§ MR. T. CHAMBERS
, in rising to move for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the number and rate of increase of conventual and monastic institutions in the United Kingdom, and the relation in which they stand to existing law; and to consider whether any, and if any, what further legislation is required on the subject, said: I cannot help thinking, Sir, that this is one of those questions which, in themselves, might be easily and satisfactorily settled, but which, unhappily, can never be discussed without great incidental disadvantage from being, almost unavoidably, mixed up with other considerations not necessarily belonging to them, and from exciting sentiments and feelings not proper to the discussion of such questions. The subject which I have now the honour to submit to the House is not, in any sense of the word, a spiritual or religious one, but is one of a civil, social, and political character. Yet I cannot be ignorant that, in bringing it forward, I do most unintentionally, and greatly to my regret, excite strong feelings in the minds of many Members of this House who belong to the Roman Catholic communion, or who represent Roman Catholic constituencies. Nor can I conceal from myself the fact, that in addition to this incidental but heavy disadvantage, I have also to contend against the active and decided hostility of the Government. Yet if I wanted, in a single sentence, to propound to Her Majesty's Ministers an argument at least for their forbearance, I should find it in the striking and significant fact that a Member of this House, in the year 1854, in this Protestant country, more than 300 years after the Reformation, is asking for a Committee to inquire into the number and the rate of increase of conventual and monastic institutions, a circumstance of itself well calculated to arrest the attention of every statesman and legislator in the United Kingdom. No doubt this is a question which, on many accounts, may be embarrassing to hon. Members in relation to their constituents, and to the Government in relation to its supporters; but it is in the discharge of what I believe to be a great public duty that I bring it forward, and I can assure the House that I propose 54 on the present, as on the last occasion, to perform that duty with a due regard to the feelings of others, and to mention the facts which I desire to bring before the House without, if I can help it, exciting religious animosities among the different classes of the community. I really believe, Sir, that I should have no difficulty in securing the attention of the House and the Government to this matter, were they fully informed on the mere arithmetic of the question, of the actual number of conventual and monastic institutions which now exist in England and Ireland, and of their rate of increase. I begin, therefore, with the statistics of the subject. I learn from the, Roman Catholic Register for 1853—an authority which nobody in this House will be disposed to dispute—that in January of that year, more than twelve months ago, there were in England seventy-five convents, and in Ireland 128, being a total of 203. But that does not include the whole number, because, in addition to the Roman Catholic nunneries, there are others—I have no means of ascertaining the precise number, bat they may be set down, conjecturally, at seventeen—belonging to what is called the Anglo-Catholic communion. The whole number of convents, therefore, in England and Ireland, at the beginning of 1853 was about 220. Now that fact is in itself a very significant one. But it is doubly important when taken in connection with what was the state of things in England in respect to Roman Catholic religious institutions a few years ago. I am informed by the Roman Catholic Register that, in 1843, there were only fifty-six convents altogether in the United Kingdom; and, therefore, in ten years there had been an increase of nearly 400 per cent, or an average increase of forty per cent per annum. But that is not all, nor is the full significance of these statistics yet apparent, for, unfortunately, the rate of increase has not been uniform, but gradually and rapidly accelerating; for while in the four years previous to 1851 the number of new institutions established was nineteen, in 1851 the number was nine, and in 1852—the last year to which the accounts refer—it was thirteen. I will now give the House the statistics of monasteries. I find from the Roman Catholic Register that in January, 1853, there were in existence seventy-two monasteries in Ireland, and as, according to the best information I can get, there were in 1843, sixty only, it follows that the in- 55 crease in the last ten years had been twenty per cent. Now, Sir, that these statistics give no exaggerated view of the actual numbers of the institutions in question may be shown by reference to other authorities. Dr. Wiseman, in his answer to some Lectures on Convents by the Rev. Hobart Seymour, uses these words, "Fortunately England possesses religious institutions (nunneries) in every great town, and in many rural districts. Ireland is, thank God, full of them." In addition to testimony thus unimpeachable, we have the following from a Roman Catholic layman, writing some years ago in the New Monthly Magazine:—The religious houses have been on a rapid increase for several years past, and if continued on their present scale, will, undoubtedly, soon multiply to an extent equal to their pristine vigour before the days of the Reformation. The great misfortune is, that in their constitution and purposes but little renovation has been effected, and the slavish indifference to all good, and insidious application to which they can be applied by the designing, so conspicuous in the cloisters of old, are the objections to their existence now.It has been asserted, over and over again, that, in bringing this subject before the House, I am taking a course utterly abhorrent to the feelings of all the Roman Catholic laity throughout the kingdom. [Cries of "Hear, hear!" from the Irish Members.] Just so; you re-echo the assertion by your cheers; but it is, nevertheless, my deep conviction that the step I now take is not so repugnant as you imagine to the feelings of the lay members of your Church. I find proof of this in the extract I have just read; and if you desire further evidence, I have it at hand in a letter which I received last year from a person in Drogheda, at a time when, throughout the length and breadth of Ireland, public meetings were held to denounce in unmeasured terms the views which I had ventured to express in this House on the subject of conventual and monastic institutions. The letter is dated June 15, and the writer says:—I beg leave to offer some local intelligence that may assist you in your Bill for the Inspection of Nunneries. This is a town in which there are two very extensive convents, three monasteries for monks, six chapels, and about one hundred clergy of all sorts. You may, therefore, suppose the Roman Catholic clergy have much influence. These clergy got up the requisition to call a meeting on the subject of your Bill. Influences were brought to bear on parties to lend their names; but when the day and hour of meeting came, there were not six persons present to move the resolutions, and no rabble. The poorer sort stayed 56 away, and the middle-class politicians as well as the few gentry here stood aloof. A private resolution was then come to, that the people might be spoken to in inflammatory harangues by the priests on Sunday from the altars, and then to catch the crowds coming out from mass, and so inflamed and spurred to the design.[Cries of "Name," from the Irish Members.] No, I shall not name. [Cries of "Oh!" and laughter.] There are obvious reasons why I should refuse to give the name of my correspondent, and I suspect that no Gentleman would be more surprised than those who cry "Oh!" if I should be simple enough to specify the individual—perhaps a tradesman in Drogheda, a town with 100 Roman Catholic priests—who wrote the letter which I have just read to the House. Perhaps the most convenient mode of discussing the question will be to take the points in the order in which the notice of Motion mentions them, and to inquire next, therefore, as to the relation in which these conventual and monastic institutions stand to existing law. I will take the monasteries first. The 28th section of the 10 Geo. IV. c. 7, known as the Roman Catholic Relief Act, sets out by stating—Whereas Jesuits, and numbers of other religious orders, communities, and societies of the Church of Rome, bound by monastic or religious vows, are resident within the United Kingdom, and it is expedient to make provision for the gradual suppression and final prohibition of the same.And then goes on to enact that every such person shall, within six months after the passing of the Act, register himself according to the form prescribed, and receive a licence to remain in the country. By subsequent sections of the Act it is provided that all Jesuits, and members of other religious orders, communities, and societies, who should come into the realm after the passing of the Act should be banished; that all such persons being natural-born subjects of the King, who were abroad at the time of the passing of the Act, should register themselves on their return to the country; that the principal Secretaries of State might give or withhold, or revoke licences of residence, (making an annual return thereof to Parliament), and that any Jesuit or member of other religious order, community, or society, who should not leave on the revocation of his licence, should be banished for life; that any Jesuit or member of any other religious order, community, or society, who should, after the passing of the Act, assist in the admission of any person 57 to any religious order, or take part in the administration of any religious vow, oath, or other engagement, should, in England and Ireland, be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and in Scotland be punished by fine and imprisonment; that any person so admitted a Jesuit, &c., should be banished, and after thirty days may be removed from the country, and if found in the realm after an interval of three months may be transported for life. These, then, are the stringent provisions enacted by Parliament a quarter of a century ago, in order to secure the gradual suppression and final extinction of these religious orders. And to show that this design has never been abandoned by the Legislature, I may refer to the 2 & 3 Will. IV. c. 115, entitled "An Act for the better securing the Charitable Donations and Bequests of His Majesty's Subjects in Great Britain professing the Roman Catholic Religion," the 4th section of which is as follows:—Provided always, that nothing in this Act contained shall be taken to repeal or in any way alter any provision of an Act passed in the tenth year of the reign, &c., entitled 'An Act for the Relief, &c., respecting the suppression or prohibition of the religious orders or societies of the Church of Rome, bound by monastic or religious vows.'From the terms of which proviso it is perfectly obvious that the original enactments of the Emancipation Act were present to the consideration of Parliament when the later statute was passed, and that it was then thought desirable, by a stringent exceptive clause, to preserve unimpaired and in their full vigour the securities provided against religious orders in 1829. The inquiry, therefore, as to the relation in which monasteries stand to existing law is susceptible of a ready and conclusive answer—they are open and flagrant violations of it. They are directly in the teeth of the enactments I have referred to, and in open defiance of all the prohibitions and penalties imposed by the Act. So much, then, for monasteries, or conventual establishments for men bound by religious vows. But convents for women stand on a different footing. The Roman Catholic Relief Act, at the end of the sections above cited, has the following proviso, section 37:—Provided always, that nothing herein contained shall extend, or be construed to extend in any manner, to affect any religious order, community, or establishment consisting of females bound by religious or monastic vows.Such institutions, therefore, are not within 58 the scope of the Act of 1829, being expressly excluded from its operation. While, therefore, monasteries stand to existing law in a relation of open and declared hostility, convents stand in no relation at all to the law. This brings us to the next consideration, as to whether any and, if any, what further legislation is necessary on the subject. Taking the actual numbers of these institutions, their rapid and accelerating rate of increase, is it not highly impolitic, inexpedient, and dangerous to leave them without the purview and beyond the range of law? I call on the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, not so much as the Leader of this House, as a great constitutional statesman, to say whether these associations, multiplying around us in so unprecedented a manner, do not furnish matter for grave and anxious speculation—for deliberate and diligent inquiry. I ask him whether any English statesman, worthy of the name, in any age since the Reformation would have regarded the facts I have mentioned with indifference, or, looking at them in the light of the Constitution, would have thought them insignificant or immaterial. The mere numbers are far from contemptible. There cannot, at this moment, be fewer than 2,500 females in this Protestant country bound by perpetual monastic vows, and the aggregate is rapidly augmenting. But the nature, no less than the number, of these institutions is such as to make it extremely desirable that they should be brought into some definite relation to law. How are they replenished with inmates? I take, first, a case for illustration not furnished by a Roman Catholic, but by an Anglo-Catholic nunnery. I refer to the establishment presided over by Miss Sellon. I hold in my hand a letter which appeared in the newspapers about a year ago, addressed to that lady by a poor man whose daughter had been taken away from him, and immured in the convent at Devonport. The writer says:—You have robbed me of my daughter; and here I am, an Englishman, a father, and in my own native land, one of no daughters is seduced from me, and I have no redress. I say to you, give me my daughter whom you have stolen—give me my daughter back! I have been quiet too long—I will be so no longer. Give me my daughter, and let her come and support herself, as a Christian girl, by the honest trade I had spent so much to have her taught, and let her learn to be an honest member of society.The unhappy father goes on to plead and expostulate and entreat for the restoration 59 of his child in tones which must touch the heart of every man of feeling. This letter shows, at all events, that some young persons are decoyed to and detained in these institutions without the consent and against the will of their parents. From my next illustration we shall see that some are forced into them against their own will. The House will recollect the case of two girls of the name of Arrowsmith, whose treatment created so great a sensation last year throughout the country. They were residing at Preston, and were ensnared by a trick of their father and brought to London, and thence taken to the convent of the Holy Child Jesus at St. Leonards. An account of the occurrence appeared in the journals at the time, which, though it contained some inaccuracies, upon the whole very fairly stated the facts. I shall, no doubt, be told by hon. Members of the Roman Catholic persuasion that these young ladies were under age, and that the father had a right to dispose of them as he pleased. This would be a good answer to an allegation that the father acted illegally in what he did, but it is no answer at all to the assertion that he acted harshly and unjustifiably in the course he adopted, nor any refutation of the inference. I draw from the facts, that these nunneries are receptacles of those who are taken there against their will. This is the newspaper account of the transaction:—CONVENTUAL ESTABLISHMENTS.—ALLEGED CASE OF ABDUCTION BY A FATHER.—It is anticipated that when the Nunneries Bill comes before the House of Commons, on Wednesday next, a circumstance that has caused much excitement in this town during the present week will be brought under the notice of the Legislature, the whole of the facts having been laid before Lord Palmerston, the Home Secretary, Mr. Chambers, the author of the Nunneries Bill, and other influential supporters of it; while from another quarter, Mr. Bowyer, Mr. Lucas, and other Catholic Members, have been acquainted with the particulars. Our borough Members have also had their attention drawn to the case. It appears that two young ladies, about fourteen and sixteen years of age, the daughters of a respectable family residing in this town, and formerly of Burnley, have been hitherto educated in the religion of their father, as Roman Catholics, and it was his intention to take them to the convent of the Holy Christ Jesus, at St. Leonards-on-the-Sea, to receive further education, and to act, also, in the capacity of pupil-teachers. Whether they had shown, at any time previously, any wavering in their doctrines, we are not aware; but, on their coming to reside at Preston, a few weeks since, and about the time when their departure for the nunnery was resolved upon, they renounced the Roman Catholic faith to one of the clergy of this town, attended his Sunday school regularly, and had consented, with the ap- 60 probation of some of their Protestant friends, that he should make arrangements for them entering a training school for teachers, the one at London, and the other at Warrington. They were last week at the house of a near relative in the town, a Protestant, when their father and some other friends, finding persuasion unavailing, hit upon a device for obtaining possession of the girls to take them to the nunnery. They were invited to take a trip to the sea-side, and Lytham was fixed upon for an excursion. This they accepted, and, on Saturday last, they left with their father and an uncle for the train, but the latter then intimated their intention of going to Southport instead. The young ladies took their seats in a train for the south. Tickets for the whole party were, unknown to the female members of it, obtained for London, and the train then proceeded on its journey without anything remarkable taking place, until it arrived at the Newton junction, when one of the railway officials passing cried out, 'All here for London?' One of the young ladies said, 'No; we are here for Southport:' upon which the father assured the person they were all right. One of the girls then ejaculated, 'Oh! they are taking us to a convent!' Such an exclamation created quite a scene, and many parties were at once at hand to render assistance for a rescue, if assistance were needed. Various reports were speedily in circulation, but, although the aid of a magistrate was volunteered for necessary interference had there been any opportunity of exercising it, nothing was found could be done where a father was simply taking, as he stated, two girls to school. The wires of the electric telegraph were set in motion, and information of the extraordinary incident was conveyed to Preston and other places, and on the arrival of the train at the various stations on its way to London considerable interest was excited, news of the occurrence having preceded the train. We learn that the young ladies are now in London, at a branch establishment of the convent, where they are to remain for a few days previous to being taken to St. Leonard's. Their Roman Catholic friends allege that they are now reconciled to the prospect of a conventual residence. We learn from other quarters that their dislike to a residence in a Roman Catholic school has not been overcome, and that they avow their intention of remaining Protestants. Several gentlemen of the town are interesting themselves on behalf of the young ladies, should there be any means of legally placing them in the way of professing the Protestant religion.To this statement in the local papers at the time I am desirous of adding some further and more accurate particulars, given to me by the Rev. J. Owen Parr, the vicar of Preston, a gentleman of the highest character, and in a situation to be exactly informed of the merits of the case. He writes:—Preston, Lanc., 19 July, 1853.Dear Sir,—I inclose an extract from a local paper, which may give you some information on a case of parental coercion which is exciting great interest in this town. It is reported that you are already informed of some of the more obvious facts of this case; but there are some points on which inaccurate statements are in circulation. 61 In the first place, the mother is a Protestant, and her daughters received the rite of baptism in the Protestant Church of England, an evidence of an understanding, if not compact, that they should be educated in that Church. They were, at a later period, placed in the care of a relative who was a Roman Catholic, and were under the instruction and influence of that Church. I am not aware that they ever made any profession of adherence to the Roman Catholic communion; but certainly they have latterly in an open and decided manner rejected what they consider the errors of Romanism, and declared their attachment to the Church of England. In accordance with this decision, a clergyman of this town, a connection of their family, made arrangements for their future employment in life with their own consent, the approbation of their mother and other friends, and without any expressed opposition on the part of their father. How he afterwards used fraud and force to frustrate this design for his children, appears in the story. No doubt the sole object of placing them in the nunnery at St. Leonard's was to compel them to adopt the Roman Catholic faith. Letters received from them here since their abduction, express their unaltered determination to abide by the Protestant doctrines of our Church. I need not point out to you the bearing of this case upon the Bill you brought into Parliament, or rather upon the object of it. Are not these young persons come to years of discretion in matters of conscience as to religious faith? They are of age to be admitted to confirmation, which presumes it. If so, will Habeas Corpus afford them protection from violence done to their conscience? Can they, under the circumstances, be emancipated from the control of their father on such matters, and from what they feel to be incarceration? If the case is introduced into the discussion in the House of Commons, these questions will be incidentally answered; and I am only anxious, if so, that you should have possession of the facts to the best of my knowledge and belief. There is no knowing how the opinions of the poor girls may be artfully misrepresented; but the railway occurrences are facts too stubborn to be perverted or distorted. They speak unanswerably the fact, that force was imposed upon the inclinations of these young people, which they did everything in their power to resist, proving not only that they had formed a judgment for themselves, but that they are capable, not only of forming it, but of estimating its importance.Your faithful Servant, "J. OWEN PARR.Probably most persons will concur with my reverend correspondent in the views so ably propounded in this letter. But to proceed with our narrative: these young ladies are brought to London; and from their lodgings they send, soon after their arrival, the following letters to their mother, with which I trouble the House, in order to show the state of mind with which, at that time, they regarded the prospect of ping into a nunnery:—Written at Papa's lodgings.My dear Mamma,—Mary Jane and I are both at London, at No. 32, Queen Square, and I suppose are to remain here to be educated for pupil-teachers; and if Mary Jane is no better she has 62 to go to St. Leonards to bathe, and stay for a bit, until she gets better. We didn't know we were coming to London till we got to Warrington; it was as much as they could do to get Mary Jane here alive, and we both would rather have died than have come. Give my very best love to all, and accept the same yourself.—I am your ever affectionate daughter, ANN ARROWSMITH.They won't make me a Catholic.My dear Mamma,—I now take a nice opportunity to write to you. I receive every attention that could be paid, both to body and soul. We have been to Buckingham Palace, and all over London. The first letter that I write to you from the school will not be looked at, but all the others will. We are with Papa at present. I should like to receive a letter from you, as soon as you can find time to write to me. Make yourself happy about us, and think always of what we said in our first letter, and do not doubt mine or Annie's word; I will not bow to everything again. Tell Mr. Smith from me, that I am obliged to do whatever it pleases Papa to make me, till I am 21—so the magistrate says; but I cannot be a Roman Catholic again in my heart.—Your affectionate child, "M. J. ARROWSMITH.After a brief stay in the metropolis, the writers of these letters are removed to the nunnery at St. Leonards-on-Sea, and after remaining there a week or a fortnight, are again removed to London, whence they despatch the following very extraordinary letter to the clergyman at Preston, under whose spiritual care they had been up to the time of their leaving that place. Their case had excited a very general and very strong feeling throughout the country, at a time the most critical and inopportune; for at that moment the attention of Parliament was especially addressed to the nunnery question; and the friends of these institutions felt, no doubt, the full importance of neutralising the disastrous influence of this inauspicious incident. Hence the significance and the value of the very extraordinary epistle which I now proceed to lay before the House:—London, July 21st, 1853. "No. 15, Devonshire Street. "Reverend and Dear Sir,—Our dear Papa took us from the Convent of the Holy Child Jesus yesterday. We are at present residing with him. We write you in his absence, but not without his leave or knowledge. Our object in writing this note to you is for the purpose of most respectfully to beg of you, or the Rev. Mr. Hazlewood, or others, not to take any law proceedings in our regard under the impression that we 're unhappy in the convent, or we 're under any restraint, or that we should be unhappy if we were allowed to return. We found ourselves very happy indeed when in the society of the kind and good nuns, and daily becoming more and more so. It is our earnest desire to return to the convent, and also our determination not to return to Lancashire unless as an act of obedience to our dear parents: 63 it is our wish to return to the convent, there to pursue our studies unannoyed, and receive instructions in the principles of the Catholic religion. Candour obliges us to acknowledge that in the short time we have resided in London, we have learned more of the Catholic religion than we ever did before in our past lives. If we are allowed to return to the convent we shall as gladly return as we were reluctant to come. We beg of you and of your dear sister to accept of our united thanks for what, we doubt not, was your good intentions in our regard. Conscience will call upon us to support, before any legal authority, the sentiments and principles contained in this note. Another reason in our thus addressing you is, that persons may not uselessly dispose of their money in law, or any other proceedings. If we find our conscience to tell us, after fully studying the Catholic religion, we can by the aid of God's grace and the atoning merits of his Divine Son, inherit eternal life, we shall, and adopt the Catholic faith. Such being our clear duty to ourselves and our God, you may make either public or private use of this note, as our case has been made so public. Trusting you and Miss Smith and cousins are well, we remain, yours affectionately, M. J. ARROWSMITH,ANNE ARKWRIGHT ARROWSMITH.The estimable clergyman to whom this letter was addressed, says (and probably every candid person capable of forming a judgment on such a matter will agree with him):—I am inclined to think the handwriting of the letter is genuine, though it admits of doubt, but there can be little doubt about the composition being that of some other person.Now, Sir, I do not say this is not a case of genuine conversion to the Church of Rome from the Protestant faith; but I do say that it is a very sudden, and a very lucky one. