The Duke of Cumberland
said, that if he merely considered the principle of the Bill on the Table he should vote against the Motion for the House to resolve itself into Committee. It appeared, however, that some parts of the Bill were necessary, and he should, therefore, consent to the Motion, reserving to himself the right to oppose any part of the Measure. The noble and learned 873 Lord would no doubt say, that he was an unfair opponent of the Measure. He might undoubtedly be wrong, but he was sincere in his opposition to the Bill, and he should proceed in the course he had indicated, though the noble and learned Lord might say it was not a straight forward course. The noble and learned Lord, generally assumed as a matter of course that he was in the right, and those who acted against him were generally in the wrong.
believed that he had never charged the illustrious Duke with being an unfair opponent; on the contrary, he did not know a more straightforward opponent of those measures which he (Lord Brougham) approved of than the illustrious Duke. He generally differed in opinion from the illustrious Duke, and of course he did not consider the illustrious Duke in the right.
The House went into Committee. The preamble was postponed. Clause 1 was agreed to.
On Clause 2 (charging land with a rent-charge equal to seventh-tenths of the tithe-composition) being put,
The Marquess of Westmeath
stated, that he never willingly would sanction the principle of taking thirty per cent, of their incomes from the clergy, which he could not help regarding as spoliation. He could not excuse the late Government for introducing a Clause of this kind into their Irish Tithe Bill. He was aware that it was partially entailed on them by the errors of the previous Governments. It was particularly hard on those of the clergy who lived in the parts of Ireland were tithes where easily collected. It was not his intention to move an Amendment but he should say "No" to the Clause.
§ Clause agreed to, as were clauses 3 and 4.
§ On Clause 5 (if any person who would have been liable to tithe composition held under the person liable to the rent-charge, the amount may be received as rent) being put,
The Marquess of Westmeath
said, that the landlords were made liable for the payment of the clergy, and it was hardly possible to tell in what situation they might be placed in the course of a few years. It was throwing a burden upon the landlords.
The Marquess of Downshire
stated, that there was a great difference between the difficulties of collecting tithes in the north and south of Ireland. There were more compositions in the north, and more col- 874 lections of tithes in kind in the south of Ireland. The difficulties were therefore much greater in the latter than in the former case. He felt convinced, that unless his Majesty's Government took up the subject firmly and coolly, and supported the landlords in carrying this Clause into effect, the greatest evils would follow.
thought the operation of the Clause would be attended with great injustice in the south of Ireland.
The Earl of Wicklow
remarked, that he saw with regret such a Clause as the present in the tithe measure introduced by the late Government. His Majesty's present Ministers had adopted that Clause, and it would now be almost useless to oppose it. There were many instances in Leinster of landlords having taken upon themselves the payment of tithes; which could not be said to be confined to the north.
§ The Clause was agreed to.
§ On Clause 7 (Rent-charges to be under the management of Commissioners of Land Revenue) being read.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, that he had an Amendment to propose. He objected to taking the management of the property of the Church from the clergy and handing it over to the management and control of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. He did not see any reason for this arrangement. He protested against it, as it would make the clergy stipendiaries of the Crown. He thought that it was a great advantage that the clergy were independent of the Crown. The object of his Amendment, therefore, was to place the collection of the rent-charge in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and not to appear to give all the Ecclesiastical property in Ireland to his Majesty by having the income collected by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, and handed over by them to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He was aware that by the course he proposed the clergy might suffer some diminution of their incomes but he preferred this degree of inconvenience to that which would necessarily attend allowing the income of the clergy to remain in the hands of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. This was not only his opinion, hut, also, that of the clergy at large, and more particularly the clergy of the Irish Church. The noble Duke concluded with moving that all words relative to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests be left out of the Clause, and that the words "Ecclesiastical Commissioners" be substituted.
§ Viscount Duncannon
understood the noble Duke to wish to have the management and collection of the rent-charge left to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners instead of the Commissioners of Land Revenue. He (Lord Duncannon) was at a loss to understand how the Ecclesiastical Commissioners could collect this money. He thought that the great object in view was to prevent the clergy having any participation in the collection, so that they might not be brought in collision with the payers. The noble Duke was, of course, aware that under this Bill the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were to issue their warrants on the Commissioners of Land Revenue for the payment of the incomes of the clergy, and it would be incumbent on the Government to make the payments although the rent-charge might not be paid. The clergy of Ireland, then, under any circumstances would receive their incomes. Again, the amount would be collected at a much less expense by the Commissioners of Land Revenue, who had now an extensive machinery for the collection of the Crown Rents in Ireland. If the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were to collect the amount they must have an extensive machinery, and a great expense would necessarily be incurred. This, however, would be avoided by following the course laid down in the Bill. The Land Revenue Commissioners also possessed greater powers to enforce payment than possibly could be intrusted to other persons. He was anxious to learn from the noble Duke the nature of the powers he intended to confer on the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in the collection of this Revenue. He repeated that he did not see how the Amendment could be carried into effect.
§ Lord Hatherton
wished to know whether the noble Duke proposed that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should be intrusted with the collection of lay tithes?
§ The Duke of Wellington
intended that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should only collect the tithes belonging to the clergy.
did not think that the noble Duke could have turned his mind to the working of this Clause when he proposed his amendment. It was clear that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners could not act as the noble Duke proposed, without being intrusted with extraordinary powers. The Crown, as the clause stood, was to become accountable for the payment of the clergy, and it would be most extraordinary if the Crown was not to collect the rent- 876 charge by its own officers. Did the noble Lord opposite mean to say, that the clergy of Ireland were anxious to collect their own revenue?
A Noble Lord
said, that the clergy individually did not desire this, but they were anxious to have their revenue collected by the body of the clergy.
did not see the distinction. Every individual clergyman was to be exempted; and still it was said that the body of the clergy at large, he presumed, as a corporate body, were to collect the revenues. He had never met with a single clergyman who was not anxious to be relieved from the collection of tithes; but it appeared they were not so as a body. Whatever might be the case with the noble Duke, he (Lord Plunkett) had never had the good fortune to meet with the corporate body of the clergy; but he repeated, all the individuals he had met with were anxious to get rid of the collection. He would avail himself of the present opportunity of stating that he believed that the greatest errors prevailed among the great body of the Irish clergy with respect to the provisions of this Bill. Great exertions had been made to procure declarations from the clergy of Ireland against it, and the attempts had often been too successful. It was very easy for noble Lords, who did not know what was passing in Ireland, to propose amendments like the present; but he could not help feeling deeply for that excellent body of men—the Irish clergy. There was now existing sufficient machinery in connexion with the Woods and Forests to insure the collection of the revenue of the Church at little expense; but if the course recommended by the noble Duke was adopted, the charge could not be less than from 10 to 15 per cent, more than would otherwise be required.
The Earl of Winchilsea
agreed in the propriety of an amendment like that now proposed. He was most anxious to provide for the clergy, and was also anxious to prevent them from being brought into collision with the tithe-payers; but he could not agree in the arrangement proposed in the Bill, as he looked upon the property of the Church as a species of private property. The revenue of the Church was not public property; but the Church had been chiefly endowed through the piety of individuals. He never would sanction the proposition that the clergy should become the stipendiaries of the Crown.
§ Viscount Duncannon
stated, that the 877 revenue was to be collected by the Woods and Forests, and then handed over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
§ The Duke of Wellington
had no objection to postpone his amendment. He was perfectly aware that difficulties might arise with respect to the collecting the revenue, and that they might be diminished by letting the management remain with the Commissioners of Woods and Forests; but he thought that it would be alike advantageous to the clergy and the public to leave the management and control of the property in the hands of those to whom it belonged.
§ The Earl of Ripon
was glad that the noble Duke had consented to postpone his amendment. He did not see what advantage would be gained by adopting the mode of collection proposed by the noble Duke. There was but little difference in principle between the two propositions; but the arrangement in the Bill was infinitely more advantageous to the clergy. The Crown was to be made responsible for the payment of the clergy, and the 96th Clause enabled the Treasury to advance an amount to the clergy equivalent to the current year's income out of the Consolidated Fund. If the Bill empowered the officers of the Crown to make advances of money to the clergy equivalent to the revenue of the Church for the year, surely the Crown must have the power of collection. If they transferred the collection to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, they could not call upon the Treasury to make the advances. He did not think that it was for the interest of the clergy, that the Amendment should be pressed.
admitted that an apparent immediate advantage would be gained by pursuing the course prescribed in the Bill, but this would be to sacrifice permanent considerations. He trusted that his Majesty's Ministers would turn their attention to the subject before the Report was brought up. He was sure if some arrangement of the kind now suggested by his noble Friend were adopted, that it would conciliate the clergy of Ireland, and remove that exaggerated feeling which many of them entertained as to the transference of all the revenue of the Church from the clergy to the Crown. As the Bill now stood the Commissioners of Land Revenue could, with the consent of the Treasury, make advances equivalent to the year's income. There probably would be on deficiency in the income of the Church 878 for the first few years, but this might not continue for a series of years. The question then was, supposing that there was not a sufficiency of funds to pay the incomes of the clergy, how was the money to be applied? Was it intended that those who presented their drafts first should be paid in full, while those who did not present their warrants so soon should be told there was no money in the coffers? or was it intended to throw on all the clergy any deficiency that might arise? It was necessary not only to provide for the current year, but for future years.
§ Viscount Duncannon
did not think there was a chance of collecting tithes in Ireland unless the measure was carried in a conciliatory temper, and enforced with discretion and moderation. He believed that the landlords and the great body of the people of Ireland were willing to carry this Bill into effect with such temper. The hon. and gallant General who was Secretary for Ireland under the late Administration, stated, that the collection of tithes had, in point of fact, ceased in Ireland. He could not conceive how the adoption of this amendment would lessen the difficulties which would otherwise exist with respect to carrying into effect the provisions of this Bill.
was quite prepared, and believed all the noble Friends with whom he generally acted were equally ready, to make very great concessions with a view to establish the principle of this measure in conformity with the course taken by the other House of Parliament, so far as regarded the manner in which the clergy were to be provided for in Ireland. He said this with the utmost sincerity, though he felt how many objections existed against part of the Bill. He knew the full extent of all the difficulties of the question perhaps better than he did last year, because he had been since called on to consider the subject as a Minister of the Crown, and he frankly confessed the difficulties in the way of a satisfactory adjustment of the question appeared almost insuperable. He believed it to be impossible to bring in any Bill for the settlement of tithes in Ireland against which objections might not be stated that must be fatal to a measure on any other subject. At the same time he also felt that the thing must be done. He was therefore anxious, as far as possible, to agree in the measure as sent up from the House of Commons, and he believed that, with the exception of two or three point, 879 he and his noble Friends should be able to concur in the greater part of the Bill, as far as it related to tithes. They would do so, and then they would ask the noble Viscount opposite whether, by the intervention of a new principle of appropriating church property, he and his friends were determined to prevent a settlement of the question?
thought that their Lordships would render the proposed plan only temporarily inconvenient by inserting a clause for the redemption of tithes. If they took this course, in his opinion but a short time would elapse till the whole would be redeemed by the parties liable to pay tithe. He was afraid, lest by perpetuating the charge of tithe on the landlord, they might expose the payment of rents in Ireland to the same unpopularity as attended payment of tithe. If they adopted the redemption clause introduced into Sir Henry Hardinge's Bill, it would be attended with great advantage, and would finally settle the question satisfactorily; meanwhile, he thought that for the intervening time till tithe redemption came into operation, they might tolerate the present principle.
The Earl of Wicklow
would throw out for the consideration of the Government, whether it could not be contrived that even if the collection remained with the Commissioners, as proposed by the clause, the funds should not be transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners more immediately and more simply. He thought it hard that the additional charge of sixpence in the pound for the cost of collection should be laid upon the clergy.
§ Clause agreed to, as were clauses 8 and 9.
§ On Clause 10, which provides that the grounds upon which applications for revision may be founded shall be submitted to the Commissioners of Land Revenues for their consideration, and if found sufficient that such revision shall be allowed,
objected to the Clause, and hoped that the House would join him in rejecting it, especially as the noble Viscount at the head of the Government had admitted that this Clause was not defensible in point of principle. The Clause opened tithe compositions without any limitation, from the period of Mr. Goulburn's Act, in 1815, downwards. It I required evidence of what had been collected on account of tithes so far back as 1815. Though there had been 1,505 tithe 880 compositions under Mr. Goulburn's Bill, there were only thirty-nine appeals, and the amount of composition had been reduced in not more than three cases. Under the Bill introduced by Lord Stanley for compulsory composition, there were eighty appeals, seven of which had not been adjudicated, and in only 14 cases were the compositions reduced in amount. These circumstances clearly proved that there had not been excess in fixing the amount of composition. Lord Stanley's Act gave a power of revision. Where parties acted under Mr. Goulburn's Bill, the Lord-lieutenant could afford them redress if they were dissatisfied, call a meeting, petition, and show the existence of concealment or some other sufficient cause for re-opening the composition. Under this provision there had been only six appeals, of which four were dismissed; in one case the composition was raised, and in one only it had been diminished. Was it fair to open every tithe composition in Ireland, not merely on account of fraud, concealment, or circumvention, for in those cases compositions could be opened under Lord Stanley's Act, but where the corn averages had varied, and on ex parte statements? He objected to the Clause on the ground that sufficient room for appeals had been already given, that little or no abuse had been shown in making the compositions, and that every opportunity had already been afforded for correcting anything that was wrong. The avowed object in this Bill was to establish good order and tranquillity in Ireland. Could they do that by inducing litigations between every clergyman and his parishioners? He could imagine nothing so likely to disappoint the expectations of the Legislature as this clause. The noble Viscount admitted the clause to be indefensible in principle; he (Lord Ellenborough) thought it would be injurious in practice, and he therefore called upon their Lordships to discard it.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, that the admission he had made, with respect to the principle of the Clause, had been extended rather further than he intended, and more stress was laid upon the matter by the noble Baron than any thing he could say deserved. However, he was perfectly ready to admit, that, generally speaking, it was not advisable to open tithe compositions; and, therefore, in so far was the present Clause not perfectly reconcilable with a strict adherence to the principle he had laid down. But let noble Lords see what were the reasons for a departure from that prin- 881 ciple. It was generally admitted that great dissatisfaction prevailed at many of the existing compositions, that they were felt to be onerous and burdensome, that some had been entered into on the basis of a price of corn much too high, that others were fixed carelessly, and without sufficient inquiry; and, on these grounds, though such revisions were not in general advisable, yet, under all the circumstances, it was thought proper to admit of a deviation from the strict principle, for the purpose of letting in a re-adjustment of those compositions. With respect to the compulsory compositions effected under Lord Stanley's Act, almost everybody admitted them to require revision. They were entered into at a time of great excitement; when people did not care whether the compositions were fixed at a rate high or low; for it was their firm determination not to pay tithes at all. This showed the necessity for a revision of compositions made under such unfavourable circumstances. There was a strong opinion on this subject on the part of the landlords of Ireland, as was evident from what had passed elsewhere. The landlords had agreed to terms onerous to them, on the faith of this among other provisions; and if their Lordships struck out those conditions, they would not find that willing consent to the Measure which could alone lead to a satisfactory settlement of the Question. He wished for the success of the Measure in Ireland, and with that view was anxious that the Bill should stand as it did.
