§ Mr. Hume,
in rising to submit a motion relative to the present state of the Church Establishment in Ireland, said, he was fully aware of the importance of the question, and of the responsibility attaching to any individual who introduced a proposition of this consequence into parliament. But, being strongly impressed with the opinion that much of the evils which had so long afflicted Ireland arose from the present condition of its church establishment, and that that establishment, so far from promoting the welfare and happiness of the people, produced a precisely contrary effect, he had determined to bring this most important subject fully before the House. He would have declined to do so, but that he believed, so long as that establishment 1150 existed on its present footing, there could be neither peace, unanimity, nor security for Ireland. He would shortly state the grounds upon which he had come to such an opinion, and why the House ought to entertain his proposition, and, at an early period of the next session, inquire into the state of this establishment, with a view to effecting such changes in it as the circumstances of the times might seem to require.—Having in three preceding sessions entered at great length into the principles, and stated the details upon which that proposition was bottomed, he would not now detain the House by going over the same matters again. Many of the facts that he had advanced on former occasions, and which were then strongly contested, had been since conceded by those who then opposed him; and much of the argument with which he was then met had been since, as if it were by common consent, withdrawn. The main object of his motion, therefore, he could not help thinking, had made some progress. He was well aware of the necessity and importance of religious instruction in every community; and was quite satisfied, from his own experience in Scotland, of the benefits to be derived from a system, the pastors of which attended regularly to their sacred duties—were never absent from the sphere in which they were to be discharged—and were, from January to December, occupied in the anxious care of those who were confided to their ministry. From a system like this, much real benefit had been, and ever would be, derived: the public approbation must sanction it; and it would be found of the highest advantage to the community among which it obtained. He did not object, therefore, to the establishment, as an establishment for affording religious instruction to the people; but he called upon parliament, as it formerly adopted the Protestant profession as the best calculated for the interest of the English people, and the Irish reformed church as the best adapted for Ireland, to say, whether, in regard to the latter country, circumstances had not since occurred which made it expedient for the legislature to revise what it had so done? If it should be found that the present Irish church establishment was not in any respect adapted to the due discharge of the duties it had to perform—or was larger than the state of that country, or the nature of its society, required—or was better paid than was necessary, was 1151 it too much to say, that the House would not be performing their duty, if they did not alter its condition? Dr. Paley had described a church establishment to be "only a means towards an end;" and the same authority declared, that "religious establishments could not be shown to form any essential part of Christianity, but were only the means of encouraging it; for it could not be proved among the early christians there was any religious establishment." From this authority, he (Mr. Hume) inferred, that as christians they were not bound to any particular established form of worship; but that it was competent to the legislature, as heretofore, to decide, if the establishment which it had formerly authorized should be found not to have answered the ends proposed, upon altering it; that as parliament had once determined for the Protestant, and at another time for the Roman Catholic religion, as the religion of the state, so it might again change its determination in this respect. It was a favourite maxim with some, that with the established religion of any state, the state itself must fall. He thought a more dangerous maxim was never broached, either as regarded the welfare of the government, or of the church. The. hon. gentleman then went on to contend, that the church in all ages had manifested its sub-serviency to the government; which the latter had recompensed by the gift of proportionate privileges and property. But he was of opinion, that the government should always stand upon its own footing, independent of the church. It was highly proper that the state should render the church the means of instructing the people, but the church had never benefitted in character or religious principle by its political connexion with the state. He begged that this distinction might be kept in view, that hon. members would exercise a common degree of discrimination, and then he should not be again cavilled at for revolutionary intentions when he called upon the House to interfere.—This course of reasoning brought him to the question, what prevented the House from inquiring into the state of the church establishment of Ireland? The law, it might be said, had constituted the Protestant the established religion of Ireland; but, the power that made that law might revoke it, and if it saw reason, might make the Catholic, or any other religion, the religion of the state. Referring to the 1152 events which had taken place in the reign of William 3rd, he found good ground for believing, that that monarch intended at one time to make the Catholic he the established religion of Ireland. In one of his letters to the government of Ireland, he had required them to pass an act, establishing that church which should be most consonant with the wishes of the people. Circumstances intervened to prevent the accomplishment of this injunction; and matter of endless regret it must be, that they should have done so; for had Ireland obtained the Roman Catholic as her established