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the efforts of the "kind and good nuns" would not have succeeded so speedily nor so completely—the instance must be regarded as signal and singular. But the point to which I invite the particular attention of the House is this: the girls are converted, and we know what has become of them. But suppose that the kind, zealous, and conscientious efforts of the nuns—for such I will admit them to have been—had been unsuccessful, and these young heretics had remained obdurate, what should we have known of them then? Why, nobody who is acquainted with the history of this case from beginning to end, no man who is conversant with questions of evidence, and accustomed to test the value of circumstances, and is familiar with the history of conventual institutions, can doubt for a single moment, that had these young ladies persisted in their heresy, and refused to yield to the solicitations 64 with which they were sedulously plied, we should have heard nothing of their removal from the nunnery, nothing of their sentiments, nothing of their whereabout. This House and this country would in such a case have been left in profound ignorance as to what became of them. And this brings me, Sir, to a point upon which I must dwell for a few moments, namely, the treatment which the inmates of these nunneries receive. Some hon. Members have described, in the warmest language, the perfect happiness and contentment of these nuns; yet no man who should presume to give an opinion on the subject, could venture to deny that, as a matter of history and of fact, the cloister has in all ages inclosed within its walls many of the most miserable of womankind. When it is considered that they are in their own nature places of restraint and infliction; that, in virtue of the very principles on which they rest, they assume that character; and when it is remembered that these principles, and the rules and usages which spring out of them, are all unchangeable, no person can doubt that such as they always have been such they are now, and that many unhappy persons now pine away in the seclusion of these convents. It has been said that persons are not immured in them against their will, and that such an insinuation is an insult to Roman Catholic parents and brothers. But there is ample evidence as to the circumstances under which young women are shut up in nunneries. I cite a witness who never, so far as I know, wrote against the Roman Catholic religion, and who was certainly not in search of evidence on this subject when he became acquainted with the incident of which he gives the following account. Mr. Willis, in his Pencillings by the Way, published more than twenty years ago, incidentally alludes to the causes and the consequences of forced conventual seclusion. He is giving an account of his visit to a lunatic asylum at Palermo, and he says that one of the inmates, a girl with a fine, intelligent face, came up to him, and that he asked the physician for the history of his interesting patient. Mark—this is not evidence manufactured, or even sought, for the occasion; it is a mere incident related in the course of the narrative. In reply to the inquiry of the traveller, the physician said, "Oh! this is a common case; she is the daughter of a Sicilian noble, who, too poor to marry her to one of her own rank, sent her to a convent, 65 where confinement drove her mad." When I find the pertinacity with which it is denied that convents are places of restraint and infliction, I am driven to the conclusion—in justice to the Roman Catholics themselves—that they, of all people on the earth, are the least acquainted with the facts and history of their own religion. They do not know the history of their own religious institutions, they are not allowed to know it, for it is exceedingly undesirable that they should know anything about it. I repeat, then, despite energetic denials, that, by the very principles of their foundation, these institutions are places of restraint and infliction. Look at the practices of an Anglo-Catholic nunnery, in one of which a Mr. Prynne was reported to have imposed upon a girl, as a punishment, the making the mark of the cross upon the floor with her tongue; a penance which, if carried far, is said to leave the figure of the cross in the blood of the unfortunate penitent. And everybody knows that there are penances of all sorts, varying in degrees of torture; a girdle, with sharp points inside, drawn tight around the person—a cap, called bonnet rouge, which, when placed on the head of the victim, produced in a moment or two the most excruciating pains, ending in a very few minutes in insensibility, from excessive agony. There are many other severities practised in these convents—practices that obtain not only among the Roman Catholics, but under all ascetic forms of religion, as the Hindoo, and others. They are necessary and inseparable parts of the ascetic system, and where the system exists, these practices are also sure to be found. These are points which I ought not really to be required to argue before gentlemen who are acquainted with the history of Churches, the history of sects, and the history of religious institutions, especially of the ascetic order. These are things which are, or ought to be, perfectly familiar to us all, and the question is not so much as to the facts, but as to the reason or principle on which it is to be accounted for, that the adherents of systems of ascetic or superstitious pietism should be found indulging in such varied forms of cruelty. Now in a matter of grave importance like this, I do not think it is becoming to be too nice and complaisant. It may be very well for people to say,—"You insult Roman Catholic parents by the mere insinuation that they allow their children to be put into these houses against their will." I cannot 66 help that. It is the truth. In all ages it has proved to be true, and it is true now. Right first, delicacy afterwards. Truth, above all things, and complaisance if we can. But flagrant wrongs must not be allowed to flourish with impunity, because it is uncourteous to say that they exist; nor important interests be slighted and neglected to avoid incidentally wounding the feelings of those by whom they have been sacrificed. A parent has not means adequate to portion all his children according to their rank in life, and some of them are cheaply disposed of in convents and monasteries. A man's daughter falls in love improvidently, and the seclusion of the cloister is an effectual security against an indiscreet alliance. Why, the noble Lord (Lord Edward Howard), who made an indignant speech, and presented a petition against my Bill of last year, stated, with reference to one noble lady who had signed that petition, that she had about twenty-nine sisters, cousins, and aunts in nunneries. Well, that is an important fact for the consideration of the House, and of the noble Lord, the leader of it. Why were there so many relatives in nunneries? Does the conventual taste run in families? is it contagious? or are there other reasons which bring so many members of one family into conventual establishments? Yes, there are other causes, and these causes demand the serious attention of the Legislature. I declare, in the plainest manner, my firm conviction that these things have always happened, and are happening now in every Roman Catholic country in the world, and also in England, but less frequently in England—thanks to Protestantism, and to the high moral tone which prevails among us, as I think, in consequence of Protestantism. And, after all, Sir, it is no such very heavy charge against Roman Catholic parents that these things exist. They have the same humane feelings, and the same love of their offspring as Protestant parents; but these feelings are corrupted and perverted by the false and mistaken teachings of their Church. It is thought a very great merit to dedicate a child in this manner to religion, and, without doubt, there is not a family which has one of their members in a convent that does not derive from that fact a great consolation and satisfaction. Therefore, how humane soever may be the feelings of Roman Catholic parents, they are liable to be warped and corrupted and perverted by the erroneous views and pre- 67 cepts of the Church to which they belong. But, Sir, is this allegation of insulting Roman Catholic parents an objection which ought to be allowed to prevail for one moment? When has such an argument been allowed to prevail? When actual evils have been pointed out, or the existence of them generally surmised, and believed what statesmen ever thought it a fair answer to the proposal to remedy those evils, "Why, if you proceed in that course of legislation, you will inflict a wound or a pang on such a class?" Did anybody hesitate to pass the Factory Bill, because, by passing that measure, he would stigmatise the mill-owners by insinuating that they were persons who were careless of flesh and blood, and regarded only their own sordid and selfish interests? Was such an argument advanced when the masters of apprentices were placed under the surveillance of the rigid law which was enacted some years ago? Or, more recently, when the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Viscount Palmerston) introduced a very severe measure for punishing the cruelties inflicted on wives by their husbands, did any one interfere, or protest against it, that it cast an imputation upon all married men, and slandered the class of husbands in general? No; no such argument could have been used, for it was a plain matter of fact that some husbands were cruel to their wives, and therefore, the insinuation, such as it was, could not be helped. The question is—does a wrong exist? If it does it must be remedied. Bing remedied, the parties chargeable with inflicting it may afterwards divide the blame among themselves, and I care not how they distribute it. But the wrong must not be allowed to go on and increase, and spread, simply because we may render ourselves liable to the imputation of discourtesy in dealing with it. Now I scarcely know any society or institution, generally prevailing, which is not brought under the provision of law. Building Societies, and Friendly and Loan Societies appear harmless enough, but they are not without the pale of the law. And, again, to use an illustration which is (unnecessarily, I think), offensive to certain hon. Members—take the case of private lunatic asylums, established, as they mostly are, with philanthropic motives and objects by benevolent men for the treatment and relief of one of the greatest human calamities, yet they are brought under the cognisance of the Legislature, and, as liable to 68 the gravest abuses, are placed under the most stringent rules and regulations. Even chapels and meeting-houses, obvious and well-known and laudable as are the purposes to which they are applied, and their doors open to any human being who chooses to enter, even these are not exempt from the operation of law; they must be registered and licensed. Why then should conventual institutions be an exception to the universal rule? On what grounds they should be exempted I know not, and I am confident that, if not now, yet at no distant period that exemption will cease. If authority for interference were required, there is ample authority. There is no nation of civilised men now existing on the face of the globe, the Americans only exempted, in which these institutions exist, and on which the law does not take cognisance of, and control them. The Americans are an exception, but they resort to Lynch-law, and if it is suspected that any persons are confined against their will in a nunnery, they go and pull it down, and set all the inmates free. This movement has been characterised as persecution. Persecution! I only wish that these institutions should be taken notice of by the law, and I contend that it is not persecution, fur there is not a papal country in existence that has left these institutions without legal surveillance. It is the English people alone who are abandoned by their statesmen to be the prey of a designing priesthood, who would replenish the cloisters with the flower of our population. The Americans have certainly no statutory protection, but convents being without the pale of law, if any suspicion attached to them, the general and summary mode adopted is, for the inhabitants of the neighbourhood to pull down the walls of the building, and raze the structure to the ground. In all other lands the eye of the State and the grasp of the law are perpetually fixed on this class of establishments. Persecution! What is the use of history? For what purpose do we read it, if not to gather lessons of wisdom and prudence from the events of the past? Why then shall we persist in setting at nought the experience of all countries and all ages, and refuse to bring within the scope and province of law the institutions now under the consideration of the House? I do not want for high authority even in this House, for the view which I take of this question. When this subject was discussed in 1851, the right hon. Baronet, the Member for 69 Morpeth (Sir G. Grey) expressed his opinion in these words:—"A dangerous control does exist over persons in those religious houses." [Sir G. GREY: You should add that I voted against the Bill.] The right hon. Baronet need not be afraid that I shall omit to contrast what the right hon. Baronet has done with what he has said. "A dangerous control does exist over persons in those religious houses; and some steps may be necessary to deprive superioresses of their control over the property of nuns." The right hon. Baronet, therefore, stated it as his opinion in 1851, that some protection was necessary for nuns, both as regards their persons and their property; and after this acknowledgment that some interference was necessary, he voted against the measure then before the House. Last year I brought in a Bill which the right hon. Baronet had a perfect right to criticise and oppose, if he did not approve of it; but there was on Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Bath (Mr. Phinn) for a Committee to investigate this whole subject, and the right hon. Baronet not only opposed the measures of 1851 and 1853, but he resisted also the Motion for an inquiry. In 1851 he admits that both in relation to the persons and the property of nuns, there is the greatest reason for interference. He votes against the proposed interference in. 1851. In 1853 he votes against another proposal for interference, and also against an Amendment for a Committee to inquire. And so eager was the right hon. Baronet to get both the original Motion and the Amendment defeated, that, in a House most clamorous and impatient for a division, he insisted on being heard, for the purpose of making quite sure that both should be slaughtered on the spot. The right hon. Baronet was afraid, lest the zeal of hon. Members should outrun their discretion, and was apprehensive, lest, through their imperfect acquaintance with the forms of the House one of the propositions might inadvertently be carried, and he, therefore, thought it consistent both with his expressed opinions, and his position in that House, to rise, for the sole purpose of explaining to my angry and impatient opponents, that to ensure the simultaneous demolition of both the propositions before them, they must, on the first question put from the chair, vote in the affirmative, in order to quash the Amendment; and on the second question, in the negative, in order to destroy the Bill. Now, I give the 70 right hon. Baronet full credit for having, in his own opinion, ample and sufficient reasons on which to vindicate his own consistency, but I must avow that with the utmost desire to discover what they are, I have been unable to do so; nor can I reconcile what he has said with what he has done. Probably the right hon. Baronet will consistently oppose this Bill, and the Amendment too. But I entreat him, if he still hold the opinion he expressed in 1851, to act upon it in his own way—to take any course, alone or in concert with others, so that it shall issue in giving that protection to the persons and property of nuns which he then considered necessary. Now, Sir, I have another high authority in this House. The present Secretary at War (Mr. Sidney Herbert) also spoke in 1851, on the same occasion, and said:—The state has the fullest right to interfere with and control the management of religious houses. I must say, frankly, I consider religious institutions with perpetual vows not only unnecessary but hostile to the spirit of our institutions. It is the interest of the State to refuse encouragement to establishments which must of necessity tend to withdraw its citizens from their proper duty and service to the State.Consistently, I suppose, with those views the right hon. Gentleman voted against Mr. Lacey's proposition in 1851, and against both propositions in 1853, and I probably will vote against both propositions now. Now, either these sentiments are not genuine, or the conduct of these eminent statesmen has not been in accordance with the opinions they have deliberately expressed. For they have not defended their conduct on the ground of the impolicy or inexpediency of interfering at this particular time, but they admit the propriety of interference, and yet they vote against inquiry. But it is said, any proposal to interfere with conventual institutions, is an invasion of the principles of religious liberty, and of the doctrines of toleration. Now there is no single subject upon which more indefinite notions, or greater errors prevail, than on that of religious liberty. It is time that the phrase were accurately defined, and its scope and limits more precisely laid down. It was objected to my Bill of last Session that it trespassed on religious freedom; but, not forgetting with how much success a dexterous controvertist may construct a plausible argument, I yet confidently defy any hon. Member, however ingenious he may be, to put together in a sentence any set of words whatever, which shall fairly de- 71 scribe anything which could have happened under that measure, and at the same time show, or even appear to show, an infringement of the religious liberty of the party affected by the enactment. Infringe religious liberty!—why, Sir, it was one of the strongest efforts made in modern times to protect it. I lay down this principle with reference to a nun or to any other person. Let spiritual and religious influence take full effect upon the body, soul, and spirit of the subject of it, unchecked and unrestrained. Let it take this full effect upon the conscience of the nun in the cloister—for the domain of conscience is sacred, and may not be invaded. But the very instant that, from what cause soever, the spiritual power loses its hold of the conscience—its rightful domain—that very instant, for the sake of securing liberty of conscience, the ecclesiastical power hould he made to relax its grasp. There hould, thenceforth, be no ecclesiastical, and, above all, no physical barriers in the way of her returning to the world. Let them keep her, though in the agonies of religions terror, so long as she is held by spiritual bonds. But if those bonds be once sundered—if she repent—if doubts as to the truth of Roman Catholic tenets, or as to the usefulness, admissibility, or lawfulness of monastic vows, or as to her own calling to live under them; if doubts of this nature arise in her mind, and by the germination and growth of those doubts he spiritual power, which before held and bound her in fetters, be broken, that very instant, in the sacred name of liberty, I demand that she be allowed to return to the world. And yet men who have been famous and foremost in the cause of religious freedom have said, that, because I was willing that the nun should go forth from the cloister if she chose, I was guilty of instigating an infringement of liberty of conscience. No! all I asked Parliament to forbid was the power to tyrannise and enslave; all I asked Parliament to enact was facility for enfranchisement. It is time, I think, that we shall understand a little better what religious liberty really is. I did expect that after the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell) had brought forward his Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, religious liberty would be somewhat more clearly defined; for the aggression which occasioned that measure was certainly a direct and flagrant infringement of the religious liberty of the Roman Catholics— 72 and I think that the Roman Catholics ought to be obliged to the noble Lord for what he endeavoured (though unsuccessfully) to accomplish by that measure. What was then done by the Pope was not anything spiritual or religious, or I would not have objected at all; it was something purely ecclesiastical or political; and as such it was opposed, even by those most jealous of the rights of conscience. Now it has been argued (and I may perhaps hold the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Miall) responsible for the objection—urged with great dexterity, fairness and force), that it is quite true that many of these nuns are very sorry they have taken their vows, and that they live lives of great suffering in consequence of their rashness; but that, as their condition arose out of an antecedent contract, the State must not interfere. The answer to this argument is conclusive. The law recognises no such contract at all. The law knows nothing of religious or monastic vows—temporary or perpetual. No subject can contract to surrender his or her liberty for life. It is not properly within either the moral or legal competence of anybody to make such a contract. But even supposing the original contract were admitted—for the sake of argument—still the restraint would be lawful, not in virtue of any supposed original contract, but in virtue of a continual and momentarily recurring consent of the parties; and the moment that consent is withdrawn, the detention of the person becomes a direct infringement of the liberty of the subject. Blackstone lays down the principle that every man is entitled to his liberty without stint, and that no one can deprive him of it—not even the highest power in the State—without being called to account. But, at this moment, every nun immured in a cloister, who desired release and cannot obtain it, is a palpable and painful instance of gross infringement of this primary right, and of the insufficiency of the law which protects the liberty of the subject in this country. But there is another more serious circumstance connected with this subject: Dr. Wiseman admits that these associations are affiliated with others abroad, to which their inmates may at any time be transferred at the will of the superior; and hence in these establishments the Roman Catholic ecclesiastical authorities have power not only to imprison and oppress, but to transport. And this power not only exists; it is exercised. The House will remember the case of Miss 73 Knight at the Taunton Convent, which forcibly illustrates this point. That lady had the misfortune to lose the use of her faculties, and became otherwise alarmingly ill. When a knowledge of her state was communicated—at a very late moment—to her friends, they were naturally anxious to have further medical advice and assistance, in the hope of restoring her to health and sanity. Accordingly her brother requested that his sister might be seen by a Roman Catholic physician of eminence, famous for his treatment of such cases, and that she might be removed from Taunton to a convent at Bristol, where she would be under his immediate care. Miss Jerningham, the Lady Abbess, refused both requests; an appeal was made to the Roman Catholic bishop, who gave his consent to these reasonable proposals. Still the Lady Abbess refused, in the haughtiest and most offensive manner, stating that "the matter was decided" and the patient was to be sent to Menin in Belgium; that she had absolute control over the convent and its inmates, and that against any interference of the bishop she would appeal to Rome. Thence ensued one of the most unseemly controversies that have ever been carried on in this country. The afflicted brother urged the most vehement, and yet respectful, remonstrances against the cruel edict which consigned his dying sister to a distant exile—and, backed by the sanction of the bishop, at length succeeded in rescuing her from the grasp of this inexorable lady; taking her from the convent amid the execrations and loud abuse of some priests in attendance, and the determined hostility of every officer of the establishment. Nobody will be surprised to learn that the rescue came too late, and that the helpless sufferer soon sank under her afflictions. Her brother lives to endure a persecution from his co-religionists for having acted on the dictates of affection and hnmanity, such as those only can appreciate who have been called to suffer it. And now, if there be any one who still clings to the vain imagination that nunneries are not now what they were in the middle-ages, I ask him, what instance of conventual tyranny in the darkest period of our history can go beyond the story I have just related? The despotic power of the Lady Abbess seems to have been exercised for the mere pleasure of exercising it; for there could be no reasonable, or even plausible, objection to the requests which were 74 urged. The physician called in was a Roman Catholic; the place of removal was a nunnery—the brother and his family were all devoted adherents of the papal communion—and the sanction of their bishop had been asked and obtained. There remained no obstacle but the absolute will and authority of this Lady Abbess, who had decreed that the patient should be sent to an affiliated convent in a foreign country. Another objection taken to any legislative interference with nunneries is, that such interference would give a kind of official or State sanction to them, which is very undesirable. But