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was just. How necessary it was sufficiently appeared from the clear impossibility—which, as was always the case, had only made itself evident tardily—of governing Ireland on the old principles. But the reasons for giving the Bill a second reading on account of its justice and its necessity were, in his opinion, even inferior to the reasons in its favour which might be drawn from the danger its summary rejection would cause to the House of Lords.
As a majority in the House had accepted household suffrage, from which it was probably more averse than even from the present measure, so he hoped it would act now again, and not throw this Bill back on the House of Commons.
The Duke of Rutland was hostile to the Bill, as opposed to the rights of property and the Coronation Oath, and as dissolving the salutary connexion between Church and State. He cited the authority of Mr. Pitt, Sir R. Peel, and Lord Palmerston against the arguments of Lord Clarendon. The Bill had been rested on the ground that the Irish Church was the Church of a minority ; but he denied that, if the United Kingdom were looked at as one, it was the Church of a minority. Then, again, it had been supported as a measure of equality; but how, he asked, could there be equality between Romanism and Protestantism, between truth and error ? As for the argument that the Established Church was the badge of conquest, it was, he thought, much truer in point of history that the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland was that. He could discover no generosity in the compensation which the Bill provided for the Protestant Church. The result must be that the Church would be thrown back on the voluntary principle, which he himself thought a very objectionable one, and the success of which in Scotland had been greatly exaggerated. That the Roman Catholic Church maintained itself in Ireland on that principle was no proof that the Protestant Church, which had no doctrine of purgatory to appeal to, could be thus maintained. He denied that the House was engaged by any thing which had occurred last year to let this Bill pass. Last year they had not been informed by Mr. Gladstone that Maynooth was to be endowed out of the property of the Protestant Church.
Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe thought it was necessary to look at the question as affecting not merely the Irish Church, but also the relations between that and the other House. He considered that disestablishment as proposed by the Bill was unjust to the Irish Protestants. He thought, too, that this measure being put forward as only one part of the Irish policy of the Government, the House had a right to complain that the other two portions of their policy had not been declared at the same time. He feared, looking at the character of the Bill, that we might be sacrificing the substance to the shadow, and he treated very lightly the argument that the Bill was an act of justice to Ireland. But then, when he considered the events of last year, the place of that House in the State, and its relation to the other House, he reluctantly felt obliged to vote for the second reading, though he should reserve his liberty to vote against the third reading, if his objections to the Bill were not removed in Committee.
Lord Romilly defended the Bill as an attempt to put all the religions in Ireland on an equality. It was in its favour, and surely not against it, that it was the spontaneous offer of England to Ireland, and not the result of direct Irish pressure. He did not see why the destruction of ecclesiastical machinery should destroy religion, as had been urged. A like series of measures in Scotland had not had that effect, and the origin of Christianity was itself a proof to the contrary. He believed the result would be the reverse of what was predicted by Lord Harrowby; there would be more zeal and less jealousy. The Irish Church, as an Established Church, had not been successful, and accordingly, on the principles on which the Court of Chancery acted, it had become the duty of the State to put an end to it, at least as a corporation of its present character. He warned the House of the danger of attempting to raise corporate to the level of private property, lest they should only in the end be lowering private property to the level of public. As for the argument from the Coronation Oath, Lord Harrowby had misapprehended the real sanction and objects of such a pledge. In conclusion, he reminded the House of the error, the effects of which still lasted, of its original rejection of the Reform Bill of 1832, and he entreated it not to repeat the blunder.
The Archbishop of Canterbury acknowledged that this was a great crisis. He and his brethren must act by the advice of neither side, but only in obedience to their own consciences. His own opinion was that they must neither accept the measure as it was, nor reject it in its present stage. He had gladly hailed Lord Granville's assurance that any amendments would be carefully considered. He could not match himself on a purely legal question against Lord Romilly's authority-although he doubted the correctness of his view as to the rights of corporate property—but he was entitled to contest Lord Romilly's advice to the Irish Church to accept disendowment gratefully as a benefit. He did not believe that it could be for the advantage of a Church to make the maintenance of its ministers proportionate to their displays of fanaticism. But it was a very different question whether the House ought summarily to cast back the measure without attempting to amend it. However much the Bill might, by disestablishing the Irish Church, separate it from the Church of England, it could never break off the true connexion in spirit between the two Churches. But amendments, and essential ones, it did need. In its present state it held out no adequate inducements to the Irish Church to re-incorporate itself. Whatever the Bill gave to the members of that Church, in the shape of the power of holding property, of buying back their own houses, and the like, they could do equally well without the powers under the Bill. It was but a petty amount which the Bill offered, in addition to the life incomes of the present incumbents,
which were theirs of right. He desired, in the first place, to clear away two fallacies which had been made large use of, the in relation to Scotland, where he denied that the voluntary system had been successful, either as to the Episcopal or as to the Free Kirk, and the other as to Canada, where a large part of the Church funds had in fact never been confiscated, and which nevertheless required supplementary assistance from the Propagation of the Gospel Society. But with all these defects of the Bill, he did not feel sure that it was incapable of being turned into a good measure, and made somewhat more consistent with the recital in its Preamble of a desire for equality, which would certainly not be satisfied by the adoption of the date 1660 as the time from which private gifts were to be respected. He saw more good in the revision of the Bill by the House than in any tumultuous meetings at Manchester and Liverpool.
