§ The Duke of Sussex
presented a Petition in favour of the Jewish Civil Disabilities Bill, signed by 7,000 inhabitants of the city of Westminster. He should give the measure his utmost support, on the same principles on which he supported Catholic Emancipation. He thought it the right of every Church, whatever its tenets, provided they were not subversive of the society in which it existed, to enjoy every privilege of citizenship in common with other members of the community. The Jews had been for a number of years in this country, during which they had invariably proved themselves loyal subjects, and obedient to the laws; they bad subscribed liberally to the charitable institutions of the country—had exhibited habits of laudable industry, and were grateful and useful members of society. It was not for him to occupy their Lordships' time by any reference to the Jewish religion, but of this he was sure, that in persecuting them we should be by no means acting in the spirit of our own religion
§ Lord Bexley
rose to move the second reading of the Jewish Civil Disabilities Repeal Bill. If the Roman Catholic Relief Bill had not passed, and relief had not been given to the Dissenters, he should not have supported this measure, because such a proceeding would have looked like an insult to a numerous body of their fellow-Christians, and because he knew that he should have many difficulties to encounter. But the disabilities under which the Roman Catholics laboured having been removed, no reason existed to prevent him from taking this step. The 222 danger to which the Established Church might be exposed by removing the Roman Catholic disabilities was one of the great arguments urged against that measure; but in the case of the Jews no such danger was to be apprehended. Wherever the Jews had hitherto obtained civil rights, they had become worthy citizens, and he could not see why the same thing should not happen here. A Bill had been passed in 1752 for their relief; but it was received with great dissatisfaction by the public, and was repealed soon after. The popular mind, since that time, had, however, undergone a very great alteration, as might be inferred from the number of petitions presented in favour of this Bill. There was one argument in favour of the Bill, which, he admitted, had considerable weight with him—namely, the argument founded on the fact that the Bill had received the sanction of a large majority of the House of Commons. He did not mean to say, that their Lordships should be unduly biassed by the decisions of the House of Commons, but they could not deny that the present House of Commons represented a wider surface of popular sentiment than any other.
The Archbishop of Canterbury
said, that the noble Lord who moved the second reading of this Bill, had adopted that course of moderation, of calmness, and of piety, which he should have expected from his noble friend, and which characterised every proceeding in which he took part. At the same time that he rose to oppose the Bill, he confessed that he concurred in many of the statements of his noble friend; but he regretted, as he must on every occasion when he differed from him, that he could not come to the same conclusion. Of many of the objections which had been urged against admitting the Jews into the possession of civil power, he thought as lightly as his noble friend. As to the expectation of a return to the promised land, if it were true that they had never yet resigned their hope of again possessing those advantages and blessings which were once peculiarly their own, who could think the worse of them on that account? If they did not, indeed, forget the promises which had been made to them, and cherished the expectation of regaining those advantages of which they had been deprived by circumstances: and if even their ultimate view was a return to that Jerusalem from 223 which they had been banished, he did not think this was a reason why they should be incapable of attachment to the country which, for the present, afforded them shelter and protection, or incapable of loyalty to their Sovereign, and of maintaining the relations of society with their fellow-subjects. Another objection to this people was much insisted on, though not touched upon by his noble friend. It was, that their moral and intellectual capacities were not such as to entitle them to any share in the Legislature. Now as to the question of morality, the precepts of their morality were founded on the laws of the Prophets, and drawn from the Fountain of Holiness; and he was not aware that they had been so corrupted by man as to be entirely deprived of their original lustre. Nor was there anything to show that they were more inattentive to their law than many Christians, he lamented to say, undoubtedly were to the divine precepts of the Gospel. And with all allowance for human infirmity, he believed there was little ground for particularly objecting to the Jews upon the score of immorality. As to their intellectual powers, they certainly did not appear to him in the contemptible light in which they were contemplated by others. It might not be justifiable to attribute the Holy Writings exclusively to the Jews. It was difficult to determine how much of the surpassing glory of these was to be referred to the spirit—how much to the medium. At the same time, however, one could hardly suppose that a people, from among whom works of such unparalleled sublimity and beauty had emanated, were, in truth, so low in intellect as some would represent them. But, setting the Holy Scriptures aside, there were the writings of Jesus, the son of Sirach, in which there was no pretence to inspiration; and these, he could state, were admirable specimens of the precepts of pure morality set forth in an eloquent and powerful manner. Josephus and Philo too, in ancient times, stood almost on a par with the great historians and philosophers who have earned undying fame. With the latter works of the Jews he was not acquainted, except by partial quotations. In these, however, he had found passages which would do honour to the theorists and moralists of any age or country. He would say nothing of what had been done by them in Germany, not having the means of knowing how far 224 the disciples of Mendelsohn had lost sight of the original principles of the scripture; but with respect to the state of intellectual culture which the Jews possessed in this country, he would observe that he had lately read a work by a gentleman of the Jewish persuasion—a work published some years ago; it was in relation to the authenticity of the Bible, and certainly the justness of the observations, and the sagacity of the criticism, were such as would do honour to any Christian commentator. He had also seen, not long since, a letter from the same gentleman in refutation of some charges which were made against the Jews, and the reasoning, and style, and tone, and temper, did honour to that gentleman's feeling and understanding, while, through the whole composition, there was that dignified calmness which belongs to conscious innocence. He had, also, learned from a reverend Gentleman who had held some controversies with certain Priests of the Jews, that nothing could exceed the can-dour and courtesy they exhibited on these occasions. The reverend gentleman was disappointed in the hopes he entertained of convincing them they were in error. He made no impression on them in this respect, but he had reason to believe that both parties separated pleased with each other. It might be asked, then, why should not the nation avail itself of such high talents by obtaining the assistance of those persons in Parliament? Now he thought that Parliament was the place of all others where they could be of least service; and even if they could be of more service than he ever could imagine, he would not consent to purchase their services at the expense of principle. The example of other countries, in conferring full privileges upon the Jews, had been appealed to by his noble friend. Whenever this was stated upon any occasion, he was inclined to pay little attention to it. It was scarcely possible that we should have a complete and correct account of the particular circumstances attending the event; and supposing even that the case alluded to in a foreign country, and that under consideration in our own, were perfectly analogous, and that we were in possession of all the facts, there yet remained the question to be settled—was, or was not the proceeding abroad beneficial? And before he could be reasonably called upon to act upon 225 this precedent, it should be proved to have been beneficial. The noble Baron had next stated, that the Papists and Protestant Dissenters enjoyed, in full, all those privileges which were now called for on behalf of the Jews; and his noble friend had proceeded to ask, why should the Jews be excluded from those advantages which are enjoyed by all other classes of his Majesty's subjects; and the more especially, as the number they could send to Parliament would, of necessity, be so small, as to be incapable of having that degree of influence which would prove injurious, even if exercised to the prejudice of the religion of the country? What harm, then, asked the noble Baron, could result from admitting them to Parliament? This question might, perhaps, be well met by another question. If they were to be so powerless in Parliament, what good would result from admitting them? That question was of some importance, the more especially as they appeared to be a class of men equally disqualified by their habits and manners from taking a useful part in the Legislature. If the change were to be so inefficient, why should it be made? It was not this, however, which had the most weight with him; it was to the principle he objected. The great principle of this State was, that the religion of the country should be Christian. Now, taking this view of the case, the false religions of Mahomed and Bramah were less objectionable than the religion of the Jews. The Jewish creed was of course intrinsically superior to these superstitions, but it stood in a peculiar relation to Christianity. There was in the religion of the Jew not simply a negative, but a positive contradiction of Christianity. The profession of a Jew's faith included in it a declaration, that one whom we regard as the Saviour was a wicked impostor, and one who justly suffered death—one that cast disgrace upon the name, and brought exile, and servitude, and persecution upon their nation. There were persons professing Christianity who might be indifferent to this distinction between the Jews and men of other religious persuasions, and suppose that it should have no weight; yet this he could not well imagine, He might be accused of folly and bigotry when he declared that, in his opinion, the nations were under the guidance of a special Providence, which had regard to the interests 226 of our own holy religion, and that empires us well as nations crumbled into dust when they flung from them the precepts and practices of Christianity, and forgot their duties to him who presides over all things for the interests of the true faith, and the glory of his holy name. For himself, he should feel himself wanting in what was due to the author of our holy religion, if he did not vote against that Bill. He looked upon the Jews with wonder mixed with admiration. From the first they were separated from the other nations of the earth. They stood apart, like a light in the firmament, shining forth the prevailing attributes of the Creator, and announcing the hope of a Redeemer to a benighted world. In their present state, they yet maintained their original character of vouchers for the Divine Truth, and continually bore a testimony irrefragable, because involuntary, to the faith of the Gospel, attesting the truth of the prophecies which related to Christ's mission and their own misfortunes. He regarded them with admiration and pity. He felt respect for their constancy—Compassion for their errors and sufferings. He hoped the time would come when the veil would drop from their eyes, and they would see the delusion which had led them astray, and fall into the arms of the Saviour, who had all along considered them as erring children, and who held his arms open to receive them in their penitence. He himself regarded them as brothers, separated for a time from the great family, but one day to be restored to the household of faith, under the protection of the common father. In conclusion he declared he would give them every privilege and advantage which could really benefit them—which could gratify their feelings or increase their consideration in the State, except the privilege of sitting in Parliament. The most reverend Prelate moved that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
The Archbishop of Dublin
spoke as follows *:—My Lords, feeling myself bound in conscience to support this Bill, I feel myself also called upon not to give a silent vote, lest I should be open to misconstruction. Misconstruction, perhaps, I shall, at any rate, encounter from some; but I feel myself bound, as far as I can, to* Reprinted from the Corrected Copy, published by Fellowes.227 guard against it at the hands of the considerate and candid. I will not occupy your Lordships' time by protestations of the sincerity of my attachment to Christianity. Such protestations receive, in general, but little credit; and deserve but little, unless they are borne out by the general conduct of those who make them; and if they are, I consider them to be superfluous. I will take leave to observe, however, that, setting aside all considerations of duty, it is not likely that a Christian clergyman should be indifferent to the security of the Christian religion—that a Prelate of the Establishment should be indifferent to the safety or the credit of the Establishment—or that a Member of this House would be willingly accessory to the degradation of the Legislature.
I shall offer a very few observations on a part, and a part only, of the objections which have been taken to this Bill. And I shall confine myself to the consideration of objections, because it must be admitted, I conceive, that if these are removed, the Bill ought to pass. The presumption is evidently in favour of it; and the onus probandi lies entirely on those who oppose it. The general rule, indeed, is that the presumption is in favour of any existing institution, and that the burthen of proof lies on those who call for a change. But in the case of all restrictions and disabilities, I consider the rule to be reversed, and the burthen of proof to lie on the other side. Disabilities, restrictions, burthens, pains, and penalties of various kinds, may sometimes be necessary; but no one will contend that they are good in themselves. I conceive, therefore, that it is not incumbent on those who advocate this Bill, to point out, in the first instance, the advantage of the relief which it proposes to give, but rather to meet the objections that are brought against it; because, if no sufficient reason can be shown for continuing them, it is clear that these and all other restrictions (their only warrant being that of necessity) ought to be removed.
Now the objections which I have heard, not in this particular debate only, but on other occasions also, to the removal of the disabilities imposed on the Jews, may be divided into two classes—those of a purely political character, and those of a religious character. The first class of objections has reference to the Jews, not as a certain body of religionists, but as a distinct nation, looking forward with a confident 228 hope to an ultimate return to the land of their fathers, and having habits of thought, and feelings of patriotic attachment so exclusively confined to their own race, as to render them incapable of mingling as good citizens on equal terms with any other. On that class of objections, I shall say nothing on the present occasion; being desirous of addressing this House as seldom as possible on questions purely political. I shall confine myself to the second class of objections, which has reference to the peculiar religious tenets professed by the Jews.
It is urged that persons who not only do not acknowledge, but who renounce and deny—and some say vilify—the great Author of the Christian religion, ought not to have any voice in the legislature of a Christian country. On this point arises a question, which I own I find it very difficult to answer. The Legislature of this country—I mean the two Houses of Parliament—is not confined to what may be called the Civil Government—the imposing of burthens which all must bear, and the enacting of laws which all must obey—but extends to the government of the Established Church also, even in matters purely ecclesiastical. It is, in fact, at present the only Ecclesiastical Government; since convocation has long been in a dormant state in England; and in Ireland does not exist even in that state. Whoever, therefore, is admitted to a seat in the Legislature, is admitted to a share in the Government, not only of the State, but also of the Church; and that, not only in respect of its temporalities, but also of purely Ecclesiastical affairs. If, therefore, the question be asked, "What right can a Jew have, under any circumstances, to legislate for a Christian Church?" I know of no answer that can be given to that question, except by asking another: What right has a Roman Catholic to legislate for a Protestant Church; or a Presbyterian for an Episcopal Church? What right, in short, has any man to legislate, in Ecclesiastical matters, for any church of which he is not a member? This anomaly appears to me to exist in all these cases alike. The Jews, it is true, are much further removed from us than any sect of Christians; but it does not follow that they are more likely to make innovations in our religious institutions. They never attempt to make proselytes, nor to introduce into 229 Christianity any admixture of Judaism; nor is it likely they would attempt, in any way, to interfere with the doctrines or institutions of any description of Christians. Christians, on the contrary, of different persuasions, have often interfered in the most violent manner with each other's faith and worship. The Presbyterians did, we know, at one time, when they gained the ascendancy in this country, eject from every parish in England the Episcopalian clergy, and were in turn ejected by them; and I need not remind your Lordships of the many and violent struggles between Roman Catholics and Protestants in this and in many other countries. In fact, the nearer approach to each other in point of faith between different denominations of Christians than between Christians and Jews, instead of diminishing, increases the risk of their endeavouring to alter or to overthrow each other's religion. Although, therefore, I cannot, in the abstract, approve of Jews being admitted to legislate for a Christian Church, or of the Ecclesiastical concerns of any Church, being, in any degree, under the control of such as are not members of it, I cannot on that ground consent to withhold civil rights from the Jews, when Roman Catholics and Dissenters have been admitted into Parliament; since, in the case of the Jews, the anomaly is not greater, and the danger is even less. The nearer any class of men approach to ourselves in their faith, the more likely they are to interfere with ours.
