§ On the motion of Lord John Russell the Order of the Day was read for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, to take into consideration the resolutions respecting Irish Tithes.
§ Lord John Russell
then addressed the Speaker to the following effect:—Sir, I rise to move, that you do now leave the chair. It was my original intention in doing so to refrain from saying a single 1174 word, and to have reserved what I had to say upon the subject for the Committee. My object then would have been to explain as fully as I could the nature and extent of the resolutions to be submitted to the consideration of the Committee, as forming the groundwork of the measure which I have it in contemplation to introduce on the subject of tithes in Ireland. Sir, I should have done this, with every wish on my part to state the nature of those resolutions in a manner that should, in my opinion, entitle them to be favourably considered by the Committee; but that should give room for throwing out suggestions, and for offering amendments which might have had the effect of inducing the House to alter or modify the measure. That was the plan which I had prescribed to myself. I am now, however, compelled to adopt a different course. It has pleased the Gentlemen opposite to say, that they will not permit us to go at once into the Committee, where a member of her Majesty's Government, entitled to do so, might make a detailed statement and explanation of the intention of that Government. It has pleased the Gentlemen opposite to give notice that they mean to interpose another question, to raise a debate and produce a division, before allowing the resolutions to which I have adverted to be considered in a Committee. Sir, I am ready to meet that course in the way in which I think it ought to be met. I am ready at once, and in moving that the House do resolve itself into the Committee, to describe the general purpose and extent of the resolutions which the Committee are to be called upon to affirm. For I think it would not be fair, either towards the House or towards ourselves, if, under the circumstances of the case, her Majesty's Government were to allow the House to enter upon a debate upon the question without an explanation on their part of what they conceive the merits of that question to be. Sir, with regard to the proposition which is to be made by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for North Devonshire, a proposition to which the right hon. Baronet has, no doubt, been instigated by his diocesan—with regard to that right hon. Baronet's proposition, I shall, after I make the explanation which I have promised, consider it in two points of view. I shall consider it with reference to its object of producing discord and bitterness of feeling among us, and preventing the dispassionate settlement of the 1175 question of tithes in Ireland. I shall also consider it in another point of view. I shall consider how far such a course is conformable to, or consistent with, the professions which have been made by the Gentlemen opposite with respect to the Church Establishment in Ireland. Sir, I now proceed to describe the general purpose and extent of the resolutions which I shall do myself the honour to propose. And on this occasion I feel myself under the necessity of stating once more the opinions which I entertain, and which I have already repeatedly stated respecting the Church of Ireland. Because those opinions have been alluded to here and elsewhere; and the manner in which they have been alluded to clearly shows that they have been completely misunderstood, or wilfully misrepresented. Sir, the condition of the Church of Ireland I have ever considered a very peculiar one; and it has always appeared to me that the peculiarity of that condition must necessarily influence all legislation respecting it. I must first consider what the general argument is in favour of the rights of the Established Church in England. I must consider in what way the rights of that Church have been defended; and, in my opinion, rightfully defended. I will then put this statement in juxtaposition with the present condition of the Established Church in Ireland. Among those who have written on the subject of the union of Church and State, is Warburton; and, although his theory is somewhat fanciful and imaginary, it is one which appears to me to be the best upon the subject. Warburton says, that there are certain benefits derived by the Church from its alliance with the State; and certain benefits derived by the State from its alliance with the Church. Foremost among the advantages which Warburton states the Church to derive from its union with the State, are, a public endowment for its ministers, a share in the legislation of the empire, and being intrusted with a jurisdiction, enforced by civil co-active power. On the other hand, Warburton states, that the State derives from the Church this great advantage—that the Church is a subsidiary power that gives a sanction to morality and enforces the precepts of religion, and thus induces the great mass of the people to subdue those passions which it is the business of the civil magistrate to punish. Now, Sir, if we compare this system with the present condition of the Church 1176 of Ireland, we must see, that while on the one side, every condition required by the Church is complied with by the State, on the other side the Church is unable to comply with the requisitions of the State. It cannot enforce among the people the doctrines of morality, and the precepts of religion, because the great majority of the people of Ireland are unwilling to receive them from such hands. I will, however, state the utility of this influence on the part of the Church, not upon mere abstract authority. I will quote words which have been represented as having been uttered by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the primate of the Church of England, a few weeks ago. I have found these words stated to have been delivered by him; and as I quote them, and express my concurrence with them, it must be supposed that I entirely adopt them. The Archbishop of Canterbury said, "What were churches instituted for, except for the good of the people—except for the spiritual welfare and temporal advantage of the great body of the population? For these two things could not be separated; all that contributed most to the happiness of society, the increase of virtue, the extension of morality, the diminution of vice, and the suppression of crime, must always stand upon the basis of religion." That being the ground upon which, according to so high an authority, a Church establishment connected with the State, ought to stand, I say again, that however applicable that description may be to the Church Establishment in England, it is not applicable to the Church Establishment in Ireland, where, however well inclined the ministers of religion may be, to inculcate the suppression of crime and the diminution of vice, the difference of religious faith between them and the great body of the people, renders the inculcation of such doctrines from their hands totally useless, and in some cases impracticable. I may give some examples (though they have been often quoted), for the purpose of showing how little the clergy of the Church of Ireland can have the influence to which I have alluded over the great body of the people. It appears by the last census, that the population of Ireland, in round numbers, is upwards of eight millions; that six millions and a half are Roman Catholics, six hundred and fifty thousand Presbyterians, and eight hundred and fifty-two thousand members of the Established Church. The greater part of the members of this Estab- 1177 lishment, are in one of the four ecclesiastical provinces of Ireland. In the province of Armagh, there are more than 500,000 members of the Church Establishment. In the diocese of Cashel and Derry, where the Roman Catholics number 3,408,000, the whole number of Protestants is but 150,470. In Cashel, ninety-five per cent of the population are Roman Catholics. In Tuam, ninety-six per cent of the population are Roman Catholics. In the diocese of Derry, containing a population of 98,000, the members of the Established Church are but one and a quarter per cent in number. Yet they are not without endowments. It appears, that there are forty-one benefices without a single Protestant; and ninety-nine with only from one to twenty. There are many other benefices in which there is a very small number of Protestants, of members of the Established Church, and a very large number of Roman Catholics. I say, then, give to the ministers of the Established Church in Ireland, any benefit you please, give them credit for the utmost attention to their duties (although, in many instances, there is neither glebe house nor church), their differing in faith from the people must be in the way of their usefulness. I say, that the condition of Ireland furnishes a singular example of an Established Church, a country in three parts out of four of which that Established Church is in a small minority; and that, under such circumstances, it is impossible that the lessons given by the ministers of that Established Church can reach the heart, or influence the conduct, of the great body of the people. Sir, I have been partly induced to make this statement, because when I have declared more than once in this House my determination, in any vote that I should give, to support the Established Church of Ireland, I have been taunted with not placing that support on the ground of the advantages given to the Protestant religion by the Church Establishment. It does, I own, appear to me, that if we were to consider solely and exclusively the advantage of the Protestant religion in Ireland, it might be a very doubtful question, how far the Church Establishment in that country, in its present form, can conduce to the promotion of that religion. But, Sir, there are other grounds on which I think it is our duty to support that establishment. In the first place, it is not the case which has so frequently been put by those who are totally hostile to the Church, namely, 1178 the case of Scotland; in which, upon the Revolution, you at once gave up your own Established Church, and converted that Establishment into one more in accordance with the general feelings of the people, by that means, producing peace and concord. In Scotland, not only were the great body of the people of the Presbyterian persuasion; but there was not that great difference between them and any great proportion of the classes holding property, and having instruction and education, which was calculated to prevent the harmonious agreement of the latter in the Presbyterian forms of worship. But, in Ireland, not only is there a vast proportion of the property, but also a vast proportion of members of the learned professions, and of others, whose importance cannot be denied, who are attached to the Protestant Church, and by whom anything that could be considered, as at all tending to overturn the Established Church would be looked upon as placing them in a state of political inferiority to their fellow-countrymen. And, besides that, we must recollect, that the Act of Union made the Irish Church Establishment a part of the Church Establishment of England. From these considerations, Sir, I cannot but come to the conclusion, that, anomalous as the state of the Church of Ireland is, peculiar, as is its position, differing as it does from any other Established Church recorded in history, or at present existing in the world, yet that any measure involving the destruction of that Church, would involve a breach in the Act of Union, endangering the integrity of the empire in the first place, and, in the second place, considering how many years have elapsed since the Act of Union has passed into the law of the land, probably occasioning such a rent in the whole ecclesiastical constitution of these realms, that I think the Church of England would suffer deeply from such a measure. But when I say this, I feel obliged again to look at the condition of the Church, with a view to the welfare of the people of England. I may say, Sir, to the people of Ireland—"It is for your advantage, it is for the advantage of Ireland, that the principles of the Union should be maintained; and that you should continue to form part of the United Kingdom. Your general advantage will greatly outweigh the particular hardships you may complain of in the institutions of your country." But while I consider this to be a just argument, I cannot expect, I do not expect, that it will 1179 ever be entirely satisfactory to the people of Ireland. It is for this reason that I have earnestly, steadily, and at all times endeavoured, by some means or other, to conciliate Irish interests, and to involve Irish affections in objects connected with the Established Church, in order to provide for that Church an additional security. It is for this reason that the resolutions which the hon. Baronet, the Member for North Devonshire, is about to impugn, seemed to me, while they were calculated to afford some satisfaction to the people of Ireland, to show that there was at least one part of the endowments of that Church which might be applied for the general welfare and benefit of all classes of the community, without distinction of sect or religious persuasion. But measures founded on those resolutions have never met with the concurrence of Parliament, although they have passed this House. I now come, Sir, to explain the measure which, I think, may, on the one hand, in a great degree tend to satisfy the people of Ireland, while, on the other hand, it affords to the Church Establishment in that country complete security. In explaining this measure I will at once state, that it is totally different from the representations which have been made of it in resolutions and in decisions which have been come to by various bodies. It appears by those resolutions and decisions that many persons have taken a totally erroneous view of its provisions, and founded their objections on matters which really do not belong to the measure. With regard to the first part of this measure I do not wish to say any thing, because it has been frequently before the House, and has, as I think, in principle never met with any opposition. It is that part which goes to convert the present tithe composition into a rent charge, with a certain amount of deduction. As to the amount of deduction, I do not know if there be any difference of opinion, but I do not think there is any with respect to the principle of the deduction itself. The next resolution I have to propose contemplates, on the expiration of existing interests, the conversion of that rent-charge, by redemption, into a capital, which is to be laid out in lands, or rent-charges, or in such a manner as the ecclesiastical Commissioners may think best adapted to secure its investment. The propositions that have been made on this subject by persons sitting on the other side of the House were accompanied by other propositions, which, on mature considera- 1180 tion, I cannot recommend to the House. The noble Lord opposite, in 1832, proposed, in conformity with the report of the Committee on the subject, that there should be a redemption of the rent-charge or tithe composition at sixteen years' purchase. He I then said, that the clergy, who had had a tithe composition, would be able to buy land at eighteen years' purchase thus presuming that they would gain five and a half per cent. by laying out their capital in land. This is a presumption in which I am not prepared to agree; nor do I think that the noble Lord himself would now renew it. The right hon. Member for Launceston, in 1835, proposed another mode of redemption. He proposed that the tithe composition should be reduced to seventy-five per cent., and that twenty years' purchase should be given for it. He proposed, likewise, that the deficiency should be made up, not by the purchase of land (according to the proposition of the noble Lord), but that the perpetuity fund of the Church temporalities should be applied to make up the income of the clergy. Now, Sir, I cannot recommend the adoption of that proposition to the House; for during the whole period in which those perpetuity funds have been in the hands of the Commissioners, so far from showing a surplus they have constantly exhibited a deficiency. It would, therefore, be a mere delusion upon the clergy to look to that fund as a means of making up their income. Well then, Sir, with regard to the state of the clergy, in proposing my reduction I have to encounter the objection which those who have preceded me in the proposition endeavoured to obviate, but in my opinion not successfully. There must be a great diminution of the income of the clergy; the exact amount of which it is impossible for us to calculate. I cannot but see, that clergymen obtaining only sixteen years' purchase must be great losers; and, therefore, I will not force it upon them. I propose, that after the expiration of the existing interests that reduction shall take place. But I consider myself bound to provide for existing interests. And yet, if I say that those existing interests shall be preserved by the clergymen continuing to receive the tithe-composition, I shall continue for a long period the contentions and collisions between the clergy and the people which unhappily have too often occurred already. I propose, therefore, that while there is a security for the future in the redemption of the tithe, there shall be a 1181 security at present to the amount of seventy per cent., making the State the guarantee for that sum. So far as the Church is concerned there can be no objection to this plan. I propose ultimately to reduce the income; but I propose to reduce it less than the right hon. Member for Launceston. Where that right hon. Member gave 1,500l., I propose to give 1,600l.; and I also propose for the present the security of the State guarantee. I think, Sir, that on neither ground can any objection be made to this proposition. I do not think it can be objected to on the ground of pressing hard on the clergy, and reducing their income unfairly; and I do not think it can be objected to on the ground that it will make the clergyman a stipendiary of the State. It is for these reasons, Sir, that I think many of the petitions which have been presented on this subject, and among others the petition of the clergy of Limerick, are founded on erroneous views of the proposed measure. The petitioners are apprehensive that they are to be made dependent on the annual votes of this House. It will not be so. They will be secured by an Act of Parliament; and without another Act of Parliament their income cannot be effected. If they consider that it is exposed to any danger, or to any spoliation from the State, I provide even for that; for I provide, that the clergyman may obtain redemption. So much as regards the plan as it affects the Church. I come now to that part of it which affects the clergy of Ireland, and I will also say, the people of Ireland; because, in spite of some of the petitions which have been presented upon the subject, I will not believe, that the general body of the clergy of Ireland are indifferent to the sufferings of, and their conflicts with, the people of that country. With respect to the people, this is their present condition. They have imbibed, and I cannot think unnaturally imbibed, a strong sentiment against the payment of tithes. This sentiment, in a great degree, no doubt, they imbibed from their teachers, one of whom is reported to have said to his flock, "Your hatred of tithes must be as strong as your love of justice." With such a sentiment instilled into their bosoms, a large portion of the people thought it was their duty to resist the payment of tithes; and were it not that circumstances have of late been favourable to the general maintenance of tranquillity, we should have seen a continuance and an aggravation of those conflicts between the 1182 tithe-payers and the tithe-collectors which a few years since were of such frequent occurrence. It must be in the memory of every one how common it was, not many years ago, for the tithe-payers to assemble in large numbers determined to resist the law; and how often upon such occasions it happened that they came into collision with the military and police, and frequently extended and continued their resistance until shots were fired and blood shed. Now, in what manner does the plan suggested by Government propose to remedy the evil? It proposes to effect the remedy in this way—that in future that which shall be asked of the occupier—that which shall be asked even of the person having the first estate of inheritance—shall not immediately or necessarily go to form part of the income of the Church. When the clergyman is secured, first, by receiving his payment from the State, and afterwards by the possession of property, similar to any other property in the country, the motive to resist the payment of rent-charge will be taken away, because the resistance of such a charge would be no vindication of the principle which induced the people to oppose the obnoxious demand, seeing, that the payment or the non-payment of it would not, in its result, affect the income of the Church. It is proposed, therefore, in one of the subsequent resolutions, that the payments to be made out of these rent-charges should not be made directly to the Church, nor be merely part of the consolidated fund, but that they should be, in a great measure, payments connected with the civil Government of Ireland. If they are payments connected with the civil Government of Ireland, it can hardly be expected, at least, by reasonable men, that so far as physical resistance is concerned, that so far as those dreadful scenes of bloodshed and massacre are concerned, it can hardly be expected, I repeat, that these payments will ever lead to such results. I will state some of the payments which it is proposed should be made out of this fund. It is proposed, that, to the constabulary force of Ireland, 160,000l. should be paid; that to the Dublin police 20,000l. a-year should be paid; and that 70,000l. a_year should be paid towards the expense of criminal informations. It is further proposed, instead of continuing merely a sum of 50,000l. by annual votes for the purpose of education, that hereafter 100,000l. shall be reserved upon the consolidated fund, to be paid out of this source of revenue, for the purpose of education in Ireland. That 1183 income at present would be collected by the officers of the Woods and Forests; it would be collected under the direction of the State, and would be payable like any other sums which are devoted to the purposes of civil Government. If it were thought better that it should be made payable to the treasurers of counties, instead of to the officers of the Woods and Forests, that mode might be adopted. It would not, in any respect, interfere with the general character of the arrangement, or with the principle upon which it is wished to conduct it. There would likewise be a sum—it is impossible to state exactly what it would be—perhaps 40,000l. a-year, arising from the conversion of the rent-charges into capital; and in that case my opinion is, that Parliament ought to devote that sum likewise to local charities in Ireland. And I must say, that the more Parliament does towards the extension of education in Ireland, the more will it be performing its duty towards that country. With respect to education in Ireland, unnecessary as it is for me to enforce the propriety of a grant for that purpose, yet I must state, that I have always looked upon the question of education for all classes in that country, proposed as it was by the noble Lord opposite, and afterwards carried into effect—much more satisfactorily, I confess, than I had anticipated—I have always looked upon the question as one of far deeper importance than that of education in any other country; and I look at it as of so much importance, partly because, being a friend to an established Church, I believe, that in Ireland, the people cannot afford to part with the advantages of an establishment of that kind. It was stated, and stated truly, by a Member of the other House of Parliament, that in Ireland you have a Church connected with the State, but not connected