§ Lord John Russell
said, that notice of an amendment to the Order of the Day for the Second Reading of the Irish Church Bill having been given by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley), he rose to state that he should offer no opposition to the introduction of the noble Lord's bill, if the noble Lord's motion was submitted to the House as a substantive one. He should then treat it in the same way as he last year dealt with a motion made by the Chief Secretary for Ireland for leave to bring in a bill relative to tithe in Ireland, and as he had dealt with the motion of the right hon. Baronet (Sir R Peel) for a bill to provide for the voluntary commutation of tithe—that was to say, he should offer no opposition to the bringing in of the bill. But if the noble Lord's motion were to be made as an amendment to the order of the day, it would of course be impossible for him to agree to it.
said, it was undoubtedly his wish to have his bill brought in, and he was also anxious to take that course which would at once be convenient to the Government, and likely to insure a fair consideration, both of his proposition and that of the Government. It had been his object to avoid the inconvenience of making his motion as an amendment to the second reading of the Ministerial Bill, but undoubtedly he did mean to offer his measure as a substitute for that. He would, therefore, take the liberty of asking a question in answer to the one which had been addressed to him. He wished to know whether, if he were to bring in his bill, his noble Friend would object to postpone for three weeks the second reading of the Government measure, in order 1239 to allow time for the printing and full consideration of his (Lord Stanley's) bill?
§ Lord John Russell
undoubtedly would not consent to the postponement of the second reading of the Irish Church Bill. It had now been some time before the House, and hon. Gentlemen must be quite ready to come to a decision on its principle. It was not his intention to propose the commitment of the bill until some time hence; but he could not postpone the second reading of the bill.
§ Sir Robert Peel
begged to say, that the course which the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) proposed to pursue, of pressing his bill to a second reading, before his noble Friend (Lord Stanley) had an opportunity of introducing his measure, was contrary to the course taken with regard to his (Sir R. Peel's) bill for the voluntary commutation of tithe. It was true, that the noble Lord permitted the introduction of that bill; but when he (Sir R. Peel) proposed to read the bill a second time, an objection was taken to such a proceeding, on the part of one of the Ministers, on the ground that the House could not allow of the second reading of the bill, as a matter of course, because that would be an affirmation of its principle. If, therefore, the noble Lord was anxious now to pursue the same course as had been taken with respect to the bill for the voluntary commutation of tithe, he would consent to the postponement of the second reading of the Irish Church Bill, until the measure of his noble Friend (Lord Stanley) was introduced.
§ Lord John Russell
could not consent to the postponement of the second reading of the Irish Church Bill.
§ The Order of the Day for the second reading of the Tithe Bill (Ireland) was read.
I hope the interest I have at all times taken in the question now under consideration, and the part which it was my lot to perform on various occasions in the discharge of my official duties, will, at least, vindicate me from any. accusation of undue presumption in offering myself to the notice of the House at this early period. I can assure my noble Friend, that although I feel myself compelled to come forward upon this occasion, I do it, not undervaluing the importance, the difficulties, the overwhelming embarrassments of the subject, which I, as much as any man in the House, feel; and nothing should have 1240 induced me to take upon myself a task to which I am sensible I am unequal, excepting the consideration that it is the bounden duty of every man who has a competent acquaintance with the subject, to exert his humble abilities to the utmost, in order to offer a proposition which may afford a chance of finally settling a question which has embarrassed Government after Government, and overthrown Administration after Administration—which, so long as it remains unsettled, must interfere materially with the tranquillity and welfare of Ireland especially, and of the empire at large—which must foster unnatural enmities and unnatural alliances—which must keep up continued excitement and continued differences, not only between parties in this House, but between the two branches of the Legislature. If I thought, that the present state of the law was safe for the Church, creditable to the Government, or consistent with the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in Ireland, my task, on the present occasion, would be short and easy; because I should have little difficulty in exposing the vices in principle, and the many faults in detail, of the present Bill, so as to justify me in taking the straightforward and simple course of moving its rejection on the second reading. But I do not feel that the state of the law is safe for the Church, is creditable to the Government, or is consistent with the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in Ireland. It is true, no doubt, that by an Act, which I was fortunate enough to be the instrument of passing, the clergy, in a great portion of Ireland, are recovering their incomes with comparative ease, and in comparative abundance; that they are rescued from collisions with the peasantry; and, in fact, that they are at this moment in undisturbed possession of a considerable portion of their incomes. It is true, also, that, by the interposition of remedies which courts of law possess, the rights of the clergy have been vindicated under circumstances sometimes of great difficulty. It is true, also, that the patience, the forbearance, and the moderation of the clergy, for the most part, in Ireland, have been conspicuous. I think the worst enemies of the Church will not deny the general moderation and forbearance of the clergy of Ireland. I say, that the great majority of that body have borne, in an exemplary manner, the sufferings and privations with which they have been afflicted, individually and collectively. If hon. Gentlemen wish to have a clear and con- 1241 vincing proof of the estimation of that conduct in this country, I call upon them to look at the extraordinary liberality of their Protestant brethren on this side of the water. Their patience and forbearance have called forth a strong feeling of sympathy from their Protestant brethren in this country, and have afforded a striking and irrefragable proof that they will not allow the Irish Church to be overborne by the machinations, the frauds, or the violence of her enemies. It is because they have received this bountiful and kindly mark of sympathy—it is because their moderation has elicited this tribute of respect and condolence, that I desire in their amended circumstances, that the friends of the Church of Ireland, and the members of the Church of Ireland, should exhibit no less moderation in their demands, no less reasonableness in their concessions, than they displayed in the period of their lowest depression. Because extraordinary exertions of the courts of law have produced a partial remedy, I do not wish to see those extreme measures brought into use: it is because we stand in a comparatively better situation than last year that I desire to come forward and not to oppose the second reading of the Bill of my noble Friend, without submitting some definite and tangible proposition—not exposing myself to the charge of dealing in vague generalities and empty professions, but asking for the leave of the House, which I can hardly think will be refused, to bring in a Bill to show how far we are prepared to go. If I were to take the course pursued by my right hon. Friend, the Member for Tamworth, last year, and agreed to go into a Committee on the Bill, in order that we might separate the many parts to which we do object from those few to which we do not object, the labour would be hopeless and interminable; for my noble Friend has so ingeniously contrived to mix throughout the measure the principle to which we never can consent, with details in themselves so important as almost to rank as principle, that it would be impossible for us, as on the former occasion, to separate one portion from the other. But mainly I cannot do so, because Government is placed this year in a very different position to that in which it stood last year. We have not yet forgotten the course Government thought it their duty to pursue—a strange idea of duty in my mind—by refusing the great practical good both branches of the Legislature had consented to accomplish, unless it were 1242 accompanied by an assertion of the principle which they themselves admit could barely be brought into operation, mischievous in itself and dangerous in its application. They have told us, that we must not mind what other people offer—that we must not take the benefit the Legislature is disposed to give, and it is, therefore, my duty to appeal from Government to the House of Commons, and to the reason and moderation of the people of England, by stating what we are prepared to do—namely, frankly to deal with grievances which we frankly acknowledge; and to state thus far we will go readily and willingly, but no farther. It is on these grounds that, perfectly sensible of the difficulties which attend the attempt of any individual Member to bring forward a question of this magnitude, I have yet felt it my bounden duty not to shrink from addressing myself to the House. I trust, if the House should not ultimately agree to my proposition, it will, at all events, yield me its patient and calm attention, while I endeavour to lay before it the real state of the case, by adverting to the course which has been pursued, and the course we are all agreed in pursuing; and then, by endeavouring to show on how trifling a practical result we differ, although important in principle, which I am not at all disposed to undervalue. The legislation, with regard to the Church, may be classed mainly under three heads:—1. The nature of the revenue. 2. The total amount of the revenue. 3. The distribution and application of the revenue. The two statutes which more directly bear upon this question, are two Acts, both of which it fell to my lot to frame and prepare; one of which—I mean the Church Temporalities Act—was, however, introduced to the House by my noble Friend, Lord Spencer, then Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not deal at all in this case with the various questions of discipline, pluralities, non-residence, or due subordination and control of the clergy, because these topics belong equally to the cases of England and Ireland; they have always been considered objects of great importance, but have always been sedulously kept apart—they are kept apart in my noble Friend's Bill, and I do not propose to entangle them. As to the three points I have named, the Tithe Composition Act dealt mainly, if not entirely, with the first—the nature of the revenue of the Church. Although the case must be familiar to many Members, I trust I shall not be 1243 thought guilty of impertinent repetition, if I call to their recollection what were the complaints made, the remedies proposed, and how far those remedies applied themselves to the real grievance. That Act sanctioned and laid down the principle, that for ever from that period tithe in kind should cease and be abolished—that it no longer should be raised as a tax upon the industry and capital of the occupying and improving tenant—that it should be converted into a rent-charge—that it should be a fixed payment, varying only with the price of corn—that it should be charged upon the land—that it should be levied, not upon the tenant but upon the landlord, and that a proportionate reduction, in consequence of his new responsibility, should be made in favour of the land-owner. So far as the great leading and crying grievances upon the tithe-payer were concerned, the Tithe Composition Act wholly and entirely met the evil. I say it broadly, and without hesitation or qualification, that, as far as regarded the interests of the tithe-payer—as far also as tithe was charged to be a tax upon his industry—as far as regarded the oppression and extortion of tithe-proctors, and as far as regarded collisions between the clergy and the peasantry, the Tithe Composition Act completely and effectually remedied the evil. And as with respect to the payments made by the tithe-payer, there is no alteration in the Bill now introduced by my noble Friend, than that the charge is thrown upon the landlord immediately, instead of waiting till the expiration of the lease, for which he receives—and I do not object to it—an increased reduction in the amount of tithe. But it unfortunately happens that, in the decision of this question, various and conflicting interests are involved—these are touched in different parts of the measure, some dealing with the amount, some with the payment, and some with the distribution—all with the most opposite views and intentions, but all supported by the declaration that one part of the Bill shall not pass without the other, thereby impeding and preventing the settlement of the whole or of any part of the subject. Most unfortunately for Ireland, most unfortunately for justice, and most unfortunately for the well-being of the empire—most unfortunately, too, for the embarrassment of his Majesty's Government, in an evil hour and for political purposes, they tied themselves down to that principle which my noble Friend so feel- 1244 ingly deplored the other day his inability to shake off. What do they declare? That they will not give peace to Ireland until a principle be sanctioned which they know cannot be adopted by the Legislature. Then, let us sec who are the parties concerned, and what are their various interests. The landlord and tenant are in reality concerned in this, and in nothing but this—in the amount of reduction that shall be made, and in the manner in which the burden shall be placed upon the shoulders of the one instead of the other. Rut who else are concerned? Those who, from religions or other motives, are anxious to destroy the Church of Ireland; those sincere but mistaken men who think that this is the course to attain their object; those who desire to reform the glaring abuses of the Church; and also those economical (I suppose I must call them) politicians, who think they can screw out of the Church a miserable portion to effect some pitiful saving which would never be felt for a moment in the expenditure of the country, and who fancy that the power of extracting some 50,000l. a-year is a reason which ought to warrant the House of Commons in refusing to settle this question. It may be said, perhaps, that the tithe-payers have an indirect interest in coupling the question of education (for by a species of courtesy we must, I suppose, consider it a question of education) with the settlement of the tithe question. Undoubtedly they may have such an indirect interest if there be any one who expects to profit personally, or even in his connexions, by the result. They may have an indirect interest if they doubt the readiness of Parliament to provide the funds necessary for an object so important as the national education of the people of Ireland. But have they the slightest reason to doubt it? Has Parliament shown the smallest indisposition to give large and liberal grants for such a purpose? Do they really and seriously believe that there is one Member in the House—I will not except even the hon. Representative for Middlesex—who would say, "I will refuse you 50,000l., unless you can obtain it by screwing it out of the revenues of the Church of Ireland? I will not pay any man so bad a compliment as to imagine him capable of such conduct. Therefore, we may assert that tithe-payers have no interest, direct or indirect, but in the first portion sanctioned by my noble Friend's measure and by every measure, only it is the Government which says that this shall not pass without some- 1245 thing else. But what interest have landlords or persons through whose agency tithe payments are kept up? I know that through short-sightedness they may think they have a pecuniary interest in avoiding any payment by means of turbulence and disorder. It may be their object, therefore, to exasperate excitement—to encourage violence—to rouse the deluded peasantry for what cannot profit them, but may promote the payment of overgrown and extortionate rents. This may be the fault of the landlords of Ireland, although I hope but few are to blame; but I ask his Majesty's Government whether it will join in a proceeding to keep alive this excitement, and indefinitely to postpone the tranquillity of Ireland? I stated, that between the tithe-payers and the Church there will be but one question of interest—the mode in which the revenue should be raised. If no reduction is to be made in the amount, as respects the tithe-payers, who are to give precisely the same sum, the distribution must be a matter of perfect and entire indifference. It can be of no consequence to the Roman Catholic peasant whether this clergyman is overpaid or that underpaid—his only point of interest is what he is to pay:—whether the sum be larger or smaller that is given to one or to the other, whether the money is well or ill-distributed, is no matter to him. To think otherwise is a fallacy and a delusion, which I know my noble Friend will not attempt to encourage; for the tithe-payer is not to be benefitted one farthing, whether the Church be defrauded of 50,000l. or of 500,000l. But as between the State and the Church the amount and distribution of the revenues of the Church, is a matter of deep interest; it is deeply the interest of the State that the ministers of religion in Ireland should not be placed in a situation of pecuniary difficulty. Stationed as they are (to use an expression of my noble Friend) like a sort of Missionary Church on the outposts of Protestantism, it is the interest of the State to take care that the members of that Missionary Church are in a condition becoming their rank and education as gentlemen, so as to enable them, decently and respectably, not only to maintain their families (for our Church does not enjoin celibacy) free from unreasonable cares and anxieties, but to exercise hospitality, and to deal out charity with a liberal hand in parts of the country where perhaps they are almost the only resident gentry. It is 1246 important for the State to see that the ministers of religion are as far removed from luxurious affluence on the one hand as from sordid poverty on the other. [Cheers, we believe, from Mr. O' Connell] If the hon. Member cheers me because he doubts my readiness to effect both these objects, I entreat him only to suspend his judgment until I have concluded my statement; and if I show him that I do effect them, I call upon him, as he is attached to his native country, to support my proposition, which will only make the clergy equidistant from luxurious affluence and sordid poverty. Therefore, I say, the State is interested both in the amount as well as in the distribution of the revenues of the Church. Some may think that the State has a pecuniary interest. I contend that it is dangerous to admit the principle that it should have; but there is no gentleman who will not say that that pecuniary interest, be it 50,000l. or 100.000l., is a matter of complete and utter insignificance, compared with the other great and important points. With the questions both of amount and distribution the Act to which I before referred, regarding Church temporalities, in some degree dealt. It dealt with them imperfectly, but it dealt with them on the principle which I propose to carry farther. As to the amount, it recognised large deficiencies which required to be supplied; and, on the other hand, it acknowledged expensive superfluities which required to be retrenched. It admitted the necessity and the importance of relieving the people of Ireland, as far as was consistent with a due maintenance of the rights and interests of the clergy. I never did deny, and I never shall deny, that the maintenance and well-being of the Church was the main and prominent object at which we ought to aim in making either reductions or augmentations—I did not set out to cut down for the sake of cutting down alone, but I set out to cut down here because I thought I could beneficially apply there, and that is the principle of the Bill I shall conclude by moving to introduce. In the first place, with regard to the amount. It will be remembered that the Church Temporalities Act reduced the number of bishoprics by ten; and at the same time relieved the people of Ireland from the payment of a tax for repairing the exterior of the Church, amounting to not less than 60,000l. per annum. That was a direct, plain, and distinct relief to those who contributed to the 1247 maintenance of the Church in Ireland. Independently of this, owners of bishops' leases were enabled, by the provisions of the Bill, to obtain permanent possession of lands which they could only previously hold under leases of uncertain dates. These were the different modes of relief proposed by the Church Temporalities Act to be conferred on those who contributed to the support and the maintenance of the Established Church. But there were undoubtedly other objects contemplated by the same Bill for the advantage of the Church itself: among these was the augmentation of small livings, the erection of glebe-houses where required, the dissolution of unions where the size of the union and extent of the Protestant population rendered dissolution necessary, the repair of churches where they had been suffered to fall into decay, and the erection of churches in places where there was no decent place of worship for the Protestant congregation. These were the objects which we sought to obtain by the reductions we imposed in various ways in the revenues of the Church in Ireland. Now, what were those reductions? The first and principal reduction was that which I have already stated—the abolition of a certain number of bishoprics. The next most important in amount was the tax which we imposed, after the termination of existing interests, upon two of the bishoprics which were retained. There was also a graduated tax imposed upon all benefices whose incomes exceeded a certain amount. The object of this last tax was not to produce a complete equality amongst all the livings in Ireland, but to take something from those which could better spare it, in order to create a fund out of which the exigencies of the incumbents of the smaller livings might be met. I do not mean to say that the principle adopted was in all respects the right one, because I am prepared to admit that the proposed reduction of the larger and more valuable livings dealt with the amount of income alone, and made no reference whatever to the amount of duties to be performed. I admit that that is the principle on which remuneration ought to be afforded. And I wish I could satisfy my noble Friend opposite, that we go so far together that, if it were not for a little foolish pride, and a little foolish shame, it would be easy for his Majesty's Government to unite with us in the settlement of the important question. What were Lord Grey's calculations, at the time that he introduced the Church Temporalities Act, 1248 of the amount of revenue to be obtained? and what were the objects which Lord Grey, speaking at that time the sentiments of the Government and of the Legislature, pointed out as the prominent objects to which that amount of revenue was to be applied? In the first place, the Churches was stated at 60,000l., and the ordinary average repair of churches at 60,000l; and so near was that sum to the calculation now made, as to differ from it only by a few pounds; for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, at the present moment, estimated the cost of repairing churches in Ireland at fifty-nine thousand and some odd hundred pounds. But Lord Grey considered that a large sum would be requisite for the augmentation of small livings; and in order to raise the minimum income of every clergyman in Ireland to 200l. a-year, he calculated that no less a sum than 46,000l. per annum would be necessary. Beyond this, Lord Grey calculated that 20,000l. a year would be required for new churches, and 10,000l. a-year for glebe-houses, with another item which I do not recollect. Lord Grey, therefore, charged upon the fund obtained by the reduction of bishoprics and the tax upon the larger livings—Lord Grey charged upon that fund, as deficiencies which required to be supplied, a permanent charge of not less than 156,000l. a year. But setting aside all the cases of the building of glebe-houses, the erection and repair of churches, the augmentation of small livings, &c, what is the amount of the permanent charge which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners now report will for ever be upon the funds at their disposal? 6.9,000l. a-year ordinary-current expenses, without providing for any one of the objects which it was the purpose of the Church Temporalities Act to accomplish by the reductions which were to take place. And what is the amount of the revenue of which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are now in the receipt? The amount of the revenue for the last year was 29,000l.