religion, in the same way that Scotland had obtained the establishment of the Presbyterian as hers, there was every reason to believe, looking to what had happened in Ireland within the last 120 years, that she would have enjoyed by this time a century of peace, happiness, and prosperity, instead of anarchy and misery—that she would now have been a flourishing nation, and that England, instead of her gaoler, as it were, would have been regarded by her as her benefactress. In what a condition was Scotland when it was attempted to force upon her a religion which was not more generally disliked by the Scotch than Protestantism now was by the great body of the Irish people? Did not bloodshed, violence, and insubordination prevail, until Presbyterianism was finally established as the religion of Scotland? It was not for him to say whether the Catholic, Protestant, Presbyterian, Hindoo, or Mussulman religion was the true faith. He was not called upon to decide that point. The question was, what ought to be the conduct and policy of a government in this respect, which wished to promote the prosperity of the people. He was satisfied that all that had happened to Ireland, since the time when Scotland obtained a religion of her own choice and settlement, might have been avoided if just measures had been adopted. She had been deprived of the hard earnings of her industry; had been degraded far below her true rank in society; and had been most unjustly deprived of her civil rights. The page of history could furnish no instance of a country in the condition of Ireland for the last century. The truth was, that the governing power in England was worse than in any other part of the world; yet it claimed to be superior, and would fain establish an exclusive right to the title of liberal. If then, under this 1153 superior, this liberal government, such a train of fatal consequences had followed the establishment of the Protestant religion in Ireland, was it not now time to inquire? Why had not the House, during this long series of years, endeavoured to discover the cause of the existing evils, and to ascertain whether they did or did not originate with the church? Four years ago he had been anxious that a committee should be appointed; and if the motion had been carried, the foundation might already have been laid for important improvement. It was not a question of religion that he wished to impress upon the House, but a question of state policy and of humanity towards Ireland. Parliament would abandon its character, if, knowing the evils, it did not do its utmost to ascertain their cause, and to apply a remedy. In the early part of the session he had been anxious to bring this topic under the consideration of the House, but he had given way to the more general motion of the hon. baronet (the member for Westminster). The fate of the measure of the Catholic Relief bill, which had passed one House of parliament and was thrown out in another, left no doubt, that the church, and the church alone, had prevented the accomplishment of so great a good. Regarding emancipation, therefore, as essential to the happiness of Ireland and to the security of England, he could not too strongly impress upon the House, the necessity of removing all impediments to its attainment. As long as the church of Ireland maintained its present preponderating influence, the meed of justice would never be conceded; England would never have the satisfaction of granting, nor Ireland the benefit of receiving. He well knew that all future attempts of the same kind must be hopeless, unless the government of the country took up the question, and supported it as a government; if that course were pursued, the church would soon discover, for no class was keener-sighted in matters that concerned their own interests, that it was necessary to give its sanction to the measure of emancipation. Much had been said on former occasions regarding the danger to religion, and he would here notice an opinion, of sir W. Temple, which he had found only a few days ago, and which seemed singularly in point as to the views and objects of the clergy. Attempts had been made to introduce some alteration, for the benefit of the community, at the expense of the 1154 church, and which, of course, the church resisted, upon which sir William observed, that "the clergy were united more than any other body in society, by one common bond, in the pursuit of one common interest; they professed that their object was the greatness of the church, but it was indeed their own: they sought their own honour, power, and riches, and not the honour, power and riches of the church: that was their object, their consideration, and their care." Such were the words of sir W. Temple. It was a question, therefore, entirely of property—the church benefices and the church bishopricks. Leaving, then, the religious part of the subject, he would ask why, if it could be shown that the present number of bishops and clergy generally was not required in Ireland, that they were payed at a higher rate than they deserved, and than the people could afford, an inquiry was not to be instituted? If the army, the navy, or any other establishment of the kingdom were too large, or too expensive, the House consented to reduce them; and what was there that should make the church an exception to the rule? Attempts had, indeed, been made, to distinguish the clergy from other branches of the state; but there was no just ground for any such distinction. Nobody would deny that the origin of property was in the law; and, therefore, if the public good required it, it was in the power of the law to take away the church property. The clergyman did not know his successor, nor could he leave it to whom he pleased; and in that lay the grand difference between church property and individual property. If, then, it was not in a clergyman's power to dispose of his property, it would be no act of injustice in the law to make a fresh arrangement as to that property. He would ask any reasonable man, when he found how completely the present arrangement in Ireland had failed, whether it was not necessary to consider