with the majority of the people; and you have also a Church connected with the majority of the people, but not connected with the State. I do not anticipate, although many may think it desirable, that the clergy who are not now connected with the State, that the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian clergy, would be connected with the State, according to the resolution which was once passed in this House. It will, no doubt, be well remembered, that there was once a resolution passed by this House, that it was expedient to provide by law for the payment of the Roman Catholic clergy. I know not whether the hon. Baronet (Sir Thomas Acland), when he has succeeded in rescinding our resolutions, will 1184 also move, that the resolution to which I just referred, should be rescinded; but with regard to any plan or scheme of that kind—with regard to any suggestion for connecting the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian Churches with the State, Whatever any person may think of its policy or reasonableness, I imagine that no person, in the present circumstances of the country, considering the opinions of the Church of England, considering the opinions of the Protestant dissenters, considering, in the last place, the opinions of the Roman Catholic clergy and laity, I imagine that no person considering these things, will think it a plan likely soon to be accomplished. It must be evident to every one that there is no chance, or scarcely any chance, of our seeing such a connection established between the State and the different religious bodies in the country. Then, I say, that by means of education you may supply, in some degree, the defect (as I consider it) of not having an established Church connected with the majority of the people. You may have men of instruction—men versed in knowledge—men able to teach, who shall not inspire the jealousy of any class—who can inculcate the common roots of religion, and enforce the usual precepts of morality, without being exposed to the hostility of persons of any sect or persuasion. I think, for this reason, that the establishment of schools in Ireland, that the extension of education, that the providing a sufficient income for a body of well instructed schoolmasters in Ireland, is an object more important to the state in that country than it is in any other part of the United Kingdom, or than it would be, probably, in any other country in Europe. I will not go further into the details of the resolutions that I have to propose. You have in them, on the one hand, an income secured to the clergy, and the means of redemption placed within your reach; and, on the other hand, you have the total separation of that which has been hitherto the income of the clergy from topics of inflammation or discontent. By these resolutions you provide certainly for the clergy, you provide in a great measure for the feeling, of the people, and you provide also for the complete avoidance of those occasions upon which a person may think he is bound in conscience to resist a payment to which he is bound in law. These advantages seem to me to be no slight ones. In the present state of the measures before Parliament, of the many and great difficulties that have existed, I should think that by carrying 1185 these resolutions, and by founding measures upon them, you would, to a great extent, further and promote the welfare of Ireland. I should say, further, that you would promote the harmony and stability of the Constitution. I will even go further, and say, that this, adopted some time since, would have been a final and perpetual settlement; and that the people of Ireland would never feel any discontent with respect to the income of the Church, even though it should never he diminished. But it is out of my power to say, that this or any measure which can be proposed, and is likely to pass through Parliament, can have that effect now, whatever might have been the case not long ago. I cannot forget, that the enforcement by the strict process of the law of the utmost views of the clergy, that the sending hundreds of persons to prison, that the exposing many to die in prison, or in consequence of the injurious nature of the proceedings adopted towards them, that the many conflicts which have taken place may have raised among the people of Ireland a painful and bitter feeling, which even hereafter may induce them still to protest against the revenues of the Established Church. Having stated thus much with respect to the resolutions, I must observe that what I have lately seen has made me much less sanguine than I was formerly that they would form the foundation of a successful measure. In the first place, the conduct of the clergy of the Established Church in various parts of Ireland seems to show that they are determined rather to continue this agitation—rather to maintain the present state of things, than to agree to any equitable settlement of the question. I think that they very much mistake, or very much underrate the advantages they might have derived from the adoption of the plan which we proposed—first, from the due enforcement of the law; and, secondly, from the political tranquillity which has of late prevailed in Ireland. I think that they did not dwell enough upon these circumstances when they threw away all hope and chance of making an accommodation in order to rest upon what some of them call the imperfect state of the law. In one of the petitions which they have recently addressed to Parliament upon the subject, they declared, as if that were a great concession, that they were ready, for the sake of peace, to give up fifteen per cent. of their income. Singular this, that they should give such an exact measure of the value of peace. Singular, 1186 surely, that these Christian clergymen should exactly decide, that peace in Ireland is worth fifteen per cent. of their income. In fact, the concession they would make is not even so much as fifteen per cent. of their income, because, according to the act introduced by the noble Lord opposite, in cases where the tithe is easy of collection the landlord may take it into his own hands, and pay it, minus fifteen per cent., to the clergyman; therefore, according to the present state of the law, wherever tithes are easy of collection, wherever the change proposed would cause a sacrifice on the part of the clergyman, the landlord would be able to enforce the full payment. In what cases then would the fifteen per cent. be actually given up? In those cases only where the tithe was difficult of collection; where the landlord had not taken it upon himself; and where the clergymen would be gainers and not losers by the substitution, of a deduction of fifteen per cent. in place of their present loss. ["No, no!"] The right hon. Gentleman opposite, seems to contradict my statement. Does he contradict this, that the landlord can take upon himself the collection of the tithe, and pay it, with a deduction of fifteen per cent., to the clergyman? [Mr. Goulburn:—When the leases fall in.] True, but those are the cases in which the greatest difficulties take place. The cases in which the lease is given in, and in which the occupier is obliged to pay the tithe, are the cases in which the greatest difficulties are constantly arising. But at all events, this will not be denied, that the other House of Parliament, representing the clergy, and acting in behalf of the clergy, sent down a bill to us in which a diminution of twenty-five per cent. was made in the income of the clergy; yet there are now men in Ireland, Christian clergymen, who say that the utmost that they will do for the sake of peace is to consent to a diminution of fifteen per cent., and no more, in the amount of their income. I say, therefore, that these unreasonable pretensions on the part of the clergy of the Establishment in Ireland—that this insensibility on their part to the evils of a protracted contest with the people, makes me far less sanguine than I formerly was as to the possibility of coming to any accommodation or compromise upon the subject. Every body on both sides of both Houses of Parliament must concur in regretting the exorbitance of the clergy upon this subject; but beyond that—beyond the exorbitance 1187 and obstinacy of the clergy, there is the notice given by the hon. Baronet opposite, which, according to the hon. Baronet and his Friends, is to be taken as a necessary preliminary to any legislation upon the question of tithes and of Church property in Ireland. Let me call the attention of the House to the circumstances under which that notice has been given—to the circumstances which have preceded the debate upon the present occasion. In the year 1836 we sent up a Tithe Bill to the House of Lords which was returned materially altered. Those alterations we refused to assent to, and the bill was thrown out. In the same year we sent up to the House of Lords a bill respecting Municipal Corporations in Ireland. That bill, I will not say was altered, but was totally disfigured in the other House of Parliament. The whole principle of it was subverted. We insisted upon maintaining the principle of creating (if you will) popular corporations in Ireland. That principle was resisted by the House of Lords, and in consequence that bill also was lost. This was the result of the Session of 1836—a result which gave, in the first place, great disappointment to those in Ireland who looked to a settlement of these questions, and which in the second place was exceedingly injurious to the character and authority of Parliament. Whether men attacked the majority in this House for what they termed its unreasonable proposals, or whether they attacked the other House of Parliament as being an hereditary body unfit to legislate for the great mass of the people, in either way the character and authority of Parliament suffered in public estimation. And such discussions amongst the public, whether they have ended in derogating from the authority of this House, or whether they have succeeded in diminishing the reputation of the other House of Parliament, could not but have been attended with danger to the mixed constitution of this country. In 1837 other measures were proposed, the first of which, I think, was the Municipal Corporations Bill. Seeing the evil which had already occurred—seeing that which I thought might still occur, I stated, in proposing the Municipal Corporations Bill in 1837, that we considered it a vital question to the Government, and that we could not go on proposing it from year to year unless we saw some chance that Parliament would be disposed to legislate upon it. When I stated, that it was 1188 perfectly competent—not certainly for those in this House who formed the minority, but to those who were opposed to us in the other House of Parliament, and who formed the large majority of that assembly—to say, that they insisted upon the abolition of corporations in Ireland. and that they would either reject our bill altogether, or introduce provisions into it totally inconsistent with the existence of popular corporations. The effect of such a proceeding, as every body must have known at the time, would have been either the immediate resignation of the Ministry, or the proposition of such measures to ascertain the decided sense of the people upon the question as could not then have been adopted. We should then have tendered advice to the Crown which would not have been accepted, and in that way again the dissolution of the Ministry was the certain consequence. I do not speak merely of what would probably have happened, but of what actually did happen, when I state that there was not a single member of the cabinet who did not think that, upon the rejection of the Irish Municipal Corporations Bill by the House of Lords, it would be necessary for us either immediately to tender our resignation, or to proceed to some steps by which that measure might have some chance and prospect of being carried without further loss of time. However, those who were opposed to us did not choose to take that line of conduct. Had they done so, they would have had the whole course before them, and would have had the opportunity of submitting whatever measures they thought proper to the consideration of Parliament. They would have stood undoubtedly upon the ground of refusing popular corporations to Ireland; they would have gone to issue with this House upon that question, but they would have had the advantage, as Ministers of the Crown, of proposing such other measures as in their judgment they might deem most beneficial to the country. They did not take that course; but after the bill had been sent up to the other House they proposed once, or I believe twice, that the consideration of it should be deferred until certain other bills which were in progress here should also be laid upon the table of the Lords. The language of our opponents in this House was of a similar nature, implying, that when the Tithe Bill should be settled, corporations upon the same popular basis as those established in England and Scot- 1189 land should not be denied to the people of Ireland. That was the effect and amount of their declarations, Every rumour of conversation was in strict conformity with the language which they held in Parliament. Every whisper in the street, every public declaration in the House, alike announced, that propositions were to be made to the Legislature upon which all sides could agree without any derogation of the honour of Parliament. All these rumours, all these hints, all these statements, seem to have been confirmed on the 29th of June, 1837, when the Duke of Wellington stated what his intentions were with respect to the principal measures in dispute between the two Houses of Parliament. The Irish Municipal Corporations Bill was viewed by the Duke of Wellington in this light:—It was not his intention to enter into any argument with respect to the Irish Municipal Corporations Bill. In former discussions with respect to this bill he had stated his objection to it; not as to itself alone, but as connected with other Irish measures. He still retained the same objections. At the same time he must say, that it was his anxious wish to put an end to the discussion of all these bills, by bringing them to an amicable termination. He earnestly wished to put an end to the tithe question, which was introduced seven years ago. It was also his wish, that some arrangement should be made for a provision for the poor in Ireland. He was desirous to see the corporation question settled, when arrangements could be made for carrying out the other questions connected with it. He was most anxious that the Parliamentary discussion that now occurred on these questions from year to year should be brought to a close, and he could assure the noble Viscount, that if in the next Parliament they should meet in the same relative positions, he should be prepared to concur with him on all those subjects in any reasonable measure the noble Viscount might introduce for their final and satisfactory settlement."*This declaration is of the very greatest importance. It contains many things of which the last is not the least important. It declares, in the first place, a willingness on the part of the Duke of Wellington to enter candidly and fairly upon a settlement of the three great Irish questions of tithes, poor-laws, and municipal corporations. That is important; but in the next place it declares, that the noble Duke would be prepared to enter into the discussion of* Hansard (third series) vol. xxxviii. p.1190 such measures with the view to their final adjustment, whilst Lord Melbourne remained at the head of the administration. I can conceive, that if the Duke of Wellington or the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) opposite had said, "I am ready to agree to measures upon this subject which shall lead to the settlement of them," it would be remarked that the proposition to be entertained was, that if the present administration would yield to his suggestion he would make propositions in conformity with his opinions, his views, and his sentiments upon these questions, which should be satisfactory to Parliament and the country. But the Duke of Wellington did not say that. He said, "with the noble Lord," meaning Lord Melbourne, "in his present position at the head of the Government, I shall be ready to enter into an agreement or arrangement upon these disputed questions." Now, if he had added a few words to that declaration, and those words had been different from all the rest—if he had said, "But I have one proposition to make more—namely, that the declarations which the noble Lord (Lord Melbourne) made in the House of Lords at the commencement of his administration shall be repudiated, and the resolutions which were come to by the House of Commons shall be rescinded." If the noble Duke had said that, he would at once have provoked this answer from the noble Lord at the head of the Government: "It is true that you have made these proposals, but you couple with them conditions inconsistent with our principles—inconsistent with our honour, and upon such terms I cannot propose any measures upon these subjects." It is owing to the concealment of those conditions—conditions which I say would have been inconsistent with our principles and our honour, that our opponents have been able to go on from that time to this in the course I shall presently describe. In the first place I ask, was the declaration of the Duke of Wellington given with their assent and authority, or was it not? If it was not, they ought immediately to have declared a difference of opinion. If it was, I cannot conceive how it could be, that at the end of the Session of 1837 they could propose certain propositions of arrangement, and at the same time conceal or hide that which they knew we could never agree to, and to which it was impossible that our assent could be obtained. I say this because we have acted upon the 1191 strength of the declarations made by our opponents in this and the other House of Parliament, and upon the assurance, as I may say, which was generally understood, that any propositions that were to be made should be propositions that we might consistently support. Soon after the close of the last Session, when the measures with regard to Ireland were to be considered, my noble Friend at the head of the Government, acting upon the faith of the assurances he had received, urged upon me this proposition. He said, "it would not be just either to you or to the House of Commons that you should be required to produce measures other than those which you think consistent with your principles; but so much I think may be yielded to the House of Lords, that with regard to the order in which these measures shall be sent up to them, that order shall be made in some degree conformable to their wishes." I thought that this representation made to me by Lord Melbourne respecting the disposition of the House of Lords, was a representation to which I might very properly agree, and I resolved, not from any party view, but from a sincere desire to obtain for this country as well as for Ireland, the benefits which I felt assured would result from the settlement of these questions, to act in conformity to the suggestions which my noble Friend had made to me. Had he told me, that there would be something introduced at the end of these discussions to which I could never agree, my course during the present Session would have been different. My opinion, all our opinions, were strongly in favour of Irish municipal corporations. That was an opinion most agreeable to the Irish people, and conformable to the general sense of the people in England. The measure we had framed upon that subject was founded upon just principles, and would produce, as I think, none but beneficial effects. I should have urged that question in the first place. But depending upon the assurances we had received, I brought in another measureߞthe measure for extending a system of Poor-laws to Ireland. After many long and harassing debates, we carried that measure through this House, and sent it up to the House of Lords. Why was this? Because I was told, that that was a question which it was desirable should be sent up to that House before any others that were intended to apply to Ireland. Many Irish Members told me that I was wrong in postponing a measure which I had brought forward in 1192 previous Sessions of Parliament, and which was justly popular in Ireland, for the sake of a measure which must necessarily be attended by many difficulties, and upon which the popularity of the ministry in Ireland would be risked, and might be lost. Therefore they urged upon me, in the strongest manner, not only the propriety, but the necessity, of bringing forward the Irish Municipal Corporations Bill, prior to the introduction of the measure for the establishment of a system of Poor-laws in Ireland. What was the answer? "I will do no such thing; I will not say, that I have not acted in the most conciliatory manner with respect to the propositions to be made to the other House of Parliament; I will not say, that I will carry forward the Irish Municipal Corporations Bill, merely for the sake of obtaining a party advantage." Our opponents have taken great advantage of this conciliation. With respect to the Municipal Corporations Bill, when the right hon. Gentleman asked me whether I would not postpone going into the Committee upon that bill till after the tithe question was considered, I again agreed to do so. This was a further proposition to which I assented, and I agreed to bring on the Tithe Question before it. If the hon. Baronet, who is this night about to bring forward a motion for rescinding the resolutions of 1835, had, as he might have done, given notice of that motion at an early period of the Session, instead of doing so only four days ago, I should not have deferred the Irish Municipal Corporations Bill. He, therefore, has all the advantage to be derived from my conduct; and he has all the advantage of any unpopularity we might have suffered from urging forward other measures, and from delaying the Municipal Corporations Bill. The only advantage I have, is the advantage I shall derive for my future guidance from the past conduct of my opponents, which is, that whenever they make professions I shall consider those professions as snares; that whenever they make declarations, I shall consider those declarations as stratagems, and intended to deceive. Such is the position, such the circumstances, in which the hon. Baronet thinks fit to make his proposition. That that proposition should come from those who profess an amazing attachment to the Church, that the bar to any settlement of this important question, that the raising of this angry debate, that the endeavour to force upon us a point on which they must know we should not yield, should 1193 come from those who, I repeat, profess an extraordinary attachment to the Church, is perhaps nothing that ought to surprise me. It is a very happy satire of a great poet, that when Discord was sent for, the messenger who sought her found her—not in courts, nor in camps—but in a monastery. The poet who gave that description well knew, that men who profess an exceeding abstinence from the affairs and follies of the world, and who say, that their wish and intention is only the inculcation of religion and morality, are very often as fond of broils and contentions as, or still more so than, those whose ordinary occupations are with the concerns of the world. I am making this allusion in the supposition—which I can hardly doubt is a correct one—that it is the wish of those who are most connected with the clergy that a debate should take place upon these resolutions of 1835. Now, Sir, with respect to the resolutions themselves, I beg leave to state, that my opinion is the same that it ever has been. With regard to the House itself, I may observe, that this present House has nothing to do with resolutions entered into by any former Parliament, no more than the resolutions with regard to the Catholic question were afterwards subjects of deliberation in a subsequent Parliament. Resolutions have, on various occasions, been adopted by the House of Commons. There were resolutions with regard to the Catholic question—resolutions with regard to a provision by law for the Roman Catholic clergy; also