Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [10th March],
That this House will immediately resolve itself into a Committee, with the view of taking into consideration the condition and circumstances of Ireland,"—(Mr. Maguire:)
And which Amendment was,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "before the consideration by this House of constitutional changes in the laws and institutions of Ireland, it is both just and expedient to inquire into the causes of alleged discontent, and the best mode of remedying the same,"—(Sir Frederick Heygate,)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, that he must congratulate the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) upon the cordial sympathy for Ireland which had been elicited from both sides of the House during this debate. He (Mr. Monsell) thought all must feel that the time for action with reference to the grievances of Ireland had now come. Public opinion was ripe for it. Many different suggestions had been made on the subject, and it was to contribute very humbly his part towards the solution of the question that he ventured to ask the indulgence of the House. He was fortunate in immediately succeeding in the debate the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for India, whose speech was temperate and conciliatory, and he begged to thank the right hon. Baronet for it. But would the right hon. Baronet permit him to say that it appeared to him that though his premises were those of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth (Mr. C. Fortescue), his conclusions were very much tainted with the opinions of those Gentlemen representing the North of Ireland, who sat immediately behind him. The right hon. Baronet said that the cardinal principle of the Government policy with regard to Ireland was justice; and, in order to make his meaning more precise, he went on to say that if he thought 1689 the position of the Protestant Church unjust, he would sweep it away to-morrow. That principle he would endeavour to bear in mind throughout his observations; because he cordially agreed with the noble Lord the Chief Secretary, that to be influenced in their legislation by threats of any kind would not only be cowardly, but the very reverse of wisdom. What, then, he understood the right hon. Baronet to mean—what he (Mr. Monsell), at all events, meant by such a statement, was this—that any law or institution in Ireland which the English and Scotch people under similar circumstances would maintain, ought to be maintained; but any law or institution that existed in Ireland which the English and Scotch people, under similar circumstances, would never allow to exist in Scotland, ought to be altered and abolished. Did the right hon. Baronet accept that interpretation of his words? The right hon. Baronet did not accept that interpretation. Then "justice" with him was a mere geographical term, depending for its meaning upon the side of the Channel on which it was applied. Whatever the right hon. Baronet might think on the subject, he (Mr. Monsell) was satisfied that the Irish people would not be content with a measure of justice less complete than that which would satisfy the people of England. With regard to the condition of Ireland, he had little to say. There was no doubt that what had been said by his noble Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland with regard to its material progress was in the main true. He agreed with his noble Friend that there had been great progress in Ireland in almost every particular in latter years, since milder and more just institutions had been introduced into that country. He knew that, although there was a greater amount of misery in Ireland in proportion to the population than perhaps could be found in any other civilized country—that although there was a larger proportion of people in Ireland than elsewhere upon whom no ray of hope ever shone from their cradle to their graves—still great progress had been made in Ireland within the last few years. No doubt, wages had been and were rising; the houses, dress, habits of the people were improving, and among many classes there was a considerable increase of wealth—above oil, education had done its work—we had no longer to deal with an ignorant mob, but with men of sensitive and refined feelings, who were able to compare 1690 their own position with that of their own class in other countries, who knew and understood their rights, and were determined to assert them. There seemed to him to be some confusion of thought even in the mind of the Chief Secretary, still more in that of other speakers, as to the bearing of Fenianism on the questions they were discussing. His noble Friend, speaking of the Established Church, asked, what good would you do by overthrowing it? Do you think the Fenians care about it? His right hon. Friend the Member for Calne made the same argument against establishing a Catholic University. Would the Fenians, he said, thank you for doing so? The assumption in both cases was that you could do nothing to allay Irish discontent except by satisfying the Fenians. Nothing could be more untrue. The Fenians, no doubt, would be conciliated by nothing that this House could do; they were aggregated to the secret societies of Europe, and their object was to establish a Democratic Republic. They were the enemies of the priests as well as landlords: but they were few in number; and, if the mass of the Irish people were contented, there would be no more danger to society in Ireland from Fenianism than there was in England. Indeed, he believed that there were more sworn Fenians in England than there were in Ireland. No; our danger was not from the Fenian thousands, but from the millions whose discontent went very near to disaffection. He believed in his conscience that the proportion of the Irish population that was discontented to the heart's core was greater than the proportion of the English population that last year carried the Reform Bill, and a few years ago forced Free Trade from the hands of a reluctant aristocracy, and this discontent was increasing and deepening; its outward signs were repressed by force, but the spirit burned more deeply within. What was the cause of this discontent? What were the grievances that gave rise to it? Of what had the Irish people to complain? A few years ago, Lord Russell, in speaking of Irish grievances, said—Before long, if you do not redress them, the Irish people will say, 'We have not justice; we are determined to have justice, and it is not to be had from an English Parliament.'This is precisely the language now. They are unwilling, even by petitions, to approach this House; they believe that here Irish interests are sure to yield to English 1691 or Scotch opinions or prejudices. Well, he (Mr. Monsell) was happy to acknowledge that this view was a very incorrect one. A great change had come over the manner in which hon. Gentlemen viewed Irish questions. There was now a sincere desire to govern Ireland according to Irish wants. But was the Irish opinion of us altogether unreasonable? Had it no foundation in even very recent history? Would the House bear with him while he considered this question? In the first place, was Lord Russell's statement true when he described the course of our conduct towards Ireland in the following words:—In 1780, 1793, and in 1829, what had been denied to reason was granted to force. Ireland triumphed, not because the justice of her claims was apparent, but because the threat of insurrection overcame prejudice, made fear inferior to bigotry, and concession triumph over persecution.Were these facts likely to inspire confidence in our good will? Then he (Mr. Monsell) asked them to fix their eyes on the years that intervened between 1848 and 1864. The great Irish tribune was gone; famine had decimated the Irish people; and unsuccessful insurrection had prostrated them; agitation had ceased. These were two great questions on which the House had pronounced its judgment. More than twenty years ago, it had pronounced the Church settlement to be unjust; twenty years ago, it had admitted the legal relations between landlord and tenant to be unjust to the latter, and an obstacle to the material progress of the country. During those years of quiet and prostration he had described, were those grievances removed, or even mitigated? No; on the contrary—there was a cry raised then, "Let well—very well—alone; the Celtic race is flying; we shall soon be rid of it." Is this a true statement? If it be—and it certainly is—can hon. Gentlemen wonder that the Irish people are Blow to believe the undoubted fact that you are now prepared to redress their grievances? He now would proceed to consider the policy of Her Majesty's Government. Was it equal to the emergency? Was it—to use the words of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for India—a policy of justice? Would its adoption by the House convince the Irish people that we were determined to legislate for them on the same principles that we should legislate under similar circumstances for England or for Scotland? He (Mr. Monsell) could 1692 give the best proof that he did not approach the question in a party spirit by not expressing in his criticism of the suggested measures a single opinion he had not on former occasions expressed in that House. With regard to the University question, he fully recognized the spirit of conciliation in which his noble Friend had proposed his scheme. There could be no doubt that, measured even by a money standard, the present conditions of University education in Ireland were a serious grievance to Catholics. The sons of those who conscientiously objected to sending their sons to Universities where their own religion was not taught were prevented from obtaining degrees; and without degrees they were placed at a disadvantage with their Protestant fellow-subjects. Irish parents were very like English parents in this particular. They had just the same objection to sending their sons to Protestant Universities as English Protestants had to sending their sons to Catholic Universities; and again, both objected to Universities where no religion was taught. A want, then, doubtless existed. Was the proposal of her Majesty's Government the best way of meeting it? Undoubtedly the plan would not produce religious equality in education. The Catholic University was to be unendowed—Trinity College was to preserve the whole of its ample revenue. However, the question was one for the Irish people to pronounce their opinion upon. Whatever that opinion was, he (Mr. Monsell) should be prepared to give effect to it. He entirely agreed with the Royal Commission on Endowed Schools—That ultimately the decision of whatever has to be decided must rest with the parents, and even at present no step can be taken with any chance of success without the most careful consideration of their wishes.He ventured, however, to say that his own opinion on the matter had not changed. He still thought the multiplication of Universities an evil. He thought that the University of Dublin ought to be made a really national University, with separate Colleges affiliated to it. He believed that such a change would promote the intellectual development, not of Catholics only, but of the Protestants themselves. In the United States it was admitted that the multiplication of Universities had most injuriously affected the higher education. He passed next to the land question. He would give the fairest and most favourable consideration to his 1693 noble Friend's Bill when it was submitted to the House. He trusted that it might, at all events, mitigate some of the admitted evils of the present system; but he must repeat the opinion he had deliberately expressed last Session—that any measure which did not directly or indirectly tend to promote stability of tenure by granting leases would not be satisfactory; and he was not disposed to wait for the Report of a Commission upon a matter on which they had already abundant information to guide their deliberations. It had been clearly shown by his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Murphy) that the giving or withholding leases was very intimately connected with the carrying out of the electoral system, and the obtaining political influence; and that, while in the northern counties, where landlords and tenants were united in political sentiment, leases were common; while in the southern counties, where that community of feeling did not exist, they were very rare. He could not pass from this subject without referring to the proposal made on Friday night by his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham. It was too important to be dealt with incidentally in a debate that comprised so many subjects; but he must say that he entirely concurred in the object he sought to attain. No greater benefit could be conferred on the farming class than to facilitate the acquisition of landed property by those among them who, by their industry, had shown themselves capable of using that property well. The agreements for purchase and sale, which his hon. Friend proposed to sanction and encourage, would be voluntary, and therefore could not, directly or indirectly, interfere with the rights of property. He did not wish to see Ireland divided among small proprietors; but a small and occasional infusion of that class would be most beneficial to its social system. He had now shortly referred to those questions upon which Her Majesty's Government proposed to submit measures to the House. He now came to the great and absorbing one on which their policy was inaction; and he felt bound to express his deliberate conviction that Ireland would never be contented, peaceful, or happy so long as religious ascendancy, the badge of English domination and Irish degradation, was allowed to exist. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for India had asserted that England and Ireland more governed Scotland than England and Scot- 1694 land governed Ireland; but would the right hon. Baronet name any institution in Scotland which was preserved there by force against the will of the Scotch people? Such was the case in the days of Sharpe and Dundee, but it was so no longer. The hon. Baronet the Member for Londonderry had said that, because England and Ireland were united, they should have the same Established Church. That was not Lord Macaulay's opinion. He said that England and Scotland were one because they had two Churches, and that, because England and Ireland had one Established Church, they were divided in feeling. Could the right hon. Baronet, consistently with the profession that justice was the cardinal principle of the policy of the Government to which he belonged, contend that one-eighth of the population of Ireland should monopolize the whole of her Church property? Could he maintain that, in Munster, for instance, 91,000 Protestants should possess the whole of what ought really to be shared by more than 1,400,000 Catholics? If he treated the thousands as his exclusive friends, could he wonder at the millions being his enemies? Would the English or Scotch people tolerate for a day such an application to them of the cardinal principle of justice? But, if the instincts of every man's nature acknowledged in the abstract what such an application of justice to a sensitive people must result in, are there no precedents by which it is demonstrated that the â priori reasoning is sound? Look at Canada. The Chief Secretary has told us that the Irish Canadians are loyal. There was much disloyalty in Canada when Lord Sydenham, some thirty years ago, went there as Governor General. Would they listen to an extract from one of his letters—The Clergy Reserves have teen and are the great overwhelming grievance; the root of all the troubles of the province; the cause of the rebellion; the never-failing watchword at the hustings; the perpetual source of disorder, strife, and hatred. If you attempt to give the Church of England any supremacy, five-sixths of the province will never submit to it, and you will have a sound, loyal, and stirring population against you?Well, his wise counsel was attended to. Religious ascendancy was abolished; and now, while the Habeas Corpus Act is suspended in Ireland, you are putting arms into the hands of the Irish Canadians. You are not afraid to enrol them as Volunteers. They are ready in any emergency to defend the institutions which they love, 1695 because under them they enjoy justice and equality. What are the objections to pursuing in Ireland the course that has succeeded in Canada? Dr. Hallam said—It was undoubtedly presumed, as it was in England, that the Church and commonwealth, according to Hooker's language, were to be two denominations of the same society, and that every man in Ireland who appertained to the one ought to embrace, and in due time would embrace, the communion of the other.The hypothesis on which the State took their Church property from the Catholics and transferred it to the Protestants has proved to be erroneous. Notwithstanding long persecutions, the Irish people have not embraced the Protestant communion—they are Catholics still. When the reason for taking away their Church property has been proved by experience to be erroneous, how can a settlement based upon admitted miscalculation be allowed to endure? Some rather ignorant people say, "Oh, but the landlords are chiefly Protestant." But every landlord or his ancestor purchased his property subject to the payment of tithe. That property he never paid for is not his; it belongs to the State. The tithe is a chief rent on all the lands of Ireland. Then it is said—If you establish religious equality you will make the Protestants disloyal. He answered—Justice never created disloyalty. Those who are deprived of anything they unjustly possessed fret often and fume; but the principle of justice implanted in the human heart soon gets dominion over them. Then an appeal is made to Protestant sympathies. Are you going, it is said, to take a course which will increase the spiritual influence of the Catholic Church, and inflict a blow upon the Protestant religion? Would the spiritual influence of the Catholic Church be increased by the course he recommended? See what it is now. More than £5,000,000 have been contributed since the beginning of the century to churches and convents and schools by voluntary offerings; about £700,000 a year is paid annually for the maintenance of the clergy. Catholic zeal is increasing from year to year. His noble Friend remarked that the Fenians are few now in the rural districts. Why? Because the influence of the clergy is sufficient to check it where, as in the country districts, the population are easily accessible to them. He (Mr. Monsell) did not see how the spiritual power of Catholicism could be much greater than it is. Then as to the expected decay of Protestantism. Did 1696 Protestantism decay under the voluntary system? Look at the Free Church of Scotland. It is completely organized. It has churches, schools, ministers in abundance; it has foreign missions; its income is nearly £400,000 a year, every halfpenny of it arising from voluntary contributions. But it may be said that there are sufficient numbers of its adherents in every parish to support it, and that this would not be so in the case of the Irish Protestant Episcopalian. Look, then, at Lower Canada, where, as he had mentioned, the Episcopalian endowments have been suppressed. He had the most accurate information as to the spiritual condition of the Protestant Episcopalians there from a friend who, knowing Ireland well, had had during the last few years greater opportunities than any other man of knowing the condition of Canada. What were the facts? The Protestants there had decent churches in sufficient numbers—a sufficient number of clergy. These clergy were neither fanatical nor unduly under the influence of their flocks; and so much zeal was there among the laity that a man who in Ireland would give for religious objects £5 or £10 would in Lower Canada give £250 or £500. Well, if the objections to religious equality be proved to be groundless—if its establishment were essential to the peace of Ireland—what ought they to do? He was himself in favour of a re-distribution of the Church property; but he was constrained to bow to the opinion in favour of disendowment which prevailed so strongly in this country. He accepted the scheme laid down by his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham. Then it was asked, whether, after all, religious equality would produce the great results he anticipated from it; and whether, after all the sacrifice of prejudice that must be made for its attainment, it would produce peace in Ireland. That without it the foundations of peace could never be laid was obvious. He heartily believed that, followed as it would be by measures conceived in the same spirit that conceded it, it would produce peace and contentment. The Constitution under which we lived was so free and so liberal; it was so strong to protect—so just, that unless when some obstacle, such as he sought to remove, interfered, it must attach to it those who came within the sphere of its influence. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for Ireland recommended procrastination. He (Mr. Monsell) believed that procrastination would 1697 be fraught with danger. He did not speak of danger arising from the Fenian element in America. No doubt, although disorganized, it was powerful; but they were strong enough to resist it. It might torment and annoy, and even wound; but it could not strike us in any vital part. When he spoke of danger, he spoke of danger to peace and social order. Just as the Brunswick societies arose as the precursors of Catholic Emancipation, Protestant Defence Societies are now arising as the precursors of religious equality. These societies were presided over by a noble Earl, brother to the Protestant Bishop of Tuam, which, with endowments of £27,000 a year, had within it 488,000 Catholics and 17,000 Protestants. At the meetings of these societies language most offensive to Catholics was used. The endowments of the Protestant Church were defended by abuse of the Catholic religion. It would be, indeed, a melancholy thing if the Irish Church Establishment—noxious in its day of power—were, in its prolonged agony, to be the means of ranging two sections of the population against one another under hostile banners—of separating friend from friend, and embittering the relations of social life. Would it be well for Ireland to be cursed with religious warfare in addition to her other ills? He entreated the House to decide without delay whether the Irish Church Establishment was to be maintained or abolished. For his part, he counselled them to break the last link of the chain of conquest. The last steps in ascending a mountain peak were the steepest and most difficult. Here they had the strong arm of justice to support them. The effect of justice would be peace. They would knit together in an indissoluble bond the hearts of all the Queen's subjects.
§ MR. BUTLER-JOHNSTONE
congratulated himself on rising at a comparatively late period of the debate, when the main point at issue had been evolved from a mass of questions which at first confounded all arrangement and almost baffled discussion. Irishmen had been often taunted with not knowing their own minds, or with being so divided into parties and factions that it was impossible to get at what they wanted. This taunt, however, was somewhat unjust, or, at least, greatly exaggerated. Were there no parties in England? And he might ask with James I., "Do you expect the kingdom of Ireland to be like the kingdom of Heaven?" In 1698 1795, when Pitt and the Duke of Portland met Mr. Grattan at the time of Lord Fitzwilliam's Lieutenancy, the real Protestant feeling of the country was in favour of the Catholics; that fact was full of happy augury for Ireland. A forcible remark was made by Chief Justice Bushe when he said that, however good a thing for Ireland union with England was, it came too soon; if union had been delayed until all antagonistic elements in the kingdom had been welded together, the Act would have proved of benefit to both countries. He would not, however, waste the time of the House in discussing points of theory relating to the past, but would proceed to discuss the three questions of the future—the land, the Church, and education. Respecting the land, he thought the thanks of the House were due to the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Mill) for having made his proposition, because he had forcibly called attention to the importance and gravity of the present crisis, which he (Mr. Butler-Johnstone) thought it impossible to exaggerate. Not only were the safeguards of individual liberty suspended in Ireland, but we had an army of 20,000 men under a renowned General, and supported by 12,000 constabulary to maintain the peace in that country. Until Ireland should be pacified—whatever might be said about our greatness—we were not a nation, but a distracted community. But there was another reason why the thanks of the House were due to the hon. Member for Westminster, and that was because he had stated, with his usual frankness, in all its bareness the creed of a great number of politicians, both of the press and of the platform—the creed which preached—however deftly it was disguised—confiscation or appropriation of the rights of landlords. It was a great thing when a man such as the hon. Member for Westminster—whom even his political enemies admired—espoused an error and said all that could be said in its favour; the impartial observer could then decide without fear on the merits of the question, and he believed the impartial would in this case declare that the champion of appropriation was prostrate. The hon. Member had compared Ireland with other countries; but, in answer to the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), he gave a definition of political economy and said that it was not a set of practical maxims to be applied indifferently to any State, but a scientific process for the 1699 investigation of economical truths, and that one of the principal factors to be taken into account in solving its problems was the peculiar condition of any given country. Now this was precisely what his opponents had all along been saying. The real question was, not what could be done in India, Prussia, or Belgium, but what could be done in Ireland? What might be of use on the banks of the Ganges and the Hooghly might be utterly unfit for the banks of the Shannon and the Boyne. In India and Prussia, where customary fixity of tenure had always existed, it was easy to give it the force of law, but not equally so where the practice had first to be introduced. The comparisons instituted between Belgium and Ireland were equally fallacious. The one country was largely urban, industrial, and manufacturing in the character of its population; the other chiefly rural, agricultural, and non-manufacturing. The Rhine provinces, again, were favourable to the cultivation of the vine; and the hon. Member had told them that, if there was any kind of cultivation suitable to peasant properties, it was that of the vine; while, on the other hand, the cultivation of the potatoe was the very worst suited to this experiment. Upon the question of compensation to tenants, special legislation was right and natural. It was no doubt the fact that, as they were told, the agricultural condition of Ireland was hopeful—the rents, in proportion to those in England, were low, considering the size of acres, and that the burden of tithe and poor rate, instead of falling, as in England, on the occupiers, fell in Ireland—the whole of the one and the half of the other—on the owners of property. The building, however, of farmhouses and offices, which, in England and Scotland, generally fell upon the proprietor, in Ireland generally devolved upon the tenant, and for that reason he thought it justifiable and natural that compensation should be provided by special legislation in the case of tenants' improvements. Upon that subject he thought the Government had done almost all they could be called upon to do; they had offered to bring in a Bill giving compensation to tenants, increasing the leasing powers of limited owners, and encouraging written contracts for land. To the proposal to make further inquiry he objected, because almost everything that could be known upon the subject was already ascertained, and it was dangerous to keep open the 1700 question, and to allow hopes, which never could be realized, of benefits resulting from future legislation to be dangling before the eyes of the tenants in Ireland. He had now said all he could in favour of the Government. He thought, however, that Her Majesty's Government had thrown away a great opportunity. This had been called by anticipation the Irish Session, as last year's was known as the Reform Session, and that of the year before as the Cattle Plague Session; and, the eyes not only of England but of Europe, were looking to the Imperial Parliament for action on this matter. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government told them on the first night he came into the House as Premier that on the Irish question—which he especially singled out—the noble Lord would state the policy of the Government. For two long—he would not say dreary, but two long and lively—hours the noble Lord the Chief Secretary had entertained the House with statistics upon the state of Ireland, proving to demonstration that there was a great deal of milk and butter in the South of Ireland, and that it was a land flowing with milk and honey, only a little soured with the taint of Fenianism. All this rose-coloured account boded little good as an indication of what the Government meant to do for Ireland. Suppose a doctor were to assure a patient suffering from scarlet fever that, in other respects, he was in excellent health, and that he only needed a change of air, one would not expect him to prescribe any but an homœopathic remedy. It was not, however, so much the homœopathic character of the Government treatment that he (Mr. Butler-Johnstone) objected to, but that, in one important point at least, he believed the remedy would aggravate the symptoms. Did not the real disease of Ireland lie in the unreasoning violence of its so-called religious bodies? Upon one side there was Mr. Ferrers, on the other Mr. Lavelle; upon one hand there was ascendancy, on the other hand Ultramontanism. What was the proposal of the Government? Why, to leave ascendancy, and to aggravate Ultramontanism. Talk of quackery! Quackery was a science compared to this. It might be a truly liberal policy, but it was not statesmanship; it was a rule of thumb. It was said that the object was to conciliate the Ultramontanes. He wished them joy in the attempt. And upon this subject he hoped that the hon. Baronet the Member for Galway 1701 (Sir Rowland Blennerhassett), who was well acquainted with the wants and wishes of the Roman Catholics, would be led to give his views to the House. The attempt to conciliate Ultramontanism had been made in other countries, and had it succeeded in Italy, in Austria, in France, or in Belgium? If ever Belgium fell a prey to the avarice of her neighbours, it would be through the violence of the Ultramontanes within her own borders. As regarded the Established Church, he respected the hesitation of any body of men who felt unwilling to deal with this question; but at the same time, if the British Legislature intended to conciliate Ireland, it was impossible not boldly and courageously to face the problem. The Established Church in Ireland had a revenue of £750,000 for less than one-eighth of the population, while the Church of the majority was discountenanced and outlawed. At the same time, it was a question out of which he did not think much political capital was to be got; it would probably break more than one Administration before it was finally settled; and it would probably be also the line of demarcation which would in future divide parties in this country. Underlying the main question there were many exciting problems which must be faced and fought out in the British Parliament. What was the Established Church in Ireland? It was the name and attributes of a national Establishment, and close on £750,000, drawn from the soil of Ireland, and bestowed on a Church whose votaries numbered less than one-eighth of the population, while the really national Church was outlawed and discountenanced. It was sometimes said that though the English Church was in a minority in Ireland, it was in a majority in England. But suppose the 5,000,000 of Roman Catholics, instead of lying at the western extremity of the United Kingdom, occupied a central position between the Trent and the Solway, how long did the House suppose the Established Church of England would be retained in that portion of the country? Yet Roman Catholics in Ireland were as much entitled to just and equal treatment as if they filled the Northern counties of England. The argument that the Church Establishment in Ireland entailed no grievance upon the Roman Catholics because the tithes were paid by the landlords, involved a double fallacy. The charge fell ultimately upon the tenant, and the change 1702 transferring the payment to the landlord in the first instance was only a change of machinery. Besides, even if landlord and tenant were both Protestants, the question was not who paid the rent-charge, but whom did it belong to? That it belonged to the State for the spiritual benefit of the people of Ireland there could be no question whatever. He hoped that for the sake of the peace of Ireland, the House of Commons would soon discuss that question with a view to its satisfactory settlement. He should be the first to deprecate any violent or vindictive reversal of policy. He thought the Irish Church Establishment ought to be dealt with not only leniently, but generously; and he confessed that nothing would please him so much as that the generous and self-sacrificing spirit of our truly liberal Church should lead her to wish to withdraw from a position which was not conducive to true religion; for it could not conduce to true religion to maintain a system calculated to promote discord, and to be a perpetual cause of mutual hatred and aversion. Though a member of the Church of England, and one devotedly attached to her creed, he could not wish to see her continue in the false position which she occupied in Ireland. These being his opinions, he confessed he was grievously disappointed when he heard what was the policy of Her Majesty's Government. He had known that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Administration was a man who knew how to deal boldly and comprehensively with a great political problem; the right hon. Gentleman had shown that last Session. Well, then, seeing that he had become the unfettered head of a Government, he had expected that the Prime Minister would not allow himself to be controlled by the action of any organized faction, however energetic. In 1844 the right hon. Gentleman described the Church in Ireland as an alien Church, and declared that Ireland required "a strong executive, a just administration, and ecclesiastical equality." If those were the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman in 1844, was there any reason that he should have changed them twenty-four years after? Had anything occurred since in the condition of Ireland to make those views no longer applicable to the case? On the contrary, had not everything that had occurred since then in the state of Ireland, which at the present moment, was so lamentable, tended very strongly to confirm the opinions expressed 1703 by the right hon. Gentleman in 1844? They were not his (Mr. Disraeli's) opinions only. They were shared in by every man who had impartially considered the question. Such persons were unanimous in thinking that it was impossible to deal with the Irish question without dealing with the Irish Church. Lord Dufferin, who was entitled to be regarded as an authority on Ireland, had said—The most vital and important measure for Ireland is the establishment of religious equality on the broadest basis. The recognition of this principle would lead to a solution of most of our difficulties.For himself, regarding as he did the Irish question as the most important one which Parliament had at present to consider, he should be prepared to follow any Leader on whichever side of the House he might sit, who had something more than a mere hand to mouth policy, and who was prepared to deal adequately and effectively with the existing exigencies of Ireland.