The Earl of Carnarvon, whose position as one of the seceders from the Administration of Lord Derby, gave an independent tone and peculiar interest to the statement of his opinion on this question, desired to explain to what extent he was prepared to accept the Bill. He did not believe it would pacify Ireland ; but, on the other hand, he recognized a certain merit in the freedom it would confer on the Irish Church, which had suffered so much from its connexion with the State. Then, too, the Irish Church was the Church of a minority, and his experience in the Colonial Office had impressed on him the impossibility of a Church of a minority avoiding becoming a fossil. He denied the analogy of Ireland with Wales, where the Episcopal Church was said to be in a minority. The difference was, that Dissent was an exotic in Wales, but Catholicism was not an exotic in Ireland. This question of the Irish Church, however, he looked upon as, like the question of 1828, more of a national than a religious question. As for the particular character of the present measure, he observed there were two senses of the term disendowment” one, the appropriation of the endowments to cognate religious purposes; and the other, secularization. The method adopted in the Bill was intermediate between the two. He believed in an essential distinction between private and corporate property. He thought, too, both disestablishment and disendowment were within the power of a State, wise or unwise as it might be to have recourse to them, and a certain measure of disendowment might be conceded to be a necessary consequence of disestablishment. But it was a very different question whether the disendowment determined on by the Bill was just; and he was convinced it was not. The Government had no right to put the life incomes of the existing incumbents into the account, and the surplus which this Bill gave beyond those was little more than a beggarly 120,0001. or thereabouts. The relations of England and Ireland, and the distinct promises of numerous Ministers, had pledged the country to a much more generous provision. This was a simple money question, and it was beneath the State to haggle over the amount. But it was a different thing to reject the
No one was a greater friend to Protestant ascendency. But his friendship was to its intellectual ascendency. It was on that very account that he entertained so thorough an aversion to itinerant Protestant lecturers, and also to the habit of setting up the Pope as a standing scarecrow. Habit, it was known, took away the terror of a scarecrow, till in time the birds would come and build their nests within it. He had, however, a very sincere horror of the development of Roman Catholic influence in Ireland, where the priesthood could levy at will a spiritual distress. But that was only one special Irish phenomenon. There was another equally exceptional Irish phenomenon, and that was the Established Church. Those two, he believed, held to each other the relation of cause and effect. He had, since he first began to take any interest in politics, felt persuaded of the expediency of settling the Irish Church on a new and more logical basis, but the close of the American Civil War had surrounded with new dangers the laissez aller policy, which was under no circumstances a statesmanlike policy, while the cure of this Church grievance, on the other hand, would foster amiable and neighbourly feelings in Ireland. He agreed, then, with the Government in thinking the object of the Bill kindly and just and prudent. But he confessed he had not been in the habit of considering the solution proposed by the Bill the best possible one. He agreed with the Archbishop of Canterbury's general dislike to voluntaryism as applied to Churches, and he also doubted the necessity of the conclusion that because the Protestant Church must not be the Established Church of Ireland it must cease to be an Established Church. He acknowledged, however, that the course taken by many friends of the Irish Church had made the levelling-up process seem now impracticable. The only method left open, therefore, was perhaps the course advocated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. "The Bishop concluded by denying the analogy of Wales, where, he asserted, there was no greater opposition between the Dissenting bodies and the Church of England than there was within the Church between its different parties, and by justifying his intention to vote for the Bill instead of simply standing neutral.
Lord Chelmsford, while he admitted the omnipotence of Parliament, denied its moral competence to pass this Bill. He disputed the fact that the Irish Church was the creation of Parliament, and he insisted on the paramount obligation of the Act of Union, as being a treaty between two parties, which could not be set aside except with the consent of both. The Bill involved, in his opinion, a violation of national faith and honour, and he thought the consequences of accepting it would be more pernicious than any that could follow from its rejection.
Lord Penzance argued in favour of the Bill, on the strong ground of justice to the Irish people. Equal justice demanded that all or none of the religious communities in Ireland should be State Churches; and, further, that if one were endowed out of the State funds,
all should be so. He repudiated the notion that to destroy the Irish Church Establishment would injure the English. When the English Church ceased to be in unison with the national feeling, it would be time that it, too, should be disestablished.
But that was not the case now,
and the diseased condition of the Irish Church was a scandal and a danger to the English.
The Duke of Richmond, while announcing his intention not to support Lord Harrowby's amendment, inveighed against the Bill as made up of violence, injustice, and spoliation. If they gave the Bill a second reading, they would keep the power of amending it, and would thus, if the Government should reject their amendments, throw on it the responsibility for the consequences.
None of the speeches made in opposition to the Bill in either House afforded more delight to the hearers, or excited greater admiration of the powers of the orator, than that of Dr. Magee, the Bishop of Peterborough, who next addressed the Peers. Even the order of that dignified assembