§ MR. STAFFORD
said, he had intended to have presented certain petitions that evening, but he should now have to present them at a future stage of the Bill. He 221 would now, with the permission of the House, proceed at once to the more difficult and onerous task which he had under taken, that of moving that the Bill be read a second time that day six months; and it must he conceded by all hon. Members who were conversant with the debates of the House, whatever might be the opinions which they might entertain on the measure now submitted for their consideration, that any one who rose to address the House on the subject laboured under two of the greatest disadvantages that ever constituted a claim upon its indulgence. In the first place, the subject was one on which the arguments were so very few, and the ground so very limited and so frequently traversed, that no novelty of treatment could be reasonably expected; and in the next place, the arguments them selves were of so sacred a nature, that if they were not interwoven with the character of the Bill itself, he should most reluctantly approach them in the course of the discussion. Although the House had seen a number of petitions presented on this subject, yet those who recollected the number of petitions presented when other similar religious questions were involved, would not fail to remark that the petitions presented that night were comparatively few when considered with reference to the number of petitions presented about Maynooth and other similar subjects. In proportion, then, as the pressure from without was small, the House must consider the question as one of abstract principle. It would be necessary for him to travel over again the ground which had already been traversed, lest it might be said that he and those with whom he acted had seen the unsoundness of their arguments, and had yielded to conviction. The question before the House was not one of religious persecution, and was not even one of religious toleration. These two questions were decided when the Legislature determined that everybody, of whatever religious per suasion he might be, should be at liberty to attend religious worship and hold religious opinions without let or hindrance by the State. The question for present decision was, whether the House should continue to hold that the possession of certain religious opinions, or of no religious opinions, ought to operate as a political disqualification. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had placed the case of the Jews on what he called the broad basis of religious liberty, and he called 222 their political disfranchisement "the last remnant of religious persecution;" and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford protested against any particular period of our history being chosen as the date of our constitution, both agreeing in thus much, namely, that the whole of our history had been consistent with itself as to the maintenance of a policy whose last remnant we were now called on to remove. He agreed in the main with both these opinions; but he thought that to narrow this question within the limits of this is land, or to date back no earlier than from Magna Charta downwards, was to under rate its importance, and to deny it a just amplitude of discussion. If he ventured, therefore, to assign to that system, whose last remnant they were called on to remove, a far wider field than England, and a far earlier date than Magna Charta, and if in support of such a view he was obliged to touch upon sacred and awful subjects, they would believe that he was not actuated by any feelings of irreverence, far less by any Pharisaic arrogance, which not only would there be miserably misplaced, but which was, he trusted, abhorrent to his nature. As soon as Christianity emerged from her dens and hiding places, and was called to embrace nations within her pale, it was believed that the new principles upon which she based her morality must be thoroughly incorporated with legislation, must be completely interwoven with all the customs and usages of life, with all the edicts which restrained the bad, with all the covenants that bound society together, with all the punishments that awaited the guilty, and with all the rewards that consecrated ambition; so that whether in its ministers or its mysteries, its ceremonies, its martyrs, its saints, or its truths, the question was never within how narrow limits they could draw up their religion, but how far, how wide, they could dif fuse its salutary waters. As all law, there fore, and all usage, did theoretically rest, not merely on religious but on Christian sanctions, any difference of opinion as to those sanctions was considered not merely as a sin against their great Teacher, but also as a treason against society. True it was that great crimes were committed in this zeal for religious truth; true it was that in its exaggeration it depressed the energies of the human mind; that the wicked traded on it, and that the frivolous trifled with it; but still he was not ashamed to declare that, in the early struggles of Chris- 223 tianity with the last forms of heathenism and through rough and unlettered ages, they owed to it far more titan they were either willing to acknowledge, or even to appreciate; and, even as it was said that the rival vices were each other's present foes, so he believed that zeal was a far better extreme, if extreme there must be, than to which this age was tending; and he agreed with that French writer who, in the beginning of his Essay on Indifference, said—The age which is most to be pitied is not the age which is fanatic for error, but the age which neglects or despises the truth.We were now come to such a state that the last of three questions with reference to those who disagreed with us in religion must he answered by the House. The first question which they had to ask was, "Shall we persecute them?" that is, "Shall we imprison them? shall we torture them? shall we execute them?" That question would, at least in every Protestant, and he trusted in every Christian, country, be answered in the negative. The next question which would arise was, "Shall we, having ceased to persecute them, and having granted them tolerance, connivance, and sufferance, permit them to exercise the administration of the laws enacted by ourselves?" He could see no reason why there should be any distinction between these two descriptions of civil privileges; and there fore the question came to this—"Shall we admit them, not only to administer, but to assist us in the enactment of laws?" Till now that question had been answered in the negative. It was no answer to the opponents of this measure to say that Parliament had been a Church of England Parliament, next a Protestant Parliament, and was now a Christian Parliament. The question, when the circum stances incidental to those changes were discussed, had always been, whether the differences between ourselves and either Protestant or Romanist Dissenters were deep enough to go to the very root of legislature, to affect its whole character, to change its elementary ideas; not whether we should become, or, at all events, proclaim, ourselves indifferent to Christian ethics, but whether or no Christian ethics did not include those brother Christians whom we excluded; and however, with regard to Romanists, the question of foreign allegiance, or, with regard to Dissenters, the security of the Established Church, 224 may have entered into this discussion, it never did enter in such a manner as to affect his present arguments. Till now, they had, ever since the conversion of this island to Christianity, recognised the philosophy, the morality, the ethics, of the New Testament as the basis of all our legislation; and whether they had deposed their monarchs, changed their forms of government, or separated themselves from Popes, still they had declared that the teaching of Him who taught on the Mount—of Him who corrected and contradicted so much of what was "said by them of old time"—of Him who "spoke with authority, and not as the Scribes," was the teaching they were prepared to follow. This was the great acknowledgment and profession they made, as a nation, when they, as a nation, abandoned idolatry, and before sects and differences arose among them. This had been the great acknowledgment and profession which had survived all their differences, and which, in the whole history of this country, was never contravened till the question was brought forward. It was remarkable that it was now proposed to divest our Legislature of its Christianity, for a nation whose polity was eminently theocratic. It was con tended that there was no harm in this, because the numbers in whose favour the change was proposed to be made were but few. This appeared to him to be but little better than an insult to those respecting whom such an argument was held. But it was said that this was the last remnant of religious persecution. Now, on looking over the notices for the day after to-morrow, he found the hon. Member for Limerick intended to move that the Lord Chancellorship of Ireland should be open to Roman Catholics. He did not wish to anticipate the discussion which would follow that Motion; but he would venture to predict that that also would be called the last remnant of religious persecution. It must be remembered that, in the eye of the law, the Lord Chancellor was the keeper of the conscience of the Sovereign; and if it were admitted that the Lord Chancellor might be a Roman Catholic, on what ground could any one maintain the exclusion from the throne of these realms of any person professing the Roman Catholic religion also? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) had said that he should deeply regret that the pious and good custom of opening the proceedings of that House with prayer should be 225 discontinued. Now, he (Mr. Stafford) would assume that a member of the Jewish persuasion had taken his seat, and he would call attention to a form of that House, which might be ridiculous, but which was at present in force. He would call attention to the forms of the House as they existed; but if those forms were considered ridiculous, and the House were prepared to enter into a discussion of those forms, let it be boldly and vigorously done at once. Well, then, if the Jewish Member should be anxious to secure a place to address the House, he (Mr. Stafford) would ask, what ought he to do? Why, he must go down to attend prayer. [A laugh.] He could quite well understand that laugh; it was not only a blameless laugh, but it was a consistent laugh in those hon. Gentlemen who wished to vote for this Bill. Those who wished to secure a place must write their names on a card; and what were the two words printed in capitals upon that card? He merely alluded to this in order that it might be known out of doors. Why, the words were, "AT PRAYER;" and he would ask how the name of Lionel de Rothschild could ever fill up the blank underneath these words? If the blank could be so filled up, then he could only say that the rule was an absurdity, and the sooner it was done away with the better. But probably Baron Rothschild would come down and say—"I came in at that time because the Prime Minister of England, in his place, declared that religion had nothing to do with politics, and because the Legislature of England has sanctioned that principle; therefore I came in, and religion having nothing to do with politics, I ask if politics have anything to do with religion? Why do you require me, in order to secure a seat, to attend the worship of Him whom I deem an impostor? I do not ask you to substitute the prayers of the Synagogue for the prayers of the Church; but I ask you to carry out your own principles." If they were going to remove the last remnant of religious persecution, he (Mr. Stafford) would call attention to another grievance seriously affecting that body of religionists in whose behalf it was proposed to legislate. The Jews were compelled to observe the Christian Sabbath as well as their own. Was Parliament, he would ask, prepared to give up Sunday—one of the few remnants of our national religion? Let them ask their hardiest criminals how those criminals commenced their career, and the answer would he, "by neglecting 226 Sunday." He would ask if they were prepared to see England the same as much-lauded France, where Sunday was given up? He had himself seen the shops in Paris open on the Sunday the same as other days; and were they prepared to introduce the system here? There was one other point having reference to this matter on which he must touch. It was with great pain that he ventured to allude to it, but the words must be uttered. It had been asked what, after all, was the great difference between the Christian and the Jew? And that question had been asked and amplified on in a manner which could not have escaped the recollection of the House. His answer was this—A Jewish peasant changed the religion of the world. When that Jewish peasant was brought before the Jewish people, the cry of that people was, "We will not have this man to reign over us." Since that time, from nation after nation, from century after century, through all the vicissitudes incidental to the struggles and conflicts of the human race, the cry had gone up from earth to heaven, "We will have this man to reign over us—we accept the splendid apparatus of prophecy and miracles with which his mission has been announced, and attested as a proof of his glorious God-head; obedient to his rule we desire to live; strong in his faith we trust to die." And, Sir, concede what we may, maintain what we will, the distinction must exist immeasurable and eternal between those who look upon the cross of Christ as the fit punishment of a convicted malefactor, and us who, amid all our differences and all our faults, still cling to that cross as our best hope of happiness here, and our only hope of happiness hereafter. He then moved that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
§ LORD BURGHLEY
seconded the Amendment. The question (said the noble Lord), though it appears to me to admit but of very few arguments on either side, is yet one of no trivial nature; it is one on the result of which is to depend whether this Legislature is henceforth to be a Christian one or not; it is a question as to whether it be right or wrong that we admit Jews into Parliament. I wonder that the fact of his being obliged to alter the oath, and erase from it the words "on the true faith of a Christian," which every Member swears to before he can take his seat, does not show clearly to the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government, that he is bring- 227 ing forward a measure which will offend in the highest degree the religious opinions of a very large majority of the people of this country. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) has argued that the words "on the true faith of a Christian," which appear to have been first used in the reign of James the First, were not then inserted specially for the purpose of excluding Jews, but were adopted to give more sanction to the oath of allegiance taken by those Roman Catholics who were faithful to the Crown, to distinguish them from those who at that time were disaffected. Let this be so. All I maintain is, that this oath has excluded Jews from the time it was first used up to the present time from sitting in this House; and why should you alter it now? Simply because a Jew is prevented by it from taking his seat; one who, however great his wealth, or respectable his character, does still not belong to our nation, but is a member of one which is scattered all over the world, and of whom there are not more than 40,000 in this country. If you alter this oath to suit a Jew, you will next be proposing to do away with the prayers which are offered up daily in this House, because he says that he cannot join in them. If you do away with this oath, you will open the door to any infidel, whether heathen or Mussulman, provided, as in this case, he may have money or influence enough to secure his return for any constituency. You say, in fact, that if a man has money enough to obtain a seat in Parliament, it signifies but little of what religion he is. You are setting up wealth and influence against Christianity; and if you pass this measure, you deny for ever that that religion has anything to do with our constitution. I entirely agree with what the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth said, when he last addressed the House on the subject of admitting Jews to Parliament. On that occasion the right hon. Baronet said—I will say that one of the unavoidable consequences of this measure will be that every one of the forms and ceremonies which give us assurance of Christianity must be abolished. It is perfectly obvious that if we pass this Bill it follows, as a necessary consequence, that every form of oath which requires a profession of the Christian faith must be abandoned. Now this is a most important alteration in the usages of the country. Before Catholics and Protestant Dissenters were excluded, there was still a necessity for all public functionaries to profess Christianity; from the earliest period a belief in Christianity was required as necessary to official appointments, or to seats in Parliament. No person who rejected 228 Christianity could obtain office. Therefore, from the first, our constitution was, to say the least of it, Christian. Here then, we have an evident and palpable departure from the principles of the constitution, as admitted and recognised in the earliest periods; and where is the urgency of this vast change?These were the words of the right hon. Baronet, nor could he (Lord Burghley) find language better expressive of his own feelings than that which was used at a later period by the hon. Member for the University of Oxford. His words were these:—When his hon. Friend used this expression (that they were about to unchristianise England by this Bill), he knew that an attempt would be made to put a misconstruction on his meaning; but his hon. Friend did not conceive that he could use a more appropriate term, or one more approaching to the nature of truism, with regard to this subject.He trusted they would not believe him to be actuated by any hostile feeling towards the Jews. He had not read the history of that people in such a spirit, nor in such a spirit did he now resist their claims. He trusted that the better part of the Jewish nation would give him credit for being able to differ from them in that spirit of charity which it was the duty of all religions to inculcate.