it is impossible to pass an Act to remedy any wrong without recognising its existence, and hence this objection is worth very little. Besides the official sanction alluded to is already given, because the exceptive clause of the Roman Catholic Relief Act, to which I have already called the attention of the House, very explicitly recognises these institutions. Whatever disadvantage, therefore, may be supposed to result from the legislative admission that nunneries exist is already incurred, and cannot reasonably be urged as an objection to new controlling enactments. Now, Sir, I want to know from the Government what their sentiments really and honestly are on this question. A very active whip against me to-night indicates on their part a strong desire to quash this inquiry. But is it not a very grave matter? Will the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell) venture to predict what will be the number of these institutions in ten or twenty years' time, if they continue to multiply at the rate of progress of the last few years? Twelve years hence there will be 1,000 convents and in twenty-five years there will be 3,000 or 4,000, with 40,000, or 50,000, or 60,000 nuns, and no one knows what amount of property. There is a dispute, I see, between Dr. Wiseman and Mr. Hobart Seymour as to the sum paid as the dower of f a nun; and I am glad to see that the late Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Whiteside) proposes to introduce a Bill on this subject of conventual property, for whether the amount of dower be 200l. or 400l. it is quite clear that there is a large and constant flow of wealth into these establishments and no flow out of them. We know, that, at the time of their suppression, at the period of the Reformation, it was found that one-fifth of the whole property of the country was in their hands. We 75 know what their numbers were at that time, and I will venture to say that we shall soon see them rise to their former level, both as respects numbers and wealth. I do not hesitate to affirm that they never multiplied in this country before the Reformation, at the rate at which they have multiplied lately. At some point or another the Government must interfere. When will they do it? Will they do it when there are 220; or will they wait till there are 880; or will they procrastinate until there are thousands of convents in the land? Will they interfere when they have only tens of thousands, or will they wait till they get millions of the property of the country into their hands? When, and how, and under what circumstances will the Government interfere? It is surely easier to legislate now, than at a later period; this surely is the right time to interfere—to interfere in the way in which our ancestors in every age have thought it right to interfere—by legislation—and if legislation be postponed from time to time without reason, what will be the result? Somebody will have to contend with the difficulty; some Government which will sit upon those benches must grapple with it, when the arguments for interference would be no stronger than now; but the difficulties to be contended against will have multiplied indefinitely. This is not a question, Sir, to be parried by some easy compliment to sisters of charity. It is idle to say that I seek to put an end either to that class of persons or to the class of cloistered nuns. If my Bill of last year had been passed, sisters of charity might still have described their rounds of benevolence, and cloistered nuns discharged their routine of observances with the same freedom as before. Catholic ordinances, Catholic rituals, Catholic symbols, Catholic institutes, would all have been free, as now, to the adherents of that faith. I say not a word against sisters of charity; no doubt they do much good; nor do I say a word against cloistered nuns, who, though they do no good, act no doubt from conscientious motives in the course which they adopt. But the question is this, are these institutions, exempt as they are from control, both of law and of public opinion, safe religiously, socially and politically. If the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) is of that opinion, let him get up and say so, and let the sentiments of the Government be known upon the subject. But, for my part, I feel, more and more strongly, that these esta- 76 blishments, affiliated and linked together as they are, form an integral and important part of the most subtle, the most sagacious, the most profound, and the most successful and enduring scheme of Government which has ever been founded on the face of the earth—I mean the Papacy. In proportion as they flourish do the political schemes of that Government flourish; and in proportion as they fade would that Government be found to fail. Can the noble Lord look at the politics, ecclesiastical progress made by the Church of Rome of late years and not see that there must be some cause for it? The increase of conventual establishments, does not represent and result from an increase in the number of Roman Catholics by new converts or otherwise; but, on the contrary, they multiply in the face of a continually decreasing number of real members of the Roman Catholic Church. They have nothing to do with the increase of the members of the Romish Church, but they have everything to do with the spread of the Papal power. Then, to look again at these establishments as places of education—for they are employed extensively and systematically as places of education—how are the generation to whose care we must commit all our institutions being brought up? I do not object to the youth of both sexes, the offspring of Roman Catholic parents, being instructed in Roman Catholic teaching; but I do object strongly to their learning it in monasteries and nunneries. We must look seriously at this matter. We shall have to contend with this evil of a conventual spirit and system in this country, when the generation now being instructed in tenets and opinions fatal, as I think, to our national institutions, will be grown-up men, and will stand up in this House, and elsewhere, to argue and to act upon the principles which are being so assiduously instilled into their minds by their priestly instructors. It is not, therefore, a question of mere sectarianism; it is a question of the British Constitution. It is a question of the safety and stability of those bulwarks of our liberty, every slope and angle of which has been arranged to meet the flow and pressure of that glorious tide—a free Christianity—I don't mean Protestantism, though I hold that to be the freest of all the developments of Christianity which the world has seen; but I mean a free Christianity as distinguished from the most obsequious and slavish form of religion ever known in this country, and which now 77 prevails among the British Roman Catholics. In Roman Catholic times we had a free Christianity, though not a pure one; but now we must lament the loss, so far as our Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen are concerned, both of the freedom and the purity of the church. Sir, it appears to me that the slavish system of education adopted in religious houses;—that those institutions themselves are altogether hostile to our free Government; and that our constitution cannot be safe whilst surrounded by such insidious and unscrupulous adversaries, and environed by new, ill-understood and increasing perils. I beg, Sir, to move the Committee of which I have given notice.
§ MR. NAPIER
, in seconding the Motion, said, that in the course of last year a Motion substantially the same was submitted to the House, but he was so much struck by the arguments and observations of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) that he did not vote at all upon the Motion. He waited until the Bill was introduced, and then he considered the Bill was nut one which he ought to support, and he spoke against it. The hon. and learned Member for Bath (Mr. Phinn) had proposed an Amendment to the effect—That the Bill be referred to a Select Committee to consider whether any and what regulations are necessary for the better protection of the inmates of establishments of a conventual nature, and for the prevention of the exercise of undue influence in procuring the alienation of their property.Now, with respect to the latter part of that Amendment, he (Mr. Napier) not only at that time thought that there might be some legislation on the subject, but he had come pretty much to a conclusion in his own mind as to what that legislation ought to be; and he was happy to find that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) had given notice of his intention to move for leave to introduce a Bill, which he hoped would go far, as far as that part of the question at least was concerned, to bring about a satisfactory solution. With respect to the inquiry, however, involved in the first part of this proposition, "Whether any, and if any, what further legislation is required on the subject?" was a far more delicate and a far more difficult question; and he had thought, and thought still, that in approaching that question, and endeavouring to deal with it, they ought to act with the greatest caution and the greatest delibera- 78 tion. But he must confess that he was struck with the circumstance, that in every Roman Catholic State in Europe there were regulations of a very stringent and restrictive character with respect to convents and conventual institutions. That showed him that this, after all, was not a religious question in the usual sense, although he by no means intended to imply that his own religious convictions had not exercised a very material influence in the views which he had taken with regard to it. He found, however, that even Roman Catholic States had very jealous codes of laws with respect to these institutions; and when he inquired the cause of this, he found that their object was to preserve their independence as against Rome, and to keep their subjects under the protection and supremacy of their own laws. Now, the question came to this, were the laws of this country in a satisfactory state with respect to these institutions? He would take, first, the case of convents, and afterwards consider that of other institutions which were bound by monastic vows. Conventual institutions were of two kinds. There were some which were got up by individuals, and were in the nature of private societies; there were others which were under regular religious orders, and emanated directly from Rome. In these latter convents the inmates were bound by vows of poverty and obedience. This was an essential part of their system, and the vow of obedience could not be dispensed with by the bishop in this country—it could only be dispensed with by the Pope. The consequence of this was, that they had a vow of obedience, surrendering the personal freedom of the individual to an authority over which the laws of this country could have no control; and the more conscientious the person was who took the vow, the deeper the religious feeling, the stronger would be the obligation which that vow would impose. Now, he held that the personal freedom of every individual of this realm was an item of public property, and that it was the duty of every State to maintain its own independence and the supremacy of its own law, to have its own institutions under its own control, and to protect the personal freedom of its own subjects against any foreign Power not responsible to the law of the land. He thought, therefore, with respect to these institutions, that the vow of obedience which the inmates were required to take clashed directly with the constitu- 79 tion of this country. He came now to the vow of poverty. What was that? It was a surrender of all property to the convent. Now, he observed that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the county of Carlow (Mr. J. Ball) had put as an answer upon this part of the subject, which answer was in these words:—That it is not just or expedient to subject to Parliamentary inquiry associations of ladies devoting themselves exclusively to charitable and religious objects, who do not possess, or seek to possess, any peculiar legal privilege or immunity,In that proposition he entirely agreed; and whenever his hon. and learned Friend might put it forward in a proper form, as a distinct and independent proposition, it should have his cordial support. He was quite ready to say that it was neither just nor expedient to subject to Parliamentary inquiry associations of ladies who neither possessed nor sought to possess "any peculiar legal privilege or immunity;" but when they had to deal with associations whose members sought to exercise privileges and immunities which were peculiar and illegal the case was materially altered. Yet this was the best answer which his hon. and learned Friend—anxious, no doubt, with the best advice that he could get, to propose the most skilful Amendment that could be framed—had been able to give to the proposition which was now before the House. But he was adverting to the vow of poverty, and he was about to direct the attention of the House to the effect of these two vows according to the law as it stood before the Reformation, and to the practice of these convents at present. Before the Reformation they amounted to civil death; so that here were persons bound by vows which before the Reformation cut them so much off from the law that they were considered to be civilly dead, but with respect to whom it was nevertheless contended that they were not seeking to possess any peculiar legal privilege or immunity. What was the mode now taken to put the convents in possession of the property of those who entered them? The nun, upon her entrance, made a will—so completely was the fact of her becoming a nun regarded as a death to the world—and under the operation of that will the convent claimed the property of which at her death she might be possessed. They were more consistent before the Reformation, because at that time the person who had entered a convent was considered to 80 be civilly dead, and could of course acquire no property afterwards. Was this state of things, then, consistent with our institutions, or with the Constitution of this country; he maintained that it was not. Nor did he consider it a satisfactory state of the law, that these places should be permitted to go on not only amassing property, but bringing both person and property under the control of a different set of laws than the law of this land. This was his substantial objection. He maintained that the laws of this land covered every inch of ground within it; that the persons shut up in these convents could not shelter themselves from the operation of British law by cutting themselves off from the world; that as the world may, so the law ought to find its way within these inclosures; and that it was not consistent with the spirit of our institutions, or even within the principles of the Constitution itself, to allow any class to remain otherwise than properly protected in the possession of that personal freedom and of that control over the free disposition of their property to which they were undoubtedly entitled equally with every other subject of the Queen. He admitted fully and freely that if the inmates of these convents were there of their own free will—if they had disposed of their property of their own accord—then, however he might think them wrong, he should have no right to interfere with them except by argument. For as Coleridge said in one his papers called the Friend, "those who were entrapped by false opinions could only be liberated by convincing truths." If, however, there were persons in these places who were not there by their own free will, or who having entered willingly in the first place, perhaps when under age, or under the influence of strong religious impressions which had since subsided, or when struck down by grief, did not wish to continue in them, but were desirous to recover their liberty—surely in that case some remedy ought to be provided. It was admitted that the Habeas Corpus Act did not afford sufficient remedy, for it was expressly upon this ground that the hon. and learned Member (Mr. T. Chambers) had framed his Bill of last year. He had objected to the provisions of that Bill, and had given his vote against it, thinking it better to allow things to continue as they were, than to allow such a measure to pass. He thought, however, that the subject required grave consideration, and he hoped 81 a Committee would be appointed, who might discuss the matter with that temper and deliberation with which a question affecting the feelings and opinions of a large number of their fellow subjects ought to be approached. With respect to the question of property, the law interposed its protection in cases in which the relative position of the parties was such as to afford an opportunity for the exercise of undue influence, as in the case of guardian and ward, husband and wife, solicitor and client. But could any case be supposed in which undue influence was likely to be brought to bear with so much effect, as in that of an ecclesiastical superior, dealing with a person of strong religious impressions, possessing a large property, and particularly if that person were a female? But the relation of husband and wife was recognised by law, while the relation between the inmates of these convents and their ecclesiastical superiors was not so recognised; and this was the reason why the law interposed and provided a remedy in the one case, while it gave no remedy in the other. It was said that the courts of equity could give relief, but experience had proved how difficult it was to get the evidence on which a court of equity could act, except under peculiar and special circumstances. The Roman Catholic Relief Act had been cited by the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell) as having recognised the legality of nunneries. It had, however, been decided by two courts of law in Ireland, and by two in England, that it did not; while it exempted associations of females from the penalties which it enacted in restraint of monastic orders, it left their legal status precisely what it had been before. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland, in giving judgment in a case which had come before him, had made the following observations bearing upon this point:—That the doctrine of disability was fully recognised by the law of England in the time of Henry VIII. is plain, and also that there has not been any Act of Parliament deciding it at an end, and consequently the question of how it is now situated must be determined by a reference to the authorities bearing on the question; and the conclusion to be arrived at from a consideration of the full series of such is, that to give this doctrine force would be to recognise the authority of the see of Rome, which is forbidden by our English law. There did not exist any law against nuns, for the laws of Henry VIII. had reference only to those which were surrendered to him by their heads; and the enactment of William III. cap. 1, sec. 8, enjoining magistrates to issue warrants for the suppression of nunneries, shows that they 82 were then recognised as existing. The legislation for years was manifestly directed against such orders in this country; but the portion of the Act of the 10th Geo. IV. which is important is the 37th section, which provides that nothing therein 'shall interfere with females bound by religious vows;' but as to what extent that Act served to legalise these institutions, there is not much authority to inform us, except the case decided by the Master of the Rolls here, to the effect that the status of females was not altered by that Act, but merely that the penal laws in reference to them were repealed; and also the decision of Connolly v. Connolly, in England, to the same purpose; so that, as far as these cases go, it has been decided that the Act of Geo. IV. Only exempted these persons from penalties, but did not give them any further status. The spiritual of the see of Rome is denied by the jurisdiction of the see of Rome is denied by the law of England. All these institutions derive under that see, and therefore it would be difficult to give any weight to this doctrine of profession. It is said that it has been recognised by the Legislature, and that such institutions are not unlawful; but looking to the strong language of the 2nd Eliz. cap. 1, it would be difficult to maintain that the incidental recognition which has taken place in the Catholic Relief Act is of sufficient importance to import the law of disability once more into the law of England. It has been said that profession was not 'triable.' If this was the only argument, it would be of little weight, for the 'Templar's case,' and other authorities, prove that if the doctrine of profession is established by law, the law will find some method of trial without the certificate of the superior. On the whole of the case I am clearly of opinion that I should not refuse the prayer of this petition. The Statute of Elizabeth denies all spiritual jurisdiction to the see of Rome, and although it is said that the Relief Act has recognised the rights of parties then existing, such recognition is not sufficient to repeal the canons of the Church, and it would be against law to allow them that effect which they had long before.This view of the question was confirmed by the speeches of Sir Robert Peel, at the time that the Roman Catholic Relief Bill was in progress through Parliament. He stated that the object of those clauses being introduced was not to protect or to confer a privilege upon Roman Catholics, but as Protestant safeguards, and with a view to the security of the Protestant establishment, and the Government and Constitution of this country, and to leave the Roman Catholic religion exactly on the footing on which it had stood before. The Motion before the House proposed the appointment of a Committee to consider whether any, and, if any, what further legislation was required on the subject of conventual and monastic institutions. Before the Emancipation Act was passed a great deal of evidence was obtained with regard to the nature of the Roman Catholic religious orders, and much care was taken in ascertaining the relation of those various orders 83 to the State. It was known that the agency of these orders had always been a most important element in the policy of Rome. In the Appendix to the 8th Report of the Education Commissioners, at pages 162 to 171, hon. Gentlemen would find most valuable evidence, which was given by several professors at Maynooth, as to the constitution of the monastic orders. That evidence stated that a person in these monastic orders, who took the vows, had no will of his own; that he had no command of his actions; that the superior of the order had control over him; and that the general of the order, who resided at Rome, had command over the superior; so that these persons were bound by a succession of links in a chain the end of which was at Rome. When the Duke of Wellington introduced the Emancipation Bill, on the 2nd of April, 1829, he used these remarkable words:—The measure which I now propose for your Lordships' adoption will prevent the increase of such establishments, and without oppression to any individuals, without injury to any body of men, will gradually put an end to those which have been already formed. There is no man more convinced than I am of the absolute necessity of carrying into execution that part of the present measure which has for its object the extinction of monastic orders in this country. I entertain no doubts whatever that, if that part of the measure be not carried into execution, your Lordships will very soon see this country and Ireland inundated by Jesuits and regular monastic clergy, with means to establish themselves within His Majesty's Kingdom."—[2 Hansard, xxi. 56.]This was the statement of a man who was well acquainted with foreign countries, and who, seeing what was the effect of the agency of these bodies in other places, had thought it necessary to resort to strong measures with regard to them at home. The Bill provided that the persons who were then under monastic vows should be registered and licensed, but that others coming in should be liable to banishment for life; and this in a measure introduced to carry out the principles of civil and religious liberty. It was therefore evident, when the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel resorted to such strong measures, how important they considered these regulations with regard to monastic orders, and it was also clear that they considered the increase of those orders would be fraught with peril and danger to the country. He (Mr. Napier) was willing to admit that the law framed by these wise and able men had not accomplished their object. 84 Certain it was that it had been ineffectual; and, in his humble opinion, nothing was more unwise than to have a law on the Statute-book which was incapable of being carried into execution, or was defeated by connivance, or was only enforced upon some rare and special occasions. Those who sought to infer from the existing state of things that the evil was incapable of cure, might be met by the suggestion on the other side, that there might be other remedies which had not hitherto been tried. The prohibition, however, as had been predicted by the Duke of Wellington, had been disregarded—the country was inundated with the members of these orders; and the Statute of Thurles, confirmed at Rome, even directed them to come here, and to take their stations at particular spots, although the Emancipation Act declared that their doing so should render them liable to the punishment of transportation for life. Was it not right to consider, then, whether some substitute for the law which had thus been contravened could not be found? If no remedy could be suggested, it would be far better to do away altogether with any enactments which they could not enforce; but, before they could come to that conclusion, it was their plain duty to consider the subject fully, with the best advice that they could get. All that was asked for was inquiry, and there was no necessity for conducting it in such a way as would wound the most sensitive mind. He was the last to wish to invade the territory of conscience, or to intrude upon domestic privacy, but he was anxious that the House should consider whether something might not be done to give the inmates of these conventual institutions at least a periodical opportunity of declaring whether they were there of their own free will. He would submit to Irish Members themselves, whether it would not be wise to consent to this inquiry, instead of going into a debate which might give rise to a display of temper and angry feeling. There was no wish to go further than was really necessary to maintain the authority of our law; but, as far as he was concerned, he would stand up firmly for the independence of the laws of this country against any foreign power whatever, and for giving to every subject of this realm the full and free protection to which he was entitled. The necessity of some law to prevent property from being taken away from families, and absorbed in these institutions, was admitted by many of the most intelli- 85 gent and influential even of the Roman Catholics themselves.
§ MR. M'CANN
said, he merely rose to contradict the statement contained in the letter read by the hon. and learned Member for Hertford (Mr. T. Chambers) to the effect that there were 100 priests in Drogheda. He (Mr. M'Cann) had known Drogheda all his life, and there were precisely fifteen priests there. There was not a statement in that letter that was not every bit as true, and not a bit truer, than the assertion that there were 100 priests in Drogheda. He had attended the meeting referred to in the hon. and learned Gentleman's letter, and he could assert, with a very safe conscience, that there was not a word in the letter respecting it which was not utterly untrue. It was all very fine for the hon. and learned Gentleman to disclaim the intention of insulting the Catholic Members of that House at the very moment that he was making charges and dealing in imputations which could not but be offensive to Gentlemen of that persuasion.
§ MR. JOHN BALL
said that, having listened attentively to the speeches of the mover and seconder, he was more and more puzzled to know what was the proposition which the House was called upon to discuss, and what was the nature of the proceeding on which it was called upon to enter. If he had proposed an inquiry into the management of charitable institutions in England or in Scotland, based upon rumours of abuses therein existing, the first question probably which would have been put to him would have been, whom he represented? what interest he had in the question? and whether he was authorised by any who had been injured or wronged to bring their grievances under the consideration of that House? and if it had been found that no single person had come forward to complain, either through himself or anybody else, he thought the proceeding would have been received with very great suspicion. But if, in addition to that, it had turned out that, instead of coming forward to testify, upon his own knowledge, that which he knew to be true, or that which he had reason to believe upon the statement of the parties interested, he was merely the representative of a platform—of persons who knew nothing whatever of the institution which they undertook to condemn—that he was merely taking up flying rumours and reports picked out of the fourth pages of 86 newspapers—he thought that, even if he had had the great ability of the hon. and learned Member for Hertford, he should have been told to turn his ability to some better account in the present state of public affairs. The hon. and learned Member had referred to the increase which had taken place in the number of conventual institutions; but he omitted to state that, of the number which he represented to exist, there were no more than two which were not devoted to the purposes of education—to the visitation of the sick and poor—to the relief of the poor in hospitals—or, lastly, to the reformation of sinners. There were, in England and Wales, thirty-four institutions belonging to Sisters of Mercy or Charity—ladies whose services were well known throughout England and the whole civilised world. There were thirty-seven devoted to the education of the poorer classes, and there were twelve others devoted to various objects of special relief. In Ireland there were forty-five convents for mercy and charity, thirty-nine for the education of the poorest class, and twenty-three for the education of the rich as well as the poor. There was not in the whole of Ireland a single conventual institution which did not come under one or other of these heads. Many of these convents, it should be remembered, had voluntarily subjected themselves to inspection—not of their private affairs, but of those matters with which they were in any way connected with the public as managers of schools and hospitals. If hon. Members, instead of listening to anonymous gossip, would consult the authentic official documents contained in their own library, they would find, that, of the thirty-seven industrial schools for females mentioned in the last Report of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, twenty-five were convent schools; and the strongest testimony was borne by persons in responsible positions, and well qualified to judge, to the value of these schools, in spreading not only education, but industrial teaching, among the poorest classes in that country. Before a Committee, of which he (Mr. Ball) was a member, a Protestant gentleman of much experience and authority, Mr. Berwick the assistant barrister for the county of Cork, had made the following statement as to the convents in and near the city of Cork:—There were facts made known to me which excited my admiration and astonishment with re- 87 gard to their number and their success; from 800 to 1,200 children were in some schools, educated of course in the Roman Catholic religion; but educated also in useful employments and useful knowledge in a way which quite astonished me. The last one I was at was in the convent of Black Rock; there were, I think, 300 children in the school, and I was told last year they made, by work alone, 1,400l. I think I made out that there were upwards of 3,000 children in these schools within a few miles of Cork.He (Mr. Ball) had, on a former occasion, drawn attention to the statements circulated through the country for the purpose of keeping up this agitation. Some of them were of so infamous a character that it was perfectly astonishing to him that hon. Gentlemen, if they did bring forward these questions in the House of Commons, did not at once dissociate themselves entirely from the persons—persons connected with the same associations as themselves—who propagated these scandals. The hon Member (Mr. T. Chambers) had begun by a skin them to appoint a Committee to inquire into the number and the increase of convents in this country; but the hon. and learned Member had himself given them all the information to obtain which he proposed that Committee. There were in Ireland 1,085 inmates of religious houses, and in England about 500; and in his (Mr. Ball's) conscientious belief, would be a benefit to the country if their number was increased. And that statement he made not in his capacity as a Catholic, but simply in the capacity of one interested in education, for he saw no other such educational agency brought to bear on the poorer classes. One lady alone had, in the course of her life, instituted no fewer than twenty-seven convents—eleven in Ireland, one in England, thirteen in the British colonies, and two on the Continent, and through the means of these institutions education was afforded to many hundreds of the upper and middle ranks and to thousands of the poorest classes of the community. Would not that party which claimed for itself a monopoly of religion and benevolence, better prove its sincerity by imitating the conduct of that lady, than by making such efforts the object of unprovoked hostility? No matter whether hon. Members were of the Catholic religion or not, they surely must admit that it was better for the poor to receive education from ladies such as these, than for them to be left to take their chance of the general establishment of national education in this country. He believed the hon. 88 and learned Member (Mr. Chambers) expected to alarm the House by his statement of the number of convents, but he bad no doubt the House, looking at the moral and religious state of so many of our towns, would feel that with Catholics it was merely the discharge of duty to endeavour to extend as widely as possible the salutary influence exercised by the pious and exemplary ladies, the inmates of those institutions. Passing from that topic, the hon. and learned Mover of the Motion before the House had called their attention to the fact, that at present the monasteries, as constituted, were contrary to law—that convents had no relation to the law. The right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Napier), lately a law officer of the Crown, had, however, informed the House that the Statutes making these houses illegal were inoperative; and that being the case, he (Mr. Ball), finding the law inoperative, thought the best way would be to leave it as it was. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Chambers) had expressed his great surprise that convents were not brought within the purview of the Government. He (Mr. Ball) thought it was the boast of Liberals—and he believed the hon. and learned Member called himself a Liberal—that the only duty of the Government was to prevent wrong, and to regulate rights where it conferred rights. How was the case of convents analogous to that of benefit and friendly societies, which had been referred to by the hon. Member? Benefit and friendly societies were regulated because the law conferred certain advantages and privileges on them; but he suspected no such conferred advantages could in this case be pleaded as giving any special right to Government control and interference. The hon. and learned Member had told them a few stories in support of his arguments; but the principal peculiarity of his cases seemed to be that not one of them would be touched in the slightest degree by any legislation. The hon. and learned Member, therefore, if he wanted the Committee, must want it for the express purpose of inviting persons to come forward with every description of stories against convents, which stories, it would be exultingly said, were unrefuted, unless met by the ladies themselves. They could scarcely, then, be surprised that Catholic Members refused to associate themselves with any such proposition. Those Catholic Members, it was to be remembered, did not raise any objection to the 89 present state of the law or to any laws which should apply uniformly to all classes of the community. They asked only that Catholic ladies, associated in religious houses, should not be exposed to special, exceptional, and oppressive legislation. With reference to the question of property, and speaking for himself, he could only say that if the House should adopt legislation similar to that which existed in many other countries, and should require that all acts regarding the disposition of property by females should be executed before a public officer or notary, he did not believe that the inmates of any convent would regard such legislation with any objection or alarm. As to the newspaper stories, they only showed the utter want of substance there must be in all the accusations they represented, and of which they were given as specimens. His conclusion was, that if the House as a body did think some legislation on this question necessary, the facts being perfectly patent to all the world, then it was open to any hon. Gentleman who thought it practicable and desirable to propose such legislation. But, the facts being so patent, there could be no need for a Committee, whose operations must be worse than useless—this, most certainly, not being the time for opening the door to discussions and disputes, and arguments and controversies, beyond all others irritating and offensive to Catholics. He admitted, hon. Members would understand, that in their relation to the public, in so far as they undertook anything in which the public was fairly interested, the inmates of convicts did create a certain right of inquiry and investigation into their proceedings. Persons who opened schools, persons who opened hospitals, persons who opened establishments, in which the welfare of the poorer classes was concerned, did thereby invite inquiry into the manner in which they conducted those institutions. To such inquiries he was quite sure the inmates of convents would be the last to object, and of such inquiries he was equally certain the result would be highly honourable to them. But that was their relation to the public. It was quite another matter when you asked to inquire into the intimate, and social existence of these persons in their private capacity; and he did not think any man in that House would, without the very strongest grounds, institute an inquiry into the private character, conduct, and conversation, of any ladies in 90 this country, even though they might not be of his own religion. He was perfectly sure that there had not been one tittle of reason shown for such proceedings in reference to the ladies who were the occupants of these religious institutions. It was, moreover, most undesirable to disturb this question at all, for there was no single point on which the feelings of Catholics of all classes were so intensely susceptible as on this. It was impossible it should be otherwise. Let the House but recollect how the poor man—Irish or English—looked to these ladies, under every care and affliction, as the persons from whom, above all others, he was sure to meet with help and consolation. To them he confided the education of his children, certain that from them those children would receive, not merely instruction, but that training in religion and in virtue which had made the poorest class of his (Mr. Ball's) countrywomen a model to the poorest class of women throughout the world. It was from these ladies, too, that he received relief when sick; it was from them that he received consolation when dying; by their voices he was cheered when on the passage to eternity; and to them he entrusted those whom he would leave orphans for their care. How could you expect these people, then, to hear with indifference propositions which could not but be deeply wounding? The ladies about whom it was proposed to inquire belonged to the same class, and were equally cultivated and refined, with hon. Members' own sisters and daughters; and they were the persons into whose private lives it was proposed to institute a scrutiny. It was only necessary to appeal to the feelings of gentlemen—of men—whether they could expect that Catholics should give the slightest assent to such an intrusion as that proposed. Some Members were ready, he believed, to vote against a change in our political institutions, on the ground that at the present time it was unwise and dangerous to excite political animosities; and of those Gentlemen he confidently asked, was the same time opportune for stirring up the bitter waters of religious strife? Is it at the moment when the whole nation stands listening for the first cannon in the Black Sea or the Baltic, that it is to summon it to deadly, it may be to a desperate, encounter, that they will needlessly meddle in a matter so offensive and irritating to the feelings and convictions of a large portion of the 91 empire, and so certain to breed discord and discontent. He believed there would not be the slightest chance for this Motion, if the votes of hon. Members were given by ballot; they were allowing themselves to be guided by outside influences, and they who so often warned Irish Members against agitation should now make some sacrifice for the purpose of resisting what they must, in their hearts, know to be a most mischievous professional agitation. No doubt, there was in Ireland a party thoroughly disaffected to all our established institutions, who said that from this House they could get no justice, and that it was hostile to them, their interests, and their religion. He believed it had been said that such a party was not altogether without representatives in that House. If the House wanted to confirm all the worst things said by that party, it should enter upon the course of religious aggression now recommended to it. For it must be recollected that, if what those who advocated the aggression said was true, we ought not to be content with the appointment of Committees. We ought to raze these convents to the ground; we ought to drive the Catholic clergy from the country; and we ought to deprive the Catholic laity of the franchise. A stand must be made somewhere; and he called upon the House and the Government to save themselves future fruitless discussions of this kind by making it resolutely now. On the whole, considering what had passed in the present discussion, he considered it would be better not to propose the Amendment of which he had given notice.
§ MR. POTTER
said, he could assure the hon. and learned Member for Hertford (Mr. T. Chambers) that, notwithstanding his declaration to the contrary effect, he had managed to insult every Catholic in that House. It was not his intention, however, to do anything more than to mention that in the work, not of an Irishman, not of a Catholic, but of a gentleman whose character stood deservedly high in the metropolis—he alluded to Sir John Forbes, physician to Her Majesty's household—full testimony was borne to the exertions of the noble Sisters of Mercy in Ireland, who, Sir John Forbes stated, were constantly to be found where good was to be done. Sir John Forbes travelled through Ireland a few years ago, and his testimony on the subject must be regarded as perfectly unbiassed when he declared that the 92 establishments in question throughout the country were fountains of good to the localities in which they were situated, and might not only be permitted but encouraged, both in the Roman Catholic and in the Protestant churches. For his part, he believed that institutions which had worked so much good for every class of the community ought rather, instead of being discouraged by legislation, to be made the objects of their greatest care and solicitude. If this subject were revived at the present moment, he could not but think the result would be a most unfortunate one as regarded Ireland.
§ MR. R. PHILLIMORE
said, he wished in the outset, to congratulate his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. T. Chambers), on the great moderation which had characterised his speech. He believed that any person who wished to offer an opinion upon the present question was placed in a position very considerable embarrassment, because if the hon. Member, whoever he chanced to be, voted in favour of the proposition before them, he exposed himself to the imputation of being classed with those whom his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Carlow (Mr. J. Ball) had rightly declared to be persons engaged in spreading most foul and calumnious libels upon Catholics and their religion, while, on the other hand, if any hon. Member opposed the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman, in so doing, he subjected himself to the suspicion of unduly favouring the Roman Catholic religion. He could assure the House, however, that if the Motion now before them carried with it any of those consequences to which the hon. and learned Member for Carlow had adverted, it would meet with no more stern opponent than himself. If for one moment he thought that the object of that Motion was to drag before a Committee composed of all sorts of persons, and entertaining all shades of religious opinions, ladies of high birth and gentle feelings, to torture them with an examination as to their private conduct and religious concerns, he would say he could conceive no proposition more monstrous, or none which ought more readily to meet from any assembly of Englishmen with general condemnation. But if it was merely intended to inquire into the increase of convents and monastic institutions, and into the relation in which they stood to the law, and to consider if any, and if so what, further legislation was requisite on their 93 behalf, if that were the bonâ fide object of his hon. and learned Friend's proposal, then he must say that the question assumed a very different aspect indeed. He was bound to confess that these institutions, as regarded the existing law, were in a position wholly anomalous, and he must add, extremely inconvenient. For no one could rise in his place and affirm that there was a kingdom in Europe in which conventual establishments stood in a relation to the law similar to that which they held in England. But it might be said by hon. Gentlemen professing Roman Catholic opinions, "Aye, but in all those countries the Roman Catholic was the established religion of the State, and that the Government and executive authorities were Catholic." [Mr. LUCAS: Hear, hear!] But he begged to remind the hon. Member for Meath, that, according to the law of Prussia he believed at this moment, but certainly not long ago, there were two regulations in force on the subject of such institutions of the most stringent character. The first was, that the approbation of the State was necessary to confirm the appointments of all heads of religious houses; and, secondly, that no subject of the King could be admitted into a monastery without the knowledge and permission of the Government. Now, he had never heard that Roman Catholics had complained of that state of the law as a hardship. But it might be contended, however, that the speech of his hon. and learned Friend, not his Motion, went a great deal further than the state of the Prussian law; no doubt that was so, and he felt bound to confess that if he (Mr. Phillimore) was obliged to give his vote on the grounds alleged by the hon. and learned Member, he would be compelled to refuse the Motion his support. For, he must say, his hon. and learned Friend had greatly weakened his case, as well as lowered his character, which stood deservedly high before that House, by condescending to adopt that idle newspaper gossip, which, after all, when it came to be examined into, really told more against than in favour of his argument. It could not fail to be gratifying to the Roman Catholics in that House to observe the extreme feebleness of the evidence adduced by the hon. and learned Gentleman. Surely they could not condemn a person of even a notoriously bad character upon facts so trivial, ill-supported, and so flimsy. He must take this opportunity of strongly 94 condemning a practice, apparently increasing in this House, the practice of reading anonymous letters in this House, as evidence of the facts alleged in them. But to return to the main subject under discussion. There were two circumstances, one of law and one of fact, which could not be denied. The one was, that the state of the law upon the subject was most anomalous and inconvenient; and the other was, that it was quite possible to alter the law without being offensive to the Roman Catholics, and yet rendering it more consonant with the spirit of the Constitution. No person who was at all conversant with cases in which the testamentary bequests of Roman Catholics were concerned, and still more with cases in which that most delicate of all subjects, the matrimonial obligations of Roman Catholics, were involved, but must see that, when the Roman Catholic Relief Bill was passed, great omissions had been made in its provisions. He had his own opinion as to the cause of those omissions; he believed that it had been expressed long ago by one of our most eminent statesmen, Lord Grenville, from whose lips it was his privilege to have learnt the first maxims of political wisdom, when he said, in answer to the opponents of Roman Catholic Emancipation, "You will wait till the measure can neither be graced by spontaneous kindness, nor limited by deliberative wisdom." [Lord JOHN RUSSELL: Hear, hear!] But the fact was so, that that measure left those questions to which he had alluded wholly untouched and unprovided for. He himself had been engaged in a case that excited much attention at the time—it was the case of the Rev. Mr. Connolly, a Roman Catholic priest, who sought a restitution of conjugal rights from Mrs. Connolly, to whom he had been married before he entered into holy orders, and who, on separating from her husband, had entered into a convent in this country. That case was brought before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and raised a most important point at law. Their Lordships ordered an alteration to be made in the pleadings, and that they should be amended. They never were so amended, and the case was not proceeded with. The case was that of a gentleman claiming the restitution of a wife to his home and children. The lady put in a plea against the demand of her husband—namely, that she was, by his own consent, at the head of a religious order, which, 95 she contended, overruled the original contract entered into with her husband. To meet such a state of things there was no provision to be found in the existing law. Powers were vested in Roman Catholic institutions to which no parallel could be found. There was another case that occurred in Ireland that he would mention—namely, Fuller v. M'Carthy—in which the question raised was, whether a lady who had entered a convent was civilly dead or not? That question was left wholly undecided. When it was taken before the House of Lords, Lord Campbell and Lord Brougham said, in respect to that question, they were extremely thankful not to be called upon to decide a point of such great importance. Well, if the state of the law be as he had described it, surely it was most expedient to have some inquiry made into those institutions, with a view of remedying these defects in the existing law. Now, he was happy to say that he had many Roman Catholic friends in that House, and he must tell them he believed in his conscience that they were not advancing the interest of their religion in refusing to assent to this Motion. They had nothing, he verily believed, to dread from an inquiry into their conventual establishments. He believed that the charges which had been brought against them would vanish under such an inquiry; and by refusing to satisfy what might be an unworthy jealousy, but which was rapidly spreading throughout the country, he considered they were not doing justice to their own cause; they were aiding in disseminating the notion that they really had something to conceal, and they were giving some colour and plausibility to the scandalous statements which had been so industriously circulated. He should be very sorry, in what he said upon this subject, to hurt the feelings of any single person, and nothing was further from his intention than to do so; but, at the same time, he thought that this was a subject upon which a candid and fearless opinion should be given. Religious disputes within that House were always to be deprecated and discouraged, for, although hon. Members commenced them with the very intention of avoiding all that might sound ungenerous or appear unkind, they were almost certain, before they concluded, to be led by their passions into the extreme of which they were desirous to steer clear, and to allude to the very subjects which they had promised to avoid. He had 96 heard several religious debates in this House, and never one in which its character had not been lowered. Admirably as it might fulfil its legitimate duties, it was the worst House of Convocation that could be devised. He entertained the most sincere and respectful sympathy for the ladies belonging to these institutions, and he thought too much care and delicacy could not be exerted in carrying any measures into operation which might affect their condition. He hoped, however, that now that the subject had again been intruded upon the House, it would be met seriously and earnestly, otherwise it would be renewed again Session after Session, endless discussions would take place, and all kinds of uncharitable rumours would be circulated and kept alive. If the law required alteration, it were good that it should be altered with as little delay as possible; but, at any rate, this subject ought not to be kept an open one, and the sooner it was settled one way or the other the better it would be, both for the country and the Roman Catholics themselves.
§ MR. FAGAN
said, he did not rise to say anything calculated to add to the bitterness of feeling which had been evoked by the hon. and learned Gentleman who had introduced the Motion. He rose simply to correct a mistake into which the hon. and learned Gentleman had fallen in the only case which he had brought forward in this country to substantiate his assertion. The case, of which he (Mr. Fagan) had a personal knowledge, was that of Miss Knight, who was the inmate of a convent at Taunton. He acknowledged that he felt an affectionate attachment to the inmates of that institution, and considered it quite unnecessary for him to state the reason why he did so. Of all those noble institutions to which his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. J. Ball) had alluded, no one stood more prominently useful than the institution at Taunton. Some of the ladies connected with it belonged to the noblest families in the country, and he asserted fearlessly that no finger could point at a single act in that convent which deserved the slightest reprehension. The case to which allusion has been made was simply this, and it made quite against the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. T. Chambers):—Miss Knight had been twenty years an inmate of that institution, and, during a great portion of that time, her companions had watched over 97 her with love and tenderness, and her own family had, on all occasions, stated that to be the fact. Under the influence of disease, her mind became deranged, and her derangement turned on religious topics. It then became necessary, as it was not safe that she should stay in the institution, to consider how she ought to be disposed of, and the question was raised whether she should be sent to an institution in Belgium, which has been established for the treatment and cure of persons suffering under religious maladies, or whether she should be taken to an institution called the Good Shepherd. That was a Magdalen asylum, and, with a morbid feeling against the Roman Catholics, it was natural to suppose that, on a strange nun going there, calumny and slander would be evoked, not only against the lady herself, but also against the institution. Some discussion then took place in her family as to her being brought out and placed under the care of a physician. It consequently became a question of breaking the vow of inclosure. The hon. and learned Gentleman had disclaimed any intention of interfering with the conscientious feelings of the inmates of such institutions or of Roman Catholics. Now, the breaking of the vow of inclosure was a matter connected with conscience. The nuns could not give their concurrence to the violation of that vow. But the very moment that Miss Knight's family stated that the civil law would be brought into operation, the nuns, yielding obedience even in anticipation of the civil law, permitted the lady to be taken out by her family. It had been stated that Miss Knight died in consequence of the treatment she received in the convent. Now, what was the fact? The cause of her death really was her being dragged, as it were, from the convent; relative to which, with the permission of the House, he would read the statement of a person whose testimony could be depended on. The statement was as follows:—On the 7th of April, when the Superioress saw Mr. Knight, he requested her not to tell his sister until the last moment that she was to be removed. About ten minutes before he drove up on the 12th, the Superioress told her that her brother was coming to take her away. She said she would not go, and appeared in an agony of fear, evidently perfectly conscious. She then asked if she were obliged to go. Upon being assured that it was entirely without our consent and against our wishes, but that we had no power to protect her against the laws of the country, by which her family assumed a claim upon her, all which she clearly and perfectly understood, she 98 repeated, 'Then I will not go;' and, raising her hands and eyes to heaven, she said, 'The vengeance of God will come down upon them all, and you alone, dear mother, will be justified.' Two sisters were in the room besides the Superioress, and these words were the last that Sister Mary Clare addressed to her.The circumstance of being forced from the convent under these agonised feelings operated seriously on her mind, and the result was her death a fortnight afterwards. That was the only fact adduced by the hon. and learned Gentleman in justification of his Motion, and, as he had before stated, it proved absolutely the reverse. He had no wish to take up the time of the House, otherwise he could show, in many other particulars, the extraordinary incorrectness of the facts as stated by the hon. and learned Member for Hertford. He firmly believed that most of the ladies in these religious institutions led a life, not only of goodness and purity, but of happiness and contentment, and he could not well see how it could be otherwise, when their habits and desires were considered. It was absurd to expect the House would grant a Committee, when no facts were brought forward in justification of the Motion for inquiry. He would admit that, in former times, something of the kind might have occurred. He would also admit that there existed provisions against discontented nuns, and that such nuns did exist, not only on the Continent, but in this country. But there were provisions in the convent rules relating to such individuals, and the simple rule was, that when such a case did occur, without the law interfering at all, the individual was at liberty to leave the convent, and arrangements were made which altogether justified her in so doing, even in relation to the vow of inclosure. Although the House had been threatened with such a Motion year after year, he trusted that the morbid feeling evoked in the discussions on the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill would pass away, and that this would be the last time matters of this kind would be intruded upon the House. He denied the right of that House to institute any such inquiry. It might just as well appoint a Committee to inquire into the private relations of any family in the kingdom, or into the mode of instruction and discipline adopted in a private school. He trusted that the House would get rid of the Motion by a large and decisive majority.
§ MR. ROCHE
said, as an Irishman and a Protestant, he was anxious to address a few words to the House on this very im- 99 portant subject. He objected to the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Hertford upon principle; he objected to it, moreover, because he thought it was introduced in a bitter and disingenuous spirit. He thought it was ill-timed and in bad taste. It was introduced in a disingenuous spirit, because, while the hon. and learned Member detailed the state of the law as it affected conventual institutions in this country, he showed that, while the law pressed heavily upon the male conventual institutions, it had no control over nunneries. The Committee was moved for in the spirit of persecution, and the Motion was exceedingly ill-timed. While the Government were in the act of drawing up a declaration of war against Russia, the hon. and learned Gentleman evidently wished a declaration of war to be made against one-third of the inhabitants of the Kingdom, and against Ireland in particular. The Sovereign on the Throne had no more loyal subjects than the Roman Catholics. At this moment, in the Roman Catholic chapels in London, a pastoral letter from Cardinal Wiseman was read, and that letter was dictated in a spirit of the warmest loyalty, and he was going to say equally warlike. The Cardinal therein called upon Roman Catholics to rally round the institutions of their country and their Sovereign. While they had the people of Ireland recruiting for their standard, aided and assisted by the Catholic clergy, the hon. and learned Gentleman had the good taste to fling an insult upon the Roman Catholic part of the population. After the hon. and learned Gentleman had dwelt upon the dreadful fact, that young ladies sent by their parents to schools in these convents became discontented, and wished to be removed home, he descended again into generalities, and indulged in a vast deal of Exeter-Hall declamation against Roman Catholics. The hon. and learned Gentleman had not, however, a single fact of persecution to adduce. Now, what was the fact as regarded Ireland? There was not a single social institution there, from the Poor Law to the Encumbered Estates Act, which had done more real social good, which had spread more useful information, and which had infused more content and happiness among the people, than the cloistered nuns had, whom the hon. and learned Gentleman, in his wisdom, considered useless. In the county of Cork, which he had the honour to represent, there were eight or ten such cloistered 100 institutions. One of those institutions, situated in the neighbourhood of Black-rock, Cork, had, for example, expended upwards of 1,000l. in the year 1852 in teaching good industrial pursuits to the poor. There was not a single Protestant lady—and he said it with pride—of any rank or station who did not upon all occasions identify herself with those institutions. They purchased work, they visited the schools, and they contributed towards the advancement and the support of the education that was therein afforded. When the hon. and learned Member said that the cloistered nuns were useless, he (Mr. Roche) would tell him that he was speaking upon a subject of which he knew nothing. It might be convenient for particular purposes to raise a cry against the Roman Catholics; but there were two sides to the question, and for every one bigot raised in England, there would be five raised in Ireland. He was sorry to find the spirit of religious persecution growing and increasing in England, and particularly in the House of Commons, and felt deeply for his Roman Catholic countrymen, who were present, and who were obliged to listen to such speeches as those of the hon. and learned Gentleman. But he would give that hon. and learned Gentleman one bit of advice. There was a time when this bigotry, and what was miscalled Protestant feeling in the country, was not so rife as at present—when the Catholics in Ireland carried the war into the enemies' camp—when a Motion was made in that House for inquiry into the Protestant Church establishment in Ireland—when that great and growing anomaly was discussed. He would not say that he would advise the Roman Catholics to take that course again, because that would be to revive political agitation in the country; but he hoped the Protestants at least would take warning, and pause before they aroused the feelings of the House. The people ought at present to be united in spirit and in desire to rally round the institutions of the country, and to sustain the Sovereign against the attacks of her enemies; but he was satisfied that unity could not be maintained, if they legislated in the spirit of the hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ MR. KENNEDY
said, he was sorry that the inquiry was not more strongly resisted, had it only been to teach a lesson to the persecuting tone of the Motion. He considered that the Motion was intended chiefly as a protection for the Protestant 101 movement against Roman Catholicism, and on that ground it had his most strenuous disapproval.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, the hon. Member for the county of Cork (Mr. Roche), having designated the Motion as founded in a spirit of persecution, and as an insult to the Roman Catholics of Ireland, he (Lord C. Hamilton), as one who supported inquiry, utterly repudiated being animated by any such motive. And he thought that no impartial person who had heard the able address of the hon. and learned Gentleman who brought forward the Motion would agree with the hon. Member in saying that this was a just description of the tone adopted on the occasion. They were told by hon. Gentlemen that they did not approve of this constant recurrence to the question—that it was an irritating question, and likely to give rise to feelings of dissatisfaction and alienation between different classes of Her Majesty's subjects. But the Gentlemen who adopted that tone would do well to ponder the sound advice of the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock (Mr. R. Phillimore), when he told them that their constant shrinking from all inquiry did look as if there were something that ought not to meet the broad daylight in those conventual establishments. Still, supposing there was nothing in those establishments which might not be made public, the question still remained as to what position their inmates occupied with respect to the ordinary law of the land; and upon this part of the question none of the hon. Members below (the Popish Members) had ventured fully to touch. He could not object to the increase of these institutions, if they were in accordance with the feelings of the majority of the people. On the contrary, he was perfectly willing to leave every sect to the enjoyment of its own religious views, provided it could be done without infringing the spirit of the law. But there was quite sufficient evidence before the House to show that there was something peculiar in the position of the inmates of conventual establishments in this country which did require investigation, and justified the House in making an inquiry on the subject. If in this country persons of tender years entered into engagements which might be binding on them during the whole course of their lives—if, willingly or unwillingly, they had done this at an age when they could not understand all the consequences of 102 taking such a course, then he held that that was a system which demanded a thorough sifting by the House of Commons. He was not induced by any sectarian views of his own to make this assertion; but he would remind hon. Members who belonged to the Roman Catholic faith, that even in Roman Catholic countries, and under Roman Catholic Governments, considerable jealousy had been manifested on this point. Whether they looked at France, Bavaria, or Austria, in all these countries they would find that provision had been made to prevent the system, and persons were not allowed to enter into such engagements as he had mentioned, until they had arrived at years of discretion. In Bavaria the period for which the engagement was binding was only three years, whilst other periods obtained in other parts of the Continent. And these restrictions were not founded either on Protestant laws or Protestant prejudices. They were restrictions in reference to that which was left altogether unshackled in England. They were restrictions adopted by Roman Catholic Legislatures, at the instigation of Roman Catholic statesmen, from a sense of danger to the community, and from a sense of injustice to individuals, if no restriction were applied. Surely, then, there could be no reason to say that such a measure would be an insult to Ireland generally, or to our Roman Catholic countrymen throughout the kingdom. And it was unfair, when a case of hardship occurred in this country, on account of the absence of such restrictions, to attribute to feelings of religious bigotry and the spirit of persecution the desire to institute an inquiry, and the suggestion that some restrictions might be advantageously carried out here also. Indeed, he felt convinced that, by effecting an arrangement of the sort, a vast deal of irritating discussion would at once he put an end to. But they might depend upon it, that as long as there was a determination, in limine, to refuse all inquiry, the public would perceive that there was an anxiety to conceal something that would not suit the public taste—something that was deemed to be inconsistent with the spirit of our institutions. He denied there was the slightest similarity between the case of boys going to school and that of young ladies under a vow entering establishments which they could never quit again, without calling down the most severe denunciations upon their heads. The hon. Member for the city of Cork (Mr. 103 Fagan) had deprecated inquiry on the ground that it would be offensive to the feelings of the ladies who were inmates of convents. Now, no one more than himself (Lord C. Hamilton) would object to a coarse or rude investigation. But he apprehended that any Committee which that House might grant would not enter into an inquiry like that, but would inquire as to the practices of foreign countries—the usages of Roman Catholic convents in Roman Catholic countries; and if, as a result of that inquiry, a good digest of the practice in foreign countries were produced, he thought very great good would thereby be effected, as it was possible that arrangements might then be made which would not be rejected even by Roman Catholics themselves.
§ MR. J. G. PHILLIMORE
said, he felt it his duty to state frankly and freely his opinion upon the question under discussion, and to express a hope that the House would not assent to the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Hertford (Mr. Chambers). He felt it impossible to separate the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman from the speech with which it had been introduced, and he would ask any persons who heard that speech, if they could disguise from themselves the fact that the Motion was an insult to every person professing the Roman Catholic religion? The hon. and learned Gentleman had directed the attention of the noble Lord the Member for London to the danger that he stated was likely to arise from the increase of conventual establishments, and had called for further assistance from the State to enable the Church of England to maintain her ground. Now, he must protest against that doctrine. As a sincere Protestant he must protest against a doctrine as irreverent as it was impious. If the Church of England, with all its large revenues, and all that it could hold out of station and emolument to its adherents—if that Church could not maintain its ground against the Roman Catholic religion, then he said it was time for them to cease to think of any other measures than those that would amend the defects of their own Church. But he believed the Church of England was perfectly able to maintain her own rights by the purity of her doctrines alone; and therefore he repudiated the assistance that was offered by the hon. and learned Gentleman. With regard to religious education in Ireland, if the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. 104 Chambers) would look at the history of Ireland, he would be warned at once against attempting by legislative means to supply any deficiency in the religious education of that country. He would see in Ireland a dominant church and an oppressed church, and he would see the dominant church losing its numbers every hour, while the oppressed church was daily augmenting hers. This was the necessary consequence of oppression, and could only be attributed to the zeal and activity which a sense of persecution had aroused in the minds of the oppressed. The main topic in the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Hertford was, that the persecution and tyranny that were practised in Roman Catholic convents called loudly for the interference of the State. But was it really so? It must be remembered that the Protestants were not the parties persecuted, but the Roman Catholics; and where, then, were there any petitions from the injured? Where were the petitions for inquiry? It was not said that Protestants were forced into convents against their will; and if it was the Roman Catholics who had been so was treated, why had not that body petitioned the House for relief? As to what had been said in reference to Roman Catholic parents requiring their children to enter conventual establishments, he would ask if it was really proposed that the House of Commons should pass a law to prevent a man Roman Catholic parent from bringing up his child in the Roman Catholic religion before she became emancipated by age in any way he thought proper? Some allusion had been made to Bavaria, in which country the noble Lord opposite (Lord C. Hamilton) said, there was a legislative enactment; but the noble Lord forgot this material difference between Bavaria and this country, that in Bavaria the vows taken were legally binding, while in England they were worthless, and were of no account whatever. Yes, but, said the noble Lord, their own religious principles made the vows binding. Well, and would legislation prevent that? No; it was not by legislation, but by argument, by reason, by example, that they were to overcome that difficulty; therefore the noble Lord's illustration fell altogether to the ground. He would give the noble Lord another illustration. There was a good deal said in this country some time ago respecting an institution called the Agapemone, where the most disgusting practices were carried on. Weak foolish women were enticed into that 105 establishment by designing men; but then they were of age, and nothing could be done to prevent it. He (Mr. Phillimore) considered that a Protestant superintendence of the Roman Catholics could not but be an insult to those professing that religion, and he most strongly advocated non-interference on the great principles of religious toleration. Several instances had been given of children having been forcibly conveyed by train to monastic institutions, evidently against their inclination; but it was supposed that children were in the best possible humour while being carried to places of education? A young lady of lively disposition, whose parents belonged to that respectable body called Quakers, would, in all probability, object, in a railway train, to being taken to a Quakers' educational establishment. The noble Lord (Lord Claud Hamilton) said it was a hard case to compel a person to enter a convent for religious instruction. It might be so, but it was also a hard case when a father disinherited his son because he refused to marry a very ugly woman. And yet he knew of no Act of Parliament to prevent it. He trusted it would not be supposed that he yielded to any one in a deep attachment to those institutions under which he had been educated, or in an earnest desire for the safety and progress of that religion which he believed to be the best in existence. In conclusion, he would give the hon. and learned Member for Hertford a word of advice, namely, to turn his zeal, if he wished to serve the Church of England, to a quarter where it would be more effectual, by exterminating from that Church those who, while they received her emoluments, endeavoured to undermine and sap her foundations—who, having access to families in their religious capacity, endeavoured to pervert the young committed to their charge and make them apostates to the religion which they had been employed to teach.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, the Bill of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Chambers) which he produced last year, was equally distateful then as now. It had created such universal disgust in Ireland, that it would not have been safe for the hon. and learned Member to have made a tour there after its promulgation. For himself he could say that he had had two members of his family in conventual establishments, one of whom had been for forty-five years, and another who lost her life in the service of her Divine Master, 106 and he was quite willing to assent to inquiry, if any case could be made out to warrant it. But the only materials upon which the hon. and learned Gentleman founded his Motion, were some ridiculous newspaper paragraphs, and the warmth of his own imagination. He (Mr. Maguire) could assure the House that in Ireland the conventual establishments were all open, and if any of the enormities attributed to them by the hon. and learned Member had been committed, the people of Ireland, Catholic though they were, would have been as ready as any people to punish the oppressors and protect the oppressed. In Ireland, there would be a strong outcry if the description which had been given to-night of conventual establishments were justified by fact. There was no country in the world in which there was a greater zeal for education than in Ireland, though the case would have been far different but for the exertions of parties connected with conventual establishments. At a meeting at Cork, Dr. Bullen, a most eminent physician, stated that he had access, at all times, to his patients in the convent there, and had every opportunity of ascertaining the real state of their minds, and he never heard anything but a regret that their illness should prevent the performance of their religious and charitable duties. These institutions were also places of education. In Cork, there were three communities of nuns—the South Precinct Nuns, who educated 1,100 children; the North Precinct Nuns, who educated 800; and the Sisters of Mercy, who had charge of 100 orphans, and also of 100 servants. The nuns at Blackrock distributed in the city of Cork about 1201. weekly, and had encouraged a spirit of industry by teaching and providing employment for children. Throughout the whole of Ireland there was no monastic institution with which a school was not connected, and, consequently, education was rapidly progressing. The inmates of a convent averaged from ten or twenty to forty in number, the whole of whom were allowed to see their relatives and friends daily without any attempt at interference. As to torturing and imprisonment of young ladies, &c., it existed only in the imagination of the hon. and learned Gentleman, or, rather, in the excited imagination of his constituents. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London had proposed to semi-disfranchise the town he represented (Hertford), and the hon. and learned Gentleman was probably mak- 107 ing a little political capital for himself, on the principle that if he were to be thrown overboard, he would, at all events, cling to the last plank. Was it possible that ladies who devoted their lives and their hearts to their God, and to the assistance of the destitute and the wretched, would be guilty of such conduct as insinuated? One would think there could scarcely have been any heart so envenomed, any mind so steeped in malignity, as to wish to exercise any domineering authority, any unseemly intrusion, upon defenceless women. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hertford had assumed an aspect of humility and meekness whilst making those harsh statements, but the people of Ireland would look upon him as a wolf in sheep's clothing. The hon. and learned Gentleman had, however, but ill supported his bitter and envenomed declamation—declamation which might have drawn down the plaudits of Exeter Hall, but which could meet but little favour among men of common sense and intelligence. It was certainly an unenviable desire which could prompt a man to wound the feelings of defenceless ladies—who could not return blow for blow, nor injury for injury—who must submit to persecution and to injustice. The chivalry of the present day was prudent and discreet, it only struck at women. How supremely absurd was it to tell the Catholic gentlemen of England or Ireland that they were unable to protect their daughters and female relatives without the sage interposition of the hon. and learned Member for Hertford and his crude Bill. The third clause of the Bill of last Session proposed to give the power of forcible entry to nunneries—to invade the sanctity of the cloister and of domestic privacy—a provision which could only have been dictated by the bitterest feelings of sectarian rancour. Where were convents generally established?—not in fine squares or splendid streets, not in situations remarkable for health and beauty, but in the midst of neighbourhoods remarkable for the poverty and the density of their population. Without such institutions, the Catholic children of English and Irish towns would, in point of moral teaching, be destitute indeed. It was the pious care of the nun who moulded the mind of the child into the best and purest forms, and who watched over their childhood and their girlhood—whose care did not cease even when they reached womanhood, and who, in the time of adversity, and sickness, and trouble, were 108 still found to minister and to alleviate the mental anguish, and to minister to the physical necessities, of the wretched and the needy. He (Mr. Maguire) had no objection whatever to inquiry, if there were anything like grounds for it, but would never consent to go through the form of inquiry upon the most trumpery gossip—the most incredible stories—the merest suspicion. By acceding to such a Motion, upon such statements, or rather surmises, would be to betray the interests of his constituents—to degrade and stultify his own understanding.
MR. F. W. RUSSELL
said, that, as he was a Protestant representing a large Roman Catholic constituency in the city of Limerick, he should be pardoned, he trusted, for briefly addressing the House. He did not at this late hour of the night propose to go into the general question, but merely to state a few facts connected with conventual establishments in the city he represented. One of the great defects of the south of Ireland was the want of industrial institutions; and the attempts which had been made to establish them in Limerick would not have been successful but for the assistance given by these establishments. He would instance the establishment of a lace manufactory in Limerick, for which, by means of the conventual establishments, teachers in the making of Valenciennes lace from Belgium were imported, and the manufacture had been brought to such perfection, that a feeling of jealousy had been caused in Belgium against the friends of the teachers, and application was made to the Roman Catholic bishop to have them withdrawn; but the industrial principle remained. This showed that those establishments were not composed of persons abstracted from the world, and following idle and useless pursuits. In one of those establishments 1,600 girls were instructed; and in another, the Convent of the Good Shepherd, which was a Magdalen establishment, eighty unfortunate outcasts were received and put into the lace manufactory, and the same thing was done in other establishments. There had always been a strong religious feeling in Limerick; and if any restraint was exercised on persons in convents, that religious feeling would be sure to cause it to be made public; but he could pledge his honour that he had never heard in Limerick one instance of restraint imposed on ladies who entered those establishments. He 109 Would ask whether it was fair, in the absence of all proof, to taunt those who objected to this inquiry, and to say that if they would not submit to it, they must have something to keep back? Was it fair to say, "You must reveal the inmost secrets of your family, or, if you do not, we will charge you with carrying on that within your own house which you dare not expose?" He did not believe that the charge could be sustained. He looked upon the period for the discussion of such a subject as most untimely, and he trusted that the House would express a similar opinion that evening in rejecting the Motion by a large majority.
§ MR. MIALL
said that, differing, perhaps, as much as it was possible to do from the religious creed to which this question related, he was anxious to state his reasons for opposing the present Motion. As a general rule, in recording his vote upon any Motion for inquiry touching the religious convictions and habits and proceedings of any portion of Her Majesty's subjects, he should have regard to two conditions—first, that there existed a solid groundwork of facts as a primâ facie reason for entering upon that inquiry; and, secondly, that there was a strong probability, supposing these facts to be proved and the evil to be made apparent, that legislation would provide a sufficient remedy for that evil. He had listened with attention to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Hertford (Mr. T. Chambers). The hon. and learned Member was an able man, and he was a lawyer. He was accustomed, therefore, to get up evidence, and he was exceedingly zealous in relation to this question. If, consequently, there were any facts on which the hon. and learned Gentleman could ground his Motion for inquiry, he had no doubt that those facts would have been produced to the House. All that the hon. and learned Member had produced, however, was one single fact relating to English conventual establishments, and not one relating to those establishments in Ireland; and the fact which he had related was so ridiculous as regarded this question as to be utterly unworthy of the notice of the House. The hon. and learned Member had dwelt upon that one fact with great unction, and had illustrated and adorned it—no, certainly not adorned it—by reading at length the epistolary correspondence of some young ladies at school, and, upon the strength of that, he had called upon the House to inquire into and to alter the 110 state of the law. The hon. and learned Member had laid down a theory, and from it, by a sort of à priori argument, he had endeavoured to deduce some imaginary facts. But he (Mr. Miall) thought that was a ground upon which the House of Commons could not safely proceed. Seeing that there were no facts to be produced, other hon. Members had argued that, if there were not facts concealed, there would not be such great sensitiveness upon the part of Gentlemen opposite in respect to this Motion of inquiry. For himself, he desired to judge of this question as he would judge of it if it were brought home to his own religious denomination. He knew of no fact whatever relating to the proceedings or articles of faith or ecclesiastical principles of the denomination to which he belonged of which he was in the slightest degree ashamed; but if that House, after having been repeatedly stirred thereto by speeches inimical to the faith which he professed, were to show a disposition to inquire into that faith, he should feel bound to resist the inquiry; not because he feared the consequences of inquiry, but because he repudiated the very principles upon which they proceeded to make it. He should regard his own religious rights as being invaded by that House, and, though he felt perfectly conscious that he should come out of the inquiry with a higher reputation than before, still, for the sake of the religious liberty which he enjoyed, and which he wished to extend to others, he would resist such an inquiry to the utmost. When no facts, then, were adduced in support of this Motion, he would not impute to those who opposed it, that they had something to conceal, because they resisted an inquiry which, after all, was obtrusive. But suppose that an inquiry took place, and that evils were shown to exist. The next question that occurred was, "Were the evils of such a character that they could possibly be met and remedied by legislation? He thought that they were not. The evils which were complained of resulted from the exercise of spiritual influence, and as soon as the spiritual influence ceased, the evils naturally came within the range of a legal remedy. Did any Member of that House believe that there were persons shut up in this country, and imprisoned by physical causes, simply with no regard whatever to their own wills? Why, surely, if those persons who were supposed to be the victims of that cruel treatment had 111 friends, they would communicate with those friends; surely, if they were not held in that state by something which legislation could not touch, they would easily break through all the fetters that could be imposed upon them. That at which the hon. and learned Gentleman aimed, however, was a blow at the spiritual influence which produced those results. He (Mr. Miall) had no higher veneration for that influence than the hon. and learned Member himself; but he did not believe that it was either to be undermined or overthrown by any legislative enactments whatever. He did not believe that the slightest good would result from this inquiry, however carefully and delicately conducted. On the contrary, he was of opinion that, whatever evil existed at present, would be simply aggravated by the proposed inquiry, the effect of which would be to drive parents to send their children to conventual establishments abroad. He repudiated such a course in his own case, and he could easily imagine, under different circumstances and in a different temper of the country, some hon. Member opposite getting up and moving for an inquiry into the practice of Independent churches as tending to foster republican principles. He believed that such Motions as these were simply mischievous. He believed that they tended, with whatever motives they might be introduced, to excite in that House and throughout the country a spirit of religious animosity; and this was not a moment at which they should give any encouragement to the raising of such a spirit. While we were contemplating entering upon a deadly struggle with a formidable Power, it was most unwise to encourage any Motion which would simply have the effect of setting one denomination of Christians against another; for we were not now, whatever might be the case in ordinary times, wisely engaged in endeavouring to pick holes in the coats of our brethren. For these reasons he should vote against this inquiry. He saw no grounds upon which the demand for it could be justly grounded. He saw no legislation that could meet the evils into which they were invited to inquire, and he conceived that at the present moment the whole process would be extremely mischievous and ill-timed.
§ MR. COWAN
said, he was not conscious of being animated by any unkind or ungenerous feeling towards Roman Catholics, and he did not wish to claim for 112 the religious body to which he belonged any right or privilege which he would not willingly concede to them. It appeared to him, however, if they wished to avoid for the future the extreme discomfort of such Motions as these, that the establishment of the truth of the facts, if they could by any possibility arrive at it, would be of the utmost importance. He thought the appointment of the present Committee would be the means of arriving at the truth, and preventing in future the existence of the abuses complained of; he was astonished no Member of the Government had yet spoken, as he wished to hear their opinion on it. He hoped, therefore, that the noble Lord the Member for the City of London would state what the views of the Government were upon this subject.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the only reason why I have not thought it necessary to make any observations upon the Motion before the House is, that I think the arguments in favour of it have been completely overthrown by several hon. Gentlemen who have spoken, especially by the hon. and learned Member for Carlow (Mr. J. Ball), and by the hon. Member for Rochdale who spoke last but one in the debate. For myself, having taken part in a debate upon a similar question last year, I can have little to add to the reasons I then gave for opposing the proposition. It appears to me, however, that those who have brought forward and supported this measure to-night have been a little afraid, not to say ashamed, of their own Motion, and have destroyed the little ground that might have originally existed for the proposal by saying that this inquiry is to be conducted with all the care and delicacy in the world, that nothing is to be asked with respect to the ladies which they can take the slightest exception to, and that they need not be afraid that anything unpleasant will result from it. Now, Sir, I know that this inquiry must be either one thing or the other; either it must be an inquiry, as it is put in the beginning of the paper, into the number and rate of increase of conventual and monastic institutions in the United Kingdom, and the relation in which they stand to existing law, in which form, as it occurs to me, it will be of no use whatever, or it must be an inquiry into the actual state of all these institutions, to examine whether there are any facts to bear out the allegations of those who ask for an inquiry to be made, 113 and in that case it must become a strict, and consequently an offensive inquiry, and there will be an end of all that delicacy which hon. Gentlemen have talked so much about. I confess, Sir, if I believed what some hon. Gentlemen seem to think—that these are places where personal liberty is utterly denied to those who wish it—if I believed, as they seem to desire I should, that constant scenes of tyranny and oppression go on within the walls of these convents—I should not hesitate to set aside all delicacy upon this question, but should say, "Here is a case for inquiry; do not let the daughters of Roman Catholics be subjected to grievances which it is unfit any person living in this country should endure." But, on the other hand, to go into an inquiry for the mere purpose of finding out how many of these establishments there are—a point upon which the hon. and learned Member for Hertford gave us in his speech all the information we can desire—and in what relation they stand to the existing law—the hon. and learned Gentleman having informed us that they stand in no relation at all to the existing law—it appears to me, would be a very useless and superfluous proceeding. Sir, with respect to the question itself, I can only repeat what I stated last year—that I cannot believe that Roman Catholic gentlemen, either in England, in Ireland, or in Scotland, would allow their daughters to be ill-used in these convents, or permit them to be detained there against their will, and if so, that there should be no one of these Roman Catholic Gentlemen to rise up in the House and demand an alteration of the law or an inquiry into the system. I cannot understand how it should be that none but the Protestants of this country care at all about the liberty or security of these Roman Catholic ladies, and that the Roman Catholics themselves should be so utterly indifferent. I don't know that I ought to say that it is an insult to the Roman Catholics generally, but it certainly is an insult to Roman Catholic parents, to suppose that they are utterly insensible to all these grievances going on in conventual establishments, as it is alleged, without any regard to the feelings of their daughters. The hon. and learned Member for Tavistock (Mr. R. Phillimore) has said it is very odd that Roman Catholics should object to this inquiry, and that they ought to submit to it to put an end to suspicion. The answer, to my thinking, is obvious. After persons have spread throughout the 114 country all these suspicions, without giving a single valid proof in support of any single one, it is really too much to say that the persons upon whom suspicion has been cast must submit immediately to an inquiry in order to free themselves from it. The very appointment of a Committee by this House would be an admission that some primâ facie case has been made out; and to call upon Roman Catholics to say they will submit to an inquiry when nothing at all has been brought against them, after some two or three years' search (conducted with all the learning and ability of the hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced this Motion), but the most worthless gossip, would be utterly ridiculous; and I think, in fairness to the parties against whom it is directed, that the House ought not to entertain the proposition. One of the cases mentioned by the hon. and learned Gentleman was that of Miss Knight. Now, I happened to read the particulars of that case; and certainly, although the conduct of the superioress of the convent appeared to be very injudicious, and although the case in itself was a very painful one, yet the person who was the object of it did not wish to leave the convent; and even at the end, when her brother insisted on her leaving it and going to another place, all the objection came from herself and from no other person. This, in fact, is always to be found at the bottom of these cases. The objection to leaving convents arises, not from physical bolts and bars which have been interposed, but from the obligations of conscience which induce these ladies to think that they cannot leave their convents without a dereliction of their duty. If that is the case, what on earth is the use of Protestant gentlemen opening the convent doors, and saying to these ladies, "You may break your vows if you please, and are at liberty to come out?" It is no doubt very consistent with our Protestant notions that they should do so, but it is totally inconsistent with their Roman Catholic notions of duty, for you must remember these convents are a part of the institution of the Roman Catholic religion; and if you say you will permit them to come out they will not use the power; but if you say that you will have an inquiry from time to time and an inspection of their convents—still more, if you say you will not permit any such convents in the land—the result will be that they will think they are very much oppressed with regard 115 to what they consider their conscientious duty; their views will not be changed, but these ladies will go to Belgium or to other Roman Catholic countries, and there exercise those Christian virtues and actions of charity which make so great a number of Roman Catholic ladies—whatever may be the character of the religion they profess—the brightest ornament to their sex. If such be the case, and if there is really nothing to inquire into with respect to personal liberty, what colour or ground has there been given in support of this Motion? The hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced it spoke of education in these convents. If I understood him rightly, he proposed entirely to suppress and put an end to that education. Now, if that is the nature of his proposed measure, I am not at all prepared to go along with him, for I do not see that he has made out any case whatever for putting down the education which is given in these convents. I believe, in many instances, it is a very good education, and, with respect to the poor persons who receive it, a great charity is exercised towards them. Believing, as I do, that it has been productive of good, I certainly cannot consent to any alteration of the law with respect to this particular point. There is a trace of reason for that part of the Motion which relates to property held by persons who become nuns, and who give that property to the convents into which they enter. That may be a very proper subject for consideration by this House, because in that respect I can see that the interest of the State enters into the question, for I can very well understand if these convents are much increased in number, and a large amount of property is thus sunk in mortmain by means of the state of the existing law, why that might be a sufficient reason for some alteration in the law; but I confess I do not think it should be a single alteration of the law. But there are laws affecting Roman Catholic property, used, it may be, in our opinion, for superstitious purposes, but still legitimately used for the purpose of Roman Catholic worship, and I should not think it consistent with religious liberty to interfere with them. Therefore, in consenting to any alteration of the laws on this subject, I should like to see that point properly treated with reference to those ancient laws to which I have referred. But, Sir, if there is no real reason for this Motion, I do entreat those who support it to consider a little 116 what they are about to do. They say, "We do not wish to do anything whatever against the Roman Catholics; we do not wish to press this inquiry in such a manner as that any single nun can be offended; in short, we wish merely to have an inquiry in order that the general truth may be ascertained." But while that is the feeling of this House, and while one Member after another is getting up to protest against being understood as meaning any offence, and disavowing anything like insult to the Roman Catholics, will any one tell me that such is the feeling out of doors of those who support this Motion? Is not, I ask, the feeling out of doors one of a widely different nature? I say it is, and I say also that it is a feeling which would not be satisfied without the most full and complete inquiry, not only into the particular mode of life of the nuns, but into the whole conduct and management of every convent in the land; and I am persuaded that, after such an inquiry, that feeling would not be satisfied unless there was a total abolition of all such institutions. Do not let this House think they can satisfy a public feeling, such as I know exists, by a simple inquiry? Do they really think they can do so? I say, then, do not create a feeling against Roman Catholics—a name which I think has not been well used in relation to this particular subject—do not give way to this, as I believe, unjust feeling, that there are persons confined in convents against their will, or cruelly ill-treated, merely to meet the cry of the masses, which I believe is all a mistake. Let us have courage to meet the popular outcry on this subject. When the noble Lord (Lord C. Hamilton) said, let us look at the laws in Bavaria, and see their effect upon the nunneries there, I say we stand upon totally different grounds from the laws of Bavaria, or any other Roman Catholic country. In those countries they give protection to the Roman Catholic religion, and to all its institutions; revenues are devoted to it, and, in short, it is an established and protected religion. In this country our protection, favour, and revenue are given to the Protestant Established Churches of this land—to the Church of England, of Ireland, and of Scotland. With regard to the Roman Catholics, we give them civil equality, and allow them the exercise of their religion; but in the way of protection to their institutions, and the revenues of their Church, we give them nothing of this kind whatsoever. That state of things may 117 continue, and I do not wish to alter it; but this you cannot do—you cannot say we will give to the Protestants all the favour and all the revenues, and we will give to the Roman Catholics the penalties to which they are subject in Roman Catholic countries. Either you must be satisfied with the present state of things, or you must make changes far more extensive than you now contemplate, and for these reasons I shall give a hearty and decided negative to the Motion.
