§ 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 resumedaccordingly.
THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, I trust your Lordships will now address yourselves to the discussion of the important question now before you with that calmness and deliberation which you are accustomed to give to all great questions. I am grateful for being allowed the opportunity of speaking on a question in which I have taken so much interest for so long a period of time at an hour when, though I feel how incapable I am at any time of doing justice to the subject itself, or to nay own deep feeling upon it, I am rather less incapable than I should be at any later period of the evening. Even now, I feel some difficulty in addressing your Lordships while there are still ringing in my ears, as, I doubt not, in those of your Lordships, the words of the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough), who on Tuesday night kept your Lordships entranced in rapt attention to a speech containing within itself the most cogent and most conclusive arguments upon the merits of the question, while its fervid eloquence and impassioned and brilliant language have never in my memory been surpassed, and rarely equalled, during my long Parliamentary experience. I do not pretend to imitate the eloquence and power of the right rev. Prelate; but I wish to lay before your Lordships, in plain and simple language, the grounds upon which I object, not alone to the details, but to the main principle and 19 substance of the Bill before you. I can assure your Lordships that if this question had been one merely of expediency or of policy—nay, if it had been an experiment, which if proved unsuccessful you might retrace—I should have been disposed, however much I might have doubted its expediency and policy, to bow my individual judgment to the opinion of that large majority which, in the other House of Parliament, has supported the Ministers of the Crown at every stage of this Bill. But when we are called upon to decide a question of which I think I may say that in the course of the present century there has been none of greater moment or fraught with more important consequences to ourselves and to posterity—when the question involves a complete revolution in the Constitution of this country—when it is one which strikes at the very root of property of all descriptions and shakes the confidence of the country—when it is one which if you once adopt and hastily accept you can by no possibility recall—then I venture to say it is a question on which it is your bounden duty neither to listen to the civium ardor prava jubentium, nor to the vultus instantis tyranni, personified by the most imperious, absolute, and at the same time most erratic Minister who has ever swayed the destinies of this country. It is not very long since the noble Earl at the table (Earl Russell)—and many of his Colleagues agreed with him—expressed the opinion that a Bill for the absolute disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church could not be carried without the horrors of a revolution; and the noble Earl added. that if a Bill of that description came up to your Lordships' House it would be your bounden duty to reject it. I entertain the same opinion. When I speak of a revolution, I speak of a bloodless revolution—of an entire social revolution. I speak of a revolution that will make an entire change in the feeling and habits of the people. I speak of a revolution that will seriously affect the relations between town and country—a revolution which at the present moment, instead of being the message of peace and conciliation which the noble Earl (Earl Granville) contended it would be, has kindled to a degree beyond all possible conception the strongest feelings of anger and animosity—which has been a sword sent to Ireland and placed 20 in every man's hand, so that a man's nearest neighbours have been converted into his deadliest enemies. My Lords, that revolution, you may depend upon it, is in progress, and God knows when it will cease. Is it possible that your Lordships can conceive what will be the feelings of the Protestants of Ireland when they find themselves, as they assuredly will, if this Bill should pass, not only injured but insulted; when they find themselves betrayed by their reliance on your protection, and thrown over by you in a matter where their fondest hopes and dearest interests are so deeply concerned? Can you expect that those men will still retain for the Parliament of England that loyalty, that attachment, and that devotion to the cause of the Union between the two countries which has so long characterized them, and—whatever imprudence a portion of them may have been chargeable with at times—that loyalty and that affection towards the Crown and people of England from which they have not for a single moment faltered? My Lords, may I venture upon an illustration of a very simple kind, with which all your Lordships are probably acquainted, and which none of your Lordships can have read without having been touched by its simple pathos. Its language represents the feelings of a poor gipsy when she and her tribe were driven out from the homes in which they had for many years found a shelter, and driven out by a man to whom they had long looked for protection—a protection which they had repaid with the most affectionate devotion. Hear the language in which that poor woman addressed the former protector, but now oppressor of herself and her tribe. The noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Argyll) will, perhaps, excuse me if I fail in giving the right accent—Ride your ways, Laird of Ellangowan! Ride your ways, Godfrey Bertram! This day have ye quenched seven smoking hearths; see if the fire in your ain parlour burn the blyther for that. Ye have riven the thack off seven cottar houses—look if your ain roof-tree stand the faster There's thirty hearts there that wad hae wanted bread ere ye had wanted sunkets, and spent their life blood ere ye had scratched your finger.My Lords, it is with sentiments like these—with sorrow, but with resentment—that the Protestants of Ireland may look upon you—from whom they expected protection, a protection which they 21 repaid with, most faithful loyalty, when they now find you laying upon them the heavy hand of that which I must consider an undeserved oppression. They may say—" Go your way, ye Ministers of England! Ye have this day, so far as in you lay, quenched the light of spiritual truth in 1,500 parishes. See if your own Church stand the faster for that. There are not seven, not thirty, but 700,000 hearts and 700,000 more, though not of our own communion, who have connected themselves with you in the loyal attachment to the Sovereign for the sake of that Protestant religion which you both, profess—who in defence of that Union which you induced them to form would have shed their dearest life-blood, but now find that from you, to whom they looked for protection, they meet with oppression." Remember who these men are. These are the men whom you invited to settle on the soil of Ireland, for the establishment and support of the Protestant religion. These are the men who, at the time of the sorest trial of the Crown of England, came forward to support "William the Deliverer, and who at the battle of the Boyne vindicated the freedom of Ireland and the rights of the Protestant religion. These are the men who, invited by you to settle in Ireland, converted Ulster from a barren waste into a thriving province, and who, by their energy, their industry, by their loyalty, and by their steady conduct, have made the Province of Ulster not only the garden of Ireland, but the most gratifying and wonderful contrast to those parts of Ireland in which the influence of the Protestant religion does not prevail. Was it, my Lords, at their desire that they abandoned their independence and constituted themselves a portion of this Empire? No, my Lords, it was at the earnest solicitation of England. It was for Imperial objects that they were persuaded to abandon their Parliamentary independence; and when they had the game in their own hands and could have done as they pleased, they consented to be associated with you. And what was the offer you made them? The offer you made them was this—that if they consented to relinquish their independence they would be associated with this great Empire, and, above all, their Church should be firmly established, and their Protestant Establishment should 22 be placed upon the basis, by their union with you, from which nothing could remove it. Do you think they would have consented if they had known that the very step which you induced them to take as a means of promoting and supporting the interests of their Church would be made the means of their destruction? You have led them forward by vain expectations, and by the most solemn promises guaranteed by treaty, and at the expiration of seventy years—a comparatively short period in the history of nations—you make the very Act upon which they depended as the support and maintenance of their religion the means of destroying it. My Lords, I heard with regret that portion of the speech of the right rev. Prelate, (the Bishop of Peterborough), in which, he put aside, or, at least, laid little stress upon, the Act of Union. I cannot agree with him. I confess that, in my opinion, the Protestants of Ireland have a perfect right to look upon the Act of Union, as it was looked upon at the time, as indissoluble—an Act in which the maintenance of the Church is an essential, cardinal condition. Can you be surprised that, deceived and betrayed in this manner, the Protestants of the North should remember before all things that they are Irishmen? Dissolution of the Union between this country and Ireland would be disastrous for this country, but would be ruinous to Ireland;—yet can you feel surprised that, smarting under a sense of intolerable wrong and injustice, feeling that they have been deceived, duped, and betrayed, they should remember that, above all, they are Irishmen, and should cast in their lot with their own Roman Catholic countrymen rather than rely upon the country which has so betrayed them? Nothing can be more dangerous and more alarming than that, smarting under a sense of severe injury, men should not always take the most prudent course, and if it should so happen that the Protestants of the North and the large body of the Roman Catholics of the South should forget their internal dissensions, and agree in demanding the repeal of that Union of which you have broken the essential and cardinal conditions, I ask you, then, what means have you of enforcing a continuance of that Union, not upon this or upon that party, but upon the 23 whole of Ireland, combined in one universal league to resist the injustice and treachery you have used? Do I contend that the Act of Union is one that can never be altered under any circumstances? By no means. No Act of Parliament is unalterable. But remember that this is not a simple Act of Parliament. It is an Act of Parliament founded upon a Treaty—that Treaty entered into between you and the Protestant Parliament of Ireland, and an Act of Parliament founded upon a Treaty can only be legitimately and justly dissolved by the consent of those who were the parties to that Treaty. Now, my Lords, apply that test in the present case. Refer it to the Protestants of Ireland, and try it by the test of their feelings. Have you got a single Protestant to say that he recommends and supports the passing of this Bill? On the contrary, they appeal to you as just and honest men to repeal that Act of Union altogether, or to adhere to the essential principles upon which that Act was founded. My Lords, it is rather remarkable that nobody in the course of these debates seems to have referred to the fact that it is not only in the Act of Union with Ireland that the support of the Irish Establishment is promised, but that in an Act of Union passed long before—in the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland—the provision is introduced that the Sovereign at his coronation shall, in the presence of his Peers, make and subscribe an Oath to maintain inviolate the settlement of the Church of England in its doctrine, discipline, worship, and government as by law established throughout his dominion of England, Ireland, and "Wales. Even if you strike out that provision of the Act of Union with Ireland, here is a separate guarantee by another treaty entered into with Scotland. Here you have another Act, the Act of Union with Scotland, which guarantees the maintenance of the Protestant Establishment, not only in England, but in Ireland; and if the Act of Union with Ireland is done away with, the Act of Union with Scotland remains, and you must repeal that provision also before you can carry into effect the objects of this Bill.
My Lords, I wish also to refer to the Coronation Oath. I know it has been the habit of noble Lords on the other side of the House to pooh-pooh and ignore the 24 argument founded upon the Coronation Oath, which, to my mind, is one of very deep importance. I am not going to comment on the particular language of the Oath either as taken by William 11I. or Victoria. Your Lordships will, I am sure, feel that in dealing with this question I am dealing with it in the abstract, and with all that affectionate reverence which is fitly due from me to a Sovereign who has so eminently discharged her public duties, whose private virtues are known to everybody, from whom I have received favours and kindness which demand the whole devotion of my life. But it is an entire mistake to suppose that, although the words of the Oath have been altered, the character of the relations between the Sovereign of this country and the Established Church, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, has been altered during the whole course of our history. The Crown has been at all times bound by oath to maintain the rights and privileges of the Established Church—and not only its rights and privileges, but its lands and properties; and, without wishing to trouble your Lordships too far, there are some very remarkable passages to which I would call your attention, taken from a very early page of our history. That which I am about to read has been sent to me; but I have taken the trouble of verifying the quotation, and it is correct—In a Parliament holden at Westminster, the eleventh yeare of King Henry IV., the Lower House exhibited a Bill to the King and the Lords of the Upper House, in effect as followeth:—' To the most excellent Lord our King, and to all the nobles in this present Parliament assembled, your faithful Commons doe humbly signifie that our Soveraigne Lord the King might have of the temporall possessions, lands, and revenues which are lewdly spent, consumed, and wasted by the Bishops, abbatts, and priors within this real me so much in value as would suffice to sustaine one hundred and fifty earles, one thousande and five hundred knights, six thousand and two hundred esquires, and one hundred hospitals more than now be.' But this petition of spoiling the Church of her goodly patrimonies, which the piety and wisdom of so many former ages had congested, was by the King, who was bound by oath and reason to preserve the nourishing estate of the Church, so much detested, that for this their proposition he denied all other their requests, and commanded them that from henceforth they should not presume to intermeddle with any such matter.Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to refer also to the frank and honourable language of a most eminent man, the 25 gifted Archbishop Whitgift, to one of the proudest and most haughty Sovereigns that ever reigned in this country. There had been an intrigue carried on by the Earl of Leicester for the alienation of a portion of the property of the Church, and from the favour which the Queen bore to Leicester it had been supposed that she would listen to it with no unwilling ear. Whitgift addresses the Queen in these words—I beseech your Majesty to hear me with patience, and to believe that your and the Church's safety are dearer to me than my life, but my conscience dearer than both; and, therefore, give me leave to do my duty, and tell you that Princes are deputed nursing fathers of the Church, and owe to it their protection; and, therefore, God forbid that you should be so much as passive in her ruin; or that I should forbear to tell your Majesty of the sin and danger of sacrilege. I beseech your Majesty to consider that King Edgar, and Edward the Confessor, and many other of your predecessors, and many private Christians, have given to God and to his Church, much land and many immunities which they might have given to their own families, and did not; but gave them for ever, as an absolute right and sacrifice to God, and with these lands they have entailed a curse upon the alienators of them. As all your predecessors were at their coronation, so you also were, sworn before all the nobility and Bishops then present, and in the presence of God, to maintain the Church lands and the rights belonging to it. Madam, what account can be given for the breach of this oath at the last great day, if it be wilfully or but negligently violated I know not.And then he thus ends his address to her—Madam,—Religion is the foundation and cement of human societies, and when they which serve at God's altar shall be exposed to poverty religion itself will be exposed to scorn and become contemptible. And, therefore, as you are intrusted with a great power to preserve or waste the Church's lands, dispose of them for Jesu's sake, as you have promised to men and avowed to God; that is, as the donors intended. Let neither falsehood nor flattery beguile you to do otherwise. Put a stop, I beseech you, to the approaching ruin of God's Church, as you expect comfort at the last great day.My Lords, I think you will agree with me that the language was worthy of so high-minded a man, and that the manner in which the Queen accepted and acceded to that language was as honourable to the Sovereign as the frankness and boldness of the communication was honourable to the subject. My Lords, I am unwilling to trouble you with further quotations, and I am quite aware that when I speak of the times of Henry IV. and Elizabeth, I am speak 26 ing of times when the Crown had much less restricted powers than at present, and that the terms of the Oath administered to her present Majesty were, that, to the utmost of her power, she would uphold the rights and privileges of the Church. Now, "to the utmost of her power "—these are limiting words, and in the present day, when the power of the Crown is much less than it used to be, and, perhaps, than it is desirable it should be, these words give an immense latitude to the conscience of the Sovereign. Because the case may be that there may be circumstances in which a Government is pressing on Her Majesty an assent to a measure which she may individually disapprove. Of course, my Lords, I do not presume to say what may be the private sentiments of Her Majesty. That is a matter with which I have nothing to do. The Queen, however, may have pressed upon her by a powerful Minister measures which, if they were not so pressed, might be oppressive to her conscience. The circumstances may be such as to make it impossible to form another Government; and, as a constitutional Sovereign, Her Majesty is bound to act on the advice of of her constitutional Advisers. Therefore, without any fault on the part of Her Majesty, and without any imputation on her of violating her Oath, she may be placed in a position in which, even when wishing to the utmost of her power to maintain the rights and privileges of the Church, she may be so overborne as to be unable to do anything but yield. My Lords, I do not suppose it is within the competency of the Crown—or, at least, it is hardly within the competency of the Crown—to refuse her Assent to any measure passed by both Houses of Parliament and recommended for her Assent by her responsible Ministers. But, I say, with respect to this question, that if Her Majesty in her own conscience, unchecked by any other feeling, were bound to maintain the promises she made at the time of her coronation, and if her conscience were overborne by the pressure and advice of the responsible Ministers of the Crown, then you, and you alone, stand in the way of that dilemma between the Queen and her conscience; and that you, and you alone, have the power of rescuing her from the deplorable condition of being compelled to violate her oath, or placed 27 in a position which it would be impossible for her to maintain. My Lords, you have the power of liberating the Sovereign from all those difficulties. You have the power, by the rejection of this Bill, of maintaining those rights which she is sworn to maintain; you have that power, although the Crown has not. To you, then, I appeal to place this matter upon the footing upon which it ought to stand; and to defend the conscience of the Crown, and the rights and privileges which, as Churchmen, you are bound to uphold.
Now, my Lords, in the course of this debate much has been said, and much doubt has been thrown, on the parentage of this Bill. In cases of doubtful paternity, the likeness of the offspring to the parent is a strong, though not a conclusive argument; but, looking at the Bill, I cannot trace the slightest resemblance between it and those views and opinions which were, and I hope still are, entertained by my noble Friends opposite. In this case, however, we, happily, are in no doubt as to the paternity; for my noble Friend who moved the Amendment (the Earl of Harrowby) pointed out that all the main provisions of the Bill were enumerated in the House of Commons some years ago by Mr. Miall, in very considerable detail, and that at the time they were rejected by the then Government, many Members of which are Members of Her Majesty's present Government. My noble Friend also seemed to think that there had been a little coquetting with the Roman Catholics. My noble Friend opposite (Earl Granville) said he had no recollection of that; but my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary took a bolder line. He said, "Mr. Miall! Who is Mr. Miall? '' Mr. Miall is the President of the Liberation Society. "The Liberation Society," said my noble Friend, "we have had no communication with the Liberation Society; and as to its views, we know nothing about them!"
THE EARL OF DERBY
Oh, no! pardon me. I am not alluding to Mr. Dillon or to Mr. Daunt, I am talking of Mr. Miall; and of the charge of my noble Friend, who moved the Amendment, that this is Mr. Miall's Bill; to which my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary said—" Mr. Miall! we know nothing about 28 Mr. Miall or the Liberation Society." Is it to be supposed that my noble Friend is in a state of profound ignorance with regard to the secrets of his own Cabinet? Will my noble Friend tell me that he believes there is no individual Member of the Cabinet, holding high place, who has connection with the Liberation Society? Does he not know there is?
THE EARL OF DERBY
You do not! Well, "ignorance is bliss." Surely my noble Friend does not need to be told that there is a Member of the Cabinet who is in very close and intimate relations with the Liberation Society, who is almost the alter egoof Mr. Miall, and who has exercised, and who no doubt does exercise, at the present moment, considerable influence in the Cabinet?
§ THE EARL OF CLARENDON
Mr. Bright, in the House of Commons, when he spoke on the second reading of this Bill, said he was in no way connected with the Liberation Society.