The Earl of Wicklow
thought that every word which had fallen from the noble Viscount justified his noble Friend's argument. The noble Viscount said that many contracts had been entered into when the price of corn was high, but the Bill provided a remedy for this in letting in future averages. The noble Viscount stated, that the parishes which had most reason to complain of the compositions were those that came under the operation of Lord Stanley's compulsory Act, and that such was the excitement that prevailed, and so determined were the people not to pay tithes in future, that they were careless what might be the amount of composition. Were parties to be allowed to take advantage of their own wrong? And was a new door to be opened to excitement by the present Clause? If their Lordships agreed to this Clause, he would rather have no Bill passed on the subject at all.
said, that a Bill of this kind never would answer the purposes for which it was intended, so long as any class 882 of the people of Ireland were discontented with its leading enactments. Though he was against opening voluntary compositions, he was in favour of opening the compulsory compositions under Stanley's Act, but no other.
§ Lord Hatherton
felt himself bound to support the Clause, as he knew that many compositions had been made in ignorance of the most important facts, although with the best intentions and the strictest integrity on both sides. He begged leave to remind the noble Baron, that the number of appeals made did not depend on the merits of the appeals themselves, so much as upon the sufficiency of the terms under which they were allowed. One of the conditions under which appeals were allowed was, that they should be lodged within six weeks from the day of the passing of the Act, and that had limited the number of appeals very considerably. He was of opinion that if these Clauses remained part of the Bill, not many appeals would be lodged under them.
The Bishop of London
said, that from the statements of the noble Viscount, it appeared to him that the grounds for this Clause were entirely cut away. He asked their Lordships whether they were prepared to infringe further upon property which was too much reduced already, in order to satisfy, not the people of Ireland, but a few turbulent and tumultuary spirits in that country? He called upon such of their Lordships as were best acquainted with the state of Ireland, to declare whether there was a single composition in that country under which the clergyman received a fifth part of the amount strictly due to him by the law for his tithe? He knew that, of the numerous witnesses examined upon that point before a Committee of their Lordships, there was not a single one who did not admit that the clergy of Ireland did not receive a fifth of what was legally due to them. He would undertake to show, at a future stage of the Bill, that the cause of all these disturbances was the iniquitous conduct of the Irish Parliament in doing away with the tithe of agistment.
[A. desultory conversation ensued, in which the Earl of Ripon, Lord Fitzgerald, the Marquess of Westmeath, the Earl of Harrowby, the Earl of Winchilsea, and Lord Lyndhurst on the one side, declared their intention of opposing the Clause; and in which Lord Duncaunon, the Marquess of Clanricarde, Lord Brougham, and the Marquess of Lansdowne on the other side, 883 declared their intention of supporting the Clause. The Clause was in the end struck out]
On Clause 40, providing that tithe compositions should he increased or diminished according to the price of corn during the last seven years, as compared with the prices stated in the certificate thereof, and the amount of the rent-charges calculated accordingly, and a little variation according to the price of corn should take place every year in the amount of rent-charges, being put,
proposed to omit the Clause, on the ground that it would operate in direct violation of the contracts entered into under the Tithe Acts respectively introduced by Mr. Goulburn and by Lord Stanley. The contracts made for composition under the Bill, and the amended Bill of Mr. Goulburn, had been respected in the Measure of Lord Stanley; and with respect to those compositions, he trusted the Government would now be as honest as it was when the latter Bill passed. He should, under this feeling, move that the Clause be struck out.
The Earl of Wicklow
supported the original Clause, as giving a protection to the landlords, whose interests had hitherto been lost sight of, and upon whom an additional burden was now thrown, in the consideration of those of the clergy. He considered that this Clause was only carrying out the principles of the Bill of Lord Stanley; and on all these grounds he was more disposed to support the original Clause than the Amendment proposed by the noble Baron.
§ Viscount Melbourne
was of opinion, that the Clause as it stood would correct the evils of a fixed period of average, and, instead of inflicting injury upon any, would be beneficial to all parties. If the Clause applied to voluntary contracts alone, he would admit the justice of what had been said; but it should not be forgotten, compulsory contracts existed.
The Marquess of Westmeath
thought the Clause as it stood would create great confusion and injustice.
§ Lord Hatherton
supported the Clause, as without it the Bill would work a great injustice upon the landlords of Ireland. It could not be productive of disadvantage to the tithe-receiver, while, on the other hand, it was only a provision of strict justice to those upon whom a heavy burden was by this Bill to be placed,—namely, the landowners.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
said, that on the terms of the law, as fixed by the measures of Mr. 884 Goulburn, and re-established under that proposed and passed by Lord Stanley, contracts for compositions had been entered into for twenty-one years, and he would ask on what, or with what justice, could this House set aside the agreements and contracts so entered into? Those parties to such engagements were entitled to the full benefit of the bargain they had made. He would ask their Lordships, if in the case of a contract for a Government loan, they would interfere, supposing the price of stocks rose 20 and 30 per cent.? Would they consent to step in between the parties and their fair profit under their contract? Such was the case here; the parties to these contracts and agreements were entitled, as he had already said, to the full benefit of their bargains, and on these grounds he should support the Amendment by which these agreements would be maintained inviolate.
said, that if this Clause was struck out, as he had moved, it was his intention, on bringing up the Report, to propose the insertion of a Clause with a view to the protection of existing rights of parties now under compulsory contracts, and to extend the same to the rent-charges created under this Bill.
§ The House divided upon the Question that the Clause stand part of the Bill: Contents 35; Not Contents 126; Majority 91.
|List of the CONTENTS,|
|Ilchester.||Howard of Effingham.|
|Sefton.||Brougham and Vaux.|
§ Clause omitted.
§ Clauses 41 to 60, inclusive, were agreed to without comment.885
§ Upon Clause 61 being read, which enacts that upon the next vacancy of the church of any parish in which there are not more than fifty members of the Established Church, such church may be sequestered, and no appointment of a clergyman to such church shall be made until the Lord-lieutenant in Council shall think fit so to direct; and that during such period of sequestration the rents, profits, and emoluments thereof from time to time accruing due, and all arrears which may have accrued, shall without any writ or process whatsoever be vested in and received by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who shall have all the remedies for the recovery thereof that had belonged to the incumbent,
The Earl of Haddington
said he rose to call the attention of their Lordships to this Clause, and to those which followed it, to Clause 88 inclusive, as parts of this Bill by which a most deadly blow was aimed at the Protestant religion in Ireland. In doing so, he feared he should have to trespass on their Lordships' indulgence for some time. He was sorry that he could not make the subject interesting, but he was much relieved on this head by knowing that it was one of the most vital importance, which of itself would excite deep interest in the minds of their Lordships. In the remarks which he felt it his duty to make on it, he assured the House that he would take up as little of its time as possible. It was his intention to move, as an Amendment, that the Clauses 61 to 88, both inclusive, should be struck out of the Bill; and, first, he would state briefly to the House the substance. The noble Lord then read Clause 61, as already given. He went on to say, that by Clause 62 it was provided, that where there were no members of the Established Church, in such parish the occasional duty should be committed to a neighbouring minister. The next Clauses provided, that where there were any resident members, or where there was at present a resident minister and a Church or Chapel, the duty might be committed either to the neighbouring minister or to a resident curate; but the next Clause enacted, that where there were some Protestant inhabitants, members of the Established Church, but less than the magical number of 50, the incumbent or officiating minister of the neighbouring parish, who should perform occasional duty in it, should receive such sum, not less than 10l., and not exceeding 50l., as the Commissioners, by consent of the Lord-lieutenant in Council should determine; but if there were no 886 resident Protestants, the remuneration for the occasional duty by the neighbouring clergyman was fixed at the small sum of 5l. in the year. Was that a fit remuneration to be offered for the services of a gentleman and a Christian minister? The next Clause was worthy of the serious attention of their Lordships. It provided that if in any such parish with a less number of resident members of the Established Church than 50, and where a curate might be appointed, and where there might be no consecrated place of worship, a sum not exceeding 100l. should be granted for the erection of a place of worship, or a sum not exceeding 15l. a-year should be paid for the rental or hiring of some suitable building for that purpose,—upon that Clause he would not offer one word of comment. By the next (the 68th) Clause, the Bishop of the diocese was to be associated with the Commissioners in providing for the spiritual wants of parishes coming under the operation of the Bill; and here he must say that the Bishop was very little mixed up with the regulations of the Bill, though it would be but natural to expect that he should have a direct interference in all matters connected with the spiritual wants of his diocese. The 69th Clause authorized the Commissioners to let or demise the whole or any portion of glebe-houses or lands of parishes coming under the operation of the Act, except such portion as any resident curate might desire to occupy. The 70th, 71st, and 72d, empowered the Commissioners to pay off charges on, and recover sums due to, such suppressed benefices, and, in case the sequestration should be removed, to charge a portion of such charges paid off on the succeeding incumbent. The next Clause authorized the Commissioners to disunite a parish having less than 50 Protestant inhabitants from any union in which it had been joined, and to deal with it as a single parish, and by the next Clause it was enacted, that if the union should be maintained, the income of the next incumbent should be subject to such reduction as the Lord-lieutenant should direct with respect to the extent of duty in those parishes of the union not containing more than 50 Protestants. The next Clauses provided, that where parishes were united to other parishes not contiguous, they should be disunited next vacancy; that charges on unions should be provided for, that glebe-houses or churches in disunited parishes should nevertheless be used for purposes of union, and that no episcopal 887 union should be made without notice to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The 78th Clause provided that incomes derived from benefices in which divine service had not been performed for three years, and which were therefore suppressed under the Church Temporalities' Act, should be applied to the purposes, not of that Act, but of the present Bill. The next Clause provided for the reduction of benefices of which the revenues should be proportioned to the ecclesiastical duty, so that no benefice should be reduced below 300l. The next Clause of importance to which he came was the 84th, which provided that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should pay all the monies vested in them under the Act into the Bank of Ireland, to be there carried to a separate account, called the "Reserve Fund Account," out of which the various sums and charges to be paid by them under the Bill were to be defrayed, and the overplus to be paid into the Consolidated Fund. By the next Clause that fund was charged with the payment of 50,000l. for the moral and religious education of the people, without distinction of religion. The remaining Clauses provided that the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury might lend and advance out of the produce of the Consolidated Fund such sum or sums of money as might be required for the purposes of the Bill, on the credit of the reserve fund. The 88th Clause required the Commissioners to make an annual report of their proceedings to Parliament. Now, he thought that in this abstract of the Clauses which he should propose to strike out, their Lordships would agree with him that there was ample matter for serious consideration. Here were the matters of two distinct Bills, and he was sure that even if their Lordships were disposed to concur in the Clauses he had just read, which he did not believe, they would admit at least that the present Bill was not that in which they should be introduced. Those Clauses went to encumber a Bill on the general principles of which, after what had passed that evening, it was seen that there was very little difference of opinion amongst their Lordships, by the introduction of a principle to which insuperable objections were raised, and to which he was sure the majority of that House would not assent. He should have thought that noble Lords opposite would have rested content with the abstract principle which had had such an effect in ousting their opponents from office, and placing themselves in the Government, and that they would have embodied it in a 888 separate measure. However, he would not then enter into that Question, but he would call on their Lordships to make their stand and resist this first legislative attempt to divert the property of the Church to other than Ecclesiastical and Protestant uses. He would not enter into the question of the right of Parliament to divert property sacred, or otherwise, from the particular purpose for which it had been bestowed, but he must say that the assertion of such a right in the case of Church-property involved a principle fraught with great danger to the security of property in general. When he spoke of the Church, let it not be supposed that he stood there as the supporter of any of its abuses—that he stood as the supporter of pluralities and other abuses which had crept in by time, and which by the admission of the most sincere advocates of the Church ought to be remedied; but that was one of the reasons why he objected to this Bill as it now stood. If noble Lords opposite would insist on having a resident clergy, and each with only one cure of souls, then it would be necessary that they should provide a decent maintenance for those clergymen on whose constant attendance to that cure of souls they insisted. In that case there would be little left after such decent provision was made; but that little would be made less by the other payments which they would have to make out of the church revenues under the Bill. This, he repeated, was one ground of his objection. Now, he did not object so much to the principle of sequestration as to the principle on which it was made. Pro hac vice, there was a limitation to the principle as to place and numbers; but that limitation did not tend to lessen the dangerous operation of the measure. At present, the place in which the principle was to operate was confined to Ireland; but if they adopted that principle, the time might come when it would be considered that it should be applied to England also. In the majority of parishes in England the members of the Established Church composed the greater number of the inhabitants, but there were others in which they might and did now form the small minority. Here, then, was a precedent ready made to their hands, to be acted upon on a future occasion. The principle was limited pro hac vice, as he had said, to fifty Protestants; but what was there magical in that number that it should be always adhered to? Suppose the numbers of Protestants and 889 Catholics should be taken comparatively, and that there should be 100 Protestants and some 4,000 or 5,000 Catholics, the principle would be as applicable in that case as it was at present. But then the Bill carried with it a temptation. It promised a surplus revenue to be applied to other than Protestant Ecclesiastical purposes, and just the same arguments which were now used for the operation of the Bill on parishes where there were not fifty Protestants, might hereafter be used to extend its operation to cases where there were less than 100. He understood that there were in Ireland 2,505. [A noble Lord: the number is 2,405.] He had got the numbers 2,505, and of that number this Bill would strike at the existence of 860, that being the number of parishes which had less than fifty resident Protestants. It would then leave 1,645 with more than fifty, but there were 960 parishes with more than 100 Protestants, and 800 with between fifty and 100. These latter would probably be the next to be dealt with on the principle of the Bill, in order to satisfy those who were clamouring against the Established Church. No wonder that the success of this measure had been received with shouts in another place—no wonder that it should have been opposed by a majority of the county Members of England and Wales, and that at length its principle should have been carried by a small majority of the whole House, and that the number of that