§ MR. WALPOLE
Sir, I wish to state briefly the reasons which induce me to think that we ought, upon the whole, to assent to the appointment of the Committee of inquiry now asked for by the hon. and learned Member (Mr. T. Chambers), although I may concur in one observation of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), that the results of that inquiry may not be so satisfactory as it might be hoped they would prove. Indeed, I am by no means certain, considering the state of this country, and the contests which have taken place between the Catholics on the one side and the Protestants on the other, whether we have not made a great mistake in not appointing a Committee before, to institute a much more extensive inquiry than that which is now proposed—namely, to consider the status or position of the Roman Catholics as regards themselves in this country in relation to the Crown, and also as regards the various relations they may hold to any foreign Power. Had that course been adopted, I think the differences between the Protestants and the Roman Catholics might have been put upon a better, upon a fairer, upon a more permanent footing, so as to prevent those unhappy and unfortunate discussions which keep alive feelings that I for one most anxiously and most earnestly wish to see thrown aside. The question is, however, brought before us; and, being brought before us, we are bound to give our opinions upon it; and in giving my opinion I think I ought to call the attention of the House to the full purport of the proposed inquiry, not confining myself to the observations of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, which observations only relate to one branch of the subject. The Motion of the hon. and learned Member contains in its very terms what may be regarded solely as a matter of fact and an expression of opinion. As a matter of fact, we are asked to appoint a Committee of inquiry to ascertain the number and the rate of 118 increase of monastic as well as of conventual institutions, and the relation in which they stand to the existing laws. As a matter of opinion, we are asked to inquire whether any legislation, with reference to these institutions, further or other than the existing law, is requisite for the purpose of putting them on a proper footing in the State. Now, allow me to say a word or two with reference to the monastic institutions, which the noble Lord has entirely avoided. The monastic institutions and the conventual institutions stand upon a different footing in the eye of the law. The first class of establishments are prohibited, and as to the others, if not directly sanctioned, at all events, they are not forbidden. It should be borne in mind, with regard to monastic institutions, that, in the year 1829, when Roman Catholics were admitted into this House, provisions were made, and were intended to be acted upon, although they have not been put in force, for the purpose of obtaining the gradual suppression and the final extinction of such establishments. That was the object of the law, as recited in the preamble of one of the clauses to which the hon. and learned Member for Hertford alluded. What was the reason given by the authors of the measure for a provision of this character? It was that, in a Protestant country, monastic establishments are inconsistent with the nature and the character of Protestant institutions, and if other countries protected themselves against such establishments, why should not we do so? Nay, more, Sir Robert Peel himself declared that, as a clear matter of right, we were entitled to take measures of security and precaution against the entrance of these orders into this country, and against the extension of religious communities which owed allegiance to a superior Power resident abroad. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier), reminded the House, also, that the Duke of Wellington, who was the organ of the Government in the other House of Parliament, at the time the Emancipation Act was passed, insisted strenuously on the necessity of supporting these clauses in that Act, and warned you—and the warning has since been verified—that this country would be inundated with Jesuits, and with other religious orders, unless those clauses were carried into execution. That, then, was the intention of the framers of the Emancipation Act; but their intention has not been car- 119 ried into effect. I think that intention was wise in itself, and that it is a misfortune for this country that it was not acted upon. At the same time I cannot disguise from myself the fact that, the law having been left in abeyance, and that Government after Government has refused to take notice of these monastic institutions, which were unquestionably illegal; and, therefore, I doubt whether you can now take steps to suppress these institutions, or to finally extinguish them, as was intended at the time when the Emancipation Act was passed. Yet, though I doubt whether you can or ought to do this, I do not doubt in the smallest degree whether you ought to inquire as to the number, the character, and the nature of such institutions. In case it should be shown—as I think it may be shown from recent experience—that they have not been founded here merely for the purpose of religious liberty, but that they have at least acted, if they have not been founded, for purposes of aggression; if it be true, as I think it is, that these institutions are not necessary—and I use the word "necessary" advisedly—for the full and free exercise of the Roman Catholic faith; if it be true, as I believe it is, that the members of these orders do, in the language of Locke, by belonging to such orders, deliver themselves up, ipso facto, to the service and allegiance of a foreign potentate; if it be proved, as I fear it is, that they have made use of the liberties which you have tacitly conceded to them to attack and assail the Protestant Church and Protestant institutions of this country—it does seem to me that these are facts which are legitimate grounds of inquiry; not, as I said before, for the purpose of suppressing, but for the purpose of controlling and keeping these establishments in order. Singularly enough, this part of the case entirely escaped the observation of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), but I think it is a point that ought not to be lost sight of. I shall now turn to that part of the inquiry which the noble Lord so strenuously argued upon—namely, that portion of the inquiry which relates to the conventual establishments. The noble Lord said that there had been three reasons alleged for the adoption of the course proposed to be carried out by the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Hertford—one with regard to the personal liberty of the inmates; another with regard to the education which is imparted within the walls of such institutions; 120 and a third with regard to the transmission and disposition of the property of the inmates of these establishments. Now, the question relating to these conventual establishments does not turn upon the point which is applicable more particularly to monastic institutions—namely, whether they are political societies which require the attention of this House in order to ascertain whether they are used politically for purposes hostile to the State. The question turns upon an entirely different point—a point which is applicable not only to Roman Catholics, but to any class of Christians. It turns upon the right of protection, with reference to liberty and to property, which, in the case of all classes of this community, is equally afforded by the law and by the state. The noble Lord says, and says justly, that it is singular enough that Protestants should be the persons who first addressed themselves to the solution of this question. If it had been left to myself, I should certainly not have mooted this inquiry, but being here as a Member of Parliament to consider whether the inquiry is reasonably asked for, and in what way, or upon what terms, it should be conceded, I cannot and ought not to shirk the difficulties of the question or shrink from its discussion. Now, with reference to the education which is carried on within the walls of the convents, I go the entire length with the noble Lord in thinking that that education ought not in any way to be stopped or interfered with. But when I come to the two questions, of personal liberty and the free right to the disposition and transmission of property, I own I think, since these questions are brought before us, that we are bound to look into the case, not with the view of doing away with these establishments, but with the view of regulating the treatment of the persons induced to enter them. I have said that I think there is nothing illegal in the existence of these establishments. I know that the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin expressed or intimated an opinion that, though they were not absolutely prohibited by the Relief Act, still their existence is contrary to law. I do not hold to that opinion. My belief is that the clause in the Relief Act which relates to these conventual establishments is similar to the Act of Toleration, which relieved Nonconformists from certain penalties. The Act of Toleration, which so relieved them, without establishing or recognising them, has 121 always been considered to have sanctioned them by law. If that be the case with reference to Nonconformist chapels and places of worship—no express law having sanctioned or recognised them, but the Act of Toleration simply doing away with the penalties to which Nonconformists would otherwise have been liable—it seems to me that the clause in the Relief Act which relates to nunneries has put those nunneries upon precisely the same footing. Then I have to ask myself this question—do the inmates of these conventual institutions require protection to any and what extent, either with reference to their personal liberty or with reference to the disposition of their property? Now, as to the first of these points, I think you ought to regard the inmates of conventual institutions in the same light as you would regard a minor with reference to anything that minors can do. Those persons who are of mature age are, I conceive, as much at liberty to seclude themselves from society and from the world, to devote themselves to a contemplative or an active life of religion or of charity, and to exercise freely their own judgment with regard to what they deem best for themselves, as other persons of full age are to join in the world and to give themselves up without restraint to its follies or its extravagancies. I may deem neither of these courses the wisest a person could pursue, but I also think that, whether they are the wisest or not, still they are courses with which neither I nor the Legislature of this country has any right to interfere. If, however, the parties are under age—if they are under influences the most difficult of all to withstand—if no opportunity is afforded them, when they attain an age at which they can exercise a maturer judgment, of determining whether they will remain in seclusion for the rest of their days—if no interval is allowed them for reconsidering the course they have taken—then I say that you are putting the inmates of these establishments upon a different footing from that on which any minor is placed, with reference to his property and his freedom. How far you may be able to protect these minors—how far you may be able, when they attain their majority, to give them an opportunity of determining whether they will seclude themselves for the rest of their days—may be a fit subject of inquiry on the part of the Committee. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) has said that he does not like to 122 take the example of Bavaria, to which my noble Friend (Lord C. Hamilton) referred, because he does not think the example of Bavaria is applicable to England. Indeed I believe that in almost every country in Europe a different state of things prevails with respect to the toleration of religious institutions from that which exists in this country. I believe that in France these vows are temporary, and that the authorities of that country have the right of visitation when they choose. I believe that in Bavaria the vows are only binding for three years. I believe that in Austria the inmates of these establishments have the opportunity of quitting them if they are desirous of doing so; and that in Russia, which is not a Roman Catholic country, the postulant must state upon oath, or by an affidavit upon oath, that she is acting upon her own free will in entering a conventual institution, and the Synod of Moscow determine whether there are sufficient grounds shown. Last of all, I believe that in Prussia, a Protestant country, no one can take the veil without an examination by the civil authorities, and that examination must point out and ascertain whether there is a sufficient ground assigned, and whether sufficient motives are adduced, for allowing the step which it is proposed to take. I think, then, I have shown that there is some ground, at least, for inquiry upon this part of the subject; and I do not pretend to say what the result of that inquiry may be further than this—that by the laws of England, applicable to every minor in the country other than these persons, a protection is given to them which you do not give to these persons. The other point to which the noble Lord adverted was, the disposition and the transmission of property. Now, upon that point I think there can hardly be two opinions in this House, as to some alteration in our present law being necessary. Remember, that, according to the laws of this country, no persons who are placed under undue influence can dispose of their property so long as they are exposed to that influence, without its being liable to be reclaimed through the interposition of the law; and can it be supposed, or can any one imagine for a single moment, even arguing without looking at the facts of the case to which the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Miall) adverted, that such an influence is not exerted, and that the influence so exerted is not greater than any which affects the mere temporal interest of a person? Why, it is the most important of all in- 123 terests—the spiritual and eternal interest of a person which is acted upon, and by means of which he is, or may be, influenced to dispose of his property away from all his natural relations, to break through all his natural affections, and to place his property in the hands of those with whom he has no real sympathy, and for whom he entertains no feelings of affection. Protection, under such circumstances, is never denied to any one by the laws of this country, and remember that, according to the ancient policy of our law, no persons who had become spiritually dead by joining one of these establishments could exercise any power of direction over their property, because they were no longer looked upon as free agents. It is the free agency of the person, the freedom of action, the freedom of thought, the freedom of will, which you are to look to; and if it can be shown that this freedom is not left to these people, it ill becomes the Parliament of this country to say that it will not interfere for their protection. I confess I am therefore tempted to support the hon. and learned Gentleman's Motion for a Committee, although I could have wished that some restrictions should be put upon the inquiry thus sought to be obtained, in order that it might not be prosecuted unduly or improperly, so as to annoy or irritate the feelings of any one, either of those who are resident in these establishments, or of those who belong to the faith which they profess. I support this inquiry on two grounds—I support it with regard to the monastic institutions, because, existing as they do by sufferance, they ought not to be allowed to abuse the liberty which you allow them, so as to be able to attack or assail the Protestant institutions of a Protestant country; and I support the inquiry with reference to the conventual establishments, because the inmates of those establishments, from their sex and their situation, are utterly helpless, and for that reason ought not to be exposed to any kind of undue influence, either with regard to the disposition of themselves as long as they are minors, or with regard to the disposition of their property as long as that influence can be exercised over them, for to suffer such an influence so to be exercised ought never to be tolerated in any benign and well-regulated community.
MR. J. D. FITZGERALD
said, that the right hon. Gentleman who had last addressed the House had spoken in the manner which became a lawyer and a gentle- 124 man; but he had made some observations to which a reply was necessary. The right hon. Gentleman based his argument on the ground of the exercise of spiritual influence over, and the absence of free will from, a person who was disposing of his property, and said that the law ought to interpose to check such a disposition under such circumstances. He would ask whether the law did not already furnish an ample and complete remedy for that evil, if it really existed? It had been stated on a previous occasion that only five instances could be found in the books in which conventual establishments had been assailed on the ground of undue influence having been exercised over its inmates in the disposition of property, and in all those instances the law had jealously interposed. Months had elapsed since the question was last discussed, and yet not a single instance had been cited in which the arm of the law had not been strong enough, and its administrators not unwilling to overreach such transactions as had been imagined. The inquiry would, in his opinion, be simply mischievous, and it was easy to detect the spirit which dictated it. There ought to be some stronger ground than the fear and apprehension that undue influence would be exercised. This was also the first time that monastic institutions had been imported into a debate on conventual establishments. The right hon. Gentleman said truly that monastic institutions existed only by sufferance, and it always appeared to him a glaring violation of religious liberty that the law of the land should be—that a British born subject could not become a member of a monastic institution without subjecting himself to be treated at first as a misdemeanant, and in the end liable to be transported for the term of his natural life. If monastic institutions were evils which ought to be done away with, the law was amply sufficient to effect that purpose. The Relief Act contained a provision which reflected very little credit on the parties who had framed it, and which could only be attributed to the jealousy that existed when, after centuries of oppression, the fetters of the Catholics were partially struck off, and to the wish which was felt to satisfy the Protestant feeling of jealousy on that account. It was a fact that, while the Act of 1829 imposed upon members of existing monastic institutions the obligation of registering themselves, it provided also that none should come into the country or be admitted as members of any order, 125 and he believed, therefore, that at this moment any member of a monastic establishment, who was not so before 1829; might be prosecuted and transported from the country. And yet, such being the state of the law, they were gravely told that it was necessary to have an inquiry as to whether it should not be made more stringent? Certainly the supporters of this Motion had chosen a most unfortunate opportunity to expose to the Catholics of this Empire the fact that a great part of their clergy were permitted to remain in the realm solely by the sufferance of the administrators of the law. Twenty-five years had elapsed since the Emancipation Act was passed. Their monastic institutions had increased from that time to the present, and it had not even been asserted that any of the members of those institutions, or any of the clergy of the Catholic Church, either in this country or in Ireland, had in the slightest degree infringed the law of the land, or plotted against the State, or assailed the Protestant Church as by law established. He was sure that if a single act of the kind had been committed, the industry, not to say the acerbity of spirit which some hon. Gentlemen had displayed with regard to this question would have brought it under the notice of the House. The right hon. Gentleman stated, as part of his argument, that the members of monastic orders had plotted against the Established Church, but he asserted, from his own knowledge, that the regular Catholic clergy had always been the best supporters of peace and order in the sister country. [Cries of "Oh!"] Some hon. Gentlemen expressed dissent; but let them look back to the last few years. In no single instance had any of the regular clergy been implicated in the disturbances which had taken place in Ireland. In 1848, the peace of that country had been preserved, not so much by the exertions of the military as by those of the Catholic clergy. He appealed, therefore, to the patriotism of hon. Gentlemen to say whether the sanguinary severity of the existing law with regard to monastic institutions ought not to be mitigated. He would now pass from monastic institutions, which he believed had only been introduced as a makeweight into this discussion, to conventual establishments, at which the Motion was more particularly pointed. He could not help observing that the remarks of the hon. and learned Gentleman who brought forward 126 the Motion upon this part of the subject had been wholly disclaimed by his supporters. They disclaimed his speech, while they supported his Motion; and yet in that speech alone were there any arguments in its favour. The hon. and learned Gentleman suggested that cruelty had taken place, and that tortures had been inflicted in the convents now existing in this kingdom. What fact had he adduced to sustain his case? He mentioned a case which occurred at Palermo; but was there a Habeas Corpus Act at Palermo? He mentioned also another case which had been glanced at several times in the course of the evening. With reference to that case, the case of Miss Knight, he could state that, while the superiors of the convent at Taunton thought it was better for the unfortunate lady, who had become insane after being an inmate of the establishment for twenty years, that she should not be removed, they were the first to recognise the fact that, in consequence of her insanity, the law placed her under the guardianship of her relations, and to state that they would not oppose her removal if her relations desired it, and they wanted those relations to take on themselves the responsibility of removal. He could not help remarking that, although the first part of the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman was limited in its scope, the latter part was so general as to lay open to the Committee every part of the subject into which prurient curiosity or the feeling out of doors might dictate an inquiry. He must also remark that this Motion was not to be characterised by the tone of the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken (Mr. Walpole), of the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier), of the noble Lord the Member for Tyrone (Lord C. Hamilton), or of the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock (Mr. R. Phillimore); they must look for that to the language of the hon. and learned Mover, by whom they had been told that the object of this inquiry was "to relieve the Roman Catholics from the stagnant ditch of superstition in which they were involved." The hon. and learned Member for Tavistock had characterised this as being language which it was degrading to the House to hear; and if so, must it not be painful, and painfully insulting, to Catholic Members of that House.