§ MR. GREGORY
*When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire was appointed First Minister of the Crown, rumours circulated freely through the Press and through the House of Commons that he was about to distinguish his Premiership by comprehensive and liberal measures towards Ireland. This opinion rested on the estimate that was formed of the resolution and intelligence of the right hon. Gentleman; it was fortified by the celebrated speech of 1844, alluded to more than once in this debate, in which he spoke of "a weak Executive, an absentee aristocracy, and an alien Church" as the main evils of that country; in which he stated that the key to unlock the Irish difficulty was religious equality; and in which he wound up by affirming with great emphasis "that an Administration which contented itself with merely performing its executive functions, and which had neither policy nor plan, was unworthy of the name of a Government." But when the time came for the exposition of the Prime Minister's policy towards Ireland the rumours were of a very different kind. It was whispered that difficulties had arisen; that there were murmurs, if not actual signs of mutiny, in the camp; and it was perfectly well understood that a fresh course of "education" would have to be instituted ere his followers would be in a proper state of mind to support the measures which his sagacity had long since recognized as necessary. This state of things accounted for the speech of the 1704 noble Earl (the Earl of Mayo), the longest he had ever heard in Parliament. If the noble Lord had had a satisfactory message to convey he would not have entered into a kind of stud-book description of the blood and pedigree of the various performers in the Irish Government; he would not have thought it necessary to dwell so long on the improved condition of Irish roads and of Irish lunatics. He would have had something to announce, and would have come speedily and with alacrity to the point. If he might venture to prophecy, he (Mr. Gregory) would venture to pronounce that many of the noble Lord's proposals would be like the untimely birth of a woman, and would never see the sun. He would presently advert to these proposals. First of all, however, he must refer to the speeches of two right hon. Gentlemen, the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) and the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe). There was certainly never a worse exemplification of the saying, "That in the multitude of counsellors there was safety." There was neither safety nor unanimity in the counsels of these two Privy Councillors. They reminded him of the two celebrated Doctors—the Pessimist and the Optimist—in one of the well-known novels of Voltaire. The right hon. Optimist, the Member for Calne, declared that all was well in Ireland; that the Fenians were only a few miserable artizans, intent on plunder and below contempt; that there was nothing to be done, except to destroy the Protestant Church, and then all would be right. If the right hon. Gentleman could have seen as he had seen, even in a part of the country totally unaffected by the conspiracy of Fenianism, the rush of people, when the post came in, to buy, not the ordinary vehicles of news but, the organs of sedition and rebellion; if he had seen people almost in rags spending their pennies to bring home these papers, and others forming themselves into anxious groups while they were being read aloud, he would have seen how ready the soil in the country was ready for the reception of these noxious seeds; if he had seen the funeral processions in the great towns he would have recognized what were the feelings of the artizan classes in them. The other Privy Councillor took the Pessimist view. "We were on the brink of a volcano," said he. "The country was mined with conspiracies. The tenants were flying from their farms. The agricultural population was engaged in conspiracy and outrage." No- 1705 thing could be more unreal than this statement. The Fenian conspiracy was most limited; it was confined to a few points in the rural districts of two or three southern counties, and to some towns. The province of Connaught was free from it; so was the North; so were most of the midland counties. As for the tenants flying from their farms, and the agricultural population being steeped in conspiracy and crime, he thought the right hon. Gentleman must have fallen asleep in 1822 and to have just awakened in 1868. So far from tenants flying from their farms, he had not heard any instance, in his part at least, of any farmer throwing up any holding, which could be dignified by the name of a farm, in order to fly away; and as for the peasants being occupied with outrage and conspiracy, the charges of the Judges at the recent Assizes proved that an absence of crime was the distinguishing feature of Ireland at the present moment. In his own county—Galway, only a few days previously, Judge Keogh had congratulated the Grand Jury that, on the calendar, there did not appear a single case of sedition or attempt at insurrection. He (Mr. Gregory) quite agreed with an hon. Member who had recently spoken (Mr. Agar-Ellis), that to give way to panic because of these Fenian outrages would be most unseemly. But there was another thing equally unseemly, and that was, on account of the Fenian outrages that our pride should restrain us from concession. This Fenian outbreak had nothing to do with concessions. Its leaders asked for none. They said in plain language, in those letters which he believed to be authentic, that they had no great ground of complaint against England, but what they demanded was an independent Ireland, and all the concessions which the most liberal friend of Ireland could demand, would be mere scraps; that peace and tranquillity should never be permitted without the establishment and recognition of a free Irish Republic. If that were really the general feeling, the situation of that country would be indeed deplorable; for every one in his senses must know that unless Ireland became the prize of a foreign conqueror separation was impossible, and everyone who had resided much in Ireland must feel in his heart that the day of separation from England would be the prelude of anarchy and bloodshed as terrible as any of the catastrophes of the past. They were indebted to the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill) for the admirable manner in 1706 which he had treated of separation in his pamphlet. But was it because of these wild and visionary schemes of wild and visionary men that nothing was to be done? Above all things let them clear their conscience. This very Fenian challenge was not without suggestion. It brought them at once to one of two conclusions, either to close their ears to all suggestions, to suspend the laws, and govern by the sword, or to endeavour without prejudice and pride to consider what would be the action of a fairly elected Irish Parliament. Now, he (Mr. Gregory) had endeavoured to conceive—and he knew in so doing, he was drawing somewhat largely on his own imagination and on the imagination of his hearers—that an Irish Parliament was summoned, composed of wise and prudent men representing all interests and classes. Such an assembly would, first of all, without doubt, endeavour to deal with the land question. There had been innumerable proposals set on foot for treating this difficult subject. Many of them were of the wildest and most impracticable character. He would not take up the time of the House in discussing them. The whole tone of this debate showed a great unwillingness to trench on the rights of property; but he must allude to one proposal advocated in a recent speech of great moderation and of extraordinary power by the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright). The object of that proposal was to establish a peasant proprietary in Ireland. It was to be a purely voluntary arrangement on the part of the seller. For his own part he was not unwilling to give a trial to this proposal, although, not by any means, confident of its success; but if it were to be tried it must be accompanied by strict provisions against subdivision. Ireland was now just emerging from that state of infinitesimal subdivisions which had been permitted and encouraged by the neglect, the avarice, the ambition, and the good nature of former proprietors. The Irish farmer, so called, had in too many cases, until recently, been in the condition of half farmer half labourer, eking out a miserable subsistence from a patch, of potatoes, and seeking to obtain anything beyond the food which this patch supplied by an occasional job from his landlord or elsewhere. That state of things had now passed away, and a great change for the better had come over the appearance of the country. In former days slovenly tillage, rags, recklesness, and 1707 poverty met the eye at every turn. Now, farms were larger, better tilled, the tenants had stock, their diet and dress was improved, crime had ceased, and drunkenness had greatly diminished. ["No!"] Some hon. Member said, "No"; but he spoke from his own experience. In his own neighbourhood in former days the roads were almost impassable on a market night; but now drunken men were comparatively rare. Only the other day he met a number of his own tenants, and they all agreed that the country and their condition had vastly improved since the "bad times" of 1847. He was aware that there was still at times great distress, especially on the islands and the sea coast, and that too in his own county; but let them compare the statement of the condition of Ireland made in 1823 by Dr. Doyle, the Roman Catholic bishop of Kildare, with that of the American Minister Mr. Adams, in 1865—It is scarcely imaginable on what a pittance one of these wretches endeavours to subsist. In fact, almost like the savage of the American deserts, he lies down on a little straw on the floor, and remaining there motionless all the day, gets up in the evening, eats a few potatoes, and again throws himself on the earth, where he remains, till morning. Thus he drags out an existence which it were better were terminable in any way than continue as it is. The population is increased by improvident marriages. These marriages are the result of the poverty of the people. They say they cannot be worse, and their extreme poverty throws them together like savages in a wood. It is a frightful state of society. It fills one with so much pain and horror, that I have frequently wished to God that it were his will, rather to take me out of life than to leave me to witness such scenes, which are almost beyond the endurance of human nature.Mr. Adams had visited Ireland in 1865. His account of it was published in the American blue book, and he described it as advancing, and as showing less signs of poverty than many other countries. He (Mr. Gregory) did not think that the arguments of the Member for Cork were strengthened by endeavouring to prove that Ireland was in such a wretched condition. In his opinion, it would have been better to have accepted all the statistics of the Chief Secretary, to have acknowledged that there had been a material improvement of the state of the country; but that, with all, the Habeas Corpus Act had been suspended. To return to the question of the establishment of a peasant proprietary, he should be very glad to see such a proprietary established; but the question to be solved, was such a proprietary possible in Ireland? He did not 1708 deny that in many instances such a condition was attended with success and happiness; but this success depended on circumstance and climate—on circumstance, as in North America, where boundless territory offered the inducement of fresh farms rather than of subdivision—of climate, as in more southern countries where grain crops could be always grown by the small proprietor. But in Ireland the constant wet and uncertain climate told against small holdings—the stars in their courses fought against Sisera—the Atlantic showers fought against small holdings. To succeed at present the farmer must have stock—to keep stock in the winter there must be hay or roots. These could not be obtained from minute subdivisions of land, and, therefore, as he before said, it was essential for the well-doing of the country that, in case the proposal of the Member for Birmingham should be tried, every precaution should be taken to prevent a renewal of subdivision. But, although he had described the country as improving, did he think nothing should be done as regards land; on the contrary, he fully believed that in the ideal Parliament he had sketched, increased stability of tenure would, to say the least, be encouraged. He (Mr. Gregory) was a firm believer in the necessity of changing the present loose parole system of tenure for one of increased and fixed duration. In his opinion, inducements should be held out to landlords to give, and, not only that, but to tenants to accept leases, for it was well known that in many instances tenants were even unwilling to receive them. Then came some untoward occurrence—the good landlord had to sell, or he died—the tenants fell into harsh hands, and accusations were made against the whole body of Irish landlords, owing to the misconduct of a few. He (Mr. Gregory) would wish to see this state of things—that it should be quite as exceptional for a respectable farmer not to have a lease, as it is exceptional for him to have it at this moment. Such a state of things would be good for the landlord and good for the tenant, and good for the whole community; for with increased stability would arise increased confidence in and attachment to the institutions of the country, under which men live. Now, as a general rule, he (Mr. Gregory) believed that there was a great deal of mutual good feeling between the landlords and tenants of Ireland. But he certainly was surprised to hear from the right hon. Member 1709 for Calne (Mr. Lowe) that he had examined many witnesses before Committees, and had never heard a well-authenticated case of hardship experienced by any tenant. He would give him an instance which occurred only a few days previously. The Law Life Society of England, one of the largest proprietors in Ireland, which drew £17,000 a year from the counties of Mayo and Galway, had some very curious arrangements. One was that a tenant making a demand upon the company for improvements was obliged to send in with the claim a notice of surrender. Recently, the tenant of a farm which had been impoverished by his predecessor applied to have some portion of his rent laid out in improvements, and offered, in return for a lease, to lay out £200 himself. The reply returned was that he must serve notice of surrender, and when the time came the company or its agents—considering that the tenant was a pestilent fellow for making these demands—insisted upon the surrender being carried out. He had already spent money in reclamations, he had paid every shilling of his rent, and yet he was turned out by a civil bill ejectment, and forced to pay his November rent in December. Judge Keogh stigmatized the company's procedure in the strongest terms. In granting the ejectment, he said—Here is a solvent, improving tenant, owing nothing, a skilful man, not a mere frieze-coated farmer, an independent, a rich man. What return does he get for all this? He gets a yearly notice of surrender, and he is forced to pay his November rent in December. It is perfectly impossible that a resident proprietor could have such a state of things occurring in the country on coming before this Court.Upon all Irish questions, the Legislature seemed to have carried out the principle upon which Bumble treated the paupers. He said—"I know what they want, and when they come to me and ask me for anything, I give them something else, and they do not come again." The Irish tenant asked for some stability of tenure, on the faith of which he might make improvements, and he received a complicated system of compensation for improvements which he did not want and could not understand. This was the precise course also adopted as regards education. The Irish Parliament, which he had idealized, would naturally be disposed to yield to the general feeling of the country, and not to resist it. In England they had hitherto deferred to the demand for denominational education, to Ireland they had 1710 refused it. In England, with its Protestant views, and wide difference of Protestant tenets, dogmatic teaching was of comparatively small moment, compared with the importance attached to it by Roman Catholics. In England, they had heard the heads of both the great parties, Messrs. Disraeli, Hardy, and Henley on one side, and Mr. Gladstone on the other, affirming the virtue and necessity of dogmatic and doctrinal teaching, yet they steadily reject the demands of all the Roman Catholics in Ireland, backed up a large proportion of the clergy of the Church of England, that the same measure should be meted to Ireland wherewithal they meted, to themselves. The right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) laid down, with no faltering accents, that to the Church of England must be committed the teaching of the youth of England. At a great Church meeting in Buckinghamshire, on October 30th, 1862, he said—If I am to consider what are the means by which the nationality of a church is to be asserted; I say, is the first place, it is hardly necessary to affirm that the Church should educate the people.But if any Irish Member were to rise and ask, that to the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland should be committed the teaching of the Roman Catholic youth of Ireland, then would forthwith start from their seats philosophers who hate religion, and Scotch Members who love religion, but who hate the Pope, and they declare that the Irish laity must be protected against their clergy. He had always remarked the propensity of certain Members of the House of Commons to protect some one who neither wanted nor asked protection against some one else. The Irish Roman Catholic laity could protect themselves perfectly if they pleased; but as he did not hear of any protests on their part, and as he did not perceive the slightest symptom of their being disposed to separate from their clergy on this point, he had no hesitation in supposing that they concurred in their demands. He (Mr. Gregory) lamented that at the large Protestant meeting assembled at the Rotunda, the other day, for the defence of the Church Establishment, a resolution should have been passed deprecating "that any control over the education of their countrymen," that is, of course, of their coreligionists, "should be in the hands of the Roman Catholic clergy." Now, he would venture to say that there were few of the noblemen and gentlemen on that platform 1711 who had not received their early education at the hands of clergymen, and who were not prepared to place their sons under the same tuition. He would also venture to assert that there were few of the Protestant clergy then present who had not claimed for themselves to educate the Protestant youth. If that were so, then, he said, it was painful that, in these days of freedom of opinion, any number of noblemen and gentlemen should band themselves together, and declare themselves to be the elect, that their religion was the only channel through which truth could flow, and that they should constitute themselves the arbiters and judges of what was right and wrong in theological doctrines, and should insist, in the case of millions of their fellow-countrymen, on disallowing claims, which they arrogated for their own spiritual teachers. Had they chosen to say we will tolerate nothing but pure secular education they would have been impartial; but he (Mr. Gregory) would have differed with them, for he believed a religious education to be more essential to the Irish people than to the less excitable and more law-loving races of the other parts of the British dominion. He said more law-loving, for in Ireland tradition went for much, and the traditions of English laws as stamped upon the Irish mind were not connected with mildness, broadness, and impartiality, but with one-sidedness, harshness, and oppression. The extraordinary absence of crime in Ireland was, in his opinion, quite as much attributable to the public exhortations and private influences of the Roman Catholic clergy as to the fear of the law. The experience of the representatives of large towns in England must tell them that the influence of the Roman Catholic clergy was more potent on the minds of their coreligionists than the fear of the law, and that it was by those who had shaken off that influence that those crimes of violence and brutality were committed, which so often disgraced the Irish name. He (Mr. Gregory) remembered well the words of a nobleman in his country—a strong Protestant, and a good Conservative to boot—but for whose judgment and wisdom he had more respect than for almost any other man in Ireland, and he had said to him, not once but repeatedly—"Rely on it that if the people slip out of the hands of their priests they will also slip out of yours." He (Mr. Gregory) had seen of late comments on the disloyalty of the National school teachers and of the traitorous doc- 1712 trines instilled by them into the minds of the rising generation, and the Roman Catholic hierarchy were blamed for this. But what did they say? They replied that they had not the responsibility of the education of those who teach the youth of Ireland—that they were brought up in model schools, and away from religious influence; but that if you gave them the responsibility of educating the teachers of their flocks they would be answerable both for the amount and quality of the instruction. If, then, this denominational education were, as he believed it to be, the almost universal wish of 4,500,000 of the Irish people—if it were the wish also of a large portion of the Protestant clergy who had only ceased to clamour for it when the Roman Catholics asked for it, it was extraordinary that they should continue to force upon a country a mode of education disapproved of by the mass of the inhabitants. The right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) had made one sensible remark in his speech. He said one of our errors in governing Ireland was, that we governed it through English prejudices. With these words hot on his lips he turned round and rated the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland—and for what? For asking you to do the same in Ireland as you did in England in dealing with education. The right hon. Gentleman, in order to prejudice the claims of the Roman Catholic clergy made statements of the most inaccurate description. He said—The National system was met, at its foundation, by hostility both from the Protestant clergy and the Roman Catholic priests, who did all in their power to destroy it.…. The more the clergy and the priests declared against the schools the more did the children of the laity attend them."—[3 Hansard, cxc. 1463.]Now, the National system was not met with hostility by the Roman Catholic clergy. The question was referred to Rome, and it declared that every Bishop might use his discretion. Archbishop Murray and Bishop Doyle both supported the system warmly and consistently. The opposition to it came from the Protestant clergy, who, almost to a man, denounced it. The demand for denominational education first came from them. No doubt the unfortunate passage in Archbishop Whately's Memoirs, in which he declared that the national system was always intended by him as an engine of conversion; no doubt the language of Archdeacon Stopford, Dean Kennedy, and of the Rev. Mr. Trench, de- 1713 claring that, by means of the National system, the principles of the Reformation may be effectually instilled—no doubt all this has aroused the vigilance of the Roman Catholic clergy, and they have refused to allow their children to be educated by Protestant schoolmasters and by means of Protestant teaching? Were they to be blamed for that? They have in some particular instances opposed certain schools, but they were everywhere endeavoring to promote the education of their flocks. Out of 6,000 schools as the Home Secretary stated most fairly, 4,000 have Roman Catholic clergymen as managers or patrons. Then as to the Colleges the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman) was equally inaccurate. He says—"It was the Catholic laity who asked for the Queen's College." But academical education was asked for by the Roman Catholic Bishops as well as by the laity. What was given was not what was asked for, inasmuch as Mr. Wyse's scheme comprised not merely provincial Colleges but a Catholic University in Dublin, and the opening of Trinity College, both as regards Fellowships and government. It was not the case as stated by the right hon. Gentleman that Archbishop Cullen was sent from Rome expressly to destroy these Colleges. At the Synod of Thurles Archbishop Murray himself moved the adoption of the Pastoral which condemned them. He did not move that condemnation until a deputation of Roman Catholic Prelates had waited on the Lord Lieutenant, and had requested that certain modifications in the rules of the Colleges should be granted, and the request had been refused. It was not true that the condemnation of the Colleges was obtained by only one vote at the Synod of Thurles. They were condemned unanimously. The point which was decided by one vote was whether priests were to be forbidden, under pain of ecclesiastical censure, from taking any part in these Colleges. It was not true that the Roman Catholic hierarchy had refused the sacrament to those who attended these Colleges, or that they had excommunicated the Catholic students, as was stated by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman). Many of the students and professors were communicants. The Roman Catholic hierarchy confined themselves to expressing their condemnation, as pastors of the Church, of the principles on which these institutions were founded. There were many more inaccuracies to which it was not necessary to refer; but it did seem 1714 strange that a Gentleman who had so complained of English prejudice, should have thus given such a signal instance of it, and should in a debate so conciliatory have added a fresh and just cause for resentment by a series of misrepresentations, which could have arisen from carelessness alone. Now, what were the Roman Catholic demands as regards primary education? In cases where the localities were too poor for denominational schools, and where the population was mixed, they asked to return to the old rule, and to have the children of a different faith excluded during religious instruction. But in districts where the schools were de facto denominational, they asked permission to have religious teaching introduced during the course of ordinary instruction; they asked that Catholic books may be employed in these schools, and those Catholic symbols which illustrate religious teaching. There were in Ireland 2,454 schools, with 373,756 children—all Catholics—not one Protestant. There were 2,485 schools in which were 321,000 Catholics, and only 24,000 Protestants. Surely in the first mentioned case, at least, the Roman Catholic patrons and managers might well be allowed to teach their own religion when