resolutions with respect to tithes; yet it was never thought necessary, that any subsequent Parliament should immediately take cognizance of those resolutions for the purpose of considering them before any other measures were adopted. Therefore, so far as legislation is concerned, this Parliament is at liberty to legislate as it best can in the present state of circumstances, and as the inclinatio temporum required. With regard to myself, I will state what these resolutions are, and by what authority I think they are supported. The first resolution—indeed the only one involving a principle, the others being what were considered fit to be adopted at the time—stated, "that any surplus which may be derived, after affording spiritual instruction to the members of the Established Church, ought to be given for the purpose of education, without distinction of religious sect or persuasion." In that opinion I fully and entirely concurred when the resolution was originally pro- 1194 posed—in that opinion I fully and entirely concur now. I do think, that anything which can be derived from the Church of Ireland ought to be, and might most properly be, given for the general education of the people, and that the whole people of Ireland ought to have the benefit of it. The Board of Commissioners of education in Ireland, consisting of persons of great authority in the Church, as well as in civil matters, have laid down no less a principle. Their report is signed by the Archbishop of Armagh, the Archbishop of Cashel, the Bishop of Killala, the rev. Isaac Corry, the rev. Thomas Elrington, Mr. Richard L. Edgworth, Mr. James Whitelaw, and Mr. J. L. Foster; and they propose, that for the purposes of education, a tax should be imposed on the clergy of Ireland. "It might not, it is submitted, be deemed unreasonable, that they should be rated at a sum not exceeding two per cent. on their respective incomes, to be ascertained by the bishops in such manner as would be most expedient." Now, that proposition recognises the principle of imposing a tax on the Church. Then, in the next place, as to the nature of that education, the Commissioners state, "that no plan of education, however wisely and unexceptionably contrived in other respects, could be carried into effectual operation in Ireland unless it were explicitly avowed and clearly understood as a leading principle of the plan, that no attempt was to be made to influence or disturb the peculiar religious tenets of any sect or denomination of Christians." Now, I contend, that if you were to rescind the resolution of 1835, still the principle contained in it is equally embodied in the report, which has been signed by the Lord Primate of Ireland. The principle remains consecrated in that report. It is a wise and just principle; and I for one should be glad to see it carried into effect, as tending to improve the people of Ireland, and tending likewise to make the Established Church more acceptable to that people. In one of the subsequent resolutions of 1835, it was stated, that no plan for the settlement of the Tithe and Church question in Ireland could be final or satisfactory unless it embodied the principle contained in the first resolution. It is, I think, the converse of that proposition, that a plan which embodied that principle would be final and satisfactory. That is a proposition that was true at the time when those resolutions were carried. If, at that time, a measure had passed embodying that principle, 1195 having, as it would have had, the concurrence of all the popular leaders in Ireland, and having the faith of the Government and the assent of Parliament pledged to it, I think it would have been a final and satisfactory settlement of the question of tithes and the affairs of the Church in Ireland. But, Sir, I cannot say so now. I cannot say that any plan without that principle would be final and satisfactory; but neither can I say, that any plan even containing the principle of the resolution of 1835, would now be final and satisfactory to the people of Ireland. That, Sir, is the consequence of the change of circumstances. Such is ever the course in all matters of this kind. When Mr. Burke first proposed measures of conciliation towards America, he proposed as a condition, that the supremacy of this country should be acknowledged. But those measures were not adopted; and he afterwards proposed plans in which the question of supremacy was given up, and when he was taunted with having abandoned that important point, he, in justification, pleaded a change of circumstances. Again, Mr. Canning proposed different plans for Catholic emancipation containing securities, but he afterwards was an eager advocate of a plan containing no such securities. When he, too, was reminded of his former propositions, what answer did he give? He said in this place, "I will not be a security-grinder all my life;" and he added, "Circumstances have changed, and I see no advantage in proposing securities which now are inappropriate." So, Sir, I also must say that I do not conceive it would be any part of our duty as a Government to propose as a portion of a measure with respect to tithes in Ireland, the imposition of a tax upon the clergy, according to the proposition of the Archbishops of Armagh and Cashel, if it met with very great opposition on one side of the House, and if to the people of Ireland it did not give satisfaction. But, Sir, with regard to the great principle that it is just and fitting that the Church of Ireland should be obliged to contribute to the education of all classes of the people, without distinction of sect or persuasion, upon that great principle my opinion is unchanged. I think it is matter of justice to the people of Ireland, and neither by my speech nor my vote will I deny it. The attempt, then, of the hon. Baronet, to-night is in the first place to induce this House to reverse the proposition which was agreed to by the late Parliament, and 1196 to abandon the principle which that Parliament deliberately laid down. Now, I, believing that principle to be a just one, cannot consent to that reversal. His next attempt, and an obnoxious attempt it is, is by means of a resolution to this House, to affix a stigma upon us, her Majesty's Government—a resolution declaring that whoever else may be able to carry the tithe resolutions into effect, it is impossible that in our hands that duty should not fail. Now, Sir, I resist the proposition of the hon. Baronet, because it involves the reversal of a resolution which contains a principle I hold to be a just one, and also because it is a proposition implying a stigma upon us, which I will not consent to bear. But, in my opinion, the proposition of the hon. Baronet goes much further. I think, that a proposition to rescind a resolution which, at the time it was adopted, gave great satisfaction to the people of Ireland, and which they have always looked to as being connected and identified with the principle of the present administration in Ireland, is an attempt to go back to another and an opposition course of policy—a course of policy which your legislation and your conduct as Houses of Parliament have condemned. In treating of this part of the question, I must advert to a topic which may not be entirely agreeable to some of the gentlemen opposite, but which I think is intimately connected with the amendment now about to be proposed. I go back, Sir, to the year 1829. No one more rejoiced than I did in that measure of justice and policy which was sanctioned by the Parliament in that year. But it certainly was accompanied by circumstances the most unfortunate that could possibly accompany a measure of feeling and conciliation. In the first place, after baying been refused year after year to the supplications and petitions of the people of Ireland, it was accomplished at a time when the Catholic Association of Ireland had assumed the most menacing attitude, and when many Members of this House, forming a very considerable minority, and which was, at one time, led by a noble Lord opposite, the Member for Buckinghamshire, (the Marquess of Chandos), would have said, that it was a concession made to fear, and not inspired by a sense of justice. The misfortune of that impression in the first place was, that those who had gained this victory in Ireland, not re- 1197 lying upon the sense of this country in having obtained a triumph for them, thought that a repetition of the means by which they had succeeded, that a return to a system of agitation, would gain for them any object they might afterwards urge. The measure of Catholic emancipation had another fault: it was carried into effect by those who, till the moment they proposed it, had led the people of England to believe, that they were the firmest opposers of any such measure. The Prime Minister, the Lord Chancellor, the Home Secretaryߞwho was the leader of this House—had one and all declared in the previous session, that an alteration in those laws regarding Catholics, involved a fundamental change in the Protestant constitution of this country, and would be accompanied with great danger to the state. When it was urged upon them, that no apprehensions of such consequences had been expressed in many places, their answer was, that the cry of danger to Church and State had not been universally raised, because there was, on the part of the people, a firm reliance that they would give the most uncompromising resistance to any alteration of those laws. But in the next session of Parliament, concession was made, and it brought upon the Government which made it a host of invectives, a series of the most violent denunciations and declamations, in which it was declared, that the people of England had been deceived, that their just expectations had been betrayed, and that those to whom they had looked for support, were still more dangerous (according to the expressions of one Member of this House at that time) than the very Jesuits they professed to abhor. There was also this mischief accompanying that act, that the people of this country, seeing this unexpected concession, because, under the guidance of the noble Marquess, who had not then such implicit confidence in the right hon. Gentleman, as he appears to have at the present moment, after supporting him with their petitions in a motion to reject the third reading of the bill, became exceedingly sensitive and jealous as to any further proposals that might be made with regard to the Roman Catholics of Ireland. Sir, we had to struggle with the difficulties which have been incident to that measure. We have had to struggle, first, with that agitation which called for the Repeal of the Union, and which we firmly opposed. We have had to struggle against those dis- 1198 orders in Ireland, to remedy which we had recourse to that violent and unconstitutional—but which we thought necessary—measure, the Coercion Bill. Sir, after this measure, that expectation on that part of the people of Ireland, that everything was to be yielded, because it was asked, in some manner was checked, and it at last subsided; but it did not subside until the Members of the present Government had, by their measures and conduct, infused a feeling of confidence into the minds of the people of Ireland, that justice should be done them. Sir, the first resolution carried by this House, upon which that confidence was founded, is the resolution, which it is now proposed to rescind. That was a resolution stating, upon grounds, as we thought, unimpeachable, a regard for the interests, and a just consideration of the wishes and feelings of the people of Ireland, and embodying the substance of their own petitions. If you rescind that resolution, you adopt another course of policy, and it is now the question, "What course of policy do you adopt?" For an answer to that question, I must look to those who proposed the Catholic Emancipation Bill, and who proposed it under the circumstances to which I have alluded. Have they, according to the principles of that bill, endeavoured to procure for the people of Ireland those advantages and that community of rights and equality of privileges, which it was the object of the bill to obtain for them. What has been their course with respect to the Municipal Corporation Bill? They deny corporate rights to the people of Ireland, because, as they assert, they are unfit to enjoy them in common with the people of England and of Scotland. What has been their conduct generally with regard to administration in Ireland. Why, they have formed a close union with those who were the most decided enemies of Catholic Emancipation; they have formed a close union with those who violently opposed that measure, and who declared that it was inconsistent with our Protestant constitution, and who would have fain prohibited the Roman Catholics of Ireland for ever from enjoying the rights and privileges which Englishmen enjoy. Why, then, it is to that course of policy you must return, if you rescind this resolution. It is to a course of policy which says, "True it is, the Catholic Emancipation Act is passed, and cannot be revoked. It was passed against our will. It was passed in consequence of the circumstances which then 1199 took place, inspiring dread and terror to a great degree among those who were then the advisers of the Crown. But although it cannot now be repealed, this shall be done—it shall remain a dead letter on the statute-book, and except by having seats in Parliament, and except by the privilege of taking the Roman Catholic oath at the table of this House, no Roman Catholic shall ever partake of the advantage of that measure which you have placed among your statutes." Such, I say, would be the effect of your rescinding this resolution; such, indeed, is the openly-expressed wish of many; nay, some even go beyond that, and express a desire that the letter of that statute should be repealed. But, Sir, there is still something beyond this in the language which has been held with regard to the people of Ireland. We ask for the people of Ireland a fair consideration of their interests and equal justice, as if they were part of our own community, and as if they lived in any part of the west, south, or east of this island. The language, however, that has been used, first by the press, since by many members of the Tory party, and lastly, by a very conspicuous convert to that party, of the justice and fairness of which towards the people of Ireland, I will leave it to the House to judge, is the very reverse of this. I am going to quote from a speech of an hon. Baronet who lately having been, as it were, a deserter from the ranks of reform, has not been placed in any situation of trust and confidence, as deserters usually are not, but has been sent abroad through the country as a kind of travelling courier, to expound the doctrines of the Conservative party to the people of this land, to explain the principles which they wish to see established, and to obtain, by means of recruits to those opinions, that majority in this House, by which; their policy could be established. I will show you what he says of a portion of the people of Ireland, consisting of six millions and a half, and what language he thinks fit to address to his countrymen with respect to them. He says, "The people of Ireland, of whom Mr. O'Connell talked so much, were, he was grieved to say, the most miserable, ignorant, popish, priest-ridden populace, and superstitious to a degree, of the inveteracy of which Englishmen could form no conception. When Mr. O'Connell talked of the Irish, he left out of his consideration the Protestants, comprising nearly all the property, intelligence, honest independence, and real im- 1200 portance of Ireland." As for the Catholic gentlemen, as for the Catholic merchants and Roman Catholic farmers of Ireland, property, intelligence, honest independence, and real importance, did not belong to them. But there is a moral to this description; it is not merely a description for the sake of informing his audience what kind of people these Irish may be, but as one who has travelled in those parts. For be says further, "The Irish boasted of coming from Carthage, and certainly they were Tyrian in one respect; they were double-tongued. The Irish were, in many respect, the antipodes to the English, and it was absurd to propose, that they should have the power of establishing popish municipal Corporations in Ireland." There is, I say, a moral in all this. You are to pour out every term of abuse upon the people of Ireland; you are to designate them as being ignorant, popish, priest-ridden, and superstitious; you are to describe them as men of no property, of no intelligence, of no importance in the country, as compared with the Protestants, and all this you are to do in order that you may be enabled to deny to them their fair demands, and be enabled to say to them:—"Whatever the people of England and Scotland may have, you are unworthy of corporations—you must never look to be treated as equal to Englishmen, or have intrusted to you the franchise of self-government; you are a superstitious herd, and far below our consideration to legislate about." That is the policy which is put forth by those who endeavour to obtain the assent of the people of England to rescinding these resolutions. Sir, as frequent allusion has been made to a quotation introduced by me on a former occasion, I will venture again to allude to it, and to allude also to that part of it which has always been carefully overlooked. In the course of a discussion in this House, I referred to certain words used by Mr. Fox; I did not quote the words themselves, but gave the purport of them. It was a passage in which Mr. Fox said, that if you concede and find that the concession is not sufficient, you ought to concede again, and endeavour to please the people of Ireland. I referred to these expressions as having fallen from Mr. Fox as a prelude to the words which I was about to quote. Had they been the words of any great orator of antiquity, had they been the words of Demosthenes, or of Cicero, no doubt a fair interpretation would have been given to them, and it would 1201 have been said, "These are the words of an orator; this is his warm and fervent manner of giving utterance to his desire that the wishes and feelings of the people of Ireland should be consulted." But, while these expressions have been carefully noted nd quoted over and over again, yet the words which I really quoted from Mr. Fox himself, and to which they were only introductory, have ex majore cautela, been omitted. Mr. Fox said:—"My wish is, that while the whole people of Ireland should have the same principles, the same system, the same operation of Government; and, though it may be a subordinate consideration, that all classes should have an equal chance of emolument: in other words, I would have the whole Irish Government regulated by Irish notions and Irish prejudices; and I firmly believe, according to another Irish expression, the more she is under the Irish Government the more will she be bound to English interests." The whole meaning of these words, and particularly the beginning of the passage, is, that the same operation of Government should be extended to all classes of her Majesty's subjects, whatever may be their creed—that a Protestant sheriff should not be appointed and a Roman Catholic be excluded for the sake of getting unjust juries—that there should be no partiality in granting the franchise, so that municipal power should be monopolised by Protestants and refused to Roman Catholics—that, with regard to offices and emoluments, the profession of the Roman Catholic faith or of the Presbyterian faith should be no bar on the part of any man to his possessing a civil qualification. These were the enlarged principles upon which Mr. Fox proceeded. They ate principles which have been since sanctioned in great part by the Legislature, and they are the principles upon which the Administration of Ireland has proceeded. And, Sir, let me tell you that I believe these principles to be not only just, to be not only politic, but I believe, that they are the only safe principles on which the Government of this country can proceed. You have deprived yourselves of the means—whether it would have been wise or not to have retained them—of keeping the Roman Catholics in that degraded condition in which an hon. Baronet has stated them to be. They must have wealth—they must have importance—they must gain professional honour—they must acquire from day to day, as Ire- 1202 land makes progress in trade and agriculture, more and more importance—they are in number six millions and a half—they are in influence and in intelligence daily increasing; and I tell you it is not safe to use these people with contumely and contempt, to foster in them feelings of alienation, and to think that you can maintain the empire of this country in the same state in which it has been in former days upheld. I have recently seen a quotation, a part of which ran thus:—discordiâ maximâ res delabuntur. That maxim may be applicable not only to a party but to an empire. If you will stand together with Ireland, if you will make Ireland the strength of your strength, a part of your united body, then, indeed, with respect to any convulsions that may take place, with respect to any dangers that may threaten you, you may have the power to defeat and overcome them; but if you divide that strength, and have three-fourths of the people of Ireland against you, and then have an insurrection in your colonies, or be threatened with danger from foreign powers, your means of defence, I say, will be crippled, and your power for future exertions greatly impaired. You can no longer keep the people of Ireland subject to your sway as if they were a low, a vile, and an alien race. You cannot hope to maintain the empire on these conditions. It is, therefore, on those opposite principles that I think the contest will have to be maintained. If the hon. Baronet should succeed in his proposition, I do consider that it will in effect be reversing the policy on which you have, during the present administration, proceeded. It will be proclaiming to the whole people of Ireland—and they must expect it—that even in the rudest and harshest mode the Government will be maintained. You must be prepared to avow this to them. You cannot say at once that they are ignorant, priest ridden, superstitious, and governed by a desire to subvert the Protestant constitution, and that you nevertheless have confidence in them. You must do one thing or other; you must either say with me, that they are fit to be confided in—you must say, "We do confide in them, we join with them heart and hand as part of the empire," or you must, on the other hand, say, "You are unfit to be confided in, you are unfit to be trusted; and our utmost means will be used to keep power in our own hands, and place none in au- 1203 thority in Ireland but those who belong to that party most adverse to the majority of the people." You must say for the future, that you repent the line of policy you have hitherto adopted, and that these harsh means are those upon which you rely for maintaining your power. I entertain the strongest opinion of the propriety and justice of the course which the majority of this House has hitherto pursued, and I call upon this House, as it values the peace of Ireland, and as it values the strength of the empire, to go with me into the careful consideration of this question, and to reject the proposition which the hon. Baronet will make. I move, Sir, that you do now leave the chair.
Sir T. Acland
rose and moved that the resolutions of the 7th and 8th of April, 1835, be entered as read. ["Read, read."]
The clerk, at the table, accordingly read the resolutions as follows:—That any surplus revenue of the present Church Establishment in Ireland, not required for the spiritual care of its members, be applied to the moral and religious education of all classes of the people, without distinction of religious persuasion, providing for the resumption of such surplus, or of any such part of it as may be required by an increase in the number of the members of the Established Church.That it is the opinion of this House, that no measure on the subject of tithes in Ireland can tend to a satisfactory and final adjustment which does not embody the principle contained in the foregoing resolution.
