstruction if it were not preceded by some explanation of its meaning; and I am the more anxious to avail myself of this opportunity of addressing your Lordships, because I was not present at the debate of last year on the Suspensory Bill. My Lords, I was very much afraid that the view which I take of this subject is one that was not likely to find much favour on cither side of this House. But the noble Earl who moved the rejection of this Bill assured your Lordships that there really was a very general unanimity among your Lordships upon this subject, which I believe no one had before suspected to exist to such a degree. And therefore I cherish the hope that I may be destined to the agreeable surprise of finding myself in not quite so small a minority as I had at first expected I should be. My Lords, before I state, as I intend to do, very briefly indeed, my position with regard to this Bill, I feel myself bound to advert for a few moments to one or two points which lie at the threshold of the whole subject, and to which I believe persons who are entitled to the highest respect, both inside and outside of your Lordships' House, attach very great importance; and I feel, occupying the place which I do in your Lordships' House, that I can hardly, consistently with the respect which I owe to those persons and to many of my right rev. Brethren who share their view, pass them over in silence. To those persons the measure now proposed for our approval seems so plainly stamped with the character of a sacrilegious spoliation as to supersede the necessity, and even to preclude the right, of entering upon the discussion of the subject on any other grounds. The noble Duke who took part in the debate last night said—"The property of the Irish Church is not the property of the Roman Catholic Church; 1821 it is not the property of the Protestant Church; it is the property of God." I do not attempt to bring over anyone to my own way of thinking on this point; but I must own that I am inclined to envy those who are able to satisfy themselves with this summary way of settling the question. Of course there is a sense in which the proposition of the noble Duke is unquestionable. We know that, "the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." But it was not in that sense he meant the phrase, "the property of God," to be understood. He used it as involving an argument which he conceived to bear with great weight on the present question. And I must own that in this sense the phrase, "robbery of God," grates upon my ear. It seems to me to correspond to a view of the Deity which is neither Christian nor even Judaical, but heathenish. When I open the Old Testament I find several passages, familiar, I have no doubt, to your Lordships, in which the Jewish people are severely reproved for cherishing the vain and superstitious notion, common to the heathen nations around them, that material offerings might be accepted by the Most High as supplying some want of the Divine nature. My Lords, when I read those passages, when I read others in the New Testament in which the sacrifices with which God is well pleased are described, together with the nature of a pure religion or worship, I am led to the conclusion that no material offerings are so acceptable to the Almighty as those which are most beneficial to man. Let me suppose a ease not wholly imaginary to illustrate my meaning. A wealthy and munificent gentleman builds a magnificent cathedral in Dublin. A wealthy and munificent lady builds a public market in London. My Lords, I believe that each of those acts was in the intention of the donor an offering to God, and I believe each of them to have been an equally acceptable offering to Him. But let me suppose that a fund had been bequeathed to be appropriated at the discretion of a trustee to one or the other of those purposes, I should like to know on what principle the decision of that trustee—if he were worthy to exercise so important a trust—ought to depend. I think I shall have the assent of your Lordships when I say that his decision ought to depend not on the supe- 1822 rior sanctity of the destination, but on the local need or the general usefulness. It is not a question between God and man, but between one kind of gift beneficial to society and another. My Lords, the word "sacrilege" has been heard very often of late in this House; and I must say, its use reminds me of some instructive pages in the history of the early Christian Church. The cry of "sacrilege" was raised against St. Ambrose; and it was raised by a party with which I am sure neither any of my right rev. Brethren nor the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees (Lord Redesdale) feel the slightest sympathy —the Arians. And on what ground was this cry raised? Why, because St. Ambrose had sold the sacred vessels of the Church of Milan in order to apply the proceeds to the profane purpose of ransoming prisoners who had fallen into the hands of the Goths. My Lords, in my opinion that was not the least meritorious or the least holy act of that holy man's life. And observe, what does it imply? It implies that, in the opinion of one who was undoubedly a very sincere Christian and not at all a Low Churchman—circumstances might arise in which Church property, even while it continued to be capable of serving-its original purpose, might be rightly and fitly diverted to another and a wholly different use. I am not saying that in this ease such circumstances have arisen; but what I say is that the possibility of such circumstances arising, if that be admitted, at once transfers the question to the broad ground of general expediency and common utility. It shows that such expressions as "sacrilege" and "robbery of God" applied to this subject are as irrelevant and misapplied as they are irritating and offensive. There may be an error of judgment in the estimate of the circumstances, in the calculation of results, in the comparison of advantages, but there is no fair room for the imputation of sin or of crime. My Lords, next to the reluctance I should feel to consent to anything that in my opinion deserved the name of sacrilege would be that with which I should shrink from consenting to any measure which in my opinion tended to strengthen the power of the Pope or the influence of the Roman Catholic clergy, more especially in Ireland. My Lords, I venture to say that 1823 none of your Lordships feel more strongly than I do on tin's subject. It is true, I do not sympathize with all the demonstrations of Protestant zeal which are now so rife. I do not like—I utterly dislike and condemn—those itinerant lecturers who kindle evil passions, provoke breaches of the peace, and turn the streets of our great towns into scenes of tumult and even bloodshed. And why do I dislike them? Not because they are adverse to Rome, but because I think that they bring disgrace and damage on the cause which they profess to serve. I also very much question the judgment of continually holding up the Pope as a scarecrow. A scarecrow, my Lords, is most effective at first, but in course of time. I believe, it is often found, if it holds its place too long, the birds if was meant to frighten learn to perch on its shoulder and even to build their nests in its hat. But still I must venture to say that not one of these Protestant agitators is more strenuously opposed to the power of the Pope—none more deeply convinced that that power is in direct antagonism to the best interests of mankind—none more ready to contend against it by all weapons of legitimate warfare than I am. But, my Lords, I must say with regard to myself it is not enough to say that I am a friend of Protestant ascendancy—I am a great deal more than that—I am what some of its friends. I fear, are not in an equal degree with myself—I am a believer in it. But the ascendancy I mean is an intellectual, moral and religious ascendancy, the ascendancy of reason and truth over superstition and error. That ascendancy is so different from the physical ascendancy which is maintained by the cannon and the bayonet, that they are almost incompatible with one another. Of that true ascendancy, I hope and trust the Irish Church never will be deprived, as no act of the Legislature can take it away. It seems to me that there are persons and Protestants who believe in the Pope while they hate and fear him. I neither hate nor fear him, but I utterly disbelieve in him. And their error is that they measure the extent of his power by the arrogance and extravagance of his pretensions, as if hectoring and swaggering were sure proofs of strength and valour. I think the very extravagance of his pretensions is not only a sign but a cause of his 1824 weakness. Of this I feel sure, that the Papal power is everywhere on the wane. When I look at Austria, Italy, Spain— countries once the most devoted to the authority of the See of Rome—I find in all these countries the power of the Pope-is in a condition of rapid decline. But if I needed to be re-assured against the visionary terrors of Papal supremacy, it would be enough for me to turn to the annals of our own history. The Parliament of this country was more than a match for the Pope even when this island was subject to his spiritual dominion; and can it be supposed that as the Parliament of a Protestant nation it will not be too strong for him now? But as one exception to the universal decline of the power of the Pope, I admit that in Ireland he has a very formidable stronghold, from which I should most, earnestly wish to see him dislodged. In that country the Roman Catholic priesthood possess a power which I think is enormous and excessive independently of the manner in which it is employed. It is greater than in any other country in Europe; it is so great that it hardly admits of an increase; it is such as ought not to be-long to any priesthood in any well regulated State. I think that no priest ought to possess the power of condemning a person to death at his pleasure by denouncing him at the altar, and I quite agree with the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Perry) who addressed us with so much energy last night—that the system on which the Roman Catholic priesthood live in Ireland is not really a voluntary system but entirely the reverse. They levy the means of their subsistence by a process of spiritual distraint, which is quite as effectual as any legal process would be; but is attended, I believe, with most mischievous and calamitous consequences. But that is a peculiarity of Ireland, which is in so many respects an exceptional country, and it has been found side by side with another exceptional phenomenon, which is the Established Church of Ireland; and I must say when I see these two singular phenomena in such close juxtaposition, I cannot think it an unfair or unreasonable conclusion to draw that they stand to one another in the relation of cause and effect. I really think it hardly admits of a doubt that this pernicious system has been the result of that false Protestant ascendancy which 1825 it is the object of the Bill now before your Lordships to abolish; and I think there is room for hope that the effect may not very long survive the extinction of the cause, and that before long the time may come when the Irish peasant will recover or gain his rights of freedom of thought and action—that he will become accessible to the pure light of the Gospel—that he will be able, without danger of insult or outrage, to avow and act upon his convictions; and that then it may turn out that the Irish Protestant Church may find itself, for the first time, standing on a really broad and firm basis of popular sympathy and affection.
Having thus cleared the way for that which was my main object in rising, I will now state very briefly the position I hold in regard to the Bill; and I think it will be most convenient if I state first how far I am able to agree with the authors of the measure, and then where and why I feel myself obliged to part company with them. I have long been of opinion that the Irish Established Church was not an institution well suited to the circumstances of Ireland; and I have always believed that from the moment the British Government changed its policy towards Ireland, and entered on a course of concession and conciliation, the settlement of the Irish Church question on an entirely new basis became logically and practically inevitable, and that it was only a question of time when that settlement would be effected. I conceive that the course of events since the close of the American civil war has decided that question. It has brought the subject of the settlement of the Irish Church to a prominence which it never before occupied, and has caused it to become, to use a common expression, the question of the day. I must say that I cannot admire the equanimity of any statesman who, contemplating the state of things since the American civil war, can look on it with composure, and can be content to trace it to the influences of the stars or of the ocean, and to leave it to the chapter of accidents. My Lords, the policy of laissez aller and the statu quo, does not seem to me to belong to a very high order of statesmanship at any time. But in such a state of things as that through which we have been passing, it amounts, in my opinion, to a positive abdication of the 1826 duties of government. But it is said that we have allowed ourselves to be needlessly frightened by a wretched and contemptible conspiracy. My Lords, I am surprised it should not have been observed that just because the Fenian conspiracy was in itself so contemptible, did the sympathy it found among the masses of the Irish people constitute a just ground of anxiety and even of alarm. It is also said that it is vain to hope that this measure will effect the pacification of Ireland. I quite agree that this is not likely to be the immediate or very speedy result of the measure; but I would ask what right have we to expect that any measure we may adopt will either immediately or speedily produce the result of effacing the memory of centuries of misrule, and of causing brotherly friendship at once to spring up in the room of animosity, rancour, and revenge? I agree, then, with the authors of the present measure in thinking that the object they had in view was a right one, and that it was one of urgent necessity; but there my entire agreement with them ceases. The solution of the great problem which I find embodied in the Bill before your Lordships is not the solution which I have been used to consider as the best or the right one. I have been in the habit of thinking that it is necessary that the Irish Church should cease to be the Established Church, but not that it should cease to be an Established Church. I think that it ought not to engross the whole provision made for the religious instruction of the people of Ireland, but that it ought not to be totally disendowed. The eloquent argument we heard last night from the right rev. Prelate was not needed to satisfy my mind on that point. I should be very sorry to see the Irish Church, or any Church, thrown on the voluntary system, and launched in a boat on a. troubled sea without any provision for the voyage. From this simple statement your Lordships will be able to see in what respect and how far I differ from that which in one sense may be called the general principle of the Bill. But there is an important practical consideration which ought not to be kept out of view. I apprehend that the first and most indispensable condition of a good Bill on any subject of legislation, is, that it can be carried. A measure which does not ful- 1827 fil that condition, however admirably it may be framed in all other respects, ran never be worth more than waste paper. I cannot be a judge of the political necessity which may have induced the authors of this measure to believe that it not only justified, but required them to take the course they hare, and. therefore, though it is one which differs widely from that which I should have thought desirable, I do not reproach or condemn them on that account. Had they taken a different course, they would, no doubt, have had to contend with many obstacles.