§ MR. W. P. WOOD
thought the disqualifications affecting the Jews reflected so much disgrace on our legislation that the sooner they were removed the better. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment had called upon them as Christians to reject the Bill; but he on religious far more than political grounds, and as a member of that Church which he believed to embody the purest form of Christianity, called upon them to support it. Twenty years had elapsed since he first signed a petition in favour of the Jews. He had often since then revolved the matter in his mind, and the lapse of time and the accession of experience had only tended to strengthen his conviction that the removal of Jewish disabilities was a mea sure which was sanctioned by considerations of justice, truth, and policy; and that therefore the sooner it was carried out, the better it would be for the honour of the country. That religion should have no connexion with polities, was a maxim which had passed into an adage; but, like most adages, it was susceptible of a double interpretation. All men knew that after death came judgment; and, knowing this, it was impossible but that they must feel that in the performance of their political duties they were bound to keep in mind 229 their religious obligations. The sense of religious obligation produced the conscious ness of moral responsibility; but with the Christian his faith was his moral life; and in that sense it was manifestly meet and natural that there should be a connexion between religion and politics. But there were other senses in which the adage had a meaning. It was not desirable to see the ministers of religion on the hustings; and a resolution of the House forbade their en trance there. As applied to the present occasion, however, the proper interpretation of the adage was, that religious opinions should be no qualification or disqualification for political station or the enjoyment of political rights. Interpreted in that sense, which was evidently the rational reading, the adage conveyed a principle which he adopted and would ever maintain. If they looked back to the earliest periods of Christianity—to the time of its holy Founder, and of the apostolic followers of that Founder, and to the period of the purest state of Christianity—they would find that it was then distinct from politics and from all matters of State policy; and that it was only when corruption began to affect it, that such a close union existed between it and the State. He had a deep repugnance to quote from Scripture in the debates in that House; but the memory of hon. Members would doubtless supply them with numerous Scriptural passages which attested the anxiety of the Divine Founder of Christianity to disclaim all politics and judicial functions, and to keep the kingdom of Caesar as distinct as possible from that of God. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment had referred to the Jewish theocracy: why, that was the strongest argument against the mixture of civil and religious policy. When the knowledge of revealed truth was confined to one people who were under the immediate government of God, in order to separate them from the rest of mankind, a civil code was assigned them by express revelation, with the minutest directions for their guidance. But when the barrier between Jew and Gentile was broken down, and a new revelation granted to us, coextensive with the world, all such directions were withheld; and, on the contrary, Christians were taught to receive every government as it existed, and were told that they were all ordained of God, though the then rulers were Pagans of dissolute lives and persecuting principles. He therefore rejoiced that the present measure had been brought for- 230 ward to remove this still existing trace of political error, and to strengthen the line of demarcation between the things which. were Caesar's, and those which were God's. If hon. Members would turn to any accessible book—to Lardner's Testimonies, for instance—they would there find that the mistaken course of calling in civil rewards and punishments in aid of religion began after the time of Constantine, and not until the reign of Theodosius, precisely at the period when all of the reformed faith considered that the earliest corruptions of Christianity were introduced. Libanius, in his letter to that emperor, adverted to the then commencing innovations, and complained of them, saying, that he thought a worshipper of Jupiter had been appointed to high office by the emperor. From that time there became gradually introduced a principle more or less of persecution, which, he was confident, no one could find anything to support or maintain in the book to which all Christians referred. He would advert to the argument which had been brought forward, that Christianity was part and parcel of the law of this country. He denied that this was the case in any such sense as could be of the slightest avail for argument on the present occasion. What Christianity was part and parcel of the law? Was it that Christianity which allowed all the Members of that House to exercise their religious worship in the mode in which they now exercised it? Why, if the hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir R. Inglis) had lived 300 years ago, in the reign of Henry VIII., he would have been a traitor and a felon. In that monarch's famous Act of Six Articles, it was declared by the first article that whoever denied transubstantiation was guilty of treason; while the crime of felony was declared to attach to those who impugned communion under one kind, auricular confession, and the celibacy of the clergy; and under such enactments the hon. Member for Oxford University would undoubtedly have been adjudged guilty of high treason. In that sense only, namely, in the sense of recognising one definite form of Christian worship, Christianity had been part and parcel of the law of England. But that was statute law, and it was contended that Christianity was part of the common law. He might be pardoned for showing how that notion had arisen, and how little bearing also it had on the present question. No doubt, at the earliest periods it was assumed that the whole 231 nation was Christian, according to their established form; and consistently to keep up the total Christianity of the nation in this sense, they must exclude every person who differed from the established religion of the country, not only from public offices, but even from the right of living in the country. This sort of consistency had been followed up by Spain, by the Roman States, by Naples, and by some other countries; and with what result the present condition of those nations would show. That, how ever, was consistency; and our common law in that respect was consistent, for, concomitant with their notion of Christianity, we had the writ de heretico comburendo. That, however, was not directed against persons out of the pale of the Church, or against Jews, but against those who, existing in the Church, maintained opinions contrary to the common feeling of the persons in the Church, and thereby raised disturbance. The first instance of that writ being put in force was in the reign of Henry V., when the Lollards made their appearance, and from their numbers excited alarm. The State came forward with statute law to enable the common law to be put in force; and then they came down to the time of Henry VIII., who found an obsequious Parliament ready to vote for any religion he might think proper, and who obtained the passing of the Six Articles to which he (Mr. Wood) had before referred. This was the sense in which Christianity was part and parcel of the law of the land; and throughout the whole of these proceedings the Jews were never dreamed of, for they were banished from this country in the 8th of Edward I., and did not appear again until the time of the Commonwealth. Therefore it was evidently vain to contend that any laws of bygone times having reference to religious qualifications can apply to the Jews. Then, however, they came to some law cases, which were alleged to lay down the principle that Christianity was part and parcel of the law. These were cases in the times of Lord Hale and Lord Raymond; but they, too, had not the slightest bearing on the question of the right of Jews to fill offices in the State, and to exercise political functions. The first case was a proceeding against a person who had published gross blasphemies against the Author of our faith, and had ridiculed all religion; and the case before Lord Raymond was something similar. Such publications would now be against the law, as 232 reviling religion generally. Then they came down to the time of Lord Hardwicke, when a most extraordinary case occurred. A Jew left a sum of money for the purpose of establishing an institution for teaching Jews; and Lord Hardwicke said, this be quest could not be carried into effect, in as much as the object was opposed to Christianity. The noble Lord, however, added, that as it was clearly the testator's intention that the property should be devoted to charity, his relations could not touch it; devoted to charity it must be, and the Crown must be applied to for the purpose of designating to what charity the property should go. And how did the House sup pose was the money left for teaching young Jewish children disposed of? Why, the Crown determined that it should be given to the Foundling Hospital, and employed in bringing up illegitimate Christian children. Certainly the testator would have been very much surprised if he could have arisen from the grave to find how the Court of Chancery had carried out his intentions. Now it was very remarkable that this decision occurred in the year 1753, in the famous year of the Jewish Bill. Such was the history of the notion of Christianity being so much part and parcel of the law of the land that every one but Christians must be excluded from political privileges. The cases before Lords Hale and Raymond only went to the point that no one should be allowed indecently to revile the established religion of the country; and with respect to the case before Lord Hardwicke, the effect of what he said merely amounted to this, that finding Christianity recognised by the country as the established religion, he did not feel justified in establishing for a perpetuity by the authority of the Crown an institution for teaching young persons the Jewish religion. Would those decisions justify that House in saying that Christianity was so much part and parcel of the law that it could not admit Jews to the privileges which all British-born subjects were entitled to? The celebrated case called "Calvin's case," in the time of Lord Coke, had been often referred too, as showing that Jews are not natural-born subjects. Now, that case had nothing whatever to do with Jew or Christian; the matter arose on a question whether Scottish subjects born after the accession of James I. to the Throne of England, were natural-born subjects throughout Great Britain? Many incidental points were discussed, and it was laid down that no infidel 233 could be a natural-born subject, because the devil, whose subject he was, was in perpetual enmity with. Christians; and for the same reason it was afterwards at tempted to be said that no infidel could sue or move the courts; but that attempt was repressed by the courts. And Lord Chief Justice Willes said in the case of "Omichavel v. Barker," that the dictum in Calvin's case showed its authors to be subjects of the devil, rather than those to whom it was applied. This, then, was all the ground there was for saying that Christianity was part and parcel of the law of the land; and could anything be more preposterous than applying it to the present case? Whenever the statutes which had been alluded to required an oath on the admission of a Member of Parliament, they referred to the Roman Catholics, and not to the Jews, who were banish ed from the time of Edward I. to the time of the Commonwealth. The Jews first came over in the time of William the Conqueror. They established themselves in Oxford University, where they founded Moses' Hall, Jacob's Hall, and Barnard's Hall; and the Jews were never thought of in all this exclusive legislation, and it was by an accident, as the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had observed, that they were excluded by certain words in an oath meant to apply to other parties. It was then conceived that making a man say, "on the true faith of a Christian," would estop the Jesuit, and make the man who used it a Christian. If it would have that effect, for his own part he should be most happy to achieve such a result; but the object of the first oath of the kind was to exclude Jesuits and others, who were accused of being implicated in the Gunpowder-plot. from taking any part in the government of the country. As late as the reign of William III., when the principles of toleration had been to a certain degree recognised, an Act was passed excluding Unitarians from certain civil privileges; and that Act provided that if any person ''who had been educated in or made profession of Christianity, should deny the doctrine of the blessed Trinity," he should be liable to certain disabilities. Now, he called upon the House to observe how carefully that Act was worded to exclude the case of the Jews. Indeed it appeared to have been framed with special reference to their exception, inasmuch as they had never been educated in, nor made profession of, Christianity, and they were then recently settled 234 in this country. Since that period there had been numerous recognitions of the Jews in various Acts of Parliament—in Acts for facilitating the naturalisation of Jews who had resided a certain time in the colonies, and for relieving them from the necessity of taking certain oaths. In 1833 His late Majesty was advised to give his sanction to an Act of the Legislature of Jamaica, admitting Jews to seats in the Legislative Assembly of that colony; and subsequently the Royal Assent had been given to an Act admitting the Jews into the Legislature of Canada; yet those measures ex cited no alarm in this country lest our dependencies in Jamaica and Canada should be unchristianised. He considered that there was a great fallacy in the argument that the people of this country were a Christian people, and that they must have a Christian Legislature. Persons meant an exclusively Christian Legislature; but they could not say we were an exclusively Christian people. From the reign of Edward I. to that of Charles II. it might have been said that they were an exclusively Christian people; but from the time that they admitted the Jews into this country they ceased to have any right to treat them in any other manner than as all other citizens and natural-born subjects were treated. The first Christian principle was to do to every man as they would be done by; and he would ask whether it was a Christian principle to say to any men, "You may come to this country in any numbers you please; you may tiring your wives and children; you may marry with our Christian daughters; you may accumulate as much wealth as you please, and pay as great a portion of taxation as we think proper to impose upon you; and yet we tell you that you are not worthy to have any voice in the imposition of those taxes." He (Mr. Wood) contended that it was most monstrous and unchristian that they should make use of the Jews—that they should avail themselves of their services and of their wealth as far as they could—and yet deny them the privileges of citizenship. Other countries which had adopted the principle of exclusion had excluded the Jews wholly and entirely; but the English people held out many inducements to the Jews to settle in this country, and then told them that they were unfit to be regarded as fellow-citizens. He (Mr. Wood) considered that it was a great mistake to imagine that they facilitated the diffusion of Christianity by this exclusion. 235 On the contrary, he held that the direct reverse was the fact. He considered that, if they wished to convert the Jew, the surest step towards attaining such an end was to put him on an equality with themselves. Conversion was not a matter of declaration at that table; it was an affair of the heart—an influence which must he produced upon a man's mind and heart. He had been much struck with what a writer of the age of Theodosius had said on this subject. Lactantius, speaking of religion, said—Res est enim præter ceteras voluntaria, nec imponi cuiquam necessitas potest ut colat quod non vult. Potest aliquis forsitan simulare, non potest velle.The simulation might be obtained by the declaration to which he had referred; but if they wished to reach a Jew's heart, they should not put an Act of Parliament between him and them: they must place him on a level with themselves. He was not one of those who held that there was no difference between a Christian and a Jew. He did not follow an hon. Member who had asked the House to pass the Bill, on the ground that they were all Jews, or the Jews Christians, for he had really not exactly understood that hon. Member. He considered that there was a vast and an awful difference; but he would say, while it had pleased the Almighty, in his inscrutable wisdom, that a veil should be over the heart of the Jews while passages of their prophets were read in which Christians saw the bright dawning of the Sun of righteousness, let them not deepen that gloom by the rank mists of human prejudice and passion. There was only one other point to which he wished to refer. They had been told that the Members could not join in prayer in that House if they were admitted; and the hon. Member who moved the Amendment had complained of some merriment on that side of the House, when he mentioned the subject. He could assure that hon. Member that such merriment did not arise from the solemn subject to which he referred, but from that hon. Member having stated that he wished to secure his place, and there fore had been present at prayers. And this showed how much the most sacred subjects were prejudiced by juxtaposition with secular forms. He confessed he saw no reason why the prayers should be discontinued. He saw no reason why that practice should not be continued, any more than he saw reason for discontinuing 236 a practice which he regretted was not more fully carried out—that of the Members of the House attending Divine service every Sunday at St. Margaret's Church, although the Roman Catholic and Dissenting Members could not be there. But there was a great difficulty about the Christianity of the House. It certainly was not a positive Christianity; for he would ask if the House could come to an unanimous vote on any religious question. They were, however, negative Christians: they certainly were not Jews. It had been remarked on a former occasion that if they admitted Jews into Parliament, they might admit Mahometans and Hindoos; and he saw no absurdity in the argument. It was certainly absurd to talk of such a thing as existing in this country, where there were no Mahometans or Hindoos; but he would ask, supposing a representative system to be establish ed in India, whether, after the experiment of Ireland, where 7,000,000 of people had been obliged for a time to choose their representatives from 1,000,000, any hon. Gentleman would wish that 80,000,000 of Mahometans and Hindoos should be compelled to take their representatives from about 100,000 Christians? Would it be very absurd to allow them to choose Hindoos or Mahometans as their representatives? But in fact Parliament had decided this question. He found in the Act 3rd and 4th William IV., chap. 85, a clause which he considered ought to be written in letters of gold. It was in these terms:—That no native of the said territories, nor any natural-born subject of His Majesty resident therein, shall, by reason only of his religion, place of birth, descent, colour, or any of them, be disabled from holding any place, office, or employment under the said Company.Why, they might at this moment have a Mahometan Governor General of India, or a Mahometan Member of Council, in that country. To show that this noble clause was not dictated by any unchristian principle, he might mention that nearly the whole of the remainder of the Act related to the establishment of bishops and chaplains in the East Indies. In conclusion, he wished emphatically to state his satisfaction that this measure had formerly been brought forward by a Gentleman distinguished no less for his Christian piety than for his cultivated mind, and had now been advocated by the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government on Christian principles; and as a Christian, 237 and as a Churchman, he earnestly implored the House to pass the Bill into a law.