majority was not much more than the numbers of the Catholic Members of that House, under the influence of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin. Well might a measure so carried have the effect of striking terror into the Protestants of Ireland, and of inspiring their opponents with triumph. Reference was made on a former night by the noble Viscount to the Church Temporalities' Act, and the noble Viscount had appealed to their Lordships to pass this Bill because they had passed that Act, Now, one of his objections to this Bill was, that it interfered with that Act. There were many things in that Act of which he disapproved at the time, and which he still continued to disapprove, because he thought it did injustice to the prelates and to the clergy; but still there were parts of it which were good, and it was free from many of the most objectionable parts of the present measure. It aid not interfere with the principle of Protestant numbers. It did not interfere with the appropriation of 890 Church property to other than Protestant Ecclesiastical purposes. It did not interfere with the property of glebe-houses and lands. On the contrary, it provided for keeping them up, and assisted to enlarge and increase them. But the present Bill went to divert, in addition to its other objectionable parts, the funds created by that Bill to other and totally opposite purposes. It paid to the Consolidated Fund, certain sums in order to get out of that fund, a grant of 50,000l. to the education board. But there was one thing which was urged as a recommendation of the Church Temporalities' Bill—it was said to be a final measure; and he was sure, that if it had not been so described, it would not have passed their Lordships' House. The Bill had been supported by the right Reverend Prelate (the Bishop of London), who stated as one of his reasons for that support, that it was a final measure. He (Lord Haddington) and several other Peers did not vote at all on that occasion, but most certainly he would have opposed it if he had considered it not a final measure. What then, he would ask, was there in this Bill in common with the Church Temporalities' Bill? [Viscount Melbourne: the suspension of many benefices.] Yes; but not on the principle of the number of Protestants in the parish, and in cases only where divine service had not been performed in the parish for three years; but even in that case the funds were tied up, and not applied to any other than Protestant Ecclesiastical purposes. There was one part of his noble Friend's (Lord Melbourne's) appeal to their Lordships the other evening, which he could not pass without a remark. It was that part in which his noble Friend was pleased to be jocular, though, from the gravity with which he had urged the point, he (Lord Haddington) at one moment thought him serious. His noble Friend had reminded their Lordships that he had been asked, soon after his Government was formed, whether he considered himself pledged to the resolution of the House of Commons on the subject of appropriation, and he had answered in the affirmative; and his noble Friend went on to add, that though he had made that statement, the majority of their Lordships had taken no step to turn him out—that, on the contrary, though they had opposed him on some points, they had given a support to the general measures of his Government; and he asked whether, under such circumstances, it was consistent in their Lordships 891 to oppose him on this occasion? Now, he would ask whether their Lordships had ever heard of such an appeal as that? Why, they had not opposed the noble Viscount's Government in every step which they took, because they were not unmindful of the times in which they lived, because they were not disposed to give a factious opposition, because they wished to give his Government a fair trial, and because their opposition was to measures and not to men. It was on these grounds that the noble Viscount's Government was not opposed; but for the noble Viscount now to turn round and say, that the Opposition should support the present because they had supported other measures of the Government, was, to say the least of it, a most extraordinary mode of arguing—certainly a most extraordinary ground for shifting the responsibility of the noble Viscount's measures on his political opponents. His noble Friend had made one admission as to this Bill, which ought to be fatal to it. He had admitted that it would be some discouragement to Protestantism, and to the Established Religion in Ireland. Now, though he would admit that the Protestants did not constitute a third of the population of Ireland, still he would assert that the Established Church in that country was the great prop of the connexion between the two countries, and on this point he would appeal with confidence to the Presbyterians of Ireland. It was because, amongst other reasons, he felt convinced of this truth, that he would not give his sanction to these clauses. By these clauses the Catholics were made the heirs to the Protestant Church in all the parishes where the Bill would operate; and from this feeling they had a temptation in every instance, where the attempt was not hopeless, to reduce the number of Protestants in each parish down, as had been said by a friend of his, "to the no-parson-point." Now, suppose there were fifty-five Protestant inhabitants in a parish, it would not be very difficult on the part of the Catholics, by means of intimidation, to drive them out, to make them wish to go where they might lead a quiet life. There was a temptation held out to them so to intimidate the resident clergyman as to induce him to create a vacancy; for in all those parishes where the Protestants were under fifty, the Bill would not come into operation until a vacancy was created by the death or resignation of the incumbent. Even from the short experience he had had 892 in Ireland, he could assure their Lordships that they could not do anything more destructive to its tranquillity than to create any feeling which would rouse up the spirit of intimidation, and more particularly on grounds connected with religion. It had been said, that the sum of 50,000l. would be paid by the Consolidated Fund, and that that would lessen the temptation to which he referred. This might be true if all that the agitators of Ireland wanted was to get the 50,000l. for the purposes of education; but did any man who had any knowledge of the subject think that all those agitators wanted was the 50,000l.? Was it not notorious that they aimed at nothing less than the levelling of the Established Church? He had heard so much urged on the assumption of a surplus, that he felt it unnecessary to add a word to what had been said as to the absurdity of that assumption. There was not, and there could not be, any surplus of church revenue, if out of that was to be paid all that was charged on it by this Bill. To legislate, therefore, on the assumption that a surplus would remain, would be to play into the hands of those whose object was to undermine the Protestant Church. He felt that he had not been able to do justice to this subject, and he was sorry that it had not fallen into other hands. He would only add, that he could conceive a case of dire necessity urging a measure of this kind, which might induce men to concur in it against their conviction of its justice; but had any case of that kind been made out for this Bill? Had any pressure of the sæva necessitas been proved, or attempted to be proved, to justify this measure? Was there anything, and what, in the character of the Protestant Church of Ireland which called for it? That Church had been the subject of the grossest exaggeration. Its wealth was said to be enormous, while its members were said to be comparatively few. Its revenues were quadrupled, and the number of its adherents described to be less than a-fourth of the actual amount. The truth, however, had at last come out, and we now knew with tolerable certainty the amount of its revenues and the numbers of its members. It might be, and no doubt was, necessary to make a more equal distribution of the revenues of the Church amongst the clergy, but that could be done without spoliation. Was there, he would ask, anything in the character of its clergy which called for this Measure? He would say nothing of the character of the clergy 893 of another church; but this he would assert with confidence, that the clergy of the Established Church of Ireland would stand a comparison not only with the Catholic priesthood of their own country, but with the priesthood of any country in the world:—more exemplary conduct, more zeal in the discharge of their duties, more piety in their own conduct, did not exist amongst any body of clergy in any country. No doubt there were anomalies in the Church of Ireland, but did the correction of those anomalies require that the church should be pulled down? Was that the reason why they should not consider it as one of the great links of connexion between England and Ireland? Was it, then, that the number of Protestant members was so small, compared with the mass of the population in Ireland? Was that a sound reason for taking from them that property which had hitherto been applied solely for their religious instruction? He would tell their Lordships that the time might come, and there was no telling how soon, when they might feel called upon to declare whether they would support or not the Protestant Institutions of this country. Let them not defer the declaration until it might be too late to make it with effect. He would not further trespass on the indulgence of the House, but conclude by moving, that the Clauses he had mentioned be omitted.
§ On the Question being put as to the omission of Clause sixty-one,
§ Lord Glenelg
said, that he was as deeply impressed with the importance of this question, and as much alive to the great interests which it involved, as his noble Friend who had just sat down, or as any noble Lord in that House. He did not ask their Lordships to support those clauses on the ground of any comparison of numbers of Catholics and Protestants. If he asked their Lordships to support the Bill, he did so not on any ground of misconduct on the part of the Protestant Clergy, for he professed himself as ready as his noble Friend, or any other noble Lord, to offer the fullest testimony to the active virtues of that venerable body. Whatever they might have been at one period, since the Union there had been a rapid improvement in the character of the Irish Church in connexion with its Clergy; and he would add that at present there could be found in no Church a greater number of individuals eminent for zeal, piety, and learning. His noble Friend had not alluded to the actual condi- 894 tion of that Church in its relation to the great mass of the people of Ireland. His noble Friend had said that this Bill contained two measures which had no necessary connexion, and ought not to be joined in the same Bill. He would admit that the appropriation of a sum of money for the particular purposes of general education was not necessarily connected with the arrangement as to tithes, but the general object of both principles was the same; it was to promote the tranquillity of Ireland—it was to rescue the Church of Ireland from the great danger with which she was now threatened. To secure that object he would extend the benefits of education throughout Ireland, and in that respect the two measures, as his noble Friend called them, were the same. His noble Friend had admitted that there were anomalies in the Church. The object of the Ministers was to correct those anomalies, and improve the character of the Church in the estimation of the country. This would be a lasting benefit to the Church itself as well as to the nation, for he would admit with his noble Friend, that all who desired to continue the connexion of the two countries ought to support the Protestant established Church; and it was in the firm conviction that he should be doing the best for its support that he would give his cordial assent to the present Bill. The Protestant Church had in fact been made the victim of the policy of the State in former times; and it was suffering under the accumulated odium of a series of ages. Impartial truth he was afraid must admit that that Church was not established altogether with a view to the religious improvement of the people of Ireland. It was originally established by the cold dictates of a calculating policy, and intended only to form part of that machinery by which the political ascendancy of this country in Ireland was to be secured and perpetuated. How else could it be accounted for, that in Ireland alone the Protestant Church had failed to produce those fruits abundantly gathered from it in all other parts? Why, with the same doctrines, the same purity of principles that elsewhere united all in love and reverence towards it, had it in Ireland failed, not only to make converts, but even to gain friends? The consequences of this mistaken policy, and of the invidious position in which the Church had been placed, were not easily to be removed. The first great step, however, had been already taken in the improvement of the clergy; the next 895 to be taken would be to transfer the payment of tithe from the tenant to the landlord, and this he considered would go far towards conciliation. It was certain, although there had been great exaggeration in the statements made, that the Irish Church had great wealth, ample endowments, princely possessions, and the impression was, that although it had more than was needed for the supply of all the moral and spiritual wants of the Protestants, yet that it was unwilling to give any portion to be laid out for the advantage of their Roman Catholic brethren. Their Lordships must look to the aspect of the country. To save the Protestant Church in Ireland from destruction it was necessary that the good will of the people of that country should be conciliated. What was not granted to the voice of thousands could not be withheld from the cry of millions. If the proposition before their Lordships went to injure the stability of the Church, he was of opinion that they should pause before they acceded to it; but, on the contrary, if it could be shown that it had the opposite effect, they should not hesitate a moment in adopting it. He denied that it was intended to strike any blow at the Irish Church by the mode in which it was proposed to deal with certain of the parishes. The Temporalities' Act had already to some extent recognized the principle of numbers, and Ministers only extended its principle. He was ready to admit that the Clergy were extremely useful in their capacity of resident gentry, but they were frequently called upon to act as magistrates, and that was likely to be injurious to them in the estimation of their parishioners—their own flocks were small in number, and with them they could not be on the same terms of minute intimacy that might prevail if they were placed in a less exalted station, and which did exist between the Roman Catholic flock and the priest. As to the observation about the money proposed for erecting Churches, he thought it sufficient; 100l. would be enough to raise such an edifice as would accommodate a small congregation, and he thought that the poor and scattered Protestants would be materially benefited by this provision of the Bill, in having religious worship brought home to their door. His noble Friend had said that removing the Protestant Clergy from the parishes where there was no congregation was striking a blow at the existence of the Church; but when their Lordships came to reflect on the state of these parishes—in 896 all of them very few Protestants—in some none at all—he thought they could not deny that it was doing no injury to the Church to rectify the evil. The next branch of the subject referred to education. He should not enter into the merits of the question of a general system of education, because it had been discussed before, and because his noble Friend had but slightly alluded to it. But he felt bound to say that he believed its extension would be highly advantageous to the Established Church of Ireland. The Established Church grounded its claims upon intelligence, and the more that was increased, the more converts there would be to the reasonable opinions entertained by it. To give a general education to the people of that country would be giving greater stability to the Church, and extending and perpetuating its influence. His noble Friend had touched very slightly on the principle of appropriation, and he (Lord Glenelg) should not, therefore, be tempted to trespass beyond the example set him. Whatever might be the general or abstract view of the subject, the practical sense of mankind had established the proposition that the Legislature might deal with Church property, and surely the surplus funds of the Church could be applied to no better purpose than the promotion of a system of moral education. The noble Lord himself, in agreeing to the distribution of Church property, recognized a difference between it and private property, and thereby assented to the principle which he had laid down, showing that Church property was to be regarded as property held in trust for public purposes. His noble Friend had next attacked the funds to be created for Church purposes by the Bill before their Lordships; but his noble Friend should not have confounded them as he did. He should have distinguished between those which were denominated the Reserve Fund, and those which accrued under the operation of the Church Temporalities' Act. The more the state of the Protestant Church in Ireland was considered, the more incumbent it appeared on those who were bound to protect it to put it in a condition of safety. If the opportunity which now offered were to be lost it might be too late to attempt it ever again. The agitation of Ireland was mainly derivable from the ill feeling engendered in connexion with the Church; that agitation was great, and by no means decreasing. Their Lordships; indeed, were so used to 897 hear of disturbances and tumults in Ireland, that the alarming tale had ceased to make the due impression on them. If their Lordships were told of any other people in these dominions being in the same way, they would feel themselves bound to take immediate and effective steps to bring them into a state of tranquillity. In conclusion, he said, that however auspicious might be their prospects elsewhere, so long as Ireland continued in its present state this great empire never could enjoy perfect security.