of some plan for remodelling the system? If the clergy were the only means to amend, he would like to ask them what it was they proposed to do as to the education of the poor? Of the population of Ireland, one-fourteenth were Protestants, one-fourteenth Dissenters, and the remainder, six-sevenths were Catholics. If this was the just proportion, he maintained that the established church of Ireland was much overpaid; since the money it received was given for the education of all the poor, while in 1155 fact it was only a very small portion of the population that received instruction at his hands; yet no one would hear of reduction in any way, though there were 550 persons connected with the church, and receiving the clerical sums of Ireland: at one period the number had been reduced, and he therefore saw no reason why they should not again be doubled up. For his part, it was his firm belief, that the church business of Ireland would be better done if the number of bishops were reduced from twenty-two to four. He did not intend to complain of any of the bishops; for he dared to say, that if he was one of them, he should be as anxious as they were to continue to hold the lands. What he objected to was the system, and not the men. On viewing the whole property of the church, from the best statements, he did not think that be was over-rating it, if he set it at two-millions and a half, exclusive of the tithes; and he was thoroughly satisfied, that with one hundredth part of that sum the system might be as effectually carried on as it was at present. He would, however, just allude to a printed speech that had been made in another place, by the bishop of Limerick, in which that right rev. prelate had observed, of his statements, that they would have come better from the convicted libellers of Ludgate-hill, than from a member of the House of Commons, in his place. However, as the language of the bishop turned out to be rather abusive, he thought, that if it would inflict disgrace any where, it would be on the right reverend prelate himself, and not on him. He (Mr. Hume) had formerly stated, that there were 531 non-resident incumbents in Ireland; but in this he had been contradicted by a right hon. gentleman (Mr. Plunkett), who had maintained, on the authority of a bishop, whom he had consulted for that purpose, that they only amounted to from 25 to 30. His (Mr. Humes) calculation had been formed on the principle, that those who did not live on their livings were non-residents; and consequently, when any clergyman held several benefices, he was necessarily non-resident on all but one, if not on all of them. The pamphlet of the bishop of Limerick, in which that reverend person professed to refute the statements which he (Mr. H.) had made with respect to the non-residence of the clergy was full of misrepresentations. Upon his own shewing, there were no less than thirty-three clergymen in his diocese who were not 1156 incumbents; though he had excepted them from the class of non-residents, because they had duties to perform elsewhere. The bishop of Limerick had declared, that the precise amount of the income of the bishops in Ireland was not known; nor did he wish that any inquisitorial examination should take place with a view of ascertaining it. The tithe system in Ireland called loudly for reform. He (Mr. H.) had in his possession warrants for enforcing the collection of tithes on the poorest classes of the community, the amount of which tithes in some cases did not exceed 2d. and 2½d. The payment of tithes was enforced with the greatest rigour in parts of the country, where the greatest distress prevailed. In the county of Clare there had been 153 trials for the recovery of tithes within a limited period, in Kilkenny 712, in Limerick 823, in Tipperrary 819, in Waterford 347, and in Tyrone 317. When cases of this description were brought before the Consistorial Courts, it was impossible that justice could be done to individuals by a court which might be considered as itself a party. In his opinion, it was highly improper that any clergyman should be allowed to sit on the bench in any case connected with tithes, since it tended to bring their character, which ought to be sacred, into contempt. Thus, a bench, where a majority of clergymen presided, was commonly designated, in derision, a black bench. It was quite preposterous that the present ecclesiastical system, comprehending an establishment of 22 bishops, and 1,200 or 1,300 livings, should subsist in a country, where the proportion of Catholics to Protestants was, in many parishes, 100 to one, and in some not single Protestant was to be found. Suppose the Protestants were to disappear altogether from the face of Ireland,—a supposition, which was far from improbable—he would then put it to his majesty's government, whether they would in that case be prepared to continue the present system? Such a proceeding, he apprehended, would be too preposterous to be tolerated by that house, or by the country. The report of the commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of education in Ireland, developed a tissue of digraceful proceedings, which called loudly for the interference of that House. The bishops, who took an oath, on their institution, to support parochial schools, had entirely neglected their duties. If, as he contend- 1157 ed, the church of Ireland answered no one beneficial purpose, for which it was intended, it became the duty of that House to alter the existing system. The hon. member concluded by moving, 1. "That the property now in the possession of the established church in Ireland is public property under the control of the legislature, and applicable to such purposes as in its wisdom it may deem beneficial to the best interests of religion and of the community at large, due regard being had to the rights of every person in the actual enjoyment of any part of that property." And 2. "That this House will, early in the next session of parliament, appoint a select committee for the purpose of considering the present state of the Irish church, and the various charges to which ecclesiastical property is liable."