THE EARL OF DERBY
What I said was that a Member of the Government was in intimate connection with Mr. Miall, who was intimately connected with the Liberation Society. Now, my Lords, I say that this Bill in a great measure proceeds from a measure prepared under the auspices of the Liberation Society, and introduced into the other House by Mr. Miall, and rejected by the Members and supporters of the present Government; and if they had only taken the ordinary care of looking back to see what had occurred within so short a period they would have been spared all the anxiety of a protracted Session, and all the anxiety and pain of discussing what I trust will be a very abortive measure. But the fact is that this Bill has been carried in the House of Commons by the combination of a 29 variety of interests. The Liberation Society I place in the very first rank; for I think that, whatever may be the ignorance of the Government on other subjects, they cannot be ignorant of this—that to the unceasing efforts of the Liberation Society is owing a considerable portion of the very large amount of support they received throughout the country during the recent elections. The noble Earl the Secretary for the Colonies advised us before we came to a decision to look forward a step further. Will the noble Earl permit me to return him that advice? When he brings in a measure prepared under the auspices of the Liberation Society will he be kind enough to look further and see what the next step will be that he will be called upon to take? My Lords, it is quite true that the Bill has also been supported by a number of the Presbyterians of Scotland, and I have been asked whether the Presbyterians of Scotland are not some of the stoutest Protestants of the Empire. Doubtless they are. But, in the first place, have there not been considerable jealousies between them and the Church of England? Moreover, a very large proportion of them are members of the Free Church of Scotland, and are enemies of all Establishments, and as such they naturally join in the cry for putting down the Establishment in Ireland, as being the weakest part of the Establishment of the United Kingdom. But, my Lords, what surprises me the most is that the Roman Catholics should have taken the part they have done with regard to this Bill. If there is one thing more than another which is opposed to all their feelings and principles, it is the alienation of property once devoted to the service of God. It may be that they think that this principle is not applicable to a heretic Church; but if it were applied to their own Church I am sure that they would declaim with the utmost vehemence against the adoption of that principle which they are now joining with the Dissenters in seeking to apply to the Irish Establishment. But, my Lords, what have the Roman Catholics to gain by the measure? The overthrow of an obnoxious Church. They gain for themselves nothing. I may, perhaps, be permitted to read upon this point the language of a well-known Liberal—no less a person than the Dean of Westminster 30 —who says, with regard to this precise case—The demand for the destruction of a rival, without advantage to ourselves, may be vengeance, but it is not justice—may be the savage war-cry of the ancient Gideonite, but is not the legitimate claim of a Christian State or of a civilized Church.And all this is to be done, my Lords, upon the ground of religious equality. Now, in the first place, let me ask in what part of the world in which the Roman Catholic religion is the dominant power does it admit for a moment the notion of the principle of religious equality? It is a principle, they say, which may be all very well for the Protestants; but they condemn, under the authority of the Holy Father, not only the principle of religious equality, but absolutely that of religious toleration. In Ireland, and in Ireland alone, we find the Roman Catholics joining in the cry for religious equality, which, if they had the upper hand, they would not for a moment countenance. But what is the principle of religious equality contended for by the supporters of the Bill? Is it the impartial endowment of all denominations which was recommended by the noble Earl (Earl Russell) in one of his Letters, and which was also recommended on Tuesday night by a noble and learned Lord (Lord Penzance) at the table of your Lordships' House? Certainly not. Religious equality on the part of the Government means an equal indifference to all religions. It is not the universal endowment they recommend, but the universal disendowment and disestablishment of all Establishments. They agree with the Roman Catholics, who say—"Wewill not have an endowment, and therefore no one else shall have an endowment." And that is the only way in which it is proposed to introduce religious equality into Ireland. But, my Lords, is it possible to introduce practically religious equality into Ireland? I undertake to assert that, in the event of its being disestablished and disendowed, the Irish Church will not be able to hold its own against the rival Church of Rome. If you disestablish a Church, you take away the authority of her Bishops, and the cement of the law which binds together men of very different opinions, and allow a very wide latitude of action. Take away that control of the law and the Church of England in Ire- 31 land will be split into a dozen small factions, each, going its own way. Can you for a moment imagine that a society so disestablished, so dispersed, and so entirely separated into several branches, distinct each from the other, can for a single moment contend against the perfect organization of the Church of Rome, in which the people are the absolute slaves of the priests, in which the priests are the obedient servants of the Bishops, and in which the Bishops only execute the mandates and commands of the Supreme Pontiff? And then with regard to endowment. The most rev. Prelate spoke in very forcible language last night against the danger and evil of an unendowed Church, and against the voluntary principle. But you propose to apply that principle to the scattered Protestant population of Ireland, and profess thereby to put them on an equal footing with the Roman Catholic Church. But to rank them with the Roman Catholic Church as resting on the voluntary system is the greatest abuse of terms that can possibly be made use of. I recollect that in the last of the Letters of the noble Earl at the table he reported a conversation he had had with a Roman Catholic Bishop, who told him that, for some purpose—either to build a cathedral or a church—he had imposed a tax upon the parishes of his diocese amounting to 5s. in the pound. That sum was wrung from the hard hands of the peasantry, and while he himself enforced the payment, he, perhaps, was encouraging the tenants to cry out against the griping hardness of grinding landlords. It is perfectly well known that the Roman Catholic priesthood, whenever they choose, can levy their dues as regularly and with as much compulsion and force as Protestant clergymen ever did. It is my firm belief that if you could get at the amount of the incomes of the Protestant and the Roman Catholic clergy, you would find that those of the latter were considerably larger than those of the former. To give an instance to your Lordships of the subservience of the Roman Catholic laymen and clergymen alike, I will refer you to what occurred the other day, when Cardinal Cullen threatened all Roman Catholics with excommunication ipso facto.And for what?—if they attended a Masonic ball that was to be given in honour of the son of Her Majesty, in the pre- 32 sence of Her Majesty's representative in Ireland. For this they were to be excommunicated, and that excommunication was to apply to any young ladies who might think it a good opportunity of enjoying themselves if they attended the ball. The excommunication was threatened on this ground—that the ball was given by the Society of Freemasons. I can only say that if his Excellency imagines that the Freemasons of England stand on the same footing with the Carbonari and other secret societies—if he imagines that they are leagued against the Throne—I can only say that it is a signal proof of the ignorance of infallibility. I have not myself the honour of belonging to that society, but, from all that I have ever heard, I believe that a more loyal, a more peaceable, a more charitable, and a more universally benevolent class of men does not exist on the face of the earth; and yet, because it is called a secret society, all those Roman Catholics who attend any of its meetings are liable to be excommunicated. [A noble LORD interposed an observation.] I am obliged to the noble Lord for calling my attention to the noble Earl (the Earl of Zetland), who is the illustrious head of that dangerous society, which is supposed to be hatching all manner of designs against the Church and State, and whose associates are liable to be excommunicated by Cardinal Cullen. Now, my Lords, another of the many objections to this Bill is that it totally disregards in the case of the Church the prescriptive right to property which has been enjoyed for 300 years. I have been told that there is a great distinction between private property and ecclesiastical property. All I can say is that if there be a sanctity attaching to one more than to the other description of property, it would be to that which had been dedicated to the service of God. In the very able speech which was addressed to us on Tuesday evening by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of St. David's), he denied altogether that there was any peculiar sanctity attaching to property dedicated to the service of God. He began, in the first place, by saying that all acts of kindness towards our fellow-creatures were acts of worship to God. I am far from controverting that proposition, which the right rev. Prelate illustrated by two examples—that of the 33 munificent gentleman who rebuilt Dublin Cathedral, and that of the benevolent lady who has recently conferred such a been upon the poor of the metropolis. I do not mean to enter with the right rev. Prelate into the distinction which he drew as to the giving of property for religious purposes. I have no doubt that, in whichever mode it is given, it is equally acceptable to Him who looks not merely to the act but to the motives by which it is dictated. But the right rev. Prelate went on to eulogize the act of St. Ambrose in granting his church for purposes most meritorious in themselves—the relief of Christian sailors. He said he considered it one of the most meritorious acts of that venerable man's life; but he omitted to carry out his comparison to the full extent. The other two donors gave up their own property; but in the case of St. Ambrose there was no similar suggestion as to the source from which the property came, for it came from the offerings that had been made to the Church. I do not pretend to be deeply read in this matter myself, but this information upon the subject was sent to me this morning. Tertullian, in his Apology for the Christians in the Second Century, thus states the case—Whatsoever we have in the treasury of our churches is not raised by taxation, as though we put men to ransom their religion, but every man once a month, or whenever he pleases, bestoweth what he thinks good, and of his own free will; and that which is given is not bestowed in vanity, but in relieving the poor and orphans, and maintenance of aged and infirm persons, men wrecked by sea, and such as are condemned to metal mines, banished into islands, or cast into prison, professing the true God and the Christian faith.Therefore, in dealing with these offerings of the faithful, St. Ambrose was strictly in the right, and was applying them to the very purposes for which they were given. But the right rev. Prelate has omitted to notice the distinction which St. Ambrose very carefully drew, when the Emperor Valentinian called, upon him to surrender the church of Milan, with its rights, privileges, and property. This was the noble answer which he made—If anything were required of me that were mine—as my land, my house, my gold, or my silver—whatsoever were mine I would willingly offer it; but I can take nothing from the Church, nor deliver that to others which I myself received but to keep, and not to deliver.34 I do not know whether the right rev. Prelate's admiration for St. Ambrose extends to all the acts of that holy man's life; but if the right rev. Prelate, following the act which he especially selected for commendation, should find his own congregation or any of them in a critical position, and to relieve their necessities should dispose of the Communion plate belonging to his church, I am afraid the meritorious example of St. Ambrose would hardly excuse the right rev. Prelate.
I really am ashamed to trespass on the indulgence of your Lordships, but there is one point to which I must advert, and that is the righteous indignation which was displayed by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury when the recommendations of the Royal Commission were first issued, to the effect that certain portions of the superfluities of the Church in one part of Ireland should go to the relief of its necessities in another." What! "he cried, ''take away the Church property from one set of persons and give it to others—robbery, confiscation, plunder!" And my noble Friend the noble Earl (Earl Russell), in his third Letter to '' My dear'' Fortescue, pathetically says—But if we go from this northern population to a southern parish, we may find a Protestant clergyman with a congregation of two, or ten, or twenty persons, surrounded by a Roman Catholic population of 4,000 or 5,000. The services of that minister in his church are of little value, but he is by no means an unuseful member of the community. He is probably an educated man, and practises all the 'sweet civilities of life.' He and his family visit the Roman Catholic poor, among whom there prevails none of that antipathy which springs up in parishes where the rival communions are in numbers nearly on a par. He is ready to provide and pay for the medical attendance that may be required when all the members of a wretched family are struck down by sickness. He is not wanting in the exercise of the charities of a good Christian, nor, though he is forbidden to tread upon the disputed domain of theology, is he prohibited from telling the peasant that it is his duty to love God with all his heart and soul, and his neighbour as himself. Such a clergyman, in a wild and desolate part of the country where many of the habits of savage life are yet retained, is not without his use, and I would willingly see all the parishes of the city of Dublin subjected to the voluntary regimen before I would consent to see all of these remote churches fall to ruin, the glebe houses of the clergyman empty, his garden overgrown with weeds, and the charitable hand removed to some populous town, in order to comply with the report of Lord Derby's Commission, and do away with an anomaly. These circumstances seem to me to require more consideration than the public mind has yet given to them.35 In the whole history of the world was there ever an example of inconsistency greater than that exhibited by the noble Earl and the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, who cry out—"Plunder, spoliation, confiscation, and robbery!" at the proposal to transfer a part of the revenues of the Church from one district to meet the wants of another, and who see no plunder, no confiscation, no robbery, and no spoliation in the proposal to do away with these benefices altogether, with all the advantages that are claimed for them—to leave the garden unweeded, and to remove the charitable hand? And for what purpose? Why, to build up lunatic asylums and to lighten county rates. The very remarks made upon the Report of the Church Commission, which the noble Earl himself moved for, are the strongest condemnation of Her Majesty's Government now. I was very much struck with the opening speech of the noble Earl (the Secretary for the Colonies) who moved the second reading of this Bill. He introduced that Motion with all his wonted suavity of manner and all his ability of arranging arguments; but, when he came to describe the principles of the measure, I listened with intense anxiety to know the grounds on which Her Majesty's Government would recommend the proposal to your Lordships' acceptance. Instead, however, of dealing with principles, the noble Earl—just as if we were going into Committee on the Bill—proceeded to give us a history of all the clauses in detail, and left the main question of principle wholly unnoticed and untouched. My objection, however, is not to the details, but to the whole principle of the Bill. I am not going now to enter into considerations of whether there might not be a little addition here, and a little mitigation of severity there at some future stage; I object to the whole principle of the Bill, and, in the language of the right rev. Prelate—I will not—I cannot—I dare not assent to the second reading of this Bill.
Another thing, my Lords, has very much struck me in this debate. "With hardly an exception, all those who have supported the second reading of the Bill have found fault with every one of its details. The most rev. Primate, for instance (the Archbishop of Canterbury), gave us a most lucid explanation of the 36 views which induced him to support the second reading, although it was, he said, a very bad Bill, and one that embodied the voluntary principle, which he condemned as utterly ruinous to the Church; nevertheless, yielding to the influence exerted upon him by the noble Earl the Secretary of State, who assured him that any Amendments which were proposed should be considered, and pinning his faith on that assurance, he consents to accept the second reading of the Bill. My noble Friend below the Gangway (the Earl of Carnarvon) certainly declares that he is grateful for one portion of the Bill—that which he calls the disestablishment of the Church. He, and many of those who share his opinion, desire to see the Church untrammelled and entirely free; and for the sake of seeing that object accomplished, although, he objects to the extent to which disendowment is to be carried, he consents not only to the disestablishment which he approves, but to the disendowment which he does not.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
I did not state that in the abstract I approved of disestablishment. On the contrary, I stated that I had every sympathy with the Irish Protestant Church.
THE EARL OF DERBY
My noble Friend said, that there was one been which was conferred by this Bill, and for which he was grateful, and that was the establishment of a Free Church in Ireland.
THE EARL OF DERBY
That was the expression used by my noble Friend in the debate, and that is the expression which he is reported to have used, for I referred to the passage this morning.
THE EARL OF DERBY
Then my noble Friend had better have some communication with the reporter of The Times, for I can assure him that he has been entirely misapprehended. Then, again, I turn to the speech of the noble Duke behind me (the Duke of Rutland). He admits that this is an act of injustice, violence, and spoliation towards the Irish Church. There is no part of the Bill that he does not criticize with severity.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
I must remind the noble Earl that, in the early part of 37 the evening, I was called to Order by him for referring to a speech that had been delivered during the debate.
THE EARL OF DERBY
I am speaking for the first time in this debate, and following speeches delivered on Monday and Tuesday nights. Am I not permitted to answer anything that I heard in that debate? I can only say that the noble Duke concurred with the right rev. Prelate that this measure was either one of robbery towards the Protestants, or did not go far enough, as it restored nothing to the Roman Catholics. My Lords, two propositions have been laid down by the noble Earl the Secretary for the Colonies. The one was, that if we allowed this Bill to pass into Committee we might be able to make such Amendments in it as would be accepted by the Lower House; the other, that this question has been already decided by the deliberate judgment of the country. My Lords, in the first place, I deny the latter proposition. I deny that this question, as a whole, has ever been submitted, as is so frequently asserted, to the deliberate judgment of the country. It is quite true that, at the last General Election, the question of the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church was made a portion of the Liberal policy, and that by a union of all sections of that party a large majority of Members was returned to the House of Commons to support the policy of the Liberal party and the right hon. Gentleman now at its head. But the Bill now before your Lordships never was before the country. The country judged of what the Bill would be, partly by the declarations of Her Majesty's Ministers in the House of Commons, and partly by the Preamble of the measure itself. Indeed, it would seem that many of its provisions were studiously kept back in the declarations of the Ministers and their chief supporters. Even the Preamble of the Bill failed to give us true insight of some of its provisions. And I must say, on reading that Preamble, it does astonish me how Her Majesty's Government should think that they are able to reconcile its recital with the provisions of the measure. The Preamble states that—Whereas it is expedient that the union created by Act of Parliament between the Churches of England and Ireland, as by law established, should be dissolved, and that the Church of Ire 38 land, as so separated, should cease to be established by law, and that, after satisfying, so far as possible, upon principles of equality as between the several religious denominations in Ireland, all just and equitable claims, the property of the said Church of Ireland, or the proceeds thereof, should be held and applied for the advantage of the Irish people, but not for the maintenance of any Church or clergy, or other ministry, nor for the teaching of religion.Now, I believe that if there was one thing more than another made clear in the speeches and declarations of Her Majesty's Ministers, and which gained for the Government the support of earnest Protestants at the last election, it was the positive assurance that no part of the property of the Irish Church should be appropriated to the maintenance or the teaching of any religious denomination whatever. But what do we now see? How have Her Majesty's Ministers carried out that declaration? My Lords, if you look at the Bill, you will find no less a sum than £400,000 is to be taken from the Establishment and applied to the creation of an endowment for the Roman Catholic College of Maynooth. Now, let me not be misunderstood. I have not the slightest objection to the granting of a liberal compensation to the College of Maynooth for whatever may be taken from it. I do not, however, think that the establishment of Maynooth has answered the expectations that had been formed of it by those who originated or increased the grant which was given for its support. I am old enough to recollect the time when the clergy of the Irish Roman Catholic Church were obliged to go to Saragossa and other continental Universities in order to receive their education; and, recollecting what some of those men were, I must confess that I think that the clergy that have since been educated in the College of Maynooth have been generally of an inferior class compared with those who had been educated abroad, but who were not less zealous for the promotion of their own religion than those who have succeeded them. But, my Lords, that system is changed; Maynooth has now a permanent endowment sanctioned by Act of Parliament; and I for one have such a great respect for what has been once given under the sanction of an Act of Parliament, that I would never be a party to any measure depriving Maynooth of its endowment without fair and adequate compensation. 39 But if there was any one thing more clearly understood than another it was that no portion of the property to be taken from the Irish Church would be devoted to the purposes of Maynooth. That property was to be applicable to Irish purposes, but not to religious purposes. Yet it is now proposed that the property of which the Irish Church is to be despoiled shall be paid into the Imperial Exchequer and then handed over to the Roman Catholic College of Maynooth—by that sort of hocus-pocus it is pretended that the property of the Irish Church is not really to be given to Maynooth, but is to pass into the coffers of the State, and from those coffers it will be transferred to Maynooth. Then this property was to be applied to Irish purposes. Now, Maynooth may be said to be an Irish purpose: but then the fund is to go to the relief of the British Exchequer, as the payments formerly made, and for the discontinuance of which the Irish Church is to provide the compensation, are now by Act of Parliament charged on the Consolidated Fund. My noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies told us that Her Majesty's Government in this House would fairly consider any Amendments which might be suggested in Committee on this measure; but, on being further pressed on the subject, he said that as far as the House of Commons was concerned he could not answer. That may probably be very true; but as far as Her Majesty's Ministers are concerned they can, probably, answer for their own Colleagues in the House of Commons. At least, they ought to be able to do so. But have we any assurance that the same candid consideration will be given by the House of Commons and by the Colleagues of my noble Friend there to any Amendments which may be made by this House, as has been promised by the Members of the Government who sit here? We know too well that in the other House Amendments even of the most minute character have been steadily and pertinaciously resisted by Her Majesty's Government; and therefore it can hardly be supposed that the Government, with their own good-will, will permit, if they have power to prevent it, the adoption of any Amendment which trenches, in the slightest degree, on the main provisions of the Bill.