—29,000l. was the sum which they had at their disposal to meet the annual current expenses of 69,000l., which annual current expense was incurred without meeting any one of the important objects contemplated by the Church Temporalities Act. The fund at the disposal of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, it was proved by an actuary's calculation, could not be out of debt till the year 1873. Till that time there would be no surplus; therefore till that time none of the objects contemplated when the reductions were pro- 1249 posed could be effected. Till the year 1873 every one of the objects contemplated by the Church Temporalities Act must be indefinitely postponed. What is the revenue of the Church Commissioners this year? It is considerable—I think 185,000l. A large revenue undoubtedly. But how is it made up, and how much of it is income, and how much capital? How much of it can they rely upon? And how much is there upon the receipt of which they cannot reasonably rely? Of this 185,000l. there is no less a sum than 150,545l. which constitutes no portion of the annual income of the Church. The Commissioners have sold 11,000l. of stock, losing of course the perpetual interest payable upon that stock, for which they received 10,993l. They have leased the domains and lands of two bishoprics—thus again trenching upon a source which was calculated upon as yielding a permanent fund for defraying the necessary expenses of the Church. They have let the domains and lands of two bishoprics; and how? They have reduced the rent, and taken a large fine, 4,000l., in anticipation of rent. Then they have had a loan from Government, amounting to 46,000l. "Oh, but," it is said, "that is a loan from the Board of Works; we borrowed of the Government with one hand, and we have paid it with the other. We borrowed from the Treasury 46,000l., and in order to pay the Treasury we have borrowed 46,000l. from the Board of Works:"—89,000l. has been spent in the course of the present year. What has become of it? Has it been expended in such a manner as to yield interest, or produce any return? No; it has been expended in the payment of interest on sums borrowed, and for other purposes, which carry it away from the Commissioners for ever. Thus it will be seen, that 89,000l. monies expended, 46,000l. monies borrowed, 11,000l. stock sold, and 4,000l. fines paid in anticipation of rent, making altogether a total of 150,545l., are to be deducted from the net income of 185,000l. which the Commissioners have at their disposal, and of which, allow me to say, they had before in their hands a balance of 17,000l. This is the state of the funds on which the Commissioners have to rely for the augmentation of small livings, the building of glebe-houses, and the erection and repair of churches. I state this on the authority of the Commissioners themselves. I should have added, that the 46,000l. is not all that they have borrowed, because 1250 they have actually borrowed by anticipation not less than 56,000l. They propose to increase their debt of 56,000l. to be borrowed from the Government. Have they got this money to deal with? Not at all. The 46,000l. and the 56,000l. are at the present moment actually engaged for by contracts of so pressing a nature, that they cannot be postponed beyond the present year. Let the House bear with me whilst I read an extract from the Report of the Commissioners, stating the means they have at their command, the applications that are made to them, and the means that they have of meeting them.One of the most onerous and important duties which have engaged the attention of the Commissioners, was that connected with the repairs of churches and chapels. The provincial architects having been employed in their respective provinces in inspecting and reporting upon the nature and extent of the repairs of such churches as appeared to be in the greatest need of repair, and in furnishing detailed estimates of such repairs as they recommended to be immediately executed, detailed estimates were accordingly furnished by them, and have been carefully examined; but as the state of the Commissioners' funds only admitted of a selection being made of the most pressing cases, and as delay only increased the evil, they deemed it prudent and indispensable to enter into engagements to the amount of 75,000l. of which sum 21,000l. was reserved and set apart from and out of their general fund; and the residue of the unappropriated 100,000l. which the Commissioners of public works are authorised to advance, was made applicable to this purpose, the Commissioners having received an assurance that the Commissioners of public works in Ireland, with the consent of the Lords of the Treasury, would advance the same when required.To the 1st. instant an expenditure of l1,336l. 8s. 6d. was incurred in the partial execution of these repairs, leaving engagements to the amount of 63,663l. 11s. 6d. outstanding on that day; but it is to be observed that, in the engagements entered into, provision had not been made for the repairs of the greater portion of the churches throughout Ireland.And we have to report, under the head of incidental repairs of churches, which sustained injury by reason of any unforeseen event, an expenditure to the amount of 447l. 15s. 8d.The Commissioners have also to state, that applications have been received for aid, not only for the enlargement of several churches, where the accommodation has been reported to be quite insufficient for the respective congregations, but also for the re-building or erection of sixty churches; and in many of these applications the parties have expressed their willingness to contribute sums, varying in amount from 60l. to 600l. Several of these 1251 appeared to be so pressing; that the Commissioners have been induced to direct a special memorandum to be taken of the cases, in order that, as soon as they have any funds available for such purpose, the wants of the parties may be provided for.Here, according to the Commissioners' own showing, are pressing and important exigencies of the Church which they have no means of meeting. Here are parishes without churches, and where the want of them is so much felt that the Protestant population are ready to come forward and to contribute a large portion of the cost of erecting them. Here are parishes where the churches, either from want of size or from being out of repair, are insufficient or unfit for the accommodation of the Protestant population. Here are glebe-houses in need of repair—here are benefices without glebe-houses to the amount of no less than 535 throughout Ireland—here are benefices in which there are no churches for the Protestant population, to the amount of no less than 210—benefices not parishes—and this bankrupt fund—this fund which will be bankrupt till the year 1873, and which at present is plunging itself necessarily, year by year, deeper and deeper into debt, we are told is the fund to which we are to look for the supply of all these deficiencies—for the accomplishment of all those Protestant purposes which the resolution of this House affirmed were to be fully achieved before it would consent to appropriate one farthing of the revenues of the Church to other objects. When I state this, do I quote the sentiments of the Established Church alone, or of those Gentlemen only who sit on this side of the House? I quote the sentiments of the resolution upon which you stand—that, first and before all things, due and adequate provision must be made for the Protestant Church in Ireland and till that provision is made, you, the Parliament of England, are pledged not to sanction the application of these funds to any other purposes. Hon. Gentlemen say, "We admit it is very possible it may be so—we admit that there may be a deficiency, at the present moment, in the means of providing for the objects contemplated by the Church Temporalities Act—we admit that it may be necessary for you to take another mode of providing for them. "But, at the same time, they say, "The Church in Ireland, as it stands at present (the amount of its revenues is so vast) is in such a state of pampered 1252 luxury, that for its own sake, as in the case of a person suffering from plethora, a copious blood letting is absolutely necessary to preserve the life of the patient." Now what is the actual state of the Church in Ireland? I take my noble Friend's own calculation. I deal with nothing else than the calculations and proposals of my noble Friend himself. I find, from these calculations, that my noble Friend estimates the amount of tithes in Ireland at 363,000l., a-year, the amount of glebes at 86,000l. and the amount of ministers' money at 10,000l., making a total of 459,000l. as the whole net income—including tithes, including glebes, including ministers' money, 459,000l. is the total amount which belongs to the parochial clergy of Ireland, for the support and maintenance of the Protestant religion throughout the country. Allow me to ask, then, what is the income which would be afforded out of this 459,000l. to every clergyman in Ireland, supposing every clergyman to be placed on a precise equality in point of income? My noble Friend stated, when he brought the subject forward on a former occasion, that there were 1,385 benefices in Ireland; but by some process which he did not very distinctly explain, and which does not appear on the face of the Bill, he proposes to reduce the 1,385 benefices to 1,250. The average provision of the clergy from tithe alone, according to the present amount of benefices, and supposing the revenue of each to be equal, would be 255l. Now, before I go further, let me ask whether hon. Gentlemen are prepared to lay down this position (if they are so prepared, it will be a new position, which has not yet been laid down in Parliament) that, for a well-educated gentleman, having a family to support, being precluded by his avocation from resorting to any other means of increasing his means of existence, 300l. is given as an extravagant or absurd amount of income? I ask whether it is an absurd minimum of income for such a man? If you have a sufficient sum to deal with, you will only be placing the clergy of Ireland in a state of decent competency, if you say that none of them shall be dependent upon a less income than 300l. a-year. Do I say that they should not have duties to perform? Far from it. But I say that the remuneration should be proportionate to the duty, and that the proportions should be allotted in such a manner as that no clergy- man should receive less than 300l. It is 1253 not only that the clergyman has his own immediate wants, and the immediate wants of a family to provide for—it is not only that he has the manner and bearing of a gentleman to sustain—but he should also have within his power something of the means of exercising charity in his neighbourhood, and of assisting the wants of the poor in his parish. These are not the only points to be considered in the situation of the clergyman; it must be remembered that he has to look forward to the means of existence which it may be in his power to extend to those who may be left behind him. In dealing with the situation of the clergy, and in considering the amount of income to be allotted to each, this is a point which ought never to be overlooked. The clergyman's income ceases with his life, and I ask the House how that man car. efficiently discharge his duly—how that man can preach to his flock the doctrine, that they should take no anxious thought for the things of the morrow, when he reflects that if accident or the will of Providence should terminate his life at that moment, his widow and orphans would become beggars, and be thrown destitute upon the world, because he had not had the means of making even a trifling provision against the season of old age? I appeal to the House of Commons as a House of Gentlemen. I ask them to put the case home to themselves. They know that amongst the clergy of Ireland there are many as well born, as well educated, as well brought up, men of as high distinction, of as nice feeling, of as much ability, and of as much gentlemanly mind as any Gentleman whom I have the honour to address. I ask hon. Gentlemen, to make the case their own; and living in a retired neighbourhood, but still more, living in a crowded town, subject to the expenses of a town, and with arduous duties to perform—I ask them how they would look upon their own circumstances if they were told to maintain a family on an income of 300l. a year? I assume, then, that you will give 300l. a year as the minimum. But, unless you are prepared to make an absolute equality, you have not such an amount of money to deal with as will yield 300l. a-year to every clergyman in Ireland. Are we to have a clergyman to every church in Ireland? Is it an exorbitant demand on the part of the Protestants in Ireland, that where there is a population desiring to have the service of the 1254 Established Church performed, there should be a clergyman to perform it? According to my noble Friend's statement, there are 1,885 benefices in Ireland, and 1,540 licensed places of worship. With these facts staring you in the face, my noble Friend proposes to reduce the number of clergymen to 1,250. He proposes that there shall be 1,250 clergymen to perform the service in 1,540 licensed places of worship, according? to the usage and practice of the Established Church. Now, supposing the number of clergymen to be equal to the number of benefices—that is to say, 1,385, and supposing, as the noble Lord has stated, the whole amount of the revenues of the parochial clergy to amount to 459,000l. a-year, the average income of each clergyman, supposing an equal distribution to be made, would be 299l. per annum. If the number of the clergy were reduced, as the noble Lord proposes, to 1,250, the average income of each would be 366l. a-year; but if the number of licensed places of worship were to be taken, namely 1,540, the average income of each would be only 299l. I challenge contradiction to these facts. You may put them which way you please—you may turn them and twist them as you will—I defy you to contradict one of these statements. Well, my noble Friend proposes to reduce the number of clergymen to 1,250. How-does he propose to pay them? I really am almost afraid of seeming to misrepresent my noble Friend's proposition upon this point, yet I can assure the House that my statement is correct. My noble Friend proposes to assign to 1,008 of the clergymen, who are each to perform the duties of more than one benefice, an income of less than 300l. a-year; to 113, an income of less than 200l. a-year; and finally, he binds himself down by one of the most stringent provisions of his Act to starve 129 out of the 1,250 beneficed clergy of Ireland upon an income that shall not exceed 100l. a-year. I proceed to another part of the calculations. I am not adopting now my noble Friend's principle; but I am endeavouring to show to you that the whole amount of the income of the Church in Ireland, properly distributed, so far from entitling it to the name of a bloated and a. pampered Church, is sufficient only to afford a moderate income to each of its clergy. Suppose I take my noble Friend's proposal, that, there shall be only 1,250 beneficed clergymen in Ireland; and suppose allot to each who shall have a Protestant 1255 congregation of not less than 500 souls an income of 300l. a-year; to each who has a Protestant congregation of not less than 1,000 souls, an income of 400l. a-year; and to each who has a Protestant congregation of not less than 2,000 souls, an income of 500l. a-year, and let 500l. a-year be the maximum that you would give in any instance—let 500l. a-year be the highest price that the Protestant clergyman should have it in his power to obtain. Making these proportions, I find by referring to the returns which have been laid before Parliament, that you would have fifty clergymen with 500l. a-year; 500 with 400l. a-year, and 800 with 300l. a-year; i and this would exceed by 5,000l. the whole amount of the income at present derived from the revenues of the parochial clergy in Ireland. These calculations are irrefutable. But the income which my noble Friend proposes to allot to the clergy, which in no instance is to exceed 300l. a-year, and in many instances will be less than 100l. a-year, is not to be paid without deductions. For some reason which the noble Lord has not explained, and which I certainly cannot for one moment comprehend, a deduction of 2½ per cent. is to be made even upon the paltry and inadequate pittance of 100l. a-year. My noble Friend, perhaps, will say, "Not withstanding the statement you have made, there is an ample income for the clergy—your statement of figures must all go for nothing—there are too many benefices in Ireland, let us diminish their number; if, for instance, we reduce them from 1,385 to 1,250, the average income of the clergyman will of course be increased." Now what is the average Protestant population of every benefice in Ireland? I beg the House to bear in mind that I am talking all this time of averages; and that I am endeavouring to show whether the whole income of the Church in Ireland is, as a whole, too much. Taking the number of benefices at 1,250, the average amount of income to each would be 366l. What would be the average number of Protestants in each? By the returns laid before Parliament, it appeared that there would in each benefice be an average of nearly 700 members of the Established Church. [Lord Morpeth: 571.] It appears, by the Report of the Commissioners, that the members of the Established Church in Ire-land amount to 852,084; divide this number by 1,250, the proposed number of benefices, and the average will be 681, 1256 not very far short, as the noble Lord will see, of 700. In the next place, let us see what is the area over which the labours of these clergymen would be spread, and I take this as an average, including all the small benefices, all the great towns, and I find that the average area of each of the 1,250 benefices would be 10,000 acres, or fifteen square miles. Now, this is the state of the Church in Ireland as far as figures are concerned—1,250 benefices, with an average income of 366l. a-year each; a Protestant population of 700 each, and an area assigned to each of fifteen square miles. These are calculations of figures which I defy my noble Friend to contradict; they are figures which I do venture to hope may make an impression upon some Gentlemen who have been led away by the delusions and fallacies which have been so generally and so industriously circulated upon this question. I know that I am trespassing upon the patience of the House; but I will endeavour to merit its indulgence by compressing my observations to within the narrowest possible limits; yet, to be candid, I am afraid I shall be under the necessity of trespassing on its attention, even yet, for some considerable time. It is said, that the benefices in Ireland are too numerous, and my noble Friend, with great judgment and ingenuity, has related as an instance illustrative of this operation the diocese of Cloyne, where several livings he together in the immediate neighbourhood of each other, where the Protestant population is comparatively small, and where the income of the Established Church is very considerable. These undoubtedly furnish instances well calculated to illustrate the position laid down by the noble Lord. But my noble Friend should not take a one-sided view of the question, nor should the House take a one-sided view of it. The first case I shall mention is the benefice of Innis Massaint, in the diocese of Clogher, where the number of Protestants is 3,756, the extent is twenty-one miles by three, the clergy four, doing duty in one church and two chapels, and the income between the whole 500l. But when I mention income, I speak of the gross amount, without making any deduction. Let the House recollect that from every income which I may mention a deduction is to be made for expenses of collection, and which actually will be made under the Bill of my noble Friend. The next benefice is in the diocese of Kilmore, being 1257 the united parishes of Templeport and Dunally. The number of Protestants there is 2,023, the extent of the benefice is twenty-nine miles in length; the number of clergymen two, doing duty in two chapels. There are also, three schools in the parish. The next are the united parishes of Clanguish and Killoe, in the diocese of Ardagh, with a Protestant population of 1,518; the extent is sixteen miles by eleven. There are three clergymen with two parishes, and the income of the whole is 996l. In the same diocese is the benefice of Granard, consisting of five parishes with a Protestant population of 2,231—that of the lowest being 268, and of the highest 692,—there are six clergymen, five chapels., and the income for the whole is 1,360l. The next benefice is that of Fircal, in the diocese of Meath. It consists of six parishes, containing 1,289 Protestants—the lowest being 127, the highest 368. In extent it is twenty-two miles long, by between five and seven broad. There are six clergymen doing duty in five chapels, with a joint income of 385l. a-year. The next is the benefice of Termonnaguish, in the archdiocese of Armagh, containing a population of 1,722 Protestants. Its extent is eleven miles by ten: it has three clergymen and two chapels; the income 800l. a-year. Another benefice—that of the united parishes of Kilcul, Kilco, and Kilmayne, in the diocese of Down, containing 4,384 Protestants—the extent is considerable, Kilcul being some miles distant from the others. There are in it four clergymen, with three chapels, the income is 1,600l. The next is the benefice of Ardstran, in the diocese of Derry, with a Protestant population of 3,658 persons. The extent is fifteen miles long by ten and a-half broad, there are two clergymen, and one church, and two chapels; the income is 1,094l. There are many others in the list before me which I am unwilling to detain the House by reading. In some, the extent of the benefice is fourteen miles by twenty-eight. Another is forty long by sixteen broad, Another is the benefice of Ballynakil, in the diocese of Meath, in noticing which, I would use the language of the Commissioners; they said—This benefice comprises the greatest part of Connemara, Ballynahill, Moycross, and Bull—in down, and contiguous to Umma, Killanmine (94 Est. Ch.) lies at a distance of thirteen miles from the Church. Arranmore, Ennismain, Ennisur, and Ennisbiffin, are 1258 islands lying at a distance of some miles from the main land. The extreme points of the benefice are probably fifty miles distant from each other.This is only one case of a class out of which many equally strong might be cited. Here, then, there is an acknowledged and glaring deficiency of income to be supplied, and the duties which fall to the lot of the clergymen are of far too onerous a nature to be devolved upon them, if it be expected that they can be adequately and fully discharged. Before I proceed to consider the principle of my noble Friend's Bill, I will recall to the recollection of the House the resolution on which it is founded. The object which was contemplated by that resolution was a final and satisfactory settlement of this whole question. Now, how far, under any circumstances, this question can be finally settled, I, for one, know not. I recommend my noble Friend to reflect. [Hear, hear.] I thank hon. Gentlemen for that cheer. My noble Friend, who has come down so strenuously supported on this occasion, ought rightly to know and duly to estimate—I dare say my noble Friend does duly estimate and appreciate—the nature of that support. Can my noble Friend tell me, for the sake of curiosity, how many petitions have been presented in favour of a final settlement of this question? Has there been one? Has one human being expressed a belief that there will be a final settlement of it? And how many petitions have been poured in, not from all sides of the House, but from all sides of my noble Friend, declaring that there should be no settlement, no peace, no tranquillity, without a final, a. total, an entire abolition of tithes. This is the object distinctly avowed, aimed, and pointed at, by nine out of ten of those who support my noble Friend. My noble Friend may rely upon it that it is useless to hope to conciliate those who may have that object in view. They will take what my noble Friend will give them; they will be much obliged for what they get; they will not refuse to insert only the small end of the wedge at first, but they have distinctly, frankly, and candidly stated, that they are determined to have the whole wedge inserted at last. My noble Friend may have resolved that his measure should be a final settlement of the question, but I will tell him that it cannot be final. To complete the resolution on which he professes to act, my noble Friend told us, that the arrangement which he contemplated under this final and satisfactory Bill, should altogether 1259 cease and determine at the expiration of seven years from the present time, and that then we should be brought back to exactly the same state in which we at present find ourselves. My noble Friend consented to collect the revenue of the clergy up-till that date, but he is determined that we shall then revert to our present condition! I hope I understood my noble Friend, and I shall be glad if it be so; but I conceive that under the provisions of my noble Friend's Bill, the reduction of two and a-half per cent, will be permanent, while the assistance given by the Commissioners of Land Revenue will terminate at the end of seven years. Are these, or are they not, the provisions of the Bill? [Viscount Morpeth: No.] It is remarkable that some significant words have been inserted since the Bill of last year had been disposed of. By the measure now brought forward, it is proposed to be enacted, that the rent-charge shall be vested in his Majesty for the purposes mentioned in the Bill. Under the Bill of last Session, it was provided, that it should be confided to the management of the Land Commissioners, subject to the control of the Crown. In the Bill of this year a provision is inserted, that its enactments, with respect to the rent-charge, shall continue till November, 1843, and afterwards until Parliament shall otherwise direct. And this is to be the final measure. A measure in which there is a special provision—that at the end of seven years Parliament shall be invited to reconsider the arrangement. I recollect that my hon. Friend, the Member for Weymouth, last year forced upon Government an amendment to the resolution, providing for the resumption of the surplus, if any should afterwards be found to accumulate, for the use of the Established Church. I see no such provision in my noble Friend's Bill. If there it be, it has escaped my observation. But most distinctly, the primary, the first, and main object of the resolution has been, that the surplus, be it greater or smaller, shall be applied to the purposes of religious and moral education, without reference to the difference of religion; and in introducing that provision my noble Friend has said, "I give notice, that I shall move that the surplus shall, in all cases, be locally applied for the furtherance of religious instruction." Locally applied! Why, it is positively ingulfed in a Serbonian bog; it is swallowed up by the Consolidated Fund. My noble Friend has estimated his surplus at 97,000l., and proposes that 50,000l. should be devoted 1260 to the purposes of education. Why, the House now grants 55,000l. a-year for the promotion of education in Ireland, and if my noble Friend were to ask for 50,000l., I think that very few Gentlemen would be inclined to refuse such a sum. But 60,000l., he the plunder greater or smaller, is the sole amount which is contemplated by the resolution to be applied to the purposes of moral and religious education, under any possible contingencies. Before I proceed to deal with the surplus I will, in the first place, consider the former part of my noble Friend's Bill. My noble Friend proposed last year, that the rent-charge should be levied by the Commissioners of Land Revenue, subject to the deduction of thirty per cent, fixed by the Bill, and subsequently to a deduction of two and a-half per cent. By the measure of this year these deductions will be continued, while the existing incumbents will be deprived of those advantages which a sense of justice, had Last Session induced my noble Friend to allow them to retain. The proposal which I shall make relative to this branch of the subject is not very widely different from that contained in the first part of the noble Lord's Bill. I do think it expedient that the amount of income should not be collected by the clergy themselves; I think it desirable and expedient, that a sacrifice may fairly be made for the attainment of this convenience, that it should be collected from the landlord, and by the Commissioners of Land Revenue. I propose, therefore, the same deduction which was last year proposed by my right hon. and gallant Friend, the Member for Launceston—namely, a reduction of twenty-five per cent., in the first instance, and two and a-half per cent, in the next instance, the latter to go to the Commissioners of Land Revenue, for the cost of collection. If there be one object more than another which can be deemed of the most vital and pressing importance for securing a final settlement of this question, it is that by which facilities may be given for dealing with the rent-charge after it has been imposed. That formed a prominent part of the Bill introduced, under Lord Grey's Government, by the Secretary for Ireland. Lord Wellesley also, as exercising the power of the Crown in that country, expressed a strong opinion that redemption was the chief end to be aimed at, and that everything else was but subsidiary and secondary to that great object. I considered that the redemption, and the getting rid of a permanent rent-charge, are 1261 of the utmost importance for the permanent well-being of Ireland. Yet somehow or other this provision has dropped out of the Bill, and the object so prominently brought forward under the Administration of which many of his right hon. Friends opposite formed a part, is altogether overlooked in the present measure. Sir, I propose, then, to introduce provisions into this Bill—provisions to facilitate the redemption of the rent-charge to be thus imposed. I am aware that in proposing this there is great difficulty to be encountered with regard to the amount and nature of the security of the redemption proposed. I am not insensible to the difficulty; and I am satisfied that no mode can be adopted by which is prescribed a fixed amount or number of years' purchase; looking, in the first instance, to the various circumstances of Ireland, the difference between the value of land in the north and in the south, and again at the difference of value between an investment made in the public securities, and in land, whether in the north or the south—I am satisfied, I say, that no fixed number of years can be assigned, without doing great injustice either to the incumbent on the one hand, or the landlord on the other. My proposal, therefore, is to give the Ecclesiastical Commissioners power to deal with the landlord on whom the rent-charge falls, and to enter into an engagement with him upon such terms, whether for land or for money, as shall be mutually agreed upon by the parties, imposing no restriction with regard to a maximum or minimum, enabling them to change for land, or partly for land and partly for money, enabling them to make the exchange or sale either immediately or contingently upon the death of the incumbent, by an immediate arrangement or by postponing the arrangement to be made upon the death of the incumbent. I am not insensible to the difficulty of this; and in order to give the House a notion of the difficulty that is to be contended with, I will just call the attention of the House to this fact. Supposing a rent-charge of seventy-two and a-half per cent, to be bought at twenty years' purchase, the price might be invested, in many parts of Ireland, in land which would yield a return equivalent to seventy-two per cent of the rent-charge. Now, in many parts of Ireland the security would yield 72l. 10s. where the rent-charge was invested at five per cent.; but if it were to be invested in the public securities, or in other parts of Ireland 1262 where the land will fetch twenty-eight or thirty years' purchase, then the amount yielded will be very disproportionate to what the incumbent would be entitled to receive from the rent-charge. If it were to be invested in public securities, instead of reduction to the sum of 72l. 10s., it would subject the incumbent to a reduction to the amount of 49l. odd. This is a degree of injustice which no man will think of imposing upon the present incumbent, nor run the risk of making that amount of reduction in the value of the benefices. But I propose that there shall be facilities given to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and the person paying the rent-charge, by which they may commute either for land or money, with this provision, that if made without the consent of the actual incumbent, the person paying the rent-charge shall guarantee to the incumbent, during the period of his incumbency, the full amount of 72l. 10s. per cent.; that is to say, he shall have the benefit of the present arrangement after the demise of the incumbent. I do not mean to say that this proposal is not open to objection. I admit that it is, and I wish any person who is interested in the question to canvass every part of it. I propose it as a mode in which I think the redemption may be effected with less injustice than by any other mode that has hitherto been proposed. We now come to the distribution and application of the Church revenue or income. I am happy to see that his Majesty's Government are so far open to reason and argument that they have abandoned that absurdity, for it was nothing less than an absurdity, which formed the basis of their calculations in the Bill of last year—I mean that absurdity of founding their calculations not upon benefices but upon parishes. We pressed it upon them over and over again. We told them of the gross injustice that would be committed in cases where parishes were part of the benefice. But no! they would not listen to us—the Bill must be carried—the House of Lords must be condemned and calumniated for not having consented to it. And now, this year, sensible of the unreasonableness of their own principle, they come forward to legislate, not upon the basis of parishes, but upon the sound and fair basis of benefices. Now, the first and most prominent part of this Bill is the enormous and irresponsible power given to the officer of the Govern- 1263 ment. The Lord-Lieutenant, indeed, has not much to do with it. He is the mere servant, in most instances, of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The Secretary of State for the Home Department is to have great power under the Bill, and so is the Chief Commissioner of the Land Revenue. The Commissioner of Land Revenue has the power of a revision of the commutation, of amending the applotment, and if any person is behind payment of his tithes, he has the monstrous power, at his will and pleasure, of punishing him by charging interest, or by indulging him by not charging interest. What room for jobbing and favouritism this is. Give to a public officer the power at his discretion of charging this man with interest, and of excusing that man, where both are liable to pay. Put that power in the hands of a Cabinet Minister, and tell him that he may employ it in Ireland, it is not difficult to see how he may make it very serviceable for political purposes. Then to whom are all the ecclesiastical duties, the emoluments, the limits of benefices, the spiritual superintendence of the flock—to whom are the extent and amount and power of remuneration to be given? Who is it that, in fact, has the entire and absolute control over the property and the labour of every single clergyman of the Church of Ireland, with the power of revising the operation of this measure as often as he pleases? Not the Lord-Lieutenant; but a new tribunal—an Ecclesiastical Committee of the Privy Council of Ireland—not the Privy Council of Ireland. They cannot trust the Lord-Lieutenant nor the Privy Council; but a set of gentlemen from the Privy Council, unlimited as to number, are to be nominated by the Secretary of State when he pleases, and to be removed when he pleases; and to these gentlemen, without any restrictions, is to be confided the utter and entire control over the property, the ecclesiastical duties, and the means of providing for the spiritual wants of the people. Is this a power to be intrusted to any Secretary of State, or to any Government? I do not say that my noble Friend, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, would abuse this power; but it is a power liable to great abuse, and one which cannot be safely intrusted to any government, even though it may be most friendly to the Church. I now come to the proposal of my noble Friend, with re- 1264 gard to the income of the clergy. He is driven to make out a surplus. He must have a surplus, whether the clergy are receiving a competency or not—whether there are sufficient churches or not—whether the churches are tumbling down or not—still he must have a surplus; and in order to effect this what does my noble Friend propose to do? He puts the clergy of Ireland upon the very liberal footing which I have already mentioned. That is, he puts them upon this scale as a maximum:—