I find that at a conference of Archbishops, Bishops, and representatives of the clergy and laity of the Irish branch of the Established Church, held at Dublin last April, it was declared that they protested against this measure of disestablishment and disendowment; and then they proceeded to say that they distinctly repudiated what is commonly known as the "leveling-up" system. If that language is to be considered as a legitimate exponent of the general feeling, what hope could remain, I should like to know, of passing a measure of a totally different kind from the present? I therefore think that no course is left open but that recommended by the most rev. Prelate in the powerful speech he delivered yesterday—namely, to make the most of what we have, and to get as much as we can. I believe that in the details of this Bill, there are many things open to most serious objection, and capable of great improvement, but all this is an argument, not for rejecting but for accepting the measure, and making the best of it. I am thankful to the noble Earl who addressed the House last but one yesterday for relieving me from the necessity of touching on another topic, which I should otherwise have been bound to advert to—I mean the argument founded on the fancied analogy of the case of Wales to that of Ireland, but far from there being an analogy, there is the strongest contrast between the two, not only in the fact that there is no broad channel flowing between England and Wales, but also in the circumstance that the whole population of Wales are of one way of thinking on religion, and do not differ from the Established Church in any essential point, in a greater degree than the members of the Established 1828 Church differ from one another. Entertaining these mixed views I have anxiously considered whether it might be consistent with my duty to abstain from voting on this question. There were several motives which would have inclined me to adopt this course, but I remembered the place and the doom assigned by the great Italian poet to that Setta dei cattivi, who, on momentous occasions, when great questions were debated and high interests were at stake, sided with neither party, but kept aloof and by themselves in a selfish neutrality. I did not like to join myself to that company. I felt that it was my duty to consider my vote as if it were the casting vote on which the issue of the debate would depend. Viewing it in that light, I could not hesitate as to the side on which it must be given. My Lords, for my own part, I cannot accept the responsibility of the consequences which in my opinion, would inevitably ensue, even on the least unhappy contingency, if your Lordships were to fling this Bill at the face of the country. This Bill will be as sure to come back to your Lordships' House as a stone thrown up into the air is sure to come down to the ground. It will return, itself unaltered, but it will not find your Lordships as it left you. You will receive it again, but not without a serious diminution of your dignity, your reputation, and your legimate influence in the country. These are precious things. They are parts of a national treasure of which your Lordships are the trustees, and it behaves you to watch over them with a most jealous care. It is because I could not consent by any act of mine to impair or to imperil them that I shall feel myself compelled—not, indeed, without reluctance, but without the slightest misgiving as to the propriety of the course I am taking—to record my vote for the second reading of the Bill.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
My Lords, so many other noble Lords are eager and anxious to address the House that I am reluctant to interpose. But I feel bound not to trespass unnecessarily on your Lordships' time, and therefore I shall proceed at once, without preface, to state my objections to this Bill. From the moment that the scheme of disestablishment and disendowment of the Church in Ireland was brought before the public, as my noble Friend on the cross- 1829 Benches (Earl Grey) said, for the advancement of political interests, I felt a strong conviction, which, reflection has tended to confirm, that Parliament has no right to deal with this question of the Church in Ireland in the manner in which it is proposed to deal with it in this Bill—that is, in the words of the title of the Bill, "to put an end to it as an Establishment." Of course, I am not here to deny the power of Parliament to legislate upon any subject in any manner, according to its arbitrary and absolute will and pleasure. Parliament is omnipotent in legislation, for evil as well as for good. It may, if it pleases, repeal Magna Charta, or the Habeas Corpus Act, or the Bill of Rights, or the Act of Settlement, or it may change the whole form of the Constitution. But no one can say that it has a right, in the sense of moral competency, to do any one of those things. In the same way I maintain that Parliament has no right to lay a destroying hand upon the Church in Ireland, unless it is prepared to violate every solemn engagement and disregard the pledged faith and honour of the nation. I know-that a very short argument is used for the purpose of justifying the right of Parliament to sweep away this branch of the Establishment. It is said that the United Church of England and Ireland is the creature of an Act of Parliament; and that what one Parliament creates another may destroy; that it is contrary to all sound principle, that one Parliament should fetter the action of a subsequent Parliament. I admit the principle to the fullest extent; but I deny its application to the present circumstances. I say that the Establishment which you are now considering was not created by Act of Parliament. I say that it was the result of a solemn Treaty, entered into between two independent contracting parties, and that the legislation with respect to it was merely the seal and the ratification of the Treaty. This was the opinion of Mr. Pitt, who, upon the discussion as to the Resolutions of the Irish Parliament embodying the Articles which were the result of the Treaty, used these words—In the third Article is the beginning of the detail which must necessarily take place in treaties of this sort between independent nations. It divides itself into five leading branches—namely, 1830 the regulations with respect to the Imperial Legislature, the provisions for the security of the Established Church, the regulation of the commercial intercourse between the two countries, the arrangement of their respective proportions with respect to revenue, and, finally, the provisions relative to courts of justice.—[Hansard: Parl. History, xxxv. 40.]Now your Lordships will bear in mind that at the time of the Union the Parliaments of both countries were purely Protestant. It may be said—and it has been said—that the Irish Parliament, did not represent the Irish people. But nobody will deny that the Irish Parliament was the lawful Legislature of the country, and that its Acts and laws were as binding upon the people as the laws of the United Parliament before the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill or the Reform Bill. If any authority is wanted for that, I again refer to Mr. Pitt, who upon the same occasion said—If the Parliament of Ireland had no just power or legitimate authority without the immediate instruction, not of its constituents merely, but of the people of Ireland in the mass, as little has the Parliament of England such authority, as little had the Parliament of Scotland that authority, as little had the Parliament of England and Scotland that authority when they agreed upon the Union between the two kingdoms.—[Hansard: Parl History, Ibid.]Now, as long as the Irish Parliament existed it was the national guardian of the Irish Church. But as one of the conditions of the Treaty was that the Irish Parliament should be absorbed in the Imperial Parliament, it was naturally anxious to provide, now that its guardianship was coming to an end, a more powerful guardian for that Church of which it had so long been the protector. Knowing at the time that it was the Church of the minority, and fearing that danger might arise to it on that account, when what I may call the homo protection was to be withdrawn, the Irish Parliament determined to strengthen and secure the permanence of that Church, of which it had been so long the guardian, by binding it up indissolubly with the Established Church of England. Accordingly, in the terms of the Treaty proposed by the Irish Ministry, it proposed in the most emphatic language—That the Churches of England and Ireland as now by law established be united into one Protestant Episcopal Church, to be called the United Church of England and Ireland, and that she continuance and preservation of the said United 1831 Church of England and Ireland shall be deemed and taken to be an essential part of the UnionYour Lordships are aware that the negotiations between the two kingdoms were carried on by the interchange of Resolutions embodying the different Articles of the Treaty, and that these being agreed to by both Legislatures, the Treaty, as I pay, was completely concluded between the parties, and it only remained to put the seal to it. Accordingly, Acts of both Legislatures were passed todidem verbis; and the peculiar form of these Acts is, in my mind, most important in order to show that it was not the Act but the previous Treaty, upon which the Establishment of the Irish Church was based. The Act, after reciting that, in furtherance of the Resolutions of the Parliaments of the two kingdoms, both Houses of the said two Parliaments respectively have agreed to certain articles for effectuating the union of the two kingdoms, sets forth those articles seriatim; and then it enacts that—The said foregoing recited Articles, each and every one of them, according to the true import and tenour thereof, be ratified, confirmed, and approved, and are hereby declared to be the Articles of the Union between Great Britain and Ireland, and the same shall be in force and effect for ever.Now, if I have shown, as I think I have, that the Established Church in Ireland is not to be regarded as founded upon the Act of Parliament, but on a previous Treaty between two independent nations, it is clear that we have to deal with a contract of the most solemn kind, which cannot be annulled or altered, except by the mutual consent of both the contracting parties—for it is contrary to common honesty and fair dealing that one of the parties to a contract should insist upon its observance, and yet refuse to perform the conditions imposed for the benefit of the other party. But if a contract can be annulled only by the mutual consent of the parties to it, where is that consent to be found in the case of one of the parties to this important contract? Why, it was in accordance with the very terms of the Treaty to which I have just referred that the existence of the Irish Parliament should be absorbed in that of the United Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland; and no one will, I think, venture to contend that the comparatively 1832 few Lords and Commoners who were, in consequence of the passing of the Act of Union, introduced into the Parliament of the United Kingdom represent the independent Irish Parliament which agreed to this contract. Here we have, then, an Act of Parliament confirming a contract which contains different Articles, and one with regard to which the Irish Parliament manifested particular anxiety, acting entirely on the faith of the nation with which it was contracting. The Irish Legislature has on its statute book this which I may call its last will, and we are now called upon to act the part of a fraudulent legatee who, having a legacy bequeathed to him on certain conditions, refuses to attend to the dying declarations of the testator, and, clutching the bequest, declines to perform the conditions on which it was given. I contend that the Treaty to which I have referred, followed by those acts of the two Legislatures, bound up the Established Church of Ireland with the Constitution, and that until the Constitution is destroyed, its maintenance must remain a perpetual obligation on the State. If it be asked—''Do you deny the power of Parliament to deal with the Irish Church as is proposed?" I answer distinctly and unequivocally—"Yes; except in the same way as by its own arbitrary and tyrannical will Parliament may commit any other act of violence, injustice, and spoliation." But suppose this disregard of the pledged faith of the nation to occur, how, I should like to know, is it possible, except by having recourse to the same argument of force, to maintain the union between the two Kingdoms? Unless the word "essential" is by some non-natural interpretation to be read as "non-essential," in construing the Act of Union between the two countries, how, I ask, after this violation of one of the most important provisions of that Act, is the Union itself to be upheld? This is no new idea. It long since found expression in the words of that most eloquent man, Lord Plunket, who said, on giving his opinion of the Union in connection with the Church—I feel that the Protestant Establishment of Ireland is the very cement of the Union. I find it interwoven with all the essential relations and institutions of the two Kingdoms, and I have no hesitation in admitting that if it were destroyed the very foundations of public security would be shaken, the connection between England and Ireland dissolved, and the annihilation of private 1833 property must follow the ruin of the property of the Church.Again, he said—He had no hesitation in stating that he considered the Established Church the great bond of union between the two countries, and it ever that unfortunate event should arrive when they should rashly lay their hands on the property of the Church to rob it of its rights, that would seal the doom and separate the connection between the two countries.I may also be allowed to take a weapon from that armoury which has been so often employed against its able and powerful author. Mr. Gladstone, in speaking of the Church in Ireland in connection with the Union, wrote thus—A common form of faith binds the Irish Protestants to ourselves; while they, upon the other hand, are fast linked to Ireland, and thus they supply the most natural bond of connection between the two countries. But if England, by overthrowing their Church, should weaken that moral position, they would be no longer able— perhaps no longer willing—to counteract the desires of a majority tending, under the direction of their leaders (however, by a wise policy, removable from that fatal course), to what is termed national independence.It may be said that there is nothing whatever in this argument, and that it is absurd to suppose that, by interfering as the Bill proposes with the Irish Church, the Union between the two countries can be in any way endangered. Why is it, then, that the 71st section of the Bill contains a provision to the effect that nothing which it contains shall affect the Act of Union, or anything done thereby, "except so far as relates to the Union of the Churches of England and Ireland?" Is it not clear that on the very face of the Bill its authors are forced to admit that there is danger to the Union between the two countries if the Established Church in Ireland be taken away. They say—"We admit it was part of the Treaty that the Church Establishment should be maintained; but we will not comply with that condition, but we will keep the rest."
I would now, my Lords, very briefly advert to the consequences which are likely-to follow the course which your Lordships may lake with respect to this measure. We have been threatened with serious consequences if we should be bold enough to reject it; but let us consider for a moment what may be the possible consequences of our accepting it. There are persons who are indifferent to the destruction of the Irish Church, but who 1834 would very much regret to see the same violent hands laid on the English Church. These persons, however, are of opinion that by exterminating what they look upon as a rotten branch of the Church, what remains will be likely to flourish with greater vigour. My Lords, when disestablishment once commences "the work of devastation is begun, and half the business of destruction done"—the disestablishment of one part of the United Establishment must inevitably affect the whole. We have no Established Church in the country except the United Church of England, and Ireland—and these are not United Churches, but one Church—one indivisible body; and if one member suffer, all the members must suffer with it. You cannot break down any portion of an entire building without leaving the remainder in a ruinous condition, or, at all events, without leaving in the walls breaches sufficiently large to make the entrance easy to what remains. But there are other consequences which must follow, and which to my mind are extremely alarming. You are familiarizing the people with the idea of destroying the institutions with which the whole history and traditions of this country are interwoven. When this subject was first brought forward I could not help feeling the utmost astonishment—I could not help asking myself the question—"What would have been thought of such proposals not many years ago?" I did not believe the idea of the destruction of the Irish Church could be seriously entertained, or that it would meet with such encouragement. My Lords, looking back to the year 1825—some years earlier than the date alluded to by the noble Earl who opened the debate this evening —I find that Mr. Hume moved the following Resolution in the House of Commons:—That the property now in the possession of the Established Church in Ireland is public property, under the control of the Legislature, and applicable to such purposes as in its wisdom it may deem beneficial to the best interests of religion and of the community at large, due regard being had to the lights of every person in the actual enjoyment of any part of that, property."— [2 Hansard, xiii. 1157.]Mr. Canning, after desiring the fifth Article of the Act of Union to be read, observed that if the House should agree to the Resolution there was nothing to prevent them seizing upon the property 1835 of corporations. He said—"Then, again, why was the House to stop with the tithes of the Church? Why not also possess themselves of the lay tithes?" And he concluded by characterizing the Motion as one of the most barefaced propositions of injustice that had ever been submitted to Parliament, and that his firm belief was that to such a Resolution the hon. Member would find few supporters in that House, and still fewer in the country. It is now, however, asserted that, there is a majority in the country in favour of this measure for the destruction of the Irish Church. My Lords, I may be permitted to doubt that statement. But this I think, at all events, is certain—that there is no majority in the country in favour of this particular measure. Whether that is the case or not is to my mind immaterial, because no majority, however largo, can justify, or turn what is wrong to right. Let us see on what grounds it is sought to justify this measure, which I again characterize as one of violence, injustice, and spoliation. In the Resolution which ushered this great question into the House of Commons it was stated that it was necessary that the Establishment of the Church in Ireland should come to an end, but in the Bill this tyrant plea of necessity is softened into expediency. It is said that it is offensive to the Roman Catholics that the Church of the minority should be connected with the Stave, and be endowed. And so it appears that, owing to this sentimental grievance, this attack is to be made upon the Church. I am far from denying that a grievance of this description may be as deeply felt as one that is substantial in its character; but I cannot help feeling a little doubtful about its reality when I find it kept in reserve for a great length of time, and when I find that utterance is given to it only when a convenient season arrives, and instruments are found to carry out the objects which the complaining parties have in view. These parties are now fighting their battle under the banners of religious equality. Such a battle-cry is perfectly alien to the spirit of their religion. By the decree of the Council of Trent, Rome is declared to be the Mother and Mistress of all Churches, and by that title she claims jurisdiction over all apostates, schismatics, and heretics, even 1836 where they do not belong to her Church. According to the doctrines now taught in the theological lectures at Maynooth, Protestants are denounced as a society of schismatics, in which denunciation our Sovereign is, of course, included. My Lords, they must be utterly blind who do not observe how, step by step, the Roman Catholics of late years have been advancing towards their object of establishing the supremacy of their Church. They feel that the Church in Ireland is a barrier to the expansion and development, as it is called, of their religion; and, therefore, it is that tinder the false cry of religious equality they endeavour to level that Church in the dust, in order that they may exalt their own Church upon its ruins. But is it imagined that the destruction of the Established Church in Ireland will satisfy the aspirations of the Roman Catholics? We know by experience that with them "claim leads to claim and power advances power." Does anyone believe that by abolishing the Irish Church you will diminish the weight of imaginary wrongs? It is our duty to take warning by experience, and those who do so cannot fail to see that this is only a step in furtherance of the object which they ultimately hope to attain—the complete ascendancy of their Church. Then it is said that the object in view is the pacification of Ireland. But does anybody believe that the policy now recommended will lead to that result? We know perfectly well that the land question, which is behind, is hardly hid from view by the Irish Church being put prominently forward, and we know that the Irish Church is made the stalking-horse by many, under cover of which they may aim at their objects with regard to the land. The noble Duke who spoke last night (the Duke of Rutland) put this very prominently forward. He read an extract from the Tablet to show that this party would not be satisfied by the destruction of the Irish Church. In the latter part of this extract it is said—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 Establishment 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 1837 cured the Irish disease; they would only have cruised a change in the form of words by which the complaints of those who feel aggrieved now find expression.Do many of your Lordships think that by the destruction of the Irish Church you can produce tranquillity in Ireland? No; by following that course you will exasperate the minds and alienate the affections of the large body of the Protestants in that country, and will encourage a highly excitable people to agitate for whatever, in their wild imaginations, they may be instructed to make the object of their desires. I believe this measure is one which is a violation of the most solemn engagements and of our national faith and honour; that it is likely to be attended by the most serious consequences; that it will lead to the depression of the Protestants in Ireland, and promote the ascendancy of the Roman Catholics; and instead of creating peace, tranquillity, and harmony in that distracted part of the kingdom, it will excite a bitter feeling of religious animosity of which it is impossible to foresee the end. My Lords, feeling so deeply and so strongly on this subject I cannot hesitate to vote against the second reading of this Bill.