Sir T. Acland
said, that if the simple proposition of moving the rescinding of those resolutions to which from the first time he had heard them he had always entertained the strongest objections, he could suppose himself to be instrumental, in the slightest degree, to the maintenance or support of a harsh mode of government in that part of the United Kingdom, which for years past had been the most interesting portion of the community, he should, indeed, shrink from the task he had undertaken—a task to which he felt himself utterly inadequate, and which, circumscribed as his abilities were, he would not have undertaken if he had thought it necessary to inflict on himself an examination into the general condition of Irish policy, still less to have involved himself in recommending anything harsh or unkind towards that country. For many reasons, he felt with such a motion as that with which he should conclude, that he must request 1204 the indulgence and fair construction of the House upon the very few words which he should presume to offer to its consideration. Of the noble Lord's speech, the first fallacy which struck him was the last observation which fell from the noble Lord. The noble Lord had said, that it was possible the effect of rescinding these resolutions was only commensurate with the wish to introduce a harsh mode of government into Ireland. Now, he begged to say, that his object was simply the maintenance of the long-established rights of property in the United Kingdom, and when he came to that point, he thought he could show, notwithstanding what had fallen from the noble Lord, that the noble Lord's words did convey an impression that the maintenance of the Established Church in Ireland was by him considered to be inconsistent with a mild and paternal Government in that country. Such a Government, not only the noble Lord, but many of those to whom the noble Lord was opposed, felt to be essential to Ireland; and for himself, he felt quite sure, that without referring very far back, the little share he had taken in Irish affairs would acquit him from any such imputation as the noble Lord had raised, and he hoped he was not going too far in claiming the benefit of that acquittal now, when he stated, that he meant by rescinding those resolutions no more than to protect the rights of property, and that he had no desire to return to that harsh and severe policy under which Ireland had so long suffered. But his noble Friend, at the very outset of his speech, had charged him with having no better reason for this motion than the wish to foment political bitterness and disappointment, and to prevent the dispassionate and satisfactory settlement of the question. He was, however, sure that he had no wish to foment political bitterness on any occasion, and so far from preventing a dispassionate settlement of this question, he believed that the course he proposed to the House to pursue, afforded the only mode of arriving at such a settlement. The noble Lord had imagined, that the course he was now taking must have been suggested to him by a most distinguished prelate of the Church, his own diocesan. Perhaps, the noble Lord's recollection would serve him to put a different construction upon his views. Perhaps the noble Lord would remember, that when the county of Devon 1205 lost in the noble Lord, a Representative, who for talent and personal character was not only not, to be objected to, but of whom the country was proud, that the real reason of that loss was the very resolutions which the noble Lord had success fully carried in that House. On that contest, the noble Lord had asked for no benefit of the clergy, he rested upon public opinion; in that public opinion he had shared, an opinion now greatly increased and increasing amongst the community, and exhibiting an aversion to carry reforms in favour of others, so far as to render insecure their own longest established property. As yet there was no property, the title to which mounted higher than that of the Established Church, whether in England or in Ireland. If the noble Lord wished him to give another reason for interposing this motion at the present time, he would take the liberty of quoting an example which the noble Lord would not disclaim. He believed he was to-day, only following the course which the noble Lord, three years ago, himself followed on the introduction of these very resolutions; and why the course which was good in enforcing those resolutions should be bad when the endeavour was made to rescind them, he had yet to learn. If he was not much mistaken, the noble Lord interposed those resolutions when the question was not an abstract, but practical enough. The then Government were, at that time, endeavouring to conciliate their opponents on this most difficult of Irish questions, by bringing down for the consideration of the House measures, of which, as well as he (Sir T. Acland) remembered, one of the censures was, that they were carrying away the credit which belonged to their opponents. He knew, that in the various tithe bills proposed to the House, there had in all been variations, even in those brought forward by different Members of the same Government in succession; but he thought he did not go too far when he stated, that the Government of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth was at the time to which he alluded engaged in the very same object for which the noble Lord now claimed credit. He would not say for what purpose the noble Lord had at that time proposed his resolutions, but he well knew, that one of their effects was, to remove the Government to which the noble Lord was op- 1206 posed. Such an object or effect, he disclaimed on this occasion; but the effect of the noble Lord's resolutions had been to put a stop for that year to the measure introduced by the Secretary for Ireland at that time—a measure in which great efforts had been made to accommodate the provisions of the bill as much as possible to the general feelings of the House and of the country. It was true, that the opinion of the noble Lord—an opinion which had been before maintained by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin was, that the bill wanted something; and amongst other alleged advantages was one to which hon. Members now on his side of the House could not accede. He repeated, that to-night he had only followed the example of the noble Lord; and if he had unwittingly fallen into the proposal of an object which might create a temporary excitement and angry feeling, he trusted, that the debate would have no other disagreeable quality than the noble Lord's own speech. But he would again shelter himself in the propriety of his course in seeking for a change of these resolutions under the noble Lord's own authority and his own reasons for submitting his own resolutions in April, 1835. What were then the noble Lord's views of the effect on the settlement of the Irish tithe question when he called for the acquiescence of the House to his resolutions? He was naturally anxious to inform himself of some of those arguments by which the resolutions referred to were enforced. He had examined with attention the speech of the noble Lord upon that occasion, and had not proceeded far, before he found him entering on a line of justification of his conduct to the House, which he trusted the noble Lord would not claim entirely to himself, nor refuse to him the permission to extend the same justification to himself.If the House" said the noble Lord, "be determined to confine the revenues of the Church to purposes strictly ecclesiastical, it is better for that determination to be declared; but if the house is not of that opinion, it is certainly of no use for us to be passing through the different stages of the Bills for the commutation of tithes. We ought not, in my opinion, to proceed with that Bill while this great question is unsettled—while it is yet unknown whether the Ministers and House of Commons agree as to the question, or are at variance upon it. I think, Sir, that this consideration 1207 is a full justification of the course I take in proposing this resolution to the House."*Now, mutatis mutandis, he thought himself also perfectly justified in the course which he was now pursuing. In the first place, he would frankly acknowledge, in common with many individuals belonging to different parties, and in common, as the noble Lord had that night said, with those who were most deeply interested in the question—the prelates and clergy of the Established Church in Ireland—he would frankly acknowledge the conviction which he had entertained, that there was mixed up with these resolutions his old enemy, the appropriation clause. But, on a more careful examination, and chiefly upon a consideration of what had fallen from the noble Lord on that evening, he had no hesitation in admitting, that it was not in any direct sense alluded to. He was deeply impressed, however, with the conviction that it was impossible for those who felt with him upon this question to enter fairly into its consideration, without dealing broadly and aboveboard with the subject of the appropriation clause. That clause did not exhibit itself in terms in the resolutions which the noble Lord had that evening proposed. "I am not sure" continued the hon. Baronet, "that it is there at all. But I am not singular in entertaining the belief, that if you had employed all the ingenuity and professional casuistry of the Court of Queen's Bench, you could not have drawn up your resolutions more effectively with the view of mystifying your intentions, and keeping us to the last moment in ignorance as to whether it is or is not your determination to abide by and enforce this principle of appropriation, against which so many of us are arrayed." He trusted, that this would afford a sufficient justfication of his conduct, and exonerate him in the estimation of hon. Members, whatever view they might take of the question under discussion, from the charge of endeavouring to scatter over the country the seeds of dissension, or of seeking to embarrass the settlement of this much disputed question of tithes. But he had a stronger view to put forward upon this subject, and one indeed which the noble Lord had touched upon in the latter part of his speech, when he stated to the House, that in the rescinding of this resolution* Hansard vol. xxvii. (Third Series), p. 377.1208 a further and more important effect was sought to be attained. His object certainly was to reverse, if possible, the principle of this resolution, and ascertain whether the present Parliament felt upon this subject as did the last. They had often heard it insisted upon, that it was most inexpedient to resort in any case to the assertion of an abstract resolution as no one knew to what it might subsequently lead. He did think, that when the noble Lord asserted the principle of this resolution, and attained, at least, one result—that of changing totally, in a great measure, the policy of this country with respect to Irish questions—the noble Lord had, by no means, anticipated that he was raising against himself a still greater mass of difficulties than that which he fondly expected to dispel by the aid of this resolution. It was now three years since they were told, that the only remedy for the tithe question, the only remedy which would give satisfaction to the country at large, and lead to a final adjustment, was the adoption of the principle of making over the so-called surplus revenues of the Church of Ireland "to the general education of all classes of the people without distinction of religious persuasion." During the three years which had intervened between that period and the present time, what progress had been made towards effecting this adjustment? Need he advert to the quantity of valuable time which had been lost to the last Parliament, in thrusting forward those bills over and over again, or to the very inconvenient position of collision in which the two Houses were over and over again placed upon this question, without effecting any substantial advance towards the attainment of that which should have been the object of their legislative endeavours? The noble Lord had asked him why he did not move—as he was in the humour of moving for the rescinding of resolutions—to rescind a resolution which had been passed by the House, to the effect that it was expedient that a provision should be made for the maintenance by law of the Roman Catholic clergy exercising religious functions in Ireland. The noble Lord's reason for asking him that question was, doubtless, because he had supported that resolution. He would only observe, in reply, that he had not, upon that occasion, voted for taking the money out of one man's pocket and putting it into the 1209 pocket of another. He had not, upon that occasion, voted for the enriching of one Church at the expense of another. He saw no occasion whatever to repent of his conduct on that occasion; but, benefitting by some of the observations which had fallen from the noble Lord that evening, he thought he had a right to consult that to which the noble Lord had alluded, the inclinatio temporum, and the inference appeared to him quite obvious, that that which might then have been very beneficial might, from change of circumstances, become totally the reverse. But what was of still greater importance was the consideration that the resolution to which he at present alluded, and which was intended to form the foundation of a bill to be introduced at a particular period, did not presume to dictate to after times. It did not presume to dictate what should be a necessary condition of granting redress in all the lamentable existing circumstances which had been stated by the noble Lord—what should be the inexorable condition of granting that redress, even though it were known to be impossible that a large, and that not the least valuable, portion of the community, could ever upon principle accede to that condition. "I object," proceeded the hon. Baronet, "to your appropriation clause, I resist it wherever I find it. If I think it lurks beneath any specious cover, I will drag it into light; and I trust to reap one advantage, if no other, from my motion for rescinding this resolution—that I will bring the whole case clearly before the eyes of the country; that, however eager may be your desire for a time to conceal your bill, from an anxiety not to exhibit your intentions in their true colours, lest you should damage your present position—however convenient you may find it to pursue this course, we have drawn from the noble Lord an acknowledgment, qualified, I admit, though I differ altogether from him in most of the views which he has put forward upon this subject, and I further dread the influence of the principles which he has here advanced, especially when they are pushed to their greatest extent by those who have not discretion to control them, like the noble Lord—we have drawn, I say, an acknowledgment from the noble Lord, that he thinks the best mode of governing Ireland is to rob her Church Establishment of a certain portion of her lawful and acknowledged revenues, which he is 1210 pleased to call a surplus, but which others will characterize with less delicacy hereafter. We know that the noble Lord considers, that the way to tranquillize the Irish people, is to put our hands in the pockets of her prelates and her clergy; and tells us, the Opposition, that we must either conform to his policy, or adopt the harshest possible mode of governing Ireland. Now, without thinking it at all necessary to subscribe to these views of the noble Lord, my object is to ascertain whether it be really the opinion of the present House of Commons, as it was of the last, that "any surplus revenues of the Protestant Church Established in Ire-Ireland, not required for the spiritual uses of its members, shall be applied to the moral and religious education of all classes of the people without distinction of religious persuasion. [Ironical Cheers from the Ministerial benches.] The cheer, observed the hon. Baronet, which was raised upon his reading the words "moral and religious education of the people without religious distinction," did not at all affect him. He did not hesitate to make this avowal. He thought that there could be no more legitimate appropriation of the revenues—not of the Church, but of her close, and, he trusted, long to be connected ally, the State. He trusted, that he would ever be found very far from desiring to alienate that most important element of our national prosperity. He was not one of those who was disposed to make any difficulty as to the provision of abundant means of education for the people—whether the Church or the State was to provide them was a question which it was not his business now to discuss. But he thought it right to guard himself against the imputation, as justly applicable either to him or to any other hon. Member supporting this motion, that they sought to rescind these resolutions, because they were opposed to the principle of educating the people without religious distinction. It was not on that ground he objected to the alienation of the property of the Church. But his main objection was, that the second resolution, as far as words could express meaning, went to establish the principle, that the settlement of the question of tithes, of all that could really be urged as a grievance, that could fairly agitate the minds or affect the interests of the Irish people, was linked by the resolution to the idea of an imaginary surplus, 1211 the existence, or probable existence, of which had not yet been proved, and with which, if it did exist to-morrow, those of the Irish people who did not belong to the Established Church were not in the slightest degree connected, nor could they legitimately take in it the slightest degree of interest. It was one thing to regulate the collection of these revenues, but another thing to misappropriate them. In the attainment of the former object, he would fully and willingly concur. He was disposed with the utmost fairness and candour to proceed to the redress of any practical grievance. The resolution which he had formed, as far as he had any means of forming a judgment upon these questions, was favourable to concession. He was not a person actuated by prejudice on the question of municipal corporations, and there was no hon. Member in that House more fully disposed than he was to enter fairly on the consideration of any question that could tend in any way to the practical relief of the grievance. But he was, at the same time, unwilling to sacrifice the property of the Church for the attainment of a totally distinct political purpose; and he thought it exceedingly inconvenient to attach to the question of providing a suitable education for the people, another subject with which it could not fairly be united, and with which the great body of the Irish people had no connexion. When the rent was brought into the landlord's coffers, what connexion had the rent-payers with the manner in which it was applied? He, therefore, without hesitation, called on the House of Commons to determine, in the first instance that the adjunct of that condition had not been proved. He had this great advantage over the noble Lord opposite in the comparison which he had instituted between the course followed by the noble Lord in 1835 and that which he (Sir T. Acland) now pursued. It was curious, that though in the quarter opposite, anything interfering with the freedom of debate was theoretically decried, he found the noble Lord imposing fetters on the freedom of their discussion within the walls of that House, by passing a resolution which it appeared, that he intended to be irrevocable; and all that he asked of the House was to relieve themselves from this uncalled for restriction. It had operated as a check upon their legislation for three years. The sole reason why the tithe 1212 question had not been settled in 1835 was the difficulty in which the Government had placed itself and the Houses of Parliament by means of these resolutions. The expressions contained in the second resolution were of the strongest nature—"that no measure upon the subject of tithes in Ireland could lead to a satisfactory and final adjustment which did not embody the principle contained in the foregoing resolution." This was a direct interference with their freedom of action, on the one hand, while it directly assailed the Irish Church, on the other. And the Church of Ireland could scarcely refrain from receiving any further issue of coin which might proceed from the same min with suspicion. So far from being actuated by the remotest intention of introducing dissension into the discussion of this question, he conceived, that his proposal was by far the most likely to induce a general agreement between both sides of the House. Did they think, that there was much difference between what they said and what they did in the eyes of the country? Were they to continue to look upon this as a mere question of strength of position between one party and the other, and to be, therefore, ashamed to acknowledge, that they could not act up to the spirit of their resolution? Were they ashamed to rescind the resolution? He would frankly own, that he could see no invincible reason why some good measure should not result out of some of those bills which had been introduced at various periods by the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, always excepting the appropriation clause. But there was a difficulty in ascertaining what the noble Lord, the Home Secretary meant. When at the very moment that the noble Lord said, "No, I'll not give you the appropriation clause," he also said, that there was no other means of governing Ireland but by granting the appropriation. Undoubtedly the noble Lord had the full right—taking into consideration the whole of his policy towards Ireland—he had the full right, so he did it, only, in a frank and manly manner—to reserve one portion of a measure which he found by experience to be a check and an impediment to the carrying of another portion. He acknowledged that the noble Lord had the right. He did not blame the noble Lord, on the contrary, he rather praised him, that, for the attainment of a great object, 1213 the noble Lord was willing to lay aside, as far as possible, even the pride and tenacity of party. After detailing his proposition that night, "Don't imagine, said the noble Lord in effect, "that I don't reserve to myself the right of bringing forward the other resolution." The noble Lord had certainly a right to do this, if he thought proper; but when he called on the House of Commons to assent to one portion of his proposition on the ground that the other was abandoned, when it was abandoned in effect, he had not the right to retain at the same time the advantage of having recorded it as an immutable principle. Under all the circumstances, any measure proceeding from the noble Lord upon this subject, must be met with suspicion. All that he desired with reference to the resolution in question was, that it should meet with a "clear stage and no favour." The noble Lord might have a fair trial of the strength of opinion upon it if he pleased; but let him not endeavour to retain an advantage which for the present he disclaimed, but which it was not at all improbable, that some other person might be induced to bring forward at some stage in the future progress of the measure. He had already detained the House for a greater period than he had originally intended—for a greater length of time, perhaps, than it was proper that he should have spoken, considering, that the resolution had been debated for several successive nights three years since. In commenting upon it this evening he trusted, that he had not unfairly explained the grounds of his dislike to the resolution and of his desire for its discontinuance. He would accordingly conclude by moving that the two resolutions be rescinded.
Sir J. Eardly Wilmot
said, that he had the greatest satisfaction in seconding the proposition of the hon. Baronet who had just sat down, and he must say, that he was of opinion most sincerely that the object which the hon. Baronet had in view was one which would be most useful to the Government and the country at large, for its effect would be to rescind the resolutions which had been passed in the year 1835, which a were calculated to destroy the peace of the country, and which operated as a mill-stone round the neck, not only of the Government itself, but of Parliament. He had always been, and he should always be a zealous friend to the Protestant Church, and he would do every 1214 thing which lay in his power, and even more perhaps than some men would credit, to preserve and uphold its importance and its security; but he was not, nor had he ever been, a friend to the numerous corruptions which time and circumstances had called into existence in that Church. They had seen the necessity of some good judgment being employed on the subject of the Church Establishment and the want of education, and they had heard from the noble Lord, two years ago, and heard now, that the resolutions which had been proposed were intended to remedy the evils which existed, and, besides, to improve the condition of the Established Church in other respects. He did think, then, and he thought now, that those resolutions were contrary to every principle of justice that any of the funds of the Church should be taken from itself, and that they should be given to those who were its enemies. Therefore the motion of the hon. Baronet was reasonable in itself, and one which he was bound to support. It might appear an anomaly to see him stand there to support a resolution such as that proposed by the hon. Baronet, when it was considered that he had hitherto kept aloof from all party shackles, and from doing or saying anything which might compromise his independence, but he begged leave to tell the noble Lord that he did not stand there on the recommendation of his diocesan, nor to excite any angry debate, nor to defend himself from any reports or statements which might be circulated in respect of him, nor did he desire to defend himself from a union of hon. Gentlemen who differed in opinion with him—an impression which he thought came from the noble Lord with a very bad grace. He had made no close alliance with any party on this subject who had indulged in the use of vituperative language, which, however violent it might be could have no ill effect on the Conservatives. He knew well that that word "Conservative" was not at all agreeable to the noble Lord, because he knew that he and other hon. and right hon. Gentlemen had always endeavoured, when any question was proposed on which that party was likely to succeed, to confound Toryism with Conservatism, and had raised the word "Toryism" as a watchword, and as a sort of "raw head and bloody bones," of which all should be suspicious, in order to draw closer the links of those with 1215 whom they had at least a suspicious connexion; they had endeavoured to confound the two together, with a view to produce a prejudice in the minds of the public, founded on the evils which, he was prepared to admit, the Tories had brought on this country. But there was no man in his senses who saw the difference between Whiggism and Radicalism who must not also see the difference between Toryism and Conservatism—in fact, there was the greatest possible difference. A Conservative was a man who had left Toryism, and who desired to preserve a constitutional and a rational reform; and a radical was a man who had adopted a particular line of proceeding with a view to obtaining everything which was irrational and unconstitutional. It was on these grounds that he stood, and on these he would stand or fall; alike whether it was in 1688 that he joined in throwing a Catholic Monarch from the throne, or whether it was in 1838 that he stood forward to rescue the Crown from Catholic supremacy. On these grounds he supported the resolution which had been proposed by the hon. Baronet.
§ Sir Charles Lemon
said, that he had always joined with those hon. Members who had voted in favour of the appropriation clause, and that he should always consider, that he was bound to pursue the same line of conduct; but the question now was, whether they should have that as a law which had passed into oblivion, and whether the system which had before been advocated should be revived in order that the proposition for its adoption might be once more negatived. With all that had fallen from the hon. Baronet opposite, the mover of the resolution, he fully concurred; but he saw no reason why the hon. Baronet should not also agree with him that, as this measure met with his approbation, he should not turn round and look only to that which had passed. Why was such a step as this ushered in with a preparatory dinner? No hon. Member could look back to what had passed during the last three or four years without being persuaded that no individual Member could ever bring forward so practical a measure with the least hope of success. Evils had already resulted from the course adopted by hon. Members in making speculative declarations of their opinions, which would never have been made if they had been called upon to con- 1216 sent to those measures which were subsequently laid on the table for practical purposes; for the effect of such proceedings was a shout of triumph all over the land, and all the horns of the press were blown in triumph and exultation, while the Church itself acquired no security which she did not now possess. He was under the necessity of voting in opposition to the resolution of the hon. Baronet.