So that no clergyman in Ireland is to receive more than 500l. a-year, except in town parishes. Now, I object to this arrangement, both in principle and in detail. I object, in the first instance, decidedly against laying down this strong and plain doctrine—that no clergyman of a country parish, under any circumstances, shall have an income exceeding 500l. a year. It is not c insistent with any part of the system, regulations, or habits of this country, either in Church or State. It is not consistent with any part of our policy, either civil or ecclesiastical; it is neither just in itself, nor does it harmonise either with our church or with our civil polity. Why, Sir, my noble Friend does not pretend to touch the income of the Bishops in Ireland, and which are fixed at sums varying from 4,000l. to 6,000l. a-year. He says there shall be twelve Bishops—twelve large prizes to the amount of 5,000l. upon an average each—in Ireland, and yet between that and the next highest prize shall be the income of a parochial clergyman, who in no single case shall enjoy an income above 500l. Why, Sir, it makes a gap destructive of the whole order and harmony of our social system. It makes a-gap that is most injurious to the Church, and introduces a principle of equalization most unjust in itself, most complicated in its adaptation, and as I contend, most inconvenient in its application. But admitting the whole system of my noble Friend to be good, if my noble Friend will only say that 178l. shall be the minimum, and 578l. the maximum of a clergyman's income in Ireland, then I again say that he has no surplus, and that he wants to make a surplus by reducing the income of the clergy in this pitiful and niggardly manner, Let the House of Commons only 1265 assign as the minimum 178l., and as the maximum. 578l., it will absorb the whole income of the parochial clergy in Ireland, reduced to the number to which my noble Friend most unwisely, I think, proposes to reduce them. The noble Lord says—"We shall have a surplus of 97,000l.: 50,000l. of which is to go to the education of the people, and 47,000l. to the Consolidated Fund." 47,000l., says my noble Friend, shall go to the Consolidated Fund. But what if my noble Friend should get more? Do you mean to get more? If you do not, then you have framed your Bill in a most extraordinary manner; for under this Bill the Secretary of State has at his good -will and pleasure, acting through his creatures and puppets, these Members of the Ecclesiastical Committee, nominated at his pleasure, the power of reducing the Church to an income of I 27,550l., and of making a surplus of 332,000l. That is the power which my noble Friend has it in his discretion to exercise, if Parliament should choose to give it to him by passing this Bill. He has told us that he shall have a surplus of 97,000l.; but how does he make it out? By assigning in every case the maximum of income which the law proposes to every minister in Ireland. But, suppose he chooses to assign a minimum? It is at the good will and pleasure of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if this Bill shall pass, which I trust it never will, and I feel confident it will not—it is at the good will and pleasure not—it is at the good will and pleasure of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, to make this arrangement with respect to the clergy of Ireland:—
129 clergymen, with an income not more than 100l. a year. 670 clergymen, with an income not more than 200l. 209 clergymen, with an income not more than 230l. 188 clergymen, with an income not more than340l. 54 clergymen, with an income not more than500l.
Although it is carefully provided that no clergyman shall receive above 500l., and that no clergyman with a population under 3,000, shall receive more than 400l., yet equal care is not taken, when the population exceeds 3,000, that the minimum shall be fixed at 400/., but it is fixed at 300l. Then with regard to the glebes, the glebes need not be applied to the Church. Let me ask my noble Friend what it is he means by this? The glebes are taken to be worth 86,000l. a-year. He tells us that he is going to make a liberal allowance to the Church of 31,000l. value out of the glebe lands. Now I want distinctly 1266 to know what the noble Lord is going to do with the glebes? I should like to have an account of the glebes? Many of my hon. Friends know that I have a particular reason for asking this question. What is the intention of the noble Lord with regard to the glebes in Ireland? The Chief Commissioner of the Land Revenue has a power to deal with them, of letting and demising them to any person whom he thinks fit, and for any term of years. Now I want a plain answer to this question—is it intended to give the glebe lands as a provision for the Roman Catholic clergy? Is that to be the application of the glebes that are taken away from the Church in Ireland? At all events my noble Friend has the power of applying no glebes at all to that Church; and he has also the power of appointing no curates, although he has taken a provision for them for a certain number of years. He has the power of increasing or decreasing the benefices to an indefinite extent: in short, he has the power of making a surplus of 330,000l., and which surplus, after giving 50,000l. for the purpose of public education, is to be handed over to the consolidated fund for the general purposes of the country. I distinctly say, that to an alienation of the revenue of the Church for civil purposes I, for one, will not consent. I say it is a principle dangerous in itself. It is a principle which holds out a temptation to political dishonesty and parliamentary corruption. It holds out the means of corruption in the hands of the Government; it degrades the Church by making it absolutely dependent upon the will of the Secretary of State; and I say that this Bill, Which strips them of their freehold character, places them in subordination to the orders and will of the Secretary of State for the time being; and I further say, that the contingent fund of which my noble Friend, after making himself a trustee for the Church Wand making himself also the residuary legatee to whom everything is to go, will make my noble Friend liable to a degree of temptation to which I should be sorry to expose him, because I foresee the pressing claims which would be made upon him. My noble Friend being assailed on every side for the reduction of taxes, says, "I have no surplus revenue," and yet there is a great pressure from without upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There is a penny tax to be substituted for a fourpenny one; but still 1267 the noble Lord says, "I have no surplus." "Oh! yes, you have,'' say the people, "and one of which you may make a most legitimate application, because it is to reduce the taxes on knowledge, in order to promote the education of the people." The moral and intellectual, perhaps, but not much, I opine, of the religious education of the people, and certainly without any distinction of creed or party. "But," says my noble Friend, "I cannot afford it." He then goes to his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and asks him how this great pressure from without is to be met. "Oh! (says his right hon. Friend) you can manage it: there is the Irish Church." "No (replies the noble Lord), there is but a surplus of 97,000l. altogether, and 50,000l. of that is to go to the education of the people, and the other 47,000l. is gone I don't know where." "Oh! (rejoins his right hon. Friend) it is very easy to make it. You have been foolish—you have been prodigal with these funds left at your disposal—you have been too indulgent to those violent clergymen, you have given them an increase to the utmost extent which Parliament allowed. They have tied you down, it is true, to a certain sum, below which you cannot go; but still, if you can only give us 100,000l. more, it will be of great service. You have the power which nothing can deprive you of, for the Act of Parliament authorises and sanctions a minimum salary to the clergy. You, therefore, can give us a surplus of 330,000l.; let me put that into the budget, and then we can take off the stamps from newspapers." Really, I do not wish to expose the Government to this temptation. I won't trust them with this discretion. I will endeavour to obtain a security, at all events, that there shall not be a contingent surplus, which every man may draw upon who is desirous of getting rid of some particular tax. Of all modes of applying a surplus, that which makes Parliament, as it were, a residuary legatee, making the application of it dependent upon how far Parliament will gratify the claims of their constituents, or act according to the dictates of their consciences, is the most objectionable, and places the Parliament in the most unpleasant position possible. I do not say that my noble Friend would deal improperly with this surplus; but there may come a time when there may be a Secretary of State who may have no very strong feelings of religion one way or the other, and no great 1268 regard for the Church, whether of Eng-land or of Ireland, and who, being placed in a situation of extreme difficulty and embarrassment between persons pressing upon him conflicting claims, may be desirous of conciliating and adjusting their demands by a measure hostile to the Church. Again, persons desirous for a repeal of taxes from economical motives may press upon him. I am not, therefore, willing to give any Secretary of State a power of creating a surplus of 330,000l. to play ducks and drakes with. To such a proposition I do confidently believe and trust that the House of Commons will never agree. In addition to the rent-charge to be collected by the Commissioners, and in addition to the power of redemption for which facilities are given, I will now tell the House what is the course which I propose to take—especially with regard to the amended distribution of the revenue of the Established Church of Ireland. I beg the House to remember that the whole amount of revenue with which I have to deal, as applicable to the clergy of the Church in Ireland, is a sum which will yield only 350l. a-year to each clergyman. I am willing to reduce the inequalities of the existing incomes. My principal reason for reducing the higher rate of incomes, is to supply the deficiences which I see to exist. I see certain deficiences; I am, therefore, not unwilling to reduce the inequality, in order to supply the deficiency. The first thing I turn my attention to are the town parishes in Ireland. I believe of all the clergy in Ireland, dependent upon the revenues they receive from their parishes, none can be found in a worse situation than those who have the most important duties to perform—namely, the clergy of the towns and cities. For many of them there is at present little or no provision made; and, consequently, an abuse has crept in, necessarily arising out of the circumstances, in order to make up for the services he has to perform without adequate remuneration—by attaching to such clergyman a country sinecure parish. I do not stand up for that system; I do not defend it; I desire to get rid of it; but, in order to do so, you must give the clergy a certain income from other sources before you take away the income they now derive from holding the country parishes. There are many clergymen whose incomes do not exceed 400l. without a glebe-house, and who are obliged to incur a large expense by living in cities and towns, who have 1269 the superintendence of the spiritual concerns of between 10,000 and 12,000 members of the Established Church. I will not multiply instances; but I believe that I um not wrong in stating that the whole town of Belfast is one single parish, containing 17,942 members of the Established Church, according to the Return of the Commissioners, and that the income derived by the incumbent is just. 300l.—no more.; Again, there is the archdeaconry of Dublin, consisting of the parishes of St. Peter and of St. Kevin, having a population of, 10,114; it includes three perpetual curacies—Rathfarnham, with a population of 890; St. Mary, Donnybrook, with a population of 3,500, and of Tarne, with a population of 8,95; making a total, within a single benefice, of 15,509 members of the Established Church. That is a benefice employing sixteen clergymen and eleven churches; and yet it is treated as a mere single benefice by my noble Friend's Bill. Now, is it necessary to provide a decent income for these clergymen? At all events, I am anxious to inquire whether a decent income is provided for all the clergy who have these duties to perform. I therefore propose, in the first instance, that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners shall be desired to inquire, in the first place, into the state of the clergy in the cities and towns of Ireland,—that they should report immediately, without waiting for a voidance, first, the total number of Protestants; secondly, the nature and extent of the spiritual duties to be performed, and the number of curates employed; thirdly, whether there is an adequate glebe-house; fourthly, whether there is adequate accommodation in the church or chapel; fifthly, the amount of the revenue, and from what source derived, whether from tithes, ministers' money, or whether from some country parochial benefice being attached to it; and lastly, whether by any alteration of the limits of the benefice greater facilities may be given for the discharge of the spiritual duties, or a more adequate remuneration may be made for the incumbent. I propose, in the next place, that the Commissioners shall lay this Report before the Privy Council, with their opinion as to the circumstances requiring an augmentation of income, increased accommodation, the erection of glebe-houses, or the sub-division of parishes. I propose, also, that a list should be made out of all parochial benefices which yield a less income than 50l., less than 100l., and so on up to 300l.; and 1270 that they should specify in each case those circumstances which appear to them, with reference to income, extent of duties performed, and so on, most calling for a higher rate of income. These are, of course, apart from the building of churches, and apart from the present calls upon the fund, or rather the no-fund, in the hands of the Commissioners, and for which provision has been made. I admit that the provision of the Church Temporalities Act was defective in this—that it deals with revenue alone, and does not take into consideration the duties to be performed. On the other hand, I contend that the provision of my noble Friend is infinitely more erroneous, because he makes it depend upon population, and population only: and does not take into consideration, what every reasonable man would do, a combined element, namely, the extent of the district over which the population extends. It is quite clear that the case of a parish consisting of a population of 500 Protestants, within the limits of two or three miles around the glebe-house and church, is a less laborious charge than a parish extending over forty or fifty miles in length, though it has not one-half, or even one-fifth of the population. Consequently, when you establish a measure upon an estimate of the duties to be form-ed by a comparison with the population only, it is clear that you set out from the very beginning upon a basis which must fail. Do I want to withhold from consideration any of those benefices which may happen to have large incomes or a small population? No such thing. I propose in every case upon the demise of any incumbent, the income of whose benefice shall amount to 500l. a-year, or the population of whose benefice, whatever may be the income, is less than 100. Protestants, that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should report the whole of the circumstances with regard to the spiritual duties to be performed in that parish, the extent of the income and of the population, the state of the glebehouse and of the church, and if they should think fit to recommend the annexation of the parish to any adjoining parish, but subject to this limitation, that the augmented benefice should not contain an area exceeding thirty square miles. I think when I take the district at thirty square miles, which is six miles long, with a breadth of five miles, I am not taking an 1271 unreasonably small extent over which the labours of the clergyman are to be exercised. But there may be cases, undoubtedly, in which the adjoining benefice may give an adequate income, and perhaps more. I propose, therefore, that the Commissioners shall have the power to recommend the reduction of the income of clergymen, whatever it be, provided always it be above 500l. when they commence their inquiry, or the population be less than 100; and also provided that they do not recommend a reduction lower than 300l. per annum. I take that amount, because it was fixed by the Church Temporalities' Act, at which it allowed the taxation of the clergy to commence; I take it because I have the authority of this House for saying that it is not an extravagant amount; I take it at 300l., because my noble Friend, when he proposed a reduction last year introduced the same provision. I propose, then, that the difference between the income of the benefices and the fund which shall ultimately be left, shall be applied, in the first instance, to raising a sum of money for the purpose of building a glebe-house within the benefice, if there be not one already. I have no hesitation in saying, that in a small parish I consider the building of a glebe-house renders it inexcusable for the clergyman not to reside among his flock, however small they may be—an object of greater and more primary importance than even the building of a church, because a church is useless without the presence of the minister, and the glebe-house to a small congregation may supply sufficient and adequate means for the celebration of divine worship; but nothing can compensate to any parish for the absence of that man who derives his parochial income from the benefice where he is bound to perform his religious duties to those who profess his own doctrines, and to extend his charitable superintendence and assistance to all his parishioners, of whatever persuasion. If the circumstances of the parish should appear to require it, and if there should be a sufficiently extensive congregation to render a church necessary—supposing the revenue be insufficient for providing a building for their accommodation—I propose, that after providing for a glebe-house, the surplus shall be applied towards raising money for building such church. But beyond these local claims, which I consider to have the first 1272 call upon us, I propose that the surplus upon all those benefices which may be ultimately reduced, provided they be not reduced below 300l., shall be paid over to a general fund of Commissioners, for the purpose of augmenting those revenues that shall appear to stand most in need of assistance. Do I propose to augment them indefinitely? No such thing. I propose a particular sum, not because I think it would in all cases be sufficient, but because my means are insufficient to enable me to do more. I propose to prohibit the Commissioners from augmenting in any case beyond the amount of 300l. for any benefice not situated within a town. I propose, on the one hand, to prevent them from augmenting any small living beyond 300l., and to preclude them, on the other, to reduce any large living below that sum. I do not say that there are not some benefices with incomes beyond 500l.—even exceeding 600l.—which may not fairly, justly, nay advantageously, be left, for the sake of the Church population, provided always that these incomes bear some sort of proportion to the duties of the clergyman, to the numbers of his flock, and to the extent of ground over which they spread. I do not, however, propose to raise the amount of any benefice beyond 300l. in country towns. I do propose to intrust the Commissioners with this power—if there be a parish exceeding forty square miles in extent, or a country parish that has a population of members of the Church of England exceeding 1,000 persons—I propose to empower them to divide that benefice, provided they do not augment the income of each different benefice beyond the sum of 300l. for each individual clergyman. I think, if the benefice be so large as to require a division, the income of each clergyman should be 300l. a-year. I infinitely prefer this division of a large parish, and placing the two clergymen upon moderate incomes, to the retention of one large parish with an income considerable in amount for one clergyman. With regard to the town parishes, my noble Friend has not mentioned the amount of income derivable from them. I propose, in the first instance, however, with regard to the town parishes, that when the funds shall be at our disposal, those benefices shall be augmented which have a less income than 400l. or 500l. It is clear that these have the first claims upon us, if there be any fund which can 1273 be made applicable to these cases. Sir, I believe I have now stated to the House what are the objects I propose to attain, what are the means I propose for raising the funds required, and what are the ends to which I propose to devote the funds so obtained? I feel how much and how largely I have trespassed upon the indulgence of the House, and how greatly I am indebted to the attention and kindness with which they have listened to details, much of which must have been dry, much of which must have been very uninteresting, but which I felt it would have been inexcusable in me to have abstained from going through, at whatever risk of wearying my audience, if I were desirous of placing my case on that ground on which alone I wished it to rest—on the ground of sound reason, justice, and good policy, after a full, frank, and entire explanation of the present state, and of the state in which I wish to place that branch of the united Church Establishment which exists in Ireland. [Loud Cheers.] Having done so, I ask the hon. Gentlemen who cheered me loudly, have I shown any disposition to maintain a luxuriant and overgrown Church institution, or have I not stated a desire to meet those cases in which there might be an apparent excess of income, in which there might be apparently too small a population for the clergyman to preside over, and too trifling duties for the clergyman to perform? But I say I should have been ashamed of myself if, putting the case on this ground, I had looked to this point of view alone—if I had consulted the general interests of the Protestant parishioners, and had not considered those of the clergy: if, when I felt that their spiritual duties were not sufficiently and adequately provided for, I had not expressed my wish to apply the surplus to making up and atoning for the manifold deficiencies that existed. I have now, not only to thank the House for the kindness with which they have listened to me, but I have to entreat and implore—not those gentlemen who are desirous of destroying the Church in Ireland—not those gentlemen who have personal objects to attain, for I do not appeal to them—but those gentlemen, those sincere and cordial friends of the Establishment who are enemies to her blemishes, I do entreat and implore them to join me in endeavouring to persuade his Majesty's Government to recede from that position to which, most 1274 unwisely, and on most false premises, they have bound themselves, and bound the House, I entreat them to consider, if they do wish to get rid of these glaring discrepancies—I entreat them to consider, if they do wish to put an end to collision in the collection of ecclesiastical revenues—I entreat them to consider, if they do wish to give peace to Ireland, so far as peace can be given by such means—to settle this question, so far as the settlement of the question can be achieved, by doing that which is right, just, reasonable, and moderate in the way of concession; I entreat them to consider well what they are proceeding to do, and to hesitate before they join with his Majesty's Government in refusing me the means of introducing for their consideration the measure which I now venture to lay before them—a measure, I know not whether I should say so, but which I will venture to say I have reason to believe will meet the concurrence of those who never will, and never can, concur in the abstract principle laid down by Government. I ask them only to reflect how much they can obtain, and how much is fairly offered to them. How much of real defects are cured, how much of substantial justice is done, how much of peace and tranquillity is restored to Ireland, and how much of harmony is established between parties in this House, and between different branches of the Legislature. And I call upon them then to consider, whether for the sake of a principle, which if they can apply at all, they can apply but in an infinitely insignificant degree, for the sake of a principle which they cannot carry into effect, but by insisting upon which they may mar the whole possibility of arriving at a settlement of the question, they will grasp at the shadow and abandon the substance, which fairly, frankly, and cordially, without reserve, without equivocation, and without hesitation, I am empowered to offer them. I beg to conclude by moving, that leave be given to bring in a Bill "for the Conversion of Tithe Composition into Rent Charges, and for the redemption thereof; and for the better distribution of Ecclesiastical Revenues in Ireland."