§ LORD PENZANCE
My Lords, in referring to the observations of my noble and learned Friend who has just addressed the House (Lord Chelmsford; I am satisfied that the root of this question is the proposition that the State Church of Ireland is an injustice to the Roman Catholic population of that country. My noble and learned Friend laid great stress on the injustice likely to be caused by the passing of this Bill. Now, I think the injustice lies on the other side; but I am quite prepared to admit that unless it can be established that there is a manifest and gross injustice in the Irish State Church as it now exists there is no foundation for this Bill, and the arguments put forward in favour of the measure all fall to the ground. I ask your Lordships, then, what test we ought to apply in order to find whether there is such an injustice in the Irish State Church? The noble Earl who moved the second reading (Earl Granville) applied a test which must have come home to the understanding and the conscience of every one who heard him. That noble Earl said—"I venture to ask you this question—How would you like 1838 it yourself?" If, my Lords, there were forced upon you a Church in which you did not believe—a Church whose teachings are opposed to all your religious convictions, I ask whether any one of you would get up and say, upon your honour, that you did not feel you were suffering under the grossest injustice? But, my Lords. I will apply another test. Let me suppose for a moment that the State Church of Ireland did not exist, and then let me venture to ask you whether anybody—looking to the population of Ireland and the relative numbers of Catholics and Protestants into which that population is divided—would propose that a State Church should be established in that country which would teach the Protestant faith? If such a thing were to be done by Parliament, let us ask ourselves how we should frame the Preamble. Should the Preamble run thus:—"Whereas the people of Ireland are for the most part Roman Catholics, and whereas the people of England are for the most part Protestants, and it is desirable that the faith of the people of England should be adopted by the people of Ireland." My Lords, would such a Preamble bear reading in this House or in any legislative assembly? I will offer another Preamble—"Whereas the people of Ireland are for the most part Roman Catholics, and whereas the people of England are for the most part Protestants, it is fit, just, and desirable that there should be established in Ireland a national State Church devoted to the teaching of the faith of the people of England." I ask, my Lords, whether any man in this House would be bold enough to stand up and justify such a Preamble? But, as a minority of the people of Ireland are not of the Roman Catholic religion, there might be another form of Preamble—"Whereas the great bulk of the people of Ireland profess the Roman Catholic religion, and a small minority of the people of Ireland profess the Protestant faith, the said minority being loyal and peaceable subjects, well affected to the Throne and the institutions of these realms, it is therefore expedient that the funds devoted to religious pin-poses in Ireland should be applied to objects in connection with the religion of the minority." That is another way of putting the question; but I say again, that no man would propose a Bill with a Preamble such as that. 1839 My Lords, I quite recognize the distinction between putting a Church, upon a people and uprooting a Church which has existed for many years and has struck its roots deeply. But what was the origin of the Irish Church? At a time when it was imposed on the Irish people, the Reformation had just sprung up in England, where it had taken root; and nobody would deny that it was a measure of policy at the time, and one which any Government would be justified in adopting, to endeavour to assimilate the faith of the Irish people to that of the people of England. The attempt, therefore, made at that time was therefore justifiable, if not wise. But now, looking back through a vista of 200 or 300 years, we see that the experiment signally failed. At the end of 200 or 300 years we find that the Irish people, instead of being drawn into the Church which was forced upon them, have diverged from it; that, so far from being members of that Church, the bulk of the Irish people are of an antagonistic faith. What then, ought Parliament to do, the experiment having so failed? Will it be said that we should be justified in doing nothing at present—in taking no step to remedy the evil, but waiting until the Roman Catholic populations are gathered into the Protestant fold? I hold that an injustice of this kind must be dealt with at some time: how, then, are we to proceed? You might establish a Roman Catholic national Church in Ireland. When I say you might do so, I mean that if there is to be a State Church in any country it ought to be the Church of the great majority of the people of that country. But, as a matter of practicability, the thing is out of the question in this case. In two countries like England and Ireland, united under the one Crown, we could not have two State Churches of an opposite character. Therefore, that plan must be rejected. But if you cannot have as the State Church a Church which is in accord with the religious sentiments of the people, and if it is unjust to have as the State Church a Church which is against the feelings of the people, it follows that the best thing is not to have a State Church at all. What then can be done? Now, my Lords, I speak tinder great disadvantages in this House in consequence of my want of experience; but I enjoy one inestimable ad- 1840 vantage—that Hansard and I are perfect strangers. Speaking, then, on this subject for the first time, I say boldly that justice will never be done to Ireland till you surrender to the Irish Roman Catholics a share of the State funds, applicable to religious objects, proportionate to their numbers and importance. But, in making that statement, I know that I am again coining into contact with the impracticable. I know that, whatever strict justice may require in the abstract, neither House of Parliament will consent to give the Roman Catholics such a share of the State funds. The thing is impossible. Why? Because, my Lords, we live in a time of religious toleration. What is the meaning of religious toleration as it is understood now? That one's neighbour is at liberty to form his own opinion on religious subjects without interference from anybody; but that no one is ready to admit that his neighbour can possibly be right. Full liberty to your neighbour to form his own opinions, and full liberty to yourself to denounce those opinions as heretical. That is the character of modern religious toleration. If, then, anyone were to propose—as I believe persons have proposed it—that the State funds for religious purposes should be divided among the different denominations in proportion to their numbers, I am quite sensible that the people of this country would not be prepared to acquiesce in any such arrangement. True, there is this alternative put forward by some persons. They say—"If you cannot surrender to the Roman Catholics their portion of the religious funds, at least let the Protestants keep their share." But is this justice? It appears to me that very great difficulty will be felt throughout the passage of this Bill should it be read a second time, if the principle spoken of by the most rev. Primate, in his admirable speech last night, were adopted by your Lordships. We must always recollect that the principle of this Bill is that of equal justice to all, and I know of no ground upon which the people of this country would be justified in proposing to hold back out of the national State funds any portion for the furtherance of the Protestant religion, unless they are, at the same time, prepared to give a portion of those funds to the other religious denominations. To pass to a different part of the subject, let me ask 1841 what is the precise benefit which we expect to follow from this measure in the event of its being carried? My Lords, he must be a sanguine man who imagines that the passing of this Bill will at once seriously affect the condition of Ireland. Fenianism, which has been stated to be the cause of the introduction of this Bill, is a plant of foreign growth, which has sprung up in a country separated some distance from us—in a country friendly to us, and one which is very sensitive of national obligations—and, notwithstanding the efforts which the Government of that country have no doubt made in accordance with their principles to put down the growth of this noxious plant, it has there flourished, and has sent forth the poison which has since contaminated the people of Ireland. When Fenianism came across the water and reached the Irish soil, it there found a people discontented with their government—a people long habituated to conspiracy, and to resistance to the law— and naturally it spread among such a people with amazing celerity. My Lords, I believe that the cure for Fenianism is but one—it is to be cured alone by a firm and unswerving administration of the law. Fenianism attacks no particular form of government and no particular form of religion—it addresses itself against no particular grievance—it wars against the first principles of society: and, therefore, it ought to be put down by the strong arm of the law. But if you do not expect to put down Fenianism by this measure, what do you expect from it? My Lords, I do not propose, inexperienced as I am in Irish affairs, to go at length into the various evils which beset that unhappy land; but there can be no doubt that they are of long standing and are deeply seated. There are the evils of the Roman Catholic priest, the land, the potato, the national character, and "the melancholy ocean." The last, I am afraid, is incurable, because no legislation can remove it. The discontent in Ireland has not been removed by the legislation of the last twenty or thirty years; the country has not been pacified by either the Arms Bill, the Coercion Acts, or the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. And, more than that, the name of Ireland has become a reproach and a byword to England. In the mouth of foreigners Ireland is coupled with Poland; and the general impression 1842 throughout Europe is that Ireland is oppressed by England. Now, my Lords, this is no fight matter—no educated Englishman can hear such a charge as that brought against this country without a feeling of shame and disgrace. The only answer he can make to it is—"Why should we oppress Ireland; what do we get by doing so; we take no taxes from her, and we obtain no resources from her?" My Lords, Englishmen have no other desire than to do justice to Ireland. Whatever good has come to that country of late years has been mainly due to the exertions and to the expenditure of those Englishmen who are fortunate enough to hold estates there. Therefore, my Lords, there is no reason, as far as England is concerned, why Ireland should not be pacified. Well, then, willing as we are to do all we can to render her happy and prosperous, and finding as we do that she still remains discontented, is it not time that we should endeavour to see if the course of action we nave hitherto pursued is the right one, and to review the principles upon which our government of that country has been conducted? And on the very threshold of that review would stand this moral deformity of the Irish Church—and I use the words "moral deformity," because, say what you will in favour of the Irish Protestant Church, it cannot be denied that it is the English Protestant faith which is upheld in Ireland in the form of that Church. It is the expression of English faith recorded upon Irish soil. And this, my Lords, is one good reason why this Bill should pass. No effort on our part should be spared to remove a deformity of this character, and no cost is too great that will set us right with the world and with Ireland by placing our legislation upon a basis of justice. But, my Lords, a great party in this country, acting beyond doubt upon the most conscientious motives, has opposed the change proposed to be effected by this Bill. Of the two main grounds upon which the Bill is opposed, the first is that to attack the Church of Ireland is to put the Church of England in danger. The noble and learned Lord who last addressed your Lordships (Lord Chelmsford) put this objection in the strongest light, and entreated your Lordships to look upon this Bill as an attack upon the English Establishment. My Lords, I for one should be very sorry to 1843 see the English Establishment in any way injured. It is the Church of the great mass of the nation; and I believe that an Established Church is a great national necessity, and is a national acknowledgment of religious duty. It replaces what is fitful and spasmodic in religion by what is sober and stedfast, and is calculated to preserve a temperate piety, between unbelief on the one hand, and enthusiasm on the other; and, above all, it prevents religion from being de-graded into a trade. Therefore, if in my judgment, there were anything in this Bill likely to affect the English Establishment. I should be opposed to it. But what ground exists for a reasonable apprehension that if the Irish Establishment be struck down by the hand of the law the. English Establishment with which it: is allied will thereby be injuriously a fleeted? It seems to me, my Lords, that the argument is altogether the other way. The English Establishment is strong in the affections of the people—it is strong because the large majority of the people of this country think highly of it. Should the day ever come when the affections of the people of this country are withdrawn from it, the time will have arrived when the English Establishment will not have much hope left. But can anyone suppose that the affections of the people of England towards the Church of this country are stimulated by the connection it now has with the Church of Ireland? Can any man suppose that by joining an institution strong in the affections of the people with an institution which has been condemned for years in the opinions of most reasonable men any strength is added to the former? If the strong and the weak stand side by side, the weaker leans upon the strong, it does not support it. If the healthy and the morbid are brought into contact, the healthy suffer without the morbid gaining strength. My Lords, in my opinion the Irish Church is the weak point of the English Establishment. What general would hesitate to surrender an indefensible fortress, or, to adopt the illustration of the noble and learned Lord, what architect would desire to preserve a tottering tower to the jeopardy of the rest of the building, or what surgeon would hesitate to sacrifice a morbid limb to preserve the rest of the body. What argument can be brought against the English Establishment that 1844 cannot be brought with ten times the force against the Irish Establishment? The enemies of the English Establishment find their strongest arguments in the Irish Establishment. Therefore, those who wish well to the English Establishment would do well to part with that of Ireland. The Irish Establishment is attacked on the ground that it is unjust; but no such attack can be made upon the Church of England, because the injustice which exists with regard to the Irish Establishment has no place here. Therefore, to say that because we are surrendering that which is indefensible we are endangering that which is perfectly defensible appears to me to be a mistake. Now, my Lords, before I sit down lot me call your Lordships' attention to the position in which this question stands. The admirable speech of the noble Earl (Earl Grey) who opened the debate this evening, with his great and varied experience, leaves little to be added on this part of the subject. But, my Lords, I may ask this question—what deference are your Lordships prepared to pay to the distinctly expressed will of the English nation? Menaces, no doubt, have been thrown out against this House in the worst possible taste, which are likely to have but little effect upon the result. No man who enjoys a seat in your Lordships' House would value that seat for a moment if it were to be held at the cost of independence. To form and express your opinions with independence is the sole condition on which this House ought to exist. And to say that, because the other House of Parliament has resolved upon this or that by a large majority, therefore this House is bound to follow in the same direction, is to render the House little more than a French Parliament, to record the decisions of the King in the lit de justice. That is a position which this House has never occupied, and. whatever may happen in the future, I am persuaded it never will consent to occupy. Your Lordships are responsible to no constituencies and to no individuals for your consciences and the votes which you give; therefore you are the more responsible in the judgments which you form to the nation at large. In the nation at large you recognize those who have a right, so to speak, to criticize, and to call you to account for your proceedings. "What deference, then, will 1845 you pay to the expressed frill of the nation? Probably that will depend very much on this other question—how has that will been expressed? In common parlance one says that the will of the nation is expressed through its representatives in the House of Commons; but, as I have pointed out, that would be to make this House of no account in the Legislature I apprehend, however, there are other ways of ascertaining the will of the nation; and if it has so fallen out that this particular question which we are now treating has, in a distinct and definite form, been laid before the nation, and they have given their verdict and judgment upon it, then I ask you whether it is not an occasion when you may fitly consider what amount of deference you will pay to the national will. No body of men in the present day can affect to take part in the government of a free nation without being prepared to shape their course by the will of that nation when it is once ascertained. Faithfully to interpret the will of a nation is the first function of a legislative body; and those who aspire to govern must bring to the task the sagacity to ascertain the will of the nation, and the determination to carry it out. Now, what has occurred with reference to the present question? The speech of my noble and learned Friend who leads the Opposition (Lord Cairns) was quoted last night by the noble Earl who introduced the Bill, at the close of which speech my noble and learned Friend invited an appeal to the country. The language that he used, candidly and fairly interpreted, appears to me to mean nothing more than this—that, as a Minister of the Crown, he was prepared to stake the existence of the Ministry on the verdict of the nation. And on what question was that verdict to be passed? Why, on this very question of the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church: for at the end of the long and elaborate; and most able speech by the noble and learned Lord, lie said—"We are prepared to go to the people of England, to appeal to their judgment, and by their judgment to abide." Now, what will be the effect of rejecting this measure upon the second reading? You will untie the tongue of every man who wishes evil to this House and the Constitution. I am not one of those who believe that the 1846 position of the House of Lords in the estimation and affections of the people of England has of late years been diminished or endangered. The House of Lords have always known how to deal with the great questions which have agitated the nation. The House of Lords have always known how to reconcile their functions with the national will, and I am not one of those who believe that their influence has been seriously impaired. But if you reject this Bill, you will set abroad an agitation in which the cry will be—"The House of Lords against the people;" you will untie the tongue of every agitator; you will enable those who wish harm to the Constitution and to the House to use language of this character —"You have taken time to consider this matter; last year you stood between the determination of the House of Commons and its fulfilment; you threw out the Bill, which we did not complain of; you then appealed to the country, and there was no election address, at one side or at the other, in which the Irish Church question was not laid before the constituency as the turning point of the election. You invited the arbitrament of the nation, as expressed through the Parliament just reformed, and taking on that account a wider sweep of the opinions, the judgment, and the reflection of the people, and having invited and invoked that arbitrament, you then, when the judgment of the nation is against you, refuse to abide by the result of that appeal."