The Bishop of London
spoke as follows:*—"My Lords, there cannot be a clearer and more demonstrative proof of the viciousness of those principles upon which the measure now before your Lordships is based, than the fact, that the noble Lord who has just addressed the House, gifted as he is with talents of the highest order, with commanding powers of eloquence, and with refined and exalted feelings, should utterly have failed in making out a case for its defence. The noble Lord will, I trust, excuse me, if I express my belief, that, in the present instance, his feelings have interfered with his talents, and rendered his eloquence ineffective. I am sure that he feels in his heart a secret compunction, and a generous warmth of sympathy for the calamities of that unfortunate class of men, whose difficulties will be grievously aggravated by the present measure; a class of men to whose excellence the noble Lord himself has borne ample testimony, and has honoured them with his eulogy, while he starves them by his Bill. My Lords, I have risen with great hesitation to address your Lordships, and should probably have forborne to intrude myself upon your notice, had it not been for the personal reference which has been made to me by the noble Earl, whose Motion I support. That noble Lord has said, and said truly, that I was induced to vote for the Bill of 1833, relating to the Church of Ireland, by the repeated assurances given his Majesty's Government, that it was intended to be a final measure of settlement and conciliation. My Lords, there were some parts of that Bill to which I certainly entertained very strong objections. In giving my vote for that measure, I stated distinctly that I did so with reluctance. But there were also parts of the Bill which I thought calculated to benefit the Church of Ireland and to in-*Republished from a corrected edition published by Fellowes.898 crease its efficiency; and upon the whole, as long as I was not called upon to sacrifice any essential principle, I felt myself called upon to give it a sincere, though in some respects a reluctant support. But I did so, my Lords, upon the express assurance that it was to be final. And when, in the course of the last Session, speaking of the Commission of Inquiry which had been sent into Ireland, and expressing my strong disapprobation of it, I urged this point, and reminded his Majesty's Ministers of their declaration that the measure of 1833 was to be final, no member of the Government—and some were then present, whom I do not now see in the House—rose up in his place to deny the statement. I repeat the statement now, my Lords, in justification of the course which I am pursuing, in offering my determined and uncompromising opposition to the measure now under discussion.
now proceed to consider the measure itself. My Lords, there appears to me only one alternative between the branches of which the Government have to make their choice. I have looked at the question in every point of view; I have considered it carefully and anxiously, and I can see no way by which the proposers of the Bill can escape from this dilemma: either there is an overwhelming necessity for this measure (and I do not expect that any Member of this House will venture to stand up and say, that any thing short of the most overwhelming necessity can justify proposal of a measure indefensible in principle)—either there is such a necessity, or there is not. If there be not, the whole question falls to the ground; there is no defence: it is res conclamata.
But if there be this overwhelming necessity now, I would ask, was there not the same in the year 1833? What has occurred since that time, to make the necessity more imperious and overpowering? Where is the difference to be found? If there was no difference, if there was then as urgent a necessity as there is now, the Government was not justified in suppressing the fact, in slurring over the emergency, in abstaining from an endeavour to persuade your Lordships to adopt a measure which they knew then, if they know it now, to be of urgent and paramount importance. But no such necessity was then admitted to exist; on the contrary, its existence was vehemently denied, by none more vehemently than by the very framers and supporters of this Bill. No, my Lords, it had not then, as- 899 sumed the consistency and force of necessity. It was a mere abstract principle, a speculation, floating in the political atmosphere in the form of vapour, which it required a storm in the political atmosphere to condense into a thunderbolt, in the shape of a legislative enactment, destined to fall upon the devoted heads of the Protestant clergy of Ireland. No, not destined to fall; for your Lordships will yet interpose the shield of justice to screen them from the fate to which they seem to have been appointed. But was there then no necessity for this measure? Ah, yes, my Lords, there was a necessity; but of what kind? Of such a kind as an honest and constitutional statesman will not be forward to avow. But it is enough to allude to it, without dwelling further on so painful a topic. Let us see whether, besides this, any other necessity for the measure can be alleged. It is said, that it is necessary to pacify Ireland. Would to God, my Lords, that some plan could be devised for the pacification of that unhappy country! Which of your Lordships would not consent to sacrifice much for such an object? What is here meant by pacification? Look, my Lords, at the nature of the intended process. It does not deal with the country at large; it is intended to pacify it parish by parish; and how? to appease religious discord, the bane of that land; and what remedy does the Bill supply? No doubt a very effectual one. In order to quiet the Roman Catholics, it will exterminate the Protestants; and then all will be quiet, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.
But it is necessary to provide education for the people of Ireland. A most important object, no doubt. It is a duty incumbent upon the Government of every Christian country, to provide for the poor, or rather to encourage and assist the poor to provide for themselves, religious and useful instruction. But whether that education should be absolutely gratuitous, is another question. The result of my own observation and experience for many years has satisfied me, that the instruction most highly prized by the poorer classes, and most advantageous to them, is that for which they pay, either wholly or in part. They attach more value and importance to an article which they purchase, than to that which they receive as a free gift. They are more careful to profit by it, and less willing to throw it away. Nor is this principle inapplicable to Ireland. I have to adduce the concurrent opinion of 900 the Commissioners of Inquiry into Education in Ireland—able, judicious, liberal men, Mr. Leslie Forster, Mr. Frankland Lewis and others—that gratuitous, purely gratuitous, education is not that which is best adapted to the wants and habits of the people there. But supposing that it were otherwise, and that it were desirable to furnish them with the means of universal education, free of all charge to themselves: are there not other parties besides the Church who may be reasonably called upon to step forward and bear a great part, at least, of the burthen,—the landowners and land-holders of Ireland? Or if it be too heavy for them, why not do for Ireland, what the legislature have for the three last years cheerfully done for this country, make an annual grant from the public purse for the purposes of education? In the first stage of the experiment, for an experiment after all it must be, why should not the public at large pay for it, rather than a Church, already too much impoverished? The nation can afford to pay for it: the Church cannot. And the public at large are as much interested in the results of that experiment as the Church itself, and will be a gainer by it, whatever be the expense. Every one who has any thing to lose, which is worth the keeping, is a gainer by the education of the poorer classes. The safety of your Lordships' property, the well-being of society, the public security, depend upon the Christian education of those classes.
But is there any other kind of necessity for this measure? Yes, my Lords, the necessity, we are told of pacifying the Roman Catholics.—Pacify the Roman Catholics? Have we not abundant and melancholy proof of the utter futility of such efforts as these, in the way of pacification? Has any such device, produced though it may have been under the happiest auspices, and with the most flattering promises, in any degree succeeded? Has not each of them in its turn, signally and lamentably failed? My Lords, it has been unhappily characteristic of all the measures hitherto adopted for the quieting of Ireland, that in none of them has been the principle, or property, of finality. Every succeeding measure has been but the stepping-stone to another. But I am wrong: in the Bill before us, my Lords, there is a principle of finality; a very discernible germ at least of something final and conclusive; the seed of extermination and destruction. I speak the fullest conviction of my heart, when I declare to your 901 Lordships, unwilling as I am to prophesy, that if you pass this Bill into a law, you will as effectually pass sentence of extinction upon the Church of Ireland, as if you were to embody in one of its Clauses a distinct enactment, that from the year of our Lord 1840—no matter what precise year, but certainly at no very distant date—the Protestant Church of Ireland shall for ever cease and determine. Pacify the Roman Catholics my Lords? pacify men, who, from Gandolphy down to Doyle and M' Hale—I beg pardon for having mentioned the former name; it escaped my lips through inadvertence—he is gone to hi account, and I would not allude in the spirit of unkindness to his errors, if errors they were—but down to Dr. M'Hale, who has out-heroded his predecessors in the vehemence and virulence of his haired to the Protestant Church; men, I say, who have designated that Church as an incubus on national prosperity; a vampire, sucking the country's blood; an idol of Juggernaut, to be got rid of at any rate and at all hazards—Pacify such men as these? But there might be some hopes, my Lords, if they had con fined their expressions of dislike to such phrases as I have quoted—if they regarded us simply as heretics and intruders. But the evil will lies deeper than this. The Established Church of Ireland is regarded by them and described, as a memorial of conquest and a badge of slavery. If so, my Lords, will it be freed from that character by the present Bill? When the Church shall have been stripped, by the operation of this measure, of some 800 parishes, will it be the less a token of conquest, or a badge of slavery? Will not the remaining number, be it what it may, still be an eye-sore and a thorn to the Roman Catholics, and continue to be so, till the period of its utter extermination? That period will come, my Lords, if this Bill be passed. This year, the Government of the country proceed to deal with the Irish Church with what they consider to be a gentle hand. Eight hundred benefices and more are to be cut off; so much exuberant and ornamental foliage, as it will be styled, is to be torn from the tree; another year some branches will he lopped from the parent trunk; a few incisions made in the stem; then the bark will be stripped off, and last of all will come the enemy and lay his deadly axe to the root, and it will be cut down and cast into the fire.
Pacify the Roman Catholics of Ireland? And do your Lordships still think that they are to be pacified? Or if they are, are 902 you prepared for the consummation of that object, desirable as it is, to sacrifice upon the altars of their hatred and ambition, the holocaust of a Protestant Church?
But there is a necessity of conferring some benefit upon the Roman Catholic population of Ireland. Aye, my Lords, there is indeed; but not such a benefit as this measure promises to confer. Most anxious am I that some method may be devised of lightening the evils of that unfortunate race. Wretched as is the condition of the poor Protestant peasantry in most parts of Ireland, that of their Roman Catholic brethren is much worse; they are more ignorant, more heavily taxed, labouring under a more galling tyranny. But it is, amongst other reasons, because I am intimately convinced that the Roman Catholic peasantry would be amongst the first to suffer injury from the adoption of this measure, that I offer it my most determined opposition. That they will, at least, derive no advantage from it, is the opinion of a gentleman perfectly competent to pronounce an opinion on the subject; a gentleman who for many years enjoyed the respect and confidence of the Roman Catholic prelacy and gentry in Ireland, and who, if he has now lost them, (I know not whether such be the case) has probably lost them because he has adhered to the principles of honour, and honesty, and plain-dealing, by insisting upon the binding nature of that oath which we fondly believed would be a security against any attempts of Roman Catholic legislators upon the property of the Protestant Church. Mr. Eneas M'Donnel says, in the postscript to his second Letter on the Roman Catholic Oath,—Having hitherto endeavoured to avoid mixing up the great question of the obligations of the Roman Catholic oath with any other topics, such as the consequences, good or evil, that may be supposed by opposite parties to result from any particular interpretation of its terms, I have determined to adhere, at least in the present publication, to the same course, although much tempted, if not provoked, to sweep away some of the many delusions practised upon the present occasion. Suffice it to say, that if you should consider my views as expressed in this pamphlet tolerably well sustained, I am fully as well prepared to maintain and to prove, that the resolution, adopted on the motion of Lord John Russell, as explained by that noble Lord and his friend, neither tends, nor appears to be intended, to secure peace and prosperity to my country; nor in the slightest degree to benefit the peasantry of Ireland. I feel no desire to intrude my reasons for these opinions; but if 903 he should require them, he shall have them; and whatever other claims they may possess to his attention, he will have the satisfaction of knowing that they are the opinions and reasons of one who, in time of need, has practically laboured more, suffered more, and done more, in behalf of that peasantry, than any one of his Lordship's Irish Catholic parliamentary supporters, or peradventure, of all of them put together.Such, my Lords, is the opinion of a very competent judge, as to the benefit likely to accrue to the Roman Catholic peasantry of Ireland, from the adoption of this measure. Is it not obvious that they must be injured and not benefited, by the withdrawal from among them of the most constantly resident, the most active, the most benevolent class of Irish gentry? Is that description too strong? Permit me, my Lords, to confirm its truth by quoting the words of one who, while he lived, was one of the brightest ornaments of the Irish Church, and who died deeply regretted by all its friends,—the late Bishop Jebb. That excellent prelate delivered a speech in this House, in the year 1824, which he afterwards printed, and which has been more than once republished. It well deserves the perusal of every one who wishes to understand the real state of the Church in Ireland. The statements which that speech contains have long been before the public, and to this day, my Lords, not one of them has been controverted. The testimony of Bishop Jebb, valuable as it is in itself, is the more so, because it is the testimony of one, who was at all times animated with a spirit of the utmost liberality and kindness towards the Roman Catholics, and who, as he deserved, was respected and loved by them in return. His words are these:—I am quite aware, that in many parts of Ireland the parochial clergy have a narrow field of strictly spiritual labours. This circumstance is regarded by some with unmingled regret; by others, I am sorry to say, with malignant triumph: but I must rather consider it in the light of a providential compensation. For from the peculiar situation of those very parts of Ireland, the clergy there stationed have most important civil, social, and moral services to perform; which if their time were fully occupied in ecclesiastical services, they might be unable to discharge; and which if they did not discharge, I know not what would become of a miserable peasantry, deserted as they are by their natural guardians and protectors.In the county of Kerry, from which 150,000l. per annum is drawn by absentee proprietors a person may travel for twenty miles together without seeing the residence of a single gen- 904 tleman, except the glebe-houses of the parochial clergy.If it be thought that these expressions may be coloured with a natural tinge of professional partiality, let them be corroborated by the evidence of Major Woodward, the Inspector of Prisons in Ireland, who thus expressed himself twelve years since,—and the clergy have assuredly not receded since that time in active benevolence:—Setting aside all those feelings of attachment which I have always had to the Established Church, I must as a public officer, whose duties call him into close contact with them throughout the most remote and (by all others of the higher classes) deserted parts of the kingdom, declare in common justice, that were it not for the residence, and moral and political influence of the parochial clergy, every trace of refinement and civilization would disappear. They have now in the kindest manner added the care of the poor prisoner, in gaols which were scenes of misery and oppression, to the various duties in which they supply the place of the natural guardians of the peace and prosperity of the country.I am about to read another passage, my Lords, from the speech already quoted, which I do with some reluctance, in the presence of a most reverend Prelate, whose name is mentioned in that passage; whose charitable exertions, and unbounded benevolence, at a period when a part of Ireland was suffering the horrors of famine, were scarcely inferior to those of 'Marseilles' good bishop;' yet even in his presence, I must read it:—In that very province from whence I have adduced a melancholy instance of absentee penury, during the same calamitous season of 1822, it pleased Providence to raise up a diffusive instrument of good, and that instrument a churchman. If the London Distress Committee, if its honourable and worthy chairman, were asked, who at that period stood foremost in every act of beneficence and labour of love, they would with one voice pronounce—the Archbishop of Tuam; from morning to night, from extremity to extremity of his province, at once the mainspring, the regulator, the minute-hand of the whole charitable system. As distress deepened and spread abroad, he multiplied himself, he seemed gifted with a sort of moral ubiquity. He proved himself worthy to rank with 'Marseilles' good bishop,' and hand in hand with him, to go down to the latest posterity, among the benefactors of mankind.