Mr. Secretary Canning
said, that whatever fault he might be disposed to find, either with the motion or the speech of the hon. gentleman, at least he could not impute to him any concealment of his views, or any design to keep out of sight the fullest explanation of his motives. In justice to the hon. gentleman he must say, that he had fully stated his object. But before he proceeded to apply himself to any part of his speech, he must request of the Clerk to read the 5th article of the act of Union.
The Clerk then read the 5th article of the Union, the purport of which was, that the doctrine and discipline of the church of Ireland, should remain in full force as an essential and fundamental part of the Union.
§ Mr. Canning
resumed. It was, he said, an advantage, that in coming to the consideration of the question, the House were placed in no circumstances of uncertainty. The sense of the legislature on the subject was not to be gathered from statutes, the construction of which might be doubtful, but they had a clear distinct authority, only twenty-five years old, to compare with the hon. member's resolution, and to help them in coming to a decision, as to whether it was possible to pass that resolution, consistently with that statute. He thought he should have the admission of the hon. member himself; that the statute to which he had referred stood in his way. The hon. member had, to be sure, expressed his disapprobation of the settlement made at the Union; but, with respect to the state of the law, there could be no dispute. The compact which had been 1158 made at the Union might be broken; but, until that was done, it became parliament to act with good faith on their part. Parliament could not, without a violation, which would lead to the apprehension of violations of all kinds, concur in the resolution of the hon. member, which went to put out of the purview of the settlement made at the Union the whole of the property of the church of Ireland, and to declare that it was a thing with which parliament had a right to deal with as it thought fit. The difficulty of the hon. mover's case was, that it went directly against all that hitherto had been considered as established. The church property of Ireland might be compared to a corporate property, which had been revised and conferred by act of parliament; but, the hon. mover seemed to think that he had a right to go back to a period antecedent to the establishment of a right to the property on the part of the church, and when that property remained to be distributed among mankind, for the benefit of particular classes. If the House should agree to the resolution, there was nothing to prevent them from seizing upon the property of corporations. Then, again, why was the House to stop with the tithes of the church? Why not, also, possess themselves of the lay tithes? In short, the proposition of the hon. member was so monstrous, so likely to lead to the most alarming consequences, that it was, he was sure, quite impossible that the House could, for a moment, hesitate as to the course which they should pursue regarding it. The hon. member had, in the course of his speech, remarked, that the session had been wasted in fruitless attempts to carry the Catholic question. Now, the greatest enemy of that question could not devise a surer means of procuring its defeat than by causing to be inserted on the journals of that House a resolution contemplating the spoliation of the Protestant church property next session. It was, he was convinced, the fear of such a proceeding which originated much of the opposition to the Catholic claims. He was therefore rather pleased that the hon. gentleman had afforded the House an opportunity of shewing how they would meet any such proposition. He was confident that the vote to which they were about to conic would tranquillize any fears which might be entertained on the subject. The right hon. gentleman concluded by characterizing the motion as one of the most bare- 1159 faced propositions of injustice that had ever been submitted to parliament. His firm belief was, that to such a resolution the hon. member would find few supporters in that House; and still fewer in the country.