My Lords, before I sit down may I be 40 permitted to say a word or two in reference to myself? It has been industriously asserted out-of-doors, and by a portion of the Press, that I am the principal and the prime mover in the opposition to this measure. My Lords, those who make that assertion do me an honour which, if it were true, I should be proud of, but which I do not deserve. From the time when ill-health compelled me to retire from the councils of my Sovereign and from the honourable post of the Leader of the Conservative party, which I enjoyed for so many years, it was my anxious desire to place myself as much as possible aloof from party movements. And, on this particular question, so far from assuming a prominent position, I sedulously avoided everything of the kind, and I do not believe that I communicated with a single Peer in public or in private as to the view I took or the course which ought to be pursued in regard to it. I did, indeed, the other day attend a meeting of Peers, at which, but not until the close of the proceedings, I stated what was the opinion which I held individually on this subject. Further than that, I have not exercised the slightest influence nor made the slightest application to any individal Member of the House in reference to his vote. At the same time, my Lords, I do not deny that I entertain the strongest opinion on the principle of this Bill—an opinion which I have steadily upheld for a period longer than I am willing to recollect. My Lords, I am now an old man, and like many of your Lordships, I have already passed the threescore years and ten. My official life is entirely closed; my political life is nearly so; and, in the course of nature, my natural life cannot now be long. That natural life commenced with the bloody suppression of a formidable rebellion in Ireland, which immediately preceded the Union between the two countries. And may God grant that its close may not witness a renewal of the one and the dissolution of the other! I do not pretend, my Lords, to be able to penetrate the veil which hides from mortal vision the events of the future; but whatever may be the issue of this great controversy—whatever may be the result of your Lordships' present deliberations—I say, for my own part, even if it should be that for the last time I now have the honour of addressing you, that 41 it will be to my dying day a satisfaction to me that I have been enabled to lift up my voice against the adoption of a measure of which I believe the political folly is only equalled by its moral injustice.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords, I have often felt very deeply the responsibility of addressing your Lordships; but I say it unfeignedly that I never felt that responsibility so deeply as on the present occasion. It was not, I think, necessary for my noble Friend who moved the Amendment (the Earl of Harrowby) to call upon your Lordships to recognize the gravity of the question before us; for I am perfectly certain there is not one of your Lordships who does not feel that seldom has a question so serious and so important been submitted to this Assembly. But I likewise feel my own individual responsibility increased by having, not for the first time, to follow a noble Earl who whenever he speaks in this House meets with all the high respect which is due to his long experience and his great authority. I am sure your Lordships must feel that the touching remarks with which the noble Earl concluded gave more than usual weight to the address he has just delivered. The noble Earl very justly and fairly challenged Her Majesty's Government to say what is the principle on which this Bill is founded. My Lords, I was struck with an observation made by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough), who spoke so brilliantly the other night, when he said that there are three nations in Ireland. That was a pregnant remark as bearing upon the policy that we have to pursue towards Ireland, and is, in fact, a key to the whole policy of the Government in the sister country. I cannot agree in the distinction which the right rev. Prelate drew between the Roman Catholic priesthood and the Roman Catholic laity of that country; but, unfortunately, those who like myself have taken part in the government of Ireland have found themselves constantly confronted by two extreme factions. But between those two factions there is an intermediate body, and it is upon that intermediate body that the Government must rely in ruling the country. There is, besides, what may by a figure of speech be called another nation on the other side of the Atlantic, and it is impossible 42 to leave them out of consideration. I will venture to ask the noble Earl and those of your Lordships who are disposed to reject this Bill, what is the policy they think they are for the future to pursue towards Ireland? Upon that turns the whole question. I will venture to say—I will undertake to prove—that a policy which consists simply in rejecting this Bill and falling back upon the state of things which has hitherto existed, is one which no one intrusted with the government of this kingdom can henceforward pursue. The root of the whole difficulty is what is known as "ascendency," and I was reminded of that principle of ascendency in listening to the speech of the noble Earl who has just addressed your Lordships. The noble Earl made an eloquent appeal to this House on behalf of the Protestants of Ireland, whom, he said, we were about to oppress; but he altogether omitted to mention the 4,500,000 of Irish Roman Catholics. Now, I do not yield to the noble Earl in respect and admiration for the Protestants of Ireland. I will not speak one word disrespectfully of them. They are a body to whom England is undoubtedly greatly indebted—a body remarkable for their intelligence and industry. They are a body, too, who say that they are remarkable for their loyalty; but unfortunately, owing to the system of ascendency which, prevailed so long in that country, that feeling of loyalty is mixed up with such a disregard of law, and of the feelings of the 4,500,000 of their fellow-countrymen, that it has been the source of many great evils and of much of the bitterness of feeling that exists in Ireland. This ascendency principle is the principle on which we governed Ireland for many years. I will not go back three centuries—but certainly from the memorable period of the Battle of the Boyne ascendency became strongly fixed in Ireland. For a considerable period you had a system of Penal Laws, which, to a certain extent, no doubt, succeeded in diminishing the number of Roman Catholics in that country. But the time came when that system could no longer be maintained; and I wish now to call the attention of your Lordships to the period when we began to depart from it. It was the time of the Union. Mr. Pitt and those great men who carried the Act of Union well knew that it could not succeed, unless it were accompanied 43 by other measures. Your Lordships are all familiar with the views which were held by Mr. Pitt, and which unfortunately were not carried into effect in consequence of the unhappy resistance of George III. Mr. Pitt plainly saw that the principle of ascendency must be abandoned. The noble Earl (the Earl of Derby), speaking in opposition to the opinion of a right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough), who addressed your Lordships on Tuesday evening, contended that by passing this measure we should be violating the Act of Union. Allow me to point out that at the time of the Union, as now, there were two sides to this question. Mr. Pitt and Lord Castlereagh, in carrying into effect their policy, appealed both to Protestants and to Roman Catholics; and while on the one hand they promised the Protestants that if their measure were adopted it would increase the security of the Church, on the other hand they assured the Roman Catholics that it would contribute to the establishment of their rights and liberties. Now I do not wish to cast any obloquy on the memory of these great men: but I must say, that to a certain extent, their promises and assurances, which the necessity of their position no doubt led them to give, were inconsistent one with the other. What they said to the Protestants was in effect this—"If you unite with England and unite the Church of Ireland with the Church of England, that union will render the Church of Ireland far more secure." But at the same time they said to the Roman Catholics—"If the union of the two countries should be effected you would have a far better chance of obtaining justice from a Parliament in which the Protestants of Ireland are not in the ascendant." These declarations were practically inconsistent with each other, because it was not to be expected that the Imperial Parliament would not in time take an independent view of the subject. My Lords, that was the period at which you abandoned the principle of ascendency. But although to some extent you abandoned the principle, you continued to maintain the practice until, after a long and severe contest, you arrived at Roman Catholic Emancipation. But even that measure did not entirely exhaust the evil. There still remained the Church of Ireland, which, whatever may be said, is a remnant of the old ascendency; and until 44 you destroy that last support of the fabric you cannot establish that equal justice in Ireland which is the foundation of all good government in that country. The question now arises in what manner the subject is to be dealt with. The noble Earl who moved the Amendment (the Earl of Harrowby) has reproached in very strong terms those among your Lordships—of whom I am one—who have abandoned the policy of what is called "concurrent endowment." I admit that I spoke in this House in favour of such a policy, and I admit that I have departed from that policy. But, as was stated by a right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of St. David's) the other evening, the first condition of the policy to be recommended to Parliament is that it should be practicable; and that can no longer be affirmed of what is termed the policy of "levelling up" as it was called after the well-known speech of Lord Mayo. Only in Tuesday night's debate a right rev. Prelate pointed out that the Prelates and clergy assembled in congress in Dublin adhered to their former declaration that the Established Church was entirely against the principle of concurrent endowment. The General Assembly of the Province of Ulster this year also declared against it; and the Roman Catholics have never ceased to declare through their Bishops that they would not accept an endowment. Therefore, if you are to wait till you get the concurrence of all parties in such a measure you may wait for an indefinite period and reject the whole proposal as impracticable. Thus, by a sort of exhaustive process we are brought to the measure now before the House. We have been told that we have been driven to this policy by a terror of Fenianism. That statement not only is not true, but I venture to say that everyone who has considered the subject will admit that it is the reverse of the truth. I am alluding now not so much to the motives which have actuated Her Majesty's Government as to those which have influenced the feeling of the whole English people. In support of this view, I will not call in evidence any friend of my own, but I will read to your Lordships a short passage from the speech of Lord Mayo, which I think will exactly prove what I have advanced. Quoting from a remarkable article which had appeared in a magazine, he says— 45Now, in a, remarkable article which appeared some time since in one of the magazines, and which, from its intimate acquaintance with the affairs of the Brotherhood, was evidently written by some one connected with the secret operations of that body, this was expressly denied. The writer of that article said—'Englishmen complain that the Irish are never satisfied with what is done for them. Exactly so; a hungry man is not satisfied when you give him a toy. The Royal visits to Ireland, which were once considered as the sovereign panacea for Irish disloyalty; the land distribution, advocated by John Bright and others; the abolition of the Irish Church Establishment, now mooted as a sure cure for Fenianism—are toys given to hungry men. What the Fenians desire is Ireland for the Irish; and they look upon all the promised reforms as bribes to seduce true patriots from a righteous purpose.'Now, what does that mean? It proves that the Fenians dread nothing so much as these reforms which this writer calls ''bribes to seduce true patriots from a righteous purpose"; in other words—they regard the continuance of these abuses as the best means of fostering a dislike to English rule. The noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) alluded to a statement, made by the noble Earl who moved the Amendment, as to the origin of this Bill, he said that this Bill was substantially taken by the Government from a scheme of Mr. Miall's. But it does not seem to me very remarkable that, after Mr. Miall and the society which he directs had been for many years contending for the abolition of the Irish Church, some portion of their plan should be found in accordance with that now proposed by the Government. Let me remind your Lordships that, if there be one measure for which the noble Earl's own Administration will be remembered more than another it is his Reform Bill—a measure which adopted as its basis household suffrage. Now, I wish to point out to the noble Earl that it has been repeatedly said he borrowed that Bill from no less a person than my right hon. Colleague Mr. Bright. I believe Mr. Bright has himself complained that the Conservative party appropriated the plan which he put before the country many years previously. I do not make that a subject of reproach to the noble Earl; and I readily admit it was only natural that, when he determined on adopting the principle of household suffrage the measure in which he embodied that principle should bear a great resemblance to the scheme of Mr. Bright. But the present measure was no more that of Mr. Miall than the 46 Reform Bill of the noble Earl was that of Mr. Bright. My Lords, this Bill proposes two distinct things—disestablishment and disendowment. A right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough) said he recognized that the verdict of the country was conclusive on the point of disestablishment; but he also put forward a theory, which is a very old one, that Church and State ought to be united not because the union of Church and State is required for the benefit of the Church, but because the Church ought to hallow the State. But it seems to me that this argument proceeds altogether on a fallacy. The State consists of the whole of the laity forming the nation and represented through the Government: but in considering this question you must separate Ireland from Great Britain, and remember that the great bulk of the laity of Ireland are Catholic. When you talk of a union between Church and State in Ireland you mean a union between the Church and the small minority who are Protestants. There is another argument sometimes used—that you must take the whole of the Protestants of the United Kingdom together, and that upon that principle the union of Church, and State can be defended. But by that argument I say that you aim a deadly blow at the Union; because you say to the Catholics—"You cannot have justice done to you, because, though you are in a majority in Ireland, you are in a minority in the whole of the United Kingdom." The Church of Ireland has always been in a minority, and it is that fact which has been so unfortunate for it; and it is because it has been in a minority that it has always failed in dealing with the Irish people, because it has been a Church associated with the ascendency and the rights of a minority over the majority. It is that which has made it so gross an injustice to the Irish people, and which has rendered the efforts of the right rev. Prelate himself when he was in Ireland, and of other dignitaries of the Irish Church and the many useful institutions in connection with that Church, unavailing. It is that which has rendered it necessary for Protestants to do what we as Protestants—I do not deny it—must regret, to destroy the Church Establishment, and give a seeming triumph for the moment to the Roman Catholics. But, my Lords, if we admit 47 —and I do not see how it can be denied—that justice requires the disestablishment of the Church, what becomes of the argument of the right rev. Prelate with reference to the property of the Church? He admitted that the property of the Church could not be considered strictly private property, and that it was not public property in the sense of property derived from the taxes of the people; and he urged that it was of a mixed character, being private as regarded individuals and public as regarded the Church. The Bill of the Government is framed precisely with a regard to that distinction, because, on the one hand the rights of private individuals, connected with the Church, are respected; and, on the other, in dealing with the property of the Church, we have had regard to the public uses to which it is devoted. I was the more struck with my right rev. Friend's argument because, after he had explained to us his very ingenious, but as I think very unsound, theory as to property, he proceeded, in eloquent and strong language, to point out to the House the dangers which would be incurred by all other kinds of property of this measure was passed. He said—"The real thing the Irish want is to get possession of the land;" and that reminded me of an observation of Mr. Burke's—That it is not a good way, in order to prevent the agitation of a grievance the existence of which you deny, to refuse to deal with a grievance the existence of which you admit.My right rev. Friend said he did not believe Her Majesty's Government would accede to the demands of those who would confiscate the land in Ireland and restore it to its original proprietors. For my own part, I cannot contemplate the possibility of such a measure as he referred to; but I deny entirely that, because you are called upon to deal with the property of the Church—corporate property—you are, therefore, called upon to deal with the land, which is essentially private property, on identical principles. The distinction between these classes of property is as clear as natural justice and law can make it, and cannot be designated in the policy of any Government which is likely to hold power in this country. Another point has been referred to—that Church property in Ireland has been more than once dealt with in a way which has considerably 48 infringed upon it. Several Acts have been passed which have had the effect of making a considerable reduction from the property of the Church—such as the Cess Act and that measure in which the noble Earl opposite was concerned, for the commutation of tithes.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
I beg the noble Earl's pardon, but he was so much connected with the questions of the day when that was passed that my mistake was not unnatural. An argument used by the noble and learned Lord (Lord Cairns) last year, has often since been put forward—that you have no right to deal with the property of a corporation apart from the uses to which the property was originally applied, when that corporation can continue to discharge its duties advantageously. But it seems to me impossible to maintain that argument strictly. Take the case of the confiscation of the monasteries and convents. Although that measure was harshly carried out, still I have always regarded it as a measure which conferred the greatest benefits on this country; but if the noble and learned Lord's view is correct, how was it right to confiscate the property of those monasteries and convents and, devote it to other purposes? You cannot separate the expediency of a public endowment from the existence of it, and you must deal with it, having regard to the public interest as well as to the rights of private individuals. Take even a stronger case. At the time of the Reformation there were many chantries which had been founded for the purpose of prayers being said for the souls of the founders. But when you established a Reformation in this country and put an end to such endowments, you could not save the original intention of the founders; for the interests of the State you were compelled to require that such endowment should no longer be applied to such uses.
The right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough) says that this is a small and pitiful measure. He has described it as a measure which, so far from justifying the character of generosity which, has been claimed for it, displays great harshness, great injustice, great meanness. Now, I do not think that the reasons of the right rev. Prelate are quite wide enough to support these 49 sweeping denunciations. The details which he criticized are such as, in my opinion, admit of a good and sound defence; they are points which we may properly discuss in Committee; and my noble Friend (Earl Granville) has declared that any Amendments which may there be proposed will receive respectful consideration from the Government. But surely there are points in the Bill which do not justify the criticisms of my right rev. Friend. For example, the Bill leaves the Church in the enjoyment of all the private endowments which it has received since 1660. We are told that is nothing. Then we are told that we have been very cruel to incumbents in respect of glebes and glebe houses. But when you come to examine the provisions of the Bill on this point, and. to have them explained, I think your Lordships will find that there is something to be said for them. Some advantages are offered to the Church in respect of the glebe houses. There is such a thing as a building charge: the Bill gives the Church an option of purchase at whichever is the lowest amount, the building charge or the value of the land on which the houses stand. At all events, whether these provisions are sufficient or not, they have been carefully prepared, and in the opinion of the authors of the Bill are fair and reasonable. Another provision, which has been treated as one of little consequence to the Church, but is really one of great consequence, is that with respect to commutation. The Bill might have been framed so as to give the State the whole advantage to be derived from commutation, and the whole surplus which would be left after commutation. But the Bill as it stands says that the Church Body—with regard to which the fullest freedom is intentionally left to the Church—shall, in the interests of the Church, have the power of arranging with clergymen who wish to commute. Well, that provision will be of great advantage to the Church. There are many parts of Ireland in which the clergy of the Established Church have very small congregations and very light duties. I am acquainted with livings the incumbents of which receive, perhaps, £400 or £500 a year, but, having a merely nominal number of souls under their care, complain that they have not enough occupation to employ them. Such livings 50 might be united with other livings, and then the surplus income would be available for other purposes. I am quite aware that in such a case you would have to provide for the life interests of the present incumbents. But some of them might reasonably wish to leave Ireland and employ their energies in another field, and they would be willing to agree with the Church Body to receive a portion of the income which the living afforded, leaving the rest to the Church Body. I have no wish to anticipate the discussion in Committee. My only desire is to show, in answer to the accusations which have been made against the Government, that the authors of the Bill did not frame it with any desire to act harshly towards the Church and disregard its interests; but, on the contrary, that it was their anxious desire to do that which they believed to be just and right as regards the Church, consistently with the principle of the Bill. Now the principle of the Bill precludes us from reserving to the Church the whole of its endowments, because it is a Bill of disendowment. My right rev. Friend was ready to admit disestablishment, but said that its endowments ought to be continued to the Church. Surely he does not think that if we were to go through the farce of disestablishment, allowing the Church to retain the whole of its endowments, we should satisfy the 4,500,000 Catholics in Ireland. My right rev. Friend would have us say to them—"You have now no grievance: the Church has been disestablished; but we have dealt with her tenderly, and have left her richly endowed, and you ought now to be contented." Well, I am certain that any measure of that kind would aggravate instead of lessening the feeling of injustice that now exists in Ireland.
Let me now, my Lords, remark for a moment upon the verdict of the country, about which so much has been said. There is a striking inconsistency here between the noble Earl who moved the rejection of the Bill and my right rev. Friend to whose speech I have referred so often, and which made so great an impression on the House. My noble Friend (the Earl of Harrowby) said the verdict of the country has not been a verdict upon this measure; its details had not been submitted to the constituencies; and he exemplified his argu- 51 ment by referring to the constitutional check which is provided in such a case as this under the American Constitution. Now, I deny that it is part of the Constitution of this country that any measures should be referred back to the whole people to be considered by them in detail. According to the Constitution of this country a Parliament, freely elected, determines the particular policy which the Crown shall be advised to adopt; my noble Friend opposite may go as far as he pleases in his new-fangled policy of Americanizing our institutions, but for my part, Liberal as I am, I prefer to stand upon the old ways. My right rev. Friend, however, differed in a remarkable manner from my noble Friend, because he hit on the right doctrine, though his argument was hardly consistent with it. He said the country had empanelled a jury on this question, and no doubt that is so. The jury is the House of Commons, and they have given their own verdict and the verdict of the country. My right rev. Friend says that this House also has a right to deliver its verdict. The question is, would it be wise on the part of this House to do so. Your Lordships have nothing to do in producing the verdict of the nation, except in so far as the arguments which, you make use of here may weigh with the nation. But the jury has been empanelled—empanelled by noble Lords opposite, who themselves made the whole householders of the country those who were to make this choice. The jury so chosen has given a verdict by majorities varying from 100 to 120; and this being, as I maintain, the verdict of the country, let me ask permission to say a word or two as to the position in which this House is now placed. My Lords, I can not pretend that I have any authority in this House which entitles me to offer such advice as you have heard from some of your most distinguished and experienced Members. But I have now had the honour of a seat in this House for more than twenty years. My whole public life has been passed here. I am not insensible to the honour and dignity of this House, and as long as I am a Member of it I desire that its honour and dignity should be upheld. I ask you to consider whether it is not better to follow the advice of such men as my noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and my noble Friend (Earl 52 Grey), than the advice of those who would summarily reject this Bill—acting on the motto, Fiat justitia, ruat cœlum. I submit that it is not a wise motto for a statesman, and not one which should guide this House in the sense that they should blindly determine upon any measure, whether proposed on one side of the House or the other, without well weighing the results of either rejecting or of adopting it on the general policy of the country. Looking to the future of this country and of this House, we find ourselves face to face with that household suffrage which noble Lords opposite have established for us. Is it wise—is it consistent with any statesman like policy—that in the very first Parliament elected by that extended suffrage we should fling back in the face of the House of Commons, thus elected—and elected under the auspices of the very party who now counsel us to adopt this course—the very first great measure which has been sent by that House for the consideration of your Lordships? Let not any of your Lordships think that I would use so vulgar and so indecorous an argument as to appeal to the fears of this House. I should be ashamed if I could be supposed to imagine that any assemblage of English gentlemen would be deterred by such a consideration from doing their duty without fear or favour. But there is another kind of fear against which I beg your Lordships to be on your guard, and that is the fear of being supposed to be afraid. I believe, my Lords, that is a kind of fear which makes men do more rash things than any other. For my part, I believe that this House will be actuated by the traditions of the last twenty or thirty years, during which it has been accustomed to sacrifice some of its opinions when they did not agree with those of the other House. My Lords, I venture to think that the position of this House is such that it is impossible we should not be compelled from time to time to re-consider our opinions upon great public questions. It is quite clear, I think, seeing that one House of Parliament is changed by election while the other is not so changed, they cannot continue to exist side by side without differences between them springing up. Under these circumstances, it seems to me to be necessary that your Lordships should give way to the clearly expressed decision of the country. If it 53 were otherwise, this House would be supreme in the conduct of the national policy, and it seems to me not to be in the least degree inconsistent with the dignity of this House to admit that it does not possess that supremacy. It seems to me that the position of this House requires that your Lordships should consider what is the whole state of the case; that you should consider the question itself on its own merits; that you should consider it also in reference to the opinion of the country and to the opinion of the other House of Parliament. Feeling, as I do, that your Lordships will take this wise course, I have no fear of the conclusion to which this House may come. I am confident this Bill will pass in one form or other, either after having been modified by your Lordships, or if it be passed without modification—in one form or other it will pass into law. And I believe that when the angry feelings which for the moment have been roused—not in this House, but out of the House—shall have passed away and this measure which has been agreed to—for I maintain it has been agreed to—by the people of England, from a desire to do a great act of justice to their Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen, shall have passed, and you have severed the union between the Church of England and the Church of Ireland, you will have established another union far more precious—a union between the two peoples, a union of good-will and amity between England and Ireland which will be imperishable, because it will be founded on just and impartial laws.