If, indeed, an erroneous faith be regarded in the light of a sin against God, and if we were authorized to visit this sin with civil disabilities, we might then look to the greater difference in faith of the Jews, than of any Christians. I trust I may dismiss, without argument, the notion of our having a right to punish men on account of their religious opinions, either with a view of forcing them to renounce those opinions, or of inflicting retribution on them for erroneous belief. Often as that principle—which is, in fact, that of persecution—has by many been implied in their practice—no one, I imagine, will be found, in the present day, to defend it in the abstract. If, indeed, we were to admit the principle of punishing religious error, then, as I have said, the greater error of the Jews might be consistently assigned as a reason for harsher and less indulgent treatment of them than of any 230 sect of Christians. But the only ground which any one will distinctly avow as authorising penalties and restrictions imposed on any class of religionists, is that of self-protection—to guard ourselves either against religious corruption, or against some alarming civil danger. And in this point of view—looking to self-protection and not to punishment—it is plain, that the nearer any persons approach to us in religion, the greater the danger, when there is any to be apprehended, of admitting them to an equality of rights with ourselves. We know, that the Roman Catholics have persecuted the Protestants, and the Protestants, in their turn, the Roman Catholics—in short, we know that the various sects of Christians have done more, in molesting each other's faith and worship, than any Jews or Pagans have done against Christianity.*
When, therefore, it is said, that although not an exclusively Protestant, we have still an exclusively Christian Legislature, I cannot but confess that a Christian Legislature, as such—simply as Christian—does not necessarily afford religious, or even personal security to a Christian. The most merciless persecutions, we know, have been (it is with shame and sorrow I speak it, but it is notorious) those inflicted by Christians on each other. From the* Were it possible for any one to doubt the existence in the present day of such feelings and principles as I have here alluded to, he might but too easily satisfy himself by simply looking to the amount of calumny, insult, and execration, which have been, on party-grounds, within the last few years, (or even, months) heaped on some, not only members but Prelates, of the Established Church, not more by the avowed enemies of that Establishment, or of the Gospel itself, than by persons professing the deepest veneration, and the most fervent zeal, for both.Not that this is any just ground of uneasiness in those who have been so assailed. The example, and the warnings, of their great Master, ought to have prepared them to regard it as a blessing, "when men hate, and persecute, and speak all manner of evil of them falsely, for his sake." But a proof is thus afforded that the name of Christian furnishes no security that the spirit of the Gospel will be manifested; since it appears but too plainly that those who thus revile and calumniate every one who will not co-operate with their party, would not have been likely, any more than those who lived three centuries ago, to confine themselves to mere words, if their power were, in these days, equal to their will.—Note by Dr. Whateley.231 mere circumstance, therefore, of being under a Legislature exclusively Christian, I can derive no security; and, what is more, I am certain that your Lordships think with me in this: for, there is no one of us, professing Protestantism, who would not prefer living in Turkey or Persia, where he would be allowed, on paying a small tribute, the free exercise of his religion, to living under an exclusively Christian Government in Spain or Portugal, or any country in which the Inquisition was established. The mere circumstance, therefore, I say, of our having a Christian Legislature, is not of itself any ground of security. But, on the other hand, there is not necessarily any danger, or any incongruity, in persons of any religious persuasion, different from that of the Church of England, legislating upon matters distinct from religion.
With respect to strictly ecclesiastical affairs—to matters which do relate directly to religion, I admit that there is an incongruity in admitting any one, whether Christian or not, to have a share in the government of a church of which he is not a member; and I take this opportunity of declaring my opinion upon that point to be, that the purely ecclesiastical concerns of the Church, as distinguished from the secular, ought to be intrusted to the care of some persons, whether called Commissioners, or by whatever other name, appointed expressly for that purpose, and who should be members of that Church. But with respect to civil concerns, I do not see that we are justified in excluding from a share in making the laws which they are to obey, or in imposing the burthens which they are to bear, any set of men, whatever their religious tenets may be, until it can be proved that they are likely to abuse their power.
It has been urged, however, that, over and above all considerations of self-protection, the Jews are under God's curse—that they are suffering a Divine judgment—from the effects of which we must not attempt to rescue them. It is true, that they are nationally, under a judgment. I look on that nation as an extraordinary monument of the fulfilment of prophecies, and as paying the penalty of their rejection of the Messiah. But we must be very careful how we, without an express Commission, take upon ourselves to be the executioners of Divine judgment, lest we bring a portion of these judgments on our- 232 selves. We are not to act on the will of the Lord, according to our own conjectures as to his designs; but according to the commands he has expressly given us.* if we justify the exclusion of the Jews from a participation in those civil rights which the rest of us enjoy, on the ground that we are thus fulfilling the judgment of divine providence, we must remember, that on the same plea the infernal cruelties committed by the Romans and their allies, at the destruction of Jerusalem, might no less be justified. For these also were judgments prophetically denounced against the Jews. Nay, more; the Jews themselves would, on this ground, be justified for the very crime with which they are now upbraided, the crucifixion of Jesus: for this, also, was in accordance with prophecy, and in conformity with the divine will.
God's will, we are sure, must be done, and his purposes accomplished, without any need of our aid or consent; but we shall not stand acquitted before him, on the plea that we are fulfilling his designs, if we presume, uncommissioned, to execute the judgments he has denounced. If it be the will of God that the Jews should always be wanderers upon the face of the earth, we may feel assured that they will not long find a resting-place. Whatever the prophecies respecting them do really point to, we may be sure will come to pass. But it is plain from their having been actually received by some nations to a participation of civil rights, that their perpetual exclusion from such rights can have been no part of those prophecies. And cer-* The last clause of our 17th article seems to have been added in reference to such as might attempt to justify their own conduct, however immoral, by a reference to the decrees of Providence, on the plea, that whatever takes place must be conformable to the divine will. To "do the will of our Heavenly Father," must mean, to do what he, by the light of revelation or of reason, announces as required of us: otherwise, all men alike, whether virtuous or wicked, would be equally doers of his will. And where his will is not thus announced to us, our duty often leads us even to act in opposition to it. For every one would say, that a child, for instance, does his duty, in tending a parent on the bed of sickness, and using all means for his restoration; though the event may prove it to have been the will of God that his parent should die. Pilate, on the other hand, was, in a different sense, fulfilling the will of God, while acting against the dictates of conscience.—Note by Dr. Whately.233 tainly we have received no commission to exclude them. Their religious errors we cannot but condemn; but we must carefully guard against confounding together the two questions;—as to the right of punishing men for their religious errors, however great—and as to the right of defending ourselves against the consequences of those errors. To claim the former, is the very spirit of persecution.
And if there be any such persons as persecuting Christians in this country, I scruple not to say, that I differ more from them in point of religion, than I do from the Jews themselves. The former believe, indeed, that the promised Messiah has arrived; but they believe in such a Messiah, as in truth never has appeared: they assign the name and the titles which belong to the true Jesus of Nazareth, to a phantom of their own imagination. Their Messiah is not that meek and humble Jesus who told Pilate that his kingdom was not of this world—who repressed the mistaken and intemperate zeal of his disciple, when prepared to fight for him, by bidding him put up his sword into its sheath;—who prayed for the pardon of his murderers;—and who, when his followers would have called down the fire of heaven on those who rejected him, rebuked them by saying, "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of." I maintain, then, that it is only on the ground of self-protection that we can be justified in imposing, or in continuing (which is the same thing) any restriction on any class of religionists.
But independent of the consideration of any apprehended danger, we are told, that we ought to look to the scandal—the indecorum—of admitting to form part of a Christian Legislature those who scoff at the Christian religion, and treat the founder of it with scorn, as an impostor.
Now, if any Jews openly insult our religion, they deserve not merely to be withheld from civil privileges, but to be punished; and under the existing law, they would be liable to punishment for molesting the worship of their neighbours. But if no such charge is established against them, it seems to me that the scandal lies on the other side. For we ought to consider, that this is not a Bill to entitle a certain number of Jews to a seat in Parliament as Jews; but to remove the restriction which prohibits Christians from electing, if they think fit, a Jew for 234 their Representative. Is it not, then, a greater scandal, that we should think it necessary for the safety of Christianity to impose this restriction—a restriction not so much on the Jews, as on ourselves—to prohibit the people, if they choose it, from returning Jews as their Representatives? I do not place the question on the rights of the Jews; nor on their moral or intellectual qualifications, to which such high testimony has been borne by those of their opponents who have more knowledge of them than myself, but I place it on our own rights. For if any Jews are returned to Parliament, it must be by the choice of a great majority of Christian constituents. I own it does, there foe, appear to me to be a scandal rather on our own faith, to consider it so frail and brittle as not to bear touching—to proclaim that Christianity is in danger unless the hands of Christians are tied to preclude them from the election of Jews.
I am not discussing the question whethe Jews are the fittest persons to be returnes to Parliament; but whether Christians should be left free as to that question, of should be prevented from electing them if they think fit. This Bill, it should be remembered, differs materially, in this respect, from that by which the disabilities of the Roman Catholics were removed; because, by the latter, many persons, being already Peers, were, by that Bill, at once admitted to Parliament. That will not be the case in this instance; because no Jew can set foot in Parliament until he has been freely elected by a Christian constituency.
But, as I have already stated, I do not think that the Jews, any more than the Roman Catholics, or any Dissenters from the Established Church, ought to be admitted to legislate, as to matters purely religious for that Church. I think that everything relating to the spiritual concerns of the Church, should be intrusted to a Commission or to some body of men, members of that Church having power to regulate these concerns in such a manner as may be most conducive to the interests of religion, and to the spiritual welfare of the people. I cannot but think that the members of the Established Church ought to have the same advantage, in this respect, as the Methodists, Quakers, Moravians, and other dissenting sects; who are allowed to regulate the strictly religious concerns of their own religious communities, respec- 235 tively, without any interference in respect of these concerns, on the part of persons of a different church. But no objection on this score can fairly be allowed to operate against the claims of the Jews, more than against various denominations of Christians; to whom the same objection applies with equal force, and whose claims have been already admitted. And I cannot but think, therefore, that Jews ought not, in fairness, to be excluded from all share in imposing the burthens which they are required to bear, and in enacting the laws to which they are to be subject, unless a much stronger case than any that I have yet heard can be made out for that exclusion.
The Earl of Winchilsea
would never think of putting the Roman Catholics, who were Christians, on the same footing with the unbelieving Jews. He regretted, that this Bill, which was a tissue of blasphemy and impiety, was not spurned from the House when the first reading was proposed. Christianity was part and parcel of the law of the land; and he protested against that liberality, or rather infidelity in this country, which declared that there was no longer to be placed any value on that religion which was formerly our pride and hope, and under the influence of which we had so long prospered. The Scripture prophecies went beyond his comprehension, and he did not make them a ground of his opposition to the measure. But he addressed himself to a Christian Assembly, and he believed it was more than they dared, to sanction that measure, since by so doing they would offend their God. If Christianity was an advantage to the country, they were bound to uphold and support it. The Jews were under God's judgment, because they denied God. He did not think it necessary to grant them political privileges, and all other civil rights they enjoyed in peace, and security, the same as the rest of his Majesty's subjects. They were a monument of God's judgment, and an irresistible proof of our holy religion. In them were fulfilled the awful denunciations of the Scriptures. He called upon their Lordships, therefore, by the value they set upon the true religion, not to destroy that monument by making the Jews cease to be a separate people, and to show to their country and their God, that they disapproved of anything which tended to weaken their religion.
The Marquess of Westminister
, after 236 regretting, that scarcely one of his Majesty's Ministers was present, said, that he should support the Bill. The question had already been so fully discussed elsewhere that he did not think it necessary to go into any tedious details, nor to trouble their Lordships at any length. After the splendid eulogy which the most reverend Primate had passed upon the Jews, he felt surprised, at the Motion to reject the Bill. He really could not see any danger that would result from the passing of it, for he felt no alarm at giving political power to 30,000 or 40,000 Jews in a country where there were 8,000,000 of Christians. It had been urged against the measure, that the Jews did not press Parliament with petitions on the subject. That was no argument, for he knew that they felt the disabilities under which they laboured to be a very great grievance. The more any person or persons were excluded, the more popular and powerful they became. He was entirely opposed to the principles of exclusion—so much so, that he thought it unwise to attempt to exclude clergymen from the other House of Parliament. They ought to be capable of being elected by the common body of constituents. That the measure was not unpopular in the country, was proved both by the support the Bill had received in the other House, and by the petitions in its favour. It was only necessary that he should refer to that presented by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, from the inhabitants of the City of Loudon, signed by 15,000 persons, and to that presented by the illustrious Duke (Sussex), from the inhabitants of Westminster. There was a final reason why he supported the present measure—because he thought, that if the civil disabilities of the Jews were completely removed, there would be a greater chance of converting them. They knew also, from the Scriptures, that God was no respecter of persons, that he who worketh righteousness is acceptable to him, and he would not on this point depart from the principles of the teachers of our religion.
The Bishop of London
said, since the ground on which he opposed the measure had been already so clearly stated by the most reverend Prelate near him, he should have but a very few words to say. He opposed the measure simply and solely from the duty he owed to the Constitution of the country. That Constitution, God be 237 thanked, was a Christian Constitution. Perhaps he might be asked why so? Because Christianity was part and parcel of the law of the land. It had been argued, that no persons on account of their religious doctrines should be excluded from offices in the State. That entirely depended on the circumstances, whether it should be deemed by the State politic or not to exclude them. It had been at one time held politic by the State to exclude many classes of persons, in order to better uphold the established religion. Without reference to religion, it might be politic, merely for the protection of property, to exclude some persons from enjoying all the privileges which the State allowed to others. The State had a right to act on the principle of necessity. And in his opinion the State had done well in excluding from its councils those not professing Christianity. In the Statute-book of England there was nothing to be found that excluded persons from the State, because they did not profess to believe in the Gospel. He acknowledged that, but at the same time he thought the reason was, that since it was never contemplated that there would be such persons, no provision was made on the subject. It was for the first time that they were asked to admit such persons to legislate on all that concerned the country, and he begged to remind their Lordships that they might be called upon to consider whether the Christian religion were the true one or not. That alone was a reason why he opposed the measure. He apprehended no danger of being outvoted in Parliament by a few persons, nor did he apprehend from the Jews any malignant motives against the Christian religion. The danger he dreaded was, lest they should impress the people of England with the feeling that the Legislature was indifferent to the true religion, and he was sorry to see that indifference daily growing greater on the part of the Legislature towards the Christian religion, which was honoured and upheld by the nation. The lesser inconvenience that might be caused to a few individuals was not to be put into competition with the injury that any indifference of the Legislature towards religion would cause to that religion in the minds of the people. He would, therefore, call on the respectable body of persons who stood at the Bar of that House to waive their claims, when they considered the great inconvenience which would arise by 238 granting them, to the established religion. He allowed their moral worth, for he had had under his care a large parish in which many of them resided, and he found them a most moral, liberal, and loyal class of persons; therefore, it was not without the deepest feeling of pain that he felt bound to oppose their wishes on the present occasion. From a regard to self-protection, identified with the Church, he opposed them, and if that Church were not protected, both by him and their Lordships as far as they could protect it, they would be guilty of a dereliction of their duty. It was from a fear of the danger that would result from breaking down the principle of a Christian Constitution, that he supported the Amendment of the most reverend Primate, and opposed the second reading of the Bill.