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
My Lords, at this hour and on an occasion like this, when so many noble Lords are anxious to take part in the discussion, I shall detain your Lordships but a very short time while I state the course I am about to pursue; and I am the more induced to ask your Lordships' attention upon this occasion because that course is to me at once a most unusual and a most painful one—for I find myself unable to concur on this occasion in the policy adopted by those with whom I am in the habit of acting at all times with the greatest cordiality. I have sometimes doubted in my own mind the propriety of this course when I find myself at variance with the noble Earl whom I have had the pleasure of following almost ever since I had a seat in this or the other House of Parliament— 1847 (Lord Derby), and when I find myself also not able to agree with my noble and learned Friend (Lord Cairns) who now succeeds in, as I think, a most worthy manner to the leadership of the party of which I have the honour to be a member. On a subject, however, of such great importance as the present, I think it be have everyone who has a seat in your Lordships' House to weigh well for himself the conduct that he ought to pursue in reference to it, and, having once made up his mind, to carry out that, course unflinchingly and without regard to any consequences to himself with reference to his relation to those with whom he usually acts. I am not going to follow the noble and learned Lord who last addressed you (Lord Penzance), because I find it difficult throughout the greater portion of his speech to follow the conclusions at which he arrived; because having proposed to your Lordships various courses which, having put hypothetical cases, he thought might be adopted, he wound up invariably by saying that he found he had come in contact with the impracticable. Therefore, as far as the first portion of his address was concerned, without disrespect to the noble and learned Lord, I think I may be allowed to pass it by. With regard to the Bill itself, there is no one who has a greater objection to it who sees more demerits in the measure itself than I do. I think it was well described by my noble and learned Friend behind me (Lord Chelmsford) as made up of violence, of injustice, and of spoliation. In the first place, I find that the property of the Church of Ireland is handed over at once to three Commissioners named in the Bill. Of those three gentlemen I wish to speak with all respect. One is a noble Lord who sits on the other side? of the House (Lord Monck), and though undoubtedly in favour of abolishing the connection between Church and State, yet is a friend to the Church, and I have no doubt will carry out the duties imposed on him with a conscientious desire to do what is right and proper by all parties. Of Mr. Justice Lawson I desire to speak in terms of the greatest respect; and the third Commissioner, a personal friend of my own, and well known to many noble Lords—Mr. George Hamilton—has earned for himself a character for independence and integrity as high as that 1848 enjoyed by any of your Lordships. As regards these three Commissioners, therefore. I have not a word to say. But there is this to be considered—These gentlemen are named in the Bill; but if, in the course of time, these gentlemen should resign, or should not carry out the work to the satisfaction of the Government, there is nothing, as far as I can see, to prevent other gentlemen being made Commissioners, whose views might be totally different from the views entertained by the gentlemen who are named in the Bill. The Church fabrics are to be handed over to the Church Body—that is to say, if this Church Body ever exists. I will touch very lightly on this subject, which was gone into so admirably by the most rev. Primate who addressed your Lordships last evening; but I wish to show what objections I entertain to the Bill itself. The glebe houses are to be sold and purchased at prices which may be fair; but it must not be lost sight of that the persons who are to buy the glebe houses and lands will merely be allowed to buy their own property back again. I am not surprised that this interference with property struck even the right hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill, because there was a remarkable passage in his speech in introducing the measure to the House of Commons. He said, in one short sentence, as if the thought had just occurred to him—"Possibly some persons may think that the Bill I have now the honour of introducing is an interference with the rights of property." I must say I certainly do not recollect any greater interference with the rights of property than is to be found in the Bill now under discussion. Much has been stated at various times as to the vested and proprietary rights that were to be respected in this measure. But there is one set of proprietary rights which appear to me to have been totally lost sight of. The rights of the clergy have been, to a certain extent, looked after; but the rights of the laity, the rights of the congregations are wholly neglected. For several centuries the laud has been bought and sold encumbered with rent-charges, and the proprietors of the land and those who depended upon them were, in return for the money so paid, and the rent-charge so fixed, to be continued in the enjoyment of the services of the Church, in which they and their family had been 1849 born and brought up. I wish to call your Lordships' attention to the spirit in which the Prime Minister deals with this interest. I think it was in the course of last year that the Prime Minister talked of dealing with the Church property and with Ireland on this subject "in a mild and generous spirit." There is a great difference between theory and practice. I cannot help thinking that the theory of the Leader of the Opposition in 1868 is as different from the practice of the Prime Minister in 1869 as theory and practice generally differ from one another. The right hon. Gentleman referred in the House of Commons to the vested interests of the students connected with Maynooth—I desire most carefully to avoid speaking in any disparaging manner of my Roman Catholic fellow-subjects—I only bring this matter forward by way of illustration—but the Prime Minister said—They are the sons of small farmers and tradesmen. Will you undertake to say that they have not the same title to the consideration of this House as Professors, and Assistant Professors, every one of whose titles we have recognized, and without one word of objection?"— [3 Hansard, cxcvi. 327.]My Lords, I only ask you to strike out the words "students of Maynooth" for a moment, and substitute for them the words "Protestant congregations," and for ''Professors and Assistant Professors" to insert "Bishops and clergy," and the passage would run thus— "Many of the Protestant congregations are composed of small tradesmen and farmers, and will you undertake to say that they have not the same right to the consideration of this House as the Bishops and clergy, every one of whose titles you have recognized, and without one word of objection?" I only mention that to show that all vested rights are not considered in the same manner as are those connected with Maynooth. And here I would ask my noble Friend who moved the second reading (Earl Granville) whether he can reconcile part of the Preamble of the Bill with the course which he proposes to adopt in regard to the grant to Maynooth? Because, out of the funds of the Church, as I understand it, a certain sum is to be given to Maynooth, which will amount to I forget how much, per annum; but in the Pre- 1850 amble of the Bill there is a paragraph which says that the money taken from the Established Church shall not be devoted to the maintenance of any Church or clergy, or any other ministry, or for the teaching of religion. Now, if the money which is to go to Maynooth comes out of the funds with which the Bill deals, then I say that is at variance with the passage in the Preamble to which I have referred. I have no doubt that, my noble Friend (Karl Granville) will explain that discrepancy at a future stage, if it admits of explanation. Dealing as shortly as I have been able to do with the principles of this measure, I repeat that the description given of it by my noble and learned Friend (Lord Chelmsford) was very nearly correct—namely, that it is made up of a great deal of violence, injustice, and spoliation, and I must say that I am not at all surprised that when the ignorant and impulsive peasantry of Ireland see the manner in which the Church is treated by this Bill, they should have hopes—I trust false hopes —that some such measure may be looming in the future with respect to the land. I object to this Bill because it does away with the established religion in Ireland. I think that religion is as much a necessity to a nation as it is to a family, and that the only way in which you can maintain religion for a nation is by having an Established Church. My Lords, entertaining these strong views against this measure, I confess that it has not been without very considerable hesitation that I have come to the conclusion to which I have come— namely, that it is not right to support the Amendment moved by my noble Friend (the Earl of Harrowby), and I am induced to arrive at that conclusion upon two considerations. In the first place, I cannot forget the debates which took place in this and the other House of Parliament last Session. In the other House of Parliament Resolutions were introduced, and lengthened discussions, followed by divisions, occurred upon them. They were carried. Upon them a Suspensory Bill, as it was called, was brought in. The Bill was debated and passed by moderately large majorities in the other House; and it then became the duty of your Lordships to receive and consider that Bill. Having discussed the question your Lordships rejected the measure by a very large ma- 1851 jority. My Lords, I cannot bring myself to think otherwise than that one of the main grounds on which that Bill was thrown out by that majority, was that it was urged that, in a dying Parliament it was not right to deal with the question; that a new set of electors were about to be called into existence; that if we dealt with the subject then, in a very few months we might be called upon to deal with it again; and. in fact, the question of what is technically termed "disestablishment"—I think there is no word in the English language for it—the disestablishment of the Irish Church, was the subject put before the electors at the last election. I regret that I cannot separate the question of disestablishment from the other portion of this Bill, because I am bound to admit that the question submitted to the electors at the last General Election was certainly not the Bill which we have now under discussion. But, at the same time, if I have to deal with this Bill at all now, I must take it as representing, if I may so say, the great question of disestablishment; and leave the other portion of the measure—which has been imported into it by the manner in which the Government have drawn up the Bill —to be dealt with at a future stage of the Bill, should it receive a second reading. But, I repeat, I cannot bring myself to think otherwise than that the question of disestablishment was the question placed before the country; and that the country, on an appeal being-made to them, returned a very large-majority of Members to the House of Commons adverse to the Government of which I had the honour to be a member —a majority so large that it is matter of history that that Government immediately resigned Office, and those noble Lords who now occupy the opposite Benches were summoned to Her Majesty's councils; and the question of disestablishment, as apart from the other portion of the Bill—for I wish to keep the two things distinct—has been ratified by the representatives of the nation, by majorities varying from about 110 to 120. That, my Lords, is the first reason which induces me not to accept the Amendment of my noble Friend. But there is a second consideration that weighs with me, which is—what is to happen supposing the second reading is rejected. I think it is very short-sighted policy, 1852 and not that which is the result of a statesmanlike view of the matter, merely to get rid of a thing for a moment without looking beyond and seeing what may come afterwards. I appeal to any noble Lords—and I shall be much astonished if they give me an affirmative answer— whether they are sanguine enough to believe that rejecting the Bill on the second reading Mould be the means of getting rid of the Bill for ever, or for any lengthened period? I confess that if I thought its rejection on the second reading would be the means of burying the measure—if I may use the expression—I would be the first to vote against it, disliking the Bill so much as I do. But it is because I believe that we shall not get rid of it by this process —that the Bill will come back to us sooner or later, and perhaps sooner than a great number of us would like to think —and come back in a condition that it would be very difficult to deal with it in a satisfactory manner, that I should deprecate its being thrown out on the second reading. I know my noble Friend will say—"What is the use of reading the Bill a second time when you cannot amend it?" But I say, if you do not read it a second time you do not intend to amend it. There may be Amendments which your Lordships may think of great importance, which you may have a majority sufficient in this House to carry, and which may materially alter the Bill as it now stands. At all events, there is this to be considered, that if, after altering the Bill as your Lordships may deem right and proper, the measure comes out of Committee in such a form as the majority of your Lordships disapprove and think objectionable, you have always this last resource open, to reject the Bill on the third reading. My noble Friend the noble Duke (the Duke of Rutland) behind me and I disagree most materially on various points; but as I commenced by saying how disagreeable it was to me to differ from so many of my Friends, yet, feeling most conscientiously as I do on this subject, I determined boldly to stand up and state my views. I am one who would throw on the Government the responsibility of refusing a settlement of this question. I say there is nothing so obnoxious, so injurious to the country, as that there should be a continued agitation on any subject whatever; and it is most objec- 1853 tionable of all that there should be continued agitation on religious subjects. I wish to have this question calmly and dispassionately considered in Committee; and if the Government are not prepared to accept the Amendments we think it right to propose, on them will rest the responsibility of the rejection of the Bill and not on your Lordships.
Having made these remarks I would now sit down, but for the subject of which my noble and learned Friend (Lord Cairns) has given notice for Thursday. I had intended to call your Lordships' attention to a letter which has appeared in the papers to-day; but, after the notice which has been given. I think it more respectful to postpone my observations till the subject comes regularly before your Lordships. My Lords, I can safely say that no question, since I had the honour of taking part in public affairs, has given me more anxiety, more consideration, and deeper thought than the subject we are now called on to decide. But, believing as I do, that the issues involved are of such gravity as to supersede all party ties and personal friendships, I have come to the conviction that. I ought, on the present occasion, to lay aside all such considerations, being fully convinced, with the most conscientious feelings, that in declining to support the Amendment of my noble Friend, I am taking the course most consistent with the principles of the Constitution, and most in accordance with the dignity of your Lordships' House.
THE BISHOP OF PETERBOROUGH
My Lords, in rising to address your Lordships, I do so with feelings of the very deepest anxiety, and with unfeigned diffidence, owing to my having-become so recently a Member of your Lordships' House, and my natural fear, in taking part in so great a discussion as this, that I may, by some careless word of mine, rather damage than advance the cause which I seek to support. Still there is one great encouragement I feel —it is a thought that has been present to my mind all through this debate— that is that I have the privilege of addressing an assembly in which freedom of speech is still permitted to its members. I have heard much, my Lords, since I have had the honour of being a Member of your Lordships' House, and I have read something, about the anti- 1854 quated prejudices which still haunt it, hut which are not to be found in the other House; but among those antiquated prejudices I rejoice to see that your Lordships still retain the notion that a deliberative assembly should be allowed to deliberate. I have no fear, my Lords, at least upon this point— that if the remarks which I venture to make should be distasteful to some of your Lordships, I shall be at least free to make them. I am reminded that your political education is imperfect; but I am glad to find that you have not yet adopted the most recent form of Parliamentary clâture, which simply consists in howling down the person who takes the unpopular side in a debate. ["Oh, oh!"] I regret that in the first few words I have spoken I should have called forth expressions of dissent; but I think I am justified in describing what I think I saw and heard in what I do not venture to call another House, but a public meeting in which there were present a great many Members of Parliament.
I have no intention of detaining your Lordships at any length on some of the very minor issues that have been raised in this controversy; and the less so because I am ready to admit that on those points all the strength of the argument lies with the supporters of this measure. I am free to confess that I cannot regard this Bill as a proposal to violate the Coronation Oath. The Coronation Oath seems to me to be the seal of a compact between two parties; and I cannot understand how, because one of the parties appeals to the Divine judgment to punish a breach of the compact, both parties may not agree to an alteration of the compact. In the second place, I cannot regard this measure as a violation of the Act of Union. I regard the Act of Union as a treaty not merely between two Legislatures, the members of which may be, and for the most part are, no longer in existence, but, as a compact, between two nations which still exist, and which have a right to modify the terms of the treaty mutually agreed on between them. Neither can I regard this measure as an attack on private property. I cannot but entirely accept the distinction drawn by the noble and learned Lord last night between corporate and private property. I cannot regard the property of the Irish 1855 Church as private property, because it seems to land me in this absurdity—that it would be a matter of entire indifference what were the numbers of the Irish Church, whether large or small, and as if, instead of 700,000, they were 70,000 or 7,000 they would still have a right to the same property. I therefore willingly accept the noble and learned Lord's distinction between corporate and private property. But I go further—I not only accept that distinction, but I insist upon it upon the very ground on which I entreat your Lordships to be very cautious how the property of the Irish Church is dealt with. It is quite true that corporate property is different from private property. It is not private property, neither, on the other hand, is it absolutely and simply public property in the same sense as property derived from the taxation of the country. Corporate property is partly private and partly public—public in its uses and the conditions on which it is held, and private as regards the persons who are interested in it. This is the reason why it appears to me to be very perilous to meddle with corporate property; because, in its public character, it invites attack, and by its partly private character endangers all private property, if the conditions on which the corporation holds its property be unjustly or unfairly dealt with. And for this reason you will always observe in history that corporate property is always the first to be attacked in all great democratic revolutions. Especially is this so in the case of ecclesiastical corporate property, because ecclesiastical corporations for the most part are very wealthy and, at the same time, are weak. It is easy to find a flaw in their titles; and religious corporations charged with the religious culture of a nation, or of any part of a nation, are always easy of attack because they must always more or less fail, and it can therefore be always alleged that they have failed in the performance of their duty. Therefore I say that ecclesiastical property is always the first to be assailed in revolutions. Revolutions commence with sacrilege and go on to communism; or, to put it in the more gentle and euphemistic language of the day, revolutions begin with the Church and go on to the land. For these reasons—not because the property of the Irish Church is not corporate property—I would ask you to 1856 guard it with special jealousy from any attack which may be made upon it.
But, passing from these minor issues in the controversy, I do feel that there are larger and deeper questions at stake than these. I believe that the great question of justice or injustice really underlies the whole of this question. I believe, my Lords, that far below these merely superficial questions of ascendancy or sentimental grievance, or the badge of conquest—I do believe that deep in the English heart lies this great thought above all others—that the Irish Church is an injustice: therefore it must be done away with. I desire to meet this plea fairly and fully: and I desire to say for myself, so lately a member of that Church—and speaking, as I believe I do, the feeling of every member of that Church—that we re-echo the words the Prime Minister used with reference to this Bill; and we say if the Irish Church be less than a justice, then in God's name let it perish. The three great issues that have been raised in this debate, so far as I have been able to follow it, have been, first of all, that this is a question of justice; secondly, that it is a question of policy; and thirdly, that it is in accordance with the verdict of the nation. With all respect, I venture to join issue upon every one of these three pleas. I say distinctly that justice does not demand this measure, that policy does not require it, and that the verdict of the country has not only not gone in its favour, but that, on the contrary, the measure in the greater part of its details seems to me to be in direct and flagrant contradiction to the verdict of the country. In arguing these three pleas I shall endeavour to consider each of them by itself and separately. I shall not at tempt to mix them together according as it may suit the exigencies of my argument. Because I observe that in discussing this measure people very often fail to take them alone. We are told, in the first place, that the Irish Church is a grievous injustice, because it possesses property that was wrongfully taken from the Roman Catholics. We try to answer the argument, and endeavour to show that this property was never in the possession of the Roman Catholic Church, and we appeal to the ancient history of the Irish Church to show it. But when we are doing that we are told—"What is the use of this 1857 reference to old doctrinal history? It does not matter in the least whether the Irish Church was Protestant or not in the days of St. Patrick; at the present moment it is a mischief and a nuisance, and there can be no pacification of Ireland till we get rid of it." When we turn to the argument of policy, and endeavour to show that the sweeping away the Irish Church will not pacify Ireland, and that it will dissatisfy one part of the Irish nation without satisfying the other —what is the answer? "Oh, we never thought, we never dreamt that this measure would pacify Ireland—we are quite aware it will not; but we must dear our own consciences; it is a high question of justice—fiat justitia ruat cœlum!" Lastly, when we maintain that this is neither a measure of justice nor a measure of policy, we are told that there is a good deal to be said on that side of the question, but that the time for saying it has gone by; that the verdict of the country has spoken, and we had better submit ourselves to the will of the nation. I will not attempt to imitate that mode of argument, but will take each plea separately. In the first place, then, as to the plea that the Irish, Church is an injustice, the arguments used in its support are singly two—One, the great argument of religions equality; and the oilier, the argument that the Irish Church is the church of the minority. Now, my Lords, as I undersand the argument in respect, to absolute religious equality it is this—that the conferring' by the State upon one sect in the country any special favour or privilege over other sects is an injustice, inasmuch as no one sect is more entitled to endowment, or privilege than another, and that, as special favour is conferred upon the Irish Church, it is a violation of the principle of religious equality. It is no reply, I admit, to say that this principle of religious equality applies equally to England. It is perfectly clear that it does apply equally to England as to Ireland—unless indeed we are ready to perpretate injustice in England because we are strong and Dissent is weak; but that we will not venture to do it in Ireland because we are weak there, and those who differ from the Church are strong. It is, in fact, convenient now to tell us that the principle applies to the English as well as to the Irish Church; but I may remark that it was 1858 not quite so convenient to say so last October. I distinctly admit that if the favour shown to any sect be shown for the sake of that sect, and that alone, there is a manifest injustice in the endowment of that sect in preference to others. But I deny that this is the principle of religious Establishments at all. The endowment given to the sect, my Lords, is not given for the benefit of the sect, but for the benefit of the State. It is not with a view to make the sect richer, but to make the State religious. The privilege and the wealth that come to the sect are not the object, but the accident of the endowment. The object of endowment is that, inasmuch as the State has an army to contend against its enemies without, so it has an army to contend against the enemies within of sin. ignorance, and crime; and, when the State selects any one sect in preference to another, the simple question is whether the sect is better qualified than other sects to do the work which the State wants to have done. If that be so, it seems to me that there is no more injustice in the State contracting, if I may use the expression, with an ecclesiastical firm to do its duty of religious teaching than there is in the State contracting with a secular firm to do any secular work which it may require. In both cases there is inequality consequent upon the act, but in neither is there injustice—because it appears to me that to treat equally things that are unequal, is not justice, but the very greatest injustice. The question, therefore, whether injustice is done to one sect by the establishment of another resolves itself into this further question.