THE BISHOP OF RIPON
My Lords, it is with the utmost diffidence that I venture to trespass for a few moments on your Lordships' attention. Nothing but a sense of duty would induce me to do so, but this is a question on which it is impossible for me to give a silent vote. With the details of the measure under consideration I will not attempt to grapple; partly because I look upon this as the proper stage to discuss its principle, but mainly because I deem it right frankly to confess that in my judgment that principle is so bad, that I despair of rendering the Bill a good one by any manipulation of its details. I have listened in the course of this debate to several arguments against the measure, and with most of those arguments I fully concur. The prince- 54 ple of the Bill is the disestablishment and disendowment of the Church in Ireland; and the primary objection which I entertain to it is, that it involves the assumption that it is no part of the duty of a Christian State to connect itself with the maintenance of Christian truth. Should this Bill become law, the State, as far as Ireland is concerned, will have disconnected itself altogether from religion. It will have virtually declared that all creeds are equally true or equally false; that it will recognize none and have a preference for none. This conclusion I deprecate in the interest of the Church, but still more in the interest of the State itself. I believe there is a national as well as an individual responsibility. I am of opinion that nations as well as individuals are morally accountable, and that a nation cannot any more than an individual ignore this responsibility without challenging the disfavour of God. If it be true—and we know it is true—that all power is from God, then I cannot see how it can be right for those in possession of power to ignore their sense of responsibility to Him from whom it is derived. And how, I would ask, is a State to manifest this responsibility except by connecting itself with some ecclesiastical organization? Now, I for one, altogether deny that the principle on which that organization should depend is to be determined by the belief of the majority of the people. There are higher questions than that at issue. The question of truth ought, I contend, to be the supreme and paramount consideration. I believe it to be the duty of a Christian State in determining the ecclesiastical organization with which it is to connect itself, to look mainly and chiefly to the question of religious truth. My Lords, this principle is recognized by the British Constitution. The Church is an integral portion of the State. It is inseparably connected with it. You cannot impair the position of the one without injuring that of the other. You cannot destroy the Church without pulling down the Constitution of which it forms a part. Notwithstanding, I may add, all that has been said on the subject, I entertain the opinion that the principle of this Bill is inconsistent with the Act of Union. It must, of course, be admitted that it is competent to Parlia- 55 ment to repeal and alter laws which itself has made. This is the ease with reference to all ordinary Acts of Parliament; but it seems to me that the case is different when we are dealing with an Act which has been passed for an express purpose, and which has been ratified by a Treaty entered into between two independent nations. I, for one, hold that it is to be guilty of a breach of national faith and honour to ignore the conditions of a Treaty thus solemnly entered into—conditions without which that Treaty would never have been ratified. I concur, moreover, in the opinion that this measure is calculated to have an indirect effect on property. I admit that there is a difference between private and corporate property; but to ignore the undisputed possession of 300 years is, in my opinion, to unsettle the security for all property, and therefore this Bill I think calculated to inflict a blow on the security of property of every kind. Upon this point I would, quote the testimony of the late Mr. Anthony Richard Blake, a Roman Catholic layman, given on oath before a Parliamentary Committee. He said—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 now 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 thus, 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 wresting from the Church the possessions which the law has given it.My Lords, I entertain another objection to this Bill, founded on what I conceive to be the probable effect of its passing into law. It has been called a great measure; and I think, notwithstanding what fell from my right rev. Brother (the Bishop of Peterborough) the other night, that it is a great measure. The noble Earl who moved the second reading (Earl Granville) told us that it had engaged the most anxious labour and thought of the Government in its preparation. The noble Earl who moved its rejection (the Earl of Harrowby) spoke of it as striking at the very roots 56 of the Constitution. By others it has been termed—and I think rightly—a revolutionary Bill; but be that as it may, few I presume will deny that it is a measure of vast importance. If that be so, I cannot help feeling that we are entitled to ask for some evidence to show that it will accomplish the end which its authors propose to themselves—an end which we all desire to see attained—the welfare and prosperity of the sister country. Is this Bill, then, likely to promote the pacification of Ireland or to confer important benefits on that country? My own conviction is that this Bill, if passed into law, will not have a feather's weight in producing contentment and peace in Ireland. And in support of this view I would ask in what manner has it already been received by the Irish people? Has the notice of it been welcomed as an olive branch of peace, or has it not rather been received as furnishing matter for discord? Has not the discontent by which that unhappy country has so long been distracted been rather increased than diminished since the measure has been brought under the consideration of Parliament? Are your Loadships not all aware that the great grievance of Ireland, as proclaimed by the Roman Catholics of that country, is not the existence of the Established Church, but the position of the land question, and that they say they will never be satisfied until that question is settled? I entertain another objection to this Bill, founded upon the inopportune period in which it seems to me to have been introduced. Among the many arguments employed in favour of this measure there is one that is frequently used—that the Established Church in Ireland has not discharged its missionary obligations, and that it has failed to perform the duties that devolve upon it with regard to the whole population of Ireland. I must say here that the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland have, as it appears to me, been most unfairly dealt with. If they confine themselves to ministering to the Protestant parishioners of their respective parishes we are told that the Church has failed in discharging its missionary obligations; and if, on the other hand, they display any zeal in endeavouring to gain converts from among the Roman Catholics, they are immediately denounced as firebrands. And yet it must 57 be within the cognizance of all your Lordships that there has been a remarkable revival of fervour and zeal among the Irish clergy of late years, showing itself in increased efforts for the conversion of the Roman Catholic population; and I may go further and say, that these efforts have been attended with remarkable success. Having visited those portions of Ireland where these missionary efforts have been most vigorously and actively carried forward, I can testify, from personal observation, to the reality, the genuineness, and the extent of the work which is being accomplished. But we are not merely dependent for proof of this success upon Protestant testimony. The Nation, the organ of the intensely Irish party in the country, has itself borne testimony to this success. It says—There can no longer be any question that the systematized proselytism has met with an immense success in Connaught and Kerry. It is true that the altars of the Catholic Church have been deserted by thousands born and baptized in the ancient faith of Ireland. Travellers who have recently visited the counties of Galway and Mayo report that the agents of that foul and abominable traffic "—These are the terms in which the Roman Catholic organs speak of the efforts of our clergy to promote the conversion of their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects—are every day opening new schools of perversion, and are founding new churches for the accommodation of their purchased congregations. Witnesses more trustworthy than Sir Francis Head, Catholic Irishmen, who, grieved to behold the spread and success of the apostacy, tell us that the West of Ireland is deserting the ancient fold; and that a class of Protestants, more bigoted and anti-Irish, if possible, than the followers of the old Establishment, is grown up from the recreant peasantry and their children.We have then incontrovertible evidence of the fact that the Church in Ireland is making—and this with considerable success—unparalleled exertions for the purpose of winning Roman Catholics to the fold of the Established Church; and yet we are told as an argument in support of this measure that the Irish Church has failed to discharge its missionary obligations. On these grounds I feel compelled consistently and conscientiously to oppose this measure. Again, my Lords, this measure is recommended by the plea of justice and of religious equality. There is one consideration with respect to this plea of justice which has occurred forcibly to my mind in the course of this 58 debate. Justice is a high and a great principle. Now, if there is injustice in the existence of the Established Church in Ireland at the present moment, there must have been injustice in its establishment at the time of the Union, and there must have been injustice in its continuance from the time of the Union down to the present moment. If this be so, how is it that the plea of justice has never been mooted before? It is not that Ireland has been neglected in the deliberations of British statesmen. It is not that Ireland has not had its full share in the consideration of Parliament. Statesmen, the most sagacious, and farseeing, have from time to time considered the necessities of Ireland. Ireland has given rise to questions which have, I believe, on more than one occasion decided the fate of Governments; it has occupied the anxious attention of numbers of those who have been called to the helm of the Constitution. Are we to suppose that they have not been far-sighted enough to see the injustice if it existed, or are we to admit—a supposition which is still more untenable—that if they did perceive the injustice, they were unwilling to interfere to redress the grievance? But I take the testimony of a Roman Catholic on this point; and, according to him, I think it is conclusive that, in the opinion of some enlightened Roman Catholics, there is in reality no such injustice. Dr. Slevin, a Roman Catholic Professor at Maynooth, in his evidence before the Commissioners of Education, in 1826, said—I consider that the present possessors of 'Church property in Ireland, of whatever description they may be, have a just title to it. They have been bonâ fide possessors of it for all the time required by any law for prescription; even according to the pretensions of the Church of Rome, which require 100 years.Another plea is that of religious equality. The noble Earl who has recently spoken told us that the key to the whole question was the one word ascendancy. I would not on any consideration utter a single harsh or unkind word with respect to my Roman Catholic fellow-subjects. I am not conscious of entertaining an unkind feeling towards them, or of having, at any time, uttered against them an uncharitable word. Toleration I would have to the utmost. I believe toleration is a great Christian principle, and that to exercise toleration is the duty of a Christian State as well as 59 of a Christian Church; but equality as between Roman Catholics and Protestants you cannot possibly have. It is not in the essence of Roman Catholiism. It is not in the essence of Protestantism. Between the two, there is an impassable gulf. We Protestants hold that the Roman Catholics entertain fundamental errors, and the Church of Rome hurls her anathemas against Protestants for repudiating that which she maintains to be fundamental. The effect of this measure, should it be passed, will be to produce, not religious equality, but Romish ascendancy. I believe no other result would follow this measure than to give to Rome the ascendancy in Ireland, and therefore the very evil of which the noble Earl complains would exist even if this Bill were passed into law. I will not touch upon another and very important question—the verdict of the country with regard to this measure—beyond saying that I concur with those who have said that they are not satisfied that the verdict of the country has been pronounced upon this particular Bill. I will go even further than this. It is my honest conviction that there is a change coming about in the feeling of the country at large with respect to this particular Bill; and, although a taunt was thrown out the other evening with regard to what have been called the tumultuous assemblages which have been convened with regard to this measure, I cannot forbear from saying that in that part of the country with which I am officially connected, and especially in the great towns of the "West Riding of Yorkshire, I have satisfactory evidence that there has been a great change in the feeling with regard to this Bill—a change expressed not in noise or tumult, but in calm, clear, and unwavering utterances of dissatisfaction and disappointment; and it is my conviction that if your Lordships reject this Bill on the second reading, and it be submitted to the country for further investigation and consideration, the verdict of the country will ultimately confirm and approve the decision of your Lordships. I listened with eager attention to the able speech of the noble Earl who addressed the House at the opening of the debate on Tuesday evening (Earl Grey), when he endeavoured to show that it was our duty to accept the second reading of this Bill and then try and 60 improve it in Committee. If this were merely a question of political expediency, involving no higher considerations—if there were no moral questions mixed up with it—I might feel disposed to accept that advice; but believing as I do that it involves moral considerations of the highest importance, I cannot consent to make political expediency my guide in preference to what I believe to be morally right. Believing, as I in my conscience do, that this Bill is not called for by any claim of justice to Ireland—believing that it will not confer any lasting benefit upon that distracted and unhappy portion of the United Empire—believing that it will prove a blow to Protestantism and a triumph to Romanism—believing that it will exasperate the Protestant population without conciliating the Roman Catholic population—believing, further, that it will necessarily be the precursor to other measures still more disastrous to the Church and the Constitution—believing that the adoption of this measure would amount to a national sin, and that what is morally wrong can never be politically right—I must enter my protest against the second reading of this Bill.
§ THE DUKE OF CLEVELAND
My Lords, the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby), in addressing your Lordships this evening, spoke of the great sense of responsibility under which he laboured in dealing with this question; and I can assure your Lordships that I deeply feel that same sense of duty to which so many noble Lords have given expression during the course of this debate. My Lords, the first point that naturally arises is connected with that voluntary principle which this Bill is to establish. I will frankly confess that, under ordinary circumstances, I am not in favour of that principle. It is not a principle that prevails in any other part of Europe, and I do not stand up as its defender. It does not appear to me that it would be well to establish it in England, or that it would work adequately here. On the contrary, I consider that to introduce it into this country would be almost equivalent to establishing a condition of national irreligion. But Ireland is differently situated, and we have too much reason to know that there is no other remedy for her unhappy condition but this. The right rev. Prelate 61 who has just addressed your Lordships (the Bishop of Ripon) said that we must deal with this question as one of right or wrong, of religion or irreligion, and not as one of expediency or statesmanship. He argued that it can never be proper for a Protestant country to legislate in favour of the Roman Catholic Church, and he called upon all Protestants, for that reason, to rally round the standard of those who desired the defeat of the Bill. But it seems to me that in dealing with this question we must take into consideration the circumstances in which we find ourselves. It cannot be decided on such grounds as those urged by the right rev. Prelate. We must remember that the great majority of the population of Ireland is Roman Catholic, and that if the power of government were placed in their hands the Roman Catholic religion would be established there to-morrow. Nor can we forget that they were originally in possession of the endowments of the Protestant Church—though, of course, I do not include the gifts subsequently presented to it by Protestants. I confess that, so far am I from objecting to the Bill that it goes too far, my only apprehension is that it does not go far enough, and that it will not satisfy the Roman Catholics. I freely acknowledge that I myself should have advocated a very different measure were it practicable. I know the country would not consent to any proposal for the division of the ecclesiastical funds between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants—though I cannot help thinking that such a proposal would be in accordance with the natural course of justice. It is the one that I have always been in favour of, and that received the support of the noble Earl at the table (Earl Russell), of the noble Earl on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey), of Lord Macaulay, Mr. Hallam, and of almost all the most eminent statesmen until within a recent period. If I now give my consent to a Bill departing from that principle it is i only because I feel that it is not practicable at the present moment. I am not sure that something of the kind may not be adopted hereafter. In saying this, I do not pretend to defend all parts of the Bill. It is not my affair to do so, nor would it be in my power. There are details which I think may be most advantageously amended. It seems to 62 me that the glebe houses ought to be given to the Protestant proprietors for the use of the Protestant clergy. I think they are entitled to them. But I am afraid your Lordships will hardly agree with me when I go further and say that I would even give glebe houses to the Roman Catholics for their priests. That course, it seems to me, would be right and proper, and one to which they would themselves offer no objection. We know that any scheme of general endowment would be repudiated by them, and they would refuse a grant of money; but glebe houses come under a different category, and I believe they would accept them. I had a conversation last autumn with a very distinguished foreigner, who is, in some degree, however, connected by marriage with Ireland, and who is capable of taking an impartial view of the present controversy. I believe that he holds what are called Ultramontane opinions. Speaking especially of the people of Tipperary, he frankly told me that they felt a great distrust of England, and he did not think that it had at all diminished, but still existed in all its original force. He also told me that this Bill would not satisfy the Irish Roman Catholics. He was strongly of that opinion. But one thing he thought might have a good effect. The Roman Catholic priests would not accept money, because it would tend to injure their influence over their parishioners if they did so; and, besides, they had pledged themselves too strongly against it. But the believed that they would accept, in certain cases, the glebe houses, with a portion of the land attaching to them. I should very much like to see such a provision introduced into the Bill; for otherwise the objection which, at some future time, will be taken to it will be this—that it does nothing for the Roman Catholics. Nor do I think it would be any violation of the principle on which the Bill was introduced. I do not refer to the compensation to Maynooth. Objection has been taken to the compensation to Maynooth being paid out of the funds of the Irish Church; and I believe that, in strictness, that provision is hardly consistent with the principle of the Bill. But I do not object to it—the matter rests on different ground. Maynooth was originally established and endowed, in order to provide the Roman Catholic priests of Ireland with the means of a 63 good education at home, and to prevent their seeking it on the Continent at a time when very revolutionary doctrines were abroad. Everyone who knows the immense influence exercised by the Roman Catholic clergymen in Ireland must feel that the establishment of Maynooth for that purpose was a wise and statesman-like measure, and the compensation proposed by the Bill is certainly not too large. But the time must come when the question will take a wider range. There will be a very considerable surplus after all the claims arising from disestablishment and disendowment have been met, and the best method of appropriating it is a question that must give rise to much controversy. Well, the Bill proposes to appropriate a large sum to reformatories, lunatic asylums, and institutions for the deaf and dumb. Now, the noble Earl who moved the rejection of the Bill said that the manner of appropriation proposed in the Bill had been suggested by the Liberation Society. I believe he was quite wrong in that opinion. I am not in the confidence of the Cabinet; but, on referring to the debates that took place on the Church Temporalities Act, I found a speech of Mr. O'Connell, in which he recommended precisely that plan of appropriation which is contained in this Bill. Of course, Mr. O'Connell did not foresee that any part of it could be given to the Roman Catholic Church, and he suggested specifically that the surplus funds of the Irish Church might be appropriated to lunatic asylums, reformatories, and similar institutions. I believe that the Government obtained from that speech the scheme which they have embodied in the Bill. It has been objected that the measure will have the effect of appropriating to secular purposes property that has been devoted to the service of God. Now, I confess that I feel a great dislike to the alienation of any property from religious uses. But, on the other hand, we are entitled to say that the argument furnished on the assumption that it is sacrilege to do so has been fairly disposed of. Even in the Roman Catholic Church property conferred for religious purposes may be otherwise applied after the lapse of 199 years; and we know that that Church has always been singularly tenacious of its possessions, and little disposed to accept innovations either of doctrine or 64 practice. In the present case the necessity for the alienation of the property of the Church arises on public grounds. Now, I will not say one word against the clergy of the Irish Church whom it is thus proposed to disendow. I believe that nothing can be more exemplary than their lives and characters; nothing more unfortunate than the position in which, from no fault of their own, they have found themselves placed. They are called fanatics and disturbers of the peace if they attempt to proselytize; lukewarm and time-servers if they do not. They are in a false position, and one that is full of difficulties; and I hope this Bill will release them from it. No doubt, in the first instance, the management and organization of the disestablished Church will be no light matter. The Bill does not proceed upon the assumption that Protestantism is to be extinguished in Ireland, on the contrary, it provides for the organization of a new Church Body. I have spoken to several Irishmen, especially conversant with those districts, as to the effect of the Bill in Connaught, Leinster, and Munster. I believe that the effect will be that the Protestants will go to the North of Ireland more than ever, and that Ulster will become more intensely Protestant, while the other parts of Ireland will become more intensely Roman Catholic. I regret there are no means of supporting convocations in the Protestant parts of Ireland, but it is impossible that any Establishment can be maintained for the sake of a very few individuals scattered over very large districts widely separated from each other. We must consider the question as a whole. I am now only speaking of going into Committee, and I support the second reading of this Bill as the only means of putting an end to this agitating question. Without indulging in any menace, I think your Lordships will place yourselves in a false position if you reject the measure, which you cannot eventually by any possibility put off. What advantages do the noble Lords opposite propose to gain by the rejection of this Bill? I believe that we shall incur great odium by so doing, and I am one of those who think—notwithstanding what has been said by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Ripon) of what he knew had taken place in the North Riding of Yorkshire—I do not 65 believe that any change of such a character has come over the feelings of the people of the country at large, likely to induce them to make any considerable alteration in the character of the House of Commons in the event of another election. I am ready to admit that at many of the late elections the results did not turn solely upon the Irish Church question, but that many hon. Members were elected on general Liberal principles; but the Irish Church question was fully explained to the constituencies, and disestablishment and disendowment was the election "cry." No doubt some expected a larger and some a smaller measure of disendowment than that proposed by the Bill; and it would be most unfortunate that this House should come into collision with the other House of Parliament in its first Session on a question of grave importance, and which has passed the other House after having been submitted to the people. I have already stated that, whilst I intend to vote for the second reading of the Bill, I do not concur in many of its details, and I shall be prepared to vote against them in Committee. I therefore ask your Lordships not to commit the error of throwing out this Bill on the second reading, and thereby raise a quarrel between the two Houses of Parliament, and lose the opportunity we now possess of introducing into it such Amendments as we might think expedient and consistent with the Bill. It would, in my opinion, be a grievous error to do so; and, speaking in the interest of those who oppose the Bill, I think it would be, under the present circumstances, a most unwise course not to assent to its second reading.