§ MR. B. COCHRANE
said, that he wish ed, before the hon. Member had concluded his very able speech, he would have explained what he meant by the term "negative Christian." He would not follow the hon. Member through his new edition of the history of England; but would con tent himself with saying that he differed entirely from him when he said that Christianity was not a part and parcel of the law of England. He differed from him with respect to the Act of 1753; and must observe, that he (Mr. Cochrane) thought a Gentleman so well read in the history of that period as the hon. Member, ought to be aware how much excitement was produced by the passing of that Act, and that it was in consequence subsequently repealed. He thought that many hon. Members would concur in his feeling of very deep regret that the Government should ever have brought forward the question which was now under discussion; for while, on the one hand, no man with a proper sense of character and integrity would sacrifice his conscientious convictions from the dread of having his motives misinterpreted; so, on the other, the charges of intolerance, uncharitableness, and selfish exclusiveness, were such as no man with kind and generous feelings would willingly incur. But the painful character which belonged to all religious discussions was increased on the present occasion, the Bill having been introduced not merely on general grounds, but to meet an individual case—that of a gentleman, than whom none could stand higher in private or public worth, who had been returned as the representative for the city of London. He (Mr. Cochrane) was fully aware what great claims Mr. Rothschild possessed on the consideration of the House and the country—that he had always proved himself a most zealous and generous citizen. It might not be within the knowledge of those present that Mr. Rothschild not only sub scribed last year most largely to the funds of the British Association, but also devoted his whole time to their proceedings, and also placed three ships at the disposal of the Committee for the carriage of meal. But then, this was not an individual case, to be decided on personal merits; it involved the greatest of all interests—the interests of religion; and here he would say with how great doubt and fear he approached any question involving religious 238 considerations, having neither the standing, station, nor authority to enforce any argument which he might adduce. The great evil attending the introduction of such serious subjects was, that upon sacred ground, where the best should take their sandals off, the many were compelled to press forward; and in justification of them selves, to rush in where otherwise they should fear to tread. He trusted it would not be deemed presumption in him to venture, with submission and humility, to state the reasons which influenced his vote. There were many questions involving much experience, deep study, infinite knowledge, in which he would be prepared to bow to the superior judgment of those who had made the solution of those questions their own peculiar province. But this was a question in which he thought that much learning and refined reasoning were calculated rather to mislead. Most hon. Members would remember the aphorism of M. de Talleyrand, "Always mistrust your first impressions," because—he continued with true Machiavelism—" they are gene rally the correct ones." He believed that if hon. Members would take their first sensations as their guides, they would vote against this Bill as entirely opposed to all their earlier feelings, affections, and faith. There was one argument which appeared to him a very important one, and which he did not remember to have heard submitted to the House. The noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government had said that he was the more induced to assist the Jews, because it never was the intention of the Legislature to exclude them. Now, he thought, with all due submission, that this was so far from being an argument in their favour, that it was precisely the reason why the Bill should not be introduced. When the Roman Catholics could formerly point to a particular Act of Parliament as the source of their grievance, they might with justice describe themselves as suffering under disabilities, as intentionally and specially prevented from enjoying honourable trusts among their fellow-citizens, and branded with disqualifications. The same had been the case with the Dissenters. Every speech which was made in former years tended to degrade them in the opinions of their countrymen, and they too could point to the disabilities under which they were suffering. But he (Mr. Cochrane) was at a loss to understand how the Jews could complain of being stigmatised, branded 239 (to use the expression of the hon. Member for Oldham) by intolerance and bigotry, inasmuch as the noble Lord told them the oath was never intended to exclude them. They threw no intentional impediment in the way of their entering the House; this oath was only the form in which our religion expressed itself. Surely there was a wide distinction between the removal of obstacles purposely placed in the way of a large class of their fellow-citizens and an alteration in the expression of their faith, in order to admit those whose religion differed from their own. He (Mr. Cochrane) was not prepared to grant that this was intolerance. On the contrary, he was anxious to see every one enjoying the free and full exercise of his religion. He would say, like the Emperor Constantine to Bishop Acesius, "Acesius, take a ladder, and climb up to heaven by yourself." He would prefer rather to legislate for the Jews in the spirit of Julian, than in the spirit of Cyril of Alexandria. If the alternative were presented to him, he would prefer to rebuild their temple rather than to persecute, destroy, and ruin its worshippers; but they were not called upon to decide between fraternity and persecution, but calmly, advisedly, dispassionately to change a long-established form, venerable, and not without value, even if only a mere form. They were asked—and here mark the distinction—not merely indeed to admit Jews into our Legislature, but so to alter its Christian character, that, as a consequence, not merely Jews, but members of every description of faith, however cruel and barbarous, might of right take their places amongst them. And there were Members, like the hon. Member for Ennis, who did not surprise him, and others, like the hon. Baronet the Member for Bedford, who did indeed surprise him, who anticipated with pleasure the time when the benches of that House might be occupied by Mahometan, Hindoo, or Parsce. He had carefully perused the former debates on this subject, and it struck him with pain that, whereas hitherto the question was argued on the simple merits of the Jews—and the necessary consequence of this change was studiously kept out of sight—they now accepted the position, and boldly admitted the consequences. If it were a question of respectful adherence to the Sovereign of these realms—if it were even a question of that oath which they took at the table of abjuration of the house of Stuart, 240 obsolete and absurd as it was now become—he believed that there were few who would vote for its abolition, unless some other were substituted, conveying the same expressions of loyalty and devotion to the Throne. And still further, if it were even a question of some mere form, the outward sign of reverence to the Monarch of these realms, he believed the House would unanimously reject the pro position for its abolition. Should, then, a man do so much for his Sovereign, and do less than this for his religion? But then some hon. Members said that there was no medium between equal privilege and direct persecution; and one went so far as to declare that unless they were prepared to grant this right, they might as well go back to the period of torture and thumb screw. But let them turn this position; if there were to be no limit to toleration, were they prepared to admit the Jews to the highest offices in Church and State? Assuredly not; consequently they did themselves assign a limit to toleration, and the only question was, where is the line to be drawn? If with great deference he might be so permitted to express himself, there was one argument of the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government which greatly astonished him, "Because," said the noble Lord, "we yielded to the Roman Catholics when their power and influence were represented by millions, it would be cowardice in us to resist the importunity of thousands." How ever inconclusive, this would be an admirable argument if the Government had emancipated the Roman Catholics through the influence of fear. Then, indeed, it might be said that we should not deny to the weak that which we had conceded to the strong—reject the gentle request, and crouch beneath the brutum fulmen; but if this were so, it was a new reading of this chapter of English history. He thought the Catholic Relief Bill was the result of strong convictions, of generous feelings, of a sense of justice; and if, among the phalanx of noble and illustrious statesmen who carried that measure, there were any who entertained the least sense of apprehension, it could only have been the apprehension of the judgment of posterity, if they left six millions of their fellow-countrymen disqualified from serving their King and their country in Parliament. It never would be believed that the Government was driven into such a measure from cowardice, and therefore it hum- 241 bly seemed to him that the argument was quite untenable, seeing that the Jews cannot be numbered even by tens of thousands, and that they were not our fellow-Christians. Some hon. Gentlemen drew examples from other countries; it was true that in Franco all sects were admitted into the Chambers; but then if they would follow such instances they did not go half far enough; for on the 2nd of December, 1830, it was voted that the religious teachers of the Jews should receive salaries from the State, in the, same manner as teachers of different denominations. And what was the condition of France? He would not be tempted to speak disrespectfully of any country; but could they be blind to the fact that it stood on a volcano, and that the want of religion was sadly felt? This was the consequence of a revolution which had robbed all institutions of their sanctity—where, in the beautiful language of the hon. Member for Surrey, the tendency of all legislation is liberate, to set free—where the King is no longer styled his Most Christian Majesty—where a Peer of the realm, the Count d'Alton Shée, publicly boasted that he was neither a Catholic nor a Christian. But even in France, even in the worst days of the Reign of Terror, it was Robespierre who said, "that the man who would weaken religious ties was the greatest of all fanatics "—" Si Dieu n'existait pas, il faud rait l'inventor." No; they might learn the lesson from France, of how much wretchedness a country passed through which threw off all religious obligation, and how little religion there was in a land where the State cast an equal protection over all. Yes; it was true that we also had passed through our revolutions, but then ours were revolutions in defence of our religion. As the great historian, Mr. Fox, said—Accordingly, as the sequel of James II.'s reign will abundantly show, when the people found themselves compelled to make an option, they preferred, without any inconsistency, their first idcl to their second; and when they could not preserve both the Church and the State, they declared for the former.And now we still cling to those forms of religious expression which, however, they might be despised by the philosophical spirit of the day, were not without their beneficial influence on the heart. So the Sovereign was still said to reign by the grace of God. He continued to be styled the defender of the faith. Both Houses of the Legislature had their chaplains and 242 forms of prayer; for as M. de Barante had beautifully expressed it—There is some analogy between religion without an establishment, and virtue without practice; and as monarchy is the outward form in which the spirit of man's inward reverence for man spontaneously clothes itself, so a church with its rites and its ceremonies is the outward form of an in ward religious faith.He had carefully avoided uttering one word against the Jews. He had defended the case on its own rights, not on their errors. He might say, in conclusion, that the apathy which the people had generally shown as to the result of these discussions, the indifference with which the country had received this all-important question, should not be matter of gratification to the Government, even although it might facilitate the passing of the measure. Alas! this leaden sleep—this absence of all excite ment—this lethargic torpor, appeared to him to be the saddest sign of the times. Might it not be that all these discussions on sacred things had weakened the confidence and the faith of the nation? and that men began to say, "We will fold our arms in sleep, for it is useless to resist the current which is hurrying us forward; we have conceded so much, that the remainder is not worth maintaining." True, they might reply, Furor est post omnia perdere naulum;" but it was idle to urge this maxim upon them. A now language had crept into politics now, they spoke of a fait accompli, a nécessityé politique, a felicitous expedient: be it so, let them apply this if they would to their questions of commercial policy, to their material interest; but at least let the House resist its application to their faith as Christians.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, that if the hon. Gentleman who just sat down had approached this question with consider able difficulty, on account of the religious considerations it involved, he thought it needed some apology from him (Mr. Milnes), who maintained the other side, to enter upon, or even touch upon, the religious grounds of the question, knowing so well as he did, from his short experience of the House, how ill adapted it generally was to the discussion of religious topics. Nevertheless he felt that the religious part of the question had been on that evening discussed with the solemnity which it really deserved; and therefore he should not abstain from taking up such points of the question as he thought the speeches that had gone before him actually required. His 243 hon. Friend the Member for Northamptonshire had entered into a very fine discussion between what was and what was not persecution. He told them how repugnant to him it would be that this people should be fined or tortured, or should, in common parlance, be persecuted; but his hon. Friend was not prevented by such considerations from being willing to inflict upon a portion of his fellow-citizens something which they almost regarded as persecution, whatever he might do. When they came to take up the matter of persecution, it was the victim and not the oppressor who was to judge of it. All men did not possess the good heart of his hon. Friend, nor would they stop where he would stop; and he had read history less attentively than he thought he had done, if he did not know that it was the admission of this principle which had led to the violation of all right. By permitting persecution of any kind on account of religious opinions, they might go on from step to step, until they passed from the exclusion of his hon. Friend up to the atrocities of the Spanish Inquisition. They must see, therefore, whether there was sufficient ground for them to inflict upon their Jewish fellow-countrymen what they considered as persecution. Notwithstanding the benevolent manner in which his hon. Friend had treated the whole question, he thought that he, in a certain degree, had admitted the charge which was brought in the public press and elsewhere, that the advocates of this measure were indifferent to the religious grounds. He would remind him that amongst the advocates of the measure were Lord Bexley, Mr. Robert Grant, and he thought he might add to those names that of the hon. Gentleman who had spoken so admirably that evening. It would be a very unpleasant consideration if the decision which he hoped they would come to, should be painful to the religious feelings of the people of this country. He always felt it was not only a wise policy, but the conduct of a right-minded man, to respect the religious ceremonies in which he could not participate himself, and those religious feelings in which he could not concur. But on referring to what was shown by public proceedings since this question was brought forward, could they have a more signal proof of the feelings of the people of England, than that this great question would not be an outrage to their feeling? He asked them to contrast the feeling that was manifested upon this Bill, with the 244 feeling manifested on another question—namely, the grant to the College of Maynooth. Talk about there being no excitement with the public on religious questions! how many hon. Gentlemen were asked to vote in a particular way on the question of the increased grant to Maynooth? How many Gentlemen were told of their votes when they appeared before their constituents? How many hon. Gentlemen were very nearly turned out of their seats at the last election because they voted for that grant? He, therefore, could not admit, with the hon. Member for Bridport, that because a state of apathy had passed over the public mind, the people of England took no interest in the measure now before the House, and that they paid no regard to it. On the contrary, he believed that the population of this country looked upon the matter in its proper and legitimate light—that they looked upon the question not as a religious question. When hon. Gentlemen talked of this measure as having a direct tendency to unchristianise the Legislature, they must use the term in its metaphorical and not its literal meaning. It had been said over and over again, and said truly, by speakers during the present discussion, that the House of Commons would be no more unchristianised by the presence of two or three Hebrew gentlemen, than the nation is unchristianised by tolerating their residence in this country. His hon. Friend had stated that this was not the last link in the chain of religious and constitutional security—that if we repealed the disabilities of the Jews, we must go further; and he pointed to the fact of Roman Catholics being still ineligible to hold certain offices in the State. But this exclusion of the Catholics from the highest judicial office in Ireland, did not proceed from any fear with respect to their religious feelings, but because in the Lord Chancellor of Ireland was thought to be vested considerable Protestant ecclesiastical patronage. He believed, however, that the Lord Chancellor of Ireland had no ecclesiastical patronage; and it was upon that ground that the proposition was made for admitting Roman Catholics to that office. The 9th Clause of the Act now before the House provided a sufficient guarantee for the Protestant Establishment. By that clause, Jews were prevented from advising, nominating, or doing anything with respect to any office or appointment in the Church of England and Ireland, or in the Church of Scotland. 