—Is the sect selected better fitted to do the work of the country than the other? Or, in other words, in order to have religious equality you must have equality of religions. What I would ask in the next place is—Are those two rival sects in Ireland equally fitted for the work the State has to do? Your Lordships need not fear that I shall enter upon a theological discussion. I am quite aware that the modern theory of the State is that it should have no religion—a theory to which I am almost a convert after perusing some of the details of this Bill, because it goes very near to assuring me that, whether a State may have a religion or not, it may occasionally forget that it has a conscience. The question 1859 as between these two sects is derided by the Bill which I hold, and beyond the limits of which I shall not travel. Why is it that we are not discussing this evening a Bill for "levelling up" instead of one for "levelling down?" Why are we not discussing that which I venture to say would be the most statesmanlike mode of dealing with the question? We have heard from the supporters of the Bill again and again that the reason is that neither the English nor the Scotch people will tolerate the endowment, as they call it, of Popery. What is that but, in other words, to say that the English and Scotch people are so deeply convinced of the inequality of these two religious that, whilst they could endure the endowment of the one, nothing would induce them to listen to a proposal for the endowment of the other. Why, the Bill itself is founded upon the principle of the in-equality of the two religions; and so far from it being true that it has been attempted to defend the Irish Church by the No Popery cry, my belief is that it is at this moment about to be destroyed in obedience to that very cry. I go further, and say that this Bill enacts the most flagrant religious inequality—because, if it passes and the Irish Church is disestablished and disendowed, the next thing the Roman Catholics will say to yon upon the principle of religious equality will be—"In England and in Scotland the religion of the majority of the people is established and endowed, and in Ireland the religion of the majority is neither established nor endowed; how can you call that religious equality?" What would be the necessary result of such a demand as that? Would it not be that you would come face to face with the very same difficulty in England, and to meet that demand for religious equality you would need cither to level up or level down—either to establish and endow the Roman Catholics in Ireland, or disestablish and disendow the Church in England? I say, therefore, that the Bill establishes a principle of religious inequality of the most glaring kind. Then, the next plea is this—we are told that the Irish Church is a great injustice; because the funds which should be the property of the whole nation—a national Stale fund— have been given to the property of a minority. Well, if that be so, I would 1860 ask, why not endow the majority? If the minority are in wrongful possession of the property, why not hand it over to the majority at once? Do noble Lords suppose that until they have done this the majority will really be satisfied? One noble and learned Lord (Lord Penzance) who spoke to-night with a candour which, if I may be allowed to say so, did him high honour, distinctly expressed the opinion —which I respectfully submit to the attention of the Government—that the majority in Ireland will not be satisfied, and will not have justice, until this is done. But I respectfully deny the position that the funds of the majority of the nation are in the possession of the minority. I deny that the Church of the minority possesses funds which ever did belong to the majority. I do not behave that one shilling of tithe rent-charge, or that one acre of glebe land in Ireland ever belonged to the Church of the majority. Tithe was paid for the first time within the pale after the Synod of Cashel, when the Church of Ireland, though the Roman Catholic Church, was the Church of the Anglican minority; and the Ulster glebes were given to the Protestants of Ulster surely at a time when it was distinctly known that the Protestant Church was the Church of the minority. My Lords, I con-tend that the Church of the minority, standing on the land of the minority, teaching the faith of the minority, paid by the minority, is not guilty of that misappropriation of the funds of the majority with which it is charged. If I may venture to detain your Lordships upon a question closely connected with this, I would ask you how it comes to pass that the greater part of the land of Ireland is in possession of the minority of the people? Because your Lord-ships may depend upon it that that lies at the root of everything. How comes it to pass, I ask, that the great majority of the landlords of Ireland are Protestants? For the simple reason, which, however, I have not heard alluded to in this debate—because the majority of the Irish people—the Celtic population of Ireland—took the losing side in the 16th and 17th centuries, in the great struggle between Protestant England and the Catholic League of Europe. That was a life and death struggle between the parties; and, unhappily for themselves, the Celtic population sided 1861 with the Catholic Sovereigns against their own. The battle was fought out between England and the Catholic League in the terrible manner in which such battles were fought in those clays. On the one hand there were the Penal Laws— those infernal Penal Laws, as I will join in calling them, which now excite our indignation; but, be it remembered that, it was by those detestable Penal Laws that the England of those days fought the bulls of Popes that encouraged the assassination of princes. The Penal Laws were not, as some noble Lords seem to suppose, established for the defence of the Church of Ireland. They were passed by English statesmen, in defence of English rule in Ireland: and they would have been passed by the Parliaments of those days with equal harshness and severity, whatever had been the religion of the Celtic population, if that population had risen against the English rule. It was not in defence of the Church, but in defence of English rule, and against the Celtic population, that those detestable laws were passed. Well, then, how stands the case? At the time of the rebellion England confiscated large estates belonging to the Celtic rebels. On nine-tenths of those estates England planted laymen, on the remaining tenth she planted Anglican pastors. Now, I ask this one question—"Was the confiscation of the land of the rebels in Ireland just or unjust?" If it was unjust then undo it all. If, in the name of justice, you are to trace back so far the roots of thing's in Irish history; if you are to make your resolutions in the sacred name of justice, then in the name of that justice give back to the descendants of those owners the confiscated estates that you took from them. But do not mock thorn—for it is mocking them—by telling them that Protestant ascendancy is an evil tiling. And then, how do you propose to deal with it? By telling them your land is divided into nine-tenths and one-tenth— the nine-tenths in the hands of the Protestant landlords and the one-tenth in the hands of the Protestant clergy—and we propose to satisfy their demand for justice by ousting from the land the one proprietor who is the most popular, most constantly resident, and least offensive, while you retain, in all the bitter injustice of their original tenure, the proprietors who are the most detested, and whose 1862 possessions they most covet. Do your Lordships imagine that the Irish people will be satisfied with that? Do you forget that you have to deal with the most quick-witted people in Europe— people whose eyes are intently fixed on this question—and do you think that they will feel other then the most bitter disappointment when you tell them that you are about to tear down the hate-fid flag of Protestant ascendancy, and they find that you only tear off a single corner of it—or about the fortieth part of the whole? The Irish peasant has already given his answer to your offer of pacification—your pacification consists in refusing him the land, which he does want, and giving him the destruction of the Church which he does not—the Irish peasant writes his answer —and a terrible answer it is—-an answer which, I am sorry to say English statesmen in past times have taught the Irish peasant to give—that murder and outrage are a necessary stimulant to the consciences of English statesmen. You tell him you are doing that which will satisfy him; and he writes his answer in that dread handwriting, which it needs no Daniel to interpret, and which so often makes English statesmen tremble; and in that answer he tells you that he will be satisfied with nothing else than the possession of the land—which I do the Members of Her Majesty's Government the justice to believe they have no intention to give. Thus, my Lords, I fear I have very imperfectly, and at greater length than I intended, put before you the question of religious equality, and the possession of the land in Ireland by a minority and the Church of the minority; and I venture to think I have shown there is not that violent injustice either in the existence of the Irish Church or in its possession of property of which we have heard so much.
Next comes the great question of policy. We are told that this is a measure of high State policy, and that it is absolutely necessary for the pacification of Ireland. My Lords, I believe that I am doing the Irish Church no more than justice when I say that, if you could satisfy them of that they would be willing—just as they believe their claims to be—to sacrifice them all, in order to obtain peace for that unhappy and distracted country. But is this really a measure of sound policy? and how should 1863 we judge the policy of any measure affecting Ireland? Surely such a mea-sure ought to be a just, ought to be a healing, ought to be a civilizing measure. Let us try this measure by its effects upon those three Irelands—for there are three—with which you have to deal. The noble Earl who introduced this question last evening (Earl Granville; asked the question —"Should we not deal with Ireland as we would be done by?" Had I the honour of following the noble Earl I should have asked, as I now ask—"Which Ireland do you mean?" There is the Ireland of the North and the Ireland of the South. These are two and very different Irelands. But, according to my reckoning, there are three. There is a Protestant Ireland—there are the Roman Catholic peasantry of Ireland—and there is distinct from both, a nation within a nation, owning a separate allegiance—there is the Roman Catholic priesthood. These are the three parties for whom you propose to carry a measure of great State policy. But, in the first place, how will this measure affect the Irish Protestants and Irish Protestantism?—for I do that justice to Her Majesty's Government that I believe they do not desire anything that would be for the real injury of Protestantism in Ireland. No Liberal Government, indeed, could possibly desire it. A Liberal Government and Protestantism ought to be natural allies. Surely at least the alliance between Liberalism and Protestantism is more natural than an alliance between Liberalism and Ultramontanism. Now let us consider the effect of this measure of policy on the feelings of Irish Protestants. Will it have an healing effect on them? My Lords, the Irish Protestants are at this moment giving you their answer as the Irish peasants gave theirs—each after his own fashion. The Irish Protestants tell you that this measure, done at the time it has been done, and with the words by which it was accompanied, has sunk deep into their hearts with a bitter and exasperating sense of wrong which centuries will not efface. It is not only in their judgment at least a harsh and bitter measure, but it has been accompanied by hard and cruel words. One Member of Her Majesty's Government has thought it decent and consistent with his duty to tell those Irish Protestants in the hour of their 1864 dismay and suffering, when they are reeling under a blow inflicted by the hand of England upon our most faithful and loyal fellow-subjects—I say, one Member of Her Majesty's Government has thought it decent and becoming to tell us—"We have offended a clique, but we have conciliated a nation." My Lords, these words will rankle long in the hearts of these people. They say that, having been ever the faithful and devoted servants of England, and staunchly upholding the authority of this country at a time when she sorely needed it, you are now about to cast them off without even a kind word of gratitude for old deeds of service and faithful and devoted loyalty. They are sorely and naturally irritated. They tell you have effectually repealed the Union by this measure. Although you may not have violated the Union by it, it repeals the Union by turning every Unionist into a Repealer without turning a single Repealer into a Unionist. That is the utterance of the Protestants of Ireland, and, of course, it is highly improper; it is very wrong indeed for them to speak in this very unbecoming way. It is very unnatural that they who believe, rightly or wrongly, that you are taking their religions endowments from them, should speak words which savour somewhat in their anger of disaffection. At the same time, we are told it is the most natural, proper, and righteous thing for the Roman Catholics of Ireland, who believe you took the religious endowments from them 300 years ago, to refuse to be loyal until you give those endowments back. Well, my Lords, this is the effect of this measure at this moment in the minds of the Protestants of Ireland. But we are told this is but a passing and momentary irritation, and that after a while the Protestants of Ireland will be filled with the deepest gratitude to Her Majesty's Government for the favour which has been bestowed on them and their faith. We are told in words full of all manner of glowing metaphor of the wonderful benefit this Bill is to bestow on Ireland. We are told we are assisting at something like a launch of the Irish Church, and not its wreck; and that a number of affectionate, faithful, and earnest volunteers are engaged in knocking away the shores to let the ship out upon the open sea. Foremost among those volunteer shipwrights are 1865 some members of the English Church, admirable vicars and other dignitaries, all full of a generous anxiety to bestow on their rev. brethren in Ireland that measure of apostolic poverty which they show no particular affection for themselves. My Lords, if these most rev. and very rev. clergymen and gentlemen, who are so generously exhorting the Irish clergy to swallow, even without a wry face, the potion prepared for them by Her Majesty's Government, will have the kindness to do what nurses do to children, and just take the least sip of the potion, their views on the subject. I cannot help thinking, may undergo some change. But we must treat more seriously this argument of apostolic poverty, and the power of the voluntary principle in the case of the Protestants of Ireland. We are asked, when we dread the consequences of this measure—Have we lost our faith in Christianity; and whether we are going to insult the Protestants of Ireland by saying that their Church will not survive, even when it is disestablished and disendowed? We are reminded also of what is rather a truism—that an Establishment is not its endowments. Of course not, any more than a man is his purse; but to deprive a man of his purse may have an uncomfortable and unpleasant effect not only on his moral but on his spiritual nature. This argument of apostolic poverty has this peculiarity, and that is, that often as I have heard it used by laymen of the clergy, I never heard a layman who remembered that the flocks of the Apostles were as poor as the Apostles themselves. What is so conducive to the spirituality of the clergyman may be equally conducive to the spirituality of the layman. We are told that Christianity in the first three centuries succeeded admirably without endowments, and we are asked why does it not do so at the present day? But Christianity succeeded admirably in the first three centuries without printing presses and telegraphs. Why then does it not do so now? Suppose this were a Bill to deprive the Irish clergy for the future of the privilege of printing or reading books; and when they complained of the injustice, were to be told that the Apostles conquered the world without a printing press or a steam engine. The argument is as good in 1866 the one case as in the other, and it proves simply this — that, Christianity having obtained the great fruit of its victories over the world, there is no wisdom or sense in asking Christianity to surrender those fruits and give up its conquests in order to begin afresh and fight the battle over again. We are reminded that Christianity is Divine. It is Divine; and for the very reason—that I believe it to be a Divine gift, given like all Divine gifts, upon its own conditions—for this very reason do I fear for the nation that rejects this Divine gift or does it dishonour. If the union between Church and State be really the highest ordeal of the existence of Christianity in the world—and it remains to be proved that it is not—if this wore part of the intention of the Divine Founder, then the separation of Church and State places each upon a lower level and in a worse condition for their respective works in God's world than each would occupy if united together. Then I am reminded that the Protestants of Ireland are wealthy, and that it insults them to suppose that they will not support their Church on the voluntary system. But who is it that tells us that the Protestant landlords are wealthy, and will be able to provide ministrations for their poorer tenantry? On the back of this Bill stands the name of the distinguished statesman who tells us it is his wish that we may remove these Protestant landlords from Ireland and replace them by a Roman Catholic tenantry. I say it is impossible that these two things are compatible. Does that distinguished statesman imagine we can believe that these two things are compatible? If he docs, I can only say—and I will quote his own words—that then, without the previous degradation of being made a Bishop—at least, such a Bishop as is made in these degenerate days—he must have an infinite fund of faith in the credulity of his fellow-countrymen. And now lot me ask how this question will work socially? Her Majesty's Government appear to have immense confidence in the force of the voluntary principle in the minds of the Protestant landlords; and yet it is a strange thing that they cannot trust the Protestant landlords to provide for the lunatics, and the deaf, and the mutes. We all know there are men who will relieve temporal distress when they will not relieve spirit- 1867 ual distress; and yet we are to believe that the Protestant landlords, deep as is their love for their faith, are so curiously constituted that they will be most willing to provide for the spiritual needs of the poor labourers on, their estates, and utterly unwilling to provide for their temporal needs. But, supposing this mea-sure is carried, what will be its real social effect? It will be one of two things. The landlord is to be obliged to provide for himself under this Bill religious minisirations, while he continues to pay the whole rent-charge which he undertook upon the faith of having religious ministration provided. Now, what will he do in this case? Possibly he may provide himself with a chaplain; he may have a tame Levite about his house. He may provide himself in some such fashion as that; but when he gets dissatisfied with the ministrations of that humble spiritual servant, or grudges the cost of his keep, what will he do? He will come to England, where he would find those ministrations furnished without any cost whatever—so that the direct effect of this measure would be to promote absenteeism. But if he remain on his estate his direct interest is to increase the number of the Protestant tenantry on his estate—because every fresh one lessens the burden of supporting these spiritual ministrations; and thus if the landlord remains it leads to religious evictions, and this by way of pacifying Ireland. What character will the Protestantism of Ireland assume under this measure? What will be the quality of the religious ministrations? I was very much struck with an anecdote, told with great eloquence by the present Prime Minister, on that memorable tour of his in Lancashire—a story which he told more than once, and which he seemed to consider of great importance. It was a story—I cannot vouch for its truth—I mean no imputation whatever upon the veracity or even upon the careful accuracy of the Prime Minister. I merely guard myself, because I am aware that the truth of the story which no doubt was supplied to him has been questioned. But, so far as my argument goes, the truth or error of the story is altogether immaterial. The story was, that there was a certain clergyman in the North of Ireland whose parishioners insisted on placing Orange Hags on his church, in opposition to his wishes and 1868 against his protest. The Prime Minister said—"There you see what the Protestant Establishment of Ireland does." And so I say. The Protestant Establishment produced in that case a clergyman who because he was established and endowed, was more liberal and more tolerant, and was enabled to be more liberal and tolerant, than certain members of his nock. But what is the effect which this measure will have? It rewards this elergyman—this suppositions clergyman we will say—for his loyalty and his tolerance, by proceeding to disestablish and to disendow him, and then to make him entirely dependent on a very intolerant flock, who are represented as using his church as a place for religious and party emblems—you make him dependent on them for his daily bread. This is to convert the future clergymen of Ireland into fanatics, almost in spite of themselves, and as the price of their daily food. How many itinerant lecturers of a political kind does the right rev. Prelate think will be found in Ireland five years after the passing of this measure? The absolute necessity of each clergyman to gather the sheep out of his neighbour's fold—if he is to have any fleece at all—which this would induce would be likely to promote anything but amity and concord. So much for the effect of the measure upon Protestants. What is to be the effect of it upon the Roman Catholic peasant? You impoverish the people by removing the Protestant landlord; you place upon him a double and heavy burden; you throw upon him the sustenance of the ministry; you take away the rent-charge, and remove that elevating and civilizing influence exercised by the more highly-educated Protestant clergy—by these various means you are leaving the Roman Catholic peasant in Ireland to sink down into deeper darkness. Then, as regards the Roman Catholic priesthood of Ireland, I have not a word of disrespect to speak of them; and if I had it is not in this place that I should speak it, but in their presence. I speak, as far as possible, of the Roman Catholic priesthood as I should speak of the priesthood of our own Church. Destroy the Irish Church Establishment to please the Roman Catholic priest and —human nature is human nature still—there may be a feeling of gratified rivalry in his mind. But the Roman 1869 Catholic priest firmly believes that the properly you are taking from the Established Church, but which you refuse to give him, is his. He believes the rights of his Church to be indefeasible. Nullum tempus occurrit Ecclesiœ. In the name of religious equality—the very name of which he utterly abhors, and which is utterly unknown to the genius and history of his Church—you take property which he believes to belong to his Church, and divert it to other purposes, and then you profess to expect that he will be satisfied! Then as to the land and education questions, which now disturb Ireland. You must necessarily have the Roman Catholic priest against you. The Roman Catholic priest is a peasant by birth, and—to his honour be it said—remains a peasant in his sympathies, which are with the peasantry in this matter of land; and bribe him as you may—and it seems to me a very coarse bribe — bribe him with the destruction of the Church, I believe you will find him true to the last on this question of land, and that you will not secure him as an ally in dealing with this question. Then, as to the question of education. An alliance between the Ultramontanists and a Liberal Government on this question is quite impossible. You will have increased the fanaticism of all these religious sects; you will have set them still more strongly against each other; you will find that you have not produced paradisiacal amity by compelling a resort to paradisiacal scantiness of dress; and you will find that these various bodies will not strike up eternal friendship when they find that you have despoiled each of them in turn. It is a sad thing to see that the minds of English statesmen seem still to move in the same sad unhappy groove in matters that relate to Ireland; their principle seems to consist only in successive confiscations. England confiscated the property of Ireland at the bidding of a Pope at a time when the inhabitants of that country were designated by the King as the "beastly Irish." The policy of confiscation was again carried out during the reign of the Stuarts and of Cromwell; and now, in the reign of Victoria, the last device for regulating Irish affairs, to be found in the repertory of English statesmen, is another confiscation, but, my Lords, with this difference—that, whereas, in those days Eng- 1870 land confiscated the property of the disloyal and rewarded the loyal, in these days she proceeds to mend matters by confiscating the property of the loyal to reward the disloyal.