and how they pleased. So much for primary education. They next asked that the schools in which the teachers of Catholic youth are taught should be denominational. They asked next, as regards academical education that you should do for Irish Roman Catholics what had been done for Roman Catholics at Sydney, at Melbourne, and in Canada. In every one of these demands they asked for nothing more than Protestant Prussia had done for the contentment of her Catholic subjects—and contentment had been the result. Then let them turn to the Church Establishment. What was the complaint there? The complaints of those opposed to the Establishment were these:—That religious endowments, originally intended for the use of the whole community, were now applied exclusively to the use of a small section of it; that the masses deprived of these emoluments were the poorest, while the minority in the enjoyment of them was the richest portion of the population; that the Bishops of this minority were Peers of Parliament performing legislative and even executive functions, whereas the Bishops of the majority were not allowed even to take the title of their sees. They said they looked on this as a great evil and injustice; as pains and penalties imposed on 1715 account of their religion, as a badge of conquest and ascendancy, as keeping up a constant sore and irritation in Ireland; and they asked you to place yourselves in the same position, and to reflect dispassionately if England, or Scotland, or the Colonies would tolerate a similar state of things. In reply to all this they are offered a fresh distribution of the emoluments, but that they shall be confined to the same recipients; and one of the pamphlets on this subject by an eminent divine, proposed in order infallibly to secure general contentment that they should increase the number of archdeacons. Here was another example of the influence of the principles of Bumble. He (Mr. Gregory) did not hesitate to say that his own wish would be to follow the example of the two best governed countries in Europe—France and Prussia. He would wish to build up rather than to destroy; he would wish to see every religion in Ireland placed on precisely the same footing as regards the State, and all impartially assisted. Had that been done sixty-eight years ago, much, if not all the misery and hatreds of Ireland would have been spared them, for he believed in his heart that religion was at the bottom of the whole of the disorganization of that country. If at the time of the Union the Roman Catholic, and the Protestant, and the Presbyterian, had been placed on precisely the same foundation, they would have been spared the conflict of Catholic Emancipation, the Tithe War, the Ecclesiastical Titles Act, and the present agitation against the Establishment. Endowment for all would have been his wish and supremacy for none. Still he could not shut his eyes to the fact that the days of fresh endowments were past, and therefore it was needless to advocate what any one who knew the feelings of the age must be aware was impracticable. Let them, however, for a moment considers the position of the Statesman who should take in hand the settlement of this great question. He (Mr. Gregory) never yet heard anyone assert that the complete sweeping away of the Church would satisfy Roman Catholic disaffection. He never heard anyone deny that such a step would excite a deep and durable resentment among Protestants and Presbyterians, because with the Establishment would fall also the Regium Donum. He had before referred to the great Church Defense Meeting in Dublin. There were some good speeches made there and some very bad ones. Judging from the reports 1716 in the newspapers there were one or two arguments received with great applause. The first was that St. Patrick was a Protestant. Another argument much applauded was this:—that "Though to Cæsar we should render the things which were Cæsar's, we should take care how we dealt with these emoluments which were God's"—the speaker being evidently oblivious that 25 per cent of these emoluments of God's were very comfortably in his own and other landlords' pockets. A third argument, which was received with acclamation, was that the Church was a Missionary Church. He (Mr. Gregory) only alluded to these arguments to show how such a question as this was treated—Non tali auxilio nec defensoribus istisTempus eget.The meeting itself, and the strength of Protestant and Presbyterian feeling on the subject, was the real argument. He could not deny that this was a formidable meeting—formidable from the station, wealth, character and influence of those who attended it, and of those who, though they held aloof, yet sympathized in its main object. As he (Mr. Gregory) said before there would be real danger to the safety and stability of the Empire if by a rash and ill-considered dealing with the Church Establishment they should add to Roman Catholic disaffection the deep and enduring resentment of both Protestant and Presbyterian. If there be added to the dissatisfaction of the masses the dissatisfaction of the upper and wealthier and more highly educated classes—without whose co-operation no revolution has been successful—they might rest assured that it would then be well for England to look about her. For that reason he (Mr. Gregory) hailed with pleasure the late speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright). It was the speech of a man who felt that in dealing with mens' feelings and pride and affections and prejudices there must be an appeal to something more than mere abstract principles—and that the settlement of such a great question as this must be a compromise. It would not do as a matter of policy—it would not be the act of a Statesman to sweep away at once endowments which have been enjoyed and relied on for many years—on the strength of which men had purchased and settled—and then to tell the Irish people, because the Maynooth Grant was at end, and the Protestant Establishment overthrown, and the Regium Donum swept away, that the great era of 1717 the Millennium and of perfect peace had at length arrived. In the well known novel of Alton Locke, a shrewd, sarcastic old Scotchman, Sandie Mackay by name, speaking of the levelling projects of certain philanthropists of his day, said—"It was verra like uniting o' men by first pulling off their claes, and telling them—'There! ye are all brithers noo on the one broad fundamental principle of want of breeks.'"[Laughter.] Now this great question cannot be settled on the fundamental principle of want of breeks. It must be settled, and would no doubt be settled when the new Parliament meets. If it were the will of the new Parliament to capitalize the revenues of the Irish Church and to dissociate it from the State; if along with the Irish Church the Grant to Maynooth and the Regium Donum were also to go, surely it would be a prudent course to conciliate the three parties so affected. Give to the Presbyterians a round sum which may be an equivalent to the annual sum now paid them by the State. Give to the Church of England a round sum also to enable them to set their house in order. Give to the Catholics a round sum to help them in the education of their priesthood, in the establishment of their University, and for the support of their diocesan schools. He would also be disposed to make a stipulation that a portion of this sum should be employed in providing a glebe and some acres of land for every rural parish priest. That was the proposal made by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), in a letter written to Sir John Gray in 1852. It was a proposal he himself (Mr. Gregory) had always favourably entertained, emanating as it originally did, from Mr. O'Connell. Although the Roman Catholic hierarchy had condemned an endowment from the State, this proposal had never been condemned. The cost of carrying it out would not be more than the price of two iron-clad frigates, and such a measure would confer more security than a fleet of iron-clads. But in all this one thing was indispensable—namely, to give what they meant to give once for all, without stipulation or reservation. All pledges and stipulations would be peremptorily refused by the Roman Catholic clergy. They knew that by, in any way, involving themselves as stipendiaries they could not fail to lose their influence with their flocks, and he had already shown how unwise it would be to diminish that influence. He thought it would be wise and prudent on the part of Irish Protest- 1718 ants to consider well whether now was not the best time for a compromise. He, of course, could not object to meetings in defence of the Church; but he strongly deprecated the very violent and denunciatory language applied to Roman Catholics at these meetings. Surely that was not the right mode of defence. It only still more exasperated the adversaries of the Church and rendered a settlement still more difficult. At a late meeting at Limerick, the Rev. Mr. Wilson said—The Established Church was to be given up in order to gratify the upholders of a system condemned and doomed by the predictions of the prophets and the grand visions of the Apocalypse.He thought hon. Gentlemen opposite would do well not to reject the proposal of the hon. Member for Birmingham, because—judging from the experience of last year—the time might come when the Protestants of Ireland might find the hand of that Gentleman lighter upon them than the hand of the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire. He would also express a hope that, if some compromise were being negotiated on this question, that it would not be resisted by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on his side of the House, and especially by the Scotch Members. Surely if they gained the disestablishment of the Established Church of Ireland, they would have gained enormously, as regards the principle for which they had always been contending. It must be a matter of comparative indifference to them whether a few thousands, more or less, were given to the different denominations in Ireland, if such a question as this could be amicably set at rest once and for ever. As regarded his own Church, no doubt there were seasons of difficulty before it; but there would be time to take measures, for no one had ventured to propose to interfere with existing interests. Calls, no doubt, would have to be made on the liberality of their co-religionists, but if they loved their Church as they claimed to love it, these calls would not be unheeded. Let them bear in mind what the Irish Roman Catholics, the poorest portion of the community, had contributed since the beginning of this century for religious and educational edifices—no less a sum than £5,500,000, and at the same time they have maintained their clergy. Even if this heavy blow were inflicted on the Established Church, it would not be without some good result. He was going to say what might be considered offensive, but the authority he 1719 would quote would be his absolution. He believed that in no part of civilized Europe was there less cordial co-operation between the clergy and laity than existed between the clergy and laity of the Established Church in Ireland. This was a serious thing to say, but his authority was not a layman's, but of an eminent Protestant divine. At a meeting held in Dublin in May, 1866, of the Spiritual Aid Society—formerly the Additional Curates' Fund Society—the Rev. W. C. Plunkett read a letter from the Dean of Cork, of which this was an extract—The Society is the beginning of that great work which lies before the Irish Church in this generation—the provision by the laity of spiritual ministrations themselves. To this we must come ere long. For this the Irish lay Churchman is less prepared, less informed of his duty, less willing to do it, than the layman of any other Church or religious denomination in the world.This taunt with respect to the laity was taken up by a fox-hunting baronet, who—on the occasion of a charitable sermon for the Additional Curates' Fund—being asked, as he held the plate for contributions, what was the object of them, replied, "It is to enable the parson to have two horses out instead of one, in a country where there are no foxes." If the laity had henceforth to take a part in the maintenance and selection of their clergy, there must spring up cordial and harmonious action between them, and as the Protestant laity wished to live at peace with their Catholic neighbours, they would discountenance those clerical firebrands, whose idea of preaching a gospel of peace and good-will, was to drive the people around them into madness by vilifying all they held dear and sacred in religion. This was his reply to those who had been arguing that a change in the Establishment would introduce a new and fanatical class of Protestant clergymen into Ireland. Now he would pass on to another act which his ideal Irish Parliament would instantly perform. No one could believe that it would allow one Session to elapse without obliterating from the statute book one of the most wantonly insulting, needless, and inoperative Acts which has been placed on it during this century—he referred to the Ecclesiastical Titles Act. The Roman Catholic hierarchy had told them in the most positive language that, by assuming territorial distinctions they arrogated to themselves no temporal jurisdiction, that they were actuated by no disrespect towards the Sovereign, that a 1720 territorial title they had always borne, that such a distinction was necessary for the proper execution of a variety of functions, and that they and their flocks looked on this Act of Parliament as an Act tyrannical, insulting, and unjust, and as such swelling the stream of Irish irritation against England. To this you replied, "We will endeavour to remedy any legal inconvenience, but we will retain the insult"—another instance of the influence of Bumble. Then, again, could anyone believe that the Irish Parliament which he had sketched, would not instantly vote an Address to Her Majesty, praying her to establish cordial diplomatic relations with the Holy See, unchecked by any reservations. If there was one thing which had always struck him (Mr. Gregory) as more pitiful than another, it was the attitude assumed by England towards the Pope. We were extremely friendly to him; he was most friendly to us; we had an unaccredited Envoy at his Court; we received letters from this Envoy, but we did not dare to publish them. This was a kind of hole-and-corner backstairs work, utterly contemptible and unworthy of such a country as this. He was convinced there never could be a thorough and complete understanding about the various religious questions affecting a large body of British subjects until this pitiful position was abandoned—that the Protestant religion of England was in jeopardy the moment a Papal Envoy set foot on Dover pier. There was one more matter to which he desired to refer, in speaking of the measure which he considered necessary for Ireland, and in doing so he hoped not to find himself in antagonism to the right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone). That Gentleman had deprecated attempting to deal with Ireland by administering "small doses" of public money. If that was to be the only mode of dealing with Ireland, he cordially agreed with the right hon. Gentleman; but if by that he meant that there should be no endeavour to promote the material prosperity of the country, and that Ireland should be left entirely to private enterprize, he altogether disagreed with him. They should bear in mind that, in comparison with Scotland and England, Ireland was a poor and backward country. That she was poor and backward was partly caused by the absence of mineral wealth, partly by the insecurity, the result of religious animosity, and partly by the former jealousy of Eng- 1721 land, which had crushed the germs of many Irish manufactures. These things had, no doubt, passed away, but the evil effects remained, and poverty and depression were the result. The Irish alleged that it was impossible for them to avail themselves of the resources of private enterprize as they did in England and Scotland; that it would be like calling on a fourth-form boy at Eton or Harrow to do the work of a sixth-form boy;—that it was like a huge man in the street dragging a small child after him, and expecting him to go the same pace as himself. They therefore demand assistance to promote the industrial resources of their country. He would take one or two instances. The purchase of Irish railroads by the State would be one which would procure the advantages of cheap travelling and increased accommodation. He feared the Government proposal would be more favourable to shareholders than to the public. The drainage of the Shannon and its tributaries was another measure. That was clearly an Imperial measure, and was so treated and acknowledged by the late Irish Chief Secretary; yet here, year after year, memorials and protests were showered in upon the Government, showing the incalculable damage done to land and climate by the overflowings of a river which washed ten counties, and yet nothing was done because the lands of some proprietors might be benefited, and because the amount of that benefit would not re-pay the outlay. Did they think an Irish Parliament would leave such a scandal as this unremedied for a single Session? Again, in dealing with the institutions of Dublin—scientific and artistic—he would advocate the greatest liberality. It was wise and politic to attract to the metropolis of Ireland the literary, artistic, and scientific talent of the country. It was wise and politic that from this national centre should emanate institutions to awaken artistic taste and evoke the scientific aptitude of the Irish people. Other instances he could give, but he hoped neither the present nor the late Chancellor of the Exchequer would differ with him as to these, and consider assistance to such undertakings as mere useless doles of public money. He (Mr. Gregory) had now concluded his suggestions without any expectation that they would be adopted, either wholly or in part, by the present Parliament. He believed the new Parliament would take a broader view of the state of Ireland than the pre- 1722 sent one, and would endeavour to deal with it not by mere doses of infinitesimal measures reluctantly extorted and thanklessly received. Hitherto they had far too much resembled their Saxon forefather Athelstane the Unready. "Too late! too late!" had been the reply from Ireland to almost every proposal. That which would have been gladly received a few years before as a settlement was now refused, from the increase of irritation, caused by disappointed hopes and unnecessary delays. It would be far better to do nothing this Session than to nibble at these questions. Let them discuss them all, make up their minds, and let the future constituencies see what they will be called upon to sanction or refuse. Let the Government of the day be what it may—Whig or Tory—let it lay before the House a full plan of dealing with these measures. That would be a thorough and complete message of peace to Ireland, and rely on it it would be thankfully received if the people of Ireland saw there was in it something more than hustings promises and appeals. He knew it would be sanguine to foretell that any measures could be passed which would enable Her Majesty in 1870 to congratulate her Parliament that the storms which had so long lowered over Ireland had passed away, and that the winter of her discontent had been made glorious summer. The suspicions and passions of centuries were not so easily abated; but he did believe that if they took these measures to heart, and dealt with them in the spirit with which other countries had dealt with them, that they would then be really giving effect to that prayer which they put up every Seventh Day for the unity, peace, and concord of the realm; but that if they could not bring themselves to this—if old inveterate prejudices were still too strong—then that prayer was but a mockery, a string of words—words only of the lip, mere sounds without significance or meaning.
§ MR. CONOLLY
said, he thought it right, before criticizing the policy of the noble Lord the Chief Secretary with regard to the future, to acknowledge what he had done in the past. He must pay the humble tribute of his admiration to the noble Lord who, by his energy and sagacity, had been enabled to put down a conspiracy which endangered both life and property. The noble Lord also deserved gratitude for the great humanity and discretion with which he had applied in Ireland the extraordinary powers with which he had been invested by Par- 1723 liament. He (Mr. Conolly) must say that the way in which this debate had been handled had filled him—for the first time since he had had the honour of a seat in that House—with large hopes that, though not perhaps at this moment—not, perhaps, as the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) said, on a very immediate occasion, yet before long—the British Parliament, having really and anxiously turned their attention to the affairs of Ireland, would keep the question steadily and zealously in view until they arrived at a solution worthy of the subject, and one which would insure harmony and union among all classes in that country. He took heart from the manner in which they had been addressed by some of the most eminent Members of the House—by the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), and particularly by the right hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Chichester Fortescue). Not only had they bestowed great care and attention on the subject, but a great many of the extreme views which were expressed on previous occasions, not very long ago, seem to have been toned down by a calmer and wiser consideration of the requirements of the country. It was matter for hope that the crotchets of many of those who might be considered foremost in their ranks had been demolished. He alluded more particularly to the scheme propounded by the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill), whom all acknowledged to be a great ornament to the House, although his scheme on this subject certainly seemed by no means sound. That scheme had been exposed with considerable severity by friends as well as foes, and he thought he might now say it had vanished, leaving "not a wrack behind." He was also encouraged to hope by the attitude assumed with regard to the land question by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth, who was at one time foremost in the van of what was called the tenant-right movement, but now appeared to have very much modified his opinions. The right hon. Gentleman was no longer anxious to eliminate the landlord in the discussion of the land question. Dark indeed must have been the prospects of Ireland when it was proposed to deal with the land by eliminating the landlords. But such had been the character of that Bill which he had offered to the House, and which was defended with great talent and ingenuity, but with multitudinous fallacies, by 1724 the ex-Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Lawson); and it was a happy thing for Ireland that that Bill would never again be laid on the table, but would be relegated to the oblivion which it deserved. He was bound to say the policy recommended by the noble Lord was nearly as bad as that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth. The noble Lord must therefore make up his mind to the same amount of opposition which last year prevented the right hon. Gentleman's Bill being read a second time. The settlement of the land question occupied the first place in the hopes and aspirations of the people of Ireland. But, when the right hon. Gentleman talked of eliminating the landlord from the consideration of this question, that was precisely the objection to the Bill both of the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord. What was it but eliminating the landlord to lend the money of the State to tenants at will on the security of the land without the landlord's consent? What was it but eliminating the landlord to propose that money should be lent to tenants for the purpose of making alterations, whether in the way of improvements or otherwise, on the proprietor's land without his consent? What tenants really looked to was security—first, that they would not be unreasonably dispossessed, and secondly, that their rents would not be unreasonably raised—that improvement by the tenant would not be immediately followed by increased rent. There was a vast deal that required regulation with reference to the land in Ireland. It was no part of the business of country gentlemen to devise measures to extricate Ministers of the Crown from the difficulties of their position. Their business, if they sat on the Opposition Benches, appeared to be, according to the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) to make the question to be settled as difficult as possible, and, if they sat upon the Ministerial Benches, to keep the Government in their places. Behind the question of land there lay the far greater question of the Irish Church. He must say that the present debate on the Church promised to be not unproductive of good. The hon. Member for Birmingham, in his most admirable speech, expressed his opinion that this question must be discussed with patience, consideration, and in a just and generous spirit. The hon. Member said such questions might be thirty times discussed before a practical issue could be expected. The debating power 1725 of the House had been exercised upon the Reform Bill, and he (Mr. Conolly) hoped the same patience would be bestowed upon the Irish Church. He trusted the question would be taken up in a practical spirit, because that was absolutely necessary; but he also hoped it would be considered with wisdom, calmness, and above all things in the spirit of justice. For himself and the strongly Protestant constituency which he represented, he should not object to any scheme that might result from a wise, calm, and just consideration of the subject. It was in vain to deny that the question of the Irish Church was at the bottom of the present difficulty; but no one had at the present time propounded an adequate remedy. An ex-Minister of the Crown, who had devoted years of study to the subject, had published a pamphlet which he must say offered a very inadequate solution of the question, and other plans which had been proposed had been characterized by immaturity rather than by wisdom and statesmanship. He trusted that the House would enter upon this subject with great calmness, deliberation, and patience; that they would not force on a hasty conclusion; above all, that there would not be a sweeping measure, but let justice be done ruat cœlum. The right hon. Member for Calne—who was sound enough on many questions—though he was not equal to the Reform question, was totally mistaken on this question of the Irish Church. In his (Mr. Conolly's) opinion there could be nothing more vulgar, less considerate, or less statesmanlike, than to apply a sweeping measure to an institution of such historical antecedents and so deeply rooted socially as the Irish Church. It was impossible to over-rate the evil of dealing with this question in a hasty and precipitate manner.