245 And if any of Her Majesty's Ministers had been present, he should have asked them whether that clause would exclude Jews from holding the office of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, or other similar offices in which ecclesiastical patronage might be concerned. Objection had been taken to the Jews on the ground of their want of nationality—that they were aliens, having no sympathy with the bulk of the population. Now, so far from the Jews not identifying themselves with the interests of the community among whom they were placed, it would be impossible to cite any body of men, in any country, at any period of time, who had so completely assimilated their manners to those of the people amongst whom they had been accidentally thrown; and wherever they had been permitted to re side and transact business, the Jews had greatly contributed to the material welfare of themselves and those about them. He felt that this fact carried with it a great moral meaning. It would be impossible for men, even by the most assiduous attention, to have been so uniformly prosperous, had they not added to extreme industry the sterling quality of honesty in all their dealings. They could not have achieved that prosperity unless they had been both upright and diligent, exercising the very virtues which most entitled them to honour as citizens, and pointed them out as fit persons to act as legislators. If he had read history aright, there never yet had been a test or enactment for the exclusion of any class of persons from the British Parliament, without a distinct palpable object. He found that the oath to be taken by the Roman Catholics was proposed and became law in consequence of the terror which the people felt at the probability of a Popish succession; and the Act itself was passed just after the issue of that obnoxious historical event—the Popish plot. The oath was imposed solely on that account. Every other attempt at political exclusion had been marked by circumstances of a similar kind. He found the British constitution perfectly harmonious on this head—it never excluded par ties from power except on grave constitutional grounds—its whole tendency was not exclusive, but inclusive. Just as the English, being a people not of any particular race, but being composed of many races, make their laws, not for the benefit of one class, but for the benefit of the whole community; so is the material of 246 the House of Commons formed of all those men whom the people think proper to send there as their representatives. It was so far unjust to exclude any individual from Parliament who had the character and the means to procure a seat. In his opinion this opportunity might have been aptly seized by Her Majesty's Government to bring forward a much larger measure. They might have adopted that reform with regard to religious tests recommended by the Criminal Law Commission in 1845. The Commissioners recommended one form for the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. Her Majesty's Government would thus have been enabled to take a larger ground. It had been held by high legal authority—in the case of the Duke of Norfolk being sworn as Earl Marshal—that the oath of allegiance was all that was required, the oath of supremacy being merely an explanation of it. All the evidence of history goes to show that at tempts at political exclusion have been of no practical advantage. Those countries which confine their political advantages to one race of men, or the professors of one form of religion, not only offer a sad ex ample of their impolicy, but they also show how futile are the plans of human wisdom for purposes of that kind. He might show how much better this country had prospered under an extended system of religious and political toleration, than had other countries where purity of race and uniformity of religion were insisted upon in candidates for public office. Yet in Spain, where the latter system was carried to the extreme, Jews had won distinguished honours from royalty itself. A Hebrew gentleman had been invested with the order of Isabella the Catholic. All those attempts at exclusions, however well carried out, had acted injuriously. It had been attempted in this country; and the case of Mr. Rothschild—he would not call him Baron Rothschild, for he had no wish to see him sit in the British House of Commons as a foreign baron—would show whether the attempt could be carried out. The citizens of London, by the election of Mr. Rothschild, had told the House of Commons distinctly and palpably that they did not approve of this exclusive system of legislature. The people ask the House to remove all those religious restrictions. No stronger test of the feeling of the people could be offered than the election of Mr. Rothschild as one of the representatives of the metropolis. Hon. Gentlemen 247 might talk of overpowering personal interest, of Government power; but putting that aside altogether, and allowing everything that was said by the opponents of the measure to be true, the election of Mr. Rothschild was a speaking evidence of the opinion of the people. If twenty or thirty years ago any person had said that a Jew would be elected for the city of London, the assertion would have been laughed at. The House could not have any more satisfactory evidence that it could not act more in accordance with the wishes of the people, than by passing this measure. To go back to the religious part of the question. The hon. Mover of the Amendment had alluded to the mode in which the proceedings of the House were daily opened. He had asked whether a Member did not secure his seat by being present at the prayers; and had inquired whether a Jew could be present and join in the prayer? This observation he considered to be quite unworthy of his hon. Friend. Would he make that a reason for stepping in between an enlightened constituency and their elected Member? It was not for such a purpose that the House adopted the solemn manner of opening their proceedings—a manner which every one must feel to be most proper and decorous. When, in prayer they asked that they might not be actuated by private and party feelings—that they might be actuated by Christian feelings and Christian principles; and the House would be carrying out those principles, and acting on those feelings, by the passing of this Bill. All fear of their prayers falling into disrepute, even if a few Jews were admitted, might be cast away. Human nature and everyday experience would war rant the anticipation of a contrary result. Some few years ago his hon. Friend and himself were together at Rome; and never in any city did they see so regular an attendance by Englishmen at their place of worship, as at the Protestant church in the eternal city. The very circumstance of their being surrounded by a population professing a different form of religion, led them to exercise a more habitual reverence in behalf of their faith. The admission of the Jews would rather have a tendency to make Protestants reverence their forms more than ever. Something had been said as to the important effect of a fusion of men of different religious opinions. He would offer no decided opinion on that head. This much he would say—that if 248 they would wish to fix a man in those religious opinions which they considered erroneous, they could not do it more effectually than by excluding him from political power on the ground of those opinions—than by telling him, "So long as you hold that belief, you shall not sit in this House." Parties so circumstanced think the exclusion unjust, and cling closer than ever to their creed. The decision to which the House might arrive would be of great importance not only in this but in other countries. The state of the Jews in other countries, was not what it was in this. The question of the admission or non-admission of Jews into Parliament was of comparatively small importance in England; but at the present moment anxious discussions and disputations were being carried on as to the civil rights of Jews in other parts of Europe, and the opinions of the House would exercise an important effect on these discussions. In the Prussian Diet the question of Jewish emancipation had been discussed at considerable length; and it was decided that Jews should be admitted to hold certain public offices. They were excluded from Parliamentary rights by a majority of three. The objections to the complete emancipation of the Jews secured a majority of twenty-two only. It was most important for the House to throw the moral weight of its decision in the right and just scale. He knew that the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford looked with alarm on the Bill, and said that its consequence would be not only to emancipate the Jews of England, but to emancipate the Jews of the whole world. He (Mr. Milnes) firmly hoped that such would be its result. He believed that if they should declare that Jews were fit persons to sit in that House, they would materially assist in the extension of liberal principles all over the world. He had little doubt as to the decision of the House—it would most undoubtedly he in favour of the Bill; but that alone would not make it the law of the land. After the manner in which the opinion of the House had been expressed—after the way in which the English people had shown their approval of the Bill—he did trust no other power would step in between a man elect ed by the British metropolis, and approved by the British House of Commons.
wished to state briefly the grounds on which he had al- 249 ready Voted, and on which he meant again to vote, against the Bill now under consideration. In doing so, he trusted, nay, he was sure, that not a word would fall from him tending to the disparagement or reproach bf his Jewish fellow-subjects; nor was it in the smallest degree essential to his argument. The Jews in England might he, and he believed they were, remarkable for their ready obedience to the law. They might be, and he believed they were, remarkable for their liberal charity—not confined to individuals of their own persuasion, but extending also to ours. What then? Were those sufficient reasons of themselves to induce the House to divest the Legislature of the Christian constitution which had hitherto belonged to it, and to admit men of any religion or no religion within its walls? For, let it be observed, that the question could not possibly stop at the point to which it was urged; the barriers which opposed the admission of Jews into Parliament once removed, no creed, and, what was much worse, no negation of creed—neither Mahometan, nor Hindoo, nor professed Deist, could be excluded. This had been very fairly stated by the noble Lord at the head of the Government. He had admitted that no further religious barrier could be raised after the concession now demanded; he had said—and the sentiment had been echoed by the noble Lord the Member for the West Riding—that in his opinion no religious creed ought to carry with it anything like a penalty, and that exclusion from the Legislature was a penalty. But this was by no means the view taken by many of the followers of that noble Lord. He (Viscount Mahon) had heard several Gentlemen opposite state in private conversation that they were willing to make the concession claimed for the Jews on account of their respectable character and of the points of their creed which they held in common with them; but that they were not prepared to go further. It was right that those Gentlemen should be in formed that it was impossible to limit the application of the principle; once adopted it must be carried to its full extent. If Parliament should declare that a declaration on the true faith of a Christian should no longer be part of the oath required from Members, it would no longer have the right to impose any religious qualification whatever. It had been urged in the course of the debate, that the question of creed should rest between the Member of 250 Parliament and his constituents; that it was for them to inquire what his religious belief was, and to reject or elect him as they might think proper. Let him ask how far that doctrine was conformable with the principles of the constitution in similar cases? It was a principle of the constitution that Members of Parliament should possess a property qualification: might it not be as fairly urged as in the case of religious belief, that that was a matter which could very well be loft to the decision of a constituency, who alone were entitled to determine whether they would be represented by a rich man or a poor man? Might it not be said, "What right has any authority to make inquisition into the pecuniary circumstances of a man elected by a body of the people, and say that the object of their choice should not represent them, because he happens to be poor?" The same sort of reasoning might be applied to the oath of allegiance. Every body knew that in the last century a numerous party in that House supported the Pretender; and it might with just as much plausibility be argued that that was a case of extreme hardship, because the friends of the Stuarts in the constituencies were not permitted to send a few unhappy Jacobites to Parliament. The Archbishop of Dublin had recently published an able pamphlet on the Jewish question, which contained the following passage:—We ought to remember that this is not a Bill to entitle a number of Jews to seats in Parliament as Jews, but to remove the restriction which pre vents Christians from electing them. Is it not a scandal that we should think it necessary for the sake of Christianity to impose this restriction?How would the Archbishop of Dublin deal with the case of the oath of allegiance? Might it not be said, in the very words which the Archbishop had used, "Is it not a great scandal that we should think it necessary for the safety of the reigning family to impose this oath? is it not an imputation on the loyalty of the people?" Acknowledging, then, a qualification test and an oath of allegiance, why, he would ask, was it inconsistent to demand of all those elected by the people, a solemn re cognition of the Christian faith? It was his belief that the admission of Jews to Parliament would be a violation of what had hitherto been deemed an essential principle of the constitution. It had been asked—"What harm can result from the admission of a few Jews?" It was said that they had admitted the Jew to high 251 civil offices; that he was a member of a respectable but by no means numerous body; and that it was not likely many of that persuasion would find their way into Parliament. In passing, he would observe, that it was by no means certain that only a few Jews would obtain seats in Parliament. Although not very numerous in this country, the Jews possessed a large amount of wealth, and it appeared probable that the number who would aspire to enter the Legislature would be large in proportion to the comparative number of their body. But admitting, for the sake of argument, that the number of Jews admitted to Parliament under the proposed change of the law would be too small to hare any perceptible influence on its deliberations or decisions, was that a sufficient reason for violating a high principle? Was it enough to say that no immediate mischief would ensue from what was proposed to be done? This course of argument reminded him of the case of the casuists, so admirably put by Pascal in those letters which would immortalise his name. The casuists maintained that any violation of principle was justifiable if not productive of evil. Thus, for instance, the murder of a tyrant who oppressed his people would be beneficial to that people; thus, again, the robbery of a miser without heirs, and the bestowal of his hoarded wealth on public uses, would be beneficial to the poor. Admit the validity of such reasoning, and there was no act however criminal which might not be successfully defended. He said, therefore, that they must look to the principle itself. The principle was to be maintained entire, and was not to be abrogated merely because no immediate mischief might follow its violation. The noble Lord at the head of the Government laid great stress upon the case of Gibbon; he said, "Of what avail were your religious tests as regarded that disbeliever and powerful assailant of the truths of Christianity? He subscribed the pledge 'on the true faith of a Christian,' and took his seat quietly as one of the Lords of Trade on the corner of the Treasury bench." What advantage then, it was asked, did we derive from the oath he had taken? By way of illustration, he would revert to the oath of allegiance. If it were said that when Gibbon took his seat, and swore on the true faith of a Christian, there was no advantage in that oath, then they must contend also that there was no advantage in a Jacobite taking the oath of allegiance. 252 He had seen at Windsor among the Stuart Papers communications from persons of high rank and station, as, for example, Bishop Atterbury, who had taken the oath of allegiance to King George, but was all the while corresponding with King James. But though the oath could not, it seems, control Bishop Atterbury's Jacobite opinions, it did prevent him from disseminating or defending them. Now, as to the terms in the oath, "on the faith of a Christian." If a Deist took his seat in Parliament, having sworn "on the true faith of a Christian," he might retain his Deistical opinions still, but for his own sake he would conceal them. He could not attempt to diffuse them, or to taunt Christians with their faith. Contrast the case of Gibbon with that of Condorcet, and you had at once a proof of the advantage of the test now sought to be abolished. Gibbon, in the House of Commons, concealed his infidel opinions. Condorcet, in the French Convention, made a boast of them. What would happen if, in the present state of the law, a Member should revile Christianity? He believed that, in such a case, the right hon. Gentleman in the chair would feel it to be his duty to call him to order. But would the Speaker have the power or the right to interfere if the religious sanction were withdrawn? Might not the Member in that case say, "I know not why I should be thus called to order. I have not avowed my belief in Christianity; I have not sworn to any faith, and I am ready to declare, as Condorcet declared, my disbelief in the Christian religion?" The inevitable con sequence of parting with the religious sanction would be to lower the tone of debate, and to enable persons to give expression to irreligious opinions and sentiments in a manner which would be most painful at first, no doubt, to the majority, but which by custom would lose its offensive character, and at length become the recognised language of the House. He could not, therefore, resist the impression that this point was one of very great importance. By retaining the Christian oath, though it might not prevent all Deists from becoming Members of that House, it would at least have the effect of excluding all honourable Deists, who would not be guilty of the hypocrisy of taking an oath which did not bind their consciences, while it would also prevent others from openly at tempting to make those about them Deists like themselves. The hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Milnes) had stated in the 253 course of his speech, that when at Rome he had visited the Protestant church there, and that he had never witnessed a house of worship better or more fully attended; and that the minority of Protestants there, in the midst of a Roman Catholic majority, were more steadfast and confirmed in their religious principles than they might have been elsewhere. He confessed that he was at a loss to see what argument, or shadow of an argument, was to be drawn in favour of the present Bill from that fact. All that could be deduced from it was this—that a Jewish minority in this House, in the midst of a Christian majority, would be probably more zealous and earnest for their own religious tenets than they were before—and whether the Legislature was found to be very anxious for such a confirmation or reinvigoration of the Jewish faith, he would leave to the hon. Member for Pontefract himself to determine. He (Viscount Mahon) might per haps be charged with inconsistency in having given his support to the Bill for the admission of Jews to municipal offices, and then opposing their admission into Parliament; but he contended there was a great difference between the qualifications required for performing the duties of a sheriff or an alderman, or a justice of the peace, and those required for discharging the important functions of a Member of the Legislature. It was one thing to frame a law, or to assist in framing it, and another thing to administer that law when already framed. He most willingly ac corded to the Jews a share in all municipal rights, and in all the benefits which the late Act conferred; but he thought that the high matters brought under the consideration of that House, mixed, as they often were, with questions most closely connected with those concerning Christianity itself, were not of a nature to admit of Jews taking part in their deliberations. There was only one more point he wished to press upon the attention of the House, and he did so the rather because he saw in the pamphlet to which he had al ready referred, that Archbishop Whately, although not acknowledging the validity of the argument, yet admitted that it was more worthy of consideration than any of the others which he had attempted to refute. The Archbishop said that it might be argued that the Legislature, by removing practically the last barrier that excluded any person from a seat in the House of Commons on religious grounds, might be understood by the 254 people to manifest an indifference to religion, or a contempt for Christianity; and the passing such a Bill as the one now before the House might be considered as a deliberate admission on the part of the public rulers of this country that they considered a religious principle was of no intrinsic importance. Now, such he did think would be the popular effect of passing the present Bill. He most certainly did believe that the admission of Jews into the Legislature would have the effect of lowering the tone of religious feeling throughout the kingdom; that it would divest the people of that reliance which they at present felt in the religious character of Parliament; and that it would inflict a great and serious wound on the religious conscience of the country. On that ground he was strongly opposed to passing the Bill. He would end as he began, by disclaiming any intention to throw the slightest imputation on the character of the Jews in England; but he deemed it essential to the maintenance of the Christian religion in this country, that the last barrier which separated the believers in Christianity from those who denied Christianity altogether, should be preserved to the constitution. Believing this to be of such essential importance, and involving a principle that admitted of no compromise, he was deter mined to adhere on this occasion to the course he had on a preceding occasion pursued—to give it his most earnest and strenuous opposition.