If I may still venture for a short time to trespass on your Lordships' attention, I would ask one question more. I would ask whether this measure—unjust and impolitic as I believe it to be—does really satisfy the verdict of the nation? We are told that this measure is imperatively demanded by the verdict of the nation. I think I may take some exception to this phrase, "verdict of the nation," as applied to the decision at the hustings. It seems to me that the duty of the voters at the hustings is not to pass laws, but to choose legislators. It is, in my opinion, rather tending in a revolutionary direction to talk of the hasty and impassioned verdict at the hustings as the deliberate verdict of the nation. I should rather call it the empanelling the jury which is to give the verdict. ["Hear, hear!"] I thank the noble Lords on those Benches for reminding me by their cheers. I should have thought that that jury consists not only of those empanelled at the hustings, but also those who have an hereditary right to sit in this place, and that the verdict of the nation is really the verdict of the three Estates of the realm. Then, my Lords. I might take further objection to this verdict on the ground of the arts by which it has been obtained. Speaking of matters which are within my own knowledge, I do not hesitate to say that in the whole history of fiction there has been nothing to equal the persistent—I might say the malignant—exaggerations that have been circulated through England for years past with respect to the Irish Church. I believe the minds of people have been poisoned and influenced by these representations, and exception may fairly be taken to a verdict obtained by such means as these. But I am willing, for one, to accept the verdict of the nation, when that verdict has been completely and distinctly ascertained. Nay, more, I should be one of the first to implore your Lordships to carry that verdict out in this Bill. Now, my Lords, the verdict of the nation was given on four issues—on disestablishment—on partial disendowment—on absolute impartiality as regards all religions—and on large generosity and kind- 1871 ness in dealing with the Irish Church. As regards disestablishment, I distinctly recognize the fact that the nation has pronounced—and, I believe, irrevocably pronounced — for the disestablishment of the Irish Church; much as I grieve and lament the fact, I have no wish to affect ignorance of it; but if I were an Irish clergyman, in the present state of relations between the Government and the Irish Church the circumstance would not greatly distress me, because it seems to me that the Irish Church has readied that point when the State has become irreconcilably hostile to the Church, and it is for her profit and credit that she should be relieved from that which, once a source of strength and honour to both, is hereafter to be looked upon as a cause of weakness and distress. I cannot say that as an Irish Churchman I should fool sorry for such a result. I should not like to see the freedom, or rather the want of freedom, of the Irish Church left in the hands of a Government consisting of men who, however honourable, and who, personally, however pious and religious, had yet declared themselves implacably hostile to that Establishment. But what was the verdict of the nation that was taken on the question of disendowment? I will venture to make use of one quotation, and but one. It is from the speech of the noble Duke who, I believe, is the very last man to shrink from the force of any words which he may have used—the Duke of Argyll. Speaking on the 29th of June last year, the noble Duke said—There is a great distinction between disendowment and disestablishment, and it was not without a set purpose and deliberate and careful intention that the word 'disendowment' was avoided and 'disestablishment' was inserted in the Resolution. That course was adopted for the very good reason that, as far as I know, no human being proposes to disendow the Established Church altogether…. Nobody has ever proposed to deprive the Church of endowments derived from private benefactions. But more than this. Cnder the scheme sketched by Mr. Gladstone the Church is to be left in possession of the churches and parsonages and of sonic land adjacent, so that it could not, in perfect strictness be said that the Church under that scheme is to be wholly deprived of its endowments. Besides, it is at the option and discretion of Parliament to what extent disendowment shall go…. Therefore those Members of the house of Commons who voted for that Resolution are perfectly free to vote for any sort of compromise in respect to the endowment of the Church."—[3 Hansard, cxciii. 173.]From this language it was clear that Members of the House of Commons were 1872 perfectly free to vote for any sort of compromise in respect of the endowments of the Church. I hope your Lordships will bear in mind the effect of these words—especially so far as they relate to the question of disendowment. On this issue the verdict of the nation was taken; and when persons read declarations like this, and others conceived in the same spirit, they believed that what was intended was not disendowment but only partial disendowment. I must reject a compromise carried out in a manner so different from that which such promises led us to expect. How was this question dealt with in the other House of Parliament? Every attempt to obtain the slightest benefit for the Church— every attempt to get anything beyond vested interests, which are no endowment sat all—was met with the expression of kindly disposition, ending in a positive refusal. The answer was—"We should be very glad to do this if we could do it; but it would be against the principle of the Bill, which goes to total disendowment."—Again, my Lords, when a small recognition was asked for servants, whom this Bill dismisses at a moment's notice —when requests of this kind were made, even by Members who wore supporting the Bill, there was the same reply—'' We should be glad to do it, but the principle of the Bill is against it." I confess, my Lords, that when I remember these things, I feel some doubt in respect of the admirable advice given last night by the most rev. Primate. I have not the least doubt as to the wisdom of his Grace in suggesting the Amendments to which he referred; but I have considerable doubt as to whether there is any chance of our inducing the Government to accede to those Amendments, when I find that, in direct contradiction to the verdict of the nation, Amendments moved in the other House were rejected, not on the ground of any unkindly feelings, but on ground that they were against the principle of the Bill.
My Lords, there was another point on which that verdict was taken. When this question was before the country the country was told that the Irish Church should receive "gracious and generous" treatment—that was, that the treatment should be equitable and indulgent. But, my Lords, the measure which on the hustings was described as "gracious and generous" has since been described in 1873 "another place" by a Member of the Government as "harsh, sweeping, and severe." Again and again, I believe, the nation was told that the measure was to be "gracious and generous;" but that description of it has been repudiated by a member of the Cabinet, who has said —"Government does not affect to be generous; if could not be generous with other men's money." On the hustings the Government said—"We mean to be generous—we intend to be kind." In the other House they have said,—"We do not affect to be generous; we do not intend to be indulgent." I ask whether it would be possible to put in words a more distinct and emphatic contradiction of the verdict of the country. Time does not admit of my going through all the harsh and cruel—I believe unintentionally harsh and cruel—details of the Bill. There is the way in which the clergy are treated in respect of the glebe houses and lands. It is alleged that the money which they spent on these glebe houses they were compelled to spend by a law of the Church. That is an error. They were not compelled to spend that money by a law of the Church, nor could the laity compel them to spend it. The matter was one between the Bishops and the clergy. Again, under this Bill, the Church Commissioners will obtain money for the repair of glebe houses which they cannot apply to that purpose. Then there is a deduction for a tax which the clergy paid to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; but that tax went towards small benefices and the repair of churches. There is generosity! But I shall not weary your Lordships by going through details which, should the Bill ever go into Committee, I shall have occasion to bring before your Lordships in regular order. I may, however, observe that the Bill is harsh and cruel in those provisions by which rectors, curates, and the Church Commissioners will be brought into triangular entanglement. It deals harshly with the curates in respect of their prospects of preferment. It deals harshly with vergers and other persons now employed in the churches, but who may be turned out without a moment's notice. It pinches something here and extracts something there in a shabby and niggardly way. In the magnificent peroration to the speech by which this Bill was introduced in the other House —a peroration which must still ring in 1874 the ears of those who heard it—its distinguished author spoke of the spectacle which England would present to the civilized world when she came to perform this magnanimous act of justice and penitence. What a magnanimous sight! The first thing that this magnanimous British nation does in the performance of this act of justice and penitence is to put into her pocket the annual sum she has been in the habit of paying to Maynooth and to compensate Maynooth out of the funds of the Irish Church. The Presbyterian Members for Scotland, while joining in this exercise of magnanimity, forgot that horror of Popery which was so largely relied on and so loudly expressed at the last elections in Scotland. They have changed their mind, on the theory that a bribe to Popery is nothing if preceded by plunder of the Protestant Episcopacy. Purring two sins together they make one good action. Throughout its provisions this Bill is characterized by a hard and niggardly spirit. I am surprised by the injustice and impolicy of the measure, but I am still more astonished at its intense shabbiness. It is a small and pitiful Bill. It is not worthy of a great nation. This great nation in its act of magnanimity and penitence has done the talking, but has put the sackcloth and ashes on the Irish Church, and made the fasting be performed by the poor vergers and organists. I object to this change altogether; but if it was to be made, there could have been a more statesmanlike and generous mode of making it.
My Lords, there is one other point on which the verdict of the nation was distinctly taken. It was stated to the country that, in dealing with this subject, there should be perfect impartiality. It was written as it were in letters of iron that the principle of religious equality would be perfectly carried out. I ask your Lordships to consider whether in dealing with Maynooth and in dealing with the Irish Church there has been real impartiality? I believe there has not been; I believe that the mode in which they have been dealt with is far from being impartial. There is another matter of great importance. It was promised that with the funds of the Irish Church there should be no endowments, no payments to the ministers of another religion, no provision for the religious teaching of per- 1875 sons of another faith. It appears to me that the Bill is in direct contradiction of that pledge, because it proceeds to give the surplus to lunatics, deaf mutes, and other fit recipients of a nation's charity. The Prime Minister said in "another place" that the deaf mutes would get "training and instruction." I now ask whether this "training and instruction" for deaf mutes, which of course they are to receive in educational establishments, is to be religious training and instruction; because if it is to be irreligious, I venture to say there will be no desire for it. The Irish people, being only imperfectly civilized, and having some barbarous prejudices in favour of religion, are not anxious for that been of purely atheistical education which some persons are desirous of having generally adopted in this more civilized and less barbarously prejudiced country, England. If the training and instruction of those deaf mutes is to be religious, it will be given by the priests. If the training and instruction is not to be religious, the ministers of religion will protest against it, and they will be right in so doing. Then, my Lords, I want to know how you are to deal with these institutions —where there is religious instruction there must be chapels and ministers for giving that religious instruction—I want to know how these chapels and ministers are to be maintained without a money payment—that is to say, without applying the surplus funds of the Irish Church towards the payment of ministers and for the teaching of religion. It seems to me, therefore, that this Bill, by proposing to appropriate these funds to religious teaching, violates the verdict of the nation; and that having in its Preamble declared that nothing shall be given to religious instruction, it does proceed to apply the surplus funds of the Irish Church to the purposes of religious instruction.
And now, my Lords, I have to conclude an address which I am certain has extended to an exceedingly wearisome length, and I cannot sufficiently thank your Lordships for the very generous kindness and patience with which you have listened to me. I am afraid that what I had to say was unacceptable to many of your Lordships, and to those noble Lords I must especially tender my thanks for the courtesy they have extended to me.
1876 My Lords, I have but one or two more words to say. I will say but a few words, my Lords, about the menaces and the warnings—the mixed menaces and warnings—which have been addressed to your Lordships' House by many without, and so far, at least, as warning is concerned, by some within. My Lords. I myself have been told that I should be very heedful of the way in which I may vole on this question, because none may say what will be the consequences to your Lordships' House —to the fate of your Lordships' Order, and to the great interests of the country —of the vote you are about to give. My Lords, as far as menaces go, I do not think that it is necessary that I should say one word by way of inducing your Lordships—even if I could hope to induce you to do anything by words of mine—to resist those menaces. I believe that not merely the spirit of your Lordships, but your Lordships' high sense of the duty you owe to the country, would lead you to resist any such intolerant and overbearing menaces as those which have been uttered towards you. I believe that if any one of your Lordships were capable of yielding to those menaces you would be possessed of sufficient intelligence to know how utterly useless any such humiliation would be in the way of prolonging your Lordships' existence as an institution— because it would be exactly the case of those, who, for the sake of preserving life, lose all that makes life worth living for—it would be an abnegation of all your Lordships' duties for the purpose of preserving those powers which a few years hence would be taken from you. Your Lordships would then be standing in this position in the face of the roused and angry democracy of the country, with which you have been so loudly menaced out-of-doors, and so gently and tenderly warned within. You would then be standing in the face of that fierce and angry democracy with these words on your lips—"Spare us, we entreat and beseech you! spare us to live a little longer as an Order is all that we ask —so that we may play at being states- men, that we may sit upon red benches in a gilded house, and affect and pretend to guide the destinies of the nation and play at legislation. Spare us, for this reason — that we are utterly contemptible, and that we are entirely 1877 contented with our ignoble position! Spare us, for this reason—that we hare never failed in any ease of danger to spare ourselves Spare us, because we have lost the power to hurt any one Spare its, because we have now become the mere subservient tools in the hands of the Minister of the day—the mere armorial bearings on the seal that he may take in his hands to stamp any deed however foolish and however mischievous!" And this is all we have to say by way of plea for the continuance of our Order. My Lords, I do not believe that there is a Peer in your Lordships' House, or anyone who is worthy of finding a place in it, who could use such language or think such thoughts; and, therefore, I will put aside all the menaces to which I have referred. For myself, and as regards my own vote, if I were to allow myself to give a thought to consequences, much might be said as to the consequences of your Lordships' vote to your Lordships' House and to the Church which I so dearly love; and I, a young member of your Lordships' House, fully understand the gravity of the course I am about to adopt, and the serious consequences that may attach to that vote; but, on the other hand. I feel that I have no choice in the matter —that I dare not allow myself a choice as to the vote that I must give upon this measure. My Lords, I hear a great deal about the verdict of the nation on this question; but, without presuming to judge the conscience; or the wisdom of others, and speaking wholly and entirely for myself, I desire to remember —and I cannot help remembering—this, that there are other and more distant verdicts than the verdict even of this nation—and of this moment—which we must, everyone of us, face at onetime or another, and which I myself am thinking of while I am speaking and in determining upon the vote I am about to give. There is the verdict of the English nation in its calmer hours—when it may have recovered from its fear and its panic, and when it may be disposed to judge those who too hastily yielded to its passions; there is the verdict of after history, which we are making even as we speak and act in this place, and which is hereafter to judge us for our speeches and for our deeds; and, my Lords, there is that other more solemn and more awful verdict which we shall 1878 have to face! and I feel that I shall be then judged not for the consequences of my having made a mistake, but for the spirit in which I have acted, and for the purposes with which I have acted. And, my Lords, as I think of the hour in which I must face that verdict, I dare not—I cannot—I must not—and I will not—vote for this most unhappy, this most ill-tried, this most ill-omened measure that now lies on the table of your Lordships' House.