129 clergymen, with an income of 50l. or indeed a lower sum—for there is no limit—will amount to 6,450l. 670 clergymen, at a minimum of 100l., making 6,700l. 209 clergymen, at a minimum of 200l., with the care of a population of near 100, making 41,800l. 188 clergymen, at a minimum of 300l., 56,400l. 54 clergymen, at a minimum of 300l., 16,200l.
§ Lord John Russell
I beg, Sir, to remind the House, that I took occasion, before my noble Friend commenced, to propose to him that he should have an opportunity, if he thought fit, to bring in any Bill he might have prepared on the 1275 subject to which the speech he has just concluded referred. It was the choice of my noble Friend not to accept that proposal. I find no fault with him for taking that course, but I think, certainly, that I am at liberty to draw this inference from his having declined my proposal namely, that my noble Friend, under another name, intends to give a strenuous opposition to the second reading of this Bill. If my noble Friend had asked to introduce a Bill upon this subject, it was in his power to have done so, either at some time before the measure of my noble Friend, the Secretary for Ireland, was introduced, or after the motion for its introduction had been made, or in some subsequent stage of the measure. It is, therefore, on the principle of our Bill, to which my noble Friend declares, that he never will consent, that he rests the issue of this question. I am glad to find that my noble Friend does not deny that this is the real question before the House. I. am glad to find, that he does not deny, that the real question is, whether the principle of this Bill shall or shall not be adopted. Now, Sir, I am as willing as my noble Friend to appeal to the reason and moderation of the people of England upon this subject. It is to the reason and moderation of the people of England that I appeal—not on the details, not on the regulations, but on the principle on which this Bill is founded. Sir, although my noble Friend, at the commencement of his speech, appealed to the reason and moderation of the people of England, I cannot forget, that he afterwards appealed from them to the feelings of this House, as a House of Gentlemen. True, Sir, it is a House of Gentlemen, but I hope it is something more; I hope it is a House representing popular feelings and popular interests. I hope it is a House representing (as it is the duty of Members of this House to do), not particular and local bodies of men, but representing, as Mr. Burke stated he considered himself bound to do, the whole people of this empire, including among them that outlawed portion of the people—the six millions of Roman Catholics in Ireland. Sir, my noble Friend, in the whole course of his speech, although he adverted to all the considerations, or very nearly all the considerations, connected with this Bill, totally omitted one most important consideration—namely, 1276 the consideration and concern which this House ought to pay to the interests of three-fourths of the people of Ireland. My noble Friend told us that we ought not to overlook the interests of the children of clergymen, and that it was a painful reflection for a clergyman that he could not leave to his children a competence after his death. Undoubtedly this is a very painful situation. But did it not occur to my noble Friend, or if it did not occur to him, I hope it will to hon. Members of this House—did it not occur to my noble Friend that there are others, not in the situation of clergymen, that there are the Roman Catholic people of Ireland, who, too, have to consider what is due to their children and their families, and who may be permitted to ask, when this score of 400,000l. is levied, what is the benefit which they are to derive from the expenditure of the money? Sir, I say at once—for it is as well that I should as early as possible place this Bill on the ground on which I think it ought to stand—I say at once, that our notion of a Church Establishment is, that it is not intended for the support of the offspring of the clergy in comfort and opulence, but for the instruction of the people. In the course of the last century there were eminent men who wrote and discoursed upon the principles and the grounds on which the State ought to support a Church Establishment. I am not going to fatigue the House with any quotations from their writings; but, when I mention the names of Warburton and Paley, every man will know what degree of weight is to be attached to their authority. Their doctrines differed very widely from each other. It was the opinion of Warburton, that the Church was naturally and politically the ally of the State; it was held by Paley to be a complete perversion of the intention of a Church Establishment to consider it as the ally of the State at all; but both these men, both able and enlightened men, and fully competent to grapple with the subject on which they wrote, both understood and both maintained, that an Established Church should be the Church of the majority of the people. This was the understanding upon which those able and learned men wrote upon the Church; and this was the principle on which they considered, that the Church ought to be supported. I do not mean to say, that this doctrine ever can be carried 1277 to its full extent in Ireland; it is not my intention even to propose to carry it to the extent to which they did; but this I maintain, and this I ever shall maintain, that the interests of the great body of the people ought not to be overlooked; and the duty of a State is, not to choose and select that doctrine which the Legislature or the supreme authority may consider to be founded in truth, but to endeavour to secure the means by which they can inculcate religion and morality among the great body of the people. If we were to maintain an opposite opinion, or to found a church upon any other doctrine, we should soon extend to Hindostan the religion of the Established Church of England, and spread throughout our dominions—among the Roman Catholics of Canada and the members of the various religious persuasions to be found in our numerous possessions in different parts of the globe—the faith in which we were brought up, and insist on a general conformity. It is impossible that we can maintain any such proposition; if we did so, our Church, which is so useful in this country, which serves so many high and stable purposes, would become in those places merely a nest of sinecures; and while you took care that there were clergymen with sufficient revenues, you would be totally neglecting that which it is the business of the State to provide—namely, that the great body of the people shall have the means of receiving religious and moral instruction. Now, Sir, both the Bill of last year, and that which my noble Friend, the Secretary for Ireland, has introduced this year, proceed upon the principle, that while you preserve to the Protestant Church of Ireland whatever is necessary for the spiritual instruction of the Protestants, yet that any surplus which can be derived from its revenues shall be applied to the religious and moral instruction of the great majority of the people. The meaning of this is, that you shall not consider the great majority of the people, as my noble Friend (Lord Stanley) did throughout his speech, as mere blanks in the empire, but that you shall provide them, not with a Church Establishment according to their own faith, but with a system of education which you can fairly give, and which, as my noble Friend (Lord Morpeth) declares, Parliament is ready to afford, and to endow, if necessary, with the sum of 20,000l. a-year—that you 1278 shall give this education to the great body of the people, that you shall make it a part of your duty, and that you shall consider it part and parcel of your ecclesiastical establishment. This, I think, is the broad and general view of ecclesiastical purposes. This is the view which takes in a vast number of people, who, if you confine yourselves to my noble Friend's (Lord Stanley's) proposition, can never derive any benefit whatever from the distribution of those funds, and who, by reason of their not deriving any benefit from them, are not, as respects the State, duly furnished with the means of that religious and moral instruction which it is bound to afford. Having thus stated what I consider to be the great principle of this Bill, I think it follows that I shall not be prepared to withdraw it in favour of the proposition of my noble Friend opposite. I will not imitate my noble Friend's example. He has made it matter of reproach to us that we have altered and conceded some of the provisions of last year. I will not undervalue, far less will I reproach or taunt him with any proposition he has now made for the reform of the Church of Ireland, to which he was not disposed to accede last year; on the contrary, I value very highly any proposition coming from him with the authority he is empowered to give it. He will permit me to say, however, that these propositions leave altogether out of sight, and leave altogether untouched, that great principle which we have maintained—that great principle on which I had the misfortune to differ from my noble Friend when we were in office together—that great principle on which the House declared its solemn opinion last year. I will now notice, before I proceed to other questions, one or two points on which I think my noble Friend has made, I will not say an unfair, but certainly not a politic, use of the alterations in our present Bill. It was one of the reproaches cast upon our Bill of last year, that the property of the Church—the collection and disposition of it, at least—was altogether transferred into the hands of the Commissioners of Land Revenue. It certainly appears from the reports of what passed in the House of Lords in respect to the subject, that this was one of the parts of the Bill to which they said they never would give their consent, on the ground that it was a gross violation of principle. I know it was stated by one 1279 noble Lord, I have no objection to state his name—I mean Lord Ellenborough—that it might be expedient to give the Commissioners of Land Revenue the power of collecting this income for a time, but that he thought that after a time the principle should prevail, and the collection of the revenue go to the clergy, in whom, in his opinion, and in that of a majority of the House of Lords, it ought properly to rest. This is one of the points on which, feeling that we conceded no principle in so doing, we made a concession; and it is one of the objects of my noble Friend opposite to attack that concession and that provision of the Bill, and to subject us to reproach, because we have yielded to what we thought, in the conscientious opinion of our opponents, was one of the great obstacles to the passing of the Bill. A great part of my noble Friend's speech was taken up in pointing out the faults of former measures, but a very small portion was occupied in pointing out the faults of the particular measure introduced by my noble Friend (Lord Morpeth). A considerable portion of his speech was devoted to a detail of the inconveniences which at present arise where there is a very small income, a large population, and a great number of parishes (which is undoubtedly one great fault of the present system), and a great part was employed in showing the inadequacy of the fund provided for the Church Temporalities. Why that is a fault of my noble Friend's own Bill. My noble Friend also attacked the scale we have proposed, which I think a very adequate one, fully adequate, I should say, for the purpose, but at all events more liberal than that which the right hon. Baronet, near my noble Friend, (Sir Robert Peel) stated last year, as the one which we might fairly have adopted if we had wished to carry into effect the principle of our Bill. I know not for what purpose my noble Friend opposite stated it, if it were not as suggesting; something better than the Bill before the House; but he said, that even if a moderate scale of income were taken as sufficient for the clergymen, he would show, on the authorities he could quote, that sufficient provision was not made for them. Well, Sir, we have taken a scale which goes beyond the proposition of the right hon. Baronet; and now my noble Friend tells us it is objectionable both in principle and practice. I think it is rather too much 1280 for the noble Lord, after attacking in the first place the present state of things—after attacking the departures from the old Bill, and attacking the scale of the right hon. Gentleman near him, to come forward and lay the burden of all those faults on the Bill we propose. Now, Sir, with reference to the application of the net income arising under the Tithe Bill, which we propose in the present measure. It is as follows:—To 675 benefices of the first class, containing more than fifty, and less than 500 Protestants, at 200l. per benefice, rent-charge and thirty acres of glebe valued at 30s. per acre—165,375l.To 211 benefices of the second class, containing more than 500, and less than 1,000 Protestants, at 300l. per benefice, rent-charge and thirty acres of glebe valued as before—72,795l.To 190 benefices of the third class, containing more than 1,000, and less than 3,000 Protestants, at 400l. per benefice, rent-charge and thirty acres of glebe valued as before—84,550l.To fifty-one benefices of the fourth class, containing upwards of 3,000 Protestants, at 500/. per benefice, rent-charge and thirty acres of glebe valued as before—27,795l.To 123 benefices of the fifth class, containing less than fifty Protestants, at 100/. per benefice, rent-charge and thirty acres of glebe valued as before—17,835l.It appears, as my noble Friend has very truly said, that the whole scale furnishes about 290l. for each benefice; but if I were to take only a part of these, if I were to omit benefices containing more than fifty and less than 500, and benefices containing less than fifty, then the whole amount being 185,000l., would give for each benefice an average of about 411l. a-year. What say the Church Commissioners in their second Report, with reference to the present state of the Church of England? It appears from their Report, that "there are 3,528 benefices under 150l. per annum; of that number, thirteen contain each a population of more than 10,000, fifty-one a population of from 5,000 to 10,000; two hundred and fifty-one a population of between 2,000 and 5,000; and eleven hundred and twenty-five have each a population of between 500 and 2,000." According to this statement there are 1,440 benefices in this country, each containing above 500 persons, all under 150l. per annum, and the average of which we may suppose to be from 100l, to 120l. per annum. There- 1281 fore we have here, in England, 1,440 benefices, each containing more than 500 people, at this average of 120l. a-year—say it yields an average of 120l. a-year; and we propose that in Ireland, in all benefices containing more than 500 persons, there shall be one average of 411l. a-year. Now, I ask my noble Friend, if he be so shocked at the penury in which we leave the Irish Church, what does he consider the state of the English Church under such circumstances as these? Be it recollected, too, that the state of the English Church is the state of a national Church, to which the people of this country belong; that when we talk of the poverty of clergymen of this Church, we talk of the poverty of men who are doing their duty to their flocks in both town parishes and country parishes—whose offices are received with thankfulness, respect, and veneration; and that when we speak of the average of 400l. a-year, which is given to the Irish clergyman, it is given in parishes where there are more than 500 members of the Established Church, certainly, but where there are, perhaps, 1,000, 2,000, or 3,000 persons of a different persuasion, to whom that religious consolation cannot be extended, and by whom it would be refused if it were proffered. This is, however, a point upon which my noble Friend opposite and I entertain very different opinions, which must always be kept in view. The Church of Ireland must, I admit, be supported; you must endeavour to make it agree, as well as you can, with the circumstances of the country in which it is placed; but, after all, it is not the Church to which the great majority of the people belong. My noble Friend complains of the hardship and injustice of leaving some of these clergymen starving, as he calls it, on 100l. a-year. Why, Sir, I find that in the 7th and 8th of King George 4th, in the orthodox period of 1827, before the Roman Catholics were admitted into this House, a provision was inserted in an Act of Parliament to this effect:—When any parish or parishes appropriate, belong to, and are annexed to any archbishopric or bishopric in Ireland, it shall and may be lawful for any archbishop, with the consent of the dean and chapter of the diocese, and when there is not any dean and chapter, then with the consent of the major part of the beneficed clergy of the diocese, and also of the archbishop and patron of such parish, under their 1282 hands and seals, to unite two or more of such appropriate parishes into one perpetual cure, and to unite one or more of such appropriate parish or parishes to any one benefice or benefices contiguous thereto, provided the certain value of each such respective unions do not exceed 100l. by the year.If any reproach can justly be brought against us, it is one which applies equally against those who framed this Act, and against those who passed it, and thought that in so doing they were conferring a benefit upon the Church of Ireland. Undoubtedly in benefices in Ireland—there are no great number of them—which contain less than fifty Protestants, the income of 100l. a year is a small one; but it is not less, it is even larger, than the income which many clergymen and curates of the Church of England enjoy. It is an income one-fourth larger, besides the glebe, than we were told last year was given to the curates of two parishes which produced 1,200l. or 1,500l. a year to the rector. My noble Friend, the Secretary for Ireland, (Lord Morpeth) makes a proposition, therefore, the tendency of which is not to diminish the Church Establishment, but to apportion the income of its ministers to the amount of duty they are called upon to perform. While he increases—and increases in several places to a very large extent—the incomes to be paid to those ministers who have heavy duties to perform, he diminishes the incomes of benefices wherein the number of Protestants of the Established Church is very limited. My noble Friend opposite (Lord Stanley) says that there ought to be some limit, according to the extent of the benefice. It is a great hardship undoubtedly, and a very severe labour, for a clergyman to have to go over a great extent of country, in the discharge of his spiritual duties; and this is one of the points which I think might well come under the consideration, of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. At the same time I should be sorry that a rule should be laid down, and above all in an Act of Parliament, that the extent of benefices might be enlarged. By adopting such a principle we might fall into the error which those have fallen into who have long opposed the Bill now before the House, and who have contended against the principle of it, declaring that we should consider the extent of Ireland and not the number of Protestants—that we should provide for the cure of acres and 1283 not for the cure of souls. My noble Friend went at some length into an explanation of the details of his own Bill, and he also found fault with the Commissioners. At any rate, if my noble Friend did not directly censure, he did, by implication, state that some blame was to be attached to the Commissioners acting under the Church Temporalities Bill. My noble Friend read a statement from their Report, in which they stated that they thought that it was expedient to spend 75,000l. a year in the repair of churches; but he added that, in particular instances, they had sent down 100l. for the repair of churches which did not require more than 5l. to be laid out upon them, and this had occurred in parishes where there were Protestant gentlemen who were ready to contribute the 5l. The noble Lord passed over the defects of the Act which he wished to introduce, and went to the clauses of the Bill before the House, which gave power to the Secretary of State to reduce the income or revenue of the clergy to the minimum, and he assumed that this would be acted upon in every case; and he added, that thus, by impoverishing the clergy, the Government would be enabled to raise a large surplus to devote to other purposes. I think that this was carrying the argument to the extreme, and to an unfair length, for it is always to be assumed that the Government of the day, in which there is placed a discretionary power, will carry a Bill into effect according to the spirit of it, and according to the sense in which it received the sanction of Parliament, and will not strive to violate the principle of the Bill. If the Act stated that from 200l. to 300l. a year was to be given to a clergy-man, according to circumstances—if they always gave 200l., whatever might be the circumstances of the case, and never 300l.—they would not act fairly or in conformity with the meaning or spirit of the Bill. I think that Parliament would feel that any Secretary of State, or any Minister of the Crown, would neglect his duty if the Bill should be carried into operation in this way. But if any other persons should be proposed to carry the Bill into effect than the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of the Protestant Church, I should be happy to agree to the arrangement, provided it can be shown to be more satisfactory than the one we propose, for I do not mean to say that they are the only persons 1284 who can carry the provisions of the Bill into effect. I repeat, if there are other persons who, in the opinion of Parliament, are better adapted to carry out the plan, I am quite ready to assent to a change in this part of the measure. It was always said in the course of the debate on this subject last year, that there would be no surplus if the Bill was passed—that, in fact, a calculation was made of a surplus which would not appear, and which would altogether vanish in operation, and that it was only an imaginary surplus on paper. I confess that my noble Friend's proposition was more acceptable in appearance than the assertion so constantly made last year, because my noble Friend says that there will be too large a surplus, and indeed so large that we shall not know how to apply it—that more will be received than was necessary for the payment of the 50,000l. a year for education. At any rate we shall carry into effect the object intended of applying any surplus that may arise to the purpose of general education; and my noble Friend need not be under any alarm as to too much accruing for this purpose for a considerable time; for in the first place, the 50,000l. a year now given from the Consolidated Fund for the purpose of general education must be repaid. I feel perfectly well assured that it will be many years before the 50,000l. a year thus advanced will be repaid by the Bill. The right hon. Baronet is perhaps satisfied that this is the case. It must be recollected, that any surplus of money that may accumulate in the hands of the Commissioners, may be devoted for the compensation of those who give up their advowsons, to allow them to fall into the hands of the Commissioners, that they may come within the operation of the Bill. Therefore the right hon. Gentleman will not agree with the noble Lord, that any surplus would arise that would be too large for the proposed purpose; but, on the contrary, that it would be a long time before it would amount to a large sum. At any rate, I must say that this will be the case, before the sum will be sufficiently great to be devoted to other purposes than the education of the people. Although, therefore, a sum may arise, it will be a very long time before there will be a sufficiently large surplus to render it necessary that the attention of Parliament should be drawn to the subject. My noble Friend called my attention to one point connected, as he 1285 said, with a surplus—namely, respecting glebe lands. He asked me whether this surplus was to be applied in such a way as to give glebe lands to the Roman Catholics? He asked me for a direct and distinct answer to this question. I then answer directly and distinctly—No. His Majesty's Government have no intention to apply any portion of the surplus from glebe lands for the Roman Catholic clergy. I state now, as I did on a former occasion, that we intend to devote any surplus that may arise to the same purposes as we proposed to do last year—namely, first to apply what is requisite for the Protestant Ministers of the Established Church, and to devote any surplus which might afterwards arise from the revenues of the Church to the general education of the people, without any distinction as to religion or creed. I will not trouble the House with giving any explanations of the details of this Bill; because my noble Friend (Lord Morpeth) who proposed the Bill, and to whom is due the merit of, framing the Bill, on what I consider to be just principles, will be prepared to enter into its details; and also to show that he has allowed a sufficiency for the clergy, and to explain the grounds on which he framed the scale of incomes. I confess that if I had had to frame the outline of the Bill, I am not quite sure that I should have allotted a scale to the same amount; but this is a subject on which my noble Friend will be prepared to answer any objections. In consequence of the objections made last year, we have