§ LORD REDESDALE
My Lords, after the remarks I have made on former occasions in reference to this subject, I trust I may be permitted to offer a few observations upon the general question. And, in the first place, my Lords, I will refer to the point which has been alluded to so strongly—namely, the effect which the decision of the other House of Parliament on this Bill ought to have upon your Lordships. It is impossible, in dealing with this point, not to bear in mind the allusions which have been made to what has taken place on former occasions, when differences of opinion have arisen between the two Houses of Parliament. Reference has been made 66 to what occurred at the time of the Re-form question in 1832. I would, in the first place, ask your Lordships to recollect the total difference between that time and the present—between that question and the one before the House now—and to bear in mind what was the course of proceeding in Parliament for many years after the time of the passing of the Reform Act. The Reform question had been before the country certainly for half-a-century—in fact, it had been a debated question for many years, until at last the feeling of the country became so strong that those who remember those times must admit that they never saw the country so unanimous upon any subject as upon that. A dissolution had taken place; and not only had the large constituencies returned in overwhelming numbers, but even many of the smaller and condemned boroughs returned Members pledged to the support of the measure. The Bill having teen rejected in 1831, was re-introduced in the next Session, and having passed the Lower House, came up to your Lordships' House and received a second reading; but an Amendment being proposed, there was a majority against the Government. The Government consequently resigned. The Conservatives were at that time unable and therefore declined to form a Government, and the noble Earl (Earl Grey), then at the head of the Government, remained in power and announced that it was necessary that the Bill should be carried. The country had pronounced for "the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill," and consequently further opposition to the Bill was withdrawn, and. it was allowed to pass in the shape in which it came up to this House. If it had not been allowed to pass the country would have come to a dead-lock. But we must remember what the circumstances of the case were. One House of Parliament, convened expressly for the consideration of the question, stood self-condemned, and condemned in the opinion of the country; and, as was well-known and avowed, the opinion of the Sovereign was in favour of the measure. Therefore, two of the constitutional powers of the State were of one way of thinking on the matter. But how stands the case with respect to the question we have now to deal with? In the first place, it is a question of one 67 year old. It is a very difficult question, as will have been seen in the course of the debate; it is one upon which I believe the country at large is but slightly informed. No decided opinion has yet been formed on it; and I am convinced, that whatever opinion had been formed at the time of the election, that opinion has been greatly changed. No one, I believe, is prepared to say that it is not the case. I do not pretend to say to what extent that change has taken place, but I maintain that, to a certain extent, it has occurred. Therefore, my Lords, I say that it is a perfectly legitimate action of this House to give the country further time, and a further opportunity of considering this question. It is not one that should be decided in a hurry. It is one upon which the country has a perfect right to have a longer time to mature its opinion. I next wish to direct your Lordships' attention to the proceedings in Parliament and in the country since the time of the passing of the Reform Bill in 1832. It has been supposed that because this House yielded to the almost unanimous opinion of the country and of the House of Commons, it had lost character in the public mind, and that its power and efficiency as a legislative body had been seriously impaired. But that I utterly deny. From the period of 1833 down to 1841, when the Conservative party came into power, supported by a large majority in the House of Commons, this House exercised a more important, a more decided, and a more independent legislative action than at, perhaps, any other period of its existence. Take, for example, the proceedings in Parliament on the Appropriation Clause and the payment of tithes in Ireland. Now, my Lords, permit me to say that the tithe question was a very much more important one for the peace of Ireland than that before us. It was one upon which the peace of the two religions depended to a degree not to be compared with its dependence upon the present Bill. It was said that 25 per cent of the tithes were given to the landlords, but that was in return for their undertaking the trouble and risk of collecting them; and it must be recollected that the Church was a gainer by it. She got more by that arrangement than when she collected the tithes herself. She was therefore willing to sacrifice the percentage and accept the 68 compromise. That was a very important question, but it was not settled in one year; it took five or six years, if I am not mistaken, to settle it. Let us see what occurred at the time. In 1835 the Government of the day went out—that is to say, the King changed his Administration. Sir Robert Peel formed a new Government, and there was a new election. Sir Robert Peel's Government did not stand, and the party opposed to him came in and pressed on the Appropriation Clause; and the second Reformed Parliament supported them in sending up the Bill with the Appropriation Clause to this House. Your Lordships still rejected what they regarded as an injustice; and at length the Appropriation Clause was withdrawn, and the principle has been maintained until this day. I say, therefore, my Lords, that we have a right to give, and it is our duty to give time to the country to reflect upon a measure of this great importance. There was also another measure of great importance. The English municipal corporations having been re-formed, a measure was brought forward, in 1836, for the reform of the Irish corporations. This House was perfectly willing to enter upon the consideration of the measure; but there were details which they considered objectionable, and Amendments were accordingly introduced which the House of Commons would not accept, and so the Bill was thrown out. The same thing occurred in 1837, 1838, and in 1839. At length, in 1840, a great many of the objectionable clauses having been withdrawn, the Bill was assented to, after Amendments had been introduced in the House of Lords, several of which were agreed to by the House of Commons after a conference. This, I think, is the strongest possible proof that the creation of Peers, merely because this House had exercised its legislative functions, would be the most unconstitutional act that could be proposed. My Lords, if a Government having gained, a majority and come into power is not able in one year to carry all the measures it desires, and then is to exercise a positive control over this House through the Sovereign, the whole use of this House would be gone—all its independence would be at an end for ever. The cases I have cited show that your Lordships, after yielding as you did in 1832, 69 so far from losing power as a legislative body, exercised its power and influence in the strongest possible manner, and in a sense advantageous to the country. And what was the result? It no doubt took about ten years' time for the country to come round to the Conservative party; but, in 1841, they came into power with a large and overwhelming majority. I will now proceed to consider the merits of the Bill. To the measure itself my first objection that I take is the constitutional objection that it is a destruction of the existing Constitution by an absolute extinction of one of the Estates of the realm in Ireland. My Lords, it is highly important to recollect that the Established Church is one of the Estates of the realm both as regards its property and its status. And connected with this objection, there is a matter that peculiarly affects the privileges of this House. The 13th clause of the Bill declares coolly and off-hand that no Prelate shall be qualified to sit in the House as such after the 1st of January, 1871. My Lords, upon the highest authorities—upon such authorities as Blackstone—I assert that the other House of Parliament has no authority, and, practically speaking, ought not to have the power, to originate any such clause, as that persons who have once been summoned to this House should no longer retain their seats. The question of privilege raised by this clause is one of the most important character—one which I think it my duty to bring to the notice of the House, and an infringement of your Lordships' privileges, which it is your duty to resist and protest against. I say that, even supposing the principle of disestablishment were to be carried, the present Irish Prelates ought not to be removed from this House. Moreover, I should desire to have a provision introduced into the Bill which should secure the continuance of the representation of the Irish Church in this House, in the event of certain arrangements in regard to the appointment of Bishops being agreed to, and the Crown being advised to summon them. That is to say, that as each see became vacant the Church authority in the diocese should recommend three persons to the Crown, from whom the Crown should nominate one. And I should be disposed to couple this provision with a similar provision with regard to the Roman Catholic Church, 70 if they would adopt the same principle that I have suggested for the Church Body—that of recommending three persons to the Crown, of whom the Crown should select one. To these Prelates, so selected and nominated by the Crown, seats might then be given in this House.
§ LORD REDESDALE
Yes, I am not for levelling up in any other way; but in point of honour and privilege, I would be willing to do so. And, I believe, that the introduction of Roman Catholic Bishops in that manner would not only be advantageous to the liberty of Irish Roman Catholics themselves, but would have a tendency to raise the character of the Roman Catholic clergy—especially in the higher ranks. That, however, is only a disgression, for I hope that no opportunity will arise of introducing Amendments into this Bill. As to property, I entirely agree that there is a distinction between corporate and private property. There are many kinds of corporate property; there is Church property, the property of Colleges, of municipal corporations, of city companies, and others, but to all the rights of property belong; and if the doctrine laid down by this Bill that the State can lay claim to it at any time is admitted to be sound, corporate property no longer stands upon a very secure basis. But the fact of the Church of Ireland being one of the Estates of the realm makes a greater difference in regard to its foundation from that of any other property. Property, whether of corporations or of individuals, has always been viewed and treated as property. And Parliament, when it has interfered even with corporation property, has only done so for the purpose of regulating it, so as to render it more beneficial for the purposes to which it was meant to be applied. Some short time ago, I moved for a Return of any Acts of Parliament which would afford a precedent for this Bill in their method of dealing with property—that is to say, confiscating it without any allegation of misappropriation by the body to whom it belonged, of its being dangerous or mischievous in its present application, or of the purpose for which it was originally provided having ceased to exist. These are the only grounds, as far as I know, on which corporate 71 property has been dealt with differently from other property in this House. But, my Lords, practically it was admitted, on behalf of the Government, that no Act of Parliament could be cited as a precedent for this Bill. The result, therefore, is that this Bill is entirely new in its character, and that character is a revolutionary one. Two or three doctrines are laid down in the measure which I think are highly dangerous. You preserve private endowments; but you say that those derived from the Crown are not to be considered private endowments. I should like to know how many noble Lords' property depends upon any other foundation than grants from the Crown. At the time when the Crown made these grants, whether to individuals or to the Church, the property granted was considered in the same light as if the grant had been made by an individual; and I must say, according to the doctrine that whatever came from the Crown then is, in these times, to be considered as in a different light from what came from a private individual might lead, and may lead, to this conclusion—that Woburn should be turned into a lunatic asylum. To turn now to another question involved in this measure, much of what I should otherwise desire to have said with regard to the Coronation Oath has been anticipated by the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby). I think it improbable that anyone can look at what is going on in this country without seeing that in popular estimation immense importance is attached to the Coronation Oath. In the Petition presented by the noble Duke (the Duke of Abercorn) the other evening from a meeting in Ireland, stated to have been attended by 80,000 persons, the question of the Coronation Oath was distinctly introduced. At the great meeting in Manchester, at which certainly more than 100,000 persons—some say 200,000—were present, reference was again made to the Oath, which vast bodies of persons throughout the country certainly regard as a binding declaration. I will only say for myself that if I had taken an oath that I would, to the utmost of my power, maintain the Protestant Church, established by law, and would preserve to the Bishops and clergy of that Church all their property, rights, and privileges, and if I had further taken an oath like that taken by 72 the Sovereign of this country in connection with the Act of Union—an oath to maintain inviolate the settlement of the United Churches of England and Ireland—I could not assent to this Bill; and I believe the majority of your Lordships, placed in like circumstances, would be of the same opinion. Some persons have said that, from delicacy to the Sovereign, we ought not to have raised this question. I hold, on the contrary, that out of delicacy to the Sovereign this question should be raised and insisted upon. I do not know what Her Majesty's opinion on this subject, or on the subject of the Coronation Oath, may be, nor will I even suppose what it may be; but I state what my own feeling would be, and I say it is a matter of delicacy towards the Sovereign to declare that this question is one of very great importance, and one, therefore, which Her Majesty's servants are specially bound to attend to. We had an illustration of this necessity the other evening on the last occasion that I brought forward this subject. The noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Colonies told me—"Oh, but you know the Oath taken as to the Act of Union with Scotland only refers to the Presbyterian Church; it has nothing whatever to do with Ireland." But I say that the Act of Union with Scotland referred directly to the Irish Church. The noble Earl evidently was not aware that the 25th Article of the Act of Union directly referred to Ireland and to the settlement of the Church in that country. It incorporates "an Act for securing the Church of England as by law established," which provides that every Sovereign at his or her Coronation shall take and subscribe an Oath to maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England within the Kingdoms of England and Ireland, and in the Act of Union it is further enacted that—This Act and the matters therein contained shall he for ever holden and adjudged to be a fundamental and essential part of the Treaty of Union between the two Kingdoms.It is impossible, therefore, looking at these things, for any body to say that they should be done away with by a sort of side-wind, and by a clause in an Act of Parliament which has no reference to it whatever. And so with regard to both of the Acts of Union between the two countries. Supposing this Bill to become law, 73 it would be extremely important that some direct notice should be taken of those Acts. Not one word is said about them in the Preamble of the Bill; the thing is done only in a small and indirect manner; and that is the way in which a grave and important matter is treated. There are some other points upon which I wish to have a distinct expression of opinion from Her Majesty's Government. I want to know, for instance, what the Government intend to do in respect to the Articles of Union with Scotland. If the Act remains as it stands future Sovereigns of this country will be bound at their coronation to take an oath which requires them to maintain the settlement of the Church of England in Ireland. Now, how are they to take such an oath when the settlement to which that oath refers is destroyed? What will be the effect if this Bill passes and no alteration be made upon the oaths to which I have been referring? Why, all future Sovereigns will have to swear to maintain what no longer exists. Some people will say that in that case the oath itself had better be abolished. I believe that the Government have omitted dealing with the Acts of Union in connection with this Bill because they never thought of examining what are the precise provisions contained in those Acts.
I come next to the Coronation Oath. It has been attempted to be proved that that Oath does not bind the Sovereign in her legislative capacity. Now, I believe we must all admit that the intention of an oath, and the manner in which it is intended that that oath should be binding, can most correctly be gathered from the intention of its framers. And here I regret to say that Lord Macaulay, in treating this subject historically, is incorrect in his statement of what took place in Parliament upon the occasion when the Oath was drawn up. That historian declares that Parliament never intended that the Oath should bind the Sovereign in his legislative capacity. Now, in the records of the debates which took place on the occasion I am referring to it is decidedly shown that the Oath was held to so bind the Sovereign. What fell from individuals of little note upon this matter is of comparatively trifling importance; but the opinion expressed by a man so great and well-known as Lord Somers must be accepted as coming 74 from an authority. The question which was debated at that time was whether the words of the Oath should run as they now stand—namely, that the Sovereign should swear "that he would to the utmost of his power maintain the Protestant Church as by law established," or whether the words should be added "is or shall be by law established"—the object being to prevent the Crown being bound by the Oath so strictly that it could not even make an alteration in a matter of discipline while the words were "as by law established," and not "as shall be by law established." Mr. Somers, in discussing the subject, said he was for the introduction of the qualifying words, and why?—"out of a great regard for the Legislature." What could that mean, unless the words of the Oath as they stood would bind the Sovereign in his legislative capacity? And Mr. Somers further observed—"He who consents to take away does not maintain." Can any language be stronger than that? It is the very case of this Bill, for the Oath is to maintain, and the Bill is to take away. Lord Macaulay misquoted the matter in order to be enabled to say that it was the intention of Parliament at the time that the Oath should not bind the Sovereign in his legislative capacity. In particular Lord Macaulay quoted a small portion of the speech of Sir Thomas Lee. Sir Thomas Lee objected to a proviso excepting alterations of the discipline of the Church, and matters, purely of that sort, on the just ground that the proviso by specifying those particulars would tie up the Crown more strongly in other matters. Lord Macaulay quotes the part of Sir Thomas Lee's speech in which he objects to the proviso, but he omits what he said in the earlier part. Sir Thomas Lee had voted on the former occasion for the words which Somers desired to insert; and in the opening of his speech in which he was objecting to this Amendment, he said he had previously supported the addition of those words, because it appeared to him that' "the Act did too much bind the Legislature." It is clear that all who then took part in the debates understood that the Oath was binding on the Sovereign in his legislative capacity; and, certainly, the object of the Oath was for the very purpose of preventing the introduction of any measure 75 for the destruction of the Church. It was binding on the Sovereign; and the Ministers of the Crown ought likewise to pay due respect to what were the obligations which it imposed on the Sovereign, and also to what may be the feelings of the Sovereign in the matter. I believe, in fact, that if Her Majesty is called upon to give her Assent to the measure now before your Lordships for the destruction, of the Irish Church, the impression on the part of a majority of the people of this country will be that Her Majesty has been called upon to forswear herself.
The next point to which I wish to direct attention is that this Bill involves, in a great degree, the abandonment of the cause of Protestantism, Protestantism is an essential part of the existing Constitution; and it is essential for the maintenance of that element of the Constitution that there should exist in all parts of the kingdom a Church which professes that form of religion. It is impossible, in my opinion, not to see that if you abolish the Protestant Church of Ireland, you inflict a very heavy blow upon the Protestant population of that country, and leave a large number spread over the country without any religious advice or services. Now, will the blow which this measure will give be confined to Ireland? Disestablishment in Ireland would be soon followed by disestablishment in England, and, therefore, this measure will inflict a heavy blow on Protestantism. If it is passed, you will find that that Constitution in this country which has been the great support of religious liberty, and the great antagonist of Romanism, has been more or less undermined; and the evil consequences which will ensue to the cause of Protestantism will be felt, not only here, but throughout Europe, and, indeed, all over the world.
There is another point to which I wish for a moment to direct the attention of your Lordships. A right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of St. David's) expressed his belief the other evening that Parliament might, without any violation of the Divine Law, apply Church property to secular purposes. But I find what seems to me to be the direct contrary principle laid down in a passage of Scripture, in which one of the prophets of the old law, speaking in the name of the Lord, says— 76Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me, and ye say wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; Ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation.Now, there is a distinct declaration that "tithe," that which is given to the Church, was given to God, and that taking it away is robbing God. "Ye are cursed with a curse; ye have robbed Me." My Lords, I vote against this Bill, because I would not have that curse upon myself or upon this nation. I believe we have no right to take away that which is devoted to God; and we can never prosper if such a curse is pronounced upon us.
My Lords, I have examined this question very carefully; I have gone into it very deeply, and I believe the more it is investigated the more important will it appear. It may not be a question which we consider deeply when engaged in active political conflict, but the time must come when the question will no longer be—"How can I serve my party or show my devotion to it?" but, rather—"How have I served my Sovereign, my country, and my God?" I believe the reflections of that supreme hour upon the actions of this moment will be most bitter to those who, by supporting this measure, have disregarded, the Divine warning against the spoliation of the property of the Church.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
Though I have for many years had the honour of a seat in your Lordships' House, it is very rarely indeed that I have addressed you; and I believe on no occasion have I done so when the question was of so much importance as that now under consideration. Your Lordships, therefore, may well understand that I only rise with great reluctance, and be sure that I shall stand but a short time in the way of the many other noble Lords who are anxious to address you, and who are able to address you much more effectively than I am. My Lords, I do not intend to refer to the collateral questions which have occupied a considerable portion of this debate, and are, indeed, of scarcely less importance, if really so, than the main question itself—I mean the influence which the verdict of the country, as expressed by the House of Commons, ought to have on your Lordships' decision. I shall not refer to that question further than to say that I believe those oppo- 77 nents of the Bill who assert that a great change has arisen in the opinion of the country upon this subject are entirely [mistaken. The information which I receive from different parts of the country leads me to believe that, though of late some outward manifestations have occurred against the Bill, yet the opinion of the country at large remains altogether unaltered. We have often heard the Irish Church described as an anomaly. It has been so described by many of those who oppose this Bill. It seems to me, however, that it is much more than an anomaly—that is a very mild and inadequate term to describe the condition of the Established Church in Ireland. I should rather characterize it as a scandal to the Parliament and Government of this country in having so long retained such an institution, in defiance of the religious feelings of the great majority of the Irish people; and I should call it an outrage on those who have been compelled to submit to what, in their opinion at least, they can only consider a great violation of justice, and which, if we were in their position, we should admit to be so. So strongly do I feel on this point, that I cannot but consider the question as to how we are to rid ourselves from the reproach of this scandal as a question of comparative indifference. But, in truth, I believe the choice now before us is confined within very small limits. The alternative we have is either to retain the Church as it is, or adopt a measure of this kind in its principle, and with the main and leading provisions which are essential to carry out the principle of the Bill. Of course, I do not refer to any minor modifications that may be made, and to which my noble Friend the noble Earl (Earl Granville) promised the Government should give fair consideration. But, when I say we are limited to two alternatives, I do not forget that another proposal has been made—namely, that of concurrent endowment. That is a mode of dealing with the question to which I do not deny that I, as an individual, should be inclined to give preference. But it appears to me we have arrived at that point when this proposal is not received with favour in any quarter, either in this country or in Ireland, and I am compelled to regard it as practically impossible. I hardly know whether the noble Earl on the cross-Benches (Earl 78 Grey), who so often and consistently supported it, is himself still of opinion that it is practicable. I hardly understood from his speech the other night whether he is still inclined to favour a proposal of that kind. The right rev. Prelate who spoke on Tuesday evening (the Bishop of St. David's) avowed himself of opinion that it would be a very good thing, but he also admitted that it could no longer be carried out. Neither in England nor in Ireland does it appear to meet with any favour. The Roman Catholics, who would be themselves the chief pecuniary gainers by it, repudiate all desire for it. The Protestants of the North of Ireland appear to spurn the notion. All the speeches made at recent meetings, with so much violence and bitterness of feeling, declared that nothing was worth fighting for but the existing condition of superiority and ascendancy. Neither in this country does the proposal appear to me to meet with any favour. I do not understand that any considerable number of the opponents of this Bill would prefer concurrent endowment, and I do not imagine there is the slightest doubt that an immense majority of the constituencies, both in England and in Scotland, are strongly opposed to any proposal of the kind. It seems to me, therefore, that we are really reduced to leaving things as they are or accepting the principle of this Bill, which I admit amounts, in fact, to this—that in future the religious instruction of Ireland shall be left to be regulated by what is called the voluntary system. Now, I am no convert to the voluntary system. I believe that, as a general rule, whereas in England a large portion of the population is attached to that form of religion recognized by the State, religious endowments have very great advantages. But, whatever the original theory of Church and State, I believe that Church Establishments in the present day must stand or fall by the fruits they can show. In England we can point to very satisfactory results. In no respect do those results appear more satisfactory than when we consider to how great an extent those large funds in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have been made instrumental, in conjunction with voluntary contributions, in promoting the cause of Church extension in 79 some degree adequate to the population of the country. But in Ireland the picture is altogether reversed. There the Established Church can, in no sense of the word, be called the National Church. It is wanting in the one essential condition of a National Church, inasmuch as it is the Church of a small minority. To my mind this point is absolutely conclusive. I have always watched with curiosity to see what could be said by the opponents of the Bill against the argument that it was unfair that the Church of the small minority should be placed in a position of superiority and ascendancy; and it appeared to me that, however boldly they came to the attack, they never really grappled with the matter, but rapidly turned attention away to some collateral point. I will briefly refer to one or two arguments used in opposition to the views I am endeavouring to enforce. It is alleged that there is a feeling of indifference on the part of Roman Catholics on this question, and that most of them take a much greater interest in the land question. Now what does this amount to, unless you can show that by settling the land question you will get rid of the Church question? But that which in my mind disposes of this supposed indifference of the Irish people, is the character of the returns at the last election, when scarcely a Member in any Roman Catholic part of the country was returned who was not in favour of the present Bill. As to the consequences to be anticipated from this Bill on the Protestantism of Ireland I will say a few words. I am by no means indifferent upon that matter; but considerations of justice are irresistible. I have no sympathy with the violent language used at recent Protestant meetings, but I have no doubt that a number of sober-minded people regard with apprehension the consequences of this Bill. I cannot think that there is cause for alarm, or that the means of Protestant worship will be seriously endangered. In the North of Ireland there is little doubt that Protestantism will be quite able to take care of itself. It is, no doubt, in the South and West that difficulties, if any, will arise; but in such a ease it is not to be supposed that the Protestants of England—the wealthiest community in any part of the world—will look on those difficulties with indifference, or 80 refuse sympathy and aid for their removal. In my opinion the Protestant faith in Ireland will never languish in consequence of the Bill now before your Lordships. There is one point personal to myself and some few other noble Lords in this House which I also desire to refer to. I have heard that it has been asserted or insinuated that those who, like myself, are in possession of property which once belonged to monasteries, are in a position rendering it peculiarly unfit that they should be found among the supporters of this Bill. I do not know whether any reference to this point will be made in your Lordships' House, but I am told that the statement has been made in the other House, and I know that it was most unscrupulously put forward and with the grossest exaggeration, during the late elections, whenever it was thought likely to injure candidates with whom I am connected. The nature of the imputation is that, whereas we are perfectly willing to join in what is called the "plunder of the Church," we give no indication of being willing to surrender that property which now belongs to us, but which once belonged to the monasteries. Though I feel very strongly that there is a great distinction between public and private property, from whatever source the latter may have been derived, that is not the question I wish to notice on the present occasion, because the insinuation to which I have referred is based on a total misapprehension of the real point now at issue—for this Bill is not based on the principle of restitution—it is not to be considered a reversal of what was done at the Reformation; and I am not aware that the promoters of this Bill have ever recommended it on the ground that the Church property was wrongly transferred from the Catholics at that time, and ought now to be restored to them. Indeed, if this Bill were founded on the principle of restitution, the relative proportion of Catholics to Protestants would be altogether immaterial, because the duty of restitution would be the same even if the Protestants in Ireland were the great majority. The Bill is founded on the plain broad principle that it is contrary to justice to place in a state of superiority a Church whose doctrines are only accepted by a small portion of the population; and upon that question I consider myself as free and unfettered to form an opinion and give 81 a vote as any other noble Lord in the House. Concurring in that principle, I shall most cordially support the second reading of the Bill. I regard the measure as indispensable for laying a foundation for the removal of that estrangement and alienation with which Ireland has so long regarded England. If this Bill should be rejected, what reason would there be, supposing its rejection could be permanent, for expecting that Ireland in the future would be anything different from what it has been in the past, and, in such case, could we contemplate such a prospect without utter despair? I believe this is the first step for the removal of one of the most frightful sources of discontent in that country; and as such I support it as one of the most just and beneficent measures ever presented to my consideration since I have had a seat in your Lordships' House.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, the noble Duke who has just sat down (the Duke of Devonshire) is one of those who supports this Bill in its entirety. Though it is probable that I shall not differ from him materially in regard to the issue—or at least shall not oppose him in the issue to be placed before the House at the close of this debate—still I differ sufficiently from him both in his views and in the manner by which he arrived at his conclusion. I am one of those who cannot find sufficient reasons to justify me in voting against the principle of the Bill, but I entertain a deep objection to many of its details. It is that argument which I now desire to lay before your Lordships. As regards the question of disestablishment, I do not think that many speakers in this debate have ventured to treat that as an open question. My noble Friend who opened the debate this evening (the Earl of Derby) did indeed say that he was opposed entirely to the principle of this Bill; but the whole of his argument bore so exclusively on the details that I could not help doubting whether, if the principle of disestablishment had been placed before him by itself, he would have thought it right to record his opinion against it. The right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough), in his splendid argument on this subject on Tuesday night—one of the most splendid arguments which for many years past has been heard in either House of Parliament—distinctly said that the principle 82 of Establishments was irrevocably gone. Now we have to-night, upon that principle of Establishments, received a challenge which I feel it is our bounden duty to meet. The noble Lord the Chairman of Committees, as I understood him, stated that the Sovereign having taken the Coronation Oath which she has taken, she would be committing perjury by assenting to this Bill. I think my noble Friend said would "forswear herself."