Sir F. Burdett
contended, that the right hon. gentleman had not applied himself to the facts stated by his hon. friend; neither had he made out the two propositions with which he had commenced. The right hon. gentleman set out with saying, that to accede to the motion would be a violation of one of the articles of the Union. But, in the words of that article, he found nothing to warrant the argument founded on them by the right hon. gentleman. There was not a single word in it respecting tithes: the article only said, that the established church (meaning the religion) of England should be maintained in Ireland. Now, he would contend, that even had the words of the article applied more closely to the subject under discussion, it was competent to parliament to alter or annul such article, if necessary, for the benefit of the country: for it would be absurd to contend, that articles should be held inviolable, the effects of which were the direct contrary of those intended by the contracting parties. The article in question was not entitled to any very great veneration; for the Union itself was the produce of the most shameful, scandalous, indeed, shameless corruption, that had ever disgraced the annals of a nation. One parliament sold its country—another parliament became the purchaser—and the sale was made good by the assistance of military power. The article of the Union, therefore, by no means bore out the right hon. gentleman in his first argument. With respect to the other branch, the sacredness of property, it was easy to prove that it was not tenable; for he was sure it would not be contended, that the legislature had not the power to effect a modification of private property, if necessary to the public welfare. For the same reason, he did not consider that the property of the church should be held more sacred; but less so; for it was, to all intents and purposes, public property; and, therefore, more liable to be dealt with for the public good. The payments to the clergy of the church of Ireland were enormous; while the duties of that church were ill performed. He denied that the Catholic question was connected with that before the House. They stood on differ- 1160 ent grounds, and had totally distinct objects. The concession of their claims was equally the right of the Catholics, whether the church property of Ireland should be reduced or not; and he could not help saying, that the established church of Ireland had placed itself in en awkward predicament, and in an invidious point of view, when it set itself forward in opposition to the just claims of a great majority of his majesty's Irish subjects. For these reasons, he could not see how the Catholic question could be mixed up with, or injured by, the motion of his hon. friend, who only wished to put upon the records of parliament, a motion founded in reason, and perfectly harmless in its nature. He was convinced that no danger could be apprehended from the success of it; and he thought the right hon. gentleman wrong in endeavouring to shut out all inquiry into the subject.
§ Mr. Trant
said, that the hon. mover had stated that the existence of the church of Ireland was incompatible with the happiness and welfare of Ireland. Now, he for one, thought the hon. member who meddled with all sorts of things, and who did not know much of Ireland, was not a good authority, and he should not rely on him. He had done the question of Catholic emancipation more harm by his resolution than he had ever done it good.
Mr. Alderman Wood
said, that his hon. friend did not wish to despoil the church, but for a more equal distribution of its amazing wealth.
Mr. Secretary Peel
said, that the hon. baronet had not shaken a single argument of his right hon. friend. The hon. baronet said, that the argument of his right hon. friend, founded upon the article of the Union, was not tenable there being no mention made in it of tithes. But, there were other subjects similarly omitted in special articles. which were, nevertheless, recognized in subsequent ones. The act of Union settled the mode by which Ireland should be represented in the House of Peers, fixing the manner of their election, and specifying that four of the Irish prelates should sit there in rotation. The present constitution of the Irish church was thereby distinctly recognized; and he wished to remind the hon. baronet, that in the bill lately introduced by the hon. baronet himself, the church of England and Ireland, as by law established, was declared inviolable. With 1161 regard to the number of bishops, the hon. mover proposed to double them up; and the manner in which he proposed to effect that operation was a curious one. There were twenty-four bishops and archbishops in Ireland, and the hon. member thought they ought to be "doubled up" to two. He considered two quite enough; but, feeling that he had to deal with a prejudiced House, he consented, in the excess of his liberality, to double them up to four. The hon. baronet admitted, that public property was equally sacred with private property: but then he declared, that he was ready to support the motion, considering it perfectly harmless, as applied to private property. Now, had the hon. baronet read the resolution? With all the hon. baronet's liberality, he thought he had, at the same time, too much consideration for his own private property, to consent that it should come under the operation of the resolution before the House. That resolution began by stating, that "the property of the church of Ireland is public property." The hon. baronet, he was sure, would not like that description to be applied to his private property; and, if the property of the church was to be treated in the same manner as private property (which the hon. baronet contended), then he would call upon him to vote against the motion.