§ SIR WILLIAM MOLESWORTH
Sir, there is one part of the subject which I think has been singularly overlooked, not only by the noble Lord who has just sat down, but by other hon. Gentlemen who have taken the same view of the subject, and it is this: if the Bill of the noble Lord be rejected, what substitute will hon. Gentlemen opposite propose in its stead? Have they well considered this question? Surely they will not let the law remain in its present state. Have they considered the dilemma in which the House is placed by the fact that an hon. Gentleman who professes the Jewish religion is become a Member of the House of Commons? It appears to me that, as a necessary consequence of that event, Parliament must adopt one of two alternatives. Either Parliament must agree to the Bill of the noble Lord, which will en able an hon. Member who professes the Jewish religion to perform his duties in the House of Commons, or Parliament 255 must pass a law which shall declare null and void the election of any person who does not believe in the Christian religion. It appears to me that Parliament must adopt one or other of these alternatives; for if the House will permit me to call its attention to the state of the law, as it would affect an hon. Member who professes the Jewish religion, I think I can prove to the satisfaction of the House that there is an immediate necessity for altering that law. It is certain that, as the law now stands, an hon. Gentleman who professes the Jewish religion may be law fully chosen a Member of the House of Commons, and that he is not legally in eligible on account of his religious belief; for, according to Blackstone, "every subject of the realm is eligible of common right" to be a Member of the House of Commons, subject to certain standing restrictions and disqualifications. Some of these depend upon the law and custom of Parliament as declared by the House of Commons; others upon certain statutes. It is unnecessary for me to enumerate these disqualifications. They are to be found in Blackstone, or in any of the ordinary law-books on the subject. No one, however, will contradict me when I assert that "belief in the Jewish religion" is not one of those disqualifications. I contend, therefore, that Baron Rothschild has been lawfully chosen a Member of the House of Commons; consequently he is legally bound to serve in Parliament; for, according to the well-known principles of constitutional law, every person who is lawfully chosen a Member of the House of Commons must serve, whether he be willing to do so or not; and the House has even held that an hon. Gentleman who had been elected against his will was eligible, and could not refuse to serve. Now, by the statute for the trial of election petitions, every hon. Member who is not disqualified for reasons specified in that statute, may be appointed upon an Election Committee. And I find the name of Baron Rothschild on the election panel E, No. 4. He is not disqualified to serve, for "belief in the Jewish religion" is not one of the grounds of disqualification specified in the statute in question. I assume, therefore, that Baron Rothschild will, when his turn comes, be appointed upon an Election Committee. It may be said, that the Committee of Selection will not appoint him: no doubt they will at present exercise a sound discretion upon the subject; but if they were to lay down the rule that Baron 256 Rothschild is not to be appointed, on account of his religious faith, then it is evident they would assume a power which they do not possess under the statute, and for the exercise of which they would de serve censure. I assume, therefore, that, sooner or later, Baron Rothschild will be appointed upon an Election Committee, and that on a certain day he will be ordered to attend in his place to be sworn on that Committee. If he do not attend, the law is imperative that "he shall be taken into the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms for neglect of his duty, and otherwise punished or censured." If he do attend, without having previously taken certain oaths, what will be the consequences? There are three oaths, which every hon. Gentleman who does not profess the Catholic religion ought to take before he sit or vote in the House of Commons, namely, the oath of allegiance, the oath of supremacy, and the oath of abjuration. Now, the statutes which have reference to the oaths of allegiance and supremacy are different from those which have reference to the oath of abjuration. I need not trouble the House by referring to the statutes with regard to the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. I will merely observe, that if Baron Rothschild were to sit or vote in the House of Commons without previously taking those oaths, he would become a Popish recusant convict under an Act of Charles II., entitled "An Act for disabling Papists from sitting in either House of Parliament," and which Act has been repealed as far as Papists are concerned. Being convicted of Popish recusancy, Baron Rothschild would incur certain pains, penalties, forfeitures, and disabilities; for instance, he would for ever be disabled from sitting or voting in the House of Commons: the House would be entitled to declare his place vacant, and to issue a new writ for a new election for the city of London; and if he were then to be re-elected, all votes given to him, after due notice, would be lost, and an Election Committee would be entitled to seat his opponent. But Baron Rothschild can have no religious objection to taking the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. It is certain that he would be entitled to take those oaths in the same manner as he would take an oath in the courts of justice; for there is no provision in the Act of the 30th Charles II., statute 2, as to the mode in which these oaths are to be taken; consequently he would be entitled at common 257 law to take those oaths according to the Jewish mode of taking an oath. There can he no doubt upon this subject after the precedent established in the case of Mr. Pease, formerly Member for South Durham. In that case the House held that Mr. Pease, being a Quaker, was entitled to make an affirmation in lieu of an oath at the table of the House, without any specific statute to that effect, on the ground that Quakers are entitled by statute to make an affirmation in lieu of an oath in the courts of law; and being so entitled in courts of law, the House held that they were therefore entitled to make an affirmation in lieu of an oath at the table of the House. Now, in the case of Jews, no statute was ever required to enable them to take an oath in the courts of justice, according to the Jewish mode, for they always possessed that right at common law. Therefore it follows that Baron Rothschild would be entitled to take at the table of the House the oaths of allegiance and supremacy in the same manner as he would take an oath in the courts of law; in the same manner as Jews have taken the oaths in question, when required to do so by various statutes to which I can refer—namely, according to the Jewish mode. There remains, therefore, only the oath of abjuration, which Baron Rothschild is unable to take. What would be the consequences if Baron Rothschild were to at tend in his place to be sworn on an Election Committee without previously taking that oath? The statute now in force with regard to the oath of abjuration is the 6th Geo. III., c. 53, which refers to 1st Geo. I., statute 2, c. 13, which latter statute contains the penalties which an hon. Member would incur for voting in the House without taking the oath of abjuration. Now I beg the House to observe—first, that these statutes give no power to the House to unseat an hon. Member who shall sit or vote in the House without taking the oath of abjuration; secondly, that though they require that every hon. Member should take that oath before "he shall vote in the House of Commons, or sit there during a debate," yet in the penal clause, the words "sitting there during a debate" are omitted. The penalty is attached only to the act of "voting," and no penalty is attached to the act of "sitting in the House.'' Now, I will not assert that there is any legal difference between the act of "voting" and the act of "sitting in the House." But it appears to me that if 258 Baron Rothschild were to obey an order of the House, and merely to attend in his place to be sworn on an Election Committee, it would be a question for the Judges to decide whether such attendance in obedience to the order of the House, under the Statute of 7 & 8 Vic, c. 103, would constitute the crime of voting under the Statute of 1st Geo. I., st. 2, c. 13. But whatever might be the decision of the Judges with regard to the legal character of such an act, it is certain that the House would have no power under this statute to unseat Baron Rothschild, even in the event of his voting in the House without previously taking the oath of abjuration. And it appears to me, likewise, that the House would have no power to dispense with the services of Baron Rothschild on an Election Committee, if he were appointed to serve; for the statute for the trial of election petitions is imperative, that every hon. Member who is appointed must serve, unless specially disqualified; and the omitting or refusing to take the oath of abjuration is not among the disqualifications specified in the statute in question. It is evident, therefore, that the law is in a very anomalous state, and that the House has no power either to enable Baron Rothschild to perform his duties as a lawfully chosen Member of the House, or to relieve him from the obligation to perform those duties. It may be supposed that the House has the power to expel Baron Rothschild, and to order a new writ to be issued for the city of London. I do not deny that the House did possess the power, and may still possess the power, of expelling any one of its Members for any reason or for no reason; but since the period when the House transferred its primary jurisdiction in election matters to its Committees, it has not exercised its power of expulsion, except in cases in which its Members have been convicted of grave offences. According to the law and custom of Parliament, the House would be entitled to expel an hon. Member who was convicted of treason, felony, or fraudulent misdemeanor, but not, I think, for any minor offence; and, certainly, no law nor custom of Parliament can be cited, nor precedent can be produced, which would entitle the House to expel one of its Members on account of his religious belief. But if the House were to expel Baron Rothschild, it is quite clear that as the law now stands, a vote of expulsion would not legally disqualify him from being re-elected to serve in the same 259 Parliament. It is true that in the well known case of Mr. Wilkes, the House re solved that Mr. Wilkes, having been expelled the House, was incapable of being elected to serve in that Parliament; and when Mr. Wilkes was again elected, the House resolved that his election was null and void, and that his opponent, Mr. Luttrell, was duly elected. But this vote cannot be cited as a precedent, for it was subsequently ordered to be expunged from the journals of the House, as "being subversive of the rights of the whole body of the electors of this kingdom." In another well-known case, an hon. Member was convicted—unjustly it now appears—of a conspiracy to defraud, and was on that account expelled the House. He was immediately re-elected: his return, however, was not questioned, and he continued to be a Member of the House of Commons, though a prisoner in the King's Bench; consequently, if the House were to expel Baron Rothschild, that vote of expulsion would not render him ineligible, would not disqualify him from being re-elected, and would not relieve the House from the dilemma in which it is placed by his late election. The sum and substance of my argument is this: Baron Rothschild has been lawfully chosen a Member of the House of Commons, consequently he is legally bound to serve, and may be summoned to attend in his place in Parliament. If, when summoned, he do not attend, he must be taken into custody and otherwise punished. If he do attend, he would be entitled to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy according to the Jewish mode of taking an oath; but his religious faith Would prevent him from taking the oath of abjuration. He would therefore refuse to take that oath. What would be the con sequence? Now, I cannot pretend to say whether such a refusal would or would not, under the circumstances of the case, constitute an offence for which he could be punished. It is certain, however, that the House has no power to relieve Baron Rothschild from the obligation to take the oath of abjuration—no power to relieve him from the obligation to attend in his place in the House—no power to dispense with his services on an Election Commit tee—no power to declare his election null and void; and that no law nor custom of Parliament can be cited, no precedent can be produced, which would justify the House in expelling him. If, nevertheless, the House were to expel the hon. Gentle- 260 man, he would not thereby become legally ineligible; and as often as the House might expel him, so often would the electors of the city of London be legally entitled to re-elect him. Whether they would do so or not is beside the question. I have shown that a dilemma exists, from the horns of which the House can escape only by means of an Act of Parliament. What that Act should be is the question. The noble Lord has proposed this Bill. The hon. Members who object to that measure are bound to propose a substitute more in accordance with their principles. Why have they not done so? They maintain that Christianity is part and parcel of the British constitution, and that all persons should be excluded from the House of Commons who do not profess the true faith of a Christian; and they affirm that the oath of abjuration is a sufficient test of that faith. To enforce these principles their simplest and easiest plan would be to propose that the law with regard to the oath of abjuration should be the same as the law with regard to the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. For this purpose they need only bring in a short Bill to ex tend the provisions of the 30th Charles II., st. 2, to the case of hon. Members not taking the oath of abjuration. Then if Parliament were to agree to such a Bill, every hon. Member who should refuse or omit to take either of the oaths of allegiance, supremacy, or abjuration, would, un less he were a Roman Catholic, become a Popish recusant convict, and be subject to all the pains of Popish recusancy; and then the House would be entitled to unseat and declare ineligible both Baron Rothschild and any other hon. Member who professes the Jewish religion. The question is, therefore, between the Bill of the noble Lord, and a Bill to extend the provisions of the 30th Charles II., st. 2. Now, will any one of the hon. Gentlemen opposite under take to bring in such a Bill? If not, I appeal to them as practical men whether they ought not to agree to the Bill of the noble Lord as the only practicable means of relieving the House from the dilemma in which it is placed by the state of the law, and by the election of Baron Rothschild. Now, the object of the Bill of the noble Lord is merely to make such an alteration in the form, not in the substance, of the oath of abjuration, by omitting the words "upon the true faith of a Christian," as shall enable an hon. Gentleman who professes the Jewish religion to take that 261 oath. Now, what objection can be made to the proposed alteration? No one can assert that the oath of abjuration was originally intended as a religious test. The only one of the three oaths which had the character of a religious test was the oath of supremacy; and that oath was directed against the Papists, who were the only religious sect of whom our ancestors entertained any apprehension. On the contrary, the oath of abjuration was directed, not against the Papists, nor any other religion, but against the adherents of the Pretender, to whatever sect they might belong; and the words "on the true faith of a Christian" were employed merely to give additional force to the oath of abjuration. It is easy to prove this position, that the object of the Legislature was merely to secure the Hanoverian succession by the strongest oath it could devise, and not to create a religious test. For whenever the words in question, by acting as a religious test, were found practically to prevent a person from taking the oath of abjuration, then the Legislature interfered, and sanctioned the omission of those words. For instance, in the year 1722, an Act was passed which required that all persons of the age of eighteen and upwards, who had not previously taken the three oaths, should take them before the 25th December, 1723. Before that period arrived another Act was passed—10 George I., cap. 4—which contained a clause to the effect that whenever any per son professing the Jewish religion shall present himself to take the oath of abjuration in pursuance of the Act of 1722, then the words "upon the faith of a Christian" shall be omitted out of the said oath in administering the same to such person. I find like wise a similar clause in the Act of 1740 (13 George II., cap. 7, sec. 3), which was passed for the purpose of naturalising persons settled in the colonies, and which Act required that all such persons should take the three oaths. These two Acts, there fore, prove that it was the intention of the Legislature not in any way to create a religious test by means of the oath