EARL DE GREY AND RIPON
My Lords, I cannot rise to address your Lordships on the subject of the Bill before you without expressing my admiration of the powerful speech to which we have just listened. But, my Lords, I am at least as firm in my convictions of the justice of this measure as the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough) can possibly be of its injustice; and I shall endeavour, to the best of my ability, to address myself to the arguments which seem to me to answer those put forth by him. But, in the first place, I must assure the most rev. Primate (the Archbishop of Dublin), who spoke earlier in the debate, that it is far from my intention to use any harsh terms in reference to the past history of the Irish Church, and that nothing shall fall from my lips other than what is respectful towards the clergy of that Church. The right-rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough), in discussing the grounds on which this Bill is supported, assumed, that as the Government are in favour of absolute equality among all religious denominations in Ireland, they are op-posed to all Establishments whatever. Hut nothing certainly has fallen from any of those have addressed your Lordships on behalf of the Government in reference to this Bill which justifies the suggestion of the right rev. Prelate. What we feel upon the question of abstract religious equality is this—when you have a Church established which teaches the faith of a small minority of the people, and when you are not prepared, in Ireland as in England, to establish the Church of the majority, you have no thing to do but to fall back on the principle of religious equality. There is the greatest difference between the position of the Established Church in England and the Established Church in Ireland, and that difference is fatal to the continuance of the latter. The right rev. Pre- 1879 late referred to the objection always raised against the Irish Church, that it is the Church of a minority, and on this head I was much struck by the charge which he brought against the supporters of the Bill of stopping conveniently from one argument to another. He defended the possession of State endowments by the Church of the minority, and relied for that purpose upon an historical argument. I am not going hack into the question whether St. Patrick was a Protestant or a Roman Catholic, though I doubt very much whether the best modern historians and antiquarians would support the view taken by the right rev. Prelate. He says it is natural that this property should belong to the Church of the minority, because the Synod of Cashel gave tithes to the Church of the Pale, which was also the Church of a minority —that is to say, because one injustice was done, in Ireland centuries ago, another injustice is to be continued in our own day. It has been, indeed, the misfortune of Ireland that for long centuries she has been governed in the interests of a minority, and that her Church Establishment has been in accordance with that policy. But men have happily awakened to sounder views of what is just and right, and the policy which the Government is now pursuing has for its object to give effect to those sounder views. The right rev. Prelate came down to the time of the Penal Laws, and spoke of them, I will admit, in terms of condemnation; but I could not help thinking that there was even in that language some little echo of a policy with which I, for one, cannot sympathize. He reminded us that there had been in Ireland a series of confiscations, and he passed from the question of Church property to the question of property in land; and he seemed to have east aside and disregarded the warning given last night by my noble and learned Friend the Master of the Polls of the great danger which there is in telling the Irish peasants that Church property and private properly rest upon the same basis. The right rev. Prelate even went the length of contending that the owners of Church property were the most popular, and the owners of private property the least popular of the holders of laud in Ireland. To me it seems that the question is not one of the land at all, but a question of human souls—one far 1880 higher than any considerations of a material character. The true answer to the speech of the right rev. Prelate as to the sanctity of property in the hands of the Church of a minority is that the Church only numbers among her followers twelve persons out of every 100 in Ireland, and that for a Church so situated to possess all the honours, all the privileges, and all the advantages of an established and endowed Church is an injustice to the nation. I am sure that your Lordships would not, for a moment, think of establishing a Church under such circumstances in the present day; and sure I am that Queen Elizabeth, the great Sovereign who established the Protestant Church in Ireland, when she took that step never meant to establish the Church of a small minority. What she meant was that the Church should be the Church of the nation. She hoped, and expected, undoubtedly, that the same thing which had happened in England would occur in Ireland also, and that the religion which she had adopted would likewise be embraced by the people in that country. Having spoken of the intentions of Queen Elizabeth, I cannot avoid the inquiry how that Church has fulfilled the mission thus entrusted to her. I will state no opinions of my own, but I will appeal to what noble Lords opposite, no doubt, will accept as sufficiently authoritative—I will appeal to the description given last night by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Derry) who concluded the debate last night. What did he say? Why, that the Church had christianized and watched over, not the people of Ireland as a whole, but her own people—that was to say, one-eighth of the people of Ireland; and as to the other seven-eighths, what had she done? Why, she had promoted among them a knowledge of science and literature, and that though she was not able to offer the fruit of the true vine to the people, she would at least feed them with its barren leaves? Is that the description of a Church which has fulfilled her high mission? The right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough) asks—When you speak of Ireland which Ireland do you mean? Why, of course, the only Ireland that the Queen's Government can ever know, the Ireland of the whole of the Irish people. "Justice to Ireland" means justice, not to any sect or party, but to the Irish people as a whole. And not only has the Estab- 1881 lished Church in Ireland failed to carry out the great mission entrusted to her by Queen Elizabeth, but her influence over the Irish people in place of increasing has diminished. During; the times of penal legislation, some 100 years ago, according to the best evidence that we can obtain the proportion of Protestants to Catholics in Ireland appears to have been as 1 to 2. At the present moment I believe it is as 1 to 4. The right rev. Prelate repeated the expression of those fears which have been littered before in this House and "elsewhere"—that if the Church be disestablished and disendowed, in many parts of Ireland she will probably cease to exist. Can this be so? Is it likely that with seven-eighths of the land in the hands of Protestant owners there is any real cause to fear that the Church will cease to exist in Ireland? To say so is a libel on the Protestants of Ireland. We were told last night that we had no right to quote in answer this objection the case of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland; or to say that if that Church can be supported by the voluntary offerings of her adherents, so can the Protestant Episcopalian Church of that country. It is urged that the Roman Catholic Church, with her doctrines of purgatory and the mass, appeals to the imagination of her followers in a peculiarly powerful manner. I do not doubt the power of the Roman Catholic Church in appealing to the imaginations of men; but I confess that I have yet to learn that the Protestant faith cannot appeal to the reason and the heart of man at least as powerfully as the Roman Catholic faith appeals to his imagination; and I cannot allow that there is any good ground for the fear that if the Irish Protestant Church be disestablished she must disappear from the face of Ireland. Penal Laws, coercion, and State patronage and support have each in turn been tried in that country on behalf of Protestantism, and yet you find that the Protestants there are a small minority. Is it unreasonable to say that you may possibly find that when that Church is presented to the Irish people, without the trappings of the State, and without the' recollection first of conquest, then of coercion, and lastly of ascendancy, which encumber her, she may be able, by (he simple majesty of the truth which she teaches, to win their affection 1882 and conquer their belief? Much has been said as to the effect which this Bill might have on the Established Church in England; and on that point I would merely say that I admit that there may be some danger to the Established Church in England in connection with this question; but that danger does not appear to me to arise from the provisions of this Bill, but from the pertinacious attempts of those who are opposed to it to bind together indissolubly the case of the two Churches. The noble Earl who moved the Amendment (the Earl of Harrowby) spoke a good deal of the Liberation Society, and tried to make out that the overthrow of the Establishment in Ireland was only the forerunner of an attack upon the Church of England. I do not deny that there exist in this country persons who conscientiously believe that every Established Church is an evil, and who are very active in propagating that opinion; but I ask, what is their best and favourite weapon? It is the Irish Church, the injustice of her existence, her past history, the means by which she has been supported; and, my Lords, it will, indeed, be a danger for the Established Church in England if your Lordships should succeed in enabling the Liberation Society to tell the country that it is necessary for the continued existence of the English Establishment to retain the Irish Establishment. Wrest, my Lords, from the hands of the Liberation Society their best weapon, and then, I believe that, for long years, the English Establishment will be safe. For what can be more different than the position of the two Churches? The Church of England numbers among her members, I believe, an absolute majority of the people of England, or, at all events, a far larger portion of that people than any other sect in this country; her ministrations are accepted by men of every class; she is ready and able to bring home those ministrations to the poorest and most suffering inhabitants of the land—the greatest and most important function of an Established Church; and those classes gladly accept her consolations—she is instinct with life and strong in the affections of the people. In Ireland you have established a Church of the minority; a Church of the rich and not of the poor; a Church whose ministrations the poor 1883 reject, not because they disregard religion—for the Irish are a deeply religious people—but because they are attached warmly and firmly to the faith of their fathers. I can conceive of no circumstances more different than those of the two Churches. Consequently, it seems to me to be dangerous, indeed, and most unjust, that you should persistently endeavour to unite the English Establishment, full as it is of life and vigour, and strong in the affections of the people, with her dying sister, who has failed to win the sympathies of the nation. With regard to the question of the verdict pronounced by the country at the hustings on this weighty matter, I should be ready, my Lords, to rest the ease upon the able speech of the noble Karl who generally pits on the cross-Benches (Karl Grey) and the able and manly argument of the noble Duke who addressed us to-night (the Duke of Richmond). It appears to nave been admitted by every speaker in this debate, except, perhaps, the noble and learned Lord who has left the House (Lord Chelmsford) that permanent opposition to the measure is hopeless, and that the time must come when, if this Bill should be submitted to your Lordships it would become your duty to pass it. The noble Earl who moved the Amendment (the Earl of Harrowby) said he quite admitted that the resistance of your Lordships to the opinion of the country could not wisely be of a permanent character. Then I ask your Lordships to consider, and consider carefully, when, in your judgment—supposing you should reject the second reading of this Bill—the time will have come for you to accept the decision of the country upon it. I would ask you, for what are you going to wait? The right rev. Prelate, who spoke last night, seems to suggest as one of the reasons for not passing this Bill that no mobs had declared in its favour, and that there was no excitement in the country respecting it. Would you then wait until you have large and excited mobs assembling, as was the case in regard to the Reform Bill of 1832? I think this a most dangerous argument, and one on which I need waste little time. Your Lordships would commit a most serious mistake if you should refuse to pass this Bill until it is demanded by large and excited mobs. Her Majesty's Government have been content 1884 to rest their claim as to the approval of this Bill by the country upon the verdict constitutionally given at the last General Election. This is sufficient proof, in our opinion, that the judgment of the nation has been pronounced on the principle of this measure. I do not pretend, any more than noble Lords opposite, that the judgment of the country has been pronounced upon the details of the Bill. Charges have been made—not in this House, but "elsewhere"—of the arrogance of the Government in regard, to Amendments proposed in this measure; and it has been studiously and industriously circulated that there is no use in your Lordships reading the Bill the second time because you will have no power to amend it. On that point: I have only to repeat: the assurance given last night by my noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, that any Amendments to the Bill which may be proposed in this House will receive, as they ought to receive, the respectful consideration of the Government. But it appears to me that if any charge of arrogance is to be brought in this matter, the charge does not lie against Her Majesty's Government, but against those who counsel' your Lordships to reject this Bill on the second reading, and who would thus deprive those who desire to alter it of all power of proposing their Amendments. My Lords, I will not at this late hour trespass longer on your attention. For the reasons I have stated I earnestly trust that your Lordships will read this Bill a second time, with a view to address yourselves carefully to the consideration of the various important questions it involves. I advocate this Bill, because I believe that the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church are necessary in order to relieve the Irish people of a real and substantial grievance. I do not pretend to say that after all that has passed—after the long years of misgovernment, of Penal Laws, and proud ascendancy—this measure will remedy at once all the grievances of the Irish people; but I am confident that it will be hailed by the great mass of the Irish people as a proof that the Government and the Legislature are pro-pared to deal with them in a just and equal spirit; and I have no doubt that, when the heat of these discussions has passed away and the verdict of future generations, to which the right rev. Pre- 1885 late appealed to-night, has to be pronounced, surprise will be expressed—not that the Parliament of England should have been at length roused to a sense of the anomaly and injustice of the present ecclesiastical arrangements in Ireland, but that that system, so unparalleled and so grievous, should have been suffered to exist so long.
THE EARL OF CLANCARTY
My Lords, your Lordships, I trust, will scarcely respond to the appeal of the noble Karl who has just sat down (Earl de Grey and Ripon) to give a second reading to this Bill, seeing that the arguments upon which you are called upon to do so —principle, policy, and the verdict of the country—were most completely demolished by the speech of the right rev. Prelate who preceded him. Rising at this late hour, I shall trouble your Lordships with but few observations; but, as a member of that proscribed communion, the Protestant Church in Ireland, which Her Majesty's Ministers have denounced as an offence and an injustice to my fellow-countrymen, the Irish people, and with which the State is, by the Bill under consideration, to repudiate henceforth all connection and sympathy. I am desirous to say a few words in its vindication, ere, holding as you now do the fate of that Church in your hands, you pronounce the verdict by which it is to stand or fall. I listened attentively to Her Majesty's Ministers when yesterday they introduced this Bill to the House, to learn what there was in it to recommend it for acceptance. The noble Earl the Secretary for the Colonies, passing very lightly over the principle of the measure, went at once, and with his wonted ability, into its details, which chiefly had reference to the distribution of spoils of the Church; but with pain I heard him say, with reference to his having charge of the Bill, that he was proud of the charge committed to him, and would earnestly adhere to the principle and main provisions of the Bill. Did the noble Earl consider that among its main provisions was a clause to deprive of their scats in this House four members of the Episcopal Bench—men with whom he had been wont to take counsel, and whose share in the deliberations of the House had ever been worthy of the highest respect? Is he proud of a Bill that is to deprive the Protestants of Ireland of the provision that 1886 has been for centuries by law secured to them of the numerations of a Protestant clergy? Or does he feel pride—surely not—in that provision of the Bill by which a pecuniary gain of about £80,000 a year is to be obtained for this wealthy country out of the plunder of the Irish Church, by casting upon that fund the burden of the Regium Donum and the Maynooth Endowment hitherto charged upon the Imperial Exchequer? I certainly heard nothing from the noble Earl to command the Bill to the acceptance of your Lordships. To the speech of the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs I listened with great regret. His views this year are very much changed from what they were last year. He then said—"I understand this to be a Bill for the disestablishment of the Church and nothing else"; and he so warmly eulogized the character and ministrations of the Protestant clergy, which his long residence in Ireland had enabled him to appreciate, that his speech certainly left an impression that he was no ill-wisher to the Church; but now he is for disendowment as well as for putting an end to its connection with the State, expressing a confidence he cannot feel, that the Protestant landlords of Ireland, who would still be subject to the payment of the tithe rent-charge, would, out of their private resources, re-endow and maintain the Protestant Church on the voluntary principle. If such a measure were practicable in Ireland, a poor country, how much more suitable would it be for this very wealthy country. In the course of the debate frequent notice has been taken of the Coronation Oath, but I think its importance has not been duly estimated. On the other side of the House it seems to be deemed a matter of no importance whatever, or, at most, as a compact which the will of the people may at any time set aside. Now, my Lords, on this subject I take a very different view; and I must express my decided reprobation of the course taken by Ministers, of introducing into Parliament a Bill to which your Lordships cannot advise that the Crown should assent without asking Her Majesty to do the very reverse of what, before God and in presence of her people, she bound herself to do at her Coronation. To anyone who will compare the Preamble of this Bill with the language in which 1887 the Coronation Oath is couched, it will be apparent, not that the Bill is constructively inconsistent with the Oath, but that it has been drawn up in terms and for purposes the most at variance with it that could be chosen, and seemingly in direct defiance of the most solemn obligation accepted by the Sovereign, to the utmost of her power—To maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel, and the Protestant informed religion established by law, and to maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the United Church of England and Ireland.By the Bill before the House all this is to be reversed; the United Church of England and Ireland, instead of being preserved inviolate, is to be dissolved, and the true profession of the Gospel and the Protestant Reformed religion established by law, instead of being maintained, is to be disestablished and disendowed; and the sacrilege of confiscating the property of the Church, consecrated from time immemorial to the service of God, is aggravated by special provision that no part of it is to be applied to the teaching of religion. Your Lordships and the Members of the House; of Commons have been relieved from all oaths that might appear in any way to fetter your discretion in legislation; but the Monarch has not been so relieved. The two Houses have the right to frame and advise upon whatever laws are to be made; but it rests with the Queen, as supreme head of the Legislature, to enact them, or, in the exercise of her constitutional Prerogative, to withhold her Assent from them, if she feels it her duty before God, to whom alone she is responsible, to do so. Are we, then, knowing the terms of the Oath she has taken, to advise her