§ MR. T. CHAMBERS
was understood to intimate that he had been misunderstood by the hon. and learned Gentleman.
MR. J. D. FITZGERALD
said, he 127 should be sorry to misinterpret what the hon. and learned Member had said, and was perfectly willing to accept his statement that he had been misunderstood. While, however, the hon. and learned Gentleman used the language which he had done in bringing forward this Motion, was it not strange that they had no complaints from Catholics? It was said that here and in the sister country were institutions in which their children were oppressed, cruelly treated, and robbed of their property; but if Catholic parents and brothers were so degraded as to be blind to the sufferings of their female relatives, could it be supposed that they would not have their eyes open to the disposition of their property? And yet they had not heard a single complaint from the 6,000,000 of Catholics in Ireland, or from the members of that religion in this country; and he could appeal to every Catholic Member of that House to support his assertion when he said that the charges which had been brought forward, not by statement, but by insinuation, were utterly and entirely false. When they considered that a war, whose termination none could foresee, but from which he trusted that the standard of England would return victorious, for it was unfurled in a just cause, was now imminent, was it not, he would ask, most unwise to bring forward this proposition, which was utterly uncalled for, and the only effect of the adoption of which must be to excite religious discord, and to create the deepest discontent amongst the Catholic inhabitants of the country? It was necessary that we should have not only union, but enthusiastic union, to tenable England to deal one strong and deadly blow at the heart of the enemy, and thus attain the object of war and be in a position to dictate an honourable and lasting peace. But what would her position be if, instead of a united people, combined for one purpose, we had our army abroad and a discontented people at home? He believed that every soldier might, at the present moment, be withdrawn from the sister country. The time was when the members of the physical force party in Ireland said that the day of England's trial would be Ireland's opportunity. Well, the day of trial had come, and how had the opportunity been availed of? Why, we had seen that wherever through the length and breadth of Ireland the Queen's standard was raised the people flocked 128 round it, not actuated by the desire of gain, but anxious to unite with England in supporting the honour and glory of the Empire. And how was that spirit rewarded? Why, the hon. and learned Member for Hertford (Mr. T. Chambers) introduced to the House a Motion breathing nothing but insult and the spirit of discord, and calculated to be productive of disunion, disaffection, and that worst of social evils sectarian hate.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just resumed his seat, had appealed to the fears and the patriotism of the House. Was that the tone in which they were to meet when they proposed simply to inquire whether it might not be expedient for this country to adopt the same laws which prevailed throughout the Continent with respect to these establishments? Were we to be told that, if we adopted these laws, Ireland would rebel? If that was to be the case, legislation would soon be put an end to; that House would have no freewill on any question which related to Ireland; but, whatever might be the demands of the papacy or the priests, they would be forced to comply, lest Ireland should rebel. The Members of a certain section of the House, who were now guilty of using language at once insulting and calculated to provoke, were the same who threatened the deliberative assembly of the country with obstruction by the abuse of the forms of the House, if the House should venture to act upon its recorded decision by inquiry into these Roman Catholic establishments.
§ MR. PALK
said, he would throw himself on the indulgence of the House and ask that favour which was always shown to a Member who addressed them for the first time. Nothing but the great interest which his constituents felt in this question would have induced him to address the House at so late an hour. He believed that a question of this sort might be discussed with good temper, and with friendly feeling towards one another, and without causing the embitterment of polemical discussion. He thought that the hon. and learned Member (Mr. J. D. Fitzgerald) who addressed the House a short time since was wrong when he spoke of this matter as levied solely against the Roman Catholic religion. He should have been glad if that had been the only religion to which such a Motion could apply. To open foes he had no objection, for he had the fullest conviction that Protestantism was 129 deep rooted enough in this country to hold its own against any foreign or open foes, in whatever, quarter they might arise. But there was a foe, far more insidious, far more dangerous, within itself, with respect to which he must confess he did not entertain the same feeling. Of late years there had arisen, within our Protestant Church, a sect or denomination of Christians who wished to assimilate her rites and ceremonies and principles to those of Rome, and to engraft these on the Protestant religion. To that particular sect, he confessed, he looked with great terror, because they numbered among them some of the most talented and those who had already achieved great honour among us. He came from a county where words were spoken a short time since, which already echoed in his ears—that the triumph of Oxford was to be wiped out in the defeat of Devonshire. He believed there was great truth in that assertion. He believed that the defeat which that sect of the Protestant Church had received in Devonshire had been a blow of considerable importance, and sufficient to wipe out the triumph of Oxford. He would wish it to be known that conventual institutions were not alone in the Roman Catholic Church. There were establishments in the diocese of Exeter—than which he believed none had been more celebrated for discord, arising from Tractarian or High Church principles—against which, he believed, facts had been proved sufficient to call for an inquiry. But whether that were so or not, he humbly hoped the House would permit a Committee to be appointed, that these assertions might be investigated, and their truth or falsehood proved.
§ LORD EDWARD HOWARD
said, he begged to claim the attention of the House for a few minutes, principally on the ground that he had been personally alluded to in the course of the debate. Gentlemen often entered on discussions of this kind professing the best feelings, but became as they proceeded so absorbed in their subject that they were betrayed into language and expressions which he dared say at the outset they did not intend to use. The speech of the hon. and learned Member who had brought forward this proposition was not free from that objection. The observations of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Midhurst (Mr. Walpole), were directed mainly to the question of property, and the question of age. The objection as to property had been al- 130 ready ably answered; and as to the age at which persons became inmates of convents, he believed it would be found—at all events, as far as this country was concerned—that very little or no objection could be founded on it. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hertford had alluded to a petition which he (Lord E. Howard) had presented to that House, and had represented the matter as though the ladies who had signed that petition were themselves actually inmates of conventual institutions. The inference which was meant to be drawn from that representation was obviously this—that when one member of a family went into a convent, all her female relatives went with her; whereas, the fact was that these ladies were not themselves living in convents, but were the relatives—the sisters, and aunts, and cousins—of persons who were either living in convents as nuns at this moment, or who had received their education there, and were now married and settled in the world. The hon. and learned Member might be right as to the number of convents, but when he spoke of 2,500 nuns, he had no doubt that that was a most exaggerated statement. Men frightened themselves with shadows in reference to every matter in which Catholics were concerned. They thought there was a Jesuit behind every lamp-post, and a nun in every house, and that every policeman they saw walking about was a monk in disguise. The hon. and learned Gentleman had exaggerated in having led the House to believe that all these convents of which he had given them the number contained a large number of nuns, whereas, of three with which he happened to be acquainted—and he had no doubt that there were many others similarly situated—one contained three, another four, and another seven inmates. The fact was that they were not convents, but schools; but wherever it was thought that a good work in the way of God could be done, and two or three nuns had been sent out to do it, the editor of the Catholic Directory had chosen to put down the establishment as an additional convent. The fallacies that seemed to be in vogue with reference to the doctrines and discipline of the poor Roman Catholics, were really quite deplorable. To hear the hon. and learned Member for Hertford, one would imagine that a Catholic could not eat his dinner or drink a glass of wine without leave of his priest; but he (Lord E. Howard) had no 131 doubt he could drink a glass of wine as well as the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), and he did not ask leave of a priest when he wished to sit down to his dinner. The Catholic was met everywhere by abuse of Catholicism—in letters which were sent to him by post, in every newspaper he took up, and in speeches delivered in that House—and he was naturally curious to read what these statements contained, and to see which religion was true. He would say, in the face of that House, that Catholicism need not fear the comparison. Nobody would look with greater abhorrence than a Catholic priest or layman on the penance said to have been imposed in Miss Sellon's establishment—he should not have mentioned names if they had not been introduced before; and he was sure that what Catholics would say in reference to such a matter would be, that an endeavour had been made to set up an institution in imitation of the Catholic convents, and that those who had made the attempt had not known, when a penance was thought necessary, what penance to impose. With reference to the mode in which convents were said to be dealt with in Catholic countries, he had some evidence at hand, which he would venture to submit to the House. In France there was no special inspection of any kind, nor any authority possessing the right of inspection of any religious house; and, although any nun might quit her convent when she pleased, without any interference from the civil authority, there had been no instance of any such event for the last fifty years. 'The statement which had been made by the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Chambers) with respect to a convent in France having become Protestant was declared by his informant to contain not a single atom of truth, for the circumstance was perfectly unknown in Paris. The Prussian Government exercised no control or inspection over existing monasteries, nor were there any complaints in that country of persons being detained in them against their will. In Austria, again, there was no interference on the part of the Government. Did they mean to bring nuns for examination to the Bar, or into a Committee room of that House? Those who had had experience in Committees must have seen the nervous twitchings of the fingers even of the shrewd and sturdy man of business, when called to undergo an examination. Would they require the inmates 132 of conventual institutions to submit to the same ordeal? ["Oh, oh!"] Nuns often placed themselves in very disagreeable positions—they attended the bedsides of the dying, where those who had thus interrupted him were scarcely likely to be found, and they ministered to the necessities of the sick; and he had no doubt that those who had voluntarily placed themselves in this position would be ready even to submit themselves to examination here, if it were necessary to explain away any stigma on their faith. Hon. Gentlemen must admit that was not a position in which they would like to place their own mothers or sisters; and nuns, who were also ladies, asked no more protection than hon. Gentlemen would extend to their own relatives. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that he did not refer to the Sisters of Charity, but he would find great difficulty in discriminating between them and the Sisters of Mercy. Their rules, he apprehended, were very nearly the same. Certainly it was the duty of both to attend the sick, to educate the poor, and they were both to be found wherever they could do any good to suffering humanity. He owned that he did not wish to see the Committee formed—not that there was anything behind-hand, or that any harm could accrue from it to the Catholic religion; on the contrary, he believed that good to it was more likely to occur; but he did not wish to place persons who were guilty of no harm, and had done no wrong, in such a difficult position. How they might follow up the Committee he did not know, but he did not envy those Gentlemen who were so forward to inflict this hardship upon persons who were friendless. They might conceive it right to bring those nuns to London to examine them in a room which would be stifling, from the attendance of persons who were curious for the mere sight and novelty of the show; but he would rather be one of those nuns by the side of the cholera-stricken patient, or by the bed of the person dying of typhus fever, than the Gentleman who, in all the pride of power, brought them into such a position.
§ MR. T. CHAMBERS
rose to reply, and said, he would only detain the House for a few moments. He candidly admitted that all those anecdotes which had attracted so much notice would not be accepted as evidence before the law courts; still he gave them for what they were worth. He did not, however, rest his 133 Motion upon their accuracy or inaccuracy; he had based it entirely upon the number and augmentation of conventual establishments, and on the fact of their not being recognised by law. He wished only to say one word in reference to what fell from the noble Lord (Lord E. Howard) on the subject of convents abroad. The noble Lord stated some facts from correspondents in foreign parts, in order to throw discredit upon some of his (Mr. Chambers') statements. Now he begged to inform the noble Lord that he had taken all his information on the subject of convents abroad from the Ecclesiastical Compendium for 1850. The whole matter in dispute, therefore, was, whether the noble Lord's correspondents or his source of information was the more authentic.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided:—Ayes 186; Noes 119: Majority 67.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Duke, Sir J.|
|Anderson, Sir J.||Duncan, G.|
|Annesley, Earl of||Duncombe, hon. A.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. Gen.||Duncombe, hon. W. E.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Dundas, G.|
|Arkwright, G.||Dunlop, A. M.|
|Bailey, Sir J.||Du Pre, C. G.|
|Bailey, C.||Egerton, W. T.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Egerton, E. C.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Evelyn, W. J.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Farnham, E. B.|
|Bateson, T.||Fellowes, E.|
|Bentinck, G. W. P.||Ferguson, J.|
|Berkeley, hon. C. F.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Blair, Col.||Fitzroy, hon. H.|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Follett, B. S.|
|Boldero, Col.||Forbes, W.|
|Booker, T. W.||Forester, rt. hon. Col.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Franklyn, G. W.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Frewen, C. H.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Buck, L. W.||Gooch, Sir E. S.|
|Burghley, Lord||Graham, Lord M. W.|
|Butt, I.||Grenfell, C. W.|
|Cairns, H. M'C.||Grogan, E.|
|Carnac, Sir J. R.||Gwyn, H.|
|Challis, Mr. Ald.||Hale, R. B.|
|Chambers, M.||Halford, Sir H.|
|Child, S.||Hall, Sir B.|
|Cholmondeley, Lord H.||Halsey, T. P.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Clinton, Lord C. P.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Clive, R.||Harcourt, Col.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Hastie, A.|
|Cocks, T. S.||Hastie, A.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Cowan, C.||Henley, rt. hon. J. W.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Heywood, J.|
|Crossley, F.||Hildyard, R. C.|
|Dalrymple, Visct.||Hill, Lord A. E.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Horsfall, T. B.|
|Davison, R.||Hotham, Lord|
|Deedes, W.||Hudson, G.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Irton, S.||Pritchard, J.|
|Jocelyn, Visct.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Johnstone, J.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Johnstone, Sir J.||Robertson, P. F.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Rushout, Col.|
|Jones, Capt.||Sandars, G.|
|Jones, D.||Sawle, C. B. G.|
|Kendall, N.||Scott, hon. F.|
|King, J. K.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Kinnaird, hon. A. F.||Shelley, Sir J. V.|
|Knightley, R.||Shirley, E. P.|
|Knox, Hon. W. S.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Laing, S.||Smijth, Sir W.|
|Langton, H. G.||Smith, W. M.|
|Lennox, Lord A. F.||Smollett, A.|
|Leslie, C. P.||Somerset, Capt.|
|Liddell, H. G.||Spooner, R.|
|Liddell, hon. H. T.||Stafford, A.|
|Lindsay, hon. Col.||Stafford, Marq. of|
|Lockhart, W.||Stanhope, J. B.|
|Loveden, P.||Stanley, Lord|
|Lowther, Capt.||Stirling, W.|
|Macartney, G.||Taylor, Col.|
|Mackie, J.||Thompson, G.|
|MacGregor, J.||Tollemache, J.|
|M'Taggart, Sir J.||Tudway, R. C.|
|Maddock, Sir H.||Tyler, Sir G.|
|Mandeville, Visct.||Vance, J.|
|Manners, Lord G.||Vansittart, G. H.|
|March, Earl of||Villiers, hon. F.|
|Marjoribanks, D. C.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Masterman, J.||Vyse, Capt. H.|
|Matheson, A.||Waddington, D.|
|Maxwell, hon. J. P.||Walcott, Adm.|
|Meux, Sir H.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Mills, T.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Michell, W.||Warner, E.|
|Moody, C. A.||Whitmore, H.|
|Morris, D.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Mowbray, J. R.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Naas, Lord||Wise, A.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Woodd, B. T.|
|North, Col.||Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.|
|Ossulston, Lord||Wyndham, Gen.|
|Packe, C. W.||Wyndham, H.|
|Palk, L.||Wynne, W. W. E.|
|Palmer, R.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Pennant, hon. Col.|
|Percy, hon. J. W.||TELLERS.|
|Phillimore, R. J.||Chambers, T.|
|Pigott, F.||Napier, J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Ball, E.||Cowper, hon. W. F.|
|Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T.||Dent, J. D.|
|Bass, M. T.||Duffy, C. G.|
|Bell, J.||Elcho, Lord|
|Bellew, T. A.||Emlyn, Visct.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Esmonde, J.|
|Biggs, W.||Fagan, W.|
|Bowyer, G.||Fitzgerald, J. D.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Foley, J. H. H.|
|Brady, J.||Forster, C.|
|Brotherton, J.||Fox, R. M.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Fox, W. J.|
|Bruce, H. A.||Freestun, Col.|
|Buckley, Gen.||French, F.|
|Byng, hon. G. H. C.||Gardner, R.|
|Castlerosse, Visct.||Geach, C.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.|
|Cheetham, J.||Gladstone, rt. hon. W.|
|Cobden, R.||Goderich, Visct.|
|Coffin, W.||Gower, hon. F. L.|
|Grace, O. D. G.||Otway, A. J.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Greene, J.||Paget, Lord|
|Gregson, S.||Patten, J. W.|
|Gregson, Col. F.||Phillimore, J. G.|
|Greville, Col. F.||Pilkington, J.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Pinney, W.|
|Hadfield, G.||Ponsonby, hon. A. G. J.|
|Hankey, T.||Potter, R.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Power, N.|
|Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.||Price, W. P.|
|Heard, J. I.||Rice, E. R.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||Richardson, J. J.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Heyworth, L.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Higgins, G. G. O.||Sadleir, J.|
|Howard, Lord E.||Scholefield, W.|
|Ingham, R.||Scully, F.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Scully, V.|
|Keating, R.||Shafto, R. D.|
|Kennedy, T.||Shee, W.|
|Keogh, W.||Smyth, J. G.|
|Kershaw, J.||Strutt, rt. hon. E.|
|Kirk, W.||Sullivan, M.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Swift, R.|
|Lawley, hon. F. C.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Lowe, R.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Lucas, F.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|M'Cann, J.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Maguire, J. F.||Walter, J.|
|Meagher, T.||Whatman, J.|
|Miall, E.||Wilkinson, W. A.|
|Milner, W. M. E.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Williams, W.|
|Monsell, W.||Wilson, J.|
|Mulgrave, Earl of||Wodehouse, E.|
|Murrough, J. P.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|O'Brien, P.||Young, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|O'Connell, J.||Roche, E. B.|
|Osborne, R,||Ball, J.|