was fully impressed with the importance of the subject, and would contend that the attention of the House was bespoke by the fact of the appropriation clause having never been introduced into any of the measures which had hitherto been brought forward by the Government. He would ask, then, was it not worth while for the House to look back, and to rescind those resolutions which had been passed in favour of a plan which had never been adopted? It was remarkable that the noble Lord, who now stated it to be of no importance, had told the House in 1835 that no plan could be final and satisfactory which did not contain an appropriation clause. Would the House allow him to call their attention to the confirmation of this principle since that year? It was very well for hon. Gentlemen to say, it was of no importance, but he would call their attention to the real state of the Irish Church, and he would point out the object of the leading opponents of the Church of Ireland, who were relied on by the Government for the purpose of procuring a settlement of the question. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin, and the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary, who were the most important individuals of the representation of the popular party in Ireland, had told them that taking off 40 per cent. would not secure peace. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin had said, that he supported the measure already brought forward, not as giving the Irish all they wanted, but as giving them part; and he had again said in 1834 that he demanded three-fifths only because he expected that he must get the remainder at some future time. He would point out a more important statement to show the real object of the two hon. and learned Members to whom he referred. In January, 1836, the hon. and learned Member for Dublin said, that the Government had the duties of seven centuries to perform, not the least part of which was to 1217 secure the abolition of a system by which seven millions of people were compelled to pay for the support of the clergy to whose doctrines they were opposed. It was clear, then, that this object was not the reduction only of tithes or the appropriation of a part only, but he was striving to secure the entire and complete removal and extirpation of the system. The hon. and learned Gentleman should be judged by his own language, and as the Government were in the habit of taking him as the exponent of the popular feeling in Ireland, the House should have an opportunity of judging what was the real object which the popular feeling had, and they should have an opportunity of judging whether the plan which the Government proposed was that which was likely to secure good results in Ireland. For his own part, if it could be shown, that the appropriation clause had the slightest tendency to produce peace in Ireland, he would consent to its standing in any measure which might be brought forward; but if he could satisfy every candid man that the plan proposed by the Government in 1835 had no tendency to produce that most desirable effect, but that, on the contrary, it would lead to the wide dissemination of discord, he was sure the House would not consent to adopt the advice which had been given to them by the noble Lord. The hon. and learned Member, to whose speeches and writings he had already referred, had again, in stating his views and opinions in reference to this subject, said, that no man should be compelled to pay for the support of a Church of which he was not a Member, and, therefore, that no settlement of the question of tithes could be arrived at likely to give satisfaction to the people of Ireland, which was not founded on the principle of the total extinction of tithes in that country. In his letter to Mr. Beaumont the hon. and learned Member stated, that that Gentleman had correctly interpreted the feelings of the people of Ireland, and he added that Ireland should not be trampled on, and that the population of all countries should be placed on the same footing, and that until a measure was granted by which this object was secured, so long as it remained in his power he would continue to agitate; and he added, that so long as the power remained in the hands of the Protestants to take the property of the 1218 Catholics, so long should turmoil reign in Ireland. Now, if those principles were to be acted upon, the effect of them would be nothing less than the annihilation of the Protestant Church in Ireland. There was to be no peace, no suspension of agitation so long as the law remained that one farthing was to be paid by a Catholic to a Protestant clergyman, or in any way which should go to support the Protestant Church. If the House would now allow him, he would call their attention to the policy of the Government. The statements which he had referred to having been made by the hon. and learned Member, and his avowed principles being those which he had pointed out, what did the Government do? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in 1835, said, that the plan proposed by his noble Friend did not go to the abolition of Protestantism in Ireland, and he contended that it was the object of the House of Commons to support the establishment there; and the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland said, that the Government hoped to maintain the existence of the Established Church, and denied that any violence was intended to it. Now, on the one hand, there was the statement of the hon. and learned Member, on whom the Government relied, that nothing but the extinction of the tithe system would satisfy the people; and on the other hand, it was said, that the object of the measure which was brought forward was to support and to secure the position of the Church. Could there be any policy more inapplicable to the condition of Ireland, than that which had been adopted, or which was likely to produce more disastrous results? If they desired to act on the principle laid down by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, and which it was said was alone calculated to produce peace, and a satisfactory settlement of the question, then let them introduce the popular measure, the effect of which would be to sweep away the Protestant Church; but if they were to adopt the measure of the noble lord, they must admit, on the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, that it would not produce that tranquillity which was desired. He was aware that hon. Gentlemen opposite were disposed to consider the question of the Irish Church as one of peculiar difficulty, and that they would say, that it was a question distinct from 1219 that in reference to the English Church, and that, considering the extreme delicacy of the subject, the best measure had been adopted. But would the House allow him to call their attention to the fact, that the same principle of appropriation had existed in both cases. In 1834 a proposition was made by the dissenters, that in place of the church-rate another plan should be adopted to secure the property of the Church. At first the noble Lord was strongly opposed to the measure, but at length, in 1836, he was found to have taken quite a new view of the question; and since that time, in the autumn of the same year, there was a great agitation among the dissenters, and a demand was made in February, 1837, that there should be taken out of the property of the Church the sum which they had formerly declared public property. The demand was acceded to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who introduced his church-rate plan, and since that time discussion after discussion had taken place on the subject of the same principle, and it was on this that the appropriation of the property of the Church to the purposes which did not belong to it was proposed. He would, therefore, implore the House, believing this principle to be unsafe, as it was suggested, to the Church, to retrace their steps, and to expunge from the records of the Parliament the opinion which they had already expressed in the year 1835.
§ Lord Leveson
, in rising to express the opinions which he entertained on this most important subject, must hope that the House would extend its indulgence to him. He had listened attentively to the speeches which had been made by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, and he thought, that no one could doubt, that the hon. Baronet by whom the amendment to the motion of the noble Lord had been made, had been actuated by conscientious motives in bringing forward this subject; but, at the same time, he did not think, that the reasons which had been given by the hon. Baronet for his taking that course were sufficient to convince the House of the expediency of affirming the motion which he had submitted to their attention. He was not sufficiently versed in Parliamentary customs or proceedings to be able to give an opinion which would carry much weight; but he could not do otherwise than express his dissatisfaction at a custom which ex- 1220 isted of quoting the expressions used by hon. Members in former debates in reference to subjects at the time under discussion; and he thought, that this mode of proceeding was one which was likely to give rise to much inconvenience, as the system might as well be carried back to the debates which had occurred in the reign of William 3rd, or in the Long Parliament itself, as to more recent periods. No one could doubt the truth of the declaration of the hon. Baronet, that in making the present motion his only object was to procure the settlement of the question; but he must say, that no one could conceive a motion better devised to put a stop, to that settlement than that which the hon. Baronet had brought forward. He must also believe, that the hon. Baronet acted with no intention whatever to turn out the present Ministry, but although he placed confidence in this statement, he did not quite believe, that it was the general feeling of the party to which the hon. Baronet belonged, and there were some of them, no doubt, who deemed it a question on which it was desirable to procure as many as possible to vote in their favour, without considering whether it were worth while buying the triumph at such a price as the putting a stop to all settlement of the question, and as the danger which would be the necessary consequence of any delay in some decisive plan being devised and adopted. It was these reasons in particular which caused him to object to the motion, being himself a well-wisher to the Established Church. He was glad, that he had the opportunity of recording by his vote the expression of his approbation of the resolutions and of the clause, and of showing to the country, that it was his wish to strengthen the means of the Church in Ireland, as well by the ordinary means of supporting its constitution, as by an endeavour to advance the moral improvement of the people by means of religious instruction. The hon. Baronet opposite had talked about the money being taken out of one man's pocket and being given to another man, but what had been said of the revenues of the churches during many centuries? Were not the means of the Church originally intended for specific purposes—for the celebration of masses, and for the assistance of the poor; and were they not afterwards taken from the Catholic clergy and appropriated to vari- 1221 ous purposes—namely, for the endowment of churches, for the support of the poor, for keeping up churches, and for the support of incumbents. And had not the revenues of the Church, even by custom or other means, been gradually taken away from these purposes, and in Ireland had not various grants of the funds of the Church Establishment been made for lay purposes, and might they not now, if there should appear to be any surplus, appropriate that surplus to the purposes of general education, which would be even paving the way for the conversion of the people to the doctrines of the Established Church? There was, besides, another argument which, as a supporter of the Church, he was prepared to advance—the anomalous situation in which the Church was at present placed, and hostile as the people were to it, he put it to those hon. Members who really wished for its welfare, whether it were not better to put the people in a position by which its welfare might be secured, by advancing them in their moral condition, by giving them the advantages of education, than to leave them untaught, merely for the purpose of securing untouched the wealth of the Church? These were the opinions which he entertained, and he hoped he might be permitted to say, before he sat down, that notwithstanding the alarming presence of the 313 Members who had been so solemnly adjured to attend, the House would yet show, by its vote to-night, that it would resist a motion that would not only endanger the continuance in office of the present Ministry, but would entirely alienate the affections of the people of Ireland, and be in the end as destructive to the Irish Church as any measure that could be devised.
§ Colonel Conolly
was of opinion that the hon, Baronet had selected the most appropriate occasion for bringing forward the present question, and that his motives were, in effect, to clear away the rubbish and the remains of opposition by which the consideration of the tithe question was encumbered, and to remove from the House the fetters which were on it, and which had been placed on it by another Parliament, and which it ought to take the earliest opportunity to remove. His experience convinced him of the necessity of such a step being taken, resting as it did on an acquaintance with the facts as they had occurred, and with the frightful 1222 consequences which had been produced in Ireland. He would refer to the time at which the resolutions were first proposed by the noble Lord opposite, and he would say, that they were put in an insidious way, which was such as to induce the House to fetter itself with them, without the latent design of the party being exhibited. They had since been the fulcrum in Ireland on which agitation had been worked, and had been the consequence of much mischief in that country. He was sorry to see, that the noble Lord had taken the course which he had pursued in speaking of the Established Chinch in Ireland, for the observations which he had made, in referring to it, were little deserved at his hands, and he was bound to contradict the assertion which he had made, and to say, that at no time had any church in any country been in more need of some improved regulation than the Protestant Church now in Ireland. He was confirmed in this statement by the high authority of Dr. Chalmers within the last month, and by the no less respectable authority of the Presbyterian minister, Dr. Cooke. He had already alluded to the animus with which the resolution had originally been brought forward, and he was prepared to state, that it was not for the purpose of introducing or adopting any particular plan, but it was with the intention of displacing the existing government and of putting another in its place. Was it fair Parliamentary conduct to lend themselves to such a purpose? Seeing the evil consequences which had followed from the carrying this proposition, and that it had been the source of distress to the loyal part of the Queen's subjects in Ireland; seeing that it had rendered those Ministers, whose duty it was to defend her Majesty's rights, and to maintain and uphold the religion of the State, no longer the defenders or maintainers of either the one or the other; seeing that it had been the main thing that had handed over the government of Ireland to the hands of agitators, he felt gratified that a proposition had at length been made to get rid of this source of inconvenience and evil. He was aware that he had been using strong language, but not one word which he was not able to prove, if necessary; and having seen with his own eyes the evils he had described, he felt himself called upon to state his opinions openly and boldly; 1223 and, above all, when he found that those Ministers who had denounced the agitation of an hon. and learned Member in the King's speech, had lent themselves to the promoting of the views of that great agitator. He trusted that they would that night get rid of the appropriation question, as it kept the country in a state of agitation—it deprived the ministers of the church of their incomes, and, indeed, of their means of existence, and it had been the means of rendering property insecure in Ireland. As, therefore, the object of the motion of the hon. Baronet was to get rid of this origin of evil, he should take the opportunity of thanking the hon. Baronet for having made his motion.
§ Mr. Slaney
stated, that as he had never voted before on this question, not having had a seat in the last Parliament, he felt called upon to state the reasons that would influence his vote on the proposition of the hon. Baronet. He was the less induced to blink the question in consequence of the course he felt called upon to pursue on a late occasion, when it was with deep regret, that, by an imperative sense of duty, he was induced to vote against his Friends around him, he meant on the resolutions relative to any surplus that might be derived from an improved mode of letting church lands, and he then did so because he felt that whatever surplus might be derived from church revenues should be devoted, in the first instance, to the giving religious instruction in connection with the Church in those towns and villages in which there were not now adequate means provided for that purpose. He admitted, that they had now before them something like a similar question with regard to Ireland, but he asked whether it were necessary to put him in a situation in which it was imperative on him to say whether any surplus which might arise should be devoted in one way or an other? This was not owing to any proposition then made to the House by his noble Friend, as the representative of her Majesty's Government, but it was entirely owing to the motion of the hon. Baronet, who called upon them not to give an opinion as to whether or not there was any surplus, or as to how it should be applied, but to declare that the resolutions of a former Parliament, should be rescinded, and to which he for one had been no party, as he had not then a seat 1224 in the House. He must, in giving an opinion on the subject, look to the animus which had dictated the resolution. He had no doubt but that the hon. Baronet had brought forward the proposition in that single-mindedness which characterised him, but he was sure that some evil genius must have dictated this course to the hon. Baronet. If he had been called upon to select a man on any side of the House who was more likely than another to sow peace and to stop dissension, and to pursue a course of conduct likely to get rid of angry feelings and animosities, he should have named the hon. Baronet as that person; could he then be otherwise than surprised that the hon. Baronet should have proposed this motion when he saw some dawn and glimmering of conciliation, and when such concession had been made as was likely to lead to the settlement of this great question, which professedly was so much desired by all, and this in conformity with the advice tendered by one of the greatest men that had ever lived in this or any other country—he meant the Duke of Wellington, and which advice had been followed by her Majesty's Ministers, who had that night brought forward a proposition which was likely to lead to the settlement of the question. He repeated, then, that he deeply regretted, that the hon. Baronet should have made this motion, although he had not the slightest doubt but that he was actuated by the purest motives. He regarded, with unfeigned sorrow, that the hon. Baronet should have rejected the olive branch that was held out to him, and appeared determined to postpone—for such would be the result of this motion—until an indefinite period, the determination of this matter. Could the hon. Baronet doubt, after the manner in which his proposition was received, that it would be made the means of increasing the divisions and dissensions between the different classes of people in Ireland, and that it would also have that effect on parties in that House? The proposition of the hon. Baronet was, to rescind the vote of a former House of Commons. He felt bound to say, and he did so with unfeigned respect to the hon. Baronet, that the object of those who supported this motion was not so much to get rid of the appropriation principle as to work out a course to gain die seats now occupied by his noble and right hon. Friends con- 1225 nected with the Administration. Believing, however, as he did, that her Majesty's Government were pursuing that course which tended to promote the best Interests of the empire, and that, notwithstanding all the difficulties which had occurred around them, they had conciliated the feelings of the people towards them, both in this country and in Ireland, he felt bound to oppose the motion of his hon. Friend. At the same time, however, he gave no opinion one way or the other on the appropriation clause, but he was satisfied the present motion was nothing more nor less than an attempt made by one party to turn out the other. He had not changed sides; he did not say a word against those who had done so; but he saw sometimes with surprise that some of those leaders with whom it had been his lot to fight the battles of liberty in that House, as an unpaid soldier, had changed sides, and appeared most bitter in their opposition to their former friends and colleagues. He could not allow himself to use such appellations to them as he had heard applied by them; for he had no doubt that the noble Lord and the right hon. Baronet and others whom he saw on the benches opposite had been actuated by conscientious feelings. But if the time should come when his noble Friend (Lord John Russell) ceased to hold office, and he hoped that it was far distant, and the offices of the Government filled by the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, he was sure that the noble Lord and the right hon. Baronet would carry into the camp they joined much of the intelligence, liberality, and many of those enlarged views which he had so often heard them defend with so much eloquence and ardour when they sat on his side of the House. He repeated, that he had not changed sides, nor would he pledge himself as to what should be his vote on the appropriation question, but he should oppose this motion to the utmost, because he thought that it was nothing more than an attempt to turn his Friends out of the high situations they held.
§ Mr. Milnes
said, that the opinion expressed by the hon. Member who spoke last was an extraordinary one. He thought it a hard case that the hon. Baronet should bring forward his motion, and in his (Mr. Milnes's) opinion it was wrong to Suppose, because its result might have 1226 that effect, that the motion was brought before the House for the purpose of injuring the Government, and for no other purpose. He was obliged to the hon. Gentleman for having so ingeniously recorded his opinion upon the subject, and for his part he should say, that he never rose more willingly to address the House than he did upon that occasion. Under no imaginary circumstances could he rise with more confidence and exultation, not in his own power—not in his own eloquence, but in the justice of his cause. It was with no ordinary degree of pleasure he congratulated the House upon the position at which it had at length arrived. They had now before them a scene which perhaps some did not think would be so soon exhibited. Her Majesty's Ministry were at length obliged to abandon the appropriation clause. He congratulated them upon this very gratifying fact—a fact which intimated, in the plainest terms, that no Government which founded its strength upon individual theories could long retain that strength or maintain its position under such circumstances; that no government could be successful in this country which did not found its claim for support upon sterling views of statesmanlike policy and sound measures of beneficial legislation. Nothing had been said about the appropriation clause at the other side, at least nothing had been said in defence of it; it had been entirely given up so far, and the attempt had been made to induce them to believe, that it had no connection at all with the propositions of the noble Lord which were before the House. The hon. Members at the opposite side appeared anxious to convey the idea to the House that the appropriation principle was forgotten, and that every division at present upon the motion of the hon. Baronet would only tend to produce unnecessary dissension, or retard legislation upon the subject of Irish tithes—a subject which they were all alike anxious to see settled. He did not think full justice had been done to the noble Lord who brought forward this measure upon the subject of Irish tithes. It was a question neither more nor less than this—a rent-charge upon the Protestant owners of property in Ireland for the purpose of supporting a Protestant Church Establishment—for, after all, it was upon the proprietors the charge lay. It was on this view that Legislation should proceed, 1227 and if it were looked upon always in this light it might be more just towards the noble Lord. With respect to the hon. Baronet who moved the amendment which he should have much pleasure in supporting, a great deal had been said about the animus of that amendment and of its advocates. What, he would ask, was the animus of the appropriation clause of 1835? He would stand the test of a comparison between the animi of both parties, and he would ask no greater triumph than a candid answer. It was not for the hon. Gentlemen at the other side of the House to talk of motions; it was not for them to attribute to the hon. Baronet an inclination not to advance the settlement of the tithe question, but to try the strength of her Majesty's Ministers. Why, it was upon some such similar question they came into office, and strange to say, they were the first to express horror of such a proceeding. With respect to the amendment having the effect of opening a discussion upon the tithe question, he could only say, that unfortunately her Majesty's Ministers had left the question so unsettled that a discussion upon it was not at all inappropriate. They were as much open to discussion as they were three years ago, in 1835; and after those three years of discussion that most important subject was in just the same state it had been before. Even supposing the hon. mover of the amendment had been actuated by motives as unworthy as those assigned to him; supposing he had brought it forward for the most avowedly party purposes; supposing they were his sole reasons for bringing it forward, was it the other side of the House from which such a charge should fairly come? Was it from them so much impatience should be displayed at any instance of party spirit? They were surely the last who ought to complain; they who had been placed in their official position by party divisions; and if they were displaced by the same means it would not come very well from them, however they might regret the effect, to complain of the agency by which it was produced. This was, as he premised, supposing them to be actuated by party motives. The appropriation principle was one which there should be no delicacy in discussing. If it had been passed into a law—if it came before them with any claim to respect—if it had been in practical operation in Ireland, and 1228 amidst its injustice had effected one solitary good—if it came before them with this claim, they might have some hesitation in dealing with it; they might, however, be inclined to put an end to so manifest an injustice—at least respect it as a law that had existed. But here it had no such ground of support; it had achieved no good, it had no claim upon their forbearance, and he trusted it never would have any. Three years had elapsed without any positive measure upon a question of such vital importance as the tithe question. If the Tories had been in office this would not have been the case. If they had remained in office something would have been done; and although he would not go the length of saying it would be final, yet it would at least be nearer to that end than the present vacillating course which was adopted. The whole measure would not, as at present, be lying before them in the same position which it was years before, and the nation calling loudly for legislation. The appropriation clause might have deserved the support of the Opposition if it possessed any utility, but its warmest supporters could not go the length of showing that it produced one iota of good. It was useless, or worse than useless; and those Ministers who invented it would find it far more effective in producing defeat and discomfiture than they imagined. He was sorry to be placed as he was: he felt pain to be obliged in the discharge of his duty to come to open collision with her Majesty's Ministers. He would explain this position. Ever since he had come into Parliament he had felt that he was not sitting in an useless opposition. Night after night he found himself taking an active part in the legislation of the country—he found that Opposition was not always synonymous with weakness, and that place was not always power, for the Opposition, were the powerful and the other the weak side. The Opposition were sometimes the allies of the Government; they were its supporters in all those measures which they deemed necessary for the country—they were going on most rapidly till this bill appeared, and the mystic cycle of the appropriation clause broke the magical success which they had before enjoyed. Then they destroyed their hopes for the first time—it was a pity to break so agreeable a bond of unity, for, to describe them in the words of the poet—They'll take suggestions as a cat laps milk.1229 They will tell the clock to any business that we say befits the House? Before that unfortunate period there existed the most perfect amity and good-will between them. The degree of concord which characterised their proceedings was beautiful to observe, and if they had continued to deserve their support they would have received it; but they forfeited this support. A Government, to be a good Government, should not be passive or wavering; it should be active, it should be aggressive; it should be active with its measures—it should be aggressive against wrong, and those evils which time brings on; and wanting those attributes, the Government was unworthy of support. It was a lesson to contemplate. They saw a Government unable to strike a vigorous blow—paralysed, deprived of that strength which it ought to possess, and meanly prostrate. He said this more in sorrow than in anger. It was the effect of not acting upon those principles which ought to guide them. Whenever a Government acted upon narrow individual theories the result would be the same. Where the great principles of statesmanship were not the grounds upon which they built their measures, such would be the invariable consequence. Feeling as strongly as any one could do the importance of the question, he congratulated the House upon the position in which they had placed her Majesty's Ministry. It was a lesson that would not, he trusted, be soon forgotten. For his part he should support the amendment which concentrated their exertion in the achievement of one tangible good, which should be the object of all Governments.