felt disposed to yield in some degree upon one point. We now propose to keep up the number of benefices, and to afford a sufficiency for the maintenance of each clergyman, requisite for the due performance of divine worship. I cannot go farther; but the plan we now propose to act upon is similar in principle to that of the former measure; and it is the principle on which the Ministers still propose to act. Do hon. Gentlemen forget the relative proportions in some parts of Ireland, between the Members of the Established Church and of other religious communities? Take two of the provinces of Ireland—the provinces of Tuam and Cashel. In Tuam there are 44,599 Members of the Established Church, and 1,188,568 Catholics. In Cashel there are 111,813 Members of the Established Church, and 2,220,340 Roman Catholics; making in the two 1286 provinces, 156,412 members of the Establishment, and 3,408,908 Catholics. The principle on which my noble Friend (Lord Stanley) proposes to proceed, that there should be due and adequate provision made for the income of the clergy who attend to the spiritual interests of the 156,412 Members of the Church; but that we should neglect altogether the 3,408,908 Catholics. Upon this principle we entirely differ. We differ entirely as regards this Bill, and as regards every other measure respecting Ireland. I and my colleagues are of opinion that the Government of Ireland, in consequence of the mode in which it has acted, has at all times, and down to almost the latest period, been productive of great evil, by encouraging a strong party spirit, and has much neglected the interests of the great body of the people. I could give some instances in proof of this of a different kind, and on different subjects from the present measure, but I think that this is the great point of difference between us and our opponents. There would be no difficulty in pointing out how that difference of principle has operated, and showing, by illustration and example, how the Government has been carried on. One instance which recently came under my attention, as a striking illustration of the system, I may mention it. It is an instance which was mentioned in this House on a former occasion, though perhaps not in a way to make that impression on the House which I think that it should have made. My right hon. Friend, the Attorney General for Ireland, in taking a view of the state of that country in his official capacity, found that it was not the practice to prosecute officially at the Quarter Sessions those persons who had been guilty of assaults, and who engaged in quarrels which often led to bloodshed. He was of opinion that leaving such crimes unpunished addicted the peasantry to lawless outrages, and contributed to excite in them a disregard of the law. My right hon. Friend directed that not only the Crown Solicitor should attend at the different assizes, but that Solicitors should be appointed to attend and prosecute these assaults at the various Quarter Sessions in Ireland. A question on this subject was raised in the House only a few weeks ago. It was asked, whether many of the Solicitors appointed to carry on these prosecutions were not Roman 1287 Catholics. The object was to put clown outrages and prevent crime, and for this purpose to use the efforts and skill of the different Solicitors in the various towns in Ireland. The question was not raised as to whether this proceeding was desirable—as to whether the purse and revenues of the Crown should he used for the purpose of preventing crime, but as to whether the solicitors employed to carry on these prosecutions were not Roman Catholics. I can give another instance of the same kind with respect to the administration of justice in Ireland, and with reference to which my right hon. Friend has succeeded in making an alteration. It has been the practice—although an alteration has been made by the recent jury law for Ireland—for the Crown to challenge fifty or more persons called as jurors in a common ease, and where there was nothing of a serious nature, and this merely on some political or religious suspicion. The consequence of this practice was, that there arose a suspicion on the part of the people against the trial by jury, and it was believed that in these cases the source of justice was tainted and was not impartial. My right hon. Friend directed that the practice should cease, and that all persons called upon juries should serve. I have received a number of letters from impartial persons in Ireland, who inform me that this change had already had a visible and obviously beneficial effect on the minds of the people. They now feel a security in the administration of justice, and they say that they shall have a fair trial when called up. The trials for offences which grew out of popular differences are attentively regarded by the people, and they now say, when a man is prosecuted that at any rate he will have a fair trial, and justice will be done. It is only by means such as these, and by attending to the wants and wishes of the people of Ireland, that we shall prevail on them to cease to resort to crime on any occasion, and to support the law and the institutions of the country, and to give to the Government and Parliament that confidence without which armies are useless for the preservation of tranquillity. But I cannot avoid mentioning another subject which, indeed, is different from the present matter of debate, but which I shall soon have an opportunity of bringing under the consideration of the House. I mean the Bill which was proposed to the House on the subject of Municipal Corporations in Ireland. This 1288 is one instance of a measure by which we propose that Ireland should be governed on the same principles of equal justice which we wish to apply in this Bill—and let no man say this does not belong to the subject before the House—for Municipal Reform for Ireland was opposed on similar grounds to those which are now urged against this measure; and in both instances such arguments were because the principles of both parties were essentially different as to the mode of governing Ireland. We hold that the Roman Catholics of Ireland are to be considered on an equal account with their Protestant fellow-subjects, and that, as they freely wish to join with in loyalty to the Throne and attachment to the Constitution, it is right they should enjoy the same rights and privileges as we enjoy. Our opponents, on the other hand, maintain that the Roman Catholics are aliens in blood, differing from their fellow-subjects in religious opinions, and only waiting for an opportunity to shake off the government of this country as tyrannous and oppressive. Undoubtedly, adopting such principles, our opponents must adopt, and did adopt, a course of proceeding very different from that which we recommend, and in which we are supported. I have now had an opportunity (which I had not had when I last addressed the House on this subject) of seeing the printed Bill sent down to the House on the subject of the Corporations of Ireland, and I must say, that the same principle which ran through the alterations which had been made in that Bill, was the same on which the amendment moved to night by the noble Lord (Stanley) was founded—namely, the principle of contempt for the Roman Catholics, and the desire for their degradation. That principle runs through the whole of the amendments of the noble Lord, and I must confess, that when the noble Lord (Francis Egerton) proposed the instruction to the Committee on a former occasion, I wondered by what provisions it was intended to carry the principle of that instruction into effect. But when I now see my noble Friend (Lord Stanley) sup- porting precisely the same principle, I am still more disposed to wonder how it is that the noble Lord and the hon. Baronet agree in supporting that principle, their opinions on political questions having long been so different. I cannot find that their new proposition is founded on the Whig principle of liberty, or on the Tory principle of Tory reverence for ancient institu- 1289 tions; but, on the contrary, it is a mixture of sonic foreign adaptation, in which is combined whatever is worst in the example of the destructiveness of the French republic with what is most despotic in their military empire. In considering the amendment of my noble Friend I am compelled to look at it with reference to the whole of the political principles adopted with regard to Ireland. From that point I shall not depart. I consider the Bill as involving the whole question of the principles on which Ireland is to be governed; and whether that shall be in accordance with the wisdom and sense of the country, and directed by that reason which, as my noble Friend observed, should be the guide of the course of Government, or whether it shall be only in conformity to the domination of one party. If the House be of opinion that we must consider the wants and wishes and interests of the Roman Catholic subjects of his Majesty, then it will be right and consistent to allow the Bill of my noble Friend (Lord Morpeth) near me to be proceeded with; if, however, the House be of opinion that this important point should be altogether omitted from our consideration, then I must admit that the plan of the noble Lord (Stanley) opposite is well worthy of consideration. I contend that the course pursued by hon. Gentlemen opposite involves this consequence—that after the House, of Commons has decided upon the principle on which Ireland shall be governed for the future, namely, the principle of justice and equal laws, if we should now rescind that promise and make the cup we have held out to them, as bitter as disappointment can make it, and tell them that they must expect to find it sweeter and more palatable, if we are now to persist in a course which is degrading to them, and which both sacrifices the principle, and pollutes the source of justice as regards them, we shall have to contend with much opposition and with many obstacles from the feelings which will be manifested by the people of Ireland; and I think, likewise, that we should have to contend with the reason and opinion of the people of England who now are turning their attention to Irish subjects, and will not be willing I think to maintain the present system in Ireland. I have confidence in the English, I feel convinced that they will do as they have always done, namely, do as they would be done by, and on these subjects treat their Irish 1290 fellow-subjects with regard and affection, and thus lead to a real and complete union of the two countries.
had paid due attention to the speech of the noble Lord (the Secretary of State), but could discover in it nothing which in his judgment could be considered as an answer to the powerful speech of the noble Lord who opened the debate—a speech more gratifying to all the friends of the church—more full of accurate information and well-arranged details—more conclusive and triumphant in its deductions, he had never heard in that House. He was not, therefore, much surprised that the noble Lord opposite should shrink from the task of attempting a reply, and, sinking under its staggering effect, should think it prudent to divert the attention of the House from the real merits of the question before them, and introduce his amusing episodes on the Sessions Bill of the Attorney-General for Ireland, on the practice of challenging jurors at the assizes, and on the equally relevant subject of the Irish Municipal Corporation Bill. In the noble Lord's wide range of topics, foreign and irrelevant to the question under discussion, he had contrived to press into his service the military policy of France, but omitted altogether to grapple with the statement so powerfully put forth by his noble Friend, the Member for Lancashire. They were not then discussing whether or not they should have an establishment; the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, allows that the establishment should continue to be supported, and that adequate provision should be made for all the wants of the Established Church, before they could alienate one fraction of its revenues. On that point he was ready to meet the noble Lord, as he was fully satisfied that upon the closest examination of the wants and revenues of the establishment, it would be found that the ideal surplus of which they had heard so much could have no existence except in the fanciful notions of his Majesty's Ministers. It was assuredly in the noble Lord's power to grant fifty thousand a-year for the education of the Irish people, if that were really the object; and it little mattered from what source the supply for educational purposes was derived, provided that it proved fully adequate for the objects contemplated. Was it to lose all its value to the Irish people, unless it were derived from this surplus, which, upon close examination, would turn out to be a perfect delusion? He would 1291 therefore entreat his Majesty's Government, in mercy to the church, in mercy to common sense, and to the character of the Government itself, to give up this chase, this pursuit of a phantom, and honestly to meet us in the adjustment of the tithe question, and in a plan for the better distribution of the property of the Church. Taking the documents on which the Government relied, and the principles in which they professed to proceed in regard to the Church, it was capable of a perfect demonstration, that no surplus could exist, after the spiritual wants of the Protestants of Ireland were sufficiently provided for. If, as the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland admitted, the establishment was to be continued, there were three things essential for its maintenance—in every place where it was to be continued, there should be a clergyman to every benefice, a church for the congregation, and a residence for the clergyman; and if these essential objects Mere even decently provided for out of the revenues of the establishment, it was totally impossible that any surplus could remain. Indeed, it was evident from the dubious manner in which the noble Lord (the Irish Secretary) expressed himself upon introducing the Bill, he had his own misgivings on the subject. He says, "I admit this surplus will be liable to further encroachments, and in calculations with regard to which much will depend on future arrangements, it would be presumptuous to pretend to perfect accuracy." He added, "I only therefore venture to point out the probable results of the change we propose." The noble Lord said, "It will also be remembered, that no part of the surplus to be realized can become available until existing interests are satisfied, and purchases of advowsons effected, together with other changes appertaining to the plan we propose." The noble Lord stated his fund for the maintenance of the parochial clergy at 459,550l.; but in this he included Primate Boulter's fund, 5,000l. per annum, which being a charitable fund, appropriated to other uses, should be excluded. The noble Lord had also omitted the tax on clerical income, which should be deducted, 22,000l. per annum, making a total deduction of 27,000l. per annum, leaving only an income of 432,550l. Let the House then see, upon the noble Lord's own principles, what surplus he could expect from this income, applying it only to the object of maintenance, and excluding altogether the objects of providing glebe-houses and 1292 places of worship. According to the report of the noble Lord's Commissioners, the number of benefices in Ireland was 1,385. According to the same Report, the Church of England population amounted to 852,064. This would give each benefice an average of 615 souls. Well, the noble Lord would, according to his own proposal, assign to an incumbent with that proportion of duty 300l. per annum, making a sum total for 1,385 benefices of 455,000l., thus at once reducing the noble Lord's surplus to 17,000l. per annum. Supposing no increase in the number of benefices; but the noble Lord proposed that four hundred and seventy-eight unions should be broken up, the result of which would be an increase of five hundred and twenty benefices in addition to those already in existence, for which there was no other provision than this 17,000l. per annum. But although the noble Lord's Bill made provision for breaking up these unions, with an inconsistency which the noble lord had not yet attempted to reconcile or explain, he had rated the number of benefices at twelve hundred and fifteen; much less had the noble Lord informed the House from what source he intended to provide a maintenance for the clergymen of those additional benefices, which would be consequent on the subdivision of the unions, and against the continuance of which so many objections had been urged in that House. Much had been said of the extravagant wealth of the Irish Church Establishment; to that an answer in a great measure had been given by the able exposition of the noble Lord (Stanley), who had treated every part of the subject so ably, as to leave little for others to say; he would, therefore, confine himself to a few particulars, to show the fallacy of the assertion. On the 10th of May, 1833, a return was made to that House of the value of all the benefices in Ireland; he held that document in his hand, and he found in that return that there were six hundred and seventy-eight benefices not exceeding 300l. a-year, while those exceeding 1,000l. a-year were only seventy-one, and those exceeding 1,500l. a-year were only thirty-one. This was previous to the reductions made by the "Irish Church Temporalities Bill," by which a large reduction was made by the income tax, laid on in lieu of vestry cess, and previous to the reduction now proposed to be made of 32½ per cent.; so that, in effect, the thirty-one livings of 1,500l. per annum, or upwards, would be reduced to 1293 about 1,000l. per annum, which would be the highest amount of any benefice. He did not mention these facts, nor did he consider them as any grounds for continuing the comparatively high amount of those benefices, unless where the duties were proportionately severe and extensive; but he alluded to them for the purpose of removing the fallacy so industriously circulated, and to prove that there existed no redundancy of funds nor monstrously overgrown livings in the Irish Church. Indeed the statement of its income, as made by the noble Lord (Morpeth) sufficiently showed how exaggerated were the notions entertained by Members of that House on the supposed wealth of the establishment in Ireland. He was at a loss to conjecture how the noble Lord, and the hon. Member for St. Alban's could settle their difference on this subject, when he recollected that the hon. Member for St. Alban's on a former occasion stated the revenues of the Irish Church at nearly a million yearly, which, by the more accurate statement of the noble Lord, was now reduced to 459,000l. and should in reality stand at 432,000l. But let it be supposed for a moment there was this surplus, after providing for the maintenance of the clergy, were there no other wants of the Church to be provided for? If their incomes were to be reduced, and screwed down to the "starving point," could they afford to build glebe-houses? Heretofore glebe-houses were built partly out of the incomes of the clergy, and partly by assistance from the board of first fruits. This latter fund had been for a time diverted to other purposes by the Church Temporalities Act, and it was hard enough to leave upon the present incumbents and their successors, with greatly reduced incomes., the charges for building already existing on their benefices, without expecting any further expenditure. The present state of the church, as to glebes, appeared by the Report of the Commissioners to "be this—there were 535 benefices without glebe-houses; the Church of England population in these places stood thus:—
Upon what principle consistent with the proposed object of providing first for the spiritual wants of the Protestant population, were those places to be left without glebe- 1294 houses? The Commissioners of the Church Temporalities had reported, that for want of funds they were unable to attend to the numerous applications made to them for assistance in the building of glebe-houses. If the large unions were to be broken up, and an increase of 520 benefices made thereby, where were funds to be provided for glebe-houses in these newly-created benefices? So that whether the present or future condition of the Church be looked at, it was a perfect delusion to reckon upon any surplus, after supplying its absolute necessities. The third requisite for the maintenance of an establishment was, that parishes should be provided with places of worship. According to the Report of the Commissioners, there were at present 250 benefices without a church, and 196 instances in which other buildings were used as substitutes for churches, or in lieu of Chapels of Ease. These were described by the Commissioners as, in some cases, a barn or a farm-house—in others a school-room or the session-house, the minister's house, or even a coach-house. Was it fit that Protestant congregations should be left to shift in this manner for the performance of Divine Worship, if there really were the surplus of which the noble Lord spoke? In the resolution of the House on which they were proceeding, as well as in the Bill of the noble Secretary, it was expressly laid down, that this surplus, this ideal surplus, was not to be diverted from its original objects, until all the "spiritual wants" of the Protestants of Ireland were sufficiently supplied. How could that be, he would again ask, if places of worship were not to be provided where there were congregations ready to make use of them. The funds formerly applied to that purpose were the vestry-cess and the first-fruits. These had been taken away, and the substitute devised to supply the deficiency had wholly failed. The Commissioners' stated that there was no adequate fund, nor was there any prospect of an adequate fund, although applications, urgent and pressing, were continually made to them for means to build and repair churches. As the noble Lord (the Member for Lancashire) had already described to the House that part of the Commissioners* Report, he would not repeat it; but he would ask how much would this want be felt when, by the breaking up of unions, the number of benefices requiring places of worship was increased. He put it to the 1295 noble Lord (Morpeth), of whose regard for the welfare of the church he had no reason to doubt.—He put it to him to consider, in what condition the church must be when 520 benefices were added? He supposed the noble Lord meant that the provisions of his own Bill in respect to the breaking up of large unions should be carried into effect. With what consistency, then, could the noble Lord or the House appropriate this assumed surplus to other purposes whilst so important a want as that of places of worship was left unsupplied. He would implore the noble Lord opposite to legislate honestly and sincerely on this subject, to give up his useless pursuit after an airy phantom which vanished as he approached it, and seriously to consider the best practical way of settling for ever this question, which had supplied so much material for agitation—which had been so pregnant with discord and animosity,—which had caused so much disturbance and misery in Ireland, and without the settlement of which there could be no hope that peace or tranquillity could be permanently established in that country.—[Hear, hear.] He understood the cheers of the hon. Member opposite, the hon. Member for Lincoln, (Mr. E. L. Bulwer). By that cheer, the hon. Member would give the House to understand that the settlement of the question, which he would support, should involve the total destruction of the Established Church in Ireland—
In 324 it was above 100 In 215 it was above 300 In 171 it was above 500 In 65 it was above 1000 In 34 it was above 2000
§ Mr. E. L. Bulwer
rose to order.—He could not see the propriety of the hon. and learned Gentleman discussing the meaning of his cheer.
—if he were not mistaken in his interpretation of the cheer of the hon. Member, it meant to convey, that peace and harmony could only be restored to Ireland by the spoliation of the revenues of the Irish Church, and its consequent total abolition. If such was his expectation, he would find himself most lamentably disappointed. "What, Sir, continued the learned Member, are those to look on with peace and harmony, while the church to which they belong is being plundered of its rights, and the ministers they revere reduced to want and penury?" If any party in that House, or out of that House, could be so foolish as to expect that the subversion of the Irish Church, and the alienation of its lawful revenues, would tend to restore peace and harmony in Ireland, he would take the liberty of assuring them that they were grossly deceiving 1296 themselves by so preposterous an expectation. But he was proceeding with an appeal to the noble Lord (Morpeth) who professed to feel so deep an interest in the welfare of the Protestant Church, when the cheer of the hon. Member attracted attention. He would most earnestly appeal to that noble Lord, and to his Majesty's Government, on behalf of the Church in Ireland—on behalf of the peace of Ireland, to meet that side of the House in an adjustment of this question, and put an end to the disturbance, the heart-burnings, and contention, which had been excited and fomented by the question of tithes—to give to the Church of Ireland an increased efficiency, by securing her rights, and applying her revenues so as to meet the exigencies of her people, instead of occupying themselves with an ideal surplus, which did not exist, and which never could exist, if the spiritual wants of the Protestant people of Ireland were adequately supplied.