of abjuration, but only to secure the Hanoverian succession by requiring its subjects to take the strongest oath it could devise. Consistently with this intention, whenever the Legislature found that practical inconvenience was likely to ensue from the wording of the oath of abjuration, and that persons who ought to take that oath would be prevented from so doing by the words 262 "on the true faith of a Christian," then the Legislature interfered, and sanctioned the omission of those words. Now, for the first time, the case has arisen that an hon. Gentleman has been elected a Member of this House who professes the Jewish religion, and who cannot, therefore, take the oath of abjuration in the ordinary form. Parliament ought, therefore, in accordance with the undeniable precedents which I have quoted, to interfere, and it ought to enact in this case, as it did in 1723 and 1740, that when any person professing the Jewish religion shall present himself to take the oath of abjuration, then the words "upon the true faith of a Christian" shall be omitted out of the said oath in administering the same. And such is the object of the Bill of the noble Lord. I do not, however, mean to assert that the question under the consideration of the House is to be settled by mere precedents. For it is in fact a question between two great principles, that have battled against each other since the commencement of civilisation. On the one side is the principle of religious equality; on the other the antagonist principle, that the State is competent to determine, and ought to determine, what religion is the true religion. Now, this doctrine of the religious infallibility of the State, has been in all ages, and among all people, the plea for the crimes of intolerance and persecution. Under that plea Socrates was put to death, and the Saviour was crucified. Under that plea the Pagan emperors immolated the early Christians, the Albigenses were slaughtered, and our own fires were lighted in Smithfield. Under that plea Catholics burnt Protestants, Protestants burnt Catholics, and Calvin kindled the faggot of Servetus with the approbation of Melancthon. Even the pilgrim fathers of New England were persecutors, and hung Quakers on the gibbets of Massachusetts. Under the same plea in modern times we excluded Dissenters from our corporations, and Catholics from Parliament. And for the same reasons Jews are now refused a seat in the British House of Commons. But religious liberty has triumphed over the rude bigotry of antiquity, and the cruel persecutions of our forefathers. It will ultimately achieve a victory over the milder intolerance of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The result will be peace and good will among men of every faith who are subjects of the British empire. In legislating on this question, let us remember that we are 263 not merely the representatives of the people of this small island, which is inhabited by men of one race, one language, and one religion; but we are the rulers over a mighty empire, over millions on millions of human beings of every race, every language, and every religion; and we are likewise the parent stock whence in future ages still mightier empires may spring. In the eminent position that we have attained through the energy of our forefathers and of ourselves—famed as we are throughout the world for sagacity, prudence, and fore thought—our practical decisions on the great questions that affect the interests of the human race are watched with intense anxiety by all intelligent and reflecting men. Every onward step that England takes is a step in the civilisation of the world; and the policy of England will gradually become the policy of all enlightened nations. Now, twice of late years we have rendered noble service to our fellow-beings—twice well deserved the thanks of mankind, for the example we have set to the other rulers of the earth: first, when we freed our negro slaves, and proclaimed that to hold men in bondage was inexpedient, unholy, and unjust; secondly, when we removed restrictions on commercial intercourse, broke down the barriers that had long separated neighbouring States, and bound together hitherto hostile communities by the strong ties of mutual interest, which are by far the most potent securities against the hideous calamities of war. Now, Sir, to the principles of civil liberty and commercial freedom, let us join in the government of this empire the third great principle of religious equality. Now is the time—now that the electors of Lon don, the wealthy and energetic citizens of this commercial metropolis of the universe, have chosen as their representative a Gentleman professing the Jewish faith; and let me remark that wherever Jews are to be found despised, persecuted, and op pressed—in Germany or Poland, in Russia or Asia Minor—there the result of this election for the city of London has been hailed by them with joy and exultation, as elevating them to the social state, and putting them on an equality with their fellow-men; for admission into the British House of Commons is justly considered to be a mark of higher distinction to their race than any title or honour that monarchs can bestow. Now, let us confirm this decision of our foremost citizens. Now is the time to declare that as legislators we 264 have no business with articles of faith; that our laws should be silent on all questions of religion; and that as adherents of every creed are to be found among the subjects of the British empire, adding to its wealth, augmenting its resources, and increasing its power, so they should all possess the same civil rights and privileges as citizens. And thus let us sweep away the last relics of the ancient reign of imbecile bigotry and intolerance in its dotage.
§ MR. WALPOLE
was bound to defend the principle upon which Jews were excluded from a seat in Parliament, without infringing upon that constitution which it was the high boast and privilege of this country to have established. He fully agreed with the hon. Baronet who had just sat down, that the question at issue was not so much one of expediency as of principle. At the same time, he could not al together overlook the question of expediency; and he thought that the House would see that the reasons based upon this ground for admitting the Jews to Parliament, did not preponderate over those for their exclusion. He would allow that their paucity of numbers was some argument for their admission; and he was still more willing to concede that the high integrity of their character afforded an argument much stronger. But when hon. Members came to apply the common test, which was applied in all cases where an alteration was made in the constitution, they would find that there was no reason for extending these privileges to the Jews. They could not say that at present the Jew laboured under any practical grievance, or was subject to any vexatious restriction. They could not say there was any exclusion on the ground of dress or worship, as on the Continent; nor could they contend that any great principle of civil and religious liberty was to be vindicated. The House should bear in mind that when the Test Act was repealed, the important principle was admitted that Dissenters and Nonconformists might obtain admission into corporations, in the affairs of which, prior to that, they could take no share. The main reason for passing the Roman Catholic Relief Bill was because a large portion of the inhabitants of the empire were nearly in a state of civil war, and it was necessary to ensure tranquillity. Could anything of the kind be said now? The people concurred in the propriety and policy of those Acts; but could it be maintained that they did so with respect to the 265 present measure? Thirty-six thousand out of as many millions was not such a proportion as could influence their judgment by appealing to their fears, or persuade them by the weight of its authority. But with regard to these very persons, he believed that the mass of them would prefer to continue as they were; that they were content to live under a Christian Queen and a Christian Legislature, who would protect their lives and maintain their religion. Viewing it as a question of expediency, he was prepared to object to it no less than when he considered it with reference to what he conceived to be the fundamental laws of the constitution. Looking to it as a question of principle, there were many considerations of importance which compelled him to inquire if the profession of the religion adopted by the great majority of the people of any country, should be made a necessary qualification before any inhabitant of it should be allowed to take a part in its legislation? In answer to that question, and in order to solve the problem, they must inquire whether men were bound to maintain in their national capacity that which as private citizens they conceived themselves bound to maintain as the truth? He would put that question on a narrow ground: this country was, and always had been, a Christian country—Christianity was a fundamental law in the constitution of the State; and unless it could be proved that there was an absolute necessity to alter it, they should no more abrogate it than any other fundamental law of the State. If the great majority of the people desired the change, and if it were their deliberate conviction as Members of that House that the law should be altered, then, and then only, ought they to make so great an alteration. He thought he could prove that the axiom that Christianity was part and parcel of the law of the land, meant something more than his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. W. P. Wood) was willing to admit. Not to go back to times so ancient as had been referred to in the course of the debate, he would satisfy himself with commencing at the time of the Conquest. There was a remarkable edict issued by the first Norman Conqueror, which contained a profession of faith as founded on the fact of Christianity. Since his time all our monarchs had recognised Christianity, and had confessed the profession of that religion to be their tenure of the throne. At this very moment the Sovereigns were required, at their accession, to 266 profess it, and to promise to maintain the laws of God. According to the quaint old saying in the Norman French of Henry the Sixth's time, the Scriptures were the law of the land, on which all our laws were founded. The authority of Hale and Raymond had been quoted in the debate; but the hon. Member who relied on these high names had forgotten to tell the House the principle on which the first-named great judge had rested the maxim, that Christianity was part and parcel of the law of the land—namely, that anything which struck at the root of Christianity was manifestly subversive of all civil government. Lord Hardwicke also said, in the course of the judgment which had been quoted to the House, speaking of Christianity, that the constitution and polity of the country hung thereupon. If these words meant anything, they must mean that Christianity was part and parcel of the law of the land, in a more extended and comprehensive sense than that it was illegal to scoff at it. But he could not rest here—he could not but think it strange that no hon. Member had referred to the writ by which they were summoned to that House. Could any one read it and say that religion had nothing to do with legislation? In the old form it ran, that Her Majesty was advised to call them together—"de communi consilio super quibusdam rebus ad regem, statum, et defensionem Angliœ et Ecclesiœ Anglicanœ pertinentibus." Here the Church was named last; but Lord Coke would tell them that though the Church was last mentioned, it was the first in intent, for it so appeared in every Act of Parliament. Could it be maintained, then, that legislation had nothing to do with religion? How could those who differed from them in religion, advise them in the very matter wherein their difference lay? and how could a Jew legislate for that Church of England which was incorporated with the very essence of our legislation? If he were right in maintaining Christianity to be a fundamental law of the constitution, he must be also right in maintaining that a change ought not to be made in. this respect, unless the great bulk of the people desired it, and that wisdom of Parliament counselled them that their desire was just. Unless this could be done, it would be unwise to disturb the public mind on a matter so serious as the national religion. On looking back to history, he found that the mass of the people had never desired this change at all; and if he 267 looked to the present time, he could not feel that the petitions presented to the House were any stronger evidence of the existence of such a desire on their part now. On the contrary, a different feeling would be found—not noisy or clamorous, to be sure, but deeply and strongly impressed. Had the hon. Member given any reason for this change? He had listened closely to the whole debate, and endeavoured to form definite notions of the principal arguments which had been adduced in favour of the Bill. The first of these appeared to be that they had advanced so far already that it would be an anomaly and absurdity if they were not to go one step further. It was conceded that Jews might be recorders, mayors, and magistrates; and it was argued that it would be absurd to deprive them of the right to legislate. The noble Member for Bath (Lord Ashley) had hinted at a distinction in this respect which appeared to him sound and just. There was a clear ground of difference, as appeared to him, Between the position of those who made the laws and those who had to execute them. The magistrate acted on his own interpretation of the law; but in making that law the Members of the House acted on the principle that they were a part of the constitution. The executor of the laws must not necessarily be a Christian, provided he administered them justly and well; but the maker of the laws ought to be a Christian, inasmuch as those laws concerned a Christian Church and people. The second argument, which appeared to him to be the most ingenious and plausible, so that he was in some degree constrained to admit the force of it, was, that as they had entitled the Jew to be an elector, they should entitle him to be elected also. The right hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Glad stone) asked who was to make the makers of their laws; and thence proceeded back to bestow on the elective body the principle of legislation, inasmuch as they made those who made the laws. But this argument confounded two matters which were essentially distinct, and proceeded on an assumption which was not correct, namely, that the qualification for the franchise and the qualification for an office were exactly the same thing? Was that so? On the contrary, it was true that by the constitution the right to vote and the capacity to be elected had been always kept distinct. The franchise belonged to the subject, be cause he had interests to be protected; but 268 the right belonged to him only as a Subject of the Crown: in the same way the right to sit in the House was not granted to any man for his benefit as an individual. That was a fallacy on which they all went. Legislation was an office, it was a matter of trust, and the possession of a seat in that House was conferred by the public, for whose advantage alone it was given. It would then be absurd and ridiculous to argue the question on this ground, unless they contended that legislation was an office for the benefit of the individual and not of the nation. He would illustrate the argument by a few examples. The subscribers to an hospital had all a vote in the choice of a physician; but they would never think of electing any but a medical man. Again, all the members of a corporation could vote for the election of a town-clerk; but the citizens would be greatly surprised if they saw any but a member of the legal profession appointed to take care of their interests. But the strongest case of all was that of our own clergy. Until the commencement of the present century the clergy had had the right of sitting in Parliament, and Home Tooke sat there and voted for the Bill which excluded them; and since that period no ministers of the Established Church of England or Scotland were eligible to seats in that House. Here then was a class of men who might elect, but could not be elected; and this restriction was indigenous to their state, while it was enacted that as ministers of the Established Church they should not sit in the House; and the exclusion was extended to Scottish or Ro man Catholic priests. Suppose the minister had no cure of souls, why should be not have a voice in the Legislature? Both these classes of persons had rights and interests which ought to be protected, and the House justly said they should be electors, but not elective—in the case of the ministers, because they should not be mixed up in temporal matters—in the case of the Jews, because they were incapable of acting on Christian principle or feeling; but the exclusion did not extend to Non conformist ministers. The third argument had been that urged by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) in that able way where with he was wont in one short sentence to comprehend some great constitutional principle; but in this instance it appeared as though the noble Lord had been carried away by an antithesis. He said—and he was vehemently cheered in saying so—that 269 all who bore the burdens of the State, ought to be entitled to the honours and emoluments of the State. To a certain extent that was true, but not so in its full