The Bishop of Chichester
was sorry to differ from the right reverend Prelate; but both he and the most reverend Primate magnified the danger that might result from the success of the present measure, as well as the evils which would result to Christianity from admitting Jews into the Legislature. The Jews were the elder brothers of Christians, and he did not see much difference between them. He hoped they would soon be merged into the great body of Christians; and he asked whether such a consummation was most likely to be accelerated or retarded by measures of peace and conciliation? As he was of opinion that it would sooner come to pass by measures of conciliation, he could do no otherwise than vote for the present Bill.
said, that he had listened with great attention to the arguments adduced on both sides. He was desirous to vote with the noble Lord who introduced the measure, yet he would not make up his mind so to do (though at all events he was determined not to vote against it), until he was satisfied upon one point. The point which he wished to be satisfied upon, and upon which he begged to question the noble and learned Lord upon the Woolsack, was this. Were Jews born in and to the privileges of the Constitution? If so, they were entitled to all the franchises of that Constitution, except some clear and especial case was made out against them. Such, he believed, was the opinion of several great men—Mr. Fox, among others—and such was the ground on which he wished to argue the question. 239 He denied, that if persons were born to the privileges of the Constitution, there was any right to deprive them of those privileges, on the ground that they did not profess the established religion of the country. The Christians were too strong to fear any danger from the Jews; and if there was even any danger, their Lord ships would be unworthy of the name of legislators if they allowed themselves to be dictated to by any body of men.
The Lord Chancellor
said, that he was unexpectedly called upon to decide a question of great importance and difficulty. He was therefore unwilling, at so short a notice, to discuss at any great length questions of a polemical nature, or to enter on the abstruse principles of political right. But as he held, if he underderstood the noble Lord's question right, it would not be necessary for him to go to such lengths, neither should he be required to enter deeply into a question of a polemical nature, nor into abstract legal discussions—he thought he might, without running the risk of bewildering himself, or their Lordships, answer the question. He moreover promised their Lordships that he would not detain them long. He felt no hesitation in answering the noble Lord's question—nor in saying that it was not only his own opinion, but likewise that of the soundest lawyers of the country—that his Majesty's subjects professing the Jewish religion were born to all the rights, immunities, and privileges of his Majesty's other subjects, excepting so far as positive enactments of law deprived them of those rights, immunities, and privileges. Some difficulties had been raised as to whether the Jews ought to be considered as natural born subjects of his Majesty, and there were some authorities for holding the Jews, not only as aliens, but as in a state of perpetual hostility to Christianity. Those opinions in practice and in effect were now exploded. And he had no doubt, that he should in vain, were he so disposed, contend in any Court of Justice or Equity, that his Majesty's subjects who professed the Jewish religion ought to be holden as aliens and as enemies. The common law and the Statute Book said the same, and the latter contained enactments evidently for the purpose of relieving this class of his Majesty's subjects from certain statutory burthens imposed on them, but which were originally intended to strike at 240 another class of religious dissenters. He alluded to the Acts levelled at the Jacobites. But by the Act of the 10th George the 1st, the Jews were relieved. Having said thus much in answer simply to a question of the noble Lord, he would shortly state his opinion on the Bill introduced by his noble friend. He had already stated one chief ground on which he was prepared to support that Bill. He considered it a fundamental doctrine in political matters, that no person should be excluded from any right or privilege of a purely civil and secular nature, in respect of the religious belief he honestly and conscientiously entertained. He also admitted, (and it was not inconsistent in him to do so,) that the supreme power of the State had always the right, for the preservation of the State—for its interests, and in order to consult its safety—it had the right, and it was lawful for that supreme power, to lay under disqualification, quoad civil rights, any part or any class of its subjects. If the preservation of the Monarchy, Constitution, and the State, could only be secured by a temporary suspension of the rights of the subject, the supreme power could exercise the right of suspension, still only for a short time, and it was necessity only—the strongest necessity—that could justify it in exercising that authority. There was another reason why he objected to the laws of disqualifications. The reason was, that they must of necessity be limited in their effect, not to say entirely ineffectual. Let their Lordships but look for the moment at the consequences of this system of disqualification. The man of tender conscience and truly upright and honourable feeling was excluded and disqualified, whilst to him who disregarded such obligation, and who possessed a convenient conscience, all offices of the State were perfectly open. Thus it was that these laws proved a heavy burthen to the conscientious, whilst on those not so deserving confidence, it scarcely imposed the weight of a straw; and thus it was that laws, framed avowedly for the support of religion and morality, had a tendency to encourage men who undervalned all religion and all morality. It had been an argument much used on this question, that, as a Christian Legislature, making laws for Christian people, in a country where Christianity was part of the law of the land, they were bound to refuse admittance into that 241 Legislature of all persons not professing that religion. In answer to this he would observe, that the Christian religion certainly was, in a sense, part of the law of the land, but it was not the Christian religion in the abstract; no, it was the Christianity of the Church of England by law established. It was not the Christianity of the Unitarian, of the Presbyterian, or even the Baptist, much less was it the Christianity of the Roman Catholics—none of these were part of the law of the land. The Christianity of the Church of England was the only Christianity recognised by the law; and yet he was glad to say that to all the other unrecognised sects, every office of the State was open. The Catholic, a member of another, and, for the sake of argument, he would say a hostile Church, was admitted to either House of Parliament, or to a seat upon the Bench; and yet no man could reasonably say, that in repealing the last remnant of the penal laws by which the members of that religion were affected, we had declared war against the Church of England, or made Christianity cease to be part of the law of the land. He would ask their Lordships, when they spoke of the necessity for having a purely Christian Legislation in order to preserve a Christian system of law, to remember how useless and ineffectual was the abjuration on which they laid so much stress. Not only had they admitted Unitarians—not only had they admitted those who did not believe in the Son, but those even who did not believe in the Father; avowed Deists and professed Atheists had taken that abjuration, and had taken their seats in either House of Parliament. Persons even who had been stigmatised as infidels by Courts of Justice, had been found amongst their number. Their Lordships would easily remember the names of Lord Shaftesbury and Lord Bolingbroke, who made their abjuration in the true faith of a Christian, being, in his opinion, as much a believer in the true faith of a Christian, as anyone of the Jews whom they wished to exclude, with this difference as regarded the latter, that he had an equal respect for the New Testament as the Old, and believed neither in the law of Moses, nor in the law of Christ, In their own immediate days, he, of course, presumed there were no such instances, but such instances had occurred in what might be considered as 242 their times. However obscure the Records of Parliament were on this subject, the Records of Courts of Justice were somewhat more luminous. He would remind their Lordships,inter alia, of the notorious case of Mr. Wilkes, a man certainly of extraordinary talent, and who, in a civil capacity, was not undeserving of praise, and who was at all events, an instrument in the hands of others, of extending the rights and liberties of his fellow-subjects. But so far as related to his Christianity and morality, the noble Earl who so highly praised the Christianity and morality of Parliament, might almost be defied to produce an example of a man whose principles were more unchristian and immoral than those of that celebrated character. He did not go the entire length of those very extravagant panegyrics which had been indulged in by the noble Earl that night, on the moral and religious character of the people of Great Britain. He did not doubt that we had improved of late years, and that we were more moral and religious than we ever were before. But as for those pharisaical self-gratulations so much indulged in recently at public Meetings, in which we were described as the people, of all other nations, possessing the highest tone of moral and religious feeling, he could only say he hoped it was the case; but this was undoubted—that whether we were the most moral and religious people in the world or not, we, of all people in the world, were the most satisfied that we were so. Whether such an opinion came within the rebuke directed against him who praised the Lord because he was not like the publican, he should not then stop to inquire. Mr. Wilkes was certainly no favourable specimen of either morality or