But such humane exertions were by no means confined to the higher orders of the Church. From observation and experience of facts, I can testify, that at that period, especially in the districts where such instrumentality was most needful, the clergy in general were 905 instant, in season and out of season, to meet every emergency. As collectors and distributors of bounty, as purveyors of food, as parcellers of employment, as overseers of labour on roads, in bogs, in public works,—by their exertions in these and similar departments, the Irish peasantry of those deserted districts (under Providence) were saved from famine and its attendant pestilence, and I would hope, were formed to permanent habits of industry, morality, and grateful feeling.For these labours of our clergy did not cease with the emergency of 1822. English bounty had been not merely full, but overflowing; and hence the London Committee were enabled to make provision, in the ten most distressed counties of Ireland, for lasting improvement. In each of these counties, a considerable fund has been appropriated, under the management of a board of trustees, for the promotion of industry, chiefly in the way of charitable loans; and here the parochial clergy are among the best co-operators. They exert themselves to encourage the cultivation of flax; to superintend the manufacture of wheels; to distribute with their own hands the implements so manufactured; to pay domiciliary visits, for the purpose of observing and ascertaining the progress of industry;—and this, not as it might be in an English parish, through the collected and concentrated population of a village, perhaps, and its small surrounding territory, but through bogs, across mountains, over miles of scarcely accessible country, swarming with a distressed population. I can lay my finger not only on parishes, but districts in Munster, where the judicious exertions of the parochial clergy are absolutely creating manufacture, and giving new spring and alacrity to the people. Missionaries of civilization, they are in this way preparing for the social, and moral, and, ultimately, the religious improvement of a most improveable population.Bishop Jebb concludes,—I pledge myself, that the clergy—the improving clergy of Ireland, will be found the best instruments by which to raise the character, to better the condition, and to increase the availableness, for all national purposes, of that country, now perhaps a burthen, but hereafter, we will hope, a strength, a bulwark, a fortress of the empire. For this I will pledge myself; always provided you do not tamper with the Church. Then, indeed, I could not be equally hopeful; we cannot make bricks without straw.And these, my Lords, are the men, these instruments of civilization, these friends of the poor, these gratuitous visitors not only of the abodes of indigence but of the receptacle of convicted offenders,—these are the men whose numbers you propose to diminish, in order to benefit the peasantry of Ireland!It is true, my Lords, that in some 906 instances, as the noble Lord on my right has observed, the clergy in Ireland have acted as magistrates. I freely confess, that I do not desire to see the functions of a civil magistrate combined with those of a minister of religion. But, my Lords, it is not always practicable to avoid it. There are, even in this kingdom, parts of the country where if the duties of the magistracy were not discharged by the clergy, they would not be discharged at all; and in Ireland the necessity for their acting as magistrates is much stronger. Generally speaking, they are active, impartial, and conciliatory. If the clergy were to wholly withdraw from that duty, who would be substituted in their place? A class of persons to whom the tender mercies even of the framers of this Bill would not willingly intrust the administration of justice.
But the noble Lord is of opinion, that the surest way to increase a clergyman's usefulness, is to diminish his income; and that to render him thoroughly respectable you have only to make him very poor. Against such a doctrine, in the name reason and common sense, I protest Constituted as human nature is, the truths even of the gospel, and all experience proves it, come recommended to the acceptance of its hearers, from the lips of cue who fills a respectable station in society. Men are more disposed to listen to the advice and instruction of a well-educated person, moving in a certain sphere of life, than to the doctrines of a poor and indigent teacher. Exceptions there may be, amongst some of the lowest classes; but this is the rule. I am no advocate, my Lords, for investing the clergy with splendour, or the means of luxury, although I deprecate any thing like a low equality of income, and am clearly of opinion that there ought to be an order of the clergy moving, if not in the very highest class of society, yet in that next to the highest, and that the clergy at large ought to be maintained in a state of comfort and respectability; but the notable expedient of recommending religious teachers to the respect and attention of mankind, by reducing them to poverty, is a paradox, which was reserved for the month of August, in the year 1835, and the House of Lords in the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland.
And this recalls to my mind what has been said by the noble Lord respecting missionaries. He thinks that the Irish clergy should be a missionary body. Why, my Lords, every church is, in one sense, a 907 missionary church; and every clergymani in the true etymological sense of the term a missionary, a person sent forth to preach the gospel, an apostle. And this is especially the case, where a true church is planted in the midst of darkness and error. But the Irish clergy are not, and they ought not to be, generally speaking, missionaries in the sense understood by the noble Lord. But look at the Question in an economical point of view. If the Irish clergyman is to be a missionary, he must be either itinerant, or stationary. Now against the employment of itinerant missionaries, no persons have been more loud in their outcries, than the supporters of the present Bill, who have represented them as fomenters of discord, and disturbers of the public peace. But if they are to be stationary, ought they to receive a stipend inferior to that which is paid to our missionaries in the colonies, from two to three hundred pounds a year? And what saving would be effected by such an arrangement? Will a poor missionary stationed in a parish have equal means of doing good with a beneficed resident incumbent? If he is useful with 100l. a year, will he not be more useful with twice or thrice that sum, or even more, if the means are forthcoming? Really, my Lords, this missionary scheme is one on which it is scarcely worth my while to waste an argument. Let it pass. But this mention of three hundred a year recalls my attention to another feature of the Bill. The Church Temporalities' Act, objectionable as some of its clauses were, had yet upon the face of it the appearance of promoting the efficiency of the Irish Church; and some of its provisions were substantially of a nature to answer that end. If it took away in one quarter, in another it provided a fund for the erection of churches, and glebe houses, and for the augmentation of poor benefices. But what does this Bill do? It contains no principle of reciprocity, except that Irish kind of reciprocity which is all on one side. It takes away, but it does not give. It robs Peter, but does not pay Paul; or rather, I should say, it takes away from Paul, without giving directly to Peter. It extinguishes large benefices, but does not augment small ones. Surely, my Lords, if 300l. per annum be the amount of income, which the framers of the Bill consider to be proper for a clergyman, provision ought to have been made for augmenting those benefices which are much below that amount. But no such thing is thought of. The poor, ill-paid clergymen remain as they 908 are, the large benefices are to be cut down to 300l. per annum: for let it not be forgotten, my Lords, that when the Bill empowers the Lord-lieutenant to pare down all livings, which are worth more than 300l., it does in effect provide, that in due course of time none shall be left of greater value. That which pretends to be a minimum, will shortly be a maximum. Again, my Lords, the Temporalities' Bill authorized the Commissioners to encourage the building of glebe houses, not only by lending money for that purpose to incumbents, but by free gifts of 100l. each to the holders of poor benefices; the precise sum which the framers of this Bill, in their liberality, consider to be sufficient for the erection of a house of God. And here again, my Lords, mark the difference between the two measures. Under the former Act, if twenty Protestants, resident in any parish, signified to the Commissioners their desire to erect a church, and their willingness to provide one-fifth of the expense, the Board might advance the rest. Under this Bill, if there be fewer than fifty Protestants in a parish—the number, my Lords, is large? methinks if forty, or only thirty Protestant people were found in the place, it might have been spared for their sakes; but if fewer than fifty Protestants are found, they are to be deprived of their clergyman, and then what encouragement will twenty have to undertake the building of a church? Suppose, my Lords, that this Bill had passed into a law thirty years ago, would one of the 600 new churches have been erected, which have actually been built within that period? Are your Lordships, in general, aware how the facts of the case stand? The numbers are instructive; they afford a palpable and intelligible argument; and, therefore, I will put the House in possession of them. About a hundred years ago, the number of churches in Ireland was about 400; at the time of the Union, 689; in 1830, above 1,300. Of glebe houses, the number a century ago was 150; at the Union, under 300; the present number, 900. Is not this an improving church, my Lords? Then as to non-residence, that has decreased, and is decreasing; and as to pluralities, it is sufficient to say, that the most reverend Prelate, who presides over that branch of the United Church, with so much honour to himself, and so much advantage to his charge, has for several years refused to grant any faculty for holding two benefices with cure of souls. I say nothing of unions 909 dissolved, and tithes disappropriated from sinecure dignities, and restored to the parochial clergy. And is not this, my Lords, an improving church?
But we are told, that, after all, the Church has not done its duty; it has not answered the great ends for which it was established. Let us look at this question a little more closely. It is true, that the Established Church of Ireland has not effected all that could be wished; and why? At the Reformation, my Lords, which in Ireland was for a long time little more than nominal, the Church was plundered by the nobility and great men, of the richest part of her patrimony, and reduced to a state almost of beggary. Of the few richer benefices, which were left, the great part were for years retained by Popish incumbents. It was not till the reign of Charles 1st, that this evil was in part remedied. By the exertions of Primate Bram-hall, a portion of the Church's possessions was recovered to her; but what then ensued? Why, from being treated with contempt, she became an object of cupidity, and suffered, with other institutions, from the evils of common misgovernment, and above all from the scandalous abuse of patronage. But a still more efficient cause remains to be noticed. That iniquitous vote of the Irish House of Commons, which declared that whoever paid the agistment tithe, was an enemy to his country, not only cut off at once a large source of the Church's income, but immediately aggravated the burthen which rested on the poorer landholders, chiefly Roman Catholics, who were thenceforth almost exclusively the payers of tithe, but who, up to that time, had paid it without reluctance or resistance. But, my Lords, there was another cause still; and that was the shameful practice, which was followed by the landowners, the Protestant landowners of Ireland, of turning out their Protestant tenantry, and introducing Roman Catholics in their stead, for the sake of obtaining a larger rent; for it is well known, that at one time, (perhaps it is so still in some parts) there was a Popish rent, and a Protestant rent: the Popish rent being the largest, the Protestant tenants went to the wall. These causes, my Lords, are abundantly sufficient to account for much of the inefficiency which has been charged upon the Irish Church. They necessarily impaired its resources, and crippled its energies.
I am sensible, my Lords, that I am tres- 910 passing upon your Lordships' patience; but the importance of the subject is such, that I must still say a few words more. I am speaking at a crisis of the Protestant church: the fate of that Church, my Lords, in Ireland at least, is wrapped up in the decision to which your Lordships shall come this night. Nay more, my Lords, the fate of Protestantism itself in that unhappy country. Yes, my Lords, it is even so: if the light of God's truth is yet to burn upon the altars of his sanctuary in that land, and to shed a dim, but blessed light upon them who are sitting in darkness, and the shadow of death, and who will not receive the full and direct enlightenment of its beams—this can only be ensured by your resolutely upholding the Protestant Established Church. My Lords, do not dissemble to yourselves the truth, that this Measure is the first,—no, not perhaps the first,—but the boldest and most gigantic stride, which has yet been taken towards the entire suppression of Protestantism in Ireland. But surely, my Lords, we ought to deal with that country, as though it might one day become Protestant. If we are sincere Protestants ourselves, and believe that truth will ultimately prevail, we must entertain that persuasion. But what is the direct and palpable tendency of this Measure? To papalize Ireland, to exterminate Protestantism. Every parish, containing fewer than fifty Protestants, is—what? to have fresh encouragements given to the true religion, so as to increase the number of its adherents? No; but to have its own Protestant clergyman withdrawn, with all the support, encouragement, and consolation which he is able to afford them. And what must be the result? That in almost every such case, the dispirited and disheartened Protestants will expatriate themselves, and quit the place where their forefathers lived and died; or they will be speedily absorbed in the Roman Catholic population, surrounded as they will be by hostility and artifice, and plied with every engine of conversion.
I know, my Lords, I shall be told, indeed, I have been told, again and again, this is all very well: no doubt the Protestant Church in Ireland should be upheld if possible; but really, it is such a monstrous anomaly, that we know not how to deal with it; and we hope you will not be so unwise as to identify the interests of the English Church with those of the Irish branch of it; nor, with somewhat of the cruelty of Mezentius. and more than his 911 folly, "join the living to the dead, that both may perish together." My Lords, was this the language held at the Union? Had either branch of the Legislature then avowed such sentiments as these, would the Union ever have taken place? And if not, as is undoubtedly the case, is it fit language to be used to a Protestant Legislature, bound by the solemn compact of that Union; or at least, is it an argument which can be admitted by a Protestant Bishop?
I do not my Lords, pretend a belief, that both Establishments, or rather that both branches of the same Establishment, will fall together. Their destinies are not so linked to each other, that even if, by the irreversible decree of Providence, the Irish Protestant Church should be severed from that of England, and laid prostrate in the dust, its sister branch must necessarily encounter a similar fate. The circumstances of the two are no doubt exceedingly different. In this country we stand less in need of an Establishment, for the purpose of maintaining the true religion, than in Ireland. The interests of the Protestant faith in that country demand the support and aid of an Establishment; and your Lordships would have to answer before God for passing such a measure as this, which would go to destroy its existence. But look at it in another point of view. What would be more calculated, than the passing of such a measure, to inspire with fresh courage and confidence that hostile band of men, neither few in numbers, nor contemptible for talents and influence, who view the Protestant Establishment in both countries with feelings of malignant hostility, who meditate its destruction; who either by storm or sap, by force or fraud, by open and manly hostility, which it is easy to encounter and resist, or by insinuations, and innuendoes, and false reproaches, with which it is painful and difficult for honourable men to contend, are bent upon effecting the subversion of the Protestant Church of England; but who know, nevertheless, that it is hopeless to attempt it, while the Protestant Church of Ireland stands. Once allow them to flesh their swords in the weaker institution, and they will rush forward, flushed with victory, to attack the stronger. "Come on," will be their cry; "we have succeeded once, under circumstances of the greatest discouragement, the most hopeless appearances, in opposition to the most sacred principles, the holiest feelings, the loveliest sympathies 912 which can animate the human breast; we have succeeded, in the teeth of Acts of Parliament, in spite of the most solemn compacts, in violation of the promises once made by those who are now supporting our views; think you that we shall be less successful now, when we see before us so much richer a prize, when the victory will be so much more glorious?"—Every argument, my Lords, which is now urged for diminishing the Protestant Establishment in Ireland, will be urged hereafter with greater force for its abolition; and then the same weapons will be turned against the ancient institutions of England.