comprehension. The best answer to the assertion would be—why, if all who bear the burdens of the State ought to be on titled to honours and emoluments, should you, by the 6th section of this very Act, exclude Jews from the Chancellorship or Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland. There was a just ground for the exclusion; but on the principle of the noble Lord, exclusion could not be maintained. So far from this principle being correct, it would be nearer the truth to say that more of those who bore the burdens of the State were excluded from them, than were admitted to its honours and emoluments. What were the tests, for instance, applied to Members of that House? They were those of age, of sex, of property, of profession, of office, of country. They should remember that those tests had not always existed, or been enforced. With respect to age, for in stance, they excluded minors; but they had not always done so, for Mr. Fox sat in Parliament, before he was twenty, for the borough that he (Mr. Walpole) now represented (Midhurst). They excluded persons who had not a certain amount of property; and, let him tell them, there were hundreds of persons in this country as well able to legislate as those who sat there. What was the case of the naturalised alien? Did they not apply to him the test of country? He might have lived with them twenty, thirty, or forty years; he might be as capable of legislating as any Member of that House, and yet he could not be a Member of it, nor a Member of the Privy Council. Did he ask the reason of all this? No; because he did not doubt that there were good and sufficient ones. The statutes of the realm expressed them. If they referred to them, they would find that the naturalised alien was excluded, for the better security of the laws, liberty, and independence of the kingdom, because they had no sufficient guarantee either for his allegiance or his religion, and therefore they passed a perpetual law of exclusion against him. On what grounds, then, could they admit the Jews? Did not the same reasons hold good against him as against the alien? The Jew had a separate creed and a separate interest; he was a citizen of the world, who had no land of his own, unless it should please God in his providence to restore him. He was governed 270 by a rule of life perfectly distinct from all their notions of law and liberty; and if such was the fact, how could they say that he should be admitted? There was one argument urged by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), which seemed to have great weight with the House, and that was, that the constitution of the country was expansive, and that they were first of all a Church of England Parliament, that then they were a Protestant Parliament, and that now they were a Christian Parliament. Following out that line of argument, he did not see why they should not become a Deistical Parliament. He believed that the reason why the right hon. Gentleman's argument met so much favour was from the fact that as since the repeal of the Test Act so many different shades of opinion had found a representative among them, no valid reason could exist why they should not introduce another. It might be true, and unfortunately it was true, that they were a divided people; but the House should re collect that they were united in one point—they were a Christian people still. They were still built up in one form of government, founded upon Christianity, whose seal was the cross. They preserved in their opinions a sort of unity, and they should reflect seriously whether they ought not to preserve that unity even at the cost of being called bigoted. If they introduced all kinds of religion into that House, they ought to consider whether such a course would not give to the people of this country the unfortunate notion that the State was indifferent about the affairs of religion, inasmuch as they might conclude that when ever they saw a desire for novelty, variety, and change, it introduced along with it a great presumption of falsity and error. As long as they gave to the Jew every other right, a free exercise of his religion, and extended to him the safeguards of the law, they would not be committing an act of persecution against the Jews. If there was one nation more than another to whom he would extend every indulgence, it was the Jewish; and when he saw that the noble Lord was returned conjointly with a Jew, his first impression was, that he should probably support the admission of the latter to a seat in the House; and it was not until he had considered the subject deeply and maturely, that he felt himself bound to adopt the course which he had just explained; it was therefore, not without a struggle against his own feelings 271 that he opposed the Bill. He (sympathised with the Jewish people. Their history was rich in the recollections of the past, and richer still in the anticipation of the future. He felt that the time would come when they would be what they once were, the favoured people of the Lord. That event would take place without their giving them any ascendancy over them. His feelings, his sympathies, were in their favour; but the question was one of principle, and when principle was at stake, feeling should give way. He believed that Christianity was blended and inter woven with their constitution, and that they could not separate the one from the other. He could not consent to destroy, whatever his private feelings were, that distinctive character of the country which had advanced its temporal interests so proudly, and obtained for it such a moral elevation—that principle which had taught the people firmly to believe that there was only one standard of right and wrong—if they once broke that down—if they once destroyed that line of demarcation by admitting the fatal maxim of the noble Lord, "that those who bore the burdens of the State were entitled to its honours and emoluments"—it would be impossible to say where they would stop. Such a principle was untrue; they had thousands of instances that such was not the fact. They should in no manner diminish the principle on which the State had been founded—a principle associated in the minds of all reflecting men with the greatness of the country, because associated with its goodness. He besought the House to bear in mind that solemn language which they had all heard yesterday (Sunday), that "what ever ye do in word or deed, ye shall do all in the name of the Lord Jesus."
§ MR. SHEIL
If the honourable, the learned, and exceedingly able Gentleman who has just sat down had been a Member of the House of Commons when the Member for Tamworth brought forward the measure of emancipation, the speech which he has this night pronounced against the Jew, would have been fully as apposite upon that great historical occasion. With all his habits of fine forensic discrimination, I do not think that he can distinguish between the objections urged against the Catholic and against the Jew. He has, for example, strenuously insisted that in the writ by which the sheriff is commanded to hold an election, a reference is made to the maintenance and the defence of the 272 Anglican Church. That objection is nearly as strong when applied to the Unitarian, the Baptist, the Independent, and, above all, to the professors of the religion to which it is my good fortune to belong. That men subject to all the duties should be deemed unworthy of the rights of Englishmen, appears to me to be a remarkable anomaly. The enjoyment of rights ought not to be dissociated from the liabilities to duties. A British subject ought, in every regard, to be considered a British citizen; and, inasmuch as the professors of the most ancient religion in the world, which, as far as it goes, we not only admit to be true, but hold to be the foundation of our own, are bound to the performance of every duty which attaches to a British subject, to a full fruition of every right which be longs to a British citizen, they have, I think, an irrefragable title. A Jew born in England cannot transfer his allegiance from his Sovereign and his country; if he were to enter the service of a foreign Power engaged in hostilities with England, and were taken in arms, he would be accounted a traitor. Is a Jew an Englishman for no other purposes than those of condemnation? I am not aware of a single obligation to which other English men are liable, from which a Jew is exempt; and if his religion confers on him no sort of immunity, it ought not to affect him with any kind of disqualification. It has been said, in the course of these discussions, that a Jew is not subject to penalties, but to privations. But what is privation but a synonyme for penalty? Privation of life, privation of liberty, privation of property, privation of country, privation of right, privation of privilege—these are degrees widely distant indeed, but still degrees in the graduated scale of persecution. The Parliamentary disability that affects the Jew, has been designated in the course of these debates by the mollified expressions to which men who impart euphemism to severity, are in the habit of resorting: but most assuredly an exclusion from the House of Commons ought in the House of Commons itself to be regarded as a most grievous detriment. With the dignity, and the greatness, and the power of this, the first assembly in the world, the hardship of exclusion is commensurate. Some of the most prominent opponents of this measure are among the last by whom a seat in Parliament ought to be held in little account. On this branch of the case—the hardship of an exclusion from this 273 House—I can speak as a witness as well as an advocate. I belong to that great and powerful community which was a few years ago subject to the same disqualification that affects the Jew; and I felt that disqualification to be most degrading. Of myself I will not speak, because I can speak of the most illustrious person by whom that community was adorned. I have sat under the gallery of the House of Commons, by the side of Mr. O'Connell, during a great discussion on which the destiny of Ireland was dependent. I was with him when Plunket convinced, and Brougham surprised, and Canning charmed, and Peel instructed, and Russell exalted and improved. How have I seen him repine at his exclusion from the field of high intellectual encounter in those lists in which so many competitors for glory were engaged, and into which, with an injurious tardiness, he was afterwards admitted! How have I seen him chafe the chain which bound him down, but which, with an effort of gigantic prowess, he burst at last to pieces! He was at the head of millions of an organised and indissoluble people. The Jew comes here with no other arguments than those which reason and truth supply; but reason and truth are of counsel with him; and in this assembly, which I believe to represent, not only the high intelligence, but the high-mindedness of England, reason will not long be baffled, and truth, in fulfilment of its great aphorism, will at last prevail. I will assume that the exclusion from this House is a great privation, and I proceed to consider whether it be not a great wrong. Nothing but necessity could afford its justification; and of this plea we should be taught, by a phrase which has almost grown proverbial, to beware. Cardinal Caraffa relied upon necessity when he founded that celebrated tribunal whose practices are denounced by you, but upon whose maxims have a care lest you should unconsciously proceed. The sophistications of intolerance are refuted by their inconsistencies. If a Jew can choose, wherefore should he not be chosen? If a Jew can vote for a Christian, why should not a Christian vote for a Jew? Again, the Jew is admissible to the highest municipal employments: a Jew can be high sheriff—in other words, he can empannel the jury by which the first Christian commoner in England may be tried for his life. But if necessity is to be pleaded as a justification 274 for the exclusion of the Jew, it must be founded on some great peril which would arise from his admission. What is it you fear? What is the origin of this Hebrewphobia? Do you tremble for the Church? The Church has something perhaps to fear from eight millions of Catholics, and from three millions of Methodists, and more than a million of Scotch seceders. The Church may have some thing to fear from the assault of sectaries from without, and still more to fear from a sort of spurious Popery and the machinations of mitred mutiny from within; but from the Synagogue—the neutral, impartial, apathetic, and unproselytising Synagogue—the Church has nothing to apprehend. But it is said that the House will be unchristianised. The Christianity of the Parliament depends on the Christianity of the country; and the Christianity of the country is fixed in the faith, and inseparably intertwined with the affections of the people. It is as stable as England her self; and as long as Parliament shall endure, while the constitution shall stand, until the great mirror of the nation's mind shall have been shattered to pieces, the religious feelings of the country will be faithfully reflected here. This is a security far better than can be supplied by a test which presents a barrier to an honest Jew, but which a scornful sceptic can so readily and so disdainfully overleap. Reference has been made in the course of these discussions to the author of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: a name still more illustrative might have been cited. Was not the famous St. John—was not Bolingbroke—the fatally accomplished, the admiration of the admirable—to whom genius paid an almost idolatrous homage, and by whom a sort of fascination was exercised over all those who had the misfortune to approach him—was not the unhappy sceptic, by whom far more mischief to religion and morality must have been done, than could be effected by half a hundred of the men by whom the Old Testament is exclusively received—a Member of this House? Was he stopped by the test that arrests the Jew; or did he not trample upon it, and ascend through this House to a sort of masterdom in England, and become the confidential and favourite adviser of his Sovereign? He was not only an avowed and ostentatious infidel, but he was swayed by a distempered and almost insane solicitude 275 for the dissemination of his disastrous disbelief. Is it not, then, preposterous that a man by whom all revealed religion is repudiated—who doubts the immortality of the soul—doubts a future state of rewards and punishments—doubts in a superintending Providence—believes in no thing, fears nothing, and hopes for no thing—without any incentive to virtue, and without any restraint upon depravity, excepting such as a sense of conventional honour, or the promptings of a natural goodness, may have given him—is it not, I say, preposterous, and almost monstrous, that such a man, for whom a crown of deadly nightshade should be woven, should be enabled by playing the imposture of a moment, and uttering a valueless formula at the table of the House, to climb to the pinnacle of power; and that you should slap the doors of this House with indignity upon a conscientious man who adheres to the faith in which he was born and bred—who believes in the great facts that constitute the foundation of Christianity—who believes in the perpetual existence of the nobler portion of our being—who believes in future retribution, and in recompense to come—who believes that the world is taken care of by its al mighty and everlasting Author—who believes in the mercy of God, and practises humanity to man—who fulfils the ten great injunctions in which all morality is com prised—whose ear was never deaf to the supplications of the suffering—whose hand is as open as day to charity—and whose life presents an exemplification of the precepts of the Gospel far more faithful than that of many a man by whom, in the name of the Gospel, his dishonouring and unchristian disabilities are most wantonly, most injuriously, and most opprobriously maintained? But where in the Scripture—in what chapter, in what text, in what single phrase—will you find an authority for resorting to the infliction of temporal penalty, or of temporal privation of any kind, as a means of propagating heavenly truth? You may find an authority, indeed, in the writings of jurists, and of divines, and in the stern theology of those austere and haughty Churchmen by whom the Pharisaical succession, far better than the apostolical, is personally and demonstratively proved. But you will not find it in the New Testament—you will not find it in Matthew, nor in Mark, nor in Luke, nor in John, nor in the epistles of the 276 meek and humble men to whom the teaching of all nations was given in charge—above all, you will not find it anything that was ever said, or anything that was ever done, or anything that was ever suffered, by the Divine Author of the Christian religion, who spoke the sermon upon the mountain—who said that the merciful should be blessed—and who, instead of ratifying the anathema which the people of Jerusalem had invoked upon themselves, prayed for forgiveness for those who knew not what they did, in consummating the sacrifice that was offered up for the transgressions of the world. It was not by persecution, but despite of it—despite of imprisonment, and exile, and spoliation, and shame, and death—despite the dungeon, the wheel, the bed of steel, and the couch of fire, that the Christian religion made its irresistible and superhuman way. And is it not repugnant to common reason, as well as to the elementary principles of Christianity itself, to hold that it is to be maintained by means diametrically the reverse of those