religion. Yet, convicted as he was by the Court of King's Bench, of blasphemy and obscenity, no objection was ever raised to his sitting in Parliament on those grounds—no objection was made to his taking the oath; and though he had heard many moral, religious, and political charges against that individual, he never heard that Mr. Wilkes was charged with hypocrisy for signing an abjuration according to a form of words by which he did not consider his conscience in the slightest degree bound. Their Lordships had heard much of the impiety of this measure, and they had been told, that all who supported 243 such a measure were favourers of impiety and blasphemy. This was an argument, if argument it could be called, which had been urged with a vehemence and intolerance that surprised him. He defied the most ingenious man to twist any one expression or clause in this Bill into favouring impiety or blasphemy. He must say, that charges such as these ought not to be made in that House; they indicated a bad temper and a lack of discretion, which did not become them as legislators. They emanated from a spirit of intolerance and persecution, which he hoped would soon cease to exist. Those who made such charges could look only to their own personal views, and this was their doctrine:—That whatever they believed must be right, and that all who differed with them must be wrong—that all who maintained a different doctrine blasphemed theirs—nay, still more, that all who believed differently from them must not only be in the wrong, but must be insincere in their profession, for though they had a right to believe what they pleased, they had no right to believe what was wrong. These were the fundamental principles of bigotry and intolerance—this was the spirit recommended in the last chapter of that penal book, which they were that night called upon to abrogate. He begged to apologise for the length of time he had detained their Lordships. He was willing to concur with the right reverend Prelate who last addressed them; and if there were anything in this Bill to indicate the slightest disregard of the Christian religion, or if the passing of this measure for taking away the last remnant of that code which inflicted civil disabilities for religious opinions, could show, on the part of the Legislature, anything like a discountenancing of the Christian religion, he would be the last man in that House to lend it his feeble support. He had, however, a different opinion, and he pressed their Lordships to adopt the Bill, because he deemed it the best practical illustration of the pure principles of charity, which the Christian religion so strongly inculcated. He certainly should give the measure his cordial support.
The Duke of Gloucester
regarded the present measure as one of the most awful that had for a long time come under their consideration. In a temporal point of view it was not of much consequence, but in a religious point of view, it was most alarming. The English House of Peers 244 was a Christian House, and ought never to consent to the admission into the Legislature of persons of anti-Christian tenets. No man hated intolerance more than he did—no man was more inclined to give the Jew every conscientious indulgence than himself; but indulgence to conscience was one thing, and admittance to the highest offices of the State, another. He knew several individuals amongst the Jews; he had met with many of them at charitable institutions; and he believed them to be most respectable men; but he could not consent on that account that they should be permitted to legislate for a Christian country. With regard to the conduct of foreign nations, we were an independent people, and ought to act for ourselves. But still there appeared to be some mistake with regard to the treatment of Jews abroad. The fact was, that Jews in France were in the same situation as they were in this country—they were tolerated, but they were not admitted to the Chambers, nor to the higher offices of the State [The Duke of Sussex intimated dissent]. He begged pardon of his illustrious relative, but it was as he had stated. The treatment which the Jews received in Prussia and Saxony, was by no means so favourable as their treatment in this country. With regard to the argument of the noble and learned Lord, he contended that the House had not, nor could it ever have, any control over men who would violate their conscience; but such men he believed to be the exception and not the rule. The safest rule which, in his opinion, could be adopted, was to exclude from a Christian assembly all persons whose profession was not in accordance with the doctrines of Christianity.
§ The Duke of Sussex
gave his noble relative full credit for the sincerity and honesty of his opinions, and claimed equal credit for himself. He took, however, a very different view of the subject. He was one of those who thought this question entirely a political and not a religious one. A most reverend Divine had mentioned in his works what was perfectly true, that the Jews had been visited with a certain curse; but it was also said in the Scriptures, "Woe" to those who carry that curse into execution, and he for one should be very sorry if their Lordships were to stand in such a position. Though he agreed with his noble relative that we were an independent nation, and ought to judge for our- 245 selves, yet the proceedings of other nations were worthy of some consideration. And in France it would be found, not only that Jews had the rights for which they were now contending in this country, but that the Government appropriated a certain sum of money to the payment of their Rabbies. In Belgium this was also the case, for he had the pleasure of corresponding with a very intelligent Jew there, named Meyer, who had been Minister of Justice, and certainly, was one of the first lawyers of the Netherlands. He would venture to say, that a more enlightened jurisconsult was not to be found. Viewing the case as he did, and regretting that he differed from the noble Earl, whose honest sincerity he had often admired, he felt that in common justice to an intelligent, industrious, well-disposed, and ill-used race, he was bound to support the second reading of this Bill.
§ The Duke of Wellington
observed, that the noble and learned Lord (the Lord Chancellor) had said, that it was incumbent upon those who opposed this Bill, to find reasons for their opposition. This he denied. He begged to tell the noble and learned Lord, that this was a Christian country and a Christian Legislature, and that before their Lordships could fairly be called upon to agree to a measure, which at the first blush appeared to invade the principles by which the Legislature had been hitherto guided, it was requisite that some case should be brought forward to prove the necessity of the Bill. The noble and learned Lord had compared the case of the Jews to that of the Roman Catholics; but it should be remembered, that there was an essential difference in this respect. The Roman Catholic Relief Bill was adopted, because it was thought no longer necessary to continue the restrictions imposed by law on the professors of that religion, who had previously to their imposition, enjoyed all the privileges of which they had been deprived. The Catholics had a heavy ground of complaint on that head, whereas the Jews had no such complaint to make; they had never enjoyed privileges, and therefore could not claim their restoration. The condition of the Jews had, in fact, been much improved. They were formerly considered as aliens, and from the reign, he believed, of Edward the 1st, to the Commonwealth, their residence in this country was forbidden under severe penalties. The case of the Jews, 246 therefore, stood on a very different footing from that of the Catholics and other Dissenters, to whom relief had been afforded. The noble and learned Lord had referred to certain Acts of Parliament, by which certain indulgences were granted to Jews in the very words of the present Bill. But these indulgences were granted to Jews in the colonies—in Canada, Jamaica, and Barbadoes; and what was the reason for this? Was there no State necessity for it? Certainly there was. European inhabitants were required in the colonies, and English inhabitants especially; and it was in order to encourage their settlement in Canada, that by the 7th of George 3rd (he believed), these relaxations were made in favour of the Jews—relaxations which were also adopted in the other instances alluded to. But no such necessity existed in the present instance, nor did any reason, equally forcible, now occur. Indeed, no one noble Lord who had supported the Bill, had attempted to prove any necessity for it. They had heard of other countries. Buonaparte had granted great privileges to the Jews, it was true; but it was on reasons of strong-policy, and not till he had carefully inquired whether there would be any danger in so doing. Whereas, here, there was not the slightest previous examination attempted. All that could be contended in favour of this Bill was, that the present was the age of liberal principles, and that this Bill suited the liberal principles of the age. The noble and learned Lord had contended, that by keeping up these restrictions, persons of tender conscience were excluded, whilst those who had no conscience at all, men like Shaftesbury and Bolingbroke, and Wilkes, were admitted. Certainly, there might be some persons of that kind admitted. There were men who would violate all rules, all oaths, and all safeguards; but that was no reason why society should relinquish those safeguards and securities which were, in the majority of instances, effectual. Whilst he fully admitted the respectability and propriety of conduct of a large portion of the Jewish nation, he could not, as a member of a Christian assembly, advise the Christian King of a Christian country to pass such a Bill. The noble and learned Lord had said, that the Christianity which was the law of the land, was merely the Christianity of the Church of England. He differed from the noble Lord, and 247 thought that the law of England derived its code of morality from the Christian dispensation generally, and regarded that dispensation generally as part of that law. He felt it to be his duty to oppose this Bill.