MR. W. H. GLADSTONE
said, he must apologize to the House for venturing to offer a few remarks upon so arduous a subject as the state of Ireland. He had heard some hon. Members on the other side of the House advocate the policy of "letting well alone." Now, he was anxious to state his conviction that the circumstances of that country not only required remedial legislation, but legislation of a broader and more decisive character than had hitherto been proposed. The House knew that the Habeas Corpus Act was now suspended for the third year, and what prospect was there that matters would be 1726 improved by the end of another year? Fenianism had for a time subsided; but there had been lulls before, and it had afterwards broken out afresh. Besides Fenianism, there was that great discontent which both the Lord-Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary for Ireland admitted to exist. He should not fall into the error of confounding Fenianism and the discontent in question, but there must be some connection between the two; for he could not understand how Fenianism could prosper as it had done, and how it could have crept into places where it might be least expected, if it had not found the soil of Ireland congenial to its growth. He could not join in the opinion of those who regarded Fenianism as nothing but a wild, extraneous movement, got up solely by the disbanded soldiers of America, because it was shown that it met in Ireland with a general though subdued and concealed sympathy. He agreed with the right hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell) that Fenianism was not the most dangerous thing with which they had to deal. That was the subdued and smouldering discontent that so largely existed. If they got rid of Fenianism, there would still be the discontent; but if they got rid of the discontent they would cut away the roots of Fenianism. So long, however, as that discontent existed it was almost useless to bring forward statistics, as the noble Lord had done, to show the prosperity of Ireland, because it was an axiom in politics that contentment must precede prosperity. The only thing for Parliament to do was to make up its mind as to the causes of Irish discontent, and then do its best to remove them. Some hon. Members referred to emigration as the source of hope for Ireland. No doubt emigration had in some respects been beneficial. It had relieved the land of its surplus population, and had partially raised the rate of wages. But could any hon. Member look upon the great and enormous emigration of hundreds of thousands of the population of Ireland—100,000 in one year—and consider it as a healthy symptom? An hon. Member, the other night—he believed it was the hon. Member for Londonderry, Sir Frederick William Heygate—said the House must remember that there had been emigration from England also, but there was absolutely no comparison between the two things. He had been looking back at the statistical tables for 1864, and he found that the emigration from Ireland, with a popu- 1727 lation of 5,500,000, was nearly double the emigration from England, with a population of 20,000,000. Was it true that emigration had rendered the people of Ireland one bit more happy and contented? He feared it had not done so. He even doubted whether it had improved the condition of the labouring population. In 1849 the acreage devoted to the cultivation of the potato was 718,000, whereas in 1866 they amounted to upwards of 1,000,000, which clearly showed that the great evil of dependence upon one single crop had been left untouched by emigration. The truth was, that the causes of Irish discontent lay too deep to be reached by any good to be derived from emigration. That discontent resulted from what he must call the illiberal policy we had pursued towards the Irish people in general as regarded the land laws, and to the Roman Catholics in particular as regarded the ecclesiastical laws. From inquiries he had made in Ireland, he found that the tenant-farmers were invariably deeply sensible of the inadequacy of the present law of landlord and tenant as regarded compensation for improvements. The House ought not to be diverted from the full consideration of this matter by the fact that the law was the same in Ireland as in England, for the inequity of that law was in England over-ridden by general custom. As a rule, its operation was completely nullified by the practice of the landlords executing their own improvements. In Ireland it was otherwise. There it was the tenant, and not the landlord, who made the improvements; and it was but just that if he invested his money in improving the land he held he ought to have some security that he will reap some advantage from his expenditure. The existing state of things in Ireland had been admitted to be unjust for a long time, but, notwithstanding the general concurrence of opinion upon this point, nothing had been done towards improving the tenant's condition. The great delay that had occurred in rendering common justice to the Irish tenants had brought them to such a condition that they would not be satisfied with any moderate measures; and had led to those schemes, of which so much had been heard lately, for creating a peasant proprietary—schemes which were of at least a desperate character, and as to which it was so doubtful whether the effect would be good or evil, that he did not see that we should be justified in making so rash an experiment as to give them a trial. He 1728 thought the Government were entitled to much credit for the intention which they had expressed to re-introduce their Compensation Bill of last Session, although he was afraid that it would not be effectual to accomplish all the legislation that was necessary on this subject. Would it not be extremely desirable to limit and discourage that which existed under the name of "tenant-right," under which a new tenant was compelled to pay large indefinite sums to the outgoing tenant? The other night the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. T. Hughes) argued strongly in favour of recognizing tenant-right by law, but all he (Mr. W. H. Gladstone) had read upon the subject led him to a somewhat different conclusion; and on the whole he believed that the disadvantages of the custom preponderated over its advantages, and that it would be better if the Legislature were, instead of recognizing the custom, to reduce it within moderate limits. The best course to pursue would be to pass a liberal Compensation Bill, giving to the tenant a fair amount of compensation for any improvements he might effect, and making good to him the loss he would sustain by the abolition of tenant-right. Let them look at the inequality of that custom. In some parts of Ireland the tenant was so much at the mercy of his landlord that he might be turned out of the cabin he had built without a farthing in the way of compensation. But in other parts of the country the custom of tenant-right was so strong, that if the landlord wanted to take the property in his own hands he must pay a large sum down as compensation to the tenant. Any legislation with regard to this custom, therefore, should be directed to render the operation of it equal all over the country. He was aware that legislation had hitherto failed to encourage tenants to make improvements, but the reason of that was not difficult to find. The principle hitherto sought to be established was that if the tenant made improvements he should be entitled to recover his outlay with interest. Was it not desirable to go a step further? The tenants of Ireland were not, as a class, of an enterprizing character, and, therefore, in all future legislation upon the land question they should be encouraged to effect improvements by giving them a share in the profits arising out of all paying improvements. Upon the other great branch of the question—that of the Irish Church—he deeply regretted that the Government 1729 had not announced a definite policy, feeling, as he did, that it was of immense importance that that House should lose no time in declaring itself clearly and distinctly in favour of the great principle of ecclesiastical equality. It was said that if Parliament lent themselves to the disestablishment of the Irish Establishment they would be dealing a blow at that of this country. The cases of the Establishments were, however, totally distinct. They knew from the words of the Prime Minister himself that in Ireland the Established Church was an "alien" Church, whereas in England the Church was in harmony with the instincts of the people. The Irish Church was a source of weakness and of discredit to that of this country, and he wished that the latter should be judged upon its own merits, without the Irish Church being tied, like a millstone, round its neck. It was impossible for Ireland to prosper, unless there were a good understanding between the Protestant Government of this country and the Roman Catholic population of Ireland, and how could that good understanding be attained as long as we persisted in maintaining the Church, not of the nation but of the rich, who were few and able to take care of themselves, while we ignored that of the poor who were the many? He could only look at the Established Church of Ireland as an insult to every Roman Catholic, and as a powerful means of keeping up those religious dissensions to which that country had been so long a prey. On the subject of education he thought the proposal of the Government had scarcely received justice in the course of the debate. He congratulated the Government upon that proposal, because it showed a real desire to make some progress in the question; but whether it was a progress in the right direction was another matter. He should have been better pleased had the Government seen their way to carry out the alternative scheme to which the noble Lord the Chief Secretary alluded the other evening—a comprehensive scheme—for the fusion of the educational establishments of Ireland into one common University. But he had no sympathy with those who would refuse all concessions to Roman Catholics in this matter. As long as there existed a purely denominational University at Dublin he thought we should do something to aid the genuine efforts of the Roman Catholics to establish a University of their own. In conclusion, he must 1730 state that he should be slow to abandon the hope that we might yet effect the reconciliation of Ireland by a series of wise, liberal, and equitable measures, and he believed that the character of the people of the country was rather in our favour than against us. He had been among them, and the impression left upon his mind was that a people more loyal at heart, more tractable, and more amenable to good government did not exist. And surely these were circumstances which might encourage the hope that if Parliament were honestly resolved upon effecting a reconciliation with Ireland, and incorporating it with this country, not in name only, but in fact, it would find no insuperable obstacles in accomplishing that happy end.
§ MR. DE LA POER
said, it appeared to him that if any Church was established by law it ought to be the national Church—the Church of the people. Now, the Irish Church was not the Church of the people, and had most singularly failed in the object for which it was established. Right and justice, the enlightened and liberal of all denominations, demanded its disendowment, and it was a disgrace to liberal and enlightened England to continue to support a Church established by the sword and maintained against the wishes of the people. The Roman Catholics did not seek for domination but for equality. The only way to give general satisfaction was to place all religious bodies on the same footing.
§ MR. BRUEN
said, it was satisfactory to him to have heard the testimony borne by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) to the fact that, in all the investigations of the land question, no well-founded case of injustice had ever been brought against an Irish landlord. The hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill) had made a sharp attack on the conduct of the Marquess of Conyngham, but it had been clearly proved in "another place" by Viscount Lifford that the reflections passed on that Nobleman were entirely unwarranted. Last week, too, the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) made charges of a similar character against the late Mr. Carden, a Tipperary landlord; but the brother of the deceased gentleman had shown, in a letter which had appeared in that morning's papers, that three of the tenants who were alleged to have been driven across the Atlantic were permanently settled in their old farms, while several others, who had occu- 1731 pied a few acres of land, had only themselves to blame for refusing the liberal terms offered them. He concurred with the noble Lord the Member for Tyrone (Lord Claud Hamilton) in deprecating allusions to past times; for if it was right to forbid the commemoration of certain events by Irish Protestants, fairness required that hon. Gentlemen opposite should not for their own party purposes invoke the speeches of bloody days long passed. In considering the state of Ireland it was present legislation they had to bear in mind. The House was asked to make changes in the law of landlord and tenant. When the Bill of the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland came before the House it would be fully discussed; but the schemes put forward by the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill) and the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) amounted to fixity of tenure, and would lead to all the evils of overcrowding. He could not believe that such a change would be conducive to contentment. It would not benefit the labourers, but would rather have the effect of driving them to emigration. With regard to the occupiers, would fixity of tenure produce prosperity and contentment? So long as they continued to increase and multiply, as they were doing at present, he could not believe that there would be a less demand for land, and as long as that demand continued, the discontent which now existed would continue. Fixity of tenure really meant fixity of rent, or, in other words, debarring the landlord from profiting by the increased value of his property. Admitting that discontent prevailed among the labouring population, he did not believe it existed among the occupiers of land; for, judging from the assurances of those in his own district, they were contented, and the evidence of his own eyes satisfied him that they were prosperons. The large amount (£20,000,000) invested in savings banks was an indication of prosperity, and the magnificent sum contributed by the Roman Catholics for the support of their Church, estimated by the Freeman's Journal at £762,000 per annum, was not consistent with the oppression and degradation under which they were alleged to labour. In his district he was happy to say that the landlords had made all the improvements which had been effected in building and draining. The only security which could be given to the tenant was the security, therefore, which would result from the respect, the friend- 1732 ship, and the good offices existing between the landlord and tenant—a security which he was glad to say existed in his district, and which could not be given by means of any law. With respect to the question of the Established Church, he contended that its members could neither be alluded to as belonging to an alien Church nor to the Church of the landlords. If he was an alien in Ireland because he was a Protestant, and an alien in England because he was an Irishman, he should feel in a very unpleasant position, and would take the first opportunity of putting a question to the Attorney General to know what his rights were, or whether he had any rights, and, if not, whether such religious disabilities should be allowed to continue. By the Act of Union the two countries were united, and the Established Church was made the Church of the nation. To discuss any grievance arising or supposed to arise from the existence of a so-called Church of the minority was, therefore, to deal with a question raised on a false issue; for the real principle under discussion was that of a voluntary system as opposed to that of a State Church. He regarded the proposal made by his noble Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland as an endeavour to meet the wishes of the Roman Catholic portion of the population in Ireland in a practical and statesmanlike manner. He did not believe that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), or the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), could claim to speak on behalf of the Roman Catholic laity in Ireland. If the proposition of his noble Friend with regard to a University was not pleasing to the Roman Catholic laity the case was over. They had their mouthpieces in that House, and it would be well if those Gentlemen would speak out manfully. It should be remembered that the University to which the Government proposed to give this charter was to be auxiliary and not antagonistic to the other Universities, the advantages of which many of his fellow-countrymen were unable, from conscientious scruples, at present to avail themselves.
§ VISCOUNT CASTLEROSSE
confessed to a feeling of disappointment at finding, after all the expectations held out by the Government on the Irish question, that they possessed no policy at all. He could not regard the proposal of the noble Lord the Chief Secretary, to found a Catholic 1733 University, as serious; because the noble Lord must have felt there was not the remotest chance of carrying such a proposition. It was urged in a published Statement on the University Question, by the Most Rev. Dr. Leahy, Archbishop of Cashel, and the Right Rev. Dr. Derry, Bishop of Clonfert, addressed to the Catholic Members of Parliament—That though the State might endow a new Catholic University, the weight of reason was in favour of endowing the existing Catholic University.In the same pamphlet also occurred the following passage:—We speak of a charter and endowment, because one without the other would be of little value, and would leave the Catholics of Ireland in the position of unjust inequality of which they have so much reason to complain. When Trinity College, besides its subsidiary Protestant schools, has, in round numbers, its 200,000 acres and its £100,000 per annum, and when the Queen's Colleges, besides the £200,000 expended on buildings, &c., are subsidized to the amount of £26,000 a year, surely the Catholics of Ireland have a right to a chartered and suitably endowed Catholic University.Would the noble Lord come down and propose an endowment for the Catholic University? [Several hon. MEMBERS: So he does.] If he did not the Government proposal was likely to be rejected. [An hon. MEMBER: But he did.] Did he? Then that was the true remedial proposition. On the subject of the land, they were promised a Commission, but he could not see that the question would in any way benefit by the inquiry suggested. As an Irish landlord he was most anxious for the speedy settlement of this question. He was desirous to secure for the Irish tenant that protection and that security to which he was by every principle of justice entitled; but he could not help regarding this proposed Commission simply as an excuse for delay. There had been a Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the Church, but that Commission had nothing to do with the question which the House had now to consider. Her Majesty's Government had declared, by the lips of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, that they did not consider the Protestant Church Establishment in Ireland to be any injustice to the people. What the Irish people demanded was the disestablishment of the Irish Church, and that demand did not come from one section of the people only, but emanated from the whole Catholic laity of Ireland without exception. As a proof of that fact, he might refer to the following 1734 Declaration which had been numerously and influentially signed, and at the head of which was the venerated name of the Earl of Fingall:—We, the undersigned Irish Catholic laymen, deem it our duty to contradict publicly the assertion that we do not feel aggrieved by the present Ecclesiastical Settlement of Ireland. We feel with reference to that settlement as our Protestant fellow-countrymen in England, Ireland, and Scotland would feel if they were subjected to a like injustice. The dignity of the religion and of the people of Ireland demands religious equality; and we are convinced that, without religious equality, there cannot be generated and secured that respect for law, and those relations of mutual good-will, which constitute the true foundation for national prosperity.What they asked was religious equality, entire religious equality, and they would be content with nothing less.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, it clearly appeared that Her Majesty's Government had not realized to themselves the present condition of Ireland, nor risen to the level of a policy such as was really required to settle the Irish difficulty. Of course, in the embarrassing circumstances in which they were placed—afraid, as the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs had said in another place, lest they should alienate their supporters, without gaining in any way the support of their opponents—they were naturally apprehensive of making enemies. That might be an excuse for the failure of their policy; but it was certainly no excuse for enlightened and independent Statesmen and orators in that House to treat the question in a spirit more likely to exasperate the whole Irish people than to conciliate even a section. He only hoped that, as the speeches of the hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) not long since against the working men of England had led to household suffrage, the right hon. Gentleman's provoking words against the people of Ireland might be the means of obtaining that which they had been unable to obtain by conciliatory means. The right hon. Gentleman described the Fenians as invaders of Ireland; but those were curious invaders who were received with silent recognition and almost with open arms by the people. What stronger proof could they have of the spirit which prevailed among the Irish people than the language used by one of the prelates most attached to the Union with this country, who said that if the Grand Turk landed in Ireland with an army they would fly to welcome him? The right hon. Gentleman seemed to recommend the extension to 1735 Ireland of the Assessed Taxes. He (Mr. Synan) had been astonished to hear the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for India assert that Ireland benefited at the expense of England, and was not taxed in her full proportion. The right hon. Baronet was Chairman of the Committee on Irish Taxation, and the Report of that Committee, signed by the right hon. Baronet, stated that the property of Ireland compared with that of England was as one to two, whilst its taxation was as two to one. How, then, could it be said that Ireland did not pay her full proportion of taxation? But the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that Ireland had no grievance but that of dangerous friends. He knew no friend more dangerous than one who rose in his place and used the language of the right hon. Gentleman; and he knew no greater danger that could occur than the destruction of the confidence which Ireland might be disposed to place in the justice and generosity of the policy to be pursued towards her by England. The speech of the noble Lord the Chief Secretary consisted of two parts wholly inconsistent with each other—first, he argued that Ireland was advancing so happily in industrial progress that no legislative remedies were necessary, and then he proceeded to declare a policy for the treatment of Ireland's difficulties—a policy which, however, might be described as "the way not to do it." It was a policy of negation utterly unworthy of the Government or of that House. The argument of the noble Lord to show that Ireland was prosperous embraced six points—agricultural statistics, increase of rental, increase of wages, increase of the deposits in joint-stock banks, increase of exports and imports, and increase of the consumption of whisky. Though the noble Lord's statistics might be, to a certain extent, correct, the arguments he founded on them were very fallacious. As to agricultural statistics, the noble Lord compared 1841 with 1851, and 1851 with 1861; but he ought to have investigated his authorities, and not have relied on any agricultural statistics referring to Ireland which dated before the establishment of the office for that purpose in 1852. Before that year they were not worth the paper on which they were printed. It was quite enough for any useful purpose to begin with 1861; and he would now examine whether Ireland had been advancing in prosperity since that date. In 1862, he found that the decrease in cereals was 1736 144,666 acres; in green crops, 32,115 acres; and in live stock, 382,053 head. In 1863, the decrease in cereals was 122,437 acres; in green crops, 2,317 acres; in live stock, 85,439 head. In 1864, the decrease in cereals was 72,450 acres; in flax, 50,159 acres; whilst in live stock there was a small increase. In 1865, the decrease in cereals was 40,211 acres; in green crops, 222,122 acres; in horses, 12,708 head. In 1866 there was a decrease in cereals of 69,307 acres, in flax of 10,402 acres, in green crops of 67,866 acres, and in live stock of 320,611 head. The only increase was in sheep, and every Irish farmer knew they had become such a drug in Ireland that the sheep graziers were completely bankrupt. The average produce of wheat had decreased by one-seventh, being only four barrels of twenty stone per acre. It was therefore impossible to prove the prosperity of Ireland if the argument rested upon agricultural statistics. As to the argument founded on the increase of rental, that was utterly fallacious. He admitted that the rental of land had been quadrupled, quintupled, and in some instances raised even tenfold. But why was this? The rental had increased by reason of the tenants' improvements. He asked those who spoke of confiscation, if that was not a strong and invincible argument to show the necessity of fixity of tenure? A pamphlet had lately been published by Mr. Marcus Keane, a landed proprietor in Clare, and agent for very extensive property in that county—much of it held by absentee landlords. This gentleman—than whom there could not be a more intelligent or better-informed witness—stated that the rentals were steadily following the improvements of the tenants, and in some counties they had increased even more than tenfold. Could there be anything more conclusive than this as establishing the necessity of a measure to define and regulate the relations between landlord and tenant? If such a state of things existed in England, would those who represented the tenant-farmers of this country allow it to continue? It was folly to wish to force the agricultural laws and customs of England upon Ireland, a country totally different. The next argument used by the noble Lord was the increase of wages. He admitted that that would be evidence of industrial progress, if it were not distinctly traceable to another cause. Wages in Ireland had risen in consequence of the decrease of population 1737 caused by emigration. They had risen, not because the demand for labour had increased, but because the supply had decreased. Bring back the 2,000,000 of persons who had emigrated within a recent period, and the condition of the labourer would be as miserable now as it was in 1825. If the wages of labourers in Ireland were increased to the average of the wages in England, their payment would absorb the whole means of the country. The next evidence of Ireland's prosperity, according to the noble Lord, was to be found in the deposits in joint-stock banks. Admitting that there had been an increase since 1864 he (Mr. Synan) thought that the absorption of funds from the purposes of agriculture into the coffers of banks a very bad sign of agricultural prosperity, and one which showed the necessity for legislation. The result of the present system of land tenure was to cause men making money on farms to deposit their savings in joint-stock banks, instead of in making improvements on the land. Another argument used by the noble Lord in support of his theory that Ireland was prosperous, was that the imports and exports of Dublin had increased of late years. But what was the character of these exports and imports, and how did these changes affect the trade of other parts and the condition of the country generally? No explanation had been given on these points. The noble Lord did not mention the fact that the emigration from the province of Ulster in 1866 exceeded that of 1865 by no less than 6,000. With regard to the figures quoted by the noble Lord as to the consumption of whisky, he (Mr. Synan) denied that the increase in that consumption was an evidence of increased national prosperity. But accurate tables showed that there had not been an increase, and on moral grounds he rejoiced at the fact. Not only had there been a decrease in the consumption, but the manufacture had been diminished by one-half. In 1846 there were fifty-four distilleries at work, and 7,952,076 gallons were consumed; in 1864 there were only twenty-five distilleries, and the consumption had fallen to 4,000,000 gallons. Again, it had teen said, both by the noble Lord and also by the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), that Fenianism was of so despicable a character that it required no means of repression, and that the suspension of the Irish Constitution was not directed against the Irish people, but 1738 against what were called the American invaders, who had come to attack the Irish people. But this was the third time since the Union that the Habeas Corpus Act had been suspended, and out of the sixty-eight years which had elapsed since that Union, twenty years had passed under a suspension of national liberties. If the Irish people themselves had not inspired fear in their rulers, why had the Constitution been suspended when Fenianism had no existence? As to the policy announced by the Government, he admitted that with respect to primary education there was nothing practically to complain of; for that education, as it existed in Ireland, was in harmony with the feelings and sentiments of the people; but there was serious cause of complaint with regard to intermediate education, on which subject the noble Lord had not touched. Of the two plans proposed for University education, he thought that of the Government the worse. The Government policy was not a bonâ fide one; it was adopted not for the purpose of conciliating the Roman Catholics, but of propping up Trinity College. The policy of the Government with regard to the Church was simply one of procrastination. What had the inquiry of the Commission to do with the question of disendowment or endowment? The question now lay between religious equality on the one side and ascendancy upon the other. The penal laws had been repealed, and the Roman Catholics admitted to the enjoyment of civil privileges, and the time had now come when the Protestant Church must be disendowed. The spirit of the Roman Catholic people would be content with nothing less. He protested against a Commission upon the land question as a mere sham which could only lead to animosity between landlords and tenants. It would be wise to advance money for the purpose of improving the agriculture of Ireland; but would the occupiers of land be likely to apply for loans of money while they were at the caprice of the landlords? If he had to choose between the propositions of the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill), and the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), he would give the preference to the plan of the latter Gentleman; but if it could not be carried out he was in favour of long leases. Long leases with clauses against sub-letting would be for the benefit of the landlord as well as of the tenant. A bold and liberal policy towards Ireland was 1739 necessary for the interests of the Empire at large. If they sacrificed the interests of the Empire to those of party they would never legislate in a proper spirit for Ireland.
§ MR. KENDALL
, as an independent Member, and a man who had never said an unkind word against the sister country, wished to say a few words. He never detained the House long when he said he would be short, and he claimed the further merit of always saying what he meant. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) laid an indictment against the Government, in which there were three charges—first, that as regarded education their policy was one of reaction; next, that their policy was one of inaction as regarded the Church; and lastly, that it was an inadequate one as regarded the land. Now, what had been the action of past Governments in respect of education in Ireland? To make that education as far as possible secular. He granted that the progress of education in that country had been rapid; but it was based on a system which was carried on against the wishes of almost every pious Roman Catholic, and of most of the intelligent and pious Protestants. He was not a Roman Catholic, but he respected Roman Catholics, and the more religious they were the more he respected them. He thought, then, that every deference should be paid to the wishes of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, when they desired to have their children trained up in the religion which they believed to be the best one. With regard to education, therefore, he thought reaction would be justifiable. Then as to the Established Church, he asked right hon. Gentlemen opposite with what political consistency could they call upon the Government for immediate action? Those right hon. Gentlemen had for years been Members of Governments who, at the commencement of Sessions, proposed no measures to deal with the Established Church, but now at the end of a Session, and pending the inquiry of a Commission, they asked the present Government to at once propose legislation on the subject. With the measures now before the House there would not be time during the present Session to discuss this question or that of the land in detail, besides which it should be remembered that a new Parliament would shortly be elected under the Reform Act of last Session. We had heard so much of philosophy in this discussion that it was 1740 somewhat difficult to descend to common sense; but he appealed to every man of business in the House whether procrastination and inquiry were not advisable when it was seen that even statistics with regard to the state of Ireland brought forward by the noble Earl the Secretary for Ireland, and the correctness of which had been admitted by the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory), had nevertheless been called in question by the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Synan). He thought he had now disposed of the three points. With regard to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), he must say he agreed with the whole of it except the part relating to the Irish Church. The right hon. Gentleman had insisted that the Houses of Parliament were the trustees of the property of that Church; but it ought also to be borne in mind that there were honest and dishonest trustees, and that Parliament was bound to act as a good and honest trustee, and to see that justice was done in this matter. The speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham reminded him of a farmer whose cantankerous wife used constantly to abuse her husband, especially out of doors. One day he met this man, and said, "How is your wife?" The answer was, "My wife is kind and condescending." Now that anecdote was applicable to the hon. Member for Birmingham, who was kind and condescending to the Irish landlords. He trusted that the clever but insidious speech of the hon. Gentleman would open the eyes of all Irish landowners to the danger of holding out to the tenants the prospect of buying out their landlords. If the dissatisfied Irish tenant were assured of the means of borrowing money to buy up his landlord's property, he would make his landlord as uncomfortable as possible. In such a case there would not be a tenant that formerly kept an old musket, who would not then procure a seven-chambered revolver. The greater the prize to be obtained the greater would be the risk a man would run that he might secure it. Before any long time the disastrous results of such a policy would become apparent. He trusted, therefore, that all the landlords, whether Protestant or Catholic, would band themselves together and make common cause to secure their rights.