§ Mr. Fowell Buxton
spoke as follows: * In the early part of the speech of the noble Lord (Stanley) I ventured to indulge the hope, that he was about to exert his great influence and eminent talents in bringing this question to a happy and amicable issue. He spoke of the small difference there was between the conflicting opinions. A little false shame, and a little false pride, he said, alone prevented an adjustment; and I thought that no doubt he would devote himself to the task of appeasing and smoothing down these petty asperities. I had, I say, indulged the hope that the noble Lord would render a real service to his country and his religion, by adopting this conciliatory tone. But I was speedily undeceived: the noble Lord very soon divided this side of the House into three sections. The first class was the miserable economists; the second, the faithful but erring friends of the Church; the third, those who were bent upon its destruction. And he speedily explained to us the relative numbers of these divisions. Nine out of ten on this side of the House (he distinctly asserted,) are for the destruction of the Church. Whether I am ranked by him as a disciple of false and miserable economy, or as an unwise and misguided friend to our Establishment, or as one of its bitter and malignant foes, I* From a corrected report published by Hatchard,1297 know not; but this I know, when I see a person of his character and standing take such licence, I have a right to appeal from his caricatures, to the real enactments of the Bill itself.
What, then, do I find in the Bill? I first find the tithe question, which every one has desired, but no one has expected, to see settled, brought to a satisfactory conclusion:—to this conclusion—that the incumbent has no longer to apply to the wretched cottager and impoverished tenant, but has his claim upon the land itself. He has no longer a nominal title to his tithe, to be enforced, if he can, at the point of the bayonet; but a real tithe—a charge upon the first estate of inheritance, recoverable by the peaceful process of an application to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests.
Will any one pretend to say, that this is ruin or even peril to the Church?
The second grand feature of the Bill is, that hereafter there is to be some correspondence between the amount of duty and the amount of stipend. Hitherto there has been no necessary connexion between the duties to be performed and the salary to be received. It has happened that some clergymen, with the most arduous functions to discharge, have had to receive little or no remuneration. And the converse has happened also: those who had the largest revenue to receive, had to execute little or no religious service. One man has a large endowment, but within his fold hardly a Protestant; he does little, and receives high wages for doing that little. Another has a large and growing population under his charge, his duties heavy and anxious, his stipend miserable.
And is our national Establishment hastening to decay, because we adopt the rash proposal of measuring the amount of income by the extent of duty? because we take away from the man whose duties are so light, a portion of his pay, and give it to him who has work to do, and does that work? I cannot see any want of natural equity in this. I cannot see any neglect of the essential interests of the Church. On the contrary, the present system, by which the Church is often liberal and bountiful to the ineffective, and parsimonious to the useful labourer, is not only injustice, but it is the worst husbandry in the world.
The Church in danger, indeed, because 1298 you cherish and encourage the real labourer, and because you enable yourself so to do by striking off a portion of superfluous remuneration from those from whom you receive little and limited service! I wish that a proportion of that common sense which every man exercises in his own concerns were introduced into the administration of the affairs of the Church, and then a rule somewhat of this kind would prevail:—Pay nothing to him -who does nothing,—deal sparingly with him who does little,—and reserve your bounty for those who earn the bread they eat, who deserve the stipend they receive. This, to my mind, hardly deserves the harsh expressions which the noble Lord has poured upon us. To me it seems to be economy—true justice—wise policy—the restoration of the revenues of the Church to their right and legitimate uses.
The third capital feature of the Bill is, that the remuneration to the clergy shall hereafter be confined within certain limits on either hand. It shall be, not a state of poverty—not a state of abundance; it shall neither rise so high as to attract the envy of the people, nor fall so low as to forfeit their respect. It realizes the desire expressed by the noble Lord (Lord Stanley), "that the ministers of religion should escape, on the one side, the extremes of luxurious affluence; and on the other, those of sordid poverty." Again I ask, where is the wickedness of all this, and where lies the danger?
I have mentioned these three leading particulars, in order to show to the learned Gentleman (Sergeant Lefroy) who has just sat down, that it is just possible that his Majesty's Ministers may have some other design than that which his charity has been pleased to impute to them—namely, "the total destruction of the Church in the utter spoliation of its property." If these Ministers be wicked enough to meditate such results, is it not passing strange that they should have begun with three propositions which, by the concession of all men, including the noble Lord, and even the learned Sergeant, are calculated to add to the efficiency, to the respectability, and to the security of the Church?
Gentlemen attempt to terrify us by saying, "Take care what you do; what you do in Ireland will be an example and a precedent for England." So far as we have gone, I hope it may. I long for the 1299 time in which these undeniable improvements shall be engrafted on our own Church.
I come now to the fourth and last provision of the Bill, the point on which controversy chiefly prevails—namely, the Education clause; which has been styled, a proposal to oust the clergy from their habitations, to reduce their churches to ruin, to scatter their flocks without a shepherd, by appropriating that property which ought to maintain the clergy, and by devoting it to some unworthy purpose. Is this quite fair? Does not the learned Gentleman know, that this Bill carries on the front of it a provision that not one shilling shall be abstracted from the Church till every benefice has its minister, and every minister a decent and suitable maintenance? When such gross misrepresentations have gone forth as those which have been current about this Bill (I do not charge the learned Gentleman with originating these misrepresentations, but when they seem to gather strength by the sanction of his well-known accuracy), it becomes necessary that it should be borne in mind by those who desire calmly and justly, and on the real merits to estimate this measure, that not one farthing can be abstracted or alienated from the Church, till every benefice has its pastor, and every pastor has a suitable maintenance.
§ Mr. Buxton
What, then, is the meaning of these words in the preamble:—"Whereas it is just and necessary for the establishment of peace and good order in Ireland, and conducive to religion and morality, that after adequate provision made for the spiritual wants of the members of the Established Church, the surplus revenue shall be applied to the moral and religious education of the people, without distinction of religious persuasions?" And what is the meaning of the 75th Clause, which directs, first, the payment of incidental expenses;—secondly, provision for the decent and suitable maintenance of the clergy;—thirdly, the purchase of advowsons and glebes. And when these objects are accomplished and satisfied, then, and not till then, you have to deal with the question of surplus. I must again complain that some little disingenuousness has been exerted in discussing this question of surplus, Gentle- 1300 men rest their arguments upon two alleged facts; which facts are not only contradictory, but so irreconcileable, that if one happens to be true, the other is inevitably false. What is the first charge against us? You rob the clergy;—you take away the means of maintaining the Protestant establishment;—the Church is, if not absolutely ruined, greatly impoverished. This implies not only surplus, but a surplus of vast extent; it must be a magnificent spoil that we are grasping. Wait a quarter of an hour, and the same Gentleman shows you, and, as he says, proves to you, by logical demonstration, that under no circumstances, by no possibility, can there be any surplus at all. "It is all a fiction," says the learned Gentleman, "it is a phantom—a delusion;—there is no surplus." If there be no surplus, there is no robbery, no impoverishment, no spoliation. All the terrors of the learned Gentleman are, with the surplus, so many fictions.
I complain of being utterly puzzled by Gentlemen thus shifting from fact to fact. I hear a Gentleman gravely and confidently laying down a position; I set myself to the consideration of that position. When I have arranged my thoughts, I turn back to the speaker, and find him repudiating and showering contempt on the nonsense of his previous position, and lecturing those who have had the folly to believe it. I do not know how to deal with such Gentlemen. I believe I must separately reply to both their positions. First, I will take it that there is no surplus. Then there is no harm done. This clause, as it contemplates an impossible contingency, is in its nature null and void—so much waste paper. It is very foolish, perhaps, but it is very innocent.
But now I will suppose the other side of the question. There is a surplus such as this Bill contemplates. The primary demands of the Church are considered and satisfied. Still a revenue remains, and then the question arises, How shall it be applied? I admit, as readily as any man, that education is not, strictly speaking, a religious object; it is partly religious, partly secular; and therefore do I heartily subscribe to the doctrine of the noble Lord, that in distributing the funds of the Church, the maintenance of the ministers of religion should have the precedence. But when that prior claim shall have been provided for, and a surplus 1301 shall remain, then I contend that there is no application of that residue more natural, more suitable, more appropriate to the design for which the property was originally granted, or more conducive to the real welfare of the people, than education.
Education is, to a certain extent a religious object. What is the complaint which has been so often alleged against the Church of Rome? I speak freely; I shall endeavour to give no offence, for I mean none. That complaint—that too just complaint is, that the Catholic Church withholds the Scriptures from the people. The unsullied light of gospel truth is not shed upon them in its original purity; the mandates of their Maker, as he delivered them, are kept back; there is the complaint.
Now the proposed system of education teaches them to read the Bible; in itself no mean acquirement. It gives them a portion of the Scriptures to read, and enforces the reading of that portion. Do I say that this is enough? No; I lament that Scripture is thus sparingly doled out. I wish the whole word of God were in the hands and in the hearts of every Catholic and of every Protestant—of every man and every child in Ireland. That would, and I believe nothing else will, appease the discords of that unhappy country. I wish that all Catholics, and some Protestants also,—for there are Protestants, with whom I have entered into controversy elsewhere, who tremble as much at the diffusion of the word of God, without note, comment, or human interpretation, as any Catholic upon earth;—ardently do I desire that all men of all persuasions would discard from their minds the presumptuous notion, that they, creatures of an hour, can invent any thing more suitable for the instruction of mankind than those Scriptures which the Creator of man has sent for his instruction. Oh! the arrogance of the notion, that eternal truth, administered by unerring wisdom for the instruction of the whole world, may do, nobody knows what mischief, unless sent forth under the protection of human folly for its guide, and human frailty for its safeguard! And, oh! the miserable consequences which have resulted from the denial of Scripture truth in its original purity!
But though this system of education does not do all, it does much. It teaches 1302 the Catholic to read. It gives him a portion of Scripture to read. This, by your own showing, is better than former times, for then you told us that the Scriptures altogether were deliberately withheld from the people. So far it is an advance; and I persuade myself that it will be difficult to prevent those who have learnt to read, and have read a selection from the Bible, from perusing the remainder in after-life.
But if it be in some sort a religious, it is, to a greater extent, a charitable object. What is the curse of Ireland? Is it not that charity is expelled the country—that Protestant hates Catholic, and Catholic detests Protestant? They are kept asunder; those who ought to be brothers, are arrayed, one against the other, in hostile bands; but how should that spirit of rancorous animosity live amongst those who were educated at the same school, and shared together for years the same pleasures, pursuits, and studies.
But if it be in any degree a religious or a charitable object, it is altogether a Protestant object. Why, let me ask, is the learned Gentleman a Protestant? Why am I a Protestant? Because we believe that our religion is the truth; because we fear that others are in error. If there be this error, what so calculated to disperse the delusion—to establish the truth, as the spread and circulation of knowledge?
If I thought that light and knowledge, poured in upon the controversy between Protestant and Catholic, would be really giving an advantage to the Catholic, I should begin to suspect that they were in the right. I should recollect that error alone loves obscurity, and flourishes under the disguise of darkness; but I have better faith in the truth of my religion than to dread, that instruction can damage it. I, at least, fear nothing, though I expect much, from the uttermost diffusion of knowledge. If I am right, the more light the better; if wrong, I unfeignedly desire to be awakened to, and to be delivered from, my own mistakes. Knowledge never can be the foe of true religion. It may show where the wit and ingenuity of man, or where, as it more frequently happens, the folly, perversity, and selfishness of man, have stept aside from the plain Scripture rule: it may expose error, but it confirms the truth. True religion, by which I mean religion based upon the Bible, has nothing to fear but from deaf and dogged ignorance, and 1303 that ignorance education is calculated to remove. I know that education alone cannot make a Christian, but I know that education prepares the way for learning divine truth.
The learned Gentleman is as well read as any man in ecclesiastical lore; he knows, therefore, that I am preaching no new doctrine, no discovery of yesterday, but good, old, sound Protestant doctrine. I use, to-day, the argument which the Protestants used at the era of the Reformation. Well has this been put by one who was no friend to Dissenters, no friend to Catholics; but was in the constant habit of lashing them, with his scorn and his sarcasm from the pulpit, in a way that would have been most offensive, were it not for the extraordinary wit and ingenuity which marked every thing he said. He was once a chaplain of this House, and he, the most thorough-going high-Churchman of his day, Dr. South, thus claims the argument derived from fearlessness in the diffusion of knowledge. "Some of their (the Catholic) clergy deal with their religion as with a great crime; if it is discovered, they are undone. But our religion is a religion that dares to be understood, that offers itself to the search of the inquisitive, to the inspection of the severest and most awakened reason; for, being secure of her substantial truth and purity, she knows, that for her to be seen and looked into, is to be embraced and admired." And another authority, less eloquent, perhaps, but in a better spirit, the greatest champion that Protestantism ever had, in the controversy with Catholicism—I mean the great Chillingworth, says: "Truth needs only light to discover it. It is our duty to make plain that truth; which my charity persuades me, the most part of them, the Catholics, only disaffect, because it hath not been well represented to them."
I am persuaded that the only reason why the Protestant religion has not been adopted by the people of Ireland, is because it has been presented to them in so obnoxious a form.
I have hitherto been arguing the question upon general grounds, alike applicable to the Church of Ireland, the Church of England, and to every Church in Christendom. These principles embodied in the Bill are good for Ireland, good for England, good for Scotland—good for the Church 1304 of every country. But do these doctrines, so generally true, acquire no peculiar force by a reference to the state of Ireland? Can we exclude from our view the unnatural and artificial state of things in that country? It was the capital error of the eloquent and admirable speech of the noble Lord (Stanley) that he happened to forget that there were more than six millions of Catholics in Ireland. Why, that constitutes the difficulty of the case. Had we to deal only with 800,000 Protestants collected together in one province, it would be all plain sailing. Half an hour would be sufficient to discuss and to decide a question which, as it really exists, has puzzled and bewildered every Administration within the memory of man. There lies the very focus of the difficulty—a Church bearing the broad name of a National Church, with the nation opposed to ft, numbering amongst its adherents one only of the eight millions of its population, (the bulk of the people being Catholics,) called on to maintain the ministers of a Protestant, and, in their erroneous judgment, an heretical religion. It is, then, when we consider their numbers, and advert to principles of justice, that we see the moderation of the proposal to take a fraction only of the funds which they raise, and to appropriate this fraction not to the support of their faith, but to the general instruction of the people. My attachment to the Protestant faith—and I am as firmly a Protestant, as much convinced of the errors and mistakes of Catholicism as any man who hears me—does not suffer me to think that I shall promote the true ends of religion by disregarding the claims on which this proposal is founded.
There was one sentiment uttered by the noble Lord, to which I heartily subscribe, namely, that it was to be desired beyond all other things that this question should now be settled. Truly has he said, that "this question has disturbed Government after Government, shaken and dissolved Administration after Administration, interfered with the peace and tranquillity, not only of Ireland, but of the Empire at large." He told us a melancholy truth, when he said, that "the present state of the Church is not consistent with the peace, security and welfare of Ireland."
We all know that the question must be settled during this Session. The peace of Ireland, the great interests of the united nation, and more than all, the interests of 1305 the Protestant Church of Ireland, claim that this long dispute should now be closed. And can we hope, at any time, more favourable terms than those which are now proposed to us? Can we hope, that while confessedly every day the prospect becomes darker and darker—new passions stirred up, new questions agitated, new obstacles conjured into existence,—when every day brings into life new difficulties; can we hope, I say, at any future period, terms more favourable than those which are now offered? What are they? No benefice shall be destroyed. Is that nothing now in the eyes of those who last year so feelingly contended against the extinction of smaller benefices? That was then the grand objection against the Bill. Many Gentlemen felt it—I felt it: it almost shook my own vote; but now, not one Protestant benefice is to be extinguished. Secondly, the Tithe question settled—the quarrel of two centuries brought to an amicable issue. The Archbishop of Dublin has recently declared, that this Tithe question has been "the unceasing source of mutual dissatisfaction and agitation." The hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny has not been the only agitator. There is another, says the most reverend Prelate; and by this Bill that agitator would be subdued, disarmed, and extinguished. Thirdly, stipend in proportion to labour; adding thereby to the energy, the activity, and the force of the Protestant Church. Fourthly, not a farthing alienated from the possessions of the Church, till its chief and primary object, the maintenance of its ministry, is provided. Why, these are so many new foundations and buttresses to the Protestant structure. They tend not to impair, not to overthrow—but to confirm and strengthen the Protestant Establishment.
But doing so much for ourselves, are we to do nothing to satisfy the other parties in this arbitration? We make them a concession—call it a great one, if YOU please; we ought to make great sacrifices for the purchase of peace. We ought to make great sacrifices in order to improve the state of things which the noble Lord has shown to be perilous to the Church, and inconsistent with the peace, security, and welfare of Ireland. We make then a concession—but a concession of what? Of Education the foe of error, the terror of superstition and bigotry and intolerance, but the friend of truth, the 1306 fast friend of Protestantism—if Protestantism be truth, as I know it to be. I wonder that Gentlemen are not eager to strike so good a bargain. I could almost say, I would give the fifty thousand a year to settle the dispute, were it, to use the noble Lord's expression, to make "ducks and drakes of." How much more willingly will I give it to the diffusion of knowledge, which, in my apprehension, must silently and quietly achieve our own object!
I apprehend that nothing prevents Gentlemen from acceding to the proposal, except a feeling that it is in some sort a sacrifice of principle, an act of unfaithfulness to the Protestant religion, to make any concession to the Catholics.
I think very, very differently. Cast out of view all considerations of the political state of Ireland; dismiss all pity for her perpetual distractions; waste not a thought on the blood that is shed, and the poverty, the squalidness, the starvation which this controversy has created.—Again, throw out of view the general interests of the nation, which are so closely linked with the political state of Ireland:—rigidly and exclusively directing your attention to the Church alone, I maintain that the main and capital interests of the Protestant religion, demand that we should make every just and reasonable concession to the Catholics.
This fact stares me in the face. I cannot rid myself of it. It is the source of almost all the notions I hold upon this subject.
This is the fact:—never had any Church such outward supports as our Protestant Church has had in Ireland. A Church munificently endowed—the gentry, the wealth, the intelligence, the rank of the land, all Protestant. An army at her disposal—no squeamishness in resorting to physical force—there were times within the memory of living men when it was ruin and confiscation to be a Catholic; when it was death to perform some of the rites of the Catholic Religion; when—and I shudder at the memory of the Act I am going to speak of; I wonder almost that our Church could survive such atrocity—when we said to the rising youth of the Catholic gentry and nobility—Listen to truth, come over to our doctrine, be religious men,—and we give you, putting aside an eternal inheritance, liberty to turn your own fathers out of doors!
These advantages the Protestant Church had. But were they advantages? I 1307 think they have been the impediments in our way; but one advantage she had—essential truth was, as I think, on her side; but truth itself, backed by a Protestant Establishment, by a Protestant King, a Protestant army, a Protestant Parliament,—truth itself, So far from advancing, has not kept her ground against error. The proportion of Protestants is less than it was a century ago.
Now, will the noble Lord explain to me this phenomenon? "Truth," says the poet, "by her own sinews shall prevail."
Why is it, then, that undeniable truth, as he and I hold it to be, has not prevailed—has not stood against palpable error?
My solution is, that we have resorted to force where reason alone could prevail. We have forgotten, that though the sword may do its work,—mow down armies, and subdue nations, it cannot carry conviction to the understanding of men; nay, the very use of force tends to create a barrier to the reception of that truth, which it intends to promote. We have forgotten, that there is something in the human breast—no base or sordid feeling—the same which makes a generous mind cleave with double affection to a distressed and injured friend: that principle makes men cleave with tenfold fondness—deaf to reason, deaf to remonstrance, reckless of interest, prodigal of life—to a persecuted religion. I charge the failure of Protestant truth in converting the Irish, upon the head of Protestant ascendancy.
Protestant ascendancy! It sounds well enough in English ears. It seems to mean no more than the Church under the peculiar protection of the State. To that the English people have not, I have not, any objection; but it means something else in Ireland: it means that merciless spirit which, under the prostituted name of religion, has been the author of a war, half civil, half religious, which has prevailed for three centuries duration. Why, even in my time—for I once resided in Ireland—what was the meaning of a good Protestant? I know what an English Gentleman means, when he talks of a good Protestant; he means a man of benevolence, of integrity, of piety, who attends his Church and faithfully adopts the creed that Church teaches; this is the good Protestant in our fashion of speaking. But the good Protestant in Ireland when I lived there, was quite another order of man. There was many 1308 a good Protestant in my time, who never darkened the doors of a Church, or puzzled his brains with any doctrines of divinity: the good Protestant in Ireland belonged to a political confederacy—plunged into the depths and excesses of a political struggle—drank, so devout was he, upon his knees, "The pious, glorious, and immortal memory of the great King William who saved us from the Pope and wooden shoes." I have seen a body of those first-rate Protestants going in religious procession through the town of Carlow, waving their orange flag in the faces of a silent and insulted people, marching to the sacred music of "Croppies, he down," which meant exactly this, "We Protestants are your masters; you Catholics, rise if you dare." Happy had it been for the interests of true religion, had she never numbered amongst her sons any good Protestants of that order—happy had it been for the Protestant Church had Protestant ascendancy never been heard of—happy had it been had we dared to present our truth to the Irish, not in arms, not in pomp, not decorated with the symbols of earthly power, but in that lowliness and gentleness which naturally belong to it.