§ Viscount Melbourne
, intending to vote for the Bill, wished to say a few words in its behalf. The noble Duke had sought to establish a difference between the cases of the Roman Catholics and the Jews, because the former had previously enjoyed the privileges which they sought, whereas the latter had never been possessed of them. This was undoubtedly true. The Jews had been, it was admitted, subject to great persecutions in this country; but surely the noble Duke was not prepared to return to these persecutions, nor could he, on reflection, refer to the principles by which those persecutions were dictated, in order to justify the proceeding on similar principles at the present day. The noble Duke said, that no necessity had been shown for the present Bill, whilst he admitted that the necessity for such Bills had been shown in the case of the colonies. After all, the necessity to which the noble Duke referred, as justifying a similar measure towards the colonies, was but a mere instance of political expediency; and if the noble Duke once admitted political expediency as a justification, what became of those high-toned arguments about the desecration of the Christian religion, impiety, and blasphemy, which had been so vehemently directed against the vital principle of this measure, and made the ground-work of all the opposition to it? He believed the right reverend Prelate who spoke third in the debate, had taken the right grounds, when he said, that this was an alteration in the law for the purpose of removing disabilities, and that in such case the onus probandi, of sheer necessity, must be thrown on the parties opposing their removal. He grounded his support of the Bill on the Law and Constitution of England, and on the principles of justice, humanity, and common sense. The State was entitled to the services of every one of its natural-born subjects; and it appeared to him, that in all the debates which had taken place on this subject, one fundamental error had pervaded them. It was not the privileges and advantages of individuals which they had to consider—the deprivation of these did not form the great ground of complaint; on the contrary, the complaint 248 was, that the privileges of the State, the welfare of the country, and the advantage of the community, were seriously injured by those restrictions. If any person should be excluded from an office in the appointment of the Crown, the prerogative of the Crown was so far curtailed, inasmuch as it could not select that person who of all men might perhaps be best fitted to perform the duties of that office. So if the people were prevented from choosing certain individuals to fill those offices to which their voice would raise them, it was the power of the people which was circumscribed and restricted. On this general principle, unless there were any particular reason to the contrary, the State ought not to be deprived of the services of any of its natural-born subjects. All disabilities he believed to be injurious, and in most instances, ineffectual. From this he should probably except the restriction as to qualification by property; because it was requisite that those who filled high offices in the State should be able to offer to it something like a guarantee for their respectability, and some proof that their interests coincided with those of the State itself. He, however, saw no reason whatever in the situation, character, or religion of the Jews, which made it advisable that they should not be admitted to a participation in those privileges from which, by law, they were at present excluded.
wished merely to put a question to the most reverend Prelate at the head of the Church. The question was, did the most reverend Prelate consider the moral and social code of the Jews part and parcel of Christianity, in the same way as he (Lord Clifford) believed the most reverend Prelate considered the moral and social code of the Roman Catholics to be part and parcel of Christianity?
The Archbishop of Canterbury
thought the noble Lord had put the question as though he (the Archbishop of Canterbury) had stated, that there was something immoral and antisocial in the Jewish code. He had used no expression of the kind, nor had he said anything about part and parcel, nor had he at all denied that the code of the Jews was practically consistent with the moral and social relations of Christians. He apprehended that the moral and social codes of Jews and Christians were the same; they differed only on points of religious belief; and he appre- 249 hended the sound believing Jew held the same moral and social code as the Christian.
§ Their Lordships divided—Contents (present 29; Proxies 25) 54; Not-contents (present 44; Proxies 60) 104; Majority 50.
|List of the NOT-CONTENTS.|
|Graham (D. Montrose)||Delamere|
|De la Warr||Loftus (Marq. of Ely)|
|Norwich (D. Gordon)||Ker (M. Lothian)|
|Carlisle||Lichfield and Coventry|
|List of the CONTENTS. Present.|
|Saye and Sele|
§ [The Marquess of Lansdowne, who had two proxies, paired off in favour of the Bill with the Earl of Kinnoul, who also held two proxies, and who was opposed to the measure. Lord Plunkett paired-off for the Bill; Viscount Sidmouth against it.]
§ The following Protests were entered.
§ Dissentient—1. Because the adoption of the Amendment, that this Bill be read this day six months, after the explanations that took place on the discussion of the Motion, that it be now read a second time, and upon the Amendment to that Motion, involves, in my opinion, the adoption of a principle by the House of Lords, which I hold to be fatal to the civil and religious liberties of my country, and to the civil and religious establishments founded at any period of this country for the maintenance and protection of those civil and religious liberties.
§ 2. Because I do not think that I am at liberty to believe, so as to act upon that belief in my legislative capacity as a Peer of Parliament, that it is my duty to protect any Christianity of an undefined nature, 251 much less any Protestantism of an undefined nature.
§ 3. Because I do not believe that I have any right to vote against the exclusion of any subject of the King of England, who, by his birth-right, which is the act of God, becomes entitled to British franchise, unless by some subsequent act of his own free will, he commits certain acts, or adopts certain principles, which render his exclusion from those franchises requisite for the preservation of the civil, or the religious liberties of my country; and that I have official and legal evidence of the commission of such acts, or adoption of such principles, and contumacious perseverance in them, after due citation to renounce them.
§ 4. Because, in the instance of this Bill, I had the authority of the House of Commons, which passed it and sent it up to me, that it was not injurious to the civil and religious liberties of my country that my fellow-subjects should enjoy the franchises of the Constitution, in and to which they were born, although they subsequently had exercised their free will in the adoption of the Jewish religion, which I believe to be false and injurious to Christianity; as I also have exercised my free will in the adoption of the Roman Catholic religion, which the majority of my fellow-subjects believe to be false and injurious to Protestantism.
§ 5. Because the adoption of the Amendment appears to me to cast an insidious, highly unjust, and extremely mischievous aspersion upon the Crown of England, inasmuch as there is not at present any Peer of England professing the Jewish religion, who would, as in the case of the Roman Catholic Peers, be restored ipso facto to the exercise of his hereditary rights in this House; and that, consequently, a rejection of this Bill by this House, after it has passed the House of Commons, seems to me to involve not only an injudicious opposition to the will of the people of England on the part of the Peers of England, but a distrust, for which no act of his present Majesty has afforded the slightest pretext, of the attachment of the Crown to the civil and religious liberties of this country, or to those civil or religious establishments which he is sworn to maintain in defence of those liberties.