§ Sir W. Somerville
, as one having a large stake and interest in the peace of Ireland, and deeply interested in the maintenance of the Protestant Church in that country, had always considered the appropriation principle as the only one on which the settlement of the tithe question could take place, and as the only one which could carry with it the feelings and confidence of the Irish. Hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to forget, that they had to conciliate the feelings of six millions of people with reference to a Church which belonged to only 600,000. What was the common state of things in Ireland? They saw, on the one hand, the Protestant Churches spread throughout the country, many of them fine edifices, and the ministers, if not supported in luxury, at 1230 any rate well paid by the imposition of this tax on the people; and, on the other, they saw a building little better in appearance than a common cottage, with mud walls and a thatched roof, with hundreds of people on the Sundays round its doors, crowding to get admission. The former was the Church for the few, and supported by the tithes, and the latter was the Church of the bulk of the population, supported, with its ministers, by their voluntary contributions. The poorest people, independent of having to contribute to the support of their own Church, had to give a portion of their scanty maintenance towards paying for this richly-endowed Church, the form of worship in which was alien to their feelings. Was this a state of things consistent with common justice or common sense? Was it a system which should be allowed to be continued? He would ask, what other remedy was there than applying the funds of this rich Church for the benefit of the poor? This proposition, however, was nothing of this kind. He did not wish to apply this property towards the maintenance of the religion of the great body of the people, but he only required that the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table should be devoted to the general education of the country. He was one of those who had entertained the hope that the tithe question would have been settled by the present proposition, and he could not help expressing his regret that the hon. Baronet, no doubt with the best feelings and motives, should have come forward and thrown in those ingredients of difficulty and danger which would prevent the securing the peace of the Irish people. Until the settlement of this question all their Poor-laws, or the legislating with a view of promoting the tranquillity or improving the condition of the country, would be vain and illusory; and until this question was put at rest the great and constant source of discord in Ireland would continue. Unless the Legislature nationalized this tax, and gave the Irish something as an equivalent, it would be vain to expect that they would continue to pay it. The Irish would no longer submit to this state of things. They would not thus submit to be buffetted about between one party and another; they would no longer permit the settlement of this question, upon which their happiness depended, being made the peg 1231 to hang party factions on. They felt that they had been bandied about from one side of the House to the other; and the Legislature of England must come forward and show the people that they were regarded as having an interest in the subject. The people were daily growing stronger and stronger in intelligence and power, and did the House think that when the interests of the people of Ireland were so deeply at stake they would continue to submit to this state of things, or that they would allow, that this vital question should be treated as a mere subject for party trials of strength, without regard to their feelings or interests? If the House really wished to make Ireland a part of the United Kingdom it must adopt such measures as would settle this and other questions in conformity with the wishes of the people and with the justice of the case. When the hon. and learned Member for Dublin agitated the question of the repeal of the union, he opposed it because he felt that the interests of Ireland would be best consulted by maintaining a strict, firm, and bonâ fide union with England, but he regarded the union as it stood at present as a mere farce—the advantages being all on one side, and Ireland being more in the relation of step-child than sister to England. If his hon. Friend should again agitate that question, he would not say, that he should depart from his original opinion, but he firmly believed, and he said it with regret, that the feeling of discontent which existed in Ireland towards the British Legislature would increase to such an extent as to be removeable only by a domestic Parliament. But whatever might be the result of the present motion, this, he would say, that those who threw additional difficulties in the way of a satisfactory adjustment of the question of tithes, took upon themselves a great responsibility, and must be regarded by all men as answerable for the consequences which must ensue. The opinion of the people of Ireland had already been emphatically pronounced on the subject—the opinion of Parliament had been pronounced—and after that, he did hope that a vote of the House of Commons, arrived at with promptitude and decision, would put an end to suspense, and at the same time terminate the hopes of the factious. After the blood which had been shed—after the misery that had been endured —after the centu- 1232 ries of discord that had prevailed—it must be the opinion of all impartial and intelligent observers that those whose conduct formed the primary cause of these evils incurred an infinitely greater responsibility than did the poorer and less instructed persons who were more immediately and directly concerned. For these various reasons he had resolved to vote against the proposition of the hon. Baronet, the Member for North Devon.
§ Mr. Lefroy
conceived, that the time had arrived at which they should come to a final adjustment of the question of tithes, but certainly not in the way according to which the noble Lord opposite proposed to settle it. In the first place, he thought it right to call the attention of the House to a single statement made by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, in reference to the nature of the resolutions then before the House. When it was observed, that the surplus expected—for be it observed, there never had been a real surplus—was exceedingly small, the hon. and learned Gentleman said, though the surplus might be small, the principle involved in the measure was great, and he further asserted, the position that as Protestantism was found to diminish, so must the revenue allowed for its support be curtailed. Now, he desired to know whether or not that principle was contained in the resolutions; was that to be the basis of the settlement of the question of tithes? If so, they could never have a final settlement; there must be a new census every year, and a new estimate for the expenses of the Church, for the religious instruction of the surviving Protestants. He decidedly objected to this annual review of the surplus. The hon. Baronet opposite suggested that they should adopt the main resolution as the means of carrying out a substantial and bonâ fide union between the two countries. He must be permitted to say, that it was rather an Irish mode of acting upon the principles of the union thus to violate one of its fundamental articles; for most certainly one of the bases upon which the union rested, was that of a provision for the Established Church. As it appeared to him, the whole of the present proceeding rested upon the assumption of there being a surplus. If the fact were so, why not come forward with a resolution declaring that fact? No assertion of the fact was introduced in the original resolutions; on the contrary, a 1233 mere speculative contingency was propounded, resting upon a probable surplus, respecting which the House had no means of judging. Let it not be forgotten, also, that these resolutions were passed before the Commissioners of public instruction had made their report, before the noble Lord himself was at all aware of the property of the Church. He then stated it to amount to 791,721l. a year. The noble Lord, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, set down the amount at an annual sum of 613,300l., and after the reduction of the thirty per cent, it became reduced to 459,551l. Leaving out the deduction on account of the thirty per cent, there would still remain a difference of nearly 100,000l. between the two noble Lords. With respect to the number of persons belonging to the Established Church, there appeared to be quite as much difference of opinion, and in some instances as wide a departure from the truth. By the noble Lord opposite, they were set down as 750,000 persons, while they appeared from the statements of the Commissioners to be 852,000. On these grounds, then, viewing the ignorance which prevailed with respect to the property of the Church and the equal ignorance with regard to the Protestant population, he should say, that the mover of the propositions in question had proceeded in ignorance of the exigencies of the case, and of the means to be provided for meeting those exigencies. In every one of the bills proposed on the subject of tithes, nothing could be more evident than that those with whom those measures originated, had proceeded in utter ignorance of the subject, therefore should he say, rescind the resolutions. The principle upon which they ought to insist, most assuredly was, that the wants of the Established Church ought, in the first instance, to be provided for. In the year 1835, a certain mode was proposed of working out that principle; it was found that in certain parishes, a small number of Protestants resided, and on that ground, it was proposed to deprive them of any pecuniary support for their establishment. In the next year, a new way of working out the surplus was proposed, by which 97,000l. a year was to be obtained; and in the year following, the two former attempts were given up. At the time to which he was referring, the authors of those proceedings left out of view all 1234 the parishes which wanted glebe houses. They left out of view the burthen of debt under which the clergy laboured, but proposed to apply an imaginary surplus without regard to the situation of the clergy. What, he would ask, was the state of the Established Church in Ireland? There were fifty-two parishes, having a population of five hundred members of the Established Church, unprovided with proper church accommodation. In the same situation, there were thirty parishes, each having 1,000 persons; there were eleven parishes with 2,000 persons, in which churches were required, and there were 126 parishes, in which second churches were wanted. There were parishes in which divine service was performed in school houses—in the houses of the clergy—in the petty session-house—in the court-house of the town, and, in one instance, in a coach-house. Those were the circumstances of the Church in which the clergy were called on to relinquish their landed property, and accept in lieu of it a charge upon the consolidated fund. If the clergy were to have no other security than a contract to be supported by a vote of that House, it was too much to expect them to acquiesce in the proposed arrangement, or to expect that they would trust to any pledge of the sort being fulfilled at a future day. As a friend of the Church, he was bound to look to its interests; as a friend to that religion which was now maintained and upheld by the maintenance of the establishment that was now threatened, he felt bound to oppose the resolutions brought forward by the noble Lord, if they were to be coupled with the re-assertion of those resolutions which the hon. Baronet now sought to rescind, or if, indeed, those resolutions were not to be put out of the way, so as to give a prospect that whatever settlement might be come to should be a final one. For three years past, the noble Lord had repeatedly expressed his anxiety to settle this question; let no false pride now prevent the noble Lord from consenting to forward that settlement, by abandoning the resolutions which it was most justly sought to rescind; but let an honest pride, dictate to that noble Lord to secure the peace of Ireland, and the safety of its Church, by relinquishing this fatal principle; if the noble Lord really wished to arrive at a final settlement of 1235 this question, he could not refuse this concession to the call of justice and reason. The noble Lord had himself declared, that he would never permit any feeling of false pride to prevent him from making a final settlement, and he implored the noble Lord now to act upon the principle of that declaration. Let it be remembered, that these resolutions were not the original proposition of the noble Lord; that in reality he was not entitled either to the credit or discredit of them, for they originally emanated from, and were, indeed, moved and supported by Members of that House, who were the avowed enemies of the Protestant Church in Ireland. Long before they were proposed to the House by the noble Lord, their substance was brought forward by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, and warmly supported by hon. Gentlemen from different parts of the kingdom, whose avowed principles were decidedly in favour of the voluntary principle. For the peace of Ireland, and for the security of its Church, it was essential that these resolutions should be rescinded, and he should lend his warmest support to the furtherance of that most important object.
§ Mr. French
had not heard any person, no matter how strongly he might be opposed to the principle or details of any of the various measures which for the settlement of tithe had from time to time been brought under their consideration, venture to deny, that the speedy adjustment of this question was necessary for the security of every description of property in Ireland, or suppose that unless it were settled, any reasonable hope could be entertained of permanent tranquillity being established there. Now, if parties in that House were really anxious that Ireland should not be kept as a field of contention, it would be necessary for them to enter on the discussion of this subject calmly and dispassionately, each prepared to yield somewhat of their own views, and to endeavour, uninfluenced by political considerations, unbiassed by party predilections, to arrive at a settlement at once satisfactory to the Catholic population of Ireland, and placing the property of the Church on a secure and permanent basis, both of which could be attained by, he considered, the adopting the resolutions proposed by the Ministers. If they did not enter on the question in such a spirit 1236 as this, it was worse than useless to waste their own time and that of the public in considering these resolutions at all. As one attached to the Protestant Church by education, by conviction, and by close domestic relations, he sincerely trusted that the proposition now made by her Majesty's Ministers—one which must be admitted to be conciliatory, would not experience opposition from those who considered themselves more especially the friends of the clergy—that neither here nor elsewhere would they reject a settlement more advantageous to that body than they themselves, if in power, could procure for them—a settlement which, coming from the present Government, would be received with satisfaction by the people of Ireland—a result which nothing short of total abolition of tithes proceeding from them could produce. For the last few years the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, and his party had appeared anxious for any settlement which did not involve the abstract question of appropriation. Would they take upon themselves the responsibility of refusing to agree to one in which the question was not mooted? Would they take upon themselves the awful responsibility of postponing the settlement of tithes in Ireland for an indefinite period of harassing and ruinous litigation, with a moral certainty of popular disturbances and a renewal of those scenes of blood of which that unfortunate country had already witnessed too many? Would the right hon. Gentleman consent to leave the clergy of Ireland subject to all these difficulties and deprivations, which had been so frequently and so feelingly described by his right hon. Friend the Recorder of Dublin, when by one word he could put an end for ever to the hatred, ill-will, and loss of life which had hitherto followed the collision of the Protestant clergy and their Catholic parishioners on matters of pecuniary interest? The principle feature of the present plan, as distinguished from some former ones, was the absence of what had been termed the appropriation principle, the resolution declaratory of which the hon. Baronet was now so anxious to rescind. To rescind it, however, would not effect their object, as that principle would still remain on the statute book. He should not refer them to acts passed during the reign of Henry 8th, as the appropriation contained in them might be 1237 termed a hostile appropriation; but he would call their attention to an Act passed so far back as the 15th Richard 2nd, cap. 6, called even at that early period "The Appropriation Act," from its appropriating to secular purposes a portion of the incomes of the clergy, a statute made when the Church was almost omnipotent, and when the Bishop of Winchester was Lord Chancellor of England. It provided—Item, because divers damages and hindrances oftentimes have happened, and daily do happen, to the parishioners of divers places by the appropriation of benefices of the same places, it is agreed and assented to, that in every licence from henceforth to be made in the Chancery of the appropriation of any parish church, it shall be expressly contained and comprised that the diocesan of the place upon the appropriation of such churches shall ordain, according to the value of such churches a convenient sum of money to be paid and distributed yearly of the fruits and profits of the same churches, by those that shall have the said churches in proper use, and by their successors to the poor parishioners of the said churches in aid of their living and sustenance for ever, and also that the vicar be well and sufficiently endowed.On the former occasion he advocated appropriation, and, if necessary, was still prepared to show, that the ecclesiastical laws themselves have recognised that principle, and Parliament enforced it. The clergy of the Established Church in Ireland have already lost much of the authority and reverence which they ought, as teachers of the Gospel, to possess. Instead of being ministers of peace, they are but too often unhappily ministers of strife and contention—and how could it be otherwise, as long as they went to collect their incomes as men go to a pitched battle. Could it be for the honour of religion or the credit of its ministers that this contention should continue, to which in the words of Milton, as long as the present system shall last, the Church of Ireland "is wedded as with a spousal ring?" To remedy this state of affairs the resolutions now submitted to the House had been brought forward by her Majesty's Ministers—resolutions containing in them nothing of innovation—nothing that had not already received the sanction of that House. But even if they did, it should be remembered, as Lord Bacon said, "that the contentious retaining of a custom may be as turbulent a thing as an innovation." But in these 1238 resolutions there is nothing of innovation. There is no appropriation of the Church revenue to other than Church purposes; the offer made to the Church is the full value, more than the value, of the tithe compositions. These compositions are proposed to be purchased by the State on the expiration of existing interests, or sooner, with consent of the incumbents, and the amount to be handed over when this purpose shall be effected to the ecclesiastical Commissioners for Ireland, to be appropriated to ecclesiastical purposes solely. But as this purchase cannot be made all at once, it becomes necessary until it is effected, that the State itself should guarantee and pay to the incumbent the amount of rent-charge which he would be entitled to under the bill carrying these resolutions into effect. Will the clergy object to receive their incomes for a season through the medium of the consolidated fund? They already vainly attempted to recover them through the courts of law. Surely a Treasury-warrant for the amount was a better guarantee for its payment than the writ of rebellion—that last weapon in the armoury of the law, which had become rusty in the courts, until it was furbished up and sharpened for the service of the ministers of peace. Could it be possible that the clergy would prefer to the paternal offer of the present Government, a system which obliges them, in vindication of their legal rights, to have tithe rebels, as they are called in the writ to which he had alluded—men often enfeebled by age or poverty, or both—dragged from their distant hovels to the four courts in Dublin, in the depth of winter, with scarcely sufficient raiment to shield them from the inclemency of the weather, or food to maintain the flickering lamp of life within them, and who, so far from being able to discharge a bootless claim, had frequently become the objects of a charitable subscription. By none more than the clergy themselves, he was convinced, was this state of things regretted. But could any person venture to assert it was for the peace, the good, the honour of the Church, that such a system should continue? The measure, founded on these resolutions, must prove, if it became law, advantageous to the Church. By it the Church would receive a certain income in lieu of an uncertain one, and a property which had ever been insecure, would be converted into one that is secure. 1239 Let not the House imagine that the insecurity of tithe property had been confined to Ireland. It was an incident which had ever belonged to it—in Protestant England, as well as Catholic Ireland. In this country, in the reign of Henry 4th, the Commons went in a body to the King, and addressed him, by their Speaker, in the following words:—That the clergy possessed a third part of the riches of the realm, and not doing the King any personal service, it was but just they should contribute out of their revenues towards the pressing necessities of the state; that it was evident the riches of the ecclesiastics made them negligent of their duty, and the lessening of their excessive incomes would be a double advantage to Church and State.