by which it was propagated and diffused? But, alas! for our frail and fragile nature, no sooner had the professors of Christianity become the co partners of secular authority, than the severities were resorted to which their persecuted predecessors had endured. The Jew was selected as an object of special and peculiar infliction. The history of that most unhappy people is for century after century a trail of chains, and a track of blood. Men of mercy occasionally arose to interpose in their behalf. St. Bernard—the great St. Bernard, the last of the Latin Fathers, with a most pathetic eloquence, took their part. But the light that gleamed from the ancient turrets of the Abbey of Clairvaux, was transitory and evanescent. New centuries of persecution followed: the Reformation did nothing for the Jew. The infallibility of Geneva was sterner than the infallibility of Rome. But all of us—Catholics, Protestants, Calvinists—all of us who have torn the seamless garment into pieces—have sinned most fearfully in this terrible regard. It is, however, some consolation to a Roman Catholic to know that in Roman Catholic countries expiation of this guilt has commenced. In France and in Belgium all civil distinction between the Christian and the Jew is at an end: to this Protestant country a great example will not have been vainly given. There did exist in England a vast 277 mass of prejudice upon this question, which is, however, rapidly giving way. London, the point of imperial centralisation, has made a noble manifestation of its will. Lon don has advisedly, deliberately, and with benevolence aforethought, selected the most prominent member of the Jewish community as its representative, and united him with the First Minister of the Crown. Is the Parliament prepared to fling back the Jew upon the people, in order that the people should fling back the Jew upon the Parliament? That will be a dismal game, in the deprecation of whose folly and whose evils the Christian and the statesman should concur. But not only are the disabilities which it is the object of this mea sore to repeal, at variance with genuine Christianity, but I do not hesitate to assert that they operate as impediments to the conversion of the Jews, and are productive of consequences directly the re verse of those for which they were originally designed. Those disabilities are not sufficiently onerous to be compulsory, but they are sufficiently vexatious to make conversion a synonyme with apostacy, and to affix a stigma to an interested conformity with the religion of the State. We have relieved the Jew from the ponderous mass of fetters that bound him by the neck and by the feet; but the lines which we have left, although apparently light, are strong enough to attach him to his creed, and make it a point of honour that he should not desert it. There exists in this country a most laudable anxiety for the conversion of the Jews; meetings are held, and money is largely subscribed for the purpose, but all these creditable endeavours will be ineffectual unless we make a restitution of his birthright to every English man who professes the Jewish religion. I know that there are those who think that there is no such thing as an English, or a French, or a Spanish Jew; a Jew is nothing but a Jew; his nationality, it is said, is en grossed by the land of recollection and of hope, and the house of Jacob must remain for ever in a state of isolation among the strange people by whom it is encompassed. In answer to these sophistries, I appeal to human nature. It is not wonderful that when the Jew was oppressed, and pillaged, and branded—in a captivity worse than Babylonian—he should have felt upon the banks of the Thames, or of the Seine, or of the Danube, as his forefathers felt by the waters of the Euphrates, and that the psalm of exile should, have found an echo 278 in his heart. This is not strange: it would have been strange if it had been otherwise; but justice—even partial justice—has already operated a salutary change. In the same measure in which we have relaxed the laws against the Jews, that patriot instinct by which we are taught to love the land of our birth, has been revived. British feeling has al ready taken root in the heart of the Jew, and for its perfect development nothing but perfect justice is required. To the fallacies of fanaticism, give no heed. Emancipate the Jew—from the Statute book of England be the last remnant of intolerance erased for ever—abolish all civil discriminations between the Christian and the Jew—fill his whole heart with the consciousness of country: do this, and we dare be sworn that he will think, and feel, and fear, and hope, as you do: his sorrow and his exultation will be the same: at the tidings of English glory his heart will beat with a kindred palpitation; and when ever there shall be need, in the defence of his Sovereign and of his country, his best blood, at your bidding, will be poured out with the same heroic prodigality as your own.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
was most anxious to meet the wishes of the House, and should therefore, with the leave of the House, withdraw his Amendment. He had a deep impression upon the subject which was then under the consideration of the House. A Christian nation was asked to cast aside every religious consideration—every consideration of Christianity—in order to admit the Jews, who repudiated Christianity, to legislate for that Christian nation. And he must express his surprise that the right hon. Gentleman should have compared the feeling against this measure to that which was excited against the mea sure of 1829. He could not but express his surprise at hearing a member of a Church professing to be the most exclusively Christian desiring to cast aside every consideration connected with Christianity, in order to admit those who were the most opposed to that religion. There was but one solution of this anomaly, and that had been given by the noble Member for Arundel, in justification of his supporting the introduction of the mea sure before the House. The noble Lord declared that he was for breaking down all the legal enactments which had been reared for the defence of the Church, well knowing that when these were removed, infi- 279 delity would rush in, and for a time cover (as he expressed it) large districts of the country; but that in the end Christianity would triumph, and that, profiting by the recoil from infidelity, the Roman Church would gather the people of this country within her rigid fold. Now, these anticipations might in some degree account for the support given to this measure by the noble Lord, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sheil), and other Roman Catholics; but they certainly justified the opposition to it which he and other members of the Church of England persevered in. But another circumstance deserved to be marked. Roman Catholic Members, who had last addressed the House in support of this measure, the hon. Member for Ennis on a former occasion, the right hon. Master of the Mint on the present occasion, had in succession warned the House to yield this measure, lest it be compelled to do so hereafter by external force. Was it then the sweet re-collection of the Clare election that caused the right hon. Gentleman to compare this measure to that of 1829? They had seen their table heaped with petitions in favour of the Jews; but did the House know how those petitions had originated? They had lately heard strange stories with regard to the City election; and it had lately come to his knowledge that the wealth of the hon. Gentleman who had been elected had been brought to bear even upon the framing of petitions to this House. It had come to his knowledge that individuals had been employed to obtain signatures in the suburbs of this metropolis; first, at the rate of 1s. 6d. per hundred signatures, but that would not do; next, at the rate of 3s. per hundred, still that would not do; till at last the petitions were filled up at the rate of 5s. per hundred. He would not willingly believe that such things could have occurred, even among the very lowest of our population; but he thought he was bound to mention them, in. order to show that this transparent semblance of the popular feeling had been obtained at the rate of 5s. for 100 signatures. He begged to submit this consideration to hon. Members who professed popular principles, that it was an insult to the Christianity of the great majority of the people, if they attempted to remove the Christian character of the House. The great majority of the people of this country were Christians, and the great majority had a right to establish and 280 maintain the character of the representative assembly in accordance with their religious opinions. He had heard some vague anticipations expressed by the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, that he hoped by a closer contact with the Jews in this House they might be converted. It was passing strange that the right hon. Gentleman, himself a member of the most exclusive Church that the world had ever seen, should suppose that by admitting the Jews to this House any serious impression would be made upon them. What were the laws, what was the nature of the religious code, by which this people were governed? Why, they were as exclusive as the religion the right hon. Gentleman professed. These laws were embodied in the Mishna and the Talmud; the Mishna was the embodiment of the traditionary or oral law of the Jews, compiled by Rabbi Judah 200 years after the Christian era? Why, because at that time many Christians practised circumcision and other Jewish rites, so that by the law of Moses the Christian could not be distinguished from the Jews, and the Mishna was compiled to keep the Jews separate from Christians. The Talmud was written for the same purpose, when, in the days of Constantine, Christianity prevailed in the Roman empire; again the Jews adopted a code in the Talmud to keep themselves a separate people. Could it be wondered at that they wished to separate themselves, when we remember that they believe all to be promised to them exclusively by the decrees of Providence? What were the facts in the modern history of the Jews? When they first appeared in this country after their banishment by Edward I., we find them in treaty with the Rump Parliament, about two years after the murder of the king, for the purchase of the Bodleian Library, and of St. Paul's, which they proposed to convert into a synagogue. They offered 500,000l.; the Parliament asked 800,000l., which the Jews would not or could not give; and so the negotiation was broken off. The National Assembly of France, in 1791, about two years before the execution of the King of France, considered their claims. The National Assembly granted their prayer, and allowed them the privileges of citizens on taking the oaths to the State. They received this with joy; but when Napoleon, some years after wards, collected them together again, and allowed them to be governed by their own laws, and their own officers, they ac- 281 cepted this decree with exultation and delight. Who then should tell him that a feeling of nationality did not pervade the Jews—that they had forgotten that they were a separate nation? Were Members of that as yet Christian House to erase from their memories the whole history of the Jewish nation? Were they to forget that for 1,500 years the Jews were the chosen people of God, and that for 1,800 years they have been scattered over all the nations of the earth? Were they to be deaf to the decrees of Providence, that, because the Jews knew not the time of their visitation, they should be scattered throughout the nations of the earth; that, because they would not accept Christ as their true King, therefore God in his providence had decreed that they were unfit to legislate for themselves?—Were they, the representatives of a Christian people, to set at naught the truths of pro phecy—were they to be blind to the fulfilment of the decrees of Providence—were they to pass by unnoticed those great manifestations of divine justice—were they in their weakness to call upon a people to legislate for them whom God had pronounced to be unfit to legislate for them selves—and, in defiance of every conviction which such considerations must pro duce in their minds, were they to adopt the doubtful system of a double conscience, holding that religion was to guide a man in his home, in his household, in his private actions, but that when he approached this House he should prepare himself to enter and act with an assembly which had cast off Christianity as its characteristic, and whose acts were supposed to coincide with that repudiation? Was this abandonment of principle in accordance with their general policy? From day to day they heard Members of the House extolling the principle of free imports; to that they yielded up their colonies, and now they were called upon to yield up Christianity as the principle which should avowedly guide the decisions of the Legislature; and in favour of what principle were they so to yield up the guidance of religion? What was the principle which required such sacrifices? Why, it was no principle at all, but merely a system which was called progress. He wished to ask Her Majesty's Government, who talked so much of progress, whither they were going? To what bourn they were tending? One, however, after another of principles and institutions which were formerly deemed essential to the 282 State, was struck down, and he wished to know where they were to end? To that question he had never heard an answer given. In answer to those who charged him with intolerance, he wished to show that the bounds of the constitution, as included in the term Christian, were not narrow. According to Hooker, the Church and the State were one; and, according to the principles which were now acted upon, all who were baptised were members of the visible Church; and according to the constitution as it stood, with the small exception of some few Jews and other infidels, the limits of the State were identical with those of the Church. Let them look to what constituted the visible Church. In the elaborate works of Hooker it was stated that—As for those virtues that belong to moral righteousness and honesty of life, we do not mention them because they are not proper unto Christian men as they are Christian, but do concern them as they are men. True it is, the want of these virtues excludeth from salvation. So doth much more the absence of inward belief of heart; so doth despair and lack of hope; so emptiness of Christian love and charity. But we speak now of the visible Church, whose children are signed with the mark 'one Lord, one faith, one baptism.' In whomsoever these things are, the Church doth acknowledge them for her children—them only she holdeth for aliens and strangers in whom these things are not found. For want of these it is that Saracens, Jews, and infidels, are excluded out of the hounds of the Church. Others we may not deny to be of the visible Church as long as these things are not wanting in them. For apparent it is, all men are of necessity either Christians or not Christians. If by external profession they be Christians, then they are of the visible Church of Christ; and Christians by external profession they are all whose mark of recognisance hath in it those things which we have mentioned. Yea, although they be impious idolators, wicked heretics, persons excommunicable—yea, and cast out for notorious improbity. Such we deny not to be imps and limbs of Satan, even as long as they continue such. Is it possible, then, that the soil-same men should belong both to the synagogue of Satan and to the Church of Jesus Christ?—unto that Church which is his mystical body? Not possible; because that body consisteth of none but only true Israelites—true sons of Abraham—true servants and saints of God. Howbeit. of the visible body and Church of Jesus Christ those may be, and oftentimes are, in respect of the main parts of their outward profession, who, in regard of their inward disposition of mind—yea, of external conversation—yea, even of some part of their very profession, are most worthily hateful in the sight of God himself, and in the eyes of the sounder part of the visible Church most execrable.He said, then, that unless there were to be no limits at all—unless they were to receive avowed infidels, he could not 283 conceive a wider or more liberal definition than was now allowed to constitute a title of admission to this House. Such were the soundest opinions of the soundest divine as to the bounds of the visible Church. If he understood the constitution, it was this—that the State had only the right to inquire who was, or who was not, of the visible Church, and that as in ecclesiastical matters the power of the State was limited to questions of outer discipline and appointment, so the religious qualifications of the State were confined to what he had shown to be the limitation of the visible Church, or as it was termed, the "forum exterius;" and, that, far from being in danger of following the Inquisition, as the right hon. Master of the Mint would have them apprehend, in its interference with matters of conscience and inward belief, the "forum interius" as it was termed, into questions which admittedly were not its province, the constitution limited itself to the wise acceptation of Christian profession. It was a dangerous and unfounded novelty this crying out that the constitution was founded on bigotry and intolerance, and he warned the House against yielding to it the best interests of the State and of Religion.
§ Debate adjourned.
§ House adjourned at half-past Twelve o'clock.