to act in any manner that we believe to be at variance with it, and should we be bearing-to her that true allegiance we have so lately promised at the table of this House, if we were to offer her counsel that we could not: ourselves conscientiously follow, if we were under the same circumstances similarly bound? My Lords, there is a strong feeling on the public mind regarding the Coronation Oath, that it will be violated by the proposed legislation. This was strongly expressed by a resolution at the recent meeting at Manchester, and it ought not to be disregarded; and I must add that it is my own opinion, as I believe it to be that of 1888 many other Members of this House, that Her Majesty's Ministers and the House of Commons have in this Church Bill strangely ignored the very solemn obligation by which the Sovereign became personally, no less than constitutionally, bound by the Oath she took at her coronation. I am aware that the doctrine is held by some that the Oath does not bind the Sovereign in the legislative, but only in the executive capacity; by others that it is the recognition and establishment of a compact between the Queen and her people; but that the latter, represented by the two Houses of Parliament, can at any time release her from it; by others, again, the doctrine of the Parliamentary lenders in the time of Charles I. has been revived, that the Sovereign must assent to whatever new laws the two Houses of Parliament, have agreed upon. The latter doctrine, so derogatory to the Sovereign, is probably not held by many, and may be disposed of in the words of Hallam, the historian, who calls it—A doctrine as repugnant to the whole history of our laws as it was incompatible with the duo subsistence of monarchy in any more than a nominal pre-eminence.The doctrine advocated in the early part of this debate by a noble and learned Lord opposite, of a dispensing power in the people to release the Sovereign from the obligations of the Coronation Oath, as from a compact made in their behalf, is a recognition that the Oath has a bearing upon the work of legislation, but the dispensing power claimed for the people is one that, unless provided for in the terms of the Oath, or in the statute relating to it, few who admit the sanctity of oaths could recognize. But if such a power does exist, in the present case it has not been exercised, so that if this Bill should become law, the Queen would continue, as at present, solemnly engaged to maintain a Church Establishment that had ceased to exist. Then, with regard to the doctrine propounded by the noble Earl opposite in the early part of the Session, in answer to a question put to him, that the Oath does not bind the Monarch, as a legislator, however convenient it might be for those that desire to reverse the principles of the Revolution of 1688, which were the foundation of the liberties of the country, thus to break down a defence of the Constitution, otherwise in- 1889 surmountable, it is not to be inferred from, or found in, the wording of the Oath, nor in the statutes relating to it. It was never so understood by Her Majesty's predecessors, nor is such a doctrine sanctioned; but it is rather plainly contradicted by the recorded opinions of such men as Blackstone, De Lolme, Burke, Kenyon, Eldon, and the late Sir Robert Peel—authorities that on a great constitutional question could not be gainsaid. If, therefore, upon no other ground than that of the known obligations of the Crown, I should feel coerced to vote against the further progress of the Bill. But what, my Lords, is the ground upon winch this Bill is proposed? What the indictment against the Irish branch of the Established Church? It is denounced as an offence, an injustice, a grievance to the majority of the Irish people. What are the evidences adduced in support of such a charge? We have certainty not heard any in the course of this debate, in which, however, there has been no lack of assertion in some of the speeches made on the other side, and must, therefore, look back to the grounds stated for the introduction of the Bill of the last Session, which was the inauguration of this great party movement against the Church. Little was then stated by Ministers in either House of Parliament beyond the expression of opinion. Mr. Gladstone, indeed, in introducing the Suspensory Bill, quoted in support of his policy a passage from a Petition he had presented from a congregation in Pembrokeshire to the effect—Your petitioners are convinced that the maintenance of the Protestant Establishment in Ireland is a manifest injustice and constant source of irritation, and a great hindrance to the reception of the Protestant faith by the Irish people.It is not clear to me that this congregation in Pembroke could be much better, if so good, witnesses upon the question than Mr. Gladstone himself. But what evidence did Ireland itself send forward? All that was submitted to your Lordships was a declaration purporting to be from the Roman Catholic laity of Ireland, denying that they did not feel aggrieved by the present ecclesiastical settlement of Ireland. This Paper, which was printed by Order of the House of Commons, might have been entitled to much weight, from its names and numbers, if it could fairly have been called a declaration of the Catholic laity of Ireland; 1890 but I find that it has little more than 900 names attached to it, which, admitting that they are all names of men of education, and for the most part of the higher ranks of society, is but a small proportion—not one in 4,000—of the reputed amount of the Roman Catholic population—namely, 4,000,000: and it would rather argue that the Church, so far from being generally considered a grievance by the Irish people, is not so regarded by more than an extremely small number; and this may be further inferred from the absence of the names of most of the higher class of Roman Catholics; for instance, out of the whole number of the Judges who are, in such large proportion, members of the Church of Rome, there is the name of but one Judge; and from the most Roman Catholic county in Ireland, the county of Galway, there is not the signature to it of the head of any of the six first families in that county. Respectable names to it there undoubtedly are—for instance, foremost among them are the names of noblemen and gentlemen, not long ago members of the Established Church, some of whom, I am aware, with their new-born anti-Protestant zeal, took some pains to procure signatures; but among them is the name of the right hon. W. Monsell a Member of the present Government, who, shortly before this great party movement against the Church, is thus reported to have expressed himself in the House of Commons, on a Motion for a Committee of Inquiry—He disclaimed any desire to overthrow the Established Church in Ireland; that could not be accomplished without a revolution, and he was not prepared to lace a revolution for such an object."—[3 Hansard, clxxi., 1766]So much, my Lords, for the only evidence adduced from Ireland in support of this anti-Church policy. The noble Earl opposite, indeed, in moving the second reading of the Suspensory Bill, referred to the Fenian insurrection as a principal reason for its introduction, as a measure of a remedial and conciliatory character; but most certainly, whatever may be the faults of the misguided men who join the Fenian movement, they never, as Her Majesty's Government have done, attempted to wrong or injure the Protestant clergy, nor, although Roman Catholics, did they over evince hostility to the Protestant Establishment. The noble Earl and his Col- 1891 leagues have earned nothing of acknowledgment or respect from Fenians, Irish or American, by their proposal to sacrifice the Protestant Church. Whatever the shortcomings of that Establishment have been—and I do not deny that it stands much in need of improvement— there is no evidence to be found of its being an injustice, an offence, or in any way a grievance to the Irish people. Evidence of an opposite kind may be abundantly produced, showing that there exists on the part of the Roman Catholics generally a very kindly feeling towards the clergy, and on the part of the most liberal-minded of the higher classes a feeling in favour of the Protestant Establishment, as a guarantee for the maintenance of the liberties of the country. I will not trouble your Lordships with more than is necessary. One short passage from a great Roman Catholic Petition may suffice to show what was their feeling before the Emancipation Act. The Petition is recorded in Sir Henry Parnell's book on the Penal Laws. They say—We solemnly and conscientiously declare that we are satisfied with the present condition of our ecclesiastical policy. With satisfaction we acquiesce, in the establishment of the national Church. We neither repine at its possessions nor envy its dignities; we are ready to give upon this point every assurance that is binding upon man.This Petition, I believe, gave rise to the formation of the Roman Catholic Oath in the Relief Bill. Some years after the passing of that Bill, a Roman Catholic gentleman of the highest eminence, a Privy Councilor who had been selected, on account of the high respect in which he was universally held, to fill the office of a Commissioner of National Education—I mean Mr. Anthony Blake —thus expressed his views of the Established Church—The Protestant Church is rooted in the Constitution; it is established by the fundamental laws of the realm; it is rendered, as far as the most solemn acts of the Legislature can render any institution, fundamental and perpetual. It is so declared by the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. I think it could not be disturbed without danger to the general securities we possess for liberty, property, and order, without danger to all the blessings we derive from being under a lawful Government and a free Constitution. Feeling this, the very conscience which dictates to me a determined adherence to the Roman Catholic religion would dictate to me a determined resistance, to any attempt to subvert the Protestant Establishment, or to wrest from the Church the possessions which the law has given it.1892 The opinion that Mr. Blake expressed is that. I believe, of every independent Roman Catholic gentleman at the pro-sent day. The feelings of the humbler classes are, in the vast majority, adverse to the overthrow of the Church. They respect the Protestant clergy, from whom they meet with nothing but kindness, and who, since the tithe question was settled in 1838, have never been brought into collision with them. I know that many of them have signed Petitions with their Protestant fellow-countrymen in favour of the Church; and a Petition from Clones, signed exclusively by Roman Catholics, was lately presented against the Disestablishment Bill. But even better testimony in the Church's behalf is to be found in the speeches of two Ministers of the Crown. When last year its disestablishment was first proposed, Mr. Gladstone's testimony is this—It is, in my opinion, an exaggeration to make the Irish Established Church in its present form responsible for the great grievances of ascendancy and of national estrangement in Ireland."— [3 Hansard, cxci. 477.]Again, after speaking of the vices and evils of the Establishment during the last century, as described by Burke, he says—But those days have gone by. Between the beginning of this century and the year 1830 there was a great revival of piety and zeal among the clergy, and great improvement in the Ecclesiastical Laws of Ireland; but by the year 1830, which was about the date when you had for the first time a, zealous and active clergy in Ireland, they found themselves unhappily involved in the tithe warfare. This difficulty was taken away when the Tithe Commutation Act was passed in 1838. During the thirty years that has since elapsed, what have we had in Ireland? the clergymen pursuing his vocation in perfect tranquility, and without an external barrier of any kind to impede him; in the second place, a clergy claiming, and well earning, the name of an able, a zealous, and pious clergy."—[Ibid, 483.]Such is the testimony of Mr. Gladstone to the character of the Church. What says the other witness, the Karl of Clarendon, who had peculiar opportunities of personally judging of the clergy of Ireland? He said, in the debate on the Suspensory Bill—I have not lived so long in Ireland without having learnt to appreciate the signal virtues of the Irish clergy. I know there are exceptions, but still the conduct of the clergy, as a body, is most exemplary. To the extent of their small means, they are very charitable; they are not distrusted by their Catholic neighbours, and their removal from their parishes would give cause for great regret."—[3 Hansard, cxcii. 2086.]1893 I think there is no need of further witness, and the question naturally arises, Why should the Church be put down? No one has questioned the purity of its doctrines; its ministers stand well with the people, and are looked up to as men of piety and exemplary Christian, character, and whose removal from the sphere of their labours would be cause of much regret. The answer, I regret to say, is that the purposes of party had to be served at the late election, and the cry of "Pull down the Church" was therefore made the watchword of party. It was successful, and unhappily the sentence for the overthrow of the Church has, in consequence, gone forth from the newly-elected House of Commons. The decision there come to reminds me strongly of a tribunal of Ribbonmen, by whom Mr. Stewart Trench, an extensive land agent in Ireland, was, some years ago, condemned to death. That gentleman had given him in charge the management of several large absentee estates in the centre and South of Ireland. His employers, desirous at the name time to improve their estates and the condition of their tenantry, gave their agent the means of dealing in the most liberal manner by the occupiers of land; but his proceedings being found to interfere with the agrarian code of the Ribbonmen, he became obnoxious to them, and was, in consequence, condemned to death. Mr. Trench, happily, was enabled to outlive the conspiracy of which he was to have been the victim; and, in a book he lately published, entitled Realities of Irish Life, a work of considerable interest, I read this short but graphic, account he was enabled to give of his trial from the confession of one of the men that undertook his murder—The house where the trial took place was a large barn, in which was placed a long table. Forms were arranged for scats for fifteen or sixteen persons, and plenty of whisky was supplied by a barefooted girl in attendance. The president or judge sat on a chair at the head of the table. The party drank for some time in silence, and speaking to one another only in whispers, and when all were well steeped in liquor, the president, with a curious leap over the whole accusation and prosecution, and even the name of the accused, all of which the jurors were supposed to understand, broke silence for the first time, and said aloud, 'Well, boys, can any one say anything in his defence?' There was a short silence, when one of the conspirators said—'He gave me an iron gate.' 'May your cattle break their necks 1894 on it,' replied the president. 'He gave me slates and timber to roof my house,' said another. 'May the roof soon rot and fall,' replied the president. 'He drained my land,' said another. 'May the crop sour in the heart of it,' replied the president. 'He gave a neighbour of mine wine for a sick child,' said another. 'The child died,' said the president. All were silent again. 'Guilty,' said the president; 'boys, he must die, and now let us draw lots for the one that will do it.' 'There is no occasion,' said one of the jurors; the men to do the job are here, and both ready and willing.'There is a remarkable analogy between the trial of Mr. Trench, before the Rib-bon tribunal, and that of the Irish Church in "another place." In the former, a man who was admittedly a benefactor, and against whom no charge was brought, is condemned to death. In the latter, the Church, whoso doctrines are unimpeached, whose beneficent action is generally acknowledged, whoso ministers are men of piety, zeal, and charity, and whoso removal from their parishes Mould be a source of regret, is arbitrarily doomed to destruction. In each case the word of one man is at once responded to by his obsequious followers. In each case the executioners are at hand to carry out the sentence of the court. The men were at hand to undertake the murder of the human victim; a majority of 114 in "another place" presses for the destruction of the Irish Protestant Church, which now looks for safety in the justice of this House. Mr. Trench was, in God's providence, enabled to baffle the efforts of his intended assassins, and has lived to see them and the population before tinder their influences become a changed people, industrious, thrifty, and loyal. May the Church, in like manner, be spared; and, instead of being doomed to destruction, or any longer misunderstood and wronged, may it receive at the hands of the Parliament and people of England every legitimate support in furtherance of the objects of its institutions—namely, to elevate the national character of the Irish people through the teaching of Gospel truth, and the inculcation of the great principles of Christianity. I pray your Lordships to withhold your consent from a measure which would for ever forfeit; these blessings, and induce in lieu of them all the evils of a revolution.
My Lords, I have strong feeling on the subject of this Bill, 1895 but shall not make many observations at this late hour of the evening. I con- fess that I was rather startled by what was said by the most rev. Primate lost night with reference to the few observations which fell from me on the first night of the Session on the subject of the Canadian Church. He was pleased to say that he was astonished, considering-the information he had received respecting the condition of the Canadian Church, at the triumphant tone of my observations respecting it. Now, I was not aware that my tone on that occasion was particularly triumphant. I merely said that my experience of the working of the Church, in Canada had confirmed my previous impressions with reference to the soundness of the voluntary system. To show that I was not without some grounds for that opinion. I will venture to quote to your Lordships a Return which I obtained from the several Bishops in Canada before I left the country last autumn, showing the increase in the number of the clergy in their respective dioceses within the last ten or twenty years. The voluntary system came into operation in Canada, in 1854, and I hold in my hand a return of the number of clergy in each of its dioceses in the years 1850, 1860, and 1868; but, without troubling your Lordships with the details of the numbers in each diocese, I may state that the aggregate number of the clergymen in the whole of them was, in 1850, 203; in 1860, 318; and in 1868, 419; so that in the space of eighteen years the number of clergymen in the dioceses of Canada has more than doubled. If that state of things does not justify the adoption of a triumphant tone in reference to The condition of the Canadian Church, I do not, at all events, think it furnishes any ground for the picture which the most rev. Primate drew of that condition. In addition to the Return from which I have quoted, I hold in my hand letters from the Bishops of different dioceses in Canada, and I will, with your Lordships' permission, read an extract from a letter which I received from the Bishop of Montreal, which is, I believe, one of the very last he ever wrote. He says—Our diocesan Synod was organized and held its first meeting in June, 1859, and I consider that the much greater increase in the number of the clergy since that time has been owing to the 1896 influence of the working of the Synod, and the interest excited and knowledge diffused among the laity, who come up from ail parts to attend as delegates. The increase in the contributions in money for the support of the Church has also been very encouraging.In a letter which I received from the Bishop of Toronto, he says—There have been within the last five years fourteen new churches built, varying in cost from 1,200 dollars to 12,000 dollars, and costing, in all, at a moderate computation, 45,600 dollars. There have been expended on the erection of twelve new parsonages within the same period, 14,000 dollars. There have been subscribed in this diocese during the last four years towards the formation of an cpiscopal endowment in money and lands 45,000 dollars. All the above is exclusive of the annual contributions to the Church Society.I do not think that this shows that the condition of the Church in the diocese of Toronto is very deplorable. The Bishop of Ontario says—I am indulging in the hope that you are preparing some statistics with a view to the Irish Church question. I have succeeded, at all events, in stimulating inquiry in Ireland as to our method of sustaining the Church in Canada, and have been alternately abused and commended for my suggestions. I deprecate disestablishment, but do not dread it. What I both deprecate and dread is constant reforming by Parliament. After a few more reforms there will be little left to fight about or commute.I did not rise to make a speech, but I wished to lay these facts before your Lordships. I should have stood up at the moment to reply to the most rev. Primate had the opportunity presented itself, but I did not expect that the remarks which were made two or three months ago by so humble an individual as myself would attract any observation, and not having; the necessary information by me at the time I was not able to make the statement which I have now ventured to offer to the House.
§ The further Debate on the said Motion adjourned to Thursday next.
§ House adjourned at One o'clock, A. M., to Thursday next, half past Ten o'clock.