Sir John Oldcastle
, afterwards Lord Cobham, brought in a bill to attain the object of this address. Four years afterwards this question was renewed more warmly at the Parliament held at Leicester, and would have been carried, only, it was stated, for the policy of Henry Chichely, then Archbishop of Canterbury. In the Long Parliament, in 1641, there was a debate in a "grand Committee" of the Commons, on the introduction of a bill for the abolition of deans and chapters. It was then declared, after an investigation of some of the statutes, grants, and foundations, of certain deans and chapters, that those deans and chapters were trustees, and that the profits of the lands in their possession had been employed, contrary to the trust reposed in them, and resolutions for their abolition were agreed to by the House. The lands taken by the bill were ordered to be applied to the advancement of learning and piety, reserving a maintenance to incumbents, who should appear "not peccant and delinquent to the House." Some time afterwards, it was resolved by the House, that those lands should be vested in feoffees, and that the bishops' lands should be vested in the Crown, reserving a competent allowance for the support of a sufficient number of ministers, and the reparation of churches, such allowance to be placed under the management of Commissioners. During the Commonwealth, in the year 1652, the question of tithes was debated, and it was referred to a Committee, to consider how a convenient and competent maintenance for the clergy might be settled in lieu of tithes, He 1240 could not persuade himself that what he firmly believed to be the best offer of compromise that would ever be made to the clergy, on terms so much to their advantage, would be rejected by their friends. He was strengthened in this opinion, as the measure to be produced on the resolution now before the House must be essentially the same in principle as the several measures brought forward by the different Reform Administrations, and assented to by the Opposition. Like all those, it diminished the amount of tithe compositions in proportion to the security for their payment guaranteed by the State, by their commutation into rent-charges. It was certainly more to the advantage of the Church than the measure brought forward by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Launceston, or that of the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire. In the right hon. Baronet's projected bill of 1835, the clergyman was to receive 75l. for every 100l. of tithe composition. By the present measure, he was to receive 70l. In both the tithe is proposed to be redeemed. By the right hon. Baronet's bill 1,500l. was fixed as the sum to be obtained by the Church for every 100l. of tithe composition which might be redeemed. By the present measure 1,600l. would be paid for every 100l. by the State. Both projects settled, that the redemption-money was to be invested in land or otherwise, for the benefit of the Church. The present measure also agreed with the amended bill proposed by Lord Stanley, in 1836, in its principal features. The clergy, under that measure, were to receive 72l. 10s. for every 100l., but Lord Stanley calculated the redemption, taking the maximum which might be expected to be obtained, at twenty years' purchase of the rent-charge; which would only amount to 1,450l. for each 100l. of tithe composition. Whereas, by this plan, the clergy were to be paid 1,600l. by the State. In conformity with his Lordship's plan, the present one left the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to carry the investment into effect; but the present plan possessed the great superiority over both, that it secured to the incumbent the full amount of the rent-charge which was to be paid to him by the state. The noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, had always advocated the commutation of compositions into rent-charges, their redemption, and investment, for the be- 1241 nefit of the Church: all of which were provided for by the minister's resolutions. The appropriation of Church property to other than Church purposes was not contained in them. He therefore considered they might fairly anticipate his support. The objection to placing the incomes of the clergy on the consolidated fund for a short time, as lessening the security of Church property, appeared to him to imply, from the mere possession of land or tithe, a permanency which did not in reality exist. Land or tithe was merely a security given by the state for the salaries of the clergy, and they were no more proprietors of it, than any servant of the State was, of the Treasury out of which he is paid. The enabling and disenabling statutes show the State has always considered itself, the proprietor of Church property. But let them see, if the necessity of the income of the Church, being secured by tithe or land, was held by the highest authorities on the subject, as indispensable for the support of a Church establishment. He could state from his own experience, that all the clergymen with whom he had conversed, assured him they would much prefer a charge on the consolidated fund, to any one on the landlords of Ireland. Lord Bacon, who was a zealous supporter of the Church, said on the subject of temporalities, "That all the places and offices of the Church, be provided of such a donation, that they may be maintained in their several degrees, is a constitution permanent and perpetual; but for particularity of the endowment, whether it should consist of tithe, or land, or pensions, or mixed, might make a question of convenience but no question of precise necessity." This had also been the opinion of some of the most eminent divines of the Established Church; and that it was the opinion of a great statesman, whose name he had only to mention, to secure the reverence of Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, would be apparent from the following extract from the Memoirs of Bishop Watson, published in 1817:—In January, 1799, (he writes,) I received from the Archbishop of Canterbury a paper which had been sent to him by Mr. Pitt, and was desired to deliver my opinion on the subject. The paper contained a plan for the sale of the tithe of the country, on the same principle that the land-tax had been offered for sale in the preceding Session of Parliament. It was proposed that the money 1242 arising from the sale of the tithes should be vested in the funds in aid of public credit, and the clergy were to receive their incomes from the funds. The income, however, was not a fixed income, which could never be augmented, but was to be adjusted at different periods, so as to admit an increase according to the advance in the price of grain. This plan was not introduced into Parliament; it met, I believe, with private opposition from the bishops, though I own it had my approbation.Bishop Horsely, who was a high churchman, states, "All the rights and honours with which the priesthood is endowed, by the piety of the civil magistrate, are quite distinct from the spiritual commission, which we bear for our Lord's proper kingdom; they have no connexion with it, they stand merely on human law, and vary, like the rights of others, as the laws which create them vary." He could refer them to the opinions of Paley and others, but it was unnecessary. He had shown, that the principle contained in these resolutions, had received the sanction of Conservative statesmen, such as Lord Bacon and Mr. Pitt, and that of divines, such as Bishop Horseley and Bishop Watson. It was stated, that the Church objected to the deduction of thirty per cent., as more than they could afford to give. The Church as a community, since an early period of its history, had been fully as assiduous to promote its temporal greatness, as to extend its spiritual jurisdiction. It acted as if it thought the best interests of mankind were to be promoted, in proportion to the wealth and power the Church could attain. But let not its Friends encourage that delusion. The Church of Ireland, reduced to a standard of utility, might be made an instrument of great public benefit; preserve it a pageant, and you make it an object of public reproach. He considered the Church ought to co-operate with the Ministry in promoting these regulations, which were required for the maintenance of good government, and still more for preserving their own influence. Surely the concession of a temporal object which cannot awaken any conscientious scruples, and which does not impair, but does rather confirm and perpetuate, the revenues of the Church, was not too much to be expected from them, for the sake of order and peace. Let them remember the religion they profess to teach, is one of detachment from worldly interest; that 1243 the system they would uphold, impairs the value, and mars the effect of religious education, placing the teachers and those to be taught in an arena, where the price of that instruction is the sordid object fiercely contended for. They have now the opportunity of getting rid of this contention—an object for which he could not suppose they were not most anxious, without diminishing the ecclesiastical revenues. Those would still be most ample to maintain the Church in its solemn magnificence, in the pomp and order of its ceremonies, to provide all those grave and moving accessories to divine worship which inspire reverence and awaken attention; and that provision would be made in a manner most likely to answer the ends of its institution—the peace and happiness of the community. He would, therefore, entreat the clergy to adopt a measure which would put an end to a long and fatal struggle, in which the honour that was due to religion, and the reverence that ought to be paid to its Ministers, had been equally impaired. He would call on them, in a word, to exhibit on this occasion a spirit of moderation, in order that violence, so opposed to the meek character of gospel truth, might be for ever banished from the Church of peace.
said: I should hardly have risen so early in the debate, if the hon. Gentleman, who has just sat down, had not personally called on me; if he had not expressed it as his thorough conviction, that, looking at the course I have pursued on former occasions, looking at the sentiments which I have expressed, and at the part which I have taken; looking at the desire I have always indicated, and which I still feel for a settlement of this perplexing question of the revenues of the Church of Ireland on a safe, reasonable, and satisfactory basis, he might confidently rely on my vote in favour of the resolutions now shoved by her Majesty's Government. Even if I were disposed to accede to those resolutions; even if I am—as I certainly am—disposed to consider them in the spirit of candour, of fairness, and moderation; even if I am disposed to discuss them with a desire to come to a settlement—to discuss them with a view not to force extreme opinions, or to press untenable points—the more I am disposed to come to such a discussion, the more I am convinced—and yet more and more from every 1244 speech I have heard in the course of this night's debate—of the expediency, of the duty, of the necessity of acceding to the motion of my hon. Friend, the Member for North Devonshire. For the motion of my hon. Friend is not, as it has been represented, a peg to hang a factious vote upon—it is not an amendment—it is not an attempt to impede and to postpone for a year—nay, hardly for a night—the discussion of the resolutions of her Majesty's Ministers. If we had been disposed, on this side of the House, to take that course, we should not have given you, this evening, the fatigue and the weariness of listening to a protracted discussion, because in that case, we should naturally have moved the proposition of my hon. Friend in Committee as an amendment, and as a substitute for the resolutions of the noble Lord: but it is because we have desired to avoid the possible imputation of endeavouring to substitute my hon. Friend's motion for the resolutions of the noble Lord, that we have taken this course not of moving an amendment to the resolutions, but of bringing forward a proposition which was considered essential as a preliminary to an understanding on what terms and on what principles it is that we are to act. And, I confess, I am at this moment as much in the dark with regard to the terms on which the question of appropriation stands in the view of the hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, as I believe they are in a state of difference among themselves in what sense it shall be understood. I regret to observe, that I believe, and I am compelled to believe, that the resolutions of the noble Lord opposite have been carefully and artfully so framed as to enable him to say to the one party, "See, I maintain your principle of appropriation," while to the other party he can say, "You are raising a factious opposition to a motion and to a resolution which does not involve the principle of appropriation. The noble Lord, in the course of his speech, spoke with considerable bitterness as to the part taken by the Protestant clergy in Ireland on this occasion, and taunted them with having considered that fifteen per cent alone was the price at which the peace of Ireland was to be purchased. Why, was that a candid and fair way of stating the case? When the clergy of Ireland say, "We submit to a deduction from our incomes which the law awards us, and which we have an undoubted right to receive; we submit to a deduction of fifteen 1245 per cent from that which we are entitled by law to receive"—is it fair in the noble Lord to declare that those clergy are so factious, are so grasping, are so insatiable, that fifteen per cent sacrifice of their income is the price at which they put the peace of Ireland? The noble Lord tells you, that by the law as it present exists, every landlord of Ireland has a right to demand a deduction of fifteen per cent, but surely the noble Lord must know that such is not the law. Surely the noble Lord must know, that the power to which he alludes was limited in the first instance, by an Act which I had the honour of introducing, to one single year, that it was prolonged in the following Session for a period which has very long expired, and that this is the position in which the clergy and the landlords of Ireland stand at the present moment—by the lapse of time, every landlord is gradually becoming liable to the payment, not of 70, but of 100 per cent. When hon. Gentlemen tell us that we will not make these deductions, having for their object the relief of the unhappy and destitute peasantry of Ireland, I reply that we are ready to impose any reasonable deduction on the clergy. But the noble Lord says, that the most unfair course is taken by the clergy of Ireland—that they are the persons who are now interposing, and that they do so merely from a grasping determination not to sacrifice the last farthing that they can retain in their possession. The noble Lord has to-night exhibited, I must say, very great ingenuity; for he has spoken on the question of appropriation for nearly two hours, and, at the end of his speech, I defy any hon. Gentleman in the House to determine whether, in the mind of the noble Lord, the principle of appropriation is or is not abandoned. The hon. Baronet (Sir W. Somerville), who spoke with great force and earnestness on the same side, gave you in the course of his speech, a description of the wretched mode in which the Roman Catholic chapels have been crowded by persons who could not find accommodation in them, and asked if those persons were to be compelled to pay the tithes of the Irish Protestant Church. What said the hon. Baronet? Why, the legitimate conclusion from his observations is this, that the poor Church being the majority ought to be the rich Church; ["No, no," from Sir W. Somerville.] that because the rich Church is in the minority you ought to transfer from the Church of 1246 the minority to the Church of the majority. ["No, no!" "Yes, yes!]. If hon. Gentlemen will be patient, and will allow me, I think I can show that the legitimate construction to be put on what the hon. Baronet said is, you should take the property from the Protestant Church, and make it the property the Catholic Church of Ireland ["No, no!"]. The hon. Baronet says, he asked for no such thing. "What we do ask for," says the hon. Baronet, "is this, that we should have the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table; that we should have applied to the purposes of the Roman Catholics the surplus beyond what is required for the spiritual wants of the Protestants of Ireland." That is the demand made by the hon. Baronet opposite, and, be it observed, after hearing the speech, and after hearing the resolutions of the noble Lord. My hon. Friend on the opposite side who has just sat down has broadly and distinctly declared, that there is no principle of appropriation whatever in the resolutions of the noble Lord which are now before the House. He said, that the resolution of 1835 was not in this attempted to be carried into effect. The noble Lord himself will hardly contend that it is. The resolution which was passed in 1835 declared, that any surplus beyond that which was required for the wants of the Protestant Church should be devoted to the purposes of education, without any reference to the religious persuasion of those who were to be educated. A further resolution of the noble Lord affirmed, that no plan could be final, nor satisfactory, for the settlement of the tithe question, which did not embody that resolution. These were the resolutions which the noble Lord prepared in 1835. Now, the more that the noble Lord proves, that in his present resolutions there is no principle of appropriation of the surplus, the more necessary is it, that the resolution of my hon. Friend, the hon. Baronet, be agreed to, and the resolution rescinded which denies the possibility of a settlement of the tithe question without embodying in it the appropriation principle. The noble Lord and the hon. Gentlemen opposite are placed in this dilemma, and I defy them to get out of it. Either the resolutions now proposed include the objectionable principle of applying to secular purposes the revenues of the Church, or they do not. If they do, then it is a principle which the noble Lord is perfectly aware, 1247 that Gentlemen sitting upon this side of the House never will give their assent to. He knows, that no proposition founded upon such a principle can lead to a settlement of the tithe question. If, then, the resolutions do not include that appropriation principle, and the noble Lord has declared that they do not, he has avowed, then, that this is a settlement which does not contain a principle without which he has already declared, that no plan for settling of the tithe question can be either satisfactory or final. Is it, then, too much to ask of the noble Lord, when he invites us to an amicable settlement, to beg of him at once not to stultify himself as well as us. He has laid down, in a resolution, that there can be no satisfactory settlement without a certain principle being agreed to. We ask of him to rescind a resolution which declares, that the settlement he is now proposing cannot be final. The hon. Gentleman who has last spoken has certainly started an unexpected difficulty in this matter, and one which cannot easily be got rid of. The hon. Gentleman has said, that he did not think, that it was open for us to rescind the principle of appropriation, for if we did rescind the principle of Lord John Russell, yet there must still remain the Act of Richard the 2nd, in which that principle is enforced. Now, I tell the hon. Gentleman, I am quite willing and quite prepared to split the difference with him, if he will consent to rescind Lord John Russell's resolution, I am prepared to give him all the benefit of the statute of Richard the 2nd. Then the only reason that the noble Lord can have for maintaining his former resolutions is, that there is some distinction between them and one of the resolutions to which I wish now to call the attention of the House, and of which he or his Friends may on a fitter occasion turn to a serviceable purpose. The sixth resolution runs thus:—"That it is the opinion of this Committee, that the rent-charges for ecclesiastical tithe should be appropriated by law to certain local charges now defrayed out of the consolidated fund and to education, the surplus to form part of the consolidated fund." I very well know, that upon an examination into this resolution, it will not be found to contain the appropriation principle. I know, that it is the mere imposition of a new charge upon the consolidated fund. I know, that the rent-charges are to come into one hand of the consolidated fund, and that they are to be 1248 paid out of the consolidated fund with the other. This was the plain and manifest object and intention of the resolution, and I cannot see the necessity for wrapping it up in the words which are to be found in the sixth resolution. It is merely intended, that the consolidated fund shall certainly pay, as it does now, and that a charge shall certainly be applied to the purposes of Irish education. But why does the noble Lord use a form of words which cover the appropriation principle? Is it to satisfy, to gull, or to delude, those who honestly support that principle? Is it to "keep the word of promise to the ear, and break it to the sense"?—or is it for the purpose of preserving it for some ulterior step to be brought forward, and when it may be declared, that there shall be an appropriation of Church property to secular purposes?—is it, that the noble Lord may be able to point to this resolution, and tell those who sit on this side of the House, "You, on a former occasion, consented to the rent-charges being made applicable to the maintenance of the police, and to the bestowal of education in Ireland, and do you now pretend to raise a question upon the principle of the appropriation of ecclesiastical revenues to secular objects. I cannot divest my mind of the decided impression, that it was for the purpose of entrapping Gentlemen upon this side of the House, by their being honestly convinced, that the appropriation principle was not contained in these resolutions, that this resolution has been put into a form of words of which use might hereafter be made. As these resolutions are now proposed, are they, I ask, prepared in Ireland to adopt them as a final settlement of the question? The hon. Member for Dublin, after these resolutions appeared, published, as is his wont, an address to the people of Ireland respecting them. He declared, that he assented to much that was in the resolutions; he declared, too, his readiness to assent to them for the sake of peace, while he objected to some of them; but this, he said, was the great recommendation to him of the resolutions, that the plan contained in them did afford to him the ground-work and the basis for further reductions, as it contained a principle which might be advantageously carried out. The noble Lord has referred to au engagement which has been entered into. I am not disposed to swerve from any engagement. The noble Lord has stated, that a noble Duke, in 1249 another place, intimated last year his willingness to consider this and another party question connected with Ireland on a principle of mutual concession, neither party insisting upon extreme views. The noble Lord, also, has told us, that when he consented to postpone the corporation question until after the Tithe Bill and the Poor-law had been disposed of, that he could not believe, that the friends of the noble Duke would have proposed to rescind the resolutions to which the Ministers were parties. Now, a word or two as to the proceedings of the noble Lord upon those questions. Does the noble Lord recollect, that before the Easter recess my right hon. Friend, the Member for Tamworth suggested to him the extreme necessity of postponing the Municipal Bill until the question of tithes was disposed of, and when the noble Lord appeared to hesitate as to that course, he gave notice that he would make a motion, that the question (that of tithes) should take precedence of the other; and about a week after that time the noble Lord acted on the suggestion of my right hon. Friend, but even while acting upon it took distinct care to inform the House that he was by no means acting in consequence of that recommendation from my right hon. Friend. ["No, no."] I was present at the time. The noble Lord did postpone the question until after Easter. He certainly allowed the Municipal Bill to rest, and the other Bill to take precedence of it. The noble Lord declared, that he did not act in accordance with the suggestion of my hon. Friend. ["No, no."] I state this from my own recollection; but, however, I do not wish to press this point, for it is not one of very great importance. But, then, the noble Lord has spoken of an agreement or understanding entered into or implied by the Duke of Wellington. It is a matter of much importance, on account of the high station which the noble Duke deservedly holds with his country, that there should be no misunderstanding with respect to his expressions. I now ask the noble Lord will he pretend, then, to tell me that the Duke of Wellington, at any time, or under any circumstances, held out the hope, that he would be a party to any agreement in which it was stipulated that the appropriation clause should be persevered in? If an agreement were come to upon this question, must not the very basis of that agreement be the abandonment of the appropriation clause? and 1250 if it be abandoned, as it seems to be implied it is, by abandoning these resolutions, then I say, that the manly, the straightforward, and the frank way of abandoning it would be, not to bring in ambiguous resolutions, which may be tortured into one shape, or into another, but to cone forward and to say frankly, "We wish to settle this question, and, relying upon the honour of a noble personage, who has stated his wish to have it settled, we are anxious to join him in doing so; and in order that he may be sure we mean exactly to fulfil the compact, we, with that understanding with him, frankly rescind a resolution which stands in the way of a fair and just settlement of the question?" Does the noble Lord pretend not to know the beneficial effects which the rescinding of that resolution would have? Does be not know, that the minds of the clergymen of Ireland will be disturbed, and their fears excited, as long as he keeps that resolution hanging over their heads, and that rescinding it, they would consent to a settlement proposed by him, even though the greatest pecuniary sacrifices might fall upon them? Does he not know, that the greatest objection to the introduction of the Municipal Bill into Ireland rests upon this? for before that measure is consented to, it is desired to see greater security given to the Church. The noble Lord declines to withdraw his resolution. It remains, then, over the heads of the clergy; it fetters legislation, and it places a vast gulf between him and us. We oppose it, because it may lead to and facilitate ulterior views. The noble Lord has much misrepresented the position of the clergy of Ireland. It is their interest that the settlement of the question may be suspended. It is so considered. I have to remind the noble Lord, that for the pecuniary interests of the clergy, if their conscientious feelings were not excited, that the inducement for them to come to a settlement must, year after year, become with them more and more feeble. The sacrifice which they are called upon to make of their just rights, must, year after year, become less; while upon those who have to pay tithe, those upon whom the payment of tithes devolves, must every year become greater. The noble Lord has not the means for the settlement of this question without the assent of the body of Gentlemen who sit upon this side of the House. Some years ago he held out the threat of starving the clergy. He 1251 knows the wants that have been inflicted upon them, and they now prefer having the means of legal protection all in their own hands. Year after year they are coming into the peaceable possession of their rights, and they request to be let alone. This is their desire—I think unwisely: for I desire an immediate settlement; but, for the purpose of a settlement, I never can consent to the recommendation, the adoption, or the renewal, of a principle which is vicious and intolerable. And the noble Lord treats with contempt the idea of an abstract resolution being made to stop a great measure; nay, he has even talked of my hon. Friend being actuated by factious motives, and also of his being instigated by his diocesan. The noble Lord has expressed his wonder at an abstract question preventing the passing of a great measure, and he has cavilled at it, as intended to do that which it is not, to effect a political change—nay, even the noble Lord has sneered at the occurrence of a political dinner occurring shortly before such an abstract question being introduced. Whatever validity there may be in these objections, it is certainly not from the noble Lord that I expected to hear them. The noble Lord cannot have forgotten that of which the hon. Member for Roscommon has reminded the House, that the resolutions which are now before the House are very much in substance the same as the bill proposed by the right hon. and gallant Member for Launceston, when Secretary for Ireland, and, therefore, that nothing could be more unfair, when there is a question before the House, of which it has acknowledged the importance, that it should be opposed by an abstract resolution. I give to the noble Lord the full benefit of that argument, though the resolution of 1835 had the effect, not the intention, of course, of overthrowing the Administration. That resolution, which was an abstract resolution, and which was made to precede and prevent an unobjectionable measure—I say an unobjectionable measure, because it did not contain that principle which the Government measure does not now contain either. That resolution preceded or followed a political dinner, and that resolution was an abstract resolution, whereas this, so far from being an abstract resolution, is one that it is most desirable to debate for the purpose of showing how necessary it is to remove an incumbrance out of our way; for it is impossible to 1252 come to a satisfactory decision upon the tithe question with the resolution of the noble Lord before us. I, for one, declare, that I am for a settlement of the tithe question; and if that resolution be rescinded, I am ready forthwith to enter into a discussion of the noble Lord's resolutions, and with every disposition to make every fair concession to the noble Lord. And what I desire, and what I have always expressed my desire to do, and which I shall now do, is this—I shall not cease labouring to bring the question to a satisfactory settlement; but a settlement satisfactory with respect to the principles of justice and of truth.