My Lords, I have evinced, on more than one occasion, that I am not indisposed to adopt any well-considered measures of salutary and real reform. Least of all am indisposed to their adoption, with respect to that institution, in which the dearest and best interests of the country are involved. But to a measure such as this, of direct spoliation, I will never give my consent. Your Lordships will do me the justice to admit, that I have not been accustomed, in the debates of this House, to use stronger language than the nature of the subject on which I have been speaking seemed to justify. But if there be terms in the English tongue more expressive and emphatic than others I would gladly employ them on this occasion, while I implore your Lordships, by all that you hold sacred, by the gratitude you owe to that Church, from which you have imbibed your Christian principles and knowledge; in whose consolations, I trust, you delight—and may you experience all their efficacy at the closing hour of your existence—not to give your consent to a measure which will destroy the Protestant Church of Ireland, without benefiting the poor Roman Catholic population; which will starve the meritorious dispensers of God's truth, without adding to the real comforts of those who are engaged in diffusing religious knowledge under a different form—a measure, of which it is not too much to say, that it commences with spoliation and sacrilege, and must end in ruin and confusion.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
said, that the speech of the right reverend Prelate had contained allusions to Protestants and Protestantism, as if the Protestants of Ireland and the Protestant religion of that country were alone deserving of the attention of the Legislature. But their Lordships sat there—not all Protestants—to 913 afford justice and protection equally to all classes of his Majesty's subjects, whether Catholics or Protestants. The real question was as to the necessity of the measure; and that was to be found in the condition of the Irish Church at the present moment. It was easy enough to talk of well-endowed rectors residing as wealthy gentlemen and magistrates in that country; but were the Irish clergy actually such? At this moment there were four-fifths of the tithe in Ireland not paid, and which, without this Bill, would not be paid. In point of fact the Protestant Establishment could not be maintained in its existing condition. It was a mockery to say that it was now effective. The Irish clergy at present were indebted to the amount of 750,000l. to the people of this country; and would the people of England continue to allow their money to be thus wasted? He had always looked on tithes as the property of the State, originally devoted to ecclesiastical purposes, but which might be diverted to other purposes by the State. The question of tithe had been the subject of legislation for many years; and one of the objects of this measure was to give the people a small interest in the collection of tithes, by affording them some portion of education. He believed, too, that instead of its being found, as it was asserted, that by the operation of this measure many Protestant clergymen would be suspended, their number would be actually increased; for their Lordships ought not to confound benefices with parishes. The Establishment, as they had maintained it, had not increased Protestantism; but as to saying that Ireland would turn Protestant—he should himself be glad to see the people converted to that faith; but the idea of maintaining an Establishment from such an expectation was absurd. They could not, he assured them, put off, year after year, a substantial grievance, without its coming against them with increased force. He would tell their Lordships that they would desert the Protestant Church if they did not pass this Bill. The other House of Parliament was pledged—they were not pledged to it, and if they rejected it, the onus and odium of doing so should be upon them.
The Earl of Winchilsea
said it was in vain to assert, that if this Bill did not pass, the Protestant religion in Ireland would be overturned. On the contrary, if the measure passed, the Protestant religion in that country would be destroyed. He defied any noble Lord to show that the Es- 914 tablished Church had ever been endowed for any other purpose than to promote the protestant religion, and an attachment to the Protestant institutions of the country Every step that had been recently taken had been an encroachment of Catholicism upon our Protestant establishments and privileges. In his opinion it would be better for the House at once to declare that the Protestant Establishment in Ireland should be destroyed, than to effect its destruction indirectly by slow and lingering degrees.
The Marquess of Conyngham
differed totally from every word that had fallen from the noble Earl. Although a landlord of Ireland, it was not from a feeling of selfishness that he advocated this Bill. He did so for the purpose of promoting peace and tranquillity in Ireland. It was well known that the Catholic population in Ireland had quadrupled itself within an extremely short period; whilst the population of Protestants had diminished. He admitted that Protestants in the west of Europe had increased; but that was not the case in Ireland. It was in vain to deny the increase of Roman Catholics; and yet, by what means had that increase been effected? It was not by wealth or worldly power that the Roman Catholic religion had been maintained in Ireland, but by the influence of that religion over the minds of the Irish people. If their Lordships should so mutilate the Bill as to prevent its effecting the end for which it was introduced, he firmly believed that they would seal the fate of the Irish Church; and would give her enemies such an advantage against her, as would make them repent the day when they refused to remove her abuses.
was deeply impressed with the melancholy fate that awaited the Protestant religion in Ireland, if their Lordships rejected this Bill. He regretted the tone in which the right reverend Prelate had felt it necessary to address the House—a tone so different from what they had been accustomed to hear from that right reverend Prelate. The right reverend Prelate had made an attack on the great body of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, while, in the warmth of his feelings, he was attacking particular individuals of that body. Did the right reverend Prelate think it a fair thing with respect to the great body of the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland, to single out individuals, and hold them up as specimens of the whole 915 body? If he were disposed to follow such an example, he thought he could find instances among the Protestant clergy, whose language, whose conduct, and whose expressions might vie in harshness with anything that had ever been done or said by clergymen of the Roman Catholic Church. The right reverend Prelate said, that the Roman Catholics were the authors and originators of those offensive expressions by which one class of religionists had abused another. The right reverend Prelate had alluded to the epithet of Juggernaut. Now it so happened that this phrase of Juggernaut was first brought forward in the county of Cavan, by a Protestant gentleman, who accused the Roman Catholics of being the worshippers of Juggernaut. To which a Roman Catholic replied, that he knew no more of Juggernaut than the person who made the accusation; and that the Church, from crushing the Catholics, was more of a Juggernaut than the Catholic. The expression had subsequently become popular, and the use of it was adduced as a proof that Roman Catholics were guilty of applying offensive epithets to the Protestant clergy. If he were to seek, he had no doubt he might very readily find, among the Protestant clergy, persons who were turbulent, bigoted, ambitious, and hypocritical; but should he, on that account, be justified in saying that such was the general character of the whole Protestant Clergy of Ireland? No: on the contrary, he joined with the noble Lord on the other side, in speaking of the Protestant Clergy of Ireland as being a most excellent body of men. They were mild, tolerant, charitable, and no degree of praise could go beyond their merits. They were not only deserving, but they were most unfortunate, and their fate was now to be decided by their Lordships. By passing the Bill something might be preserved for them, by rejecting these Clauses their income, he was afraid, would be gone for ever. A noble Lord had said that Catholic emancipation had failed; but why had it failed? Was it because their Lordships had carried that measure? No such thing, but because they had refused to concede it until they were overtaken by an overwhelming necessity, which, however, the right Rev. Prelate said had not yet arrived. The fact was, that there were persons who were born a year too late. If that measure had been carried at an earlier period we should not now be threatened with the desperate and dangerous crisis which was at this moment hanging over us. If Catholic emancipa- 916 tion had been carried when it was first brought forward by his lamented Friend Mr. Grattan, the position and prospects of Ireland would be very different from what they were at present. If the concession had been made at the time when the Roman Catholic Associations were put down with their own consent, how different would have been the aspect of things. Had their Lordships agreed to the measure when there was a provision made by the House of Commons for the Catholic Clergy—had they acceded to the concession, and had not angry feelings been excited by the unwise declaration of a person to whom he would not now more particularly allude, as he was no more.* The country would not be in the state of danger in which it was at present placed. It had been said, in the course of the debate, that this measure would be a violation of the principles by which the Protestant religion was protected in this country. He must beg to say that this was a most gratuitous assumption. He had heard a great deal of vehement declamation and energetic denunciation, but not a single argument to show that this would be in the slightest degree a violation of the principles of Protestantism or of the Act of Union. By the Act of Union the Churches of England and Ireland were consolidated. By the 5th article of that Act they were identified in doctrine, worship, and discipline, but was there anything in that article which identified the temporal possessions of the Church of Ireland with those of the Church of England? There was nothing of the kind. The Irish temporalities were altogether distinct from those of the Church of England. If they were not so, they had been violating the Articles of Union ever since they were passed. The whole system of composition of tithes in Ireland was a violation of those articles. But when they looked to the temporal possessions of the Church of Ireland, they were not to throw out of their consideration that Ireland was a nation of Roman Catholics; and that they were bound to apply the same principles, with regard to the temporal concerns of that nation, which they considered themselves justified in applying to the interests of this great Protestant country. That Ireland was essentially Roman Catholic, was proved by the fact that after all their efforts for 250 years they had not succeeded in making*Lord Plunkett, it is supposed, alluded to the deceased Duke of York.917 more than one-tenth of the population Protestants. It was said that by this Bill they were robbing the Church. Now, he considered that the person who took the property of the Church without doing any duty for it was the party who really robbed the Church. Such was the clergyman who received four or five hundred a-year without having a single Protestant parishioner. No right Rev. Prelate complained of this species of robbery, which had been going on for the last 150 years; but the moment a word was uttered about appropriation, then the whole hierarchy were up with the cry that the Church was in danger, and every consequence was ready to be hazarded rather than such an act of spoliation should be committed! But, so far from this Bill being an act of spoliation, it was an act of restitution to Protestant purposes. The 12th of Elizabeth, chapter the first, which laid the foundation-stone of Protestantism in Ireland, enacted that there should be a free-school in every diocese in Ireland; and that the Lord Archbishop of Armagh, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Bishop of Meath, and the Bishop of Kildare, and their successors should have the nomination of the schoolmasters, from time to time, for ever,—that was to say, every one of them in his own diocese; and that the Lord-lieutenant should have the nomination of all the schoolmasters in the other dioceses of the realm. And it was further enacted, that the Bishops should bear one-third part of the salaries of the schoolmasters, and the parsons and other ecclesiastical persons should pay the other two parts. The provisions of that statute were afterwards enforced by a law passed so late as the Reign of George 1st. This statute, then, was intended as the foundation of Protestantism when it was first introduced in Ireland, and its provisions had since been vainly sought to be enforced. Was he to be told that to apply the revenues arising from parishes in which there were no Protestants, to the purposes of education, was an act of spoliation, an injury to the State, and an outrage upon the Protestant religion? He said it was a direct application of those revenues to the purposes for which they were originally intended. It was rather too strong language, therefore, to say that those who wished to apply such funds in that way were leagued together for the purpose of pulling down the Protestant religion. It had been said, also, that this Bill was in contravention of the Church 918 Temporalities' Act. Now, the Church Temporalities' Act was not intended as a final or irrevocable measure, nor was there any thing in it that portended that there was to be no change of the application of the revenues which came under its operation. Its preamble stated that those funds were to be applied to "purposes conducive to the Protestant religion, and to the efficacy, permanence, and stability of the Protestant Establishment." Was education a thing which tended to the advancement of religion, or was it not? He said that the more generally education was afforded to the Roman Catholics the more it would tend to the advancement of religion, by dispelling superstition and prejudice. If they wished the Protestant religion to be more prevalent, they would not make it so by opposition, by attack, by preaching one religion against the other. They all recollected the second Reformation, which was to have made all Ireland Protestant. He believed that some thought they actually saw the finger of God in that second Reformation. They all knew how it ended. He trusted most devoutly that they should never see a third Reformation. If that consummation which they desired was ever to take place, it would be not by individual conformity, but by prejudice being removed from the great body of the people insensibly—by a change occurring without their knowing that it was in progress. The educated Roman Catholic in Ireland of this day was no more like the Roman Catholic of a hundred years ago than he was like a Protestant. The Roman Catholics of the two periods were totally different beings. The present Roman Catholic, as compared to the Roman Catholic of former times, might be considered a very good Protestant. The way to bring them still closer together appeared to him for the preachers not to be constantly pointing out the differences that existed between them, but to expatiate rather on their points of resemblance. How did this measure deal with the Church Temporalities' Act? What was secured by it was the emoluments arising from those benefices in which Divine service had not been performed for the three years preceding 1833. That Act had produced already, as appeared from the returns which were upon their Lordships' Table, 1,500l. a-year. Thus it had not proved unproductive. What did the present Bill propose to give to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in return for this 1,500l. which he admitted was to be 919 diverted from its source by the present Bill? Did it not give a remission of that portion of the million which the Clergy-had received? The sum of 360,000l. was the portion of the million which had not been paid. That was a tolerably good purchase of 1,500l. a-year. He would state what sum was given, and which made a part of the general fund; there was the increase arising from the suppression of canons and vicars choral, that was 10,500l. a-year, so that on the whole the establishment had made a tolerably good bargain. He had many more remarks to make, if he had time, but at this late hour he would not detain their Lordships longer than to express a hope that they would retain the Clauses.
The Bishop of London
begged to say, in explanation, that he had not made the most distant allusion to the Roman Catholic Clergy; he had spoken of the Prelacy, and be had imputed to them nothing but the fact of their avowed and determined opposition to the Protestant Church, and their resolution to subvert it if possible. Of the Roman Catholic Clergy at large he said nothing; and he begged to assure them that when he made use of the strong expression, the "malignity of faction," he did not allude to them.
The Earl of Roden
would take the liberty of referring to some of the observations of the noble and learned Lord. At one moment he had highly eulogized the Protestant clergy of Ireland, and the next he had described them as the robbers of the Church; as individuals who held benefices in Ireland, taking the emoluments and making no return. Knowing them as he did, he must say, in justice to them, that he did not believe there was one of them deserving the character given them by the noble and learned Lord.
begged to explain. He had not applied the term robber in the sense in which it was received by the noble Lord. What he said was this, he conceived that to receive these emoluments where there was no service done, was more of a robbery than the principle of appropriation.