Sir, during this remarkable debate which my hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) has 1741 raised entirely upon his own responsibility—but I must say I think with profit to the House and the country—many errors and many sources of error have been pointed out from this side, and likewise in a measure from the other side of the House, in the views declared upon the part of Her Majesty's Government. But, Sir, if I am right, there is one source of error which extends more widely and penetrates more deeply than them all. It is this—that Her Majesty's Government have failed to realize in any degree at all approaching to truth the grave and, I will say, the solemn fact that we have reached a crisis in the affairs and in the state of Ireland. Ireland has a long account open with this country, and she asks—nay she expects—that it should be settled. Ireland has a controversy with this country which has endured for centuries. Mitigated it has been from time to time by the removal of one cause after another of heartburning and of irritation: but, unfortunately, enough still remains to mar the work of concord and of peace. I admit—and Ireland herself will acknowledge—that in that controversy this country is divided. There are those—I be-believe them to be a great majority of Englishmen—who feel far from easy with respect to the position we occupy on the ground of right in that controversy against Ireland. There are those also who are conscientiously persuaded that we have a good cause and a just one. Sir, I wish it were possible—which it is not—that in this great question, on which so much difference of opinion prevails, we could do that which the wise policy of modern times has recommended in cases of international disputes—that we could carry our controversy with Ireland to the arbitration of wise, enlightened, good men in any country of the civilized world. How does the matter stand? Go north, south, east, or west, consult whom you will, consult eminent statesmen, consult learned legists and earnest religionists, there is but one opinion—I will not say in America—I will not say that, at this moment, spirits may not be found in a part of that community irritated or excited by particular circumstances and on particular subjects which are contested—but take the impartial opinion of any country in Europe—take that of France, for example; go to that immense diversity of political parties; take all their forms of thought, and take all the suggestions and aspirations of the learned and enlightened world, and where will you find the man who 1742 is not of opinion that in this great and still pending controversy between England and Ireland, England, though she may have done much, has not yet done enough to put herself in the right? With all due respect to the House, I say we ought now to recollect what Mr. Burke calls "that early and provident fear which is the mother of security;" and, without more delay, to make what I hope will be a final and successful effort to redress, according to the balance of justice, the wrongs of which Ireland has still just cause to complain. I for one must own that, regarding the circumstances of recent years—I will say of the most recent years—which have brought this crisis so near its issue, I am not content to regret the facts of the case, and to be responsible for refraining from any effort that may be in my power to make to liberate myself from a connection with a state of things which I believe—making full allowance for all that has been done in the right direction—has yet this double effect—first, that it offends the principles of social and of civil right; and, secondly, that it tends to compromise or cripple the strength and power of the Empire. Now, Sir, am I justified in stating that Her Majesty's Government have failed to realize the gravity of this crisis? Let me look at the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India, and what were its constituent parts? My right hon. Friend was certainly conscious of no shortcoming on the part of the Administration. He said—as well as I could follow his argument—that he trusted to three things. In the first place, he trusted to the impartiality of the Executive Government, and in respect to those most conspicuous acts which have recently been in the public view—I have pleasure in acknowledging that impartiality. But the impartiality of the Executive Government as a general rule represents a point not which we have just now attained to, but to which, on the contrary, we attained a generation ago, and whatever impartiality there is in the Executive Government, it cannot be sufficient—especially in such a case as this—to countervail the evil influence of defective or injurious laws and institutions. But my right hon. Friend said he would trust likewise to the influence of time. Well, Sir, with respect to time, it seems to me that my right hon. Friend is sanguine. We have been at this work for 700 years, and I own it seems to me that something more than the lapse of time is 1743 requisite, in order to bring us to a satisfactory issue of our difficulties. My right hon. Friend said, thirdly, that he trusted to the principles of justice. Sir, the name of justice is a great, a sacred, and a winning name, but the estimate of justice entertained by my right hon. Friend fully includes and embraces the maintenance of the Established Church of Ireland. I think the mere mention of that circumstance is enough to show that we cannot rely on that part of my right hon. Friend's computation. If I turn to the speech of the noble Earl the Chief Secretary for Ireland, I find in it these two remarkable points, on which, as it appears to me, he fails to perceive the bearing of his own arguments. The noble Earl gave what I own I thought was a most fair and ingenuous, and probably a very accurate desciption of the range and prevalence of Fenianism in Ireland. The statement of the noble Earl certainly did not concur with the language of those who would encourage us to regard this Fenianism as a matter of trifling consequence, or of purely passing interest. I think the noble Earl said that there was in Ireland a great amount of disaffection—he might almost say of disloyalty—and of dislike to England and to English rule. He said that the small occupiers in Ireland—a large section of the nation—sympathized, to a great extent, with Fenianism, and that in several large towns of the South the population were so deeply tainted that they were ready to participate in it to any extent. That is, certainly a very formidable statement. But the noble Earl said that this was a matter of foreign importation—that it came from another land—that it was only the Irish in the United States of America who formed the hot-bed of Fenianism. In passing, I think it is but fair to say that, although there may be many things difficult for us to explain with respect to the rather free development of Fenian proceedings in the United States, yet I believe that intelligent Americans are rather in the habit of pluming themselves, just as the noble Earl plumes himself, on the fact that Fenianism is a plant of foreign growth; that although it has its development in America, it has its root in Ireland. This is not the point to which I would call the noble Earl's attention. What I would venture to indicate to him is this. To make his argument complete, he told us that the Irish in Australia, and the Irish in Canada, had no Fenian instincts or impulses. But if that be so, does 1744 it not immediately compel us to ask, what is the difference between Ireland and Australia, or what is the difference between Ireland and Canada, which gives one character to the Irishman in Canada or Australia, and another to the Irishman in Ireland? Well, Sir, there are these differences, and grave enough they appear to me to be—that neither in Canada nor in Australia does an Irishman labour under the slightest difficulty with regard to the legal security he enjoys for the fruits of his industry and labour, and in neither of them is he confronted by the spirit or by the remaining institutions of a hostile ascendancy. And when the noble Earl proceeded to show in much and important detail the progress that Ireland has made, I own it appeared to me that the noble Earl did but strengthen and aggravate the case against his closing argument. Then he showed us, no doubt, a number of favourable features and circumstances that we might observe in the condition of Ireland. He showed us that wages had been raised, that live stock had been multiplied, that deposits in the banks had increased, that the ports were flourishing, that crime was diminishing, and that agrarian disturbance—that old endemic of the country—had almost ceased. But if that be so, and if the material causes of discontent and disaffection are so much contracted and enfeebled, and if at the same time political disaffection has assumed a form, not indeed more violent, but more reasoned and deliberate than ever, then I say that what the noble Lord quotes in order to show that the crisis is mitigated, shows, on the contrary, the gravity of that crisis. The conclusion that should be drawn from the admitted juxtaposition of economical and social progress with increased and increasing estrangement and alienation of spirit, is that some great unsatisfied necessity still exists, and that the first duty of the Government should be to discover what that necessity is, and to meet its demands. I confess it appears to me that nothing can be less satisfactory than the declaration which is so commonly current, that Fenianism has no connection with our conduct as a State or as a Legislature. This is one of those cases so common in politics, of a verbal truth which is a real untruth. Fenianism has that connection with our conduct and our proceedings which the last link at one end of the chain has with the last link at the other. Who will deny the connection between Fenianism and the dissatisfied state of 1745 feeling that exists in Ireland? Who will deny the connection between that dissatisfied state of feeling and the policy that has been pursued by England? It is time now that we should examine this question. I rejoice to hear of the progress that has been made by Ireland. I do not feel that by admitting that progress in the largest terms we in the slightest degree weaken—on the contrary, I believe we much enhance—the argument for taking those yet further steps which remain to complete the connection between the two countries. There is a diminution of the grievous distress which so long ground down the masses of the Irish population. I do not inquire into the extent of that diminution or how much of that distress remains. I admit the diminution and I rejoice at it. There is a charge, if not more important, at least equally important, and that is, that, in the classes above the want of the immediate necessities of life, there has grown up within the last generation a sentiment of attachment to law and order, greater, more substantial, more lively, and more effectual, with a view to the administration of justice, than has ever, perhaps, been known in former times. A great achievement, and let me add, a yet greater encouragement. Well, there is this decrease in agrarian crime. It is impossible to express the satisfaction with which we now see that it was nothing but the very extremity of want and misery which led to those outrages prompted by what Mr. O'Connell called the "wild justice of revenge" which so long formed a scandal to the Nation, and that immediately the direct sting of want was either removed, or at least rendered less poignant in its application, those outrages ceased. The Irish people, by their immunity from vice, attract the admiration of this country; and the facility to which the improved sentiment of many classes of the people gives rise in the administration of justice is a circumstance upon which, I think, we cannot too freely indulge our satisfaction. But let us consider what are the facts of recent occurrence that give to the period at which I have the honour of addressing the House in this debate, the character of a great political crisis, calling upon us to consider well the position in which we stand. In the first place there is that depletion of the country which was described in the terms so vivid by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (the First Lord of the Treasury) at a period when I believe it 1746 was more marked than it is at present, but which still continues on a scale, the economical importance of which I will not attempt at this time to appreciate, but which appears to me to assume what may well be called a portentous character, not on account of the numbers of those who cross the sea to seek a home elsewhere; but on account of the spirit with which they quit our shores. No amount of argument, no amount of pleading as to what we have done or endeavoured to do, even if the pleas were fuller and more perfect than they are, could, I think, remove, from the very bottom of the heart and intelligence of every man sitting within these walls, the latent and painful consciousness that where not one man nor another, nor one set of men or another, but the whole population, or such portion of the population as must form a sample and pattern of the whole mass of the people—where such persons quit these shores, bearing with them, on the one hand, a passionate attachment to the homes they quit, but on the other hand a bitter and burning aversion to the laws and Government they leave behind them. I say no amount of argument, no amount of pleading can, as I think, remove from the mind a deep impression that where such feelings are carried away, and are be uniform and so permanent from year to year, from generation to generation, something must be wrong. We may rely upon it that, idle as is the sentiment under many circumstances, vox populi vox Dei, when it is applied to fleeting and transitory movements, yet the deep, profound, and lasting convictions of the people are never formed, and never stand the test of time and circumstances, without containing much of truth and of the sacredness of justice. Well, Sir, in these circumstances how do we stand as a Legislature? We have suspended in Ireland upon, I think, four separate occasions, continuous and together covering a term of three years, the main guarantee of personal liberty. And I own I am surprised at the facility with which some speakers have thought, or seemed to think, that they got rid of the extraordinary gravity of this fact by urging, on the one hand, that the Government had mercifully and discreetly used its arbitrary powers; and on the other hand, that the renewal of the suspension had been freely accorded in this House. Both these facts are undoubted; but, so far as regards the free assent of Parliament to the renewal of the 1747 Habeas Corpus Suspension Act, I venture to repeat that which was well and opportunely said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. C. Fortescue) at one of the stages of the Bill—We assent to the renewal of that Act, because our first duty is to meet the necessities of public order, and to secure the protection of the law to the peaceable subjects of the Crown.But we regard that as no light or trivial formality. On the contrary, we regard it as the testimony and the proof of a state of things so grave in Ireland as to call upon us to consider what state of laws and institutions it may be that stands in connection with the sacrifice of privileges so precious and invaluable. Well, Sir, under these circumstances, we have seen this portentous and loathsome disease of Fenianism overflow into England. We have seen it disturb the peace of towns and districts in this country. We have seen it create the necessity which has led to the enrolment of the inhabitants of England by tens of thousands for special duties in the preservation of the peace, and to the increase in this very metropolis, by a large number, of the police force, supposed to be requisite for the conservation of order. Now, are these circumstances nothing; and has nothing else happened in Ireland? Is it enough to say, as we may say, "Whatever the grievances of the people of Ireland now are, they are far less than they were; consequently there can be no great necessity for doing anything." Yes, Sir, no doubt they are far less than they were at the time when you had not taught the people of Ireland how to understand and appreciate them. But you have established in Ireland an efficient system of public education, and that education has given eyes to the blind; and while those who might have gone on from generation to generation with their uncultivated minds, allowing days and years to glide away, and never comprehending the significance of political circumstances bearing on their condition, have been relieved from a part, and a great part, of the causes of their complaint, you have left the rest in existence, and at the same time you have given them the means of forming a pretty accurate and a pretty acute judgment with respect to your relations to themselves. I must add, for I think it is an important feature in this discussion, that the political change—the great political change—introduced into the Constitution of this country by the measure of last year for the Reform of the Representation of 1748 the people, has produced no inconsiderable effect in imparting an impetus to the public mind, and in quickening a temper, which for many years had been somewhat sluggish, to grapple closely and resolutely with the problems and with the necessities of legislation. Now, Sir, all these things, I own, when taken together appear to me to place us in a condition in which we must endeavour carefully to appreciate our position; nor, thus far, is there any difference between us and Her Majesty's Government, because Her Majesty's Government, both before and since the right hon. Gentleman assumed the high post that he occupies, admitted the necessity of their having a policy for Ireland. That means much more than the discharge of ordinary duties in ordinary times, and what we have now to ascertain is whether that policy, as it has been announced, corresponds with the real exigencies of the public interest and duty. Sir, there are six subjects in all, either mentioned by the noble Earl the Chief Secretary for Ireland, or standing in such a relation to the public mind and to Parliament that we may fairly pass them in review at this moment. The first of these is Parliamentary Reform, and upon that subject I will not dwell further than to observe that I take it for granted, and make no doubt, that the measure which Her Majesty's Government are about to introduce to Parliament, in the course of a few days, will be a measure which will largely increase the popular influences that are brought into action for the purpose of sustaining the Constitution in Ireland. Making that assumption, I can have no cause of quarrel at this moment on that ground with Her Majesty's Government. I only note it because, in my view, the fulfilment of those expectations is an absolute condition, without which it would be impossible, I think, for most of us to recognize as satisfactory or efficient any policy with respect to Ireland. The next subject, repeatedly mentioned in this debate but calling for no lengthened comment from me, is that of the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill. There was an expectation that we were to hear from the Government what their intentions were with respect to that measure. It is a subject, I think, of great importance, as belonging to that class which is, I think, unwisely called the class of "sentimental grievances." I should be glad to hear what policy Her Majesty's Government intend to pursue with respect to that measure. So far as I myself am concerned I 1749 bestowed upon it at the moment of its birth anything but a benediction, and I have never seen cause in the slightest degree to change my sentiments; and therefore I have no communication at all to make to the House as to any vote I shall give in case the repeal of the Ecclesiastical Titles Act should come in question. Thirdly, there is a subject which requires no lengthened notice—the subject of the railways of Ireland. I am afraid from the best construction I could place upon the speech of the noble Earl that we have very little chance of a proposal for effective legislation on the railways of Ireland during the present Session. I make no charge upon that ground. No doubt the Government have done all they could to accelerate the examination of what undoubtedly must be a very difficult and intricate subject. We have not got the Report; there is only a hope that the Report may appear before Easter. The measure must probably be separated by some interval of time from the Report, and I fear that nothing more than the good intention of the Government can be inferred from the speech of the noble Earl. However that may be, I wish to say across this table that any measure which may be proposed by the Government with respect to the railways of Ireland will have from me, at least, and I think from others, a very candid and unprejudiced consideration. I am aware of the many objections that may be made to interference of that kind. But, on the other hand, I am a determined opponent of the attempt, which has sometimes found favour in this House, to deal with the woes of Ireland, or the evils of Ireland, by this or that little, petty, local and often scarcely public operation of grants of money, which causes far more dissatisfaction and sense of wrong in the parts which do not receive them than ever they can cause gratification or contentment in the parts which do. But we have of late, in the interest of England, and I think likewise in the interest of Ireland, made a great approximation to that principle of equal taxation which is in my view and conviction indissolubly connected with the true exercise of equal rights, and, that being so, I do not believe that, if the mode can be pointed out of conferring upon Ireland pecuniary benefit, provided it be equal, provided it be public, provided it be undisguised, and provided it operate, not for this or that class or section, but go to the whole community, I do not believe that Parliament would for a moment grudge to confer 1750 such pecuniary benefit upon Ireland. Sir, I will only notice, in the way of protest, a statement which I have heard twice in this debate, with great concern—the renewal of the—I will not use an epithet, for if I did I might use one that would hardly seem respectful—the theory that the sufferings of Ireland are owing to the operation of Free Trade. I cannot but express my great regret that, in these days, when we have all undergone the process of conversion, when we are all of us Freetraders, there are yet certain parts and quarters of the House in which be soon as ever an opportunity offers of nibbling at Free Trade, or of imputing to Free Trade some mischief or public calamity, it is forthwith made use of. Now, Sir, what ground can there be for imputing to Free Trade the grievances of Ireland, when every commodity that Ireland exports, without exception, has risen in value since Free Trade was adopted? I pass on to the three questions which occupied the principal part of the speech of the noble Earl, and on two of which especially must turn, as it seems, the great contention in which we are at present engaged. The first, as it comes in the noble Earl's speech, is the subject of education—I mean of the higher education; for I do not think that, at this moment, there is any question distinctly raised with regard to the primary and popular education of Ireland. Well, with respect to the higher education, it may be permitted to me, and to some who sit near me, to look back with a sentiment of paternal affection and regret on the plan which the late Government formed in the year 1865, and made known in the year 1866, and which we endeavoured at that time to carry into execution, but which was thwarted by the change of Government, and by other circumstances. That plan was founded upon two principles. In the first place, we felt, and I think we feel now, that the Roman Catholics of Ireland—and not only the Roman Catholics, but an important portion also of the Protestants of Ireland, in a degree not less than the Roman Catholics—have with respect to education a real and admitted grievance—namely, that if they seek for their children that kind of education which is called denominational, they are subjected to detriment in regard to certain civil rights on account of that conscientious belief and that religious opinion. I need not say that in my view no method of dealing with the higher education in Ireland can be satis- 1751 factory which shall not provide an effectual remedy for that real grievance. We also founded our plan—though, I admit, this was not generally understood—upon a sincere desire to maintain in full vigour the system of Queen's Colleges which were founded by Sir Robert Peel; and I am bound to say that, with the additional experience of the two years that have since passed, I think that the plan that was then proposed for settling that question of the higher education in Ireland was a plan which would have settled it upon terms by far the cheapest that will ever be found capable of being accepted with the view to its solution. However, that plan was born under an evil star, and I shall not speak of it as being now in existence. We have now passed on to another stage. Another Government is in office, and that Government, as a part of its policy for Ireland, calls upon Parliament to sanction by its moral approval and by votes of public money a University which ab initio and by the very terms of its foundation is to be intended only for the benefit of a portion of the people. In the rear of that proposition, thus aiming to place upon the Consolidated Fund of England that which never has been so placed before—there comes a phantom train of figures of certain Colleges, what we know not, and how many we know not, that are in their turn, as the noble Earl darkly intimated, to become candidates for Parliamentary endowment. Now, on this subject I hope I am free from prejudice, and capable of giving an opinion fairly between the respective kinds of education. But I cannot afford, in estimating a public measure, to omit altogether the observation of facts, and particularly of those facts which, from their number and repetition and uniformity have begun to assume the character of law. I think I may say, within the limits of proof, not only that at no period has Parliament voluntarily undertaken the support of Universities and Colleges constituted as it is now proposed, but likewise that, upon every occasion for the last twenty or thirty years, it has been actively and constantly engaged in the endeavour to get rid of Votes which were directly connected with any sectional or denominational interest in the matter of public education. Now, it will not be supposed that I have forgotten that there was a Vote, beyond the memory of many who now sit here, but likewise within the memory of many, which was annually taken 1752 for the modest sum of £800 or £900 for the purpose of sustaining certain chairs at Oxford and at Cambridge. That Vote never was the spontaneous Vote of Parliament; it was a Vote taken over by Parliament under an extended arrangement with the Crown from the Civil List, which formerly constituted part of the personal bounty of the Sovereign. But was that all? It was a subject of incessant contention. No year passed without its being challenged, and when I was Chancellor of the Exchequer under the Government of Lord Aberdeen, I thought myself happy in being able to make an arrangement with the Universities, by which that Vote was removed from the cognizance of Parliament; and not a farthing has been voted for fifteen years for the purpose of either University, or any corresponding institution. I apprehend that was done, not merely on the ground of satisfying principles, however strongly embraced by some persons, but because it was felt that Votes of that character, even where directed to the support of a religion immediately corresponding with the faith of the majority, must be perpetual subjects of contests and controversy. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that the foundation this year, 1868, of Universities and Colleges, to be supported by annual Grants from the Consolidated Fund, is a proposal that can live either in these times or in times to come? I will not now enter upon the question of the Maynooth Grant, that old question of contention. It is a case not analogous to that which we are now invited to deal with. That came to us as a legacy from the Irish Parliament. But I meet the question on practical grounds, and although I shall maintain on every Irish question a desire to go to the very furthest point in meeting Irish sentiment and opinion, yet I think it would be vain, idle, and deceptive, were I not frankly to avow my conviction, that the proposition which has been made, or rather, I may say, projected and sketched in air by the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland, is one which it is totally impossible to carry into execution. I cannot but think that the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister of the Crown, and his Colleagues, must be as well aware of that as we are, for how curious was the disclosure made to us the other night by the noble Lord. He said—this was his expression: a most winning, soothing, I might almost call it, coaxing expression—"We are determined to make on this great 1753 subject our first confidence to the House of Commons." Nothing could possibly be more amiable. But what is the consequence of this endearing practice of first confidences? It is to call upon us to commit ourselves to measures before we know anything whatever about them, as to the probability of their being accepted by any human being except the fifteen distinguished Gentlemen who meet in the Cabinet-room of Her Majesty. I do not know whether it is fair to call on us to produce evidence of the negative. I do not propose to show that there are no assents to the plan of the right hon. Gentleman, because I think it his business to show that there are no dissents; but I have read a very important paper, entitled A Statement on the University Question, addressed to the Catholic Members of Parliament, by the Rev. Dr. Leahy, Archbishop of Cashel, and the Rev. Dr. Derry, Bishop of Clonfert; and on the 9th page, I find this passage, which I will read, because the noble Earl very fairly and positively announced that this is not to be a clerical or episcopal University; but that a vigorous lay element was to be joined with clerical superintendence, so as to ensure a fair, open and deliberate government of the institution. Now what is it they say? I quote from the authoritative statement of those distinguished prelates, writing on the part of the Irish Bishops, who, at a meeting last October, appointed them to negotiate with the Government in their name on the question of a charter and endowment for a Catholic University, although it appears that the negotiation did not proceed. The principle on which the Irish hierarchy would be prepared to approve of a Catholic University is thus declared—Equally certain is it that the Bishops will not forego the right of authoritative supervision with respect to any possible plan of University education, in its bearing on the faith and morals of their flocks. That is a right inherent in the office of the Bishop, forming an essential part of his pastoral authority, which he can on no account forego. It includes the right of intervening in the selection of teachers, of watching over them, and, if necessary, of removing those whose influence may be injurious to the spiritual interests of Catholic youth. It also includes the right of examining, and, if expedient, of rejecting books which it may be proposed to use in the University.The tract proceeds to state, I have no doubt, with perfect sincerity, that these rights will be exercised in the mildest and most considerate manner. But do not dis- 1754 guise from yourselves what these rights are. The rights are those of controlling the appointment and directing the dismissal of every teacher, and of exercising also the power of prohibition over every book that may be used in the University. Now, without giving an opinion on that passage, it appears to me almost idle on the part of the Government to propose to us a scheme of this kind without having once submitted it to those Gentleman, representing as they do, a most important, and in many respects a most beneficial and healthful influence in Ireland—without having ascertained from them what reception such a plan would receive, inviting us to take on this question also "a leap in the dark," and to give our submission to a scheme of University education which, when we have adopted it, we may find acceptable to no one but ourselves. I cannot call such a proposal a measure. I must rather call it a notion or an idea, and I must observe that the adoption of it will not settle the question. You would still have the Presbyterians to deal with, and not them only, but the Wesleyan Methodists in Ireland. Do not suppose that, after once setting the precedent of establishing that University, you would persuade them to remain in a position of inequality, particularly when you have in existence in Ireland an institution called the Magee College—a College possessed of wealth and endowments to nearly the same amount as the present Roman Catholic University—and making demands on you equally just for free access for its students. With respect to this plan, viewing it as I do in the nature of a visionary creation, I will only say that, in my opinion, the position of the question of the higher education has been much changed within the last two years. Last year the subject was raised in this House by my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell), as to how far it was right to re-consider the position of the great national University of Ireland; and there is so much to be said on that subject that I am unwilling to form an opinion as to what may be the best mode of solution of this question until we know what course it may be right to take in respect to the Dublin University. It is quite evident that this question of education runs up into the still higher and greater question of the Church. If we are prepared to take those decisive measures with respect to the Church of Ireland which have been re- 1755 commended, it is plain that the position of the national University would require to be specially considered. Seeing this, I have not thought it right to disguise my opinion that such a plan as is here projected of putting upon the Consolidated Fund of the Three Kingdoms—especially with their strong and predominating Protestant character and feeling—an institution such as is now proposed, in broad deviation from, or rather in contradiction of, our precedents and tendencies, is a visionary one. If Parliamentary schemes, like human beings, are to be found in the other world, then I say this scheme, if it ever should be met by a wanderer into those regions, will rank with those described by Virgil in these words—Quos dulcis vitæ exortes, et ab ubere raptosAbstulit atra dies, et funere mersit acerbo.It is, Sir, of the nature of those schemes which die before they live. I now pass on to other and greater subjects—for, important as is the subject of education, there are two others which surpass it, and which form the two hinges of Irish policy—the questions of the land and the Church. As respects the first of these, I am glad to make an admission that here, as also with regard to Parliamentary Reform, the noble Earl has laid down a ground on which, in the first instance, at least, we may hope to meet; but I cannot speak of the plan of the noble Earl without pointing out to the House how real, at least, in my judgment, is the grievance of Ireland with respect to land; and the proof of this I will not draw at this moment from any questionable source, but I will refer to patent facts and to declarations of public authority. Nearly a quarter of a century ago, in the year 1844, the question of Irish tenure and the unprotected position of the cultivator with regard to the fruits of his industry and labour had become so urgent as to lead the Conservative Government of Sir Robert Peel to appoint a Commission to examine thoroughly into the matter. The Commission reported in 1845. It was composed of men whose names carry the utmost confidence. One of them, I may say—to whom I shall always have pleasure in referring, on account of his character and services—Mr. Hamilton, now Secretary of the Treasury—was in immediate political connection with the party opposite. That Commission unanimously reported on many subjects connected with tenure, but especially they reported to this effect—that under conditions and for purposes which they de- 1756 scribed, it was the duty of Parliament, without delay, to legislate so as to secure to the tenant the benefit of his improvements, even if made without the consent of the landlord. That opinion was adopted by the Conservative Government of Sir Robert Peel and the Earl of Derby, as the representative of that Government in the House of Lords, in 1845 made an earnest effort to secure the adoption of the principle. But from that day to this the principle has not been adopted. That fact—which, if it be a fact, is one of immeasurable gravity—that the mass of human beings who inhabit that country, and are dependent on their industry, have not due security for the fruits of their industry—that fact was brought again and again, from the most authoritative and unsuspected sources, under the notice of Parliament. Bill after Bill was proposed, and either rejected or evaded, and to this hour the account of the Irish nation with England with respect to the tenure of land remains unsettled. The only Bill that was passed was that of my right hon. Friend near me (Mr. Cardwell), in which an attempt was made, in terms the most restricted, to obtain some concession to the tenant, on account of improvements to which the landlord did not object. That Bill was as much as by any magic could be extracted at the time from the will of Parliament. That Bill has remained a dead letter, and the whole subject remains for us to face with the painful reflection that for the last twenty-four years the Irish people, upon their little plots have been conducting the daily battle for life without the shelter which the Devon Commission, the Peel Government, the Derby Government, and every Administration declared ought to be given; and we have to make this confession of our impotence to discharge a primary duty of justice to the country. We have heard reference made to the operations of the Incumbered Estates Act and the Landed Estates Court; and I understand that land to the value of between £35,000,000 and £40,000,000 has passed through that Court. I have heard it said that that land amounts to not far short of one-fifth of the cultivable land in Ireland. The improvements made on that land when it was sold were made by the tenants. I must here apologize to those landlords who have not forgotten their duty to their tenants; for we cannot by constant parentheses except them from the censure passed upon others. Speaking generally, 1757 when these £36,000,000 worth of land were sold in the Incumbered Estates Court, the improvements of the land, which constituted a large portion of the value of those estates, were improvements made by the tenants, who had never received value for them. Who did receive value for them? The vendor—that is to say, the landlord? These improvements were bought over the head of the tenant from the outgoing by the incoming landlord. The incoming landlord was entitled—or at all events he was too much tempted—to say that he had paid for them, that they were an element in the price, and that he must adapt his rent to the amount he had disbursed. I am afraid it is an undeniable fact that, in many cases, there has been a great aggravation of the position and of the discontent of the tenant from the operation of a measure which, however beneficial in its general scope and intention it may have been, appears to have been hard and unfortunate in some of its results. It appears to me that the noble Earl is perfectly right in proposing legislation to secure to the tenant compensation for improvements; but I own I am sorry indeed that he accompanied with the announcement of his Bill the announcement also of a Commission; because I think, in the first place, that the scope of that Commission is exceedingly uncertain. I see no definition of the matters into which it is to inquire. I own I have a nearer and more pressing fear that the appointment of that Commission—if it is to go forward—may be used as a very plausible objection to present legislation. I believe that this matter is urgent in a high degree, and I should most deeply regret to see a plea put into the mouths of those who, from jealousy or fear—and from exclamations which reached me a few moments ago there may be some who feel jealousy or fear in this House—I should feel sorry to see put into their mouths a plea which might be used to recommend the further postponement of this vital question. It is customary to argue this question by saying that the law cannot be very grievous in Ireland because it is the same as the law in England, and the advocates of a change—I myself amongst others—have been content to do what, upon a review of the matter, I do not think was quite sufficient for the case—namely, to argue that a multitude of local customs, as well as social circumstances, made the operation of the law in England different from what it is in Ire- 1758 land. We have admitted that standard of appeal; but I now wish to challenge it altogether. I must say, on reflection, that so far from thinking the law in England, viewed nakedly with regard to the principle it asserts—namely, that all that which the tenant puts into or upon the soil, in the absence of any covenant to the contrary, shall be the property of the landlord—so far from thinking that a good law, I humbly think it is a bad law, and that the just and fair law would be, that in the absence of any covenant, if the landlord thinks fit to make over to another party the whole business of cultivating the soil, the improvements effected by his tenant in the course of that cultivation should be the property of that tenant. But if the existing law is bad in England, it is a bad law mitigated, as my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill) has shown with irresistible force, by a multitude of circumstances that intercept and neutralize the operation of that law, and place it rather in the category of theoretical than of practical grievances. Not one of those circumstances, however, extends to Ireland. This is not an occasion upon which it would be wise to enter into those circumstances; but I humbly recommend the noble Earl (the Earl of Mayo) to avoid as much as he can minute and complicated details—specifications of how much is to be allowed here and how much there. Let him take the principle of the English law, and, if I may use a homely phrase, turn it inside out. If he will then frame executory provisions, as few as possible, he will lay the foundation for a return of that confidence which is so essential. I urge this matter very strongly, for I feel that much depends upon it. I own I am one of those who are not prepared—I have not daring sufficient—to accompany my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill) notwithstanding the powerful and weighty statement with which he supported—or rather introduced—his proposal, for what appeared to me to be the dismissal of the landlords of Ireland. Whether the Irish landlords have done their duty or not I will not undertake to say. But I will say I believe that false legislation, and the miserable system of ascendancy which has prevailed in Ireland have so distorted and disfigured the relations of class to class throughout that country, that, until the evil is effectually cured, we cannot pass a fair judgment upon any of them, or form a conclusion as to what we may reasonably hope 1759 to see effected in the future. Well, Sir, there is another question less formidable in principle but one of which we often hear, I mean fixity of tenure. Now, I own it seems to me that the great object is to give the tenant full security that the proceeds of his labour and of his capital shall under all circumstances, unless he covenants to part with them, be his. Legislation to that end, if simple and effective, will have a very powerful tendency at any rate towards securing stability of tenure; and it will make wanton disturbance by landlords a difficult, and perhaps a costly matter. Still I am not ashamed to say that I shrink from the attempt to procure direct legislation for fixity of tenure. Leases under circumstances well adapted to them, as in Scotland, have proved an admirable system. But since the repeal of the Corn Laws we have had much experience of them in England. We have here a very intelligent and constantly improving tenantry; but it is found not to be safe to attempt any sudden or wholesale introduction of leases. What I fear is that direct legislation upon that subject might be misunderstood, and might be injurious in its effect on the habits and feelings of the occupiers of the land. At any rate, I should much wish to see what consequences would follow from the frank recognition of the principle of perfect security to the tenant for the proceeds of his capital and industry expended on the soil, because I think that fixity of tenure, be far as it is beneficial, may result from the operation of that principle. I agree with the noble Earl, that if there be any mode by which the use of public money by way of loan can be made auxiliary to the working of such a system, I think we ought not to be afraid of applying public money to that purpose. I own I feel the greatest doubt with regard to the proposition of the noble Earl; but I think the use of public money on adequate security, and with equal regard to the rights of labour and the rights of capital, may be made a very useful auxiliary to such a measure as the noble Lord now proposes. There is another point we have to consider—namely, the plan of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), who proposes to bring the State into the market as a purchaser of land, with a view of disposing of it again on certain terms. No one, after the explanation of that plan by the hon. Gentleman, would object to it as an interference with the rights of property. There are, however, difficulties connected with the functions proposed to be laid upon 1760 the State with regard to which we have not sufficient experience to pronounce; but I would beg to point out to the noble Earl the Chief Secretary for Ireland that if, in the course of the changes to be adopted with regard to the Irish Church, the State should become possessed in trust—for what purposes I do not now ask—of the ecclesiastical estates of Ireland, those estates being in the hands of the civil power, would at once afford an opportunity, if it should seem to be wise and politic, to give a fair consideration to the plan of the hon. Member. I think my proposition is at all events intelligible. I am afraid that hon. Gentlemen may think that I want to beg the question with regard to the possession of these ecclesiastical estates; but I am coming to that now, as I think I have said all that it is necessary for me to say at this moment upon the subject of the Land Laws. With respect, then, to the question of the Established Church in Ireland, I may say that it has been with a satisfaction almost equalled by my surprise, that I have witnessed the extraordinary progress of opinion on that question, both within and without this House, whether measured by the arguments and the tone of those who recommend the proposed change, or by the arguments and tone of those who resist it. In fact, I think that, perhaps, the greater encouragement is to be drawn from the latter. The right hon Baronet the Secretary of State for India, if I gathered his meaning aright, has one argument, and one argument only, for maintaining the State Church in Ireland; and that is, if the State Church in Ireland be removed the State Church in England will be endangered. I am not protesting against that argument at all; I am only endeavouring to state it. "Because," says the right hon. Baronet, "I will undertake to show that there are parishes in England in which the Dissenters are in a large majority, if you show me that the Roman Catholics are in a large majority in Ireland; a nation is like a parish, and whatever change you admit into the nation of Ireland you must admit also into the parish in England." But shape the argument as you will, I will only say that, in my opinion, those who wish to preserve the Church of England in that position of dignity, stability, and utility which she now holds, will do well to found her claims upon the labours she performs, upon the services she renders, and upon the affections she attracts from the great mass of the people, including that vast number within her com- 1761 munion, and no small number of those that are beyond her pale—and will not do wisely to venture her fortunes in the bark of such a crazy argument as that, which says that whatever applies to the Established Church of Ireland, with its handful of adherents, must apply to the Church of England, with its millions upon millions of devoted followers. I wish to call the attention of the House to what appears to me a point of great importance. We have reached a stage in the progress of this controversy. Let the House mark the words of the noble Earl—"Preserve the Established Church, make the Consolidated Fund tributary to the Universities of particular communions and denominations, and to their Colleges." But that is not all. There was also a significant and ominous intimation with regard to the Presbyterian community. "The Regium Donum," said the noble Earl—"is miserable in amount, and utterly unsuited to its purpose." What, Sir, is the sequitur from that statement? That the Regium Donum is to be increased by a proposal of the Government on the first favourable opportunity; and I have not the least doubt that if when that was done, and there was a fear of thereby exciting a sharper sense of inequality on the part of the Roman Catholic population, all dangers of that sort would be conjured away by the Government, with some bland assurance to the effect that they were not indisposed to make the large resources of this country directly contributory to the support of the Roman Catholic Church. What is the meaning of all this? Will my right hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) permit me to offer a criticism on one striking expression in his speech? He said that the policy of the Government on the Church Establishment was to be a policy of inaction. Oh, no, Sir! Hitherto we have maintained the Establishment as we have found it. We have maintained the Regium Donum as we have found it, and we have not applied the resources of the Exchequer to maintain denominational Universities. But the doctrine now is that these Universities must be endowed; that the Regium Donum must be increased; that the Colleges, if the matter can be arranged in detail, must be sustained; that burden upon burden must be laid upon this people of the country in order that we may be enabled to enjoy the blessing and the luxury of maintaining the Church Establishment in Ireland. I do not undertake 1762 to determine the relative importance of the questions of the Church and the land in Ireland. It appears to me that both are vital. There is a story told of King William III., that when he came into this country, and the Scottish Bishops came to see him—he was by no means averse to them or their episcopacy—and he asked them whether they would support him, the spokesman of the Scottish Bishops replied, "Your Majesty, we will support you as far as honour and conscience will allow." William III., shrewdly interpreting that to mean, "We will not support you at all," answered, "Gentlemen, I cannot swim with one hand." He had the support of the authorities in England; and he wanted that of the authorities in Scotland, and he delicately intimated that if they would not support him they must cease to be authorities. Well, Sir, the policy of the Government cannot swim with one hand. Both the Church and the land are vital questions. The claims of the one against the other I do not care to argue. Let us look at the case of the Church, and consider the dilatory pleas of Her Majesty's Government. First of all, there is a Commission. A Commission! I do not deny it; nay, I will be still more liberal in my admissions—a Commission moved for by Earl Russell. What a godsend to the Government that Commission has been. Why, three-fourths of the whole argument has not consisted in the missionary function of the Church, the office of the Church to uphold the truth, or any of those elevated topics consecrated to the support of the Church in former times; but has been supplied by the existence of this Commission, and Earl Russell is held to be the person who is responsible for the state of facts in which we stand, and by which we are forbidden by the Government to entertain, except in futuro, the question of the Irish Church. Now, I will endeavour by a plain tale to dispose of this plea, which the Government were apparently determined not to waste, and which they have turned to the utmost possible account. They appear to have got all his speech by heart, except the declaration which I am about to quote. Earl Russell said, on the 24th of June, 1867, in making his Motion—Parliament would do ill if it did not prepare itself by every possible means for the full consideration of the subject in the early part of next Session."—[3 Hansard, clxxxviii.]Is Earl Russell, then, to be responsible for its postponement to 1869? ["Hear, hear!"] 1763 Perhaps the hon. Gentleman who cheered thinks so, as next Session is 1869; but this was in 1867, and the next Session to that of 1867 is evidently 1868. There is no reason why six months should not have amply sufficed to have gathered all the information that was wanted or that could be useful in order to place Parliament in full possession of the whole case, so far as matters of fact were concerned. But, Sir, this is really beside the question. There is not a fact which the Commission will ascertain that can affect our determination, or the opinion which I am persuaded is entertained by a large majority of this House. The Commission may settle questions for those who want to determine whether the surplus or no surplus amounts to this or that sum, or how the revenues now possessed by the Irish Establishment should be re-distributed within its own body. But these are recommendations utterly irrelevant and immaterial to those who approach the question in a different spirit; who admit all you can say with respect to the merits or the personal excellence of the heads or of the ministers of the Establishment, the elevation of their character, the purity of their lives, and the zeal with which they devote themselves to their duties, but who take objection to the Irish Church, not on account of any particular property or quality it presents to us, but on account of its essence and its existence: therefore the Commission is irrelevant to the matter But to eke out the question, there is a speech made by me in 1865. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department referred to that speech in terms of great respect, and I really believe that he had reason to refer to it in terms of respect and good-will, because—unless I am mistaken—whether that speech did or did not do the Irish Church any good, whether it did or did not do the Liberal party any good, it did him some good in assisting him towards the attainment of that seat in which he so zealously and ably discharges his duties. But when I look back to the debate in which that speech occurred, and measure the circumstances of that day with those of the present, I am able to estimate the immense alteration—I humbly presume to say the immense progress and advancement of opinion which has taken place. That Motion, if again made, I should hesitate to support; nay, I should refuse to vote for it. It was one which only asserted "That the condition of the Irish 1764 Church Establishment is unsatisfactory, and requires the early attention of Her Majesty's Government." I do not know whether the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn), who made the Motion, is in the House; but my hon. Friend the Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue), who seconded it, will recollect the tone of the House and the public mind. I believe they proposed as much as with safety, and without risk of violent reaction, could be proposed on the subject at that moment; and I do not think my hon. Friend the Member for Tralee, whose sentiments are well known, mentioned the subject of the abolition of the Irish Church. I ventured to assert on that occasion that that was the question for the future, and that, in my opinion, it was not the duty of a Minister of the Crown knowingly and voluntarily to promote agitation in the public mind upon any question except one with which he was prepared at the time, in his responsible character as a Minister, to deal. I certainly therefore take no credit for having made a speech such as I might now make on the subject of the measures to be adopted with respect to the Church of Ireland. But I will say, while setting forth the impossibility of maintaining permanently the Church of Ireland as it was, I did not use one word, to my knowledge, on that occasion which was contrary to the opinion I held then and hold now—namely, that in order to the settlement of the question of the Irish Church, that Church, as a State Church, must cease to exist. Now, Sir, this is not the occasion on which it is requisite to enter into a lengthy argument on the subject of the Irish Church; but I will quote a passage from a letter written by a person who knew Ireland well, and whose name, if I were to mention it, would be received with respect on both sides of the House. The passage occurs in the course of an argument for removing the Church Establishment in Ireland. The writer says—It is often said as an objection to our thesis that Irish disaffection does not rest on religious grounds, but that it springs from the old enmity of race; from the national antipathy of the conquered to the conqueror. So far from being an objection, this seems to me to furnish an argument in our favour. If disaffection arose from difference of religion we could never hope to see the end of it. Oportet et hæreses esse. At all events, we could not see the end of it in these countries until poor Father Spencer's prayers are all heard, or heard for all.Gentlemen will recollect that Father Spen- 1765 cer had a habit during the later years of his life, of promoting among congregations prayers for unity.But if present disaffection is only a continuance of the war between the Saxon and the mere Irish, most certainly it can be ended. In England you have welded together the conquerors and the conquered—Briton, Saxon, and Norman—though it must be admitted that the British Celt was the hardest to weld; but at length it has been done by the operation of equal laws and rights. The example of Scotland is more to the point, and occurs to every one. Now, I say that religious inequality or the Church Establishment is the only remaining vestige of conquest—it is the last remnant of the ascendancy of the conqueror.I, for one, share that opinion. Without the slightest reproach to any of those who bear office in the Irish Church, I am convinced, from a long observation, that that institution is, and by the law of its existence must be, the home and last refuge of the spiritual ascendancy; and as that which, beyond all particular and special measures we need, is the expulsion of the spirit of ascendancy from Ireland, I take leave to say that, in order to that expulsion, we must now proceed decisively to deal with that question of the Irish Church. Why, Sir, what an illustration of this subject have we had this very night, if the House will permit me to refer to it. My right hon. Friend the Member for Kildare (Mr. Cogan) put a Question relating to an inflammatory speech made by a Fellow of Trinity College; and an hon. Friend of mine opposite, the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Bentinck), with his well-known ingenuity in repartee, thought that he had fairly counterplotted the plan of the Member for Kildare by producing a parallel speech by a Roman Catholic priest. Sir, I own it was with some amount of dissatisfaction that I heard the Answer of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Warren), because I did not trace in the particulars of that answer that spirit of perfect impartiality which I have gladly admitted in the general conduct of the Irish Executive. The Roman Catholic meeting was held last October or November, and shorthand writers were appointed on the part of the Government to attend