§ LORD REDESDALE
I guarded myself by saying if she entertained the same opinion which I entertain on the subject; but I distinctly stated that I did not wish, to assume what the opinion of the Sovereign might be.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
At all events, I feel that after those very strong expressions as to the duties of the Sovereign, it behaves some of those who follow the noble Lord to state their opinions on that question. Now, for myself—it may be a defect in my own intellectual construction—I have never been able even to understand the argument based upon the Coronation Oath and the Treaty of Union. Every treaty, every engagement, whether it is made in the solemn form of an oath, or in the inferior form of a treaty, implies in its very nature the existence of some person in whose favour it is made, and of some person who may be released from its obligation. That you can have made a treaty or sworn an oath with the dead, who cannot rise from their graves to remit that oath or forego the advantages of that treaty, must be so utterly baseless, that I cannot understand how the idea can have originated—because it involves the inexpressible absurdity that an oath taken in the days of Adam may have lasted to this time, binding the whole human race under circumstances absolutely different from those of the Paradisiacal period, and that the duties of mankind may have been settled for ever by the act of one single individual at that time, and we might never be able to escape from them. It is quite clear to my mind that the Coronation Oath and the Treaty of Union imply the existence of some person with whom the treaty is made and of some person in whose favour it is made. The Coronation Oath was taken in the face of the English people. The Treaty of Union was made with the Irish representatives. 83 If the English people are content to forego the execution of the Coronation Oath, and if the Irish representatives no longer exact the benefits secured by the Treaty of Union, the obligation which was thus imposed absolutely determines. Now, with reference to the case of the Established Church. I will not have it supposed—as my noble Friend who began the debate supposed of my noble Friend near me, and supposed erroneously—that it was with any feeling of congratulation or any feeling but that of deep regret that I saw the principle of an Establishment condemned in Ireland. But I cannot help seeing not only that the principle is irrevocably condemned, but that whether we join in the condemnation or not, most of the evils apprehended from that step have already occurred, and are irrevocable. The noble Earl who began this debate, in the course of his observations, was pleased to refer to the opinions expressed by a good many of your Lordships, and to mine among the number. I thought it was hardly necessary that he should select me for the exercise of his powerful lash, because he already knew that I was prepared to abide by the decision in favour of disestablishment. But as those words of mine have been quoted here and "elsewhere," I wish to say a word or two with respect to the position of this House as it relates to the other branch of the Legislature and the nation at large. It has been represented that, in admitting it to be the duty of this House to sustain the deliberate, the sustained, the well-ascertained opinion of the nation, we thereby express our subordination to the House of Commons, and make ourselves merely an echo of the decisions of that House. In my belief no conclusion could be more absolutely inconsequential. If we do merely echo the House of Commons, the sooner we disappear the better. The object of the existence of a second House of Parliament is to supply the omissions and correct the defects which occur in the proceedings of the first. But it is perfectly true that there may be occasions in our history in which the decision of the House of Commons and the decision of the nation must be taken as practically the same. In ninety-nine cases out of 100 the House of Commons is theoretically the representative of the nation, but is only so in theory. The consti- 84 tutional theory has no corresponding basis in fact; because in ninety-nine cases out of 100 the nation, as a whole, takes no interests in our politics, but amuses itself and pursues its usual avocations, allowing the political storm to rage without taking any interest in it. In all these cases I make no distinction—absolutely none—between the prerogative of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Again, there is a class of cases small in number, and varying in kind, in which the nation must be called into council and must decide the policy of the Government. It may be that the House of Commons in determining the opinion of the nation is wrong; and if there are grounds for entertaining that belief, it is always open to this House, and indeed it is the duty of this House to insist that the nation shall be consulted, and that one House without the support of the nation shall not be allowed to domineer over the other. In each case it is a matter of feeling and of judgment. We must decide by all we see around us and by events that are passing. We must decide—each for himself, upon our consciences and to the best of our judgment, in the exercise of that tremendous responsibility which at such a time each Member of this House bears—whether the House of Commons does or does not represent the full, the deliberate, the sustained convictions of the body of the nation. But when once we have come to the conclusion from all the circumstances of the case that the House of Commons is at one with the nation, it appears to me that—save in some very exceptional cases, save in the highest cases of morality—in those cases in which a man would not set his hand to a certain proposition, though a revolution should follow from his refusal—it appears to me that the vocation of this House has passed away, that it must devolve the responsibility upon the nation, and may fairly accept the conclusion at which the nation has arrived. My Lords, I cannot think that in thus stepping aside we are abdicating our duty, or are showing that want of courage with which the right rev. Prelate charged us the other night. It is no courage, it is no dignity to withstand the real opinion of the nation. All that you are doing thereby is to delay an inevitable issue—for all history teaches us that no nation was ever thus induced to revoke its decision—and to invite be- 85 sides a period of disturbance, discontent, and possibly of worse than discontent. Now, I am jealous of any language which may seem to trench on the prerogative of this House, and I have tried to guard my words against any interpretation which should seem to imply that, in the ordinary course of legislation, there is any inferiority between one House of Parliament and the other. But one of the rare occasions to which I have referred has now occurred. The opinion of Scotland and Ireland, and I may add, of Wales is passionately in favour of this measure of disestablishment. England, though more doubtfully and languidly, is also in favour of the same measure. And looking at these facts, and at the general current of opinion; looking at all quarters of the political horizon, and seeing succour in none; seeing that the opinion of literary men is against you; seeing that the mass of religious opinion among Dissenters and Catholics is against you; seeing that what the Foreign Secretary laid so much stress on last year—the opinion of foreigners—is also against you, though I take this opinion not as worth much as a guide to our conduct, but as worth a good deal as indicating the tide of opinion—seeing that nowhere is there any appearance of any movement that can reverse the decision of the nation, save in assemblages of which the power has been tried and has been so often found wanting—on all these grounds, my Lords, I can conscientiously come to no other conclusion than that the nation has decided against Protestant ascendancy in Ireland, and that this House would not be doing its duty if it opposed itself further against the will of the nation. But I hold that there was no point on which the rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough) was more clear on Tuesday night than that the verdict of the nation is confined to the question of Protestant ascendancy—that is, the question of Establishment, and of such an endowment as is inseparably involved in that Establishment; and when we come down from these questions to the details of the Bill it then seems to me that Ministers have gone largely beyond the commission they have received, and that they have not abided either by the decision of the nation or by the promises which they made to the nation before the dissolution. I see the noble Duke 86 the Minister for India in his place, and I would venture to make a quotation again from a celebrated speech of his, and I should like to ask him how he can reconcile his speech on the Resolutions of last year with the provisions of this Bill. This is a point on which he must be a competent witness. The momentous Resolutions of last year introduced something like a revolution into this country. They were drawn up by a very few persons, and if common rumour is not wrong, the noble Duke was one of those who drew them. The noble Duke, therefore, in a passage which I am about to quote, spoke with an authority which gives an interpretation to the result of the elections, and which may serve as a guide to us in the endeavour to ascertain what the meaning of those elections was. "There is a great distinction" says the noble Duke "between disendowment and disestablishment, and it was not without a set purpose." The noble Duke knew all about the "purpose"—and deliberate and careful intention that the word disendowment was avoided"—he does not tell us that the word disendowment was meant for the elections; it 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."—[3 Hansard, exciii. 174.]That was true then; but since then it has been proposed to deprive the Church of these private benefactions, and that which was regarded as monstrous a year ago now forms a chief part of the principle of the Bill. But, more than this, the noble Duke went on to say—"Under the scheme sketched by Mr. Gladstone"—the sketch appears to have been easily rubbed out—"the Church is to be left in possession of the churches and parsonages, and of some land adjacent." Now, however, all this disappears, and the Church has to pay for its churches and parsonages, while as to giving it the land adjacent it would be a proposal that would raise the Roman Catholics in rebellion—So," continues the noble Duke, "that it could not in perfect strictness be said that the Church under that scheme is to be wholly deprived of its endowments."—[Ibid.]The noble Duke added— 87Besides, 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.So, then, the Members who were elected under a pledge to abide the principle shadowed out in the Resolutions were also free to vote for any sort of compromise. I trust that, with these words before them, no Member of the Government in this House will attempt to tell us that any sort of compromise with respect to the endowments of the Church is inconsistent with the principle on which the majority of the Members of the House of Commons were returned at the last elections. I am not now going to enter into details, because details had better be reserved for Committee. I will proceed to state what I conceive to be the cardinal fault of this Bill. Its cardinal fault, it appears to me, is that it is ungenerous. You give nothing—absolutely nothing—to the Church which you are not forced by some other consideration wholly independent of the Church to give her. Much has been said about the large amount of money which is to be paid in the shape of providing for life interests; but you dare not—had you been Mahomedans you dare not refuse that. Your life interests have been given, not out of any tenderness to the Church, not from any desire to make the change from a state of comparative comfort to one of disendowment as little distressing as possible, but because you found it necessary to observe a rule which to break would be to render every portion of the public service unmanageable. Again, you give her the private endowments; but if you really wished to be generous you would give her the whole of those endowments. Instead of doing that, however, you take, as the right rev. Primate said, on a former evening, the mystical limit of 1660, for fixing on which nothing approaching a reason can be assigned. There you draw the line. Why do you do so? Perhaps you were afraid that if you took away all their private endowments from the Protestants the Roman Catholic endowments would not be safe at some future turn of the political wheel, when the Protestants were stronger than they are at present. It is therefore in their in- 88 terest, and not in ours, that you have fixed upon this limit. In the same way we hear a great deal about the generosity of giving up the churches. Well, it is said that Mr. Miall intended to give us the churches. I cannot see much generosity in that proceeding. I am quite sure that anything that Mr. Miall could have kept from the Church he would have denied her; and seeing that this remarkable scheme which is now before us—and which we are told is not a plagiarism, but merely the coincidence of two analogous minds—corresponds with that of Mr. Miall in this respect there may be good reason for giving these churches, wholly independent of any tenderness for the Church itself. The reason is obvious. I would ask any one who knows anything of Ulster what would be the effect of having a Roman Catholic priest celebrating mass there in a Protestant church? The Roman Catholics know perfectly well that such a thing would be impossible. I have, I must say, been very much puzzled how to account for the great severity of the treatment of the Protestant Church in this Bill. I do not accuse each individual Member of the Cabinet of being actuated by a spirit hostile to that Church; and I am sure my noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies is incapable of being actuated by a spirit of hostility against anybody. But the collective action of the Government is not the less ungenerous on that account. I need not remind your Lordships of what Sidney Smith said with respect to the difference between a corporation and an individual—that a corporation with respect to its soul, as in respect of certain portions of its body, was not liable to the same consequences as individuals. It may, therefore, well be that, with the most complete individual impulse on the part of the Members of the Government to generosity, the result of its united and, perhaps, conflicting action has been somewhat harsh. That harshness, however, I believe not only cruel to the Protestants, but politically a great mistake. You tell us that this is a measure of justice and of restitution—that it is meant to bring about peace and to inaugurate a new policy in the history of English legislation in Ireland. I believe you intend that your measure should produce such results; but why accompany 89 it with, accessories so cruel, so stingy, so mean, as they have been well described to be by the right rev. Prelate opposite? Just consider for a moment who those Protestants are with whom you are dealing. Judging from the language which has been used by some of the Members of the Government, the Protestant Church in Ireland would, appear to be some horrible monster which had so harassed and annoyed the English Government that it was at last found necessary to suppress it. But was the Church originally of Irish origin? Was the Protestant Church in the North of Ireland, I would ask, set up by Ulster? Were her Bishops appointed by Ulster? Was the policy which she represented of Ulster invention? That word ''Orange,'' which I believe is now looked upon as a term of deadly reproach, is it of Irish origin? The truth is, there never was a policy with which England so deeply sympathized, or for which she is more completely responsible, than that which is known as the establishment of Protestant ascendancy in Ireland. It was no question of Royal interest or aristocratic interposition. The English people themselves, with a strong and determined hand, interfered in the matter; and because perverse attempts were made to lighten the yoke on the Roman Catholics, and to raise them over the Protestants, they sent one monarch to the block and another into exile—they terminated a dynasty in order to prevent any relaxation of Roman Catholic restrictions. That was the policy which William the Deliverer, as he is called, was forced to adopt; and it was the laws which the English people inaugurated and the spirit which they encouraged which embodied themselves in what you call Protestant ascendancy in Ireland, and which is responsible for all the evils which have since been produced in that country. The truth is, that for many centuries the English people—and the Scotch people too—deliberately adopted a certain policy, for which they set up a garrison in Ireland to carry into effect; and as time went on that policy was found to be inconvenient, and they have now come to a resolution that it should be relinquished; they now think that they will be virtuous, and they accordingly are ready to abandon the garrison which they themselves set up, to cast upon it the obliquy of all that has oc- 90 curred; they put a few millions sterling into their pockets, and turn round and say to Europe—"See what a magnanimous people we are." I confess I went thoroughly with the right rev. Prelate opposite in the sarcasms which he seems to me to have justly launched against such hypocritical professions of magnanimity, which do not involve upon our part the sacrifice of a single shilling—for the whole magnanimity of the English people in this matter consists in relieving themselves of a farthing of the income tax, and in the sacrifice of those whom they had induced to trust in their protection. I was surprised to hear my noble Friend the Colonial Secretary, whose opening speech was so full of courtesy and good-will, speak of the Irish Bishops as being responsible for the atrocious measures which passed the Irish Parliament. Does he forget Poyning's Act, in accordance with which every Act which passed the Irish Parliament must first be approved by England. Hurl your invectives and your vituperation as you please against past Irish Parliaments, they will strike, not Protestant Ulster, but the English people. Now, it appears to me that the Government will do wisely to re-consider this matter, and see whether in this House—where they are not obliged to play into the hands of the extreme party—they cannot give freedom to their more generous instincts, and whether it will not be wise to give better terms to the Protestants of Ulster. You seem to think you have done all that is necessary when you have secured to the Bishops and the clergy their life interests—acting apparently on a principle which is rather opposed to the usual English notion, that the Bishops and the clergy constitute the whole of the Church. You forget that by what you are about to do every sincere Protestant of Ulster will be a heavy pecuniary loser, for whereas before his spiritual ministrations were furnished him for nothing they will in future be furnished only for heavy payment. I therefore ask the Government whether this be just, and whether if it be just it will not be wiser to grant more generous terms? I believe that the present effervescence of Protestant feeling will pass off; that the loyalty which the Orangemen boast, they will in the future display; but still, for myself, I cannot conceive the profound impolicy of irri- 91 tating them with a sense of injustice. If it were a mere question of idiots and lunatics—if it were merely a question of employing a few hundred more trained nurses, or of maintaining a few more reformatories—bear in mind that the land already bears the obligation to provide all that is necessary in those respects. If it be not a question of high policy, but only of a few pounds, shillings, and pence, I trust that when we come to consider this Bill in Committee the Government will see the policy of giving us more generous terms; and I have again to appeal to them not to give the answer that was so generally given in the other House, that such generosity was inconsistent with the principle of the Bill. There is another argument to which I wish to refer. Canada has been a good deal referred to in this debate. It is urged that the Irish disendowed Church will flourish because the Canadian disendowed Church has flourished. I want to show you that absolute severance from the State does not involve complete disendowment. In Canada the disendowment is anything but complete. Out of the whole of the cures, almost 400 in number, the Pocock rectories, fifty-seven, I think, were left untouched. Not only, therefore, was one-seventh of the property of the Church left untouched; but as these rectories had been bestowed upon the town districts, they represented, as far as money value was concerned, a far greater proportion. Now I want you to hear the Preamble of the Bill under which that was done—an Act which had the sanction of a Liberal Government of which the present Prime Minister was a member. That Preamble commences—"And whereas it is desirable to remove all semblance of connection between Church and State." It follows, then, by the authority of the Government of the day, that all semblance of connection between the Church and the State could be removed, and yet so large a proportion as one-seventh of the endowments could be retained for the service of the disestablished Church. It appears to me that this effectually negatives the idea that any such proposals of mitigation as we shall probably offer in Committee are in any way inconsistent with the principle of the Bill. I have gone thus far—I am conscious with what unequal step—by the side of the right rev. Prelate who addressed the 92 House the other evening. But I imagined that when he had got so far as this he had made out an effective case for the second reading of the Bill. The right rev. Prelate said that he considered the question of Establishment as irrevocably gone, and he showed, to my mind most conclusively, that great amendment in Committee was necessary. But having told us that he considered the principle of Establishment was irrevocably gone and that Amendments in Committee were necessary, he was about to join in a vote which would render the carrying of those Amendments impossible. My Lords, I am free to confess that I cannot go so far as he does. The right rev. Prelate taunted us in a series of sarcasms, bitterly conceived and brilliantly expressed, with a want of courage in case we did not adopt the opinions he urged. But I feel that I should best show myself a fitting pupil of the right rev. Prelate—I shall best pay homage to his distinguished eloquence by acting upon his premises and disregarding his conclusions. I have been told, I believe by my noble Friend who opened the debate this evening—and I think the right rev. Prelate expressed himself something to the same effect, that it would be of no use to go into Committee with a view of proposing Amendments, because Amendments would not be accepted. ["Hear!"] The right rev. Prelate, I think, cheers that statement. But how do you know those Amendments will not be accepted? I dare say that the noble Lords on the Bench opposite will oppose whatever they think to be objectionable, and we shall go to a vote, and the decision of the House will be recorded one way or the other; but when that decision is recorded, and the Amendments go down to the other House of Parliament, I know nothing to lead me to believe that those Amendments will be contemptuously disregarded. I am told that during the debates in the other House of Parliament the Ministry arrogantly refused all Amendments, and that, therefore, they will oppose all Amendments carried by this House. Now, in these days, we live so fast that we are apt to forget what happened a year or two ago. Now, I remember that, a year or two ago, Mr. Disraeli, who, whatever other criticism he may have laid himself open to, cannot be called arrogant in the refusal of Amendments, 93 —I remember the right hon. Gentleman refusing almost, in terms of contumely, the minority clause which was moved by Mr. Lowe. "When the Bill came up to this House my noble and learned Friend (Lord Cairns) moved an Amendment very much in the spirit of the one which was proposed by Mr. Lowe. The Amendment was supported by Lord Russell, was opposed by the Government, but was adopted by the House. When the Bill returned to the House of Commons Mr. Disraeli said that, though his opinions on the subject were still unchanged, something was due to the other House of Parliament, and that it was necessary to the passing of the Bill that the Amendments should be adopted. If anyone had started up and said—"It is of no use voting upon this minority Amendment. The Government have arrogantly refused all Amendments in the House of Commons. What is the use of sending it down to the other House of Parliament when you know they will not accept it?" would he have been justified by the event? Well, I ask you to apply the experience of that year to this case. It would be a different matter if I knew that Mr. Gladstone would contemptuously refuse all Amendments; but I do not see that, primâ facie, he has the power. It is true that the Government possesses a large majority in that House; but they know very well of what materials majorities in England are made. They know that they have had an uninterrupted flow of success; but the principle of "Vœ victis!" has never yet been recognized as a principle in English politics. They know that the English people will turn even against the most trusted Minister who tries to use his victory in a relentless and uncompromising spirit. Compromise is the very essence of English politics; and it is not because I see a Minister with a majority of 115 that I believe the spirit which has pervaded English politics ever since our history existed can be suddenly banished from them. Therefore, I confess, I regard with utter incredulity the statement that Mr. Gladstone would refuse all Amendments that might be proposed. But even if he did—let us suppose the worst. Let us suppose any amount of arrogance. But compare their position then, when the refusal is sent back to us, with their position when the rejection of the Bill 94 comes from us. Reject this Bill now and you will tell the English people that you have determined upon offering an uncompromising resistance to the decision which they have unhesitatingly pronounced. An uncompromising resistance! Are you going to invite more pressure? Are you waiting for stronger motives for concession—possibly in the conduct of people out-of-doors? My Lords, the picture which such a policy calls up before me is too terrible. It bears upon it principles too fatal to the very existence of our Constitution for me to explain in detail the results that will follow the adoption of a policy in every way so disastrous as that of waiting for more pressure. What will follow? No, my Lords, I can only argue with the opponents of this Bill upon the principle of "No surrender." Whether they are prepared to adopt that principle or not, whether they are prepared to provoke the consequences of a conflict Between the House of Lords and the people; I do not know, but it is only upon that basis that I can argue with, them—because I am sure that the policy of waiting until a civil war in Ireland and disturbance in England have marked in larger and more terrible characters the will of the English people is the most disastrous I can conceive. Well—suppose Mr. Gladstone does arrogantly refuse to accept any Amendments—suppose he threatens attempts at coercion—suppose he suggests a refusal of Supplies—a remedy that appears to me so comical that I should almost like the sensation—to refuse the Supplies would no doubt be very disagreeable to soldiers, and police, and other people—[A laugh]—but it would not much affect us. Suppose Mr. Gladstone should refuse the Supplies, or adopt any other coup d'âtat; suppose he should go to the nation for support against the House of Lords, and tell them—"The Lords have put 1560 in the Bill where I had put 1660; they have put fourteen years where I had put thirteen years' purchase as compensation for life interests; they have given a bit of glebe land to this person or to that person; and we now call upon you to destroy the Constitution, and to dispense with the House of Lords." But do you imagine that the people of England are fools enough to respond to that invitation? No, my Lords, the people of England interfere for great and broad 95 principles, which form turning points in our policy; but they leave the decision of the details of those principles to be carried out by the authorities to whom the Constitution has entrusted the settlement of those details, and to whose decision they have always been accustomed to submit. My Lords, I do not believe that any Minister, however great his talents, however brilliant his success, is powerful enough even to threaten an independent branch of the Legislature, if in details of this kind its opinions do not chance to coincide with his own. My belief is that by refusing the second reading of this Bill you are accepting the battle-ground offered to you by your adversaries, instead of taking that which you might have selected for yourselves. You are carrying on the contest at every disadvantage, instead of accepting the battle where every advantage is in your favour.