§ 6. Because, though I am not convinced that the civil and religious liberties of this country are essentially connected with undefined Protestantism, I am thoroughly and deeply convinced that they are essentially connected with an adherence to the Christian religion, as defined in Scripture in these words of the Divine Author of that one, true, and holy religion:—"All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets."—St. Matt. c. viii. v. 12.
§ "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shall love the Lord thy 252 God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment; and the second is like, namely, this: thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."—St. Mark c. xii., v. 29, 30, 31.
§ It is, therefore, only inasmuch as any description of Christians adhere to the Christianity of the Established Church of England, not inasmuch as they adhere, or profess themselves to adhere, to any peculiar tenets of their own, that I hold them com petent to the duty of Legislators in the Christian and Parliamentary Constitution of my country.(Signed) CLIFFORD.
Dissentient—1. Because it appears to me irreconcilable with the rules of natural justice, and with the maxims of political wisdom, as well as repugnant to the spirit both of the institutions under which we live and the religion which we profess, to exact, unless under the pressure of necessity and for self preservation, any negative or positive test of a man's religious faith, either as a qualification for his serving his Prince or country in a capacity purely temporal or political, or as a condition to his enjoyment of those privileges to which his faith and allegiance would otherwise entitle him. The general injustice and impolicy of all such exclusions are obvious, whatever principles of civil policy we adopt. If civil government be originally founded, as writers of great authority* have contended, and as the laws† passed at the Revolution of 1688 seem to acknowledge, on a contract between the people and their government, it follows that all from whom allegiance and obedience are exacted, are prima facie entitled to the privileges secured by the contract as birthrights to the members of the community to which they belong. It is true, that the perpetration of crimes, and even some special or peculiar circumstances, may, in particular instances, or for a season, justify the suspension of such privileges. But the burthen of proof is in all such cases thrown upon those who enforce or maintain the exception, and not on the party who claims the benefits of the general rule. In like manner, if, according to other prevalent‡ and more recent notions, utility alone be the principle from which the reciprocal duties of prince and people, of government and governed, can be deduced, it is equally clear, that the application of that principle will confer on all from whom allegiance or obedience is expected, such privileges and rights as are found generally useful in insuring the affection of the subject to the State, unless some special or temporary circumstances should intervene to render the suspension of the said rights and privileges in
* Locke.† Vide Bill of Rights.
‡ Paley, Hume, Bentham, and others.
the particular instance expedient or necessary. But the burthen of proof in this, as in the other hypothesis, is thrown upon those who enforce an exception, not on those who solicit the benefit of a general rule. That the genius of our Constitution is to admit all from whom it exacts the duties of allegiance to the full enjoyments of political rights, and especially that of an eligibility to offices and trusts of political power, is an axiom abundantly sanctioned by history and authority, and practically manifested by this striking fact, that no subject of the British Crown is or has been incapacitated from holding such offices or trusts, except by the operation of positive statutes, and that the common law of the land, which, in the language of the great Lord Mansfield*, "never fails to work itself pure by rules drawn from the fountain" of justice, would, if unrestrained by statute, secure to every free-born subject within the realm, the entire right of serving his Prince and country in any office or trust merely political and temporal, to which the favour of his Sovereign might legally appoint, or the confidence of his fellow-subjects duly elect him. This view of the Constitutional right of the natural born subjects of England is repeatedly confirmed by Acts and declarations in Parliament, especially in the conferences which took place between the two Houses in 1702, upon a difference relating to the Bill of Occasional Conformity, then pending in Parliament. Upon that occasion the Lords solemnly recorded their opinion, "that an Englishman cannot be reduced to a more unhappy condition than to be put by law under an incapacity to serve his Prince and country; and, therefore, nothing but a crime of the most detestable nature ought to put him under such a disability." And the Commons, though they deny the conclusion drawn by their Lordships from these premises, yet distinctly admit that an Englishman "is, indeed, reduced to a very unhappy condition who is made incapable of serving his Prince and country."
§ That the spirit of a religion which inculcates universal charity, and teaches us to "love our neighbours, and to do unto others as we would that others should do unto us," must be averse to all exclusion of our fellow-subjects from the benefits generally extended to their countrymen, except on the proofs of necessity, will not, I presume, be disputed, and might be inferred by sundry texts and parables drawn from the Holy Scriptures themselves, as well as by quotations from the earliest and most approved fathers of the Church.
2 Because a Jew born within the King's allegiance is, to all intents and purposes, an Englishman, and, therefore, entitled to all the rights of a natural born subject, save and except such as may, by the operation of statutes
* Speech in Omychund v, Barker, Alkyas's Reports.
actually in force, be withheld or denied him.
§ The legal designation of a natural born subject sufficiently indicates that birth, not parentage or religious faith, entitles him to the privileges appertaining thereunto. The notion founded on a passage of Lord Coke's, that Jews, though born in England, are on the footing of alien enemies, or stigmatized and infamous persons, has been ousted by common sense, reason, and practice, by dicta solemnly pronounced from the Bench, by words in Acts of Parliament, and by decisions in Courts of Justice.
§ English Jews, born in the allegiance of his Majesty, cannot be subject to the privations and disabilities, any more than they can be entitled to the exclusive jurisdictions, exemptions, and privileges, which they are said to have enjoyed before the expulsion of persons professing their faith, in the time of Edward 1st. The passage of Lord Coke, which was written while the law of banishment, and no other relating to the Jews, was in force, could not be meant to apply to Jews born in England, for, in the persuasion of the writer, there was then no one such. It has, moreover, been declared, in the course of a solemn judgment in the Exchequer Chambers (Omychund v. Barker), by Chief Justice Wilkes, to be contrary to religion, sense, and humanity, and in that opinion not only the Solicitor General Murray, but the Judges there present, including Chief Baron Parker and Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, seem to have concurred. English Jews have been recognised and described as his Majesty's subjects in more than one statute; and by an Act of 10 George 4th, cap. 4, they are authorized to exempt themselves from registering their real and personal property by taking the oath of abjuration, without the words of "upon the true faith of a Christian." A provision of indulgence and relief, which not only recognises them as natural born subjects, but manifestly implies their right of holding real property. That right if never solemnly adjudged, because never regularly disputed, has been virtually admitted by various judicial proceedings, where the sale and purchase of lands by Jews have been brought collaterally before the observation of the Courts.
§ 3. Because the words in the oath of abjuration which renders Jews scrupulous of taking it, are not in the substantive part of the oath, and were not introduced with a view of confining the benefits arising from taking it to Christians, or of excluding Jews from office or from Parliament. And the same words in a declaration required by a more recent statute to be made on the acceptance of office, were introduced into an Act which had for its object the relief of Protestant Dissenters, and not the extension of any disabilities and penalties to other classes of his Majesty's subjects. It seems, therefore, unreasonable as well as unjust, that men should be exposed, 255 by a side-wind, to disabilities reserved in the language of our ancestors for crimes of a most detestable nature, by the accidental operation of provisions directed to other purposes, and adopted without any view to that effect by the Legislature.
§ 4. Because, even if reason and law did not teach me to consider all unnecessary exclusions on the ground of religion as acts of persecution and injustice, I should still question the generosity and wisdom of refusing to the supplications of the weak that relief from disabilities which has been recently, and in more than one instance, accorded to the no less just, but far more peremptory, demands of the strong, the powerful, and the numerous.
§ (Signed) VASSALL HOLLAND.
§ August 2, 1833.