and make sure that no mischief came of it. But when the Protestant Defence Society met to discourse on the subject which was dilated on by Mr. Ferrers, there was no Government shorthand writer present. Mr. Ferrers, having made a speech, the terms of which undoubtedly deserve, 1766 like those of the other speech, the severest censure, rides off upon a perfectly vague and general assertion, not that the report is incorrect, but that it is incomplete; and that if the context had been supplied—which he takes care not to supply—the thing would bear a different meaning. But suppose that to be the case, are these instances parallel? Who is Mr. Lavelle? The outcast child of a Church proscribed in Ireland. ["Oh, oh!" and "Hear, hear!"] Well, of a Church, a communion long proscribed, and now excluded from all the benefits and favours of the State. Who is Mr. Ferrers? Mr. Ferrers is an example of the results of the learned leisure and dignified ease and richly endowed Fellowships of Trinity College, Dublin—and a proof that, after all, these things produce much the same description of fruit as the discontented and disconsolate condition of the Roman Catholic Church. But what is the further difference between them? The man who smarts under inequality uses violent, unseemly, and culpable language; and the man who is threatened with nothing but equality uses language much the same in its violent and unseemly character. Sir, the truth is, we must not be too hard upon individuals. These things are in a great part the effects of an evil system and inveterate traditions; and I was glad when the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that he did not intend to prosecute for the one set of words or the other. But we should do more wisely to lay the axe to the root, and to stop the further engendering of these poisonous and pestilential fruits. With respect to the Church, as to which I will enter into further argument in detail, in my opinion, it is absolutely necessary that we should, in the first place, establish religious equality in Ireland. Stating this at a public meeting of my constituents some months ago, I thought that I had said what was impossible to be misunderstood. But that declaration has been deprived of its meaning by several distinguished persons, who have adopted it and affixed to it a sense totally different from mine. I am not going to discuss the relative merits of "levelling up" and "levelling down." I am neither for levelling up nor for levelling down. But "religious equality," understood in the sense of Grants from the Exchequer, in order to bring the general population of Ireland up to the level of the Establishment; or understood in the sense of plans for dividing and re- 1767 distributing the income of the Establishment in salaries and stipends to the clergy of the several communions—these are measures which, whether beneficial or not, might, at other times, have been possible, but in my opinion they have now passed all bounds of possibility. And it is vain and idle for us, as practical men charged with practical duties, to take them or keep them in our view. My opinion is, then, that "religious equality" is a phrase which requires further development; and I will develope it further by saying that, in this religious equality in Ireland, I for my part include in its fullest extent the word—a very grave word I do not deny, and I think we cannot be too careful to estimate its gravity before we come to a final conclusion—the very grave word disestablishment. If we are to do any good at all by meddling with the Church in Ireland it must, in my judgment, be by putting an end to its existence as a State Church. No doubt it is a great and formidable operation—I do not disguise it—to constitute into a body of Christians united only by a voluntary tie those who have for three centuries and a half been associated more or less closely with the State—under the Tudor system directly associated with the State—and by the Act of Union seventy years ago brought still more closely into relation with the civil power. This is a great and formidable task, yet my persuasion is that, in removing privilege and restraint together, in granting freedom in lieu of monopoly, a task will be proposed to us that is not beyond the courage and the statemanship of the British Legislature. Sir, I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) in what I understood to be the purport of his speech, as to the mode of effecting this great operation. We must, in my opinion, respect every vested interest, every proprietary right, every legitimate feeling; and, in every case of doubt that arises, we must honestly endeavour to strike a balance in favour of the other party and against ourselves. The operation is rude enough after all the mitigation which we can impart to it by the spirit in which we may endeavour to approach it. But, Sir, I again say that, in my opinion, that operation, to attain its end, to achieve the great results that we seek and desire, must be an operation which, for Ireland, shall finally and conclusively, so far as we are concerned, set aside and put out of view all idea of salaried or stipendiary clergy. 1768 I hope I have declared with sufficient clearness the general sense of the policy for which it appears to me the time has come. I have deliberately endeavoured to vindicate abstinence from previous agitation upon this question. Not only when I was in office in 1865, but when I was out of office last year, I declined to vote with my hon. Friend the Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray), because I felt that giving such a vote might be construed into sending forth a pledge to the people of this country, and to the people of Ireland, which I was not prepared to redeem. But in the present state of Ireland, with its suspended liberties and with its continuing evils, assuming a subtler, and perhaps on that account a more dangerous, form—and viewing the state of opinion which has grown up in this country, in no small degree under the influence of changes proposed and promoted by Her Majesty's present Administration, I recognize the fact that the time has come when this question ought to be approached, and when, if approached, it ought to be dealt with once for all. Sir, with respect to the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire), I hope that he will withdraw that Motion—not in the least as implying that it was an unnatural one for him to make, or a useless one for Parliament to discuss. On the contrary, it has greatly advanced public sentiment on this question. We on this side of the House have not been inattentive to the voices that have proceeded from that side of the House, and we doubt whether the influence of a religious feeling, which we must think narrow and misguided, will sustain the Government of Her Majesty in the policy or plan they recommend of maintaining the fabric of the Irish Establishment, and of giving it a moral support by the creation of a number of new fabrics around it, to make the sense of inequality in Ireland less sharp and less intolerable by Grants at the charge of the people of these three Kingdoms. On the contrary, I respectfully recommend a withdrawal of the Motion, upon this clear ground—that the Motion embraces the Irish question as one. Doubtless it is one for deliberation and discussion, but for action and for legislation it is one which divides itself into branches. On some of those branches we have the promise of proposals from the Government, which, so far as I can judge, and without any present attempt to measure the amount, may be useful, as far, at 1769 least, as they go. Our desire is to march with them to the furthest point that is possible—to leave them only under the compulsion of what we may think our duty: but when we have reached that point, without hesitation to leave them. We shall be glad to co-operate with them as respects their proposals, at least so I trust; at any rate, to see how far it is in our power to do so as respects their proposals touching the land and the Parliamentary institutions of the country. But there remains this great and vital question of the Church, which lies at the root of all the other questions, surrounding them all, pervading them all—constituting, as it were, an atmosphere within which all those other questions have to be touched and handled. I do not disguise that, so far as I am acquainted with the sentiments of those who sit on this side of the House, the declarations that have been thus far made by Her Majesty's Government are wholly unsatisfactory; but I do not say that they would be more satisfactory had they proposed some small measure, or had they held out some distant hope—some distant impalpable hope without substance or body. The case is not yet complete, because we have not heard the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Administration, and there have been times when his declarations have given a new colour to the debate. But unless the sentiments which we here may hear from him should greatly vary, perhaps I should say, altogether differ from the sentiments which have been declared by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India, and the other Members of the Government who have spoken, I for my part cannot entertain a doubt that it will be the duty of those who differ from the Government to make a proposal, and to ask the opinion of the House upon the question of the Irish Church. But, Sir, if such a proposition is to be made, then there are two things I will venture to add. In the first place, it ought to be plain, simple, and intelligible in its terms. I suppose that anyone who might make it, would justly disclaim the duty of submitting to Parliament a measure upon a subject. That can only be dealt with by the Government; but the principle and basis of that measure ought to be indicated, so that the issue may be plainly taken. But another thing I must add, and it is this—the declarations of Parliament with respect to the Irish Church Es- 1770 tablishment will not now perhaps—if it stands alone—command all the credit which it might have commanded in other days, because it is not the first time that Parliament has endeavoured to assert the principle that the property of the Established Church in Ireland should be dealt with. For several successive years this House adopted the Appropriation Clause, until at length, confessing defeat, it desisted from the attempt to pass it into law. I think, therefore, that if anything is declared by the House on the subject of the Irish Church we ought not to confine ourselves to words. It ought to be a declaration attended with some step or proceeding which will give to the people of this country, and to the people of Ireland, conclusive proof that we have not entered hastily or lightly upon a task of so much gravity; that we mean what we say, and that so far as depends upon us the task will be performed. Sir, under these circumstances it seems to me to be clear that we ought not to take issue with Her Majesty's Government upon the Motion which is now before the House. But when that Motion has been disposed of, our duty will not have passed away; on the contrary, it will come nearer and more near into view. We remember the words, the earnest and touching words with which the noble Earl the Chief Secretary for Ireland closed his address, when he expressed a hope and uttered a call inviting the Irish people to union and to loyalty. Sir, that is our object too, but I am afraid that as to the means the differences between us are still profound; and it is idle, it is mocking, to use words unless we can sustain them with corresponding substance. That substance can be supplied by nothing but by the unreserved devotion of our efforts now, in perhaps this last stage of the Irish crisis, to remove the scandal and mischief which have long weakened and afflicted the Empire. For that work I trust strength will be given us. If we be prudent men, I hope we shall endeavour, so far as in us lies, to make provision for the contingencies of a doubtful and possibly a dangerous future. If we be chivalrous men, I trust we shall endeavour to wipe away the stains which the civilized world has for ages seen, or seemed to see, upon the shield of England in her treatment of Ireland. If we are compassionate men, I hope we shall now once, and once for all, listen to that tale of sorrow which comes from her, and the reality of which, if not 1771 its justice, is testified by the continuous migration of her people; that we shall endeavour to—Raze out the written troubles from her brain,Pluck from her memory rooted sorrow.But, above all, if we be just men we shall go forward in the name of truth and right, bearing this in mind—that, when the case is proved and the hour is come, justice delayed is justice denied.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman, when he rose to-night, made a charge against the Government. He made, at the same time, an announcement of startling importance; for he told us that the crisis of Ireland had arrived, and that the measures of Her Majesty's Government had proved that they did not realize that fact. And as the right hon. Gentleman proceeded, it appeared that the crisis of Ireland which has just arrived was the culminating point of a controversy which had existed for 700 years. I could not but feel that I was indeed the most unfortunate of Ministers, since, at the moment when I arrived by Her Majesty's gracious favour at the position I now fill, a controversy which had lasted for 700 years had reached its culminating point, and I was immediately called upon, with my Colleagues, to produce measures equal to such a supernatural exigency. Sir, I was very anxious to know what could be the circumstances which had brought about a conjuncture so startling and unprecedented. I watched with interest the right hon. Gentleman as he proceeded; and when, as I thought, with dangerous candour, he began to intimate to the House the elements of this portentous crisis. It appeared that the first of the elements was the existence of Fenianism. But I am not aware that Her Majesty's Government are peculiarly responsible for the existence of Fenianism. When we acceded, under the auspices of Lord Derby, to office, two short years ago, Fenianism existed, and the suspension of the liberties of the people of Ireland had taken place under the auspices and advice of the right hon. Gentleman. He was himself a Member of the Government to whom the fatal secret of Fenianism was first communicated, and he came down to this House to propose those extra-legal remedies with which the country is now too familiar. This is the first element of the crisis. Therefore, so far as the first element of the crisis is concerned, the right hon. Gentleman did not feel at that moment 1772 the necessity of the violent course which he recommended at the conclusion of his oration this evening. But the right hon. Gentleman proceeded to say that there was another cause and another element which had produced this awful crisis. And what was that? It was Irish emigration which had brought about this critical state of affairs, and which called for these instantaneous and violent remedies. The right hon. Gentleman, however, himself admitted that the emigration from Ireland had somewhat subsided. There certainly was a time when the emigration was greater than it is at present, and when the announcement from Ireland of the thinning of its population excited alarm and apprehension in this House and throughout the country. And who was one of the Ministers, and one of the most influential Ministers of England during all that period? The right hon. Gentleman. With two of the elements of his crisis the right hon. Gentleman was as silent as a mouse the whole time. He never made this arraignment of the Church of Ireland, which, indeed, for many years he vindicated with so much eloquence and power of reasoning, and he never, for a moment, alluded to the critical state of affairs. There was also a third element of the crisis; and what was that? It was the education of the people of Ireland. But the people of Ireland were not educated only yesterday. The people of Ireland have had, for a considerable period, the advantage of a system of education under circumstances more favourable than the people of England have had. For thirty years, more or less, the people of Ireland have had great advantages of popular education, and the fruits of that education, certainly within the last ten years, have been very perceptible. But, although everybody is perfectly conscious of the beneficial effects of education in Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman, notwithstanding he was so conversant with all the consequences of education in that country, never came forward until now to state that the education of the people of Ireland necessitated the course which he has suddenly called upon the House to take. But there was one more element, and that completes all the ingredients of this awful crisis. And what is that? The Parliamentary Reform Bill which fortunately, and in spite of the efforts of the right hon. Gentleman, was passed last year. That is the fourth element of the crisis, and, in consequence of that, you are to destroy the 1773 Irish Church. We will consider the question of the destruction of the Irish Church, if the House will permit me to address them, at the right time; but that is not the logical consequence of the passing of the Reform Bill for England. I draw from it a more logical consequence, for I think we ought to pass a Reform Bill for Ireland; and the House well knows, and the right hon. Gentleman himself admits, that Her Majesty's Government are prepared to introduce, and would have introduced to-night, had it not been for this debate, a measure with that object. These are the four ingredients which the right hon. Gentleman has brought before us, as accounting for a state of affairs which he describes as the crisis of Ireland, all the elements of the crisis being elements of a somewhat obsolete character, and having no evident relation to the course which he recommends.
The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to say he would be glad to have some information upon the subject of Ecclesiastical Titles and Railways; but really I think the House will permit me on this occasion, as the hour is late, and as we must touch on some subjects of more stirring importance, not to dwell upon topics of that kind to-night. Notice has been given of a Motion on the subject of Ecclesiastical Titles, and when it is made we shall be prepared to give the information the right hon. Gentleman seems to desire. Nor shall I enter on the subject of Irish railways. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to indicate that we had been somewhat negligent in pursuing that business. All I can say is, it is not an easy task at any time to form an efficient Royal Commission. We did form one. We lost no time, although it took much to form the Commission. I believe they have pursued their labours with great energy and ability; and in due course we shall be able to advise Parliament on the subject.
The right hon. Gentleman then directed his attention to the measures proposed by the Government, which he says show that the Government do not realize the position of affairs which constitute the crisis in Ireland. The first thing to which the right hon. Gentleman directed our attention was the measure—but I should not call it a measure, for it may not be necessary to legislate upon it—the intention of which we have intimated to Parliament, of recommending Her Ma- 1774 jesty to grant a Charter to a Roman Catholic University in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman raised an argument against that proposition, which, no doubt, may have had some effect on the House, upon an assumption that we had announced our intention to ask the House to endow that University. I certainly never heard of that intended endowment before. The noble Lord the Member for the county of Kerry (Viscount Castlerosse), who spoke early in the evening, attacked the Government because they were proposing a charter without an endowment. Certainly, my noble Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland made no such preposition, nor was there any necessity for making a communication to Parliament on the subject, except the honourable engagement which the Government was under of not moving in the matter without communicating with Parliament. It is perfectly true that when the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Monsell) asked my noble Friend about endowment, my noble Friend said he would ask the House to pay what are called the University expenses, such as are paid for the London University. It is perfectly legitimate for the House to decide whether they will pay them or not. They are of no great amount; the charge for the London University being, I think, about £8,000 a year. I do not suppose that in this case any such sum will be required. It will be perfectly legitimate for the House, even if the charter is granted, to refuse to pay the expenses of a Roman Catholic University out of the public funds. The reason why we have proposed a charter for a Roman Catholic University has been very much misunderstood in the course of the debate. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) said, on Friday, that it was our cure for Fenianism. I may be permitted to say, speaking for myself, and, I am sure for most of my Colleagues, that our intention to meet this want in the higher education of the Roman Catholic population of Ireland is of a date more ancient than Fenianism. I have expressed my sense of the necessity from the opposite Bench, and I believe the first words I gave utterance to when I took my seat on this side of the House conveyed an expression of my conviction that the higher education of the Roman Catholic population could not be left in its then unsatisfactory condition. Well, Sir, we have produced our measure, which we think is, on the whole, the most practical measure that could be devised. 1775 It is very easy for Gentlemen to say "You should have proposed a new University," or "You should have dealt with Trinity College," and to suggest other schemes of that kind. It is the same on all Irish subjects. When there is a want in Ireland, or a grievance to be remedied, there is a great deal of discussion, and to remedy the grievance and supply the want, schemes are proposed that are of a perfectly impracticable character. They may suit the student in the abstraction of his study; but when you come to deal with them in this House they cannot be carried. Therefore we have proposed that which we think can be carried and ought to be carried. I have not heard an objection to this proposition that will bear the slightest discussion. I admit I have heard many objections, and I am going to notice them. I will begin with the speech of the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman). It was a speech distinguished by inaccuracy of statement and fallacy of argument. I do not dwell upon the last two points, because the great advantage of debate is that inaccuracy of statement and fallacy of argument generally find their level before the debate is over. What I do object to is that the right hon. Gentleman made inaccuracy of statement and fallacy of argument the basis of virulent invective against a large body of Her Majesty's subjects, to whom Her Majesty's Government are ready to express their obligations, for the assistance received from them in the difficult task of governing Ireland under peculiar circumstances, and without whose co-operation I do not believe that, at any time, and under any circumstances, Ireland could be advantageously governed—I mean the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland. Now, what did the right hon. Gentleman say upon the proposition which we made of giving a charter to a Roman Catholic University? We proposed to secure a Roman Catholic gentleman having the privilege of a University education from those who believe the same creed as himself; that he should have those advantages which are enjoyed by every Anglican and Presbyterian in Ireland, and should not be deprived of that which every sense of justice and propriety would, I think, make every Member of this House agree should be his right. The right hon. Member never for a moment contested that a Roman Catholic gentleman in Ireland had as much claim to a University education, under the influence of his own communion, as a Protestant gentleman had to 1776 be educated under the influence of his. That point he entirely evaded, but he said, "You are placing the education of that class of the Irish people which requires a higher order of education in the hands of the Ultramontane clergy." That was his accusation against us. Now, it is always difficult to deal in argument with epithets. "Ultramontane" is an epithet to which different persons will attach different meanings. [Sir GEORGE BOWYER: Hear, hear!] A man like my hon. Friend may attach his meaning to it; but I will take what is probably the coarse and popular use of that epithet, and I will ask the House to decide, whether there is any justice in the charges which were made by the right hon. Member for Stroud? I understood the right hon. Member for Stroud to say this—"So long as the general tone of the Irish clergy was influenced by Archbishop Murray, everything was what I approved of." I do not know whether the influence of Archbishop Murray was in the ascendant when the right hon. Gentleman was Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. [Mr. HORSMAN: He was dead at that time.] Well, that does not affect the observations I am going to make. I only wished to know that. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the moment Cardinal Cullen took the reins everything was changed. Then we had excommunicating synods; then we had refusals of the Sacraments of the Church to those who disobeyed the injunctions of the Roman Catholic clergy on the subject of education. Then came the influence of the Ultramontane clergy, and it is to this clergy, and particularly to this prelate, that you are now asking the House of Commons to deliver up the education of the Roman Catholic youth of Ireland. I have not the honour of a personal acquaintance with Cardinal Cullen. I understand he is a distinguished member of the Liberal party. Whether his Eminence is of opinion that the progress of Liberal opinions under his powerful influence has operated generally in favour of the fortunes of the Holy Father is a question which I will not ask; but which I think Cardinal Cullen, in his solitude must sometimes have asked himself. Well, I had not the honour of a personal acquaintance with Archbishop Murray, but when I first entered this House one of its most eminent Members—a man never to be spoken of by me but with the greatest affection and admiration—I mean Sir James Graham—gave me a character of Archbishop Murray which impressed me 1777 almost with a sentiment of reverence. This, then was the satisfactory state of affairs so long as the priesthood remained under the influence of Archbishop Murray; but the moment Cardinal Cullen took the lead Ultramontane influence was introduced. Then came the Synod of Thurles. Then came the denunciations of the godless Colleges—so called even by the best Protestant in the world—and then all those circumstances of terror which the right hon. Gentleman stated the other night. But what are the facts of the case?—and if they are not facts I shall be glad to hear them contradicted. Archbishop Murray, instead of being dead, was alive at the time of the Synod of Thurles, and was present there. More than this, he was the individual who at this excommunicating and Ultramontane Synod proposed the very resolution which reprobated the institution of the godless Colleges. These are facts. I believe there is no doubt that Archbishop Murray was present at the synod of Thurles, and took an active part in the final decision, which was carried by a unanimous vote, that the Colleges founded by Sir Robert Peel were not entitled to the confidence of the Roman Catholic clergy. These are, I apprehend, indubitable facts; and, if so, what becomes of the Ultramontane romance of the right hon. Gentleman? Sir, I am of opinion that there is but one mode by which you can supply the grievous want that has been so long complained of by the Roman Catholics—namely, that they cannot enjoy the advantages of a higher education under the influence of their own priesthood—and that is by the establishment of a Roman Catholic University. And I want to know on what grounds of justice—of which we hear so much—can such a proposition be refused. We have just been told that the offer we are making will not be accepted by the Roman Catholic prelates. I say, "so much the worse for the Roman Catholic prelates if they refuse it." But how is such a circumstance, if it occurs, consistent with the charge made by the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) that we have taken this step merely to obtain the support and sympathy of the Roman Catholic prelates? And the right hon. Gentleman, in the same speech and in the same breath, accused us of flattering the Prelates, and told us that they would spurn our offer. Sir, we take the course which we believe to be the right course. It is very easy to frame other schemes, and nothing is more easy than to devise new 1778 Universities and to elicit cheers in this House by projects for revolutionizing Trinity College, Dublin. Trinity College, Dublin, is one of the noblest institutions in the United Kingdom. But if you are to delay the enjoyment of University education by the Roman Catholic population until they have settled their affairs with Trinity College, Dublin, or until some speculative plan for a new University is carried, why years and years will elapse without the Roman Catholic population having those advantages. Well, I think I have shown that one of those measures which the right hon. Gentleman says prove that we do not recognize the importance of the occasion, which is the Irish crisis, has been brought forward not as a cure for Fenianism, as the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) supposed—not as an attempt to obtain the support of Cardinal Cullen—who, I have no doubt, will be faithful to those with whose politics he sympathizes—but because, as Ministers of the Crown, it was our duty to do our best to supply a want that has been felt by a considerable portion of Her Majesty's subjects, and because in doing so we only followed the course which, when we sat on the other side of the House, we always expressed our wish to pursue.