§ Mr. Brougham
said, he did not mean to enter into the general question, but he wished to say a few words, both to guard himself from its being supposed that he differed from his hon. friend, and to shew how much beyond accuracy those who maintained that the church property was inviolable, had pushed their principle. As to what had been stated by the hon. baronet, that the legislature might make the same declaration as to private property which it was proposed to make as to church property, he fully agreed, that the legislature had the power of disposing even of private property, when it was necessary for the safety of the state. But, God forbid, that he should contend that the church had the same power over its property that individuals had over theirs. He admitted the existence of a church known to the law as a corporate body having rights, and to which wrongs might be done. But he contended, that both the mode of establishing church property and the mode of dealing with it, were very different both in argument and in practice, from the mode of establishing and dealing 1162 with private property. He would first say, that the property of the church must be regarded, in the strict sense of the word, as public property; if the church were considered not as individuals only, but as a large body of 2,000 persons and upwards having duties depending on their situations. Another material difference between church and private property was, that the private individual might do what he liked with his property: he carried it about with him; no person had any control over it, except the legislature, as stated by the hon. baronet; and of this he had no right to complain, for he gave his assent, or was supposed to give his assent to its measures. His private property was inseparably attached to his person; he might transfer it, sell it, burn it, break it up into parcels; in short, do with it whatever he liked, without any control, except that imposed by settlements, and this was the act of a person disposing of property which he held in fee. He might bequeath his property by will, or he might allow it to go to his eldest son, to his nearest of blood, or to any body he pleased. But to whom could the parson leave the property of the church? to the next succeeding parson, a person whom he probably never saw, and who might be his mortal enemy. He had no power to dispose of this property; it must go to his successor. The control, therefore, which the church and which individuals had over their property, could not be called the same.—The next point he would mention should be the consequences of the legislature meddling with private property, and with the property of the church. By taking away the property of an individual, he was deprived of his means of providing for his family and children. But, if the legislature were to say to the priest of some parish, containing five hundred Catholics and one Protestant, "After you are dead, there shall be no longer any parson in this parish," who would be injured by this? A person who never enjoyed it. Was there in this case the same injury inflicted as in the other? In the one case, you deprive a wife and children of the means of subsistence; but, in the other, there is nobody to suffer but an unknown, and, perhaps, unborn parson. There was, therefore, no analogy between the two cases. —The last difference he would mention, and it was an important one, was, that private property was held on no conditions whatever; 1163 there was no duty imposed or annexed to the enjoyment of the right; but the church consisted of two thousand office-bearers, clothed with a sacred character; indeed, extremely useful to the state—a body of men, set a part for a particular service, but who received their property on condition of performing these services, fulfilling these duties, and who might be stipendiaries, or who might be paid by salaries, instead of tithes and land, as they were in most of the countries of Europe. But, it had suited the policy of this country to pay them by tithes. This did not make them different from other public officers, or other public servants. There was no sort of analogy, then, between church property and private property, which should lead to the conclusion, that the former possessed the same sort of inviolability as the latter. The church receives its property for the performance of certain services, but private property was held unconditionally. As well might the pay of the army, as the property of the church, be called inviolable and private property. The army was a corporate body, larger, indeed, and more numerous than he wished it to be—it was a great public body—it had Chelsea Hospital, and the navy had Greenwich Hospital, richly endowed with land, for the use of the navy under certain conditions; but, was it ever supposed that either of these bodies could regard their pay or the property of these hospitals as theirs, and to be held inviolably sacred? He contended that the property of the church was conferred by the state for the performance of certain services, and that the legislature might deal with it, when it was necessary, for the benefit both of the church and the state. In this opinion, he agreed with the hon. member for Westminster.