§ Viscount Morpeth
I know how great must be my disadvantage when I present myself to follow the noble Lord who has just sat down—Infelix puer, atque impar congressus Achilli;but if anything could have diminished this feeling upon my part, or if there be any question on which I could have followed the noble Lord with less hesitation or diffidence, I believe that the Church of Ireland is the very ground which I should choose, and particularly so, when I remember the doctrine which the noble Lord has laid down with respect to that Church, and to ecclesiastical property. The noble Lord has maintained, that if every minister of that Church were swept from the face of Ireland, we ought still to preserve its revenues entire and undiminished. The noble Lord has charged my noble Friend who opened this debate, and her Majesty's Government generally, with the intention to entrap the unwary; he has said, that my noble Friend has left the House quite in the dark with respect to the terms and the principles on which the resolutions and the measures to be grounded on them were to stand; and the hon. Baronet, who has moved the amendment, has, in the course of his speech, also charged the Ministers with a desire to mystify the House. I own that I think, that the trap baiting has been all used on the other side of the House. That is, however, a very unimportant matter, and I pass on to what the noble Lord has made not an immaterial part of this debate—the position or order in which the measures have been brought forward. I distinctly remember, being in my place when my noble Friend, not admitting the dependence which one measure had upon the other, yet wishing to avoid a party con- 1253 test upon a point which could lead to no beneficial issue, declared his willingness to give the discussion on tithes a precedence over that on the Municipal Bill for Ireland. But as a charge has been made of a disposition to entrap votes on both sides of the House, and to recommend the measure respecting tithes to one party by manifesting a disposition to give up the appropriation principle, while the other was to be deluded by pointing to the words in the resolution, I feel that although my noble Friend has already dwelt, very clearly, on the main principles of the resolutions, yet, for the purpose of not leaving any room for cavil, nor allowing any resort to subterfuge, I shall state shortly the drift and pith of the resolutions, and then come to the question, whether the House will do well in following the counsels of the hon. Member for Devonshire to neglect the resolutions of 1838, and proceed to rescind the resolution of 1835. I believe that none can be disposed to dissent from this proposition, that it would be most desirable to put an end to all disputes between clergymen and their parishioners. This must be admitted to be desirable in all cases; but still more expressly desirable when the parties differ in creed from each other, and when the subject of collision has been the prolific source for so long a time of disputes and animosities. We propose by our resolutions, and by the measures intended to be founded on them, to effect this, and to impose the liability which is still borne by the occupier of the land on the owner, subject, however, to a deduction from the full amount by reason of the new liability which is imposed upon him. We think, however, and we have reason to apprehend that some of the landlords have already found it to their cost, that the feeling of the Irish people against the payment of tithes would pursue them when mixed up with the rent of the landlord. We propose to remedy this by putting the tithes, as far as either the owners or occupiers are concerned, entirely out of sight, and by making the payments which the landlords have to pay in lieu of composition for tithes, and for which, of course, they seek to be reimbursed from their tenants—applicable to purposes in no way connected with any subject of popular irritation or discontent; but, on the contrary, only applicable to purposes on which every class of the population, and, most of all, the humblest, are closely interested and concerned. So far as respects the operation of our plan, so far as money 1254 payments are concerned, and as concerns the owners and occupiers. And be it observed, that our plan does not, in these respects, substantially differ from any of the preceding bills for the last three or four years both of the present and of the past Governments. Then, with respect to the payments made to the clergy. As the resolutions at present stand, and as they were introduced by my noble Friend, it is proposed that the clergy shall receive their allotted income, seven tenths of the tithe-composition, or the 70 per cent. of the last three bills that have been introduced into Parliament, as long as they think proper, from the public treasury; and this, to my no little astonishment, and to the reversal of all my previous calculations and expectations, has been made the chief gravamen of the charge, the main rock of offence, upon which the opposition and the clamour of the Church against the present scheme has been raised, because the future annual income of the clergy is no more to be paid by reluctant landlords or resisting tenants, but, instead of this, they are to receive it by punctual dividends from the consolidated fund of the empire, upon which, by positive course of law, it is proposed to be settled. But we do not stop here. After what has fallen from my noble Friend with respect to the delusion, the utter ignorance with which it is sought to represent that this payment is, one to be made by annual payments from the votes of this House out of the estimates of the current year, I need not repeat the surprise excited by such statements as are contained in the petition of the clergy of the diocese of Armagh, who state, that these resolutions will strip the Church of her possessions, and reduce the clergy to the condition of pensioners, whose claims will be liable to be yearly investigated under the specious pretence of a public saving. [Cheers from the Opposition.] The right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Shaw, we believe) cheers that expression. I must say, that I think that the clergy of Armagh might have derived from the inspiration of the primate himself, who constitutes the highest link between the Church and State, more precise and correct information on this subject. The statement to which I allude, and to which the clergy have given credence, is that the stipends of the clergy of Ireland would be paid by votes come to yearly in this House upon annual estimates. I will read the words of the petitioners; they said 1255 that "the measure would reduce the clergy to the condition of pensioners, whose claims would be made the subject of yearly investigation." Is not this intended to imply, that by the mode of paying the clergy, proposed by her Majesty's Ministers, they will be put on such a footing that their affairs will be annually brought under the cognizance of Parliament? Now, what are the facts? It is proposed to place the clergy on the footing guaranteed to them by the State—on the same footing as the judges of the realm—on the same footing as the great officers of State, and on the same footing as that on which the civil list of the Crown itself is by law settled, regulated, and guaranteed. We propose to do this by Act of Parliament, nor can that Act be reversed but by the joint consent of King, Lords, and Commons, embodied in a subsequent Act of Parliament thus putting the Church revenues on the same footing, and to be held on the same tenure, as every farthing of its possessions, is held at this moment. Is this a state of gross hardship, of bitter injustice, of degradation, and of coercion under which is proposed to subject the clergy of Ireland to the insult of receiving a prompt, full, and certain receipt of their lawful dues from the public treasury—is this state too, one under which we propose to leave them, without the prospect of a termination or the hope of redress? The plan which we introduce, enacts that in the case of all future incumbents of Church livings, and we make it optional in the case of all present incumbents, subject only to such limitations as may seem advisable to secure the easy redemption and investment of so large an amount of money—we make it optional for present incumbents, and enact that in the case of all future incumbents, the state shall redeem the payments from the consolidated fund, and shall invest the purchase-money either in land, or whatever other securities the ecclesiastical Commissioners, or such other body as it shall be reckoned right to appoint for the aid and benefit of the clergy, shall think most advantageous, desirable, and lucrative. And what are the terms on which we propose to make this investment? We propose that the money shall be redeemed at sixteen years' purchase. This is not a proposition, I boldly contend, which can be considered unfairly pressing on the clergy, or one dictated by a spirit inimical to the interests of the Church of Ireland. My noble Friend (Lord John Russell) has 1256 alluded to the opinion formerly expressed by the noble Lord who preceded me in the debate, an opinion expressed in the Committee which sat on this subject in 1832, long before this vexatious question of appropriation was raised. What was the report of that Committee, and what were their recommendations? The report contained these words:—There seems, then, no alternative but that the State should lend its aid, and having purchased the rights of the clergy, become itself the proprietor and collector of the perpetual assessment substituted for tithe. If this be admitted, the actual amount of the tithe now collected does not effect the progress of the argument, and, without any attempt at accuracy, it may be taken for granted that the gross composition, if it extended over the whole of Ireland, would be about 600,000l The composition being about 600,000l., if sold at sixteen years' purchase, would produce a sum of 9,600,000l. The question, then, to be asked is, whether it would be for the interest of the landlords or of the State to purchase the perpetual land-tax of 600,000l. at sixteen years' purchase. Supposing that none of the landlords should redeem, and that the whole arrangement must be conducted by the Government, the sum required to be raised would be, as before, 9,600,000l. The sum would be raised by Government on still more advantageous terms than by the landlord, probably at three and a half per cent., leaving a gross surplus annually of 264,000l., subject to the charges of collection.The noble Lord (Stanley) was not then quite so alarmed at a surplus as at present. The noble Lord did not then contend that any provision should be made for the clergy on a footing more advantageous than ours. We propose the investment, not, be it observed, of the reduced rent-charge of seventy per cent., but of the original 100 per cent. at sixteen years' purchase. Again, in 1835, the hon. and gallant Member for Launceston (Sir H. Hardinge), who then held the position in which I now unworthily stand, brought forward his plan for the regulation of tithes in Ireland, and what did he say? He said—To purchase 100l. of composition under the bill which I propose to introduce, assuming it to be taken at twenty years' purchase, it will require the sum of 1,500l., while by the bill of last year it would have required at the lowest rate 1,650l. The highest price for the purchase for the redemption of 100l. of composition would have been 1850l., and the average 1,750l., so that by my bill the landlord will, on the average, gain 250 on the redemption of every 100l. of composition, at an addition of 1257 two and a half years' purchase, in addition to the premium of twenty-five per cent.Thus it appears that the hon. and gallant Baronet intended to make his terms of redemption fifteen years' purchase, whereas we propose sixteen years. After this, I must say, I should have thought that if any attack were to be made upon us, it would have been on very different grounds, and from a very opposite quarter. We might expect to hear objections raised in the debates on this proposition that we were doing more for the Church than you yourselves by your own arguments, and statements, and principles laid ground for. We might be told, that we were giving up a principle for which we have battled; and if that cry shall be raised, I can only say that I shall be happy to meet it when it is. In this explanation of the conduct of the Government, I merely wish to state that having once plainly laid down that principle which we think proper, expedient, and just—having done what in us lay, not once, not twice, but in repeated instances, and in a series of bills that would have carried that principle into effect—having done that, I am willing to admit, in the face of and in spite of much opposition and much public inconvenience, we have been willing to try, after so much of failure, which we admit and deplore—we are willing to try whether, by making a more comprehensive change in the existing system, by taking a wider range, by removing everything connected with the payment of tithe out of sight both of the occupier and of the owner of the land, by removing everything connected with the collection of that obnoxious impost from the soil of Ireland—after, too, what we fondly and credulously thought an encouragement and an invitation held out from the highest and most illustrious quarter opposite, we have been and are willing to try whether we could not, by the measure which my noble Friend has laid on the table, bring to a termination the present unhappy state of irritation and suspense, and place the question on a footing which, although it might not be wholly satisfactory to any party, should nevertheless be generally acquiesced in; and which, if we had been met with anything of the spirit of fair compromise and the desire of conciliation, would have effected the settlement of this question, and would have restored the country to that state of peace and repose for which in this debatable territory the combatants have been so long sighing. 1258 I protest in the face of man, and still more solemnly, that this was our simple and single object in bringing forward the measure which we have laid upon your table, although we know that in doing so, we must be exposing ourselves to much of obloquy and misrepresentation. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) taunts us with seeking concealment and endeavouring to entrap the unwary, and with using misrepresentations. As the resolutions stand at present, I am sure any one who has given his attention to the subject will see, that they make no pretence of asserting the principle of appropriation, because we did hope, in the face of the difficulties that environed the question, and in the hope of obtaining a satisfactory solution and termination of it, that when we removed the cause of irritation from the sore place we should ensure a corresponding benefit; but the amendment of the hon. Baronet has given a new turn to the whole question, and to our entire course. The noble Lord the Member for Lancashire (Lord Stanley) says if you do not by your measure carry out the principle of appropriation, why not consent to rescind the resolutions. My noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) has quoted many instances in which resolutions were still allowed to remain on the journals of the House, and were not considered to interfere with subsequent measures taken in despite of them. In former years, it was proposed on the other side to adopt the amendments made by the other House in Irish tithe bills, so as to pass a measure divested of the appropriation clause, and yet no effort was made to get rid of the obnoxious resolution. It is difficult to hit the taste and fancy of the Gentlemen opposite. When we bring forward a bill with the appropriation as our principle they revolt from it—they would sooner perish than pass it; and when we bring forward a bill without appropriation, they say they will not consider—they will first make us eat our own words. They show as plainly as ever yet was shown that their object is not the peaceable and harmonious settlement of this question—a question which agitates and distracts and convulses the country, which exposes the population of Ireland to sanguinary collisions, and too many clergymen to the most pitiable destitution. But what does the amendment of the hon. Baronet propose to do? It is not merely to rescind a solemn act of a former Parliament, it is not merely 1259 to nullify the formal declaration of opinion in which the great majority of those on this side of the House concurred, but it is to make an admission, as necessarily must be done, that those resolutions were founded on wrong grounds and were inspired by vicious principles. It is, in other words, to proclaim that the Church of Ireland with its present duties and its present revenues rests upon a footing that is perfectly just, proper, and expedient; that it would be impolicy to disturb, and sacrilege to diminish them. I must beg leave to ask the House, as this question has been forced upon us by those who consider themselves the friends and the steady supporters of the Church, as we have sometimes the courtesy to call them and they have the simplicity to believe themselves—I must ask what is this Church, what are the duties, and what are the revenues, to assert the inviolability of which we are called upon, forsaking practical steps into which the hon. Baronet who moved the amendment confessed that he had not condescended to look for the sake of committing ourselves to this useless and abstract demonstration? I do not wish, and I am far from intending, after the many occasions upon which I have been called upon to go into this question to open the whole case of the Church of Ireland; but as the inquiry has been put to me, I must remind the House that from the population returns to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Lefroy) referred, it appears that the population of Ireland, at the last enumeration, was 7,943,940. Of these the Established Church numbers 852,664 persons, or I do not mind giving a million. The Prebyterians number 642,356; the other Protestant dissenters amount to 21,808 persons, and the Roman Catholics number 6,427,712 persons. And what is the distribution of the incomes of the several persuasions? The Established Church, of 852,664 persons, has at present an annual income amounting to, in round numbers, 800,000l.; the Presbyterian church, with its 642,356 persons, receives between 20,000l and 30,000l.; whilst the remaining portion, the 6,427,712 Roman Catholics, do not receive a single stiver of the public money. Is it then on behalf of the inviolability of this specimen of ecclesiastical polity that the chivalry of the opposite benches is to be called out to check the progress of legislation, and to encumber and blast the hopes of an amicable arrangement. In conse- 1260 quence of difficulties which we are unable to surmount, and from a desire of doing that which appears to promise a happier state of things, we do not insist on the principle of appropriation, but we refuse our assent to the amendment of the hon. Baronet, because we think it lays down an unfounded claim and establishes an improper inference. I refuse my assent to it because I believe, that the system of ecclesiastical polity of which, in coming forward this night, the hon. Baronet shows himself an ardent defender, is not congenial to the rights nor suitable to the interests of the people—because I believe, that it is not founded either in conventional policy or in natural justice, and because I believe, that its authority is not derived from the highest source of all rights, all interests, all policy, and all justice—the inspired records. I call on the House to place, side by side, the arguments used by hon. Gentlemen for the maintenance of the Church Establishment of England, and for the extension of Church provision in Scotland, with the absolute refusal given by them even to suffer an abstract resolution to remain on the books, to provide for the spiritual destitution of an immense mass of the population of Ireland, by the payment of one single farthing from those costly revenues which the piety of former ages dedicated to the religious wants of the nation. The arguments of the Gentlemen opposite seem, in my eyes, to be marked with the most glaring inconsistency or the most shallow hypocrisy. It is as one country saying to its sister and co-ordinate country, "You are a conquered nation, and my religion shall be yours"—it is as one man saying to his fellow-creature," My opinion is sounder than yours, and you shall either profess it or starve." I admit, for one, that both in the proposition of this year as well as in the propositions of former years—we do concede much of abstract argument, that we do fall short of the natural conclusions which from some of our premises might be deduced. Yes, and do none of you do that? I admit, that some of my premises would admit of the propriety of making provision for the Roman Catholic clergy. We do not bring forward this, we do not intend to bring it forward, nor do I think, there is any probability of such a proposition being brought forward. But is such an intention or opinion confined to us? Did not the hon. Baronet, the mover of your amendment, this evening tell us, that this was his 1261 opinion, and was it not by a distinguished Member of the Opposition that that proposition was first brought forward? By the scheme we now propose we offer to do more than ever was done before, and to give up more than ever was conceded before, in order to effect an amicable settlement of this question. That is our view, spirit, and intention. But, no! a party struggle must be waged—a party vote must be given. Your expiring and flickering chance of a majority must undergo another risk, and the ground you have chosen for your appeal is the inviolable, inalienable, condition of the revenues and duties of the Church of Ireland. Well, then in that case I do not hesitate to take up your gage, and though the noble Lord may here or elsewhere be ready to cry, "Up guards, and at them!" upon this, the noble Lord's favourite ground of the Church of Ireland, as put in issue on the motion of the hon. Baronet to rescind the resolutions of 1835, I take up the challenge he has given with as firm a front, and as fearless a confidence, as even he can muster, and may the truth prevail and prosper!
§ Debate adjourned.