Had we sent forth a missionary Church—and I know and rejoice in knowing, that the Church of Ireland, of very late years, has possessed a devoted and pious clergy—had she always done so, and had she sent them forth with none other arms than reason, revelation, and naked truth, I do believe that those prejudices which have defied our power, would have yielded to the persuasion of our reason. Our great error has been., that we have endeavoured to maintain Christian truth by unchristian means. We have shipwrecked charity, peace, love: all the attributes which truly belong to our religion—all have been violated in our eagerness to maintain Protestantism and to extirpate Popery.
But I dare not trespass longer on the House, I like the Bill, and shall vote for it: first because Tithe is adjusted: secondly, because stipend is to be measured by duty: thirdly, because education is to be granted. I like, and shall vote for the Bill: lastly, because it bears no affinity to the old, overbearing system of Protestant ascendancy; and because, as I have so often said, it gives my faith fair play; because at last the Protestant religion will do herself justice. Stripped of her odious disguise, she will appear to the Irish what 1309 we know she is; she will appear in her natural, her peaceful, her charitable, her attractive character.
But I cannot stop here—I wish I could:—it is ray painful duty to mate one further observation; though I am well aware that it will" be dexterously turned against myself, and that it does in one sense somewhat impair the argument to which I have resorted.
I have argued on the presumption that the education scheme has been carried into execution in its original integrity.
These schools were not to be schools of doctrine; in no sense were they to be sectarian: no creeds, no catechisms, no expositions of peculiar theology were to be tolerated. Those passages of Scripture, and those broad principles of moral and religious truth, in which all unite, were alone to be inculcated.
But a report has reached me, and I grieve to add, from a quarter in which I place entire confidence, that there has been some transgression of this neutrality. I do not think it necessary to enter into particulars; it may suffice to say, that if the selections from Scripture are to be excluded, or admitted indeed, and then laid upon the shelf—if their place is to be supplied by works of a sectarian character, whether Methodist, or Baptist, or Presbyterian, or Church of England, or Church of Rome;—if the schools are to be converted, from institutions in which the children learn common and agreed truth, into an arena for controversy, and seminaries of theological disputation, then the fundamental principle of the contract has been violated.
I ask his Majesty's Government,—and with equal confidence do I appeal to the honour and good feeling of every Catholic Gentleman,—whether they will not join me in preventing so unhappy a change in the impartial character of these institutions;—in purging these schools, which were designed to teach toleration and Christian moderation, from the contentious spirit of proselytism?
Assuming that (owing perhaps to the fact that the one party has unfortunately kept far too much aloof, and that thus the too eager zeal of the other party has wanted a wholeome check and control) there may have been grounds of suspicion and complaint, I ask whether any book is to be admitted into these national schools which savours of controversy? and whether any creed or catechism shall be taught in them?
1310 I ask, without dwelling further on the errors and defects which may have crept in, whether the principle of neutrality shall hereafter be kept, pure, sacred, and inviolate?
If I receive an assurance that the subject shall be investigated, and that any deviation from the intention of both parties shall be corrected, in good faith, with a rigid resolve that there, at least, the angry spirit of polemics shall not be harboured or hearkened to—then I can vote for the Bill, and for every clause in the Bill.
If I am told that this pledge cannot be granted, much as it will cost me to separate from the noble Lord (Morpeth), with whom I substantially agree; plainly as I see the inconsistency into which I shall plunge; yet, so indispensable do I deem this strict neutrality—this banishment of strife and controversy from institutions in which the rising generation are to be taught the unwonted lesson of mutual charity and Christian affection—that then my vote ought to be, and shall be, withheld.
§ Mr. William Ewart Gladstone
Sir, the hon. Member for Weymouth undertook, at the commencement of his speech, to reprove the noble Lord on this side of the House, who opened the debate, for having professed to come forward in the character of a peacemaker, and for then having failed to satisfy the expectations which had been raised by that announcement. But now let the House or let the hon. Member himself, in his own case, judge whether he has duly sustained the character which he professed to vindicate. What has been the course of his speech? Has he not revived the unfortunate history of former times, and all the topics of animosity which it can supply, recounting to us such cases as he has gathered of insolence or cruelty in the conduct of Protestants? But if Gentlemen on this side of the House were to do no more than follow out the course which the hon. Gentleman himself has traced—if they, upon the other hand, were to search for those details of bloody and fearful retaliation by the Roman Catholics upon the Protestants—[Mr. O'Connell: "Shame! shame!"]
§ The Speaker
—I must apprise the hon. Member (Mr. O'Connell) that such expressions are not to be allowed in the proceedings of this House.
§ Mr. William Ewart Gladstone
I say, 1311 Sir, if we were to act, as I trust we shall not, on the practice of the hon. Member for Weymouth, and detail the acts of vengeance which have been committed—does the hon. Member refuse to allow, that though we might have an abundantly interesting and vociferous debate, yet, that at its close, we should have approached the nearer by such a course to any amicable settlement of this question? Well, now, Sir, the hon. Member complains of contradictions on this side of the House, because he finds it stated here that there is, and also that there is not, a surplus. Will he allow me to suggest to him a very simple method of reconciling the two allegations—in recollecting that there is a surplus in the Ministerial Bill, but there is no surplus in the actual existing Irish Church. And, has the hon. Member, who reproaches us with contradictions, supplied us with no example of them himself? At one time he told us that he was convinced Protestantism had been repudiated by the Roman Catholics of Ireland, only because of the obnoxious and offensive form under which it had been presented to them. Presently, he went on to reason to the following effect:—"Why continue this vain experiment any longer, when you have been trying it for 300 years, with every advantage, and under the most favourable circumstances?" So that according to the hon. Member, the attempt to propagate Protestantism in Ireland has been made under conditions at once the most favourable and the worst. Then, what picture did the hon. Gentleman give us in the close of his speech, of that system of education which he so much applauded, and on which he had so confidently relied at the beginning? Now, Sir, the nature of this education is a point of great importance, as bearing upon the present discussion; because great as our objections are to the principle of alienation at all we are now, for argument sake, discussing it upon the question of surplus; and our objections to alienation acquire additional force, if the purpose to which the alienated funds are to be applied be in themselves of a questionable order. Of those who sit on this side of the House, I believe there are not many who deny that education in the principles of the Church, itself, is a purpose to which Church property may properly be applied. Further than this, we maybe of opinion that an education, such 1312 as the hon. Member for Weymouth described at the close of his speech—an education bonâ fide, in the broader and more general principles of Christianity, for children of different persuasions—is a very fair subject for the application of the national funds, though not for those which are devoted to the Established Church. But we do not know that the existing education, to which it is proposed to give the property of the Church, comes even under the latter description. Now, Sir, what is the national education of Ireland, not in its theory, but in its operation? It is a system which we are refused the means to investigate, which hides its head in the darkness, and of which we are, therefore, led to conclude that it does so because its deeds are evil. It professes to be an united education for all classes of the people; we have called again and again for a statement of the numbers of children belonging to the respective bodies of Christians, who were in attendance upon the schools, in order to ascertain whether it be an united education or not—and that information has been steadily refused by the Government. We, are, then, driven to refer to secondary means of acquaintance with the state of these schools. The Commissioners of Education have laid their Reports before the Legislature. Now, in the most material points, those Reports have been impugned—I do not say, whether correctly or not—but they have been impugned openly, and that without reply from the Government, or any one else; and yet, although the strongest positive grounds for inquiry have thus been laid, still inquiry has been refused by his Majesty's Ministers. The Commissioners state that there have been 140 applications to the Board for aid from clergymen of the Established Church; whereas the counter allegation is, that those applying were only forty. They state 110 similar applications from Presbyterian ministers; but it is offered to prove that there are but seventy. It is further alleged that there are eighty-four schools under the inspection of nunneries, and other Roman Catholic religious bodies. Now, who that knows the constitution and spirit of those bodies, will believe (and I speak it not to their discredit, but their honour,) that they are likely to conduct a general education in religion with impartiality, and to avoid all attempts to inculcate the 1313 peculiarities of their own Church? Well, then, it is alleged, that a sum given by the Board to build a school, went to build a Roman Catholic chapel. Next we have the Scripture extracts. Although these schools do not give the Bible to the children, I admit that something would be done if a large portion of the Bible were thus secured to them. But is this the case? The Commissioners do not enforce, they merely recommend, the use of the extracts. We have no assurance whatever, that their recommendation is complied with; on the contrary, we are told, as well by impartial persons, as by those who may be under the influence of prejudice, that the extracts, even while kept, are not used as books for the instruction of the children. Surely, Sir, when all these allegations have been made in the face of the Government, and of the country, and have remained alike uncontradicted and uninvestigated; when no less a person than the Prime Minister has declared, that he will not ask for an extension of the Parliamentary grant, without a further inquiry into the operation of the system—it is rather too much to propose the alienation of the property of the Church to increase a fund, whose application you allow is not sufficiently indicated to warrant its increase from the national funds. Sir, in considering the general question, I would wish to observe a precept laid down by the noble Lord opposite, and direct my own attention and that of the House, firstly, to the great facts of the case. Now, I ask, have the statements of the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, exhibiting the pecuniary state of the Irish Church, been in any one particular shaken, or even assailed? On the contrary, they remain so clear and so convincing, that I am persuaded we might be well content to go to the division with no further effect than that of merely reiterating from time to time the summary result of those statements. Is it, then true, that Ministers are alleging a surplus in the Irish Church, when it stands undeniable that even upon the statement of the noble Secretary for Ireland, excessive as it was, there was but a revenue of 336l. for each of the 1,385 bene6ces of Ireland, with a flock of 615 persons to attend to, often scattered over a very wide extent of country? And is this, upon their own principles, a case in which the excess is such as to justify the invasion of Church 1314 property? And yet, from that amount of 336l. annually, there are, in effect, large deductions to be made. It was calculated on a basis of 458,000l. as the entire parochial revenue. I have myself observed four deductions to be made from this amount:—First, there is the tax upon livings under the Church Temporalities* Act. Either this is to be taken from the gross sum, or else the noble Lord, in stating 500l. was the maximum income to be allowed, has gone beyond the fact, and this tax is to be deducted even from that maximum. Then there is the amount of income accruing upon benefices temporarily suppressed under the same Act. Thirdly, there is a power to erect new benefices, which must be done, if at all, out of this fund; and, lastly, there is a provision that patrons of reduced benefices, of which there will be many, are to be compensated; and this likewise is, I apprehend, from the same fund. This amount, then, of 336l., is a nominal, and not a real amount. I wish next to call the attention of the House to a circumstance which appears to me of great importance, and which has been hardly, if at all, touched upon in the course of these discussions—I mean the increase of the congregations of the Irish Church. Now, I do think that we have some reason to complain of the Commissioners of Public Instruction on this head. On many of the points which were referred to, they have presented to us, in a summary form, the results of their inquiries, and have fixed attention upon them; but they have not told us, although this matter was referred to them, what is the state of the Irish Church, with reference to increase or decrease of her members. For this we are obliged to labour through the details of their Report. I will, however, state to the House some of the information which they supply. Taking an unfavourable instance—taking two of the dioceses where the proportion of Protestants is smallest, namely, those of Tuam and Ardfert—I find that the decreasing congregations in those dioceses are fourteen, the increasing congregations, forty-one. Next I take four dioceses, where the proportion of Churchmen to Roman Catholics is greater and somewhat above the average—those of Clogher, Kilmore, Ardagh, and Meath; in these I find the diminishing congregations are fifteen, the growing ones 146. And an hon. Member has supplied me with the result taken over 1315 the whole of Ireland, which is, decreasing, ninety-six, increasing, 868. Thus it appears that the far larger proportion of all the congregations in the Irish Church are increasing, even—I do not hesitate to use the expression—amidst the fires of persecution; and yet, with this proof that Protestantism is in a vigorous and healthy state, and drawing more largely on its own pecuniary resources, you are about to deprive the Church of that narrow surplus which you allege to exist. But I am willing to go further, and to say, that upon a bare and dry consideration of facts, and upon the showing of the Government itself, there is not at this time any pretence for that allegation of a surplus. The noble Lord has shown that the Perpetuity Fund is inadequate to meet the immediate and essential wants of Divine Worship; that that fund will be absolutely in debt till 1873. Again, it is not less clear that the reserve fund, now proposed to be created, will not for a long period pay its own expenses; the imaginary surplus of the administration can only accrue, gradually, by hundreds, whereas 50,000l. annually are to be charged upon it at once by the Bill, and paid in the mean time from the Consolidated Fund. So that on your statement it is not a present surplus with which you are dealing; the necessary wants of the Church are not satisfied, and what you do is neither more nor less than this—you mortgage the Church revenues available in a future generation in order to raise a certain sum of ready money for the advancement of your own political purposes. I will now, Sir, call the attention of the House to a comparison which has been instituted between the case of England and that of Prussia. It is argued, that because in Prussia we see both the Roman Catholic and the Protestant Churches paid from the funds of the State, and harmony existing between the members of the different communions, we have only to adopt a similar course in this country, in order to ensure similar results; and this consideration, I believe, is one which has weighed much with men whose motives and judgments are worthy of all respect, particularly my hon. Friend, the Member for Berkshire, I hold in my hand, Sir, the papers relative to the state of religious instruction in Prussia, which have lately been laid on the Table of this Mouse. I know not upon what principle it is that Commissioners, who as they state themselves, were appointed, 1316 only to collect facts and not draw inferences, have been authorised to prefix to these Prussian documents a distinct argument for alienation of church property in Ireland; but I do find that Mr. Lewis, one of the Commissioners, a gentleman of whose industry and talents I speak with respect, has given us what would have made a very ingenious speech in this House on behalf of the Ministerial Bill. Now, Sir, Mr. Lewis tells us that there is a very close analogy between the relation of Rhenish provinces to Prussia, and that of Ireland to England. And I admit that he shows us this resemblance, in respect of the proportion of Roman Catholics and Protestants, which is as seventeen to five of their local separation from the rest of Prussia; and of the general majority of Protestants throughout the entire dominions of that Crown. But such being the points of analogy, what are the points of difference? Why, Sir, in the first place, the question for Prussia to decide, when she became mistress of the Rhenish provinces by the treaty of Vienna in 1815, was, whether she could maintain existing engagements; and, so far as I see, her support of the Roman Catholic Church in these provinces, is merely a fulfilment of those engagements. It appears, that by a concordat between Rome and the consular and imperial government of France, a certain salary was rendered payable to the Roman Catholic clergy in consideration of the confiscation of their property. Therefore, the principle of uti possidelis in Prussia was, for the present generation, entirely with the Roman Catholic Church; whereas, in Ireland, that principle, coming to us in the shape of a prescription of 300 years, is with the Protestant Establishment: and I conceive few will deny that this is a consideration of much practical importance. The next point of discrepancy is this—In Ireland you have the Church revenue charged on the soil, and the property of the soil being in the hands of the Protestants, it is their soil which pays their Church. But we do not learn that the distribution of property in the Rhenish provinces is such, nor that the Church revenues there, are connected with the land. But next, Sir, you have in Ireland a feature of discrepancy still more marked. I was much impressed by hearing the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny declare, on one occasion, last year, in this House, that the complaints and wrongs of Ireland were founded upon mis-government, not of 300 1317 but of 600 years. It is not, then, after all, the religious difference, in which the difficulties of the case of Ireland will be found to terminate; but there is an old hereditary feud of blood—there has been a transfer of property founded upon conquest—and again, upon violent punishment for sanguinary rebellions, which is still unforgotten, and which lies at the root of the existing discord. Could you remove the immediate cause of debate, you would not thereby get rid of this fundamental difficulty. But, on the other hand, in the Rhenish provinces of Prussia, there is none of the extraordinary complication which has attached to this state of things in Ireland. Further, Sir, in Prussia you have a government absolute in its principle, though paternal in its operation. In Prussia, the government has a control, as it appears, over the conduct of the clergy—the King, as these papers inform us, is invested with the episcopal power over the Protestant Church, and has likewise a powerful influence over the Roman Catholic Church. But here, it is not in the nature of our institutions, or in the habits of the people, that the Government should be arbiter of the doctrines taught; and if there be any doubt of the fact, I ask what stronger proof can be afforded than this—that no notice is taken by the Government of that shameful Maynooth morality which has been lately divulged to the world? And again, Sir, I am much surprised to find Mr. Lewis stating, that "in Ireland the provision for the religious worship of the people is made on the supposition, that nearly the entire population is Protestant." We suffer much undue disadvantage in our argument, from allowing this false notion to prevail. But what is the truth? Why, that the parochial revenues of Ireland" are not much more than a fifth part of what they would require to be, if provision were to be made by them for the spiritual wants of the whole 8,000,000 of people; instead of 450,000l. (which is the revenue alleged to be raised) we ought to have above 2,000,000l.; and instead of 1,534 churches, we ought to have 8,000, according to the proportion in the Rhenish provinces. There, in short, an adequate provision is made for the wants of the whole people; whereas in Ireland the whole property with which the Bill professes to dual, is, in fact, no more than enough for a very small fraction of them. Having stated these differences between the case of Prussia and our own, I proceed 1318 to one point more, for the purpose of showing how false is this argument from Prussian to English institutions,—because of the difference between the national character and habits of the two countries. I find the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs wrote thus to Mr. Abercrombie, at Berlin, on the 7th of November, 1834:—I have to instruct you to state to M. Ancillon, that the perfect system of religious toleration, which is not only established by law in Prussia, but understood to be also practically engrafted upon the habits of the people, renders Prussia a model for the imitation of other countries in such matters.Now I turn to page 7 of the Papers, and I find the following passage; and I ask hon. Members to reflect how great must be the change in our modes of thought and feeling in this country before we could regard with complacency such a regulation as this:—"Proselytism (or inducing a person to change his religious faith by force or persuasion)"—(I beg the House to observe, persuasion is included as well as force in the condemnation)—is "specially prohibited by law, but only punished in case discord between parents, children, or married people shall have been caused by it … The zealots of both religious parties certainly endeavour to convert from one religion to another; and conversions do from time to time take place, but, on the whole, in a very slight degree. Controversial sermons are forbidden by law, and are punished by a fixed term of imprisonment." Why, Sir, what a principle is this! The very attempt to spread portions of religious truth is directly condemned by the law, while controversial sermons,—and let us recollect how easily all discussion may be branded with the name of controversy—are punishable by imprisonment. Are we in this country prepared for such a law as this? Do we recognise the principle, that truth is valuable in all other matters, the most minute or the most important, but valueless in religion? No, Sir, it is here believed that truth is the food most precious to the soul of man, and that being the greatest benefit he can receive, it is that which we are bound to use every reasonable means of offering and securing to him. But we do hold that if two men differ upon politics, upon questions of economy, upon matters of art, upon any of the numberless subjects of difference which may arise, they may, influenced by a reciprocal attachment, strive to make one another par- 1319 takers of the benefits which belong in all things to truth; but that in religion—in that matter of an importance transcending all other differences of belief, are of no weight or consideration, and may not warrant the use of persuasion. I go then, Sir, to the principle of this Bill as it has been variously stated by its promoters The noble Lord opposite who, to-night, made a speech in answer (if answer it wore) to the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, told us that this Bill was founded upon a great principle; the principle is great, Sir, and not more great than bad, for he declared it to be, that a Church Establishment is intended, not for the propagation of a doctrine, but for the instruction of a people. I do not know in what degree we may owe the enunciation of this sentiment to the love of antithesis; but this I do say, taking it as it stands, and assuming its truth, it is totally unsatisfied by the present Bill—the case is reduced to one of simple arithmetic, and the noble Lord has nothing to do but to divide the church property of Ireland among the different communions, according to their respective numbers. I am aware that the noble Lord declared himself not prepared to go the full length of this principle, whose truth he alleged; but still he represented it as characteristic of the best state,—as the ultimate turn—to which we ought, by every means, to approximate. But how does the noble Lord's Bill arrange the compromise between this great principle, which he applauds, and the pre-sent state of things, which he deprecates? Why,—he allows, professedly, 360,000l. a-year to what is not the object of a Church Establishment—360,000l. a-year, I say, to the propagation of a doctrine, and 50,000l. a-year to the instruction of a people, But the other form in which the principle of the Bill has been stated, is nearer the truth. It is said to be this—giving to the Protestants all that is required for their Church, and the rest to general instruction. Now, allowing this, for argument sake, to be really a true description of the Bill, I say, that not only will it never be a settlement of the question, but it ought not to be such. It rests upon no grounds of reason or justice, which can command the assent of any set of men. It is fatal to assume as the measure of the means of a Church Establishment only the existing number of its members, without any reference to its prospective extension. For a Church Establishment is maintained, 1320 either for the sake of its members or its doctrines: for those whom it teaches, or for that which it teaches. On the former ground, it is not in equity tenable for a moment. Why should any preference be given to me over another fellow-subject, or what claim have I personally to have my religion supported, whilst another is disavowed by the State? No claim whatever in respect to myself. I concur entirely with Gentlemen opposite, hostile to an Establishment, that no personal privilege ought, in such a matter, to be allowed. But if, on the contrary, I believe, as the great bulk of the British Legislature does believe, that the doctrine and system of the Establishment contain and exhibit truth in its purest and most effective form—and if we also believe truth to be good for the people universally—then we have a distinct and an immovable ground for the maintenance of an Establishment; but it follows, as a matter of course, from the principle that it must be maintained, not on a scale exactly and strictly adjusted to the present number of its own members, but on such a scale that it may also have the means of offering to others the benefits which it habitually administers to them. Therefore, we wish to see the Establishment in Ireland upheld, not for the sake of the Protestants, but of the people at large, that her ministers may be enabled to use the influences of their station, of kindly offices and neighbourhood, of the various occasions which the daily intercourse and habits of social life present; aye, and I do not hesitate to add, of persuasion itself, applied by a zeal tempered with knowledge and discretion, in the propagation of that which is true, and which, being true, is good, as well for those who as yet have it not, as for those who have it. It is the proposition of the noble Lord which is really open to the charge of bigotry, intolerance, and arbitrary selection; because, disavowing the maintenance and extension of truth, he continues, by way of personal privilege to the Protestants, the legal recognition of their Church, which he refuses to the Church of the Roman Catholics. Sir, I have little more to say. I thank the House for their kind attention. We are upon a Bill which will not pass—which I am justified in assuming will not pass, if I may claim for those around me, and for those elsewhere who feel with us—the same degree of conscientious or of determined persuasion which we allow to 1321 those opposite. No one looks to its passing. The appropriation principle was once chosen by the Ministry as their tower of strength—they found that they could effect an union of parties for the ejection of the late Government upon that basis, with more convenience and more strength than upon any other ground. They did so, and they gained their object; but having been then selected as their strength, it is now their weakness and the millstone around their necks. I would yet trust that the Government may be induced to join with us in supporting the proposed Bill of the noble Lord (Lord Stanley)—a Bill which attains all the useful purposes of their own measure—which settles the Tithe Question—which recognizes a strict apportionment of duty to reward, but which refrains from opening a question, which, if it be once opened, promises to engender a series of discussions, and perhaps more than discussions, in Ireland, more painful and destructive than any which have hitherto characterized her unhappy history.