The Earl of Roden
had no wish to misrepresent the noble and learned Lord. He had understood him to say, that his object in voting for the measure was to get rid of an offensive monopoly; that his great object was to devote the revenue to the purposes specified in the Bill. With their Lordships' permission he would call their attention to 920 a speech delivered by the noble and learned Lord in 1824, and he was anxious to ask the noble and learned Lord, how he could reconcile the sentiments he then expressed with those which he now delivered? At that period the noble and learned Lord said, "With respect to the Protestant Establishment of the country, he considered it necessary for the security of all sects; and he thought that there should not only be an Established Church, but that it should be richly endowed, and its dignitaries be enabled to take their stations with the nobles of the land. But, speaking of it in a political point of view, he had no hesitation to state, that the existence of the Protestant Establishment was the great bond of union between the two countries; and if ever that unfortunate moment should arrive, when they would rashly lay their hands on the property of the Church to rob it of its rights, that moment they would seal the doom, and terminate the connexion between the two countries." * This was the language of the noble and learned Lord in 1824, and this was the language which he would take the liberty of adopting as his own in 1835. He trusted that in the division their Lordships would show that the House of Lords were not to be put down by any set of individuals who might endeavour to rouse the spirit of the country to over-rule their Lordships' independent judgment. As to the threats which were to be heard abroad, having reference to their Lurdships' conduct on this occasion, he trusted their Lordships would prove to the country by the vote of to-night, that if the Peers of England were to fall, they would fall in preserving the dearest rights of Englishmen, and in protecting the Protestant faith, which there was an attempt made now to destroy by a faction, under the influence of what was called the spirit of the age. He cared not for the arguments of the noble Lords on the other side of the House—arguments they had none—assertions they had plenty. The noble Lord at the head of the Administration acknowledged, that though be was a party to the Bill he could not justify it on principle. He gave the noble Lord credit for his candour; he had manifested on this occasion that openness of character for which he was distinguished; but as regarded the measure which the noble Lord recommended, he must say, that it partook*Hansard's Parl. Deb. (new series) vol. xi. p. 574.921 too much of the complexion of a restless disposition not to alarm every sober-minded man. He was astonished to hear another of his Majesty's Ministers argue, that by taking away the ministers of 860 parishes they were likely to increase the Protestant religion in Ireland. Honest men could only see the pandering to political party in all this; they must see in it but one of those instalments in payment of that support by which Ministers hoped to preserve their places in his Majesty's councils, and their seats on the opposite side of the House. He felt that it was necessary in these times to speak out. He would ask their Lordships to agree to his noble Friend's Amendment, and by sanctioning the alteration his noble Friend proposed to make in this Bill, to give satisfaction to every man in the country, whose good opinion was worth seeking. If their own breasts had told them they had acted rightly, whatever the consequences, they would feel that they had been guilty of no breach of the duty they owed to themselves, to their country, and to their God.
said, with reference to the quotations made from a speech formerly delivered by him, it might be sufficient for him to declare, that he had changed his opinion—that he had yielded to necessity; but he begged to say, that he had not changed his opinion; he considered himself now as not only not making any attack on the funds of the Protestant Establishment, but as applying them to their original purposes, and thus, by the most effectual means in his power strengthening the Establishment.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
could not allow this question to go to a vote without stating in a few words the grounds on which he had formed his opinions. He considered that the more necessary after the speech of the right reverend Prelate, who had spoken with an ability that did not surprise him, because he had listened to him on many other occasions with the highest degree of admiration. The right reverend Prelate in his able speech appeared to call on some of his Majesty's Ministers, who were responsible for introducing this measure, and also the measure which he presumed was a final measure in 1833, to state what was the difference between the circumstances of 1833, and those of the present time, which imposed on the King's Ministers the necessity of proposing a new system. He would tell the right reverend Prelate, that there had been a 922 very great change in the circumstances, and that it had shown itself to be of a nature to endanger the safety of the Church of Ireland, the object of this Bill being to maintain it. Such had been the change, that a noble Baron sitting on the opposite benches, had told their Lordships, that the official knowledge he obtained during the short time he had a seat in the Cabinet had convinced him there were circumstances in the state of Ireland which called for an immediate measure for the security and payment of the revenues of the Church—a measure such as was produced by the Bill taking it altogether. However disposed their Lordships might be to separate the Appropriation Clause from the rest of the Bill, he begged to tell them, that they could not do it. With this Clause they would lose that provision for the Church of Ireland which the Clause was calculated to secure. The right reverend Prelate said, he would support the Church in Ireland, as if it were one day all to become Protestant. The experience of 200 years, confirmed by that of the last fifty years, told them, that there was no probability of Ireland becoming generally Protestant, so long as they acted under that delusion. To consider all the acts and establishments in which Ireland was interested with reference to her becoming some day Protestant, was likely to make her less Protestant than she otherwise would be. He believed that it was because they had so acted—because they had so blinded and deluded themselves—that they had introduced that state of things which the right reverend Prelate had not entered into, because it would not suit the purposes of his arguments. While this principle had been in operation, Romanism had gone on progressively increasing; so that wherever Protestantism was one to three, it was now in the proportion of one to nine. He could hardly suppose the right reverend Prelate to be serious, when he argued, that in England they had less need of an Established Church because the Protestants were so numerous; while in Ireland we had the greater need of it, because there the Protestants were so few. That principle, if good for anything, would go to this extent, that the amount of the Establishment ought to be in proportion to the smallness of the number of its votaries. The principle amounted also to this, that that ought to be the Established religion which was the religion of the minority. This would be in direct opposition to the course which 923 was taken in Scotland. The Act under which the Established religion of that country existed, recited as a reason for the change, that their religion was the religion of the majority. He had not the smallest idea, however, of transferring the endowments of the Established Church to the religion of the majority in Ireland. He must admit that the case of that country was one singularly complicated and artificial. Even if their Lordships could reconcile to themselves such a transfer, he thought it would be attended with every species of evil and danger. Ministers were compelled to adopt a measure of an anomalous nature, that being a great anomaly with which they had to deal. If he were asked, what was the necessity which obliged him to adopt, what he admitted were views of an anomalous nature, he would refer to the system which heretofore had been adopted, which was like the temporising treatment of some constituted electors, in whose hands the patient sinks for want of timely and energetic treatment, for by delay the disorder became worse. He contended, that no injury was done by that Bill to any Protestant in Ireland; and in viewing the operations of this Bill, as well as the principles by which he should be guided, he considered not so much the clergy as the laity of the Protestant Church. Never would he have consented to this measure were he not prepared to show that in no one instance would the Protestants of Ireland be worse, but in many they would be better than under the present system. He had a series of instances, comprising large districts of several hundred acres, at present under no minister, which would be consigned to the care of a minister at a small salary, which indeed had been treated by the noble Lord who introduced this Amendment with so much severity, but which, if the noble Lord had looked into the subject, he would find, small as the salary was, would materially better the clergyman's present condition, and provide religious instruction where there was none at present. He would, in order to show the present state of some of the benefices, refer to the case of one benefice, out of which 900l. a-year tithe, and 500l. from glebe land, were obtained, in which no Rector was resident, but in which the service was performed by a Curate in a coach-house. He would ask, whether a Church in which there were such instances as that would not be benefited by this Bill? When this Act would be carried into exe- 924 cution, there would be a sum of 414,000l applied to the Church of Ireland. This was the destitution to which the Church of Ireland was to be reduced. When he heard the destitution of the Irish Church spoken of, he naturally inquired into the case as it stood in England. He found with respect to the Ecclesiastical revenues of the diocese of London, that supposing all the persons within the diocese belonged to the Protestant Establishment, they were more than double the number of the Protestants of Ireland. But what was the income of the diocese of London compared with that of the Irish clergy? It was below one-half. The number of persons in the diocese of London were 1,762,127. The revenue was 255,519l. being little more than half the revenue of the Irish Church. He admitted that it would be unfair to the Church of Ireland to apply this principle to the situation of the Protestants in Ireland, as in London a very large number of Protestants was collected together; and a larger revenue was, of course, needed, where there was a diffusion of Protestants over a very wide surface, and an active description of duty to be performed. Still, however, four or five times the amount was not necessary in Ireland, for the same number of Protestants as in England. But there were many Protestants collected together in some counties, and they were particularly condensed in the North of Ireland, and there must necessarily be something allowed for that circumstance; but he would put the question to a less fallacious test than the last, which was, that in Ireland every beneficed minister would have, under this Bill, a greater average income than the beneficed clergyman in England; and although the right reverend Prelate had stated, that the necessity for the Establishment in Ireland was more urgent as the number of Protestants was smaller, and because they were more scattered, yet he did not think the right reverend Prelate would go the length of saying, that a beneficed clergyman should there enjoy a larger income than he ought in this Protestant country. On the contrary, he must state, from what he knew of the Established Church in Ireland, that its wealth, which he certainly did not grudge it—from its excess in particular instances, and from its unjust distribution in others—had become a source of weakness rather than strength, and had tended in a great measure to separate the clergy from the interests and the habits of the people generally, and had 925 precluded them from obtaining that hold upon their affections which they might otherwise have procured; and he contended, therefore, that it was absurd to say that this Bill was intended to bring destitution upon the clergy of the Protestant Church in Ireland. He entertained the highest respect for the Protestant clergy in Ireland, and he was sure that their conduct, as compared to that of their predecessors, was calculated to do them honour; but largely as he confided in them—in their improved habits and demeanor, he must confess that he did not carry his favourable opinion so far as to consider that they were likely to convert a population of 7,000,000 Catholics to the Protestant creed. If he were not confident of this, he should entreat their Lordships to pursue the erroneous course which, on the assumption of their ability to make converts, their Lordships were inclined to follow, but by which course he was convinced, that instead of making Protestants, they would increase the number of Roman Catholics. He had under his hand a vast number of details, into which he would go, were it not that he was reluctant to trouble their Lordships with them at that late period. By passing this Bill the House would be taking another important step towards the tranquillization of Ireland. Already one important step towards the achievement of that end had been made in the measure for altering the mode of collecting tithe, yet when that measure was introduced, many excellent persons evinced a similar alarm to that now exhibited on the other side of the House, and exclaimed, "If you attack the system of tithes in Ireland, you will endanger the safety of the Church itself." Yet, looking at the consequences which had resulted from the passing of that measure, how often must those who had opposed its progress, and who were sincerely attached to the interests of the Protestant Church, lament that it was not adopted sooner. But unfortunately on that occasion, as on this, their Lordships were persuaded that by a little delay, they would reconcile the people of Ireland to the system of collecting tithe—the result had shown how completely they were mistaken. Not only had the old system of tithes been left to rankle in the feelings of the people, but the system of composition, excellent in itself, came too late, and their Lordships Were now compelled to admit, as the late Government was compelled to admit, that the composition for tithe could never be collected as 926 it might previously have been collected, and nothing short of military force could compel the payment of a tax which, of all taxes, to all people, and in all times, had always been the most obnoxious. Charlemagne himself had found great difficulty in compelling the payment of this odious impost, when he first imposed it on some of the Continental states. One of the ministers of that powerful monarch, in reporting to his master, said, "You will do well to abandon the collection of tithe in this country (Germany), for the people are not yet converted to your faith, and tithe is not a tax that can be collected from a people who do not believe in your religion." This Bill abolished tithe, and provided a liberal maintenance for the clergy, which it placed on a far safer and more sure basis. And whilst it provided thus beneficially for the future, it afforded an indemnity for the past. It provided for the whole of the arrears of tithe, and placed the Protestant clergyman at once in a situation of independence and respectability. He did not mean to say, that this Bill was free from anomaly or objection, because it was impossible that any measure relating to a country which was of itself a bundle of anomalies, should be free from anomaly or objection: but he maintained, that the Bill now proposed would establish a state of things infinitely less objectionable than the system which at present existed, and at the same time would contribute to the stability and usefulness of the Church Establishment. It proposed no confiscation for the benefit of the Government, but the application of the surplus Church revenues for the general instruction and improvement of the people.