My Lords, the right rev. Prelate who addressed us the other night spoke in eloquent terms of the verdict which the English people would pass on our conduct. I confess I have not the courage which he suggested we ought to have, but which from his sarcasms he seemed to imply that some of us had not, and which, no doubt, he wished to communicate to us from his own ample store. Even at the risk of admitting the cowardice which the right rev. Prelate so severely censures, I own there is one thing I do fear. I do fear the verdict of history in reference to the course which the House of Lords will take on this question. I believe there is a great opportunity for the House of Lords, which, if we refuse it now, we will not easily regain. I dread lest future historians should say—"The House of Lords, having gained a high position by its judicial impartiality, professed on this question to fling itself into the ranks of one of the contending factions with all the enthusiasm of the wildest partizan. The House of Lords had an opportunity of consulting and acting upon its own high traditions, and maintaining its own unbroken course in the midst of the conflict of parties. It preferred to draw its inspiration from, and to obey the desperate counsels of irresponsible agitators. The House of Lords had an opportunity of saving for the Irish Church all that it was possible to save; of giving it a fair start and giving it a 96 brilliant promise of future usefulness; it preferred to waste all its opportunities in idle protest and mischievous delay." I confess, my Lords, I should dread such a verdict as this. But I do not believe the House of Lords will expose itself to such perils. I believe it will listen to the real wants of the Irish Church, and not allow this golden opportunity to pass, which, if it passes is lost for ever. I believe the House of Lords will also remember that no force, if propelled, remains as it was. It either declines—and in this case there is no reason to think the force will decline—or it returns with greater power. And this agitation, whose force you can now regulate and control—if repelled, will come back upon us when we shall no longer be in a condition to deal with it on equal terms. I quite acknowledge that, in coming to the decision such as that to which I think we ought to arrive, all who hold the opinions I do must feel great pain. For a long time the question has cost me much anxiety and pain; but I confess I have no doubt as to the course we ought now to take. In taking that course we may disappoint many who have looked to us for succour; we may provoke the defection of partizans; but hereafter we shall be rewarded with the blessings of all calm and right-thinking men. We shall be rewarded by the reflection that we did our duty in spite of taunts from one side or the other, and that we did not depart from that line of impartial statesmanship which the traditions of this House ought to prescribe to us to adopt. We shall be rewarded by the reflection—come when it may, be the censure upon us what it may—that we did all in our power to rescue the Irish Church, and mitigate the fate preparing for her, and that we did our duty to our country and our Queen.
§ LORD COLCHESTER
was understood to say that, in giving his vote upon an issue which might involve many unforeseen and, perhaps, disastrous consequences, he had, in taking a course which some might think an imprudent one, well counted the cost, and had not, at any rate, acted on any partial view of the matter. He had listened most attentively to the debates, but he had failed to be convinced by the arguments he had heard in favour of the Bill on the ground of justice. The principle of this Bill 97 was the severance of the Church from the State; and what their Lordships had to consider was, whether this was a principle which, if the case was ours, we should be content to adopt for ourselves. The Roman Catholic Church itself condemned the severance of the Church from the State. The only clear principle on which the Bill could be argued on the question of justice was that laid down by the noble and learned Lord (Lord Romilly)—that of absolute religious equality. But the adoption of that principle would be equally destructive to the Church of England and Scotland. It was said that by destroying the Irish Church they would remove a badge of conquest; but if they could altogether remove this Protestant Church from Ireland, would no other evidence remain of its being a conquered country? The destruction of the Established Church would not alter history. They were told that when Episcopacy was abolished in Scotland the people immediately became more loyal; but those who used that argument seemed to forget the state of Scotland during the following century. He would quite give the Bill the credit of pacifying Ireland to the extent to which Scotland was pacific or loyal in 1715, 1745, and later years. If that were all he did not think much would be gained for Ireland by this Bill. It was not the English Church and English monarchy, but the men who had overthrown the Church and this House, and executed the King, who left to Ireland the bitter miseries of the crimes of Cromwell and the tyranny of his armies. Mr. Bright, in the other House, claimed for modern Dissenters the liberality and toleration of their Puritan predecessors. He gave them full credit for quite as much toleration as they could find to admire in those who massacred the inhabitants of Drogheda or exiled the Catholics to Connaught. You could not quite remove all badges of conquest, for a people's history cannot be utterly blotted out; but the State and the Church, both equally responsible for the past, now only sought, the one to remove ancient feuds, the other to tolerate others while holding its own rights. With respect to what had been said as to the result of the late elections being the verdict of the nation their Lordships would perceive the difference between the verdict of a jury and the verdict of a nation. 98 In the case of the jury the verdict was unanimous; but this could not be said to be the case with regard to the opinion expressed by the nation on this measure. Of what did the majority consist? In Ireland it was composed of those who had in reserve a demand of far more importance to them than the disestablishment of the Church. He referred to the land question. In Scotland the majority consisted of those who were opposed to the Establishment of that country; while, in England, a large portion of the supporters of the measure were the adherents of the Liberation Society, who, if they had power, would carry the question much further than the measure now before their Lordships. Was there, then nothing to be said on the other side? It should be remembered that an important section of the community had unmistakably pronounced against the Bill. This had teen the case in the City of Westminster, in the densely populated county of Lancashire, and in other influential constituencies. Were their Lordships then to tell these people that they were powerless in the matter? The conflict was one that had not been sought by their Lordships, but one which had been forced upon them; and, if that House ever was to come to a conflict with the democratic spirit of the country, now was the best time for that conflict, when the opinions of that House were approved by a large number of the people. He felt, though not one that undervalued a seat in that House, that if it must abandon its convictions and disappoint and cheat its friends in obedience to a discordant verdict and a divided and faltering people, its privileges would be valueless, and in spite of contrary advice must think most applicable the words of the ancient satirist—Summum crede nefas animam præferre pudori,Et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas.
§ EARL STANHOPE
My Lords, I am not desirous to trespass upon your Lordships by many observations. I would, indeed, readily have rested the course which I intend to take on that most able and eloquent speech which we have just heard from my noble Friend (the Marquess of Salisbury), and I might justly fear to weaken the importance of his argument by repeating it in my own words. But still I do desire to address your Lordships, not only as a Member of this House, but from the position 99 which I held last year as a Member of the Commission which was named by the late Government to inquire into the temporalities of the Irish Church. I desire to explain—what hitherto has not been explained—the basis on which the Report of that Commission was founded. Although the terms of the Commission were limited, it might have been in our power, had we wished it, to express—or, if not to express, at least to imply—an opinion unfavourable to the maintenance of the Church Establishment in Ireland. And certainly we could not be blind to the anomaly which, unhappily, lies at the root of the whole matter—that the Church, though established, is the Church only of one-sixth or one-seventh of the people. But we felt upon that Commission that the very fact of the anomaly having so long existed, and being so clear and plain to view, did in itself afford a proof that there must be the strongest reason for its existence. Just observe how this matter stands. Since the beginning of this century the Church Establishment in Ireland has had to be considered by the foremost statesmen in our country. It has been considered by Pitt and Fox, by Castlereagh and Canning, by Plunket and Grattan, and within later times by the late Sir Robert Peel, and the late Earl Grey. All these were statesmen not only of the greatest sagacity but of the greatest courage. How was it, then, that when they had to consider this Established Church in Ireland, not one of them proposed to lay even his little finger upon it? Why was it that not one of them ever proposed to dissever the connection of Church and State in that country? Why, because they felt—as we upon the Commission felt—that though the establishment of this Church was an anomaly, yet, in the course of centuries, it had become an anomaly which had entwined itself round the very vitals of the body politic, and that any attempt to dissever it from the State must be one attended with considerable suffering, if not with considerable danger. The Commission further considered how very recent is the actual agitation against the Irish Church. You can scarcely name any statesman or writer of note, until the last twelve or fifteen years, who did not advocate the maintenance of that institution. Lord Macaulay is no exception, 100 although he has been quoted as being an opponent of the Irish Church Establishment, because he described in his usual vivid style, and, perhaps, with a little exaggeration, the great anomalies which that Establishment did present. Persons often quote the description, but they are not really aware of the practical conclusion at which Lord Macaulay arrived. I should like to quote that conclusion, and it is the only quotation I shall make. Lord Macaulay sums up the question thus—A statesman judging on our principles would pronounce without hesitation that a Church such as we have described it never ought to have been set up. Further than this we will not venture to speak for him. He would doubtless remember that the world is full of institutions which, though they ought never to have been set up, yet, having been set up, ought not to be rudely pulled down; and that it is often wise in practice to be content with the mitigation of an abuse which, looking at it in the abstract, we might feel impatient to destroy.Such, were the words of Lord Macaulay, in 1839, in his Essay upon the youthful work of the present Prime Minister. Now it was upon this principle that the Irish Church Commission proceeded. We advised the maintenance of the Church Establishment, but we desired at the same time to reform its abuses, and to lop off its superfluities. With this object we recommended a reduction in the number of its bishoprics, which were wholly out of proportion to the number of its people; and we further recommended that the surplus income thus obtained should be applied to increase those benefices which, in many parts of Ulster, were entirely disproportionate to the wants of the Protestant flock. The object of the Commission was, in short, to make the Church more perfect than at present; to reform abuses, and to lop off superfluities which have so frequently invited attack, with a view to render the Church more efficient and more conducive in its operation to the high ends for which it was established. But what ensued? It was the misfortune of our Report that it came too late, and recommendations which, if the Report could have been published earlier, would have attracted attention, and possibly been received with favour, were put aside and disregarded. The electioneering campaign had begun, candidates were already pledged, voters already influenced; and the consequence, 101 I am sorry to say, when we came to the General Election, was, that the majority of the constituencies of the United Kingdom plainly declared against the Establishment of the Church of Ireland; they would not have it either as it now stands, or in the modified form which the Commission recommended. Therefore, looking at the result of the General Election, much as I regret it, I find myself wholly unable to agree in the conclusions of the noble Earl who commenced the debate this evening (the Earl of Derby). I feel bound to concur with what was said by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough) in his most able speech—a speech which will not soon fade from the recollection of your Lordships—that as regards disestablishment, that question was decided at the last General Election, and I have very little hope of that decision being reversed. But I also concur with the right rev. Prelate that, although the principle of disestablishment was affirmed, the question of disendowment was not finally disposed of. But then, surely, if disestablishment has been decided upon and disendowment has not, the argument is a very strong one in favour of going into Committee. And if the right rev. Prelate is right—as I hope and believe he may be—in asserting that the feelings of the English people is in favour of some considerable share of endowment being left to the disestablished Church, we shall be able to deal with the matter in a practical manner by amending the Bill in Committee, which we cannot do if we reject it altogether. We must remember that the majority "elsewhere" is no less than 115; and I must say that this majority has certainly not shown any symptoms of what in inorganic bodies is sometimes called "permeability." There has appeared to be very little prospect of its "disintegration." I should like, therefore, to ask my noble Friend who moved the Amendment (the Earl of Harrowby) what he expects to happen if he succeeds in throwing out the Bill on the second reading. Does he expect that this compact majority of 115 will sit quietly down, or simply say—"We think the Irish Church should be disestablished, or disendowed; but, as the House of Lords take a very different view of that matter, let us turn our attention to something else?" Does my noble Friend, as a sensible and sagacious 102 man, think that this would be the result of the success of his Amendment? If not, surely he must feel that the Bill would, after a very short interval, be sent up to us again? But, I ask, will it come up to us again under the same favourable circumstances? Your previous rejection of the measure will be recorded against you, and do you suppose that you will have the same power of amending the Bill at the next stage that you now possess? Do you think that the same amount of support from public opinion, which will attend you if you gracefully and properly defer to that public opinion by now assenting to the second reading, will equally attend you after you have done your best to reject a Bill which you will no longer be able to amend? I maintain, therefore, that it is incumbent upon us not to follow the bent of our inclination, which might lead us to throw out this Bill, and not to refuse to consider how with prudence and care it may be best improved. There are, no doubt, reasons of weight why we should not now assent to read the Bill a second time, with the view of making Amendments in Committee. It is said that the House of Commons would not accept the Amendments proposed by Mr. Disraeli, Dr. Ball, and other distinguished Members of that Assembly, and therefore they will not accept the Amendments which your Lordships might introduce into it. I maintain, however, that it is a very different thing to refuse Amendments when they come from a minority—and not a large minority—of their own body, and to refuse Amendments when they come from a majority—and I hope a large majority—of your Lordships' House. What would be the effect of the Commons resisting the Amendments which your Lordships might make? It might be if we chose it equivalent to the defeat of the Bill. You might offer the Commons this alternative:—"If you accept the Amendments, the Bill passes; if you reject them, the Bill will be lost." Do not you think that argument will be found even more persuasive and cogent than the most powerful appeals of its most eloquent Members with the other House of Parliament? For my own part I believe that if Amendments are judiciously made by your Lordships—if those Amendments, without touching the principle of disestablishment—which I conceive must be 103 held to have been decided—are designed to provide for the wants and the exigencies of the then disestablished Church, and to enable her to commence a new career of usefulness to God and to man—if we introduce such Amendments as were indicated in the admirable speech of the most rev. Primate on Tuesday night—a speech in every word of which I desire to express my entire and hearty concurrence—if, I say, we make our Amendments in that spirit, I have that trust in Her Majesty's Government, and that trust, also, in the House of Commons itself, that, whatever may be their own extreme views, they will be willing to waive them, and to endeavour to pass the measure upon the only conditions on which they could then hope to pass it. For these reasons I am of opinion that Amendments judiciously framed and adopted by your Lordships will involve no insuperable difficulty when they come to be considered by the Government and also by the House of Commons. But there is another objection raised to the course which I am recommending. We are told that great meetings have been lately held in various parts of the country in opposition to the Bill. Now, my Lords, I rejoice to see in so many quarters such strong attachment evinced to the connection between Church and State. But when we come to examine into these manifestations of public feeling we find that they emanate from those districts of the country of whose sentiments on this matter we were already aware. They proceed mainly from Lancashire; but we knew before that Lancashire was decidedly against Mr. Gladstone. Therefore, when we are told that county meetings have been held at Manchester and at Liverpool, I think those meetings are nothing more than an energetic and powerful renewal of the sentiments expressed there at the last General Election. Speaking of them with all respect, I yet think they are but a confirmation of the opinions then constitutionally declared, and do not prove the existence of anything like a reaction in the national mind. To rely on those meetings as any true sign of such a general re-action would, I believe, be to lean on a broken reed. I am convinced, then, that in this case it is the obvious duty and interest of this House to allow this Bill to go into Committee. I believe the Amendments which may be here made in its provisions are likely 104 to receive a favourable consideration in "another place." But I say—as was said by the noble Marquess below me (the Marquess of Salisbury)—that even if this hope should fail, even if the Commons do not fulfil our expectations in this respect, we shall stand on better and firmer ground by having conceded that which can be no longer resisted, and shown a readiness to go as far as possible in yielding to what certainly appears to be the deliberate determination of the country. If even we cannot carry all we wish, yet if we are able to give effect even to a part only of the Amendments we design we shall at all events do this—we shall leave the disestablished Church in a far better position than Mr. Gladstone's Bill has placed her. Therefore, notwithstanding the distaste and disfavour with which I view this measure, and the great concern which I feel that this subject should ever have been introduced at all, yet being once introduced, and we have to deal with it, I am persuaded that your Lordships' House will best meet the circumstances of the time by according the Bill a second reading. Before concluding I desire to express the great pain that I feel in differing on this question from my noble and learned Friend who sits on the Bench below me (Lord Cairns). I have the highest respect for the opinions and the learning of my noble and learned Friend. I entertain for him personally sentiments of cordial regard, and I wish to say this publicly—that, looking at the whole conduct of public affairs, there is no leadership on this side of the House with which I should be more thoroughly satisfied. But I have something higher to think of on this occasion than the ties of party, or considerations of personal regard. I have a public duty to perform, and that public duty, I think, calls upon me in the clearest manner and in the plainest tones to let this Bill go into Committee, in the hope that it may be there amended.