Well, then, we come to the second measure which the right hon. Gentleman has noticed, relating to land; and I must venture to observe that those measures which are now dignified with the title of a great policy, brought forward in consequence of a crisis, are the measures which Her Majesty's Government would have brought forward in Parliament if Fenianism had not existed. And as for our having announced that we were going to declare our policy on the occasion of the Motion of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire)—why circumstances prevented the House meeting with its usual regularity, and it was necessary to intimate, for the convenience of the House, what would be the probable course of Public Business. The Motion of the hon. Member for Cork was the Motion before the the House, and it was a convenient occasion for saying that when that Motion was proposed we should indicate the measures which we deemed it advisable to introduce. But there is not one of those measures which would not equally have been brought forward had Fenianism never existed, or if this extraordinary crisis, formed of elements that have existed for 1779 years, had never been announced or intimated by the right hon. Gentleman. Now, I come, Sir, to the land question. Will the hon. Member for Birmingham say that this is one of our cures for Fenianism? Why, on the land question, we stand in as clear a position as any party which ever attempted to regulate the affairs of this country. It must be sixteen or seventeen years since the Government of Lord Derby first introduced a Land Bill, and a Land Bill, allow me to say, which I have heard even hon. Gentlemen opposite, who take very extreme views on the subject, several times admit was a more efficient Bill than any ever brought before the House. I do not want to enter into a discussion upon the merits of a measure now defunct; but I allude to it to show that the course we are taking is that which we have always taken, and that whatever had happened in Ireland, or whatever might have been the temper of the House on that subject, we should have pursued the even tenour of our course and introduced a Land Bill. Well, Sir, last year we brought forward a Land Bill. I do not complain of the manner in which it was treated, for the House was absorbed by one great question, and could not give time for the consideration of the Land Bill. But all will admit that it was a moderate, sensible, well-intentioned, and excellent Bill, and that it would have been a fortunate circumstance had it passed. What has been our course in the present year? We took this principle—and I wish that everyone would take it in dealing with Irish politics—not always to attempt to do that which abstractedly may seem best, but to attempt to do that which is practical and practicable. And what is the course we have taken with respect to the land question? There were several points in the Bill brought forward by my noble Friend (the Earl of Mayo) last year which both sides admitted to be of an excellent character; and there were some points on which there was considerable controversy. We have taken those points which, after discussion, were by general consent admitted to be points which ought to be dealt with. We have taken those provisions which increased the leasing powers and secured compensation to the tenant; and we have added another provision, which will tend to substitute tenancies in writing for parole tenancies. These, by general consent, were admitted to be improvements, and we ask the House to le- 1780 gislate on them at once. I think that there is a disposition in the House to legislate with promptness in respect to them. But we say that, having done this, we do not think the subject is exhausted. There are still many questions of much importance connected with the tenure of land in Ireland which are very vague, but which are of considerable magnitude, so far as the evils complained of are concerned. For them, we say, let us revive, as it were, the Devon Commission, which was of very great advantage at the time it was in existence. First, let us practically realize the results of all those measures as to which sensible and temperate men on both sides of the House are agreed, but let us have further inquiry. An inquiry of that kind will be no excuse for non-legislation. I hope the Bill we shall introduce will become an Act before the Commission commence their labours, and therefore the insinuation that the proposition for a Commission is made because we wish to delay legislation on the subject is the very lees and refuse of factious insinuation. Consider what has happened since the Devon Commission. That was before the Deluge. It was before the famine, and before the emigration, and the Incumbered Estates Act. The Ireland of the present day is not the Ireland with respect to which the Devon Commission made recommendations. Therefore we say let landlords and tenants come and tell their tale, and let the Commissioners realize the consequences of the famine and the emigration. Sir, I cannot conceive that there can be any grounds for a Royal Commission more valid, more unquestionable, than those upon which we propose this Commission, which is not intended to obstruct or retard legislation; but is entirely supplementary to legislation, and is to inquire only on those very points which are not ripe enough for legislation. Then I say our policy as regards education and the land, but certainly as regards the land, is brought forward in no spirit of ostentation, but in the exercise of our duty. I think it is a sound and sober course, which the House of Commons ought to sanction and support, and that the House ought not to be deterred from a moderate but necessary—and, as we believe, practicable—course by this monstrous invention of a crisis in Ireland got up by the right hon. Gentleman opposite for the advantage of his party. When I say "got up by the right hon. Gentleman," I don't mean to 1781 say there may not be in Ireland many causes for our gravest consideration. To these I will address myself; but I say the right hon. Gentleman who has had the power of the Crown in large proportion for near a quarter of a century has never done anything for Ireland but make speeches in favour of the Irish Church. I say the Appropriation Clause was modesty in comparison with such tactics. Well, Sir, I have now told the House what is the course we propose with regard to the land, and so far as I could listen to the debate when we remove the bewildering effect of the tempestuous rhetoric with which it commenced and ended, I may say the House entirely agreed with us as to the course we propose to take in regard to land—the great question, compared with which, we have been told by a competent authority, all other questions are of no importance whatever.
I will now, if the House permit me, make an observation or two on the third question, on which so many Gentlemen have touched—namely, the Irish Church. Sir, the Established Church of Ireland is, I frankly admit at once, not in the condition in which I should wish to see a national Church. The condition in which I should wish to see a national Church would be this—that the whole population of the country should be in communion with it. That would be a perfect and completely national Church. But in a land where complete toleration fortunately flourishes that is not an ideal of a Church that will probably be ever realized. Well, then, we must advance to the position of an Established Church which is not supported by the whole population of the country, but by only a part of it. That, in my view, would still be a very great advantage. I think there is nothing that we should be more deeply impressed with than the importance of connecting the principle of religion with Government. If you do not connect the principle of religion with Government, you must reduce the power and degrade the character of Government. If you once divorce political authority from the principle of religion, I do not see what you can come to but a mere affair of police. If you admit that it is wise to connect the principle of religion with Government, the mind is naturally brought to endowment. It is the practical mode of carrying the system into operation. It gives a corporate character to the religious 1782 principles which influence men. A Church—an ecclesiastical endowment—a Church, whatever its character—for when I use the word "Church," I speak not only of the Church of this country, or even of the Roman Catholic Church, but of any body of religious men who have an organization—such a Church steadies faith. It is a bulwark alike against incredulity and fanaticism, and I do not myself practically see how such a state of things can be carried on unless you adopt the system of endowment. I should say so particularly with regard to this country, because the spirit of our legislation of late years has extended into so many subjects—into education, charity, the reform of criminals, and other matters—which it seems to me utterly impossible to carry into effect unless the State has at its command the active and dignified co-operation of a body of men like the clergy, set apart for such noble and spiritual purposes. The hon. Member for Birmingham confessed this principle in that speech which I listened to with pleasure, as I listen to all his speeches—at least, generally. The great feature of that speech, which was most adroitly conciliatory, was to contest the principle of endowment. That was the hon. Member's principle. He said that the grievances of Ireland were on the carpet for discussion at present. The hon. Gentleman said, "My remedy is prepared and prompt. Disendow the Church, and the whole thing is settled." But the hon. Gentleman says you must do this not merely because it will settle the grievances of Ireland. That is not the only reason why he recommends disendowment, but because endowment is opposed to the spirit of the age. The oration of the hon. Member commended itself to the attention of every person who heard it, because, when dangerous or at least novel opinions are proposed, it is highly important that they should be brought forward by men of intellect and eloquence, so that we should know what it is intended to propose, and they should not be mumbled on the back Benches by a man of whom, when a revolution comes, and when he turns out to be a Robespierre, everybody would say, "What dangerous opinions he utters, and what disastrous results they have entailed. Who would have supposed when we sat for ten years with him in the House of Commons, that he would have proposed measures that have revolutionized the country? "Here, however, 1783 a great orator comes forward with new opinions which are to be recognized in England, and it is a great advantage that having such a command of expression and so many charms of eloquence he can really let us know what is to be proposed. Sir, the right hon. Member for South Lancashire is always eloquent—that he cannot help—he is always earnest, which, they say, is charming; but he is only a convert to these principles. I quite believe that the hon. Member for Birmingham tells us truly that his training has given him great advantages in forming an impartial opinion upon these subjects—that from the first he has been thinking of them—that he has since been deeply musing over them, and that now he has burst into eloquence, and has announced the new Evangelism to the House of Commons. Well, Sir, I am in favour of the principle of endowment, and the hon. Member says that that is a principle opposed and hostile to the spirit of the age. I agree that if endowment is opposed to the spirit of the age it will fall. It becomes the House well to consider this subject, is it opposed to the spirit of the age? I will not argue the question on the "spirit of the age," it is too vague an expression for our practical debates. I will ask, is endowment opposed to the character and disposition of the inhabitants of these isles? No doubt that character and disposition must be influenced in some degree by what is called the spirit of the age, but it is stronger than the spirit of the age; and we must consider this question as representatives of public opinion—not of the public opinion of Europe, not of public opinion in any cosmopolitan sense, but of the opinion of those whom we represent. Well, Sir, I admit that there is a very active party in this country, opposed to endowment—an organized, an intelligent, and so far as their private life is concerned, an eminently decorous and praiseworthy party. But that party is not the creation of the spirit of the age. The Nonconformists are not the creation of the spirit of the age; they are in many instances the descendants, and certainly the representatives, of people entertaining the same opinions two centuries ago. They were opposed to ecclesiastical endowments in the days of the Stuarts, they are opposed to ecclesiastical endowments in the days of Victoria. In the days of the Stuarts, even when they were successful and triumphant, they were only a minority of the people, and I believe 1784 they are only a minority of the people now. But the Nonconformists in the present day have allies that in the days of the Stuarts they did not possess. They have a body, very limited in number, but very influential from their intellect, and from another cause to which I will advert in a moment—I mean the philosophers. Now, the philosophers must always be very limited in number, but they are necessarily, from their character and pursuits, men of great intellect and intelligence, and they always exercise a great influence over the press. They exercised a great influence over the press before the French Revolution by means of the Encyclopædia, and in England, at the present day, there is scarcely a leading article that strikes you, that you may not almost always trace to a philosopher. The philosophers assist the Nonconformists, and though they have not a single point in sympathy, this union between the Nonconformists and the philosophers make a most active and influential body in the State. It becomes the House of Commons, however, when they hear speeches like that which they have just heard from the right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone), adopting opinions which he cannot have shared for many years; but which he recommends to us with the ardour of a convert, it becomes them not to be hurried away, but clearly, if possible, to comprehend the scene, and not to be precipitately carried on to resolutions under the idea that they are acting in harmony with public opinion. I say that looking to the general character of the people in both islands, it is a religious people. Notwithstanding much that may have occurred of late years which may not apparently be in accordance with that opinion, I say that if you take a general view of the character of the people of England, they are a religious people. It is unquestionable that the Scotch are a religious people. But if there be a people which may be described as the most religious people in the world, it is the people of Ireland. It is not there even an affair of race, for whether a man be a Presbyterian, or an Anglican, or a Roman Catholic, religion is one of the great elements of his life, and not a day passes without his religious convictions exercising an immense influence over his actions. Now I say a religious people will always be in favour of ecclesiastical endowments. They may quarrel among themselves upon particular points, but a religious people will 1785 always be in favour of corporations that give importance and precision to their convictions. And, therefore, I think we are embarking in a very dangerous course when, at a period at which no one could have anticipated it, a right hon. Gentleman of the great standing in the country of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire comes forward suddenly, as it were from ambush, and announces not merely that he proposes to destroy the institution which he has himself so often advocated, and which he has told us to-night has existed from the time of the Tudors; when we are invited to adopt this policy in deference to the principles of a greater master on this subject, who has fairly, and, I must say, with the honourable candour which I believe, is part of his character, told us what is the great issue at stake—namely, whether we should terminate in this country all ecclesiastical endowments. Now, I want the House to realise the gravity of the question they are called on to decide. Do not, in consequence of the state of Ireland, arising from the development of the Fenian conspiracy, and the necessity, as I am frequently reminded, of "doing something," allow yourselves to be hurried into a decision which, if carried out and followed to its consequences—as it most assuredly will be—must give a new colour to your society and alter all the principles upon which you and your forefathers for years have acted. This is one of the gravest questions which can be brought before the consideration of public men. You are public men; you are men all of great intelligence, and many of you of eminence. You make a Senate that the world speaks of with pride, while it recognizes your attributes with a consciousness that your conduct elevates the general character of human nature. But remember that you are something more than senators. You are representatives of a nation, and of an ancient nation, and I deny your moral competence to come to a decision such as that which the hon. Member for Birmingham has recommended, and such as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire is prepared practically to carry out—I deny your moral competence to do that without an appeal to the nation. I say it is a question upon which the country can alone decide, particularly under the circumstances at which we have now arrived. You cannot come, on a sudden, and without the country being the least informed of your intention, to a 1786 decision that will alter the character of England and her institutions. You cannot come in this off-hand manner to such a decision as that. Why, look at what you are doing. You are asked to take a course to-night which will effect a revolution in this country. I am not taking now the limited issue to which the right hon. Gentleman conveniently confined himself. I take the broader issue laid down by the great master of this subject, and upon which England and Ireland probably will soon have to pronounce. How have you been introduced to this discussion? The Liberal party have been in power for more than a quarter of a century. Have they prepared the mind of England upon this question? Have their Leaders risen from the seats of authority and told the people that the great principles upon which the society and even the political condition of the country are founded are erroneous? You and your forefathers and generations before them, and long centuries of men, have built up this great realm of England. You have acknowledged, you have encouraged, you have supported, you have stimulated, you have lived and acted under the influence of ecclesiastical endowments, and have you during all that time in any way guided public opinion to doubt the propriety and wisdom of that system—of that great, and beneficent system under which you were born and which your forefathers created? Not a syllable of the kind. We have had a great deal of political economy, commercial treaties with France, repeals of restrictive laws, efforts made, and successful efforts, to promote the comforts and convenience of the people; but not a word was ever uttered for the last twenty-five years by the party that have enjoyed a monopoly of power in this country to form the mind of the people upon this great issue, upon which they ought not to give a decision in the perfunctory manner they are asked to do to-night. At the last General Election the Liberal party had been seven years in power, and during those seven years not a single word ever issued from the lips of any person in authority—certainly not from the lips of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire—that he had a doubt of the wisdom of the cardinal principle upon which our whole social system is founded. You were led by a Prime Minister who had the advantage, which I also enjoy, of being a Member of this House, which certainly gives one an advantage in ascertaining 1787 public opinion, and interpreting the popular currents which ought to influence. Did Lord Palmerston ever come forward and say that, in his opinion, all ecclesiastical endowments are a mistake and ought to be done away with? Why, I remember Lord Palmerston's last address to his constituents. It is a great advantage which a chief Minister in this House has at a dissolution of Parliament, that he can address his constituents; if he is in the other House he has not that advantage. There is a degree of popular sympathy at the command of a Minister in this House, and he has a ready means of expressing his opinion and of obtaining that of the people. Does anybody remember Lord Palmerston's address to his constituents? I recollect it—there was not much in it. But I will undertake to say that Lord Palmerston did not intimate to the people of England that a great revolution was impending, and that the principle of ecclesiastical endowments must be given up. Therefore I say it would be indecent for the House of Commons to attempt to come to a decision on this great question, unless we could place before the Nation the enormous issue at stake. I should have thought the best course would have been to dispose of the necessary business of the Session, as was the intention of the Government, and hasten—as I am prepared cheerfully to hasten—to that appeal to the enlarged sympathies of our countrymen which fortunately the Bill passed last year has secured for us. But the idea that this House of Parliament is to decide upon the question of continuing ecclesiastical endowments or not seems to me to be one too preposterous for a man of sense, having opportunity to consider it for a moment, to debate. What security have you that on the hustings you will not find this issue for your consideration if you adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman? The electors may naturally say "You have changed the whole framework of our social system, yon have decided on the most important principle in politics, without consulting us, the great body oft he Nation as opposed to the limited constituency which sent you to Parliament, and we question the justice and the propriety of what you have done." It will be certainly an agreeable thing to have such a contest between the old and the new constituency. Therefore, in my opinion it is impossible to deal with this question at the present time. Technically, no doubt, Parliament has power to do 1788 so. But, Sir, there is a moral exercise of power as well as a technical, and when you touch the fundamental laws of the country, when you touch the principles on which the most ancient and influential institutions are founded, it is most wise that you should hold your hand unless you have assured yourselves of such an amount of popular sympathy and support as will make your legislation permanent and beneficial. I have not made this observation because I wish to screen myself in the shadow of silence; when I say we cannot come to a division upon such a momentous question without appealing to the country, I have no wish to take advantage of that position and decline to give my opinion until that appeal has been made. I am in favour of ecclesiastical endowments; I believe they have contributed greatly to the welfare of this country. I believe they are one of the greatest securities of civilization, and that they are beloved on the whole by the population of both islands. With regard to the particular ecclesiastical endowment, to which the hon. Member for Birmingham did not confine himself, but to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire at present confines himself, I hope this House, or the next House of Parliament, will hesitate as to the course which it may adopt. No one pretends that the material effect of that endowment is not advantageous to Ireland. I am not, of course founding any argument for the maintenance of the institution upon considerations merely of that kind; but, when considering the condition of Ireland, which is the subject of the Motion before the House, it is necessary that we should look at the probable effect upon Ireland of the destruction of the Established Church, in a material point of view, I say there is no doubt that such a measure would be very injurious. It would deprive a country, which complains of an absentee proprietary, of many residents, men of character and of some affluence, whose general social action is admitted by all to be beneficial. What always strikes me as a general principle with regard to Ireland is, that you should create and not destroy. If the Church of Ireland were violently abolished, in my opinion you would add immensely to the elements of discord in that country. I have yet to learn how the abolition of such an institution could take place by other means than violence. Violence and confiscation! Why, the history of Ireland has had too 1789 much of these. They are the very evils which we all deplore. And yet the panacea for all the ills of Ireland—and the prompt means of changing Governments—is, according to the views which we have heard in this debate, to enter upon a course which must be accompanied by violence and spoliation. I therefore object to any proposal for the destruction of the Established Church in Ireland—which must add to the grievances of that country. At the same time, I reserve to myself the right of considering the labours of that Commission which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) has treated in a manner so deficient, I thought, in courtesy to its noble Author. Throughout these proceedings we have been accused of being the authors of the Royal Commission to inquire into the state of the Irish Church. We have been charged with having proposed it as a means of delay; but the manner in which it has been treated by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and by late Colleagues of a noble Earl, the Author of a celebrated pamphlet on the subject, is perfectly amazing. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth (Mr. C. Fortescue) informed us the other night that the Commission was proposed without the slightest intention of influencing public opinion. Now, I should call such conduct on the part of the noble Earl deceptive, if I were to borrow words which I have heard were used in "another place." But I hope that, so long as I may have any part in the conduct of the business of this House, there will be one House of Parliament, at least, that may be a model of manners. I will say therefore, nothing rude of an august Assembly that seems for a moment to have lost that perfection of demeanour which we once thought it possessed. I say, then, that this question is one that must be decided by the country; but I will take no refuge under that declaration. I recognize the importance of ecclesiastical endowments, and I think it would be a fatal mistake to follow the advice of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) and terminate the existence of the Irish Church. Sir, I say again I reserve to myself the right of availing myself of the information of the Royal Commission. I think that the scope of their inquiry is much larger than it is convenient for some Gentlemen to acknowledge, and I believe its inquiry may be a source of great improvement and public advantage. Nor do I wish to conceal my strong opinion that we are approaching the time when 1790 there must be a change in the status of the unendowed clergy of Ireland. I do not mean by that to say I am in favour of what is called "paying the Irish priests." I am not in favour of paying the Irish priests; and I am quite sure that the Irish priests are perfectly sincere in their declarations that they would not consent to become stipendiaries of the State. I am unwilling that any clergy should be stipendiaries of the State. I think that such a position lessens their independence and impairs their influence. That scheme will not have our support. I believe the Irish Roman Catholic Bishops and clergy are perfectly sincere in their declarations on the subject, because I think there is wisdom in that declaration; and in stating my belief that the time is fast arriving when there must be a change in the status of the unendowed clergy, I am not referring to any such arrangement as is indicated in that scheme. I will not take refuge in the jokes of Sydney Smith on the subject. I think a manifesto such as has appeared in a political organ of authority as a re-production of those flippant and heartless observations which might have had, to a certain extent, some practical application five-and-thirty years ago—a very unfortunate thing; because the time is gone by for such arrangements, as it has gone by for such an arrangement as, in his matured wisdom, Earl Russell announced as the result of his unparalleled experience, when he intimated that the Young Ascanius here was the only man who could carry that policy into effect. Though I am prepared to uphold the principles I have stated, though I should be sorry to see anything in Ireland destroyed, I do not believe that the Irish Established Church will remain with respect to the other portions of the population—with regard to the clergy of the other portions of the population—in the identical position which she now occupies. If you ask me what I mean, I will be as precise as any of you have been. I have been reminded in the course of this debate of expressions which I used five-and-twenty years ago, I could remind other Gentlemen of expressions they used on the same subject five-and-twenty years ago; but I do not much care for that sort of thing. With reference, however, to that passage which has been quoted from a speech made by me, I may remark that it appeared to me at the time I made it that nobody listened to it. It seemed to me that I 1791 was pouring water upon sand, but it seems now that the water came from a golden goblet. With regard to the passage from that speech, there are many remarks which, if I wanted to vindicate or defend myself, I might legitimately make. I might remind the House that speech was made before the famine and the emigration from Ireland, and the whole of that passage about the starving people and the amount of population to the square mile no longer applies. I might remark that speech was made before the change in locomotion, and the sale of a large portion of the soil of Ireland, which has established a resident proprietary instead of an absentee aristocracy. Though, so far as I can collect, the absentee aristrocracy seems more popular than the resident proprietary. All this I might say; but I do not care to say it, and I do not wish to say it, because in my conscience the sentiment of that speech was right. It may have been expressed with the heedless rhetoric which I suppose is the appanage of all who sit below the gangway; but in my historical conscience the sentiment of that speech was right. Perhaps I ought to apologize to the House for alluding to history. We have been told by a great authority in this debate, that there must be no more history introduced into discussions, and I observe that the right right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) has been wandering about the country during the Recess delivering lectures against the study of history. But, Sir, Irish policy is Irish history, and I have no faith in any Statesman who attempts to remedy the evils of Ireland who is either ignorant of the past or who will not deign to learn from it. In my opinion a policy in Ireland of conciliation which is to commence by outraging the feelings and humiliating the pride of 1,500,000 men—most loyal, most intelligent, very wealthy, and high-spirited—is not a wise policy. It may be a party triumph, but it will not, in my mind, tend to the national welfare. I apprehend, from what has fallen from the right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone), that the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) will not call for a division. If he did I should certainly oppose his Motion, because I see no practical result that could arise from it. What the Government proposed to do they can do without going into Committee on the state of Ireland. Let me briefly recapitulate what they are prepared to do. Notwithstanding the sneers of some hon. Gentlemen, I trust a Charter will receive 1792 Her Majesty's sanction, with the approbation of the House, to institute a Roman Catholic University. We ask for no endowment. If the House of Commons will not grant to the Roman Catholics of Ireland the assistance which they give to the London University, which boasts, I believe, of not being a religious body, the Roman Catholics of Ireland, who have outlived the penal laws, will probably be able to survive that infliction. I have told you what we are prepared to do with regard to the land—immediately to legislate upon all those practical points of importance upon which leading men on both sides are agreed, and after we have legislated to institute authoritative inquiries upon all those points of controversy upon which leading men are not agreed. We will also introduce within a few hours—what we should have introduced to-night if we had had the opportunity—a Reform Bill for Ireland, which will greatly add to the popular privileges of the people of that country. There are many of my Friends—I will not say of my Friends, but Members of this House—who look with apprehension upon a measure of that kind. I do not, because I believe we are on the eve of a policy for Ireland which will reconcile races, settle a community, and terminate the sorrows of afflicted centuries.
Will the House allow me one word in explanation? I did not wish to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman in his speech. I wish to state he entirely misrepresented one sentiment he attributed to me, and having misrepresented me, he tried to tie up the right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) with me in that sentiment. The "spirit of the age" was not the phrase I used, and what I said about Earl Russell's pamphlet was, that it was politically just, but was published forty years too late; and that the time had gone by when it was possible in this country to create a new State Church and new endowments. I went no further than that. I thought it due to myself to make this explanation.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
had intended asking the indulgence of the House while he offered a few explanations; but he would withdraw his Motion, being quite satisfied with the results.
§ Amendment and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.