said, that the grounds on which he should give his vote had been so amply stated by his noble Friends who had spoken before him, that he did not think it necessary to say anything in addition to what they had stated. But he could not help asking their Lordships, before they went to a vote on this Question, just to consider one party, whose interests he thought were at stake, and on whose behalf he should like to address their Lordships in the character of counsel on that occasion—he meant the Protestant Clergy of the Church of Ireland. It was mighty easy for a noble Earl on the bench opposite (the Earl of Roden), than whom no one could ever express himself more honestly, more sincerely, and, therefore, in his mind, more satis- 927 factorily—it was mighty easy for that noble Earl, in his great enthusiasm for the Church of Ireland—in his misplaced zeal for the cause of the Protestant Clergy, to say that he was prepared to lay down his fortune or his life in the cause of the Protestant Church, and defence of the Protestant ministers, for whom the noble Earl had so great a respect—and it was mighty well for the right reverend Prelate to say, "Let us die for the Church of Ireland—let us fight the battle of the Church of Ireland on English ground;" and it was also mighty well and mighty easy for the noble Duke on the bench opposite to say, "I am prepared, on behalf of the principle, to make any sacrifice." It was mighty well for all this to be said by the noble Duke and the right reverend Prelate, and the noble Earl; but there were two ways of making a sacrifice, two ways of laying down fortunes, two ways of laying down lives. The one was to say you were ready to do it, when you were certain you would not be called upon to do so; and there was also another way somewhat similar—the doing it not in your own person—doing it vicariously, and, as it were, by proxy. You say you will lay down your whole fortune, and consent to starve, before you will assent to certain propositions; but all the while you are making that assertion, you know very well you will never be called upon to fulfil it, though you do know that by the course you are taking, you are causing others to starve—actually and positively to starve, not one by one—not one here and one there; but every where, and in all parts of the country—actually and positively to starve, in the way, that figuratively speaking, you say you are willing to starve yourselves. It was for these persons, for the starving Protestant Clergy of the Established Church, that he presumed to address their Lordships. If this Bill were not allowed to pass, what probability was there of tithe being collected for the next twelve calendar months? Rejecting these twenty-eight Clauses, had their Lordships considered what provisions they would introduce in their room? Unless some adequate provision were made the whole of the Protestant Clergy of Ireland would be plunged into a situation not only of great distress and great suffering, but of great hazard. Unless this Bill were passed, they would, in fact, be called upon instantly to refund 650.000l., the sum remaining unpaid of the 1,000,000l. which a few years since was advanced for their relief. As the law 928 now stood, no option was left for the Attorney-General and the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, but they must proceed at once against the Clergy for the recovery of that sum, or they would themselves be liable to impeachment. If this Bill did not pass, how were the Protestant Clergy of Ireland to exist even for twelve calendar months. Their Lordships might have their majority of 150, but would that majority enable the Clergy to collect tithes in Ireland? Neither would their majority always avail them. A strong prejudice existed in the mind of George the 3rd against Catholic Emancipation; indeed so strong that Mr. Pitt said, in 1805 he could not grapple with it; but their Lordships had since passed that measure, and though an equally strong prejudice might exist in themselves, or in some other quarter, on the present occasion they might be assured that it must be, and would be, surmounted as was the prejudice which impeded Catholic Emancipation. With these seventy-eight Clauses omitted, the Bill would go back to the House of Commons only to be extinguished; and at the same moment in which they were demanding for themselves the admiration of the country for their hollow professions of friendship for those whom they were, in point of fact, abandoning; they were leaving those objects of their professed friendship to the tender mercies of a process out of the Exchequer in Ireland. In this there was no option. Their Lordships were about to agree that evening to a vote which would at once cut off the collection of tithe for the future, and enforce the payment of a debt connected with it for the past. Then, when he was told of spoliation, when he heard the speech of his noble and learned Friend, in 1824, quoted against him on the present occasion, with a taunt as to his consistency, was it not enough for him to say, that the country was not in the same position now in which it was at that period—that the constitution of the House of Lords now was different from its constitution at that time—that the House of Commons was now reformed, and therefore still more different, even than the House of Lords, from its former construction—that tithe could not be collected except by sending out a force of 500 soldiers—and that the distraint of a single tithe pig was the only result of that great military movement; whereas in those days in which his noble and learned Friend had formerly spoken there were such things in existence as tithe and tithe composition? Under 929 such circumstances was there not enough to justify his noble and learned Friend in changing his opinion now, as others had changed their opinions before him,—his noble and learned Friend voluntarily, they under an overruling necessity, which they could not control? There was no spoliation in this Bill, there was nothing like it. Their Lordships might, according to the noble Lords opposite, distribute the property of the Church among the members of the Church as their Lordships pleased; they might lop off from the Establishment as many right reverend Prelates as they thought fitting; they might divide the proceeds of the prebendal stalls among the poorer class of parsons at their pleasure; they might take 60,000l. from the revenues of the bishopricks they suppressed to save the laity from the payment of, vestry cess, and yet that was not to be considered a spoliation of the Church—that was not to be considered as an infringement upon property. He must remind their Lordships that the Church was not a Corporation, though it was a bundle of corporations. Each person and each Bishop was a corporation sole, and a Dean and Chapter was a corporation aggregate. Suppose on the Municipal Reform Bill their Lordships were to say London is a corporation, and Liverpool is a corporation, and Bristol is a corporation, and so is Havering-atte-Bower, and Sutton Coldfield. According to the arguments of the right reverend Prelates, and of the noble Lords opposite, it would be lawful for him to take the property of the corporation of London, and of the corporation of Liverpool, and of the corporation of Bristol, which were all rich corporations, and distribute it among the corporations of Havering-atte-Bower and of Sutton Coldfield, which were poor corporations. Suppose that he were to say, "I will take care that this property shall not go out of the corporations; what I take from the rich, I will distribute among the poor, and therefore there is not, there cannot be any spoliation. If he were to use such language, what reply would their Lordships make to him? Would not the very benches on the opposite side rise up in mutiny against him, and call out with their Lordships, "It is spoliation—it is spoliation." But their Lordships sang out in a different tune when this principle was applied to the bundle of corporations which formed the Church. When the object was to distribute the funds of the rich Ecclesiastical Corporations 930 among the poorer ones it was no spoliation; but as soon as they took the funds out of the pale of those Corporations, and proposed to apply them to the promotion of sound education, to the advancement of the Christian religion, to the promulgation of good morals and sound principles, and to the propagation of true piety among all sects and classes of his Majesty's subjects without distinction, then it became robbery and spoliation, and every bad name which the vocabulary of theological hatred could either recollect or devise. He told their Lordships that they had done already either too much or too little. If any robbery were committed by this Bill, the same species of robbery had been committed by the Church Temporalities' Bill. He hoped that their Lordships, before they determined to reject this Bill would consider the grave responsibility which must attach to their decision. He hoped that they would recollect that the House of Commons, if their Lordships rejected this Bill, would refuse to pass any other. They were determined to have this Bill with these Clauses, and without any alteration in these Clauses. Their Lordships might succeed to-night in striking out these Clauses, and succeed they probably would. They might also succeed to-morrow night in making alterations equally mortal to the Municipal Reform Bill. But their success would be over with the occasion which produced it. They would have the next day the great discomfort of discovering that they had injured, perhaps beyond the power of remedy, the friends whom, they were anxious to serve and to protect. Their Lordships would be able to carry no other Bill, whereas the Members of the Commons House of Parliament, by merely remaining inactive for a time must in the long run prevail in carrying such a Bill upon this subject as they should deem satisfactory; "for it is in vain" said Lord Brougham, "to disguise it from yourselves; use what big language you may, deal in what menaces you please, indulge in what professions you like, say and vote as you choose, but one thing is certain you will not a third time allow the Irish clergy to starve. At the sight of the Attorney-General's process, which must as a matter of necessity go forth against them, you will relax the rigour of your principles, and do that which you now call sacrilege and spoliation.
The Marquess of Westmeath
admitted the difficulty of dealing with the question, but attributed it to the Government.
The Earl of Wicklow
thought it was much to be regretted the noble and learned Lord had not an opportunity of making his appeal on behalf of the clergy to the other House of Parliament. The sum of money alluded to by the noble and learned Lord as having been voted by the other House of Parliament was not a boon to the clergy, it was a boon to the tithe defaulters. The necessity of this grant was occasioned altogether by the unstatesmanlike conduct of the present Earl Spencer in declaring that "tithes were not to be recovered in Ireland." Had it not been for that declaration the present measure would not have been required.
§ Lord Hatherton
rose amid cries of "Question." He merely wished to refer to the observation made by the noble Earl who had just addressed the House, with respect to what he was pleased to call the unstatesmanlike conduct of Earl Spencer, in declaring in his place in Parliament that no more tithes should he collected in Ireland. Having been present at the time when the ascribed declaration was said to have been made, he might take the liberty of saying that the noble Earl's version of it was not correct. The discussion arose on the proposal for voting 600,000l. to the clergy in consequence of the arrears of 1831—that year in which a sum of 12,000l. was collected at a cost of 28,000l. and during which a series of collisions between the King's troops and the peasantry took place which assumed very much the character of civil war. It was with reference to those events that Lord Spencer declared that his Majesty's Government would desist from such a mode of collecting arrears of tithe. It was from this announcement that the misapprehension as to the collection of tithes, in any shape had been sedulously propagated in Ireland for party purposes.
§ Viscount Melbourne
The subject has been so fully discussed on the introduction of the Bill, and I had then such an opportunity of stating my views and opinions respecting it, that it is not now my intention to take up your Lordships' time by any remarks with regard to it; but I think it right to express my conviction that you ought to understand distinctly the situation in which you stand. I think it right that you should take the step which you intend to take with your eyes open; that you should be fully aware of the consequences of it; and that you should look well to that which has been so fairly and distinctly, and with so much feeling, placed 932 before you—namely, the situation in which you will leave the Protestant clergy of Ireland by the vote to which you seem inclined to come. A noble Lord at the beginning of the debate thought fit to say that he would make such Amendments as he thought fit and proper in this Bill—that he would make it as perfect as he could—that those parts which he considered objectionable he would leave out—and that he would place on us the responsibility of refusing to carry on the Bill in its altered form. My Lords, the two principles involved in the Bill have been decided by resolutions of the House of Commons, they are closely connected on the grounds of reason and common sense; they are subjects naturally closely allied; they belong entirely to one another, and, in my opinion it is impossible to settle the one in a manner which would be satisfactory to the people of Ireland or of this country, without settling the other. Therefore I have determined, that if you carry this proposition—if you leave out this Clause—I shall certainly not be a party to proceeding any further with the measure. I shall decline to take any steps towards sending it back to the House of Commons in such a shape as that it is impossible it can, either in point of form or principle, be agreed to.
§ The Duke of Wellington
felt called upon to say one word in comment upon what had just fallen from the noble Viscount at the head of the Government. Their Lordships had heard the noble Viscount state his intention, of giving up the Bill, in case the noble Lords opposed to the noble Viscount should succeed in carrying the Motion for the rejection of the clause under consideration from the Bill, and they had also heard from the noble and learned Lord opposite a statement—a very exaggerated statement he believed it to be—of the consequences of the vote to which he thought they were about to come as to those unfortunate persons who were the objects of the Bill; but notwithstanding the menaces of the noble Viscount, and notwithstanding the exaggerated statements of the noble and learned Lord, he did not hesitate earnestly to entreat, and earnestly to recommend, the House to agree to the Motion of his noble Friend. The noble Viscount had stated that the two parts of the present Bill—the part which their Lordships evinced a disposition to approve of as well as the part which they seemed to think it was their duty to reject—were identified with each other. 933 Now he had listened attentively to the course of argument used upon the present occasion, and with equal attention he had perused the documentary evidence which the Government had thought proper to lay upon the Table of the House; and he must say he was wholly unable to trace the connexion alluded to. The more he examined and considered the more convinced he became that, even taking into view the frightful degree of spoliation which the Bill would perpetrate, and taking into account everything which could be wrung from the unfortunate subjects to whom it referred, the whole amount which could be procured—and to procure it, it would be necessary to destroy the funds created under another Bill—would not exceed 40,000l. a-year. And was it for such an object that the whole Church Establishment was to be destroyed? The noble Marquess opposite said much of the receipts of the Irish Clergy. Why, on the average, there was not more than 300l. a-year for the whole of the clergy. The noble Marquess was pleased, on a former occasion, to say, that the Government was entitled to his support, and to the support of those with whom he acted upon the present occasion, because, although it had announced its intention of introducing the measure at an early period of the Session, it had received their support up to the present moment. It was quite true that he and those with whom he acted had given the Government their support, and done all in their power to forward public business, but he protested against its being supposed that by that circumstance either he or they were to be debarred from exercising their judgment upon the present or any other measure to which their attention was called. He had given his assent to many of the measures introduced by the Government during the Session, but he opposed the noble Lords opposite on the present question, and on another still under consideration, because he deemed it his public duty so to do. He should much regret to find the noble Viscount persevere in the resolution he announced of not carrying into effect the measure before the House should he be defeated upon the approaching division. It was his desire to give the noble Viscount every support in his power in the carrying on of the King business, but the noble Viscount was not to expect from him that, with a view of enabling him to effect that object, he should fail in performing the duty he owed to his Sovereign and his country as a Member of 934 their Lordships' House of Parliament. Considering the manner in which the measure had been brought forward in the other House of Parliament, and taking into view all that passed either in Parliament or beyond its walls upon the subject, it was not fair that all the responsibility for the failure of the Bill in its present shape should be thrown by the noble Viscount upon those of their Lordships who, upon the approaching division, should vote for the rejection of the Clauses now before the Committee.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
assured their Lordships that it was not a money Clause. It imposed no tax on the people but appropriated money which they had paid from time immemorial.
I only rise to say that if this Clause be struck out you leave the collection of tithes to be made under much more severe enactments than those under which they are collected at this moment. I do hope, therefore, that my noble Friend will adhere to the determination which he has expressed, because after your Lordships have removed the Clause which can alone render the measure acceptable to the people of Ireland, every step you take in the further progress of the measure can have no other effect than that of offering an insult to the people of England as well as of Ireland.
§ Their Lordships divided on the Clause.
§ Contents 41; Not Contents 138; Majority 97.
§ Clause rejected, and all the following Clauses dependant on it.
§ The House resumed.935
|List of the CONTENTS.|
|Albemarle||Minster (Marquess Conyngham)|
|Charlemont||Somerhill (Marques of Clanricarde)|
|Howard of Effingham||Kilmarnock (Earl of Erroll)|
|Saye and Sele|
|Dormer||Clements (Earl of Leitrim)|
|Holland||Sefton (Earl of Sefton)|
|Kenlis (Marquess of Headfort)||Duncannon(Viscount)|
|Solway (Marquess of Queensbury)|
|List of the NOT-CONTENTS|
|Rutland||Vane (Marquess of Londonderry)|
|Westmeath||Gordon (Earl of Aberdeen)|
|Doncaster (Duke of Buccleugh)||BARONS.|
|Abingdon||Willoughby de Broke|
|Airlie||Hay (Earl of Kinnoul)|
|Dartmouth||Camden (Earl of Brecknock)|
|Hilsborough (Marquis of Downshire)||Montagu|
|Talbot||Gage (Viscount Gage)|
|Beverley||Stuart of Castle Stuart (Earl of Moray)|
|Carnarvon||Stewart of Garlies (Earl of Galloway)|
|Onslow||Fitzgibbon (Earl of Clare)|
|Verulam||Sheffield (Earl of Sheffield)|
|St. Germans||Meldrum (Earl of Aboyne)|
|Prudhoe||Clanwilliam (Earl of Clanwilliam)|
|Ker (Marquess of Lothian)||Skelmersdale|
|Ormonde (Marquis of Ormonde)||De Lisle|
|Clanbrassil (Earl of Roden)||ARCHBISHOPS.|
|Oriel (Visct. Ferrard)||BISHOPS.|
|Downes||Bath and Wells|
|Bexley||Lichfield and Coventry|
|Penshurst (Viscount Strangford)|
|Melross (Earl of Haddington)||Hereford|
|Stuart de Rothesay||Carlisle|