§ Mr. Poulter
thought the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had misunderstood what had fallen from the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department. He, (Mr. P.) understood him to say that in providing reasonably and moderately for the Church Establishment in Ireland, he was bound to regard, in a great measure, the population of the whole country, and the great moral and religious interests of that population. And he (Mr. P.) agreed with the noble Lord, that looking to the general condition of that population, he had most adequately and sufficiently provided for the just wants of the Establishment. The hon. Gentleman had said, that the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, had made a proposition which no one could find fault with. He (Mr. P.) considered that the proposition of the noble Lord opposite rested upon a basis that could not be maintained. That noble Lord desired to give to one part of the country the benefit of any excess of tithes that was in the other, and where there were small livings in the north, to increase them by tithes taken from parishes in the south of Ireland. In doing that he was forgetting the principle of the original grant of tithes; for that grant always contemplated the particular local benefit of the district on which it was levied. Undoubtedly, in the first instance, the object of the Church 1322 should be to provide instruction of a spiritual character, but if that object could not be attained, the next object was to provide moral and religious education; and he (Mr. P.) contended it was much more in conformity with the original grant of the tithes, that they should be applied to that purpose, than that the surplus revenue, arising from parishes in the South, should go towards raising the amount of livings in the North. Such a principle could never be maintained in England. If, in the South there happened to be a very limited Protestant population, a Government would act wisely in applying there the surplus to the education of the people, while he was certain that, it never would be endured to take the tithes from those southern parishes, and distribute them in Cumberland, where there happened to be a large Protestant population, and the livings were small. There was, it ought to be observed, a great difference between the tithes of parishes and the estates of bishops. In the latter case the bishops held as landlords, and the property might not even be within the county over which they presided. Bishops' estates then stood upon a very different footing from tithes. He (Mr. P.) contended that they were complying with every religious principle in taking the ground of moral and religious education: It was said, indeed, that the Government, in acting on that principle, would be taking from religion in Ireland and making over to Catholicity. He (Mr. P.) affirmed it was neither the one nor the other. There was a point beyond which ecclesiastical revenues not only were not beneficial to religion, but were repugnant to it. That point he believed to have been passed in the present Church Establishment in Ireland, and in taking from that Establishment her surplus revenues, he considered they were merely taking that which the religion rejected. And then the question was, what were they to do with that surplus? What was the first duty of a nation? It was to look to the moral and religious education of the people. In every individual—in the mind of every individual, they should see a distinct object, and to that object they were bound to apply a moral education. The circumstances of seven-eighths of a people was not a ground for preference—it was a historical fact—but it should not be called a preference, He never should 1323 admit that they were actuated by a preference in discharging that duty. But it had been said, that in acceding to the propositions contained in this Bill, they were violating the Union. That might be true as the Union once was. It was once but a contract between the Government of this country and a mere party in Ireland. Why, without the assistance of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny (Mr. O'Connell), that Union was virtually repealed in the passing of the Reform Act. That Act had established a real union between the two countries, a union which he (Mr. P.) trusted would ever be maintained. But again it was said, that this Bill was but the commencement, in an attack upon the Church of Ireland, of an attack upon the Church of England. He (Mr. P.) considered that the Legislature should take care that the Church of England never got into that state of disproportion as it regarded the people, as the Church of Ireland now was. If it should, he (Mr. P.) was free to confess he would apply the same principle to the one Establishment as to the other. But did he contemplate the possibility of such a state of things occurring? No: he did not. He believed the majority in England were favourable to the Church; at the same time, he, for one, was prepared to say, that he would abolish tithes, that he would remove the grievances of the Dissenters, that he would admit them into the Universities, revise the articles of the Church, and make the Liturgy as perfect as possible. But, even allowing a state of things to come in England similar to that which existed in Ireland, it was inherently evident, that the same principle must operate in the one case, that had been applied in the other. The supporters of this Bill had been taunted with being influenced by political prejudices; but he (Mr. P.) must say that such prejudices were not confined to his side of the House. "What, he should ask, had been the instrument used by the opposite party against this Bill? It was an appeal to political prejudices; it was an appeal to what was called old Protestant feeling against Catholicism. Now, what was the Catholicism against which the old Protestant feeling was properly directed? It was that species of Catholicism which influenced an invasion of this country—which assailed the rights of the people—which was connected with intolerance—such as 1324 was known to them in the lime of Louis 14th by the revocation of the edict of Nantes—such as was dangerous to them in the time of James 2nd., and frequently Perilous to their best institutions. But what was the Catholicism against which the "old Protestant feeling" was now to be excited? Catholicism that claimed equality of rights, and sought for equal justice? He (Mr. P.) asserted, that the appeal made by the opposite party was unjust, untenable, and uncandid. And he must remark upon the reproach which was frequently cast upon the Government, on the ground of their being supported in power by a certain body of Irish Members in that House. He could not consider it any greater reproach against them, that they were the constant advocates of a liberal policy in the present Government, than it was against any other twenty or thirty Members on that side of the House. They were not actuated in the support they gave the Government by any political prejudice, but by a conscientious belief that this was the first Government that had ever been swayed by a sincere desire to look into the grievances of the people, to probe them to the bottom, and administer justice to all classes, both in this country and in Ireland. If it could be shown that they were in error—that they were influenced by unworthy motives—that they had in view any-attack upon the institutions of the country. He (Mr. P.) should then have no hesitation in withdrawing from them his humble support, and becoming a firm adherent of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth. But till then he supported the present Government in general, because he believed them to have the public good at heart, and this measure in particular, because he considered it fraught with good, founded upon just principles, and calculated to promote the real prosperity of Ireland, and the interests of the United Kingdom at large.
§ Colonel Conolly
could not accede to a proposition founded on the supposition of an imaginary surplus, which was to be carried out for the purpose of impoverishing the clergy of the Church of Ireland. The question of surplus was but used as an instrument to sustain a party in power, which party now found that, having used it for one purpose, it hung like a mill stone round their necks with respect to 1325 all others. He deplored that the peace of Ireland should be sacrificed to such a purpose, and he felt himself called on to say, in contradiction to this presumed and imaginary surplus, that the funds devoted to the use of the Church were not sufficient for ecclesiastical purposes in Ireland. He could not understand why the Protestants of Ireland, because they formed the lesser proportion, should be deprived of their spiritual provision, or be subjected to the spoliation of their Church. Why should Gentlemen on the opposite side prefer what they conscientiously believed to be erroneous, to that which they acknowledged to be pure and real Christianity? His Majesty's Ministers had disturbed and hazarded the peace of the country, by introducing this question of a surplus for party purposes, and on them laid all the responsibility of the consequences. Instead of injuring the Catholic body in Ireland, the ministers of the Established Church, by standing towards them in the place of a resident gentry, had done more to advance civilization in that country than could possibly be described. He had heard much of justice to Ireland, but he knew of no greater injustice which could be inflicted on that country than would be effected by acting upon the supposition of this imaginary surplus. The clergy were said not to be active in making proselytes, but at the very moment that they showed themselves most intent, a measure was proposed to impair their efficiency. The present Bill was more dangerous to the Establishment than that proposed last year, for it worked out its object more insidiously. It made a premium on the diminution of those professing the principles of the Church of England, and would add materially to that expatriation of the Protestants of the country, which had already, to so great an extent, taken place.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
said, that there were two documents on the Table which decided this question. The one showed that the House thought 25,000l. sufficient for the spiritual wants of 700,000 Protestant Dissenters in Ireland. The other, that the members of the Established Church were only 800,000.; and they had a revenue of 792,700l. Either the Dissenters were most unjustly treated, or the Church was amazingly overpaid. That in his opinion decided this question. The bon. Member for Newark said, the clergy 1326 were not paid as they ought to be, and that, divided among the whole, this sum would give but little to each. He forgot hat those who really laboured, received only 75l. or 80l. a-year, whilst the rector got 500l. or 600l. But what, upon the hon. Member's calculation, should be paid to the Catholic clergy? What would the sum be, if they were paid in the same proportion as the Protestants? The salaries would exceed the sum of 6,400,000l. In his speech, the hon. Member for Newark committed one capital error; for when he spoke of Ireland, he forgot her people. In applying his principles, he spoke of religion like a bigot, and of Irish rights like a tyrant. With an ingenuous look, and a very modest air, he delivered the worst sentiments. He had all the meekness of a bishop, but he only wanted, the axe to make him an executioner. It was not only of him that he complained, but on behalf of his country he complained of the arrogant and insolent tone and style which had been adopted of late towards Ireland, whether in speeches of Members opposite, within these walls or outside of these walls—whether in the harangues of those itinerant empirics, supported by the party opposite, or by their hired and paid writers and papers. They indulged in a strain of grossness and insolence, and abuse, which was disgraceful even to the men who employed and supported them. One of these vehicles of slander, so notorious for its abuse of the Catholic clergy, had gone to such lengths, that connected, as it is said to be, with a Member of this House, and which connexion he had not heard denied, he was almost induced to bring the matter before the House. He did not know how any man of gentlemanly feeling could submit to the suspicion of being connected with such infamous productions, and which reflected such disgrace upon any individual, but more particularly a Member of this Assembly. It had been stated, that this measure ought to be final and satisfactory; but no sooner did the Government bring forward a plan which had some chance of succeeding in being so, than the Gentlemen opposite get up and pronounce their veto upon the Bill. The hon. Member for Newark had emphatically said, that the Bill would not pass. Thus it happened that whenever any measure of good, however distant, was held out to Ireland, those Gentlemen 1327 prevented it at one moment by their power, at another by their new-fangled law—the army, on one occasion—the suspension of law and of the Constitution at another—the bayonet, the musket, and now the Lords. He must tell English Gentlemen, that such proceedings were unworthy of them and of their country. England would not long permit it—Ireland would not submit to it. She derided this species of legislation. Such proceedings might satisfy those who had been trained at Crockford's, or in houses of that description; but they ill became the House of Commons, and would be received with derision as well as detestation in Ireland. Hon. Members only talked when they fancied they legislated, but while they deliberated, Ireland decided—she had decided—her mind was made up. She took the noble Lord opposite (Stanley) at his word. He told her that tithes should be extinguished, and she acted on his suggestion. True it was that she did not understand the duplicity of phrases, and that double language, which in the mouth of that Minister meant one thing, whilst it expressed another; but in effect, the principle was carried; for the burden was now so intolerable, that the whole island was convulsed from its centre to its circumference. The hon. Member for Newark said, the Lords would not pass the Bill. That would add fresh fuel to the conflagration; the people were still meeting in Ireland; and they would mark the words of the hon. Member. The people of Ireland were meeting in numbers, such as he had never seen before—in concert, activity, and spontaneous exertion unparalleled—aye, and uninfluenced, save by a sense of injury, insult, and injustice. Let them read the threat just held out to Ireland. This Bill gave some hope of relief, but the Lords would not consent to it. This was a declaration of war against Ireland; and would not Ireland pass her declaration too, and call for aid to reform or control that body which thus interposed its proud veto between her and her tranquillity. Did the right hon. Baronet opposite, who had deserted the Orange party in Ireland, think that that party would now support him. Did the noble Lord (Stanley) imagine that he had not already inflicted sufficient injury upon Ireland, by his conduct with regard to this very question, that he came forward to-night to thwart 1328 the Ministerial measure? Did the noble Lord think his present Bill would be more successful than his former attempts? The noble Lord united tithes and rent. He brought into conflict men who were before, if not amicable, at least not hostile. Supported by the evil advisers of the Church, he struck a deadly blow at the Establishment. He had made a great body of landlords, middlemen, and farmers of 500l. a-year, discontented, and a new engine of persecution had just been brought into action. Old law-books had been raked up for writs of rebellion, and a tyranny, under the mask of law, had been established. Under this system, police, with fixed bayonets, forced their way, in the dead of night, into the houses of the sleeping peasantry. This occurred in Monaghan. In another instance, an old man was dragged out of his house in the middle of the night, and lodged in gaol, although he had never absconded. Thus it was that the Lay Association vindicated the law—were they vindicating justice? He asked, could such a state of things go on? Would Gentlemen opposite submit to it? All were concerned, for against some decided Tories had Bills been filed, and proceedings taken. Deeds and family papers had been made public, and scenes of litigation, jealousy, and strife had embittered society in every part of Ireland. The noble Lord went into long details. Did he go into the details of the deaths, and the battles fought in this holy warfare? He could mention the names of the persons who had lost their lives in a few years of this religious strife. Conceive sixty-one persons killed in the collection of tithes. In one of the parishes in which lives were lost, the number of Catholics was 11,495, and of Protestants, 546. The Church revenues in that parish amounted to 1,173l. In another the Protestants were twenty, the Catholics 2,909, and the amount of tithes was, 535l. In another the Protestants were sixty, the Catholics 4,700, and the tithes, 804l. After this, would the noble Lord say, the Church revenues were fairly distributed, and that they had been purchased cheaply at the loss of sixty-one fellow-creatures? How were the Orangemen treated? They were led on—encouraged—told for a number of years, by the right hon. Baronet and his party, that their ascendancy was the link of the connexion, the stay of the Church, 1329 and the support of the State. This was the Tory doctrine for the last sixty years; and yet, after this instruction and this declaration, the gallant officer, all his friends, and the lodges, and, in fact all the elements of the Association were thrown overboard, despised, and degraded by those men whom, unhappily, they had so long followed. To avenge this insult, and to resent such duplicity,—such political apostacy as was unexampled in history,—let them use their exertions in the cause of humanity. Coalitions had been spoken of—let them be adopted and acted upon. Let them abandon their false friends—let them withdraw all confidence from those leaders who had deserted them, and let them on this occasion take their stand by their country. So would they uphold her religion, and secure the public tranquillity.
§ Mr. Hardy
respected the Gentleman opposite for his opinions, and gave him every credit for sincerity. He thought, however, that the Gentleman, on his own principles, was bound to oppose the Bill before the House. If, as the hon. Member contended, 750,000l. was annually given to the Irish Protestant Church, while only one-fifteenth of that sum was expended on the education of the Irish Catholics, and that the present ecclesiastical system was bad in consequence of this great disparity, then, assuming this to be true and just, there was not a Gentleman on the other side who was not bound to vote against the noble Lord's Bill, as not going far enough. If equality were the object to be gained, the Bill was unjust; if the application of revenue proportionate to the relative members of the two creeds be the criterion, then it was also unjust. Unless, then, the cry against the injustice and wrong offered to the Catholics in withholding from them the surplus revenues to a large amount of the Protestant Church were a fraud and a delusion, the Gentlemen opposite were bound to oppose the Bill, which leaves the Protestants so much and gives the Catholics so little. He heard much complaint of the enforcement of the law. But, unless the law were to be a dead letter and a mockery, the sentence of a court of justice should be appealed to by the suffering clergy, and that sentence should be enforced. Resistance to the law he did not think was the spontaneous act of the people, but was primarily excited by those who had political interests to advance by 1330 agitation and disturbance, and by the Catholic Clergy, who looked not to fair dealing or obedience to the law, or national ease and prosperity, so much as to their own ascendancy. He did not mean to cast indiscriminate censure on all the Catholic Clergy, but referred to those who urged on the people to resistance, and plunged the country in disorder, crime, wretchedness, and poverty. To show that the fair and peaceful adjustment of any one question was not the single and simple aim of these intriguing Priests and rampant agitators, he would instance the late agitation meetings got up on the subject of the Irish Municipal Bill. In all discussions at public meetings on that subject, the Irish Tithe Question was mixed up with it, and insidiously made auxiliary to it, although the Tithe Question was neither the subject of debate nor made properly any part of it. Was not this strong proof that when agitation served the purposes of party, grievances were thrown in, in the lump, to excite the public animosity? Was it then to be credited, or, if credited, to be borne, that Government should, if not sanction, at least connive at practices like these; and, what was far worse still, that the untutored and ill-directed peasantry should be suffered to run riot against the law, should be almost encouraged to stamp it under foot, to the violation of the public peace, and the infallible ruin of all public prosperity? Could society exist under such continued disorganisation as this—a disorganisation not produced in a struggle for liberty withheld from the many, but produced for the aggrandisement and selfishness of a few? It was shown that there would, even by the present Bill, be scarcely any surplus. Then, if so, why, in the name of common reason and honesty, insist upon it, in opposition to the amendment, which proposed- a fair and impartial distribution of the revenue of the Church? But, in simple truth, it was not the appropriation of 50,000l. surplus for the education of the Catholics that was really the question. It was the utter extinction of tithes eventually that was asked for, under the semblance of appropriation. Was it not wicked and base to insult the Irish people with this delusion of appropriation? The application of the superabundant revenues of one parish to the wants of another would not satisfy the priests, who would say, that any application of the revenues of the 1331 Church for the Church, was a grievance and an injury inflicted on the Catholics, whose hereditary revenues were appropriated to the uses of men whom they designated as heretics. If the Catholics refused to comply with the law, and pay those demands that were justly due from them, then the law must not be suffered to be beaten down by factious or insurrectionary violence, and these parties must take the consequences of their headstrong disobedience or disaffection. The noble Lord, who professed the Protestant religion, and avowed attachment to it, was inflicting the deepest injury upon it. By his proposed suppression of 860 parishes, he would take away the light of true religion when it was most wanted. The noble Lord had that night stated, that the use of an Establishment was not for the diffusion of doctrines, but of education. But, on a former occasion, when the question of the Church of Scotland was under the notice of the House, the noble Lord declared that the use of an Established Church was for the propagation of the best system of religion. What religion, then, as the best, would he propagate in Ireland? Was it the Catholic? He hoped not; for, according to the opinions of the noble Lord himself, it was his duty to propagate, to encourage, and foster the Protestant Church there; for in what other Church could there be found so much of the genuine spirit of the Christian religion? As a proof of the power exercised by the Catholic priests, he would refer to the opposition given by them to the reading of the Bible, and to the fact of their having publicly destroyed it. It was this tyranny that was the chief curse of that country, and prime oppression under which she laboured; and until that tyranny was crushed the people could not be loyal, prosperous, or free. It was this tyranny that prevented them from embracing the Reformed faith, like the English and Scotch. When the hon. Member for Kilkenny dwelt so earnestly on the struggles of the Scotch against the Church of England, he should have known (he could not indeed be ignorant, but he concealed the fact) that their resistance to episcopacy was from its supposed approximation to Popery. Though embracing most of the doctrines of the Church of England, they opposed it from a fear that it was not far enough removed from Popery. He was astonished to hear such fraudulent 1332 arguments as those he alluded to used by men who knew better. It was the duty of Government to adopt the doctrines that were most in accordance with truth, and as such to uphold the Protestant Church. The hon. Member concluded by declaring that he would support the motion of the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire.
Mr. Villiers Stuart
felt bound to give his general support to the measure of his Majesty's Ministers, although he could not extend his unqualified approbation to that part of it which imposed upon the Catholic landlords the necessity of contributing to the maintenance of a Church from which they derived no benefit.
§ Debate adjourned.