—After showing that church property might be disposed of for the benefit of the country, he would proceed to inquire into what the legislature had done with regard to church property. Without going back to the period of the Reformation—without adverting to the appropriation of the property of the monasteries—without even saying any thing of the abolition of tithes in Scotland; where tithes had formerly existed till they were abolished by the act of Charles the 1st. Passing by all these remote examples, he would just ask what had been done with church property in Ireland? Had the House forgotten that the parliament of Ireland passed an act depriving the 1164 church of Ireland of all the tithe of agistment, and that this act was incorporated with the Union? By this act, the church was deprived of all the tithe from grass land, to the benefit of the more opulent, and to the injury of the poorer classes. When the right hon. Secretary pointed out the circumstances which led to the Union, he should not have forgotten that unless this spoliation of the Irish church had been incorporated with the Union it would not have been carried. He was surprised that the right hon. Secretary should refer to the Union for the inviolability of church property, when this spoliation was recorded in that Union, and when he paid so little regard to the promises held forth at the Union, that the Catholics should enjoy the same privileges as the rest of their countrymen, and that Catholic emancipation should be granted. Were not these pledges given to the Catholics of Ireland by the marquis Cornwallis, a nobleman notorious for good faith—pledges in which the then Secretary for Ireland concurred? It was true they were given in private; but being so given to leading public characters, they were as binding as any public declarations. And yet these pledges, without which the Union could never have been accomplished, remained for the last twenty-five years unredeemed. But, what said the very article of Union on which the right hon. Secretary for Foreign Affairs had laid such particular stress? It was a provision to maintain the faith and discipline of the Protestant establishment of Ireland. The faith, he trusted, the established church would continue to maintain as steadfastly as they did its wealth. But, what had faith to do with money? He trusted the bishops would preserve the faith of the church with as much tenacity as they now struggled for the tithes, even though it should happen that they should not receive the latter. Much had been said of the compact of the Union between Great Britain and Ireland, and its inviolability. Yet, who that looked at the previous Union between Scotland and England, but must be convinced, that it was incidental to such treaties or engagements to be subjected to the future consideration of the legislature? In the Scottish compact, though many of the provisions were left open to the future deliberation of the united parliament, yet there was one on which, from many considerations of local circumstances, front feudal at- 1165 tachments, from personal feelings, the compact of Union was precise and most strict—it was the institution of heritable jurisdiction, which, though guarded by such barriers from interference, was, forty years after, abolished by the enactment of the legislature—abolished, because they were felt to be more oppressive to the vassal than beneficial to the lord. The language of the statute of repeal was, that they were worse than useless—that they were pernicious. He was free to admit, that with regard to those religious feelings, which were always intermixed with respect to the church property, he would proceed with delicacy; but though that might afford an argument against any precipitate course, it offered none against an inquiry which merely sought for information. Taking the state of that church in Ireland—viewing the state of the population, who, though obliged to support it, received no benefit from it—it was most monstrous to say, that such a system should never undergo legislative revision. As to the claims of the inviolability of the property, was any man so romantic as to expect that any arrangement as to the question of tithes would satisfy every individual clergyman? And yet, if all were not satisfied, it was a spoliation of property as to the individual, as much as if the whole were discontented. They were all agreed, that that would be a most extravagant length to which any opposition to the relief of the tithe system could be pushed. He had seen an estimate of the value of the glebe lands of Ireland, which stated that property to be 160,000l. a-year, independently of the renewal of leases. That estimate he thought to be correct. Was it not natural therefore, to require information, whether or not some arrangement might be made by parliament calculated to secure the stability of the church, by removing the very natural dislike which the great population of Ireland must feel towards such an establishment? That establishment stood on very different grounds from the church of this country. In this country down to the reign of Elizabeth, the tithes were applied to four different purposes—first, the remuneration of the bishop; secondly, the allowance to the parson; next, the repairs of the church; and, lastly, the support of the poor. In an evil hour, the statute of Elizabeth, by throwing on the people the whole relief of the poor, had interfered with that dis- 1166 tribution. He threw out these views of the subject as proper questions to be hereafter considered. He should recommend to his hon. friend, to withdraw his first resolution, which, though true, did not bear on the question, and to take the sense of the House on the second resolution.
After a few words from Mr. Hume, in reply, the first resolution was negatived without a division. The House then divided on the second resolution: Ayes 37; Noes 126; Majority 89.