THE BISHOP OF TUAM
* My Lords, I wish to address to you a few remarks on the Bill before your Lordships' House, and claim your indulgence, both because I am addressing you for the first time, and because, if this Bill should become law, I am one of those who may not have the opportunity of speaking here again; for if it so happens that any of my right rev. Brethren 105 of the Irish Branch of the United Church should be in the act of addressing you as the clock strikes twelve on January 1, 1871, the law would stop him in the middle of his sentence, and he must leave the House, because the Writ which he had received from his Sovereign would have been superseded and come to an untimely end. This matter has been dealt with by one who understands the privileges of your Lordships' House—the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees—and it involves a principle which, with equal injustice, might be brought to bear upon any of your Lordships who obstructed the way of a more aspiring party. My object is to address a few practical observations to your Lordships—not merely as a representative Bishop—not as the most rev. Prelate who presides over the important diocese of Dublin—not as the right rev. Prelate who is connected with the North and the Protestantism of Ulster—but as representative of that which is often talked of as one of the weakest and least defensible portions of the Irish Branch, the Province of Connaught, in the West. For nearly thirty-five years I have been a working parish minister in the South and West of Ireland, intimately associated through those many years not alone with the Protestants, but with the Roman Catholic population; knowing their views, their feelings, their habits of thought. These associations have been my life, my existence, and therefore, upon this question, I am entitled to offer to you some practical observations. I have often, I confess—with that experience—felt inclined to be amused at some of the dogmatic statements which have fallen from those who have never set foot in Ireland, but who have conveniently derived their ideas from the romantic indignation of leading articles. Let me express first to your Lordships what I believe, from that experience, to be the feeling of the general body of the Irish Roman Catholic people. I know that the Irish Church is often a party cry for those who have ulterior views. I know that it forms a portion of the programme of the National Association which represents the views called Ultramontane. I know that among the Nationalist party the Established Church is called—as the Government and the large portion of the landlords are called—Saxon, alien, a 106 badge of ascendancy. I know that the Roman Catholic clergymen generally and others are conscientiously opposed to it. But I know equally well that after all the teachings of agitation, after all the debatings in the other House, after all the endeavours to persuade them that they are oppressed and insulted by the Established Church, the great body of the people do not believe it. They only understand the Church through the clergyman, and they see him in their midst, a kind neighbour, a useful friend, a Christian example. They do not pay him, and they know they do not, though they are told differently, and they care not for the removal of that which they see daily as a blessing and not a curse. Take the Suspensory Bill of last year. When negatived in your Lordships' House, did Ireland rise in indignation? No! It was not even a nine days' wonder, and when the other House of Parliament spent the earlier Session in spoliating that Church, did Ireland applaud it? Where are the Petitions laid upon your table? Where the meetings of sympathy? Where the demonstrations of popular feeling? And echo answers—Where? There appears to be nothing but silence, apathy, and indifference. Thus when, under the Church Temporalities Act, ten Bishops were suppressed, the question is said to have been asked O'Connell—" Does not this satisfy you?" His reply was remarkable—"Why, what good have you done? You have removed ten of the best resident gentlemen in Ireland." Now the only reasons which one can gather from the Government to justify the pressing forward with such indecent haste the destruction of the Established Church, are these:—first, that it is the badge of ascendancy; and secondly, that it has not fulfilled its mission. As regards the first, it is very strange that the Government ranks among its leading Members a Prime Minister who two, or three years since, declared it a question not to be touched by legislation, and two past Lords Lieutenant of Ireland, and though they or those with whom they are associated have been in power for about thirty out of the last thirty-five years, it never struck them that this was a pressing and paramount question. Nay, it was never alluded to until the last twelve months suddenly presented it in a different light. We have been 107 told that the country supports the Government both as to disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church. It has been conceded by almost every speaker in this debate that disendowment in its present shape has not been decided on by the country. Nor, I contend, has disestablishment in its character and effects. It is not mere disestabblishment, sole and separate, that you have to deal with, for in Ireland the disestablishment of the present Established Church is, ipso facto, the establishment of the Church of Rome. The doing away with the supremacy of the Crown would, ipso facto, be the admission of the supremacy of the Pope. The two are inseparable. The substitutes are ready made to your hands, and who will blame the Church of Rome if she be ready to step in—aye, and will step in? This part of the question, remember, is not merely a Protestant question, it has been in the past regarded as belonging to no party, neither under Roman Catholic rule in Ireland, nor in Roman Catholic countries on the Continent. The public mind is, I believe, only awakening to the real issues, and those great meetings, those monster gatherings, conducted with such calm and orderly counsels, which have been but too slightingly spoken of, are but what Lord Palmerston prophetically prefigured in 1829—"The indignant feelings of a betrayed people," under the ungenerous and unfair treatment of the Government. Is it just and right that a question of such magnitude, involving such vast and complicated vested interests, involving a serious inroad on the Constitution, should be hurried through by the hasty legislation of about three months in the other House of Parliament, overthrowing suddenly the work of three centuries, and without giving the country fair time to weigh it in all its bearings?
I now advert to the question put by the noble Earl who moved the second reading. He asked—"Has the Established Church in Ireland fulfilled her mission?" In proof of this, numbers have been relied, on. The Protestants of Ireland have been spoken of as a "miserable minority." I do not believe that we are so miserable a minority, not in numbers merely, but in property, in intelligence, and in those qualities which you should recognize as constituting 108 good citizens—the bone and sinew of a nation's strength. But surely numbers are both a shifting and an unsound ground for arguments—shifting, for not many years since O'Connell used to boast—"We are 8,000,000," and the last Census, 1861, showed that those to whom he applied the argument—for it was an argument which implied power to enforce claims—were then 4,500,000. Unsound, because it admits numbers into superiority to truth. One of the grandest scenes in Old Testament history is that upon Mount Carmel, when Elijah stood alone and said—"Let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant." There was a grand scene also in the life of the great German monk. When he was told the world is against Luther, "Then," said he, "Luther is against the world." But is the argument of numbers so much against us? Take the relative proportion of numbers between 1834 and 1861. According to the Census returns, the Roman Catholic population diminished 3 per cent, and the Established Church increased more than 1½ per cent, making, of course, a considerable relative change. But if I go to the far West, and take the result of the Census in certain parishes lying along the Atlantic, between Killala and Galway Bays, I find them tabulated by Hume, and the results, thus summed up, that the Church population has risen 344 per cent, while in the same localities the Roman Catholic population has fallen 23 per cent. In these localities I can enumerate, within the same period, at least eighteen new churches and twenty licensed places of worship, consecrated or opened; seventeen additional clergymen; and ten or eleven newly-endowed districts; besides rectories formed from large unions. Surely this is progress, and this is life. It is fulfilling its mission, and in this fulfilling of its mission the Government steps in to put an end, under false pretence, to progress. But I may be met with the observation—"Surely you owe these results to the benevolence of England and to religious societies, who have supplied the funds and stimulated exertions." I wish to admit this to the fullest extent it can be pressed to, because it only strengthens the position that the voluntary system is quite inapplicable to the vast and poor parishes in the West and South-west of Ireland. Look 109 at the extent in area of the parishes! where this progress has been made. One parish—a large union—was twenty-five miles broad and fifty long, and included also islands. Another is twenty-two miles long, and a third extends over 148,395 acres. Such parishes are wild to a degree that your Lordships can hardly understand, beyond the physical powers of most men; and when you add to this that the income of these parishes did not amount to £200 per annum, you have a true picture of the much-abused rich and indolent Church established in Ireland. The average extent of the parishes in the diocese of Tuam, &c, is 34,008 acres. More than half the parishes are, in net income, under £200 per annum, and the Church population, according to the Royal Commission, exceeds 222 per parish. I can testify personally to the work—the laborious work—which falls to the lot of a minister in Ireland. For many years, while curate, my Sunday's duty gave me each Sabbath a ride of eighteen miles, and I ministered in another parish extending over 53,400 acres, with island, to more than 1,000 members of our Church. I trust that the noble Earl who brought forward this charge will have given these facts his attention. But suppose, by way of illustration but not of argument, we put the same test to the Church of England, would the reply be more satisfactory? Have the energies of its ministers reached the whole of the Roman Catholic, the whole of the Dissenting population, and fulfilled the mission of the Church—as is expected of the Church in Ireland—by bringing all into its communion? Why, in 1851, the Census told us that one-fourth of the population were "non-worshippers," and, notwithstanding the noble exertions of the most rev. Primate, who called into existence, through his fund, a vast machinery of usefulness throughout this metropolis, will any clergyman feel that he has fulfilled his mission? And yet, during that time, the Church in Ireland has increased greatly her churches, her glebes, her schools; she has not lost ground in a single particular, and, speaking within my own knowledge, the clergy of our communion are active, energetic, and useful ministers of our Lord and Saviour. None can tell the difficulties of a body of men who, if active, are termed fire- 110 brands, and if they fail in energy, are denounced as negligent and slothful. But, you say, all this is well, but you are enjoying the revenues which belong to others. Is it fair that your churches, your glebes, yourselves, should be paid for by those who do not belong to your Church? I deny this altogether. The history of our revenues should be clearly understood in their plain broad landmarks. Before the time of Henry II., the Church in Ireland was an independent Church. It was not in communion with the see of Borne. The witnesses in proof of this may be reduced to three. Henry II and Pope Adrian confessed the independence of the Church in Ireland, when the compact was made between them that the King was to have the temporal power, if he secured the spiritual power to the Pope, and made every house liable to Peter's pence. A celebrated Cardinal endorsed the same, when he connected the arrival of St. Patrick with the Council of Ephesus, a Council which denounced any Bishop, layman, or clergyman with anathema, who should make converts to the Christian faith under any other form than the Nicene Creed, fixing thus the early faith of the Irish Church beyond all doubts. From the time of Henry II. until the Reformation the Church of Rome was the Established Church in Ireland; its revenues were not tithe, for Bishop Doyle, in his evidence before Parliament, stated that tithe was never paid in Ireland before the Reformation, except within the English pale. The re-venues were from vast monastic lands, and from fees given for the offices of; religion. These monastic lands were granted, not by the Irish, but by the Normans. These lands, at the time of the Reformation, did not pass into the possession of the Church of the Reformation. The property enjoyed by the Church of Rome never became the property of our Church, and the property which is now in the hands of the Protestant Church had never been previously in the hands of the Church of Rome. And what became of these monastic lands? Confiscated by Henry VIII., who procured what was called the consent of those who held them, and reserving vested right, the Crown granted them to laymen, and these lands and abbeys are to this day, as the noble Duke (the Duke of Devonshire) alluded, 111 held, not by the Church as established, but by laymen, both Protestant and Roman Catholic. The revenues of our Church are quite distinct. The glebes were partly the grant from the Crown at the time of the Act of Settlement, and partly the voluntary gifts from private persons for the Protestant religion, and never were in possession of the Church of Rome. The glebe houses, all built since the Reformation, all, with the improved lands and gardens round them, were created from the private and personal incomes of the clergy, and would seem to have all claims which vested right and tenant right can give. The churches were, with hardly an exception, built since the Reformation, largely, if not chiefly, from private sources. For instance, since 1833, the large sum of £642,587 7s. l0d. has been contributed from private sources towards the building and improvement of churches. The churches in our possession were never in the possession of the Church of Rome. And then the tithe or tithe rent-charge—this, as we have seen, was not collected, except within the English pale, before the time of the Reformation. The settlers from England, Scotland, Wales, had received their lands from the Crown subject to the deduction of tithe, and, having been accustomed to pay it before they came, felt no hardship, and thus the tithe given by Protestants became the property of the Protestant Church. Thus, my Lords, have we received our property chiefly through private sources, but all our property is held in covenant—a covenant which pledged both giver and receiver to the maintenance of the Reformed faith. The Church has never broken that covenant; it has fulfilled its trust; it has held faithfully and contends earnestly for that faith once delivered to the saints. Upon this condition letters patent from the Crown, deeds of private endowment, contracts of every kind, secured the property to the Church. The Union with Scotland, the Union with Ireland, the Act of Settlement, each endorsed the covenant with all the solemnity of a nation's honour. Sovereign after Sovereign sealed it with their Coronation Oath. That convenant is interwoven with and written down indelibly in every law, every right of property, every equity and moral obligation, and when you add to all this that the property is held for God in all the 112 sacredness of such a trust, you not only violate every human law and break every human treaty, but you dare to touch the things which belong to God, and who can marvel if retribution should come on a nation which has done such wrong! Now, we are told that, under present circumstances, it is our wisdom and our duty to submit to some compromise, and let this measure pass the second reading. My Lords, I should have no hesitation, if it were a matter of mere worldly policy, in recognizing the force of that argument, and acting on the rersoning so powerfully urged upon your Lordships this night. But the case is not so. This Bill deals with the highest and most solemn interests and principles, with all that we hold dear both here and hereafter, with the very existence of our faith, and with that which has made England what she is. The case, I say, is a very different one from worldly policy—one in which we have to consult for the most sacred interests and maintain them, no matter at what risk or at what sacrifice. I do not hesitate to say that, rather than make unworthy concessions upon vital matters, we should quit ourselves like men. I know not—and you will understand me in a figurative sense—why I should lay down my arms and sue for terms from my opponents while my weapons are yet bright, while I fight under a glorious banner, and my cause is a just and righteous cause. Better to stand up boldly, measure our weapons, and, in the sight of England, in the light of day, and upon a fair battle-field, bring the matter to an issue, and God will defend the right! Victory, if you gain it, will be victory not over your enemies, but over your best friends. Victory, if you gain it, will be victory over the friends of order, of loyalty, and of British connection. Victory, if you gain it, will be victory by forcing a breach in the strongest bulwark of our Constitution, through which anarchy and democracy may rush in. Nay, in the war you have proclaimed, and the allies you have invited, victory, if you gain it, may be—will be—victory over every valued institution, over the Throne itself, and you yourselves will be buried in the ruins you have made.
For these reasons, and because I must obey God's truth rather than the dictates of mere expediency, I have no 113 hesitation in voting boldly and distinctly against the second reading of this Bill. Let us remember the symptoms which we see around us of the awakening feeling of the country. Remember the large and indignant meetings. Look at the Petitions which crowd your table. Are all these speaking on behalf of what you call "ascendancy," of the adventitious advantages of some accidents in our position, of the mere desire to prop up the outward fabric? Far from it: speaking for them and for myself, it is for something far higher. True, the Church can live its higher life stripped of all worldly help; but the nation that rejects and separates from her alters her position, and endangers her prosperity. Our struggle is for the Reformed faith in Ireland, for the faith of our fathers, which has been a blessing, and cannot but be a blessing—for our poorer Protestant brethren there—for the flocks upon the wild mountain-side, and the bleak moorlands, which must inevitably, under the provision of this Bill, be left as sheep without a shepherd. Our struggle then is for the truth of God—for that righteousness which, embodied in the State, exalts a nation—for the Church which is the poor man's Church. What is it that has made England what she is? How is it that even the poorest man can feel that his cottage is his castle, and his mind his own? How is it that he knows no tyrant can enter into his cottage, no despot chain that mind against his will? How is it that liberty is his birthright, security his inheritance—and that for him, as for the highest, every tribunal of the land must stand the light of day, and the test of truth? Is it that England rules with wider sway, and freer commerce, and stronger arm than other lands? No such thing. It is that that pure and apostolic faith secured to us at the Reformation is like a tree of life, which bears among others this pleasant fruit—"Perfect Civil and Religious Liberty." It is that the union between that religion and the State has elevated her into the superiority of a land which God has blessed. It is that that blessed Book, the foundation of our faith and the birthright of our people, not more surely proclaims pardon and peace with man, justification through our Redeemer, than does its mild, and just, and gentle spirit pervade like leaven our laws, our liberties, our social 114 and domestic ties, and build up and fit and cement it all into that mighty fortress of a nation's freedom, the glorious Constitution under which we are as yet privileged to live.
My Lords, as one of those who are about to vote against the feelings of many of my Friends, both in and out of the House, I must ask your Lordships' indulgence whilst I express—as shortly as I can—my reasons for giving that vote. I received a letter the other day from a friend of mine—a High Church clergyman in the country—who sent me a Petition upon this measure, and said he hoped he should not find my name among those who voted for the second reading of this Bill, or, as he said, among the flatterers and busy mockers whom The Times was pleased to applaud. Many hard things have been said—though I am thankful to say that they have not been said by my Friends in this House—about the persons who will vote from this side of the House in favour of the second reading of this Bill. They are called "cowards"; it is said that they shrink from duty, and will vote against professed principles for expediency, from the fear of consequences, and the like. Now—I say it without fear of contradiction—the fear most likely to operate on the minds of most persons in my position is the fear of going against their party in this House, and not the empty threats uttered by people out-of-doors. I think I may say that I am not a coward. Some years ago I thought it my duty to vote contrary to my party—voting in a minority of some twenty—against the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill. I know how hard it is to stand aloof from them, and the kindness of that party only made it the harder to go against them. On a former occasion I voted against the noble Earl (Earl Derby), who began the debate this evening, when the Bill for establishing what were termed "the godless Colleges" was under the consideration of the House, again voting with the minority. But when I look back upon these votes I cannot help thinking that if the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill had been rejected, or had subsequently been repealed, and if we had not denied to the Roman Catholics of Ireland that denominational system of education in which we ourselves glory, we should not now be engaged in discussing a measure for the 115 disestablishment of the Irish Church. It is said by the noble Earl, whom I have generally looked up to as my leader in this House, that the whole of this Bill has not been accepted by the country. I quite concur with him in that opinion; but I do not think, while we glory in the majorities which we gained in Lancashire and other large constituencies, we can turn round and say—though we know they were gained by the Protestant feeling that was called forth—that the majority of the constituencies at large have not pronounced an opinion on this question, but only upon the question whether Mr. Disraeli or Mr. Gladstone should be at the head of the Government. There is no shrinking from the fact as stated by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough) that the disestablishment of the Irish Church has been clearly decided by the nation. If that be really so, it is clearly the duty of this House not to be an impediment to the working of the Constitution. "We have two distinct duties to perform as a component part of the Legislature. First, to check rash legislation until the opinion of the nation can be clearly ascertained—and that duty, I think, we did last year when we rejected the Suspensory Bill. Our second function is when the will of the country has been ascertained, and when it is sought to give it effect, to take care that that shall be done in the most constitutional way. The latter I consider to be our clear function at the present moment. We are told by the noble Earl, to whom I have already referred, that there is no use in trying to make Amendments in this Bill, because it is quite certain that those Amendments will be rejected by the other House of Parliament. I can imagine no argument more calculated to be subversive of the power of this House, or tending to exhibit more a sense of its weakness. My own opinion is that if we choose to amend the Bill on the ground that its details have not been sanctioned by the country we shall be occupying a locus standi which cannot easily be shaken. But what does the noble Earl who moved the Amendment (the Earl of Harrowby) ask your Lordships to do? He proposes that you should send back, as it were, a tabula rasa to the country, and that, although there are Amendments which might be introduced into the Bill, we will nave nothing to do with it. This, my Lords, is not a 116 course which I, for one, think it would be expedient to adopt—especially when we consider that this measure is regarded as one of a series of measures intended, whether rightly or wrongly, to promote the pacification of Ireland. I hope your Lordships will not only propose Amendments in the Bill in Committee, but that you will be prepared to stand by them. But if we reject this measure without attempting to amend it, we take the responsibility of the agitation of Ireland upon our own shoulders, at a time when the Orangemen of Ireland would be excited by their victory and the Roman Catholics embittered by a defeat. I do not think that we ought to accept such a position. But there are other reasons for the vote I intend to give. If we look to history we shall find that the union of Church and State is based upon the principle that the majority of the nation accepts the religion which is united to it. This principle was accepted at the Reformation, and it was to be maintained by Penal Laws. But the moment you allowed that the Penal Laws had failed you, and more certainly from the moment you repealed them, the union of Church and State was left apart from its old principle, and became nothing more than a voluntary agreement. It may be said to be very unchivalrous in me to attempt to show any difference between the state of the Church in England and that of the Church in Ireland, but the basis of all chivalry is to tell the truth. In the former, history tells us that many of the Nonconformists were baptized and buried according to our formularies. In the time of James II., even when the Penal Laws were in full force, the Nonconformists of England rallied round the Church in a wonderful manner when they believed it to be in danger. In the same manner I believe that the Nonconformists of this country would again rally round the Church of England to defend it from the attacks of infidelity and Romanism. But when we look to Ireland, history tells us a very different story, and shows that the difference between the Church of Ireland and the Nonconformists of that country was one which was totally irreconcilable. Not only, therefore, has the voice of the country been raised, in favour of disestablishment, but the history of the union between Church and State and of 117 the true principle upon which it is based has really demanded it. And further, I maintain that it is not necessarily an unchristian act to disendow or disestablish a Church, although the way in which the act is sought to be carried out may be both wrong and unchristian. I wish it clearly to be understood that while I cannot fear any harm to a true branch of Christ's Church from disestablishment or disendowment, I am not foolishly in favour of disestablishment or disendowment. I cannot conceal from myself the fact that the establishment of the Church is a great good both to Church and State, though there may be evil effects from it to the one and the other. People tell us that this Bill will destroy the Church of Ireland, and that it will destroy the union which exists between the Churches. Now, I deny that the State can destroy any true branch of the Church of Christ: I deny that the State union at present existing between the two Churches has anything to do with that true union which ought to exist in Christ's Church between the different branches of it; and I say emphatically that this Bill will not, and cannot, destroy the union of the two Churches. But while I maintain that the Act itself is not necessarily wrong, the way adopted for carrying it out may be so. I cannot myself see why, in carrying out this scheme, the State need renounce altogether its care for the Christian teaching of its people. I do not see why, in carrying it out, the State need apply to secular purposes money which has been originally dedicated to religious uses. I cannot see why the State should not deal fairly and liberally with the members of the Church which is about to be disestablished. My Lords, at this late hour it is not my intention further to trespass upon your attention. For the reasons I have stated I believe that, if Amendments which may be proposed by your Lordships be carried, many evils on the face of the Bill will be removed, and that your Lordships will be able in Committee to effect such alterations as will prove acceptable to the country. Should your Amendments be rejected by the other House and returned to you, it will then be in your Lordship's power to appeal to the country in order that it may decide whether the way which your Lordships propose, or the way which the Prime Minister proposes, is the right and pro- 118 per way to carry out the wishes of the nation.
§ The further Debate on the said Motion adjourned 'till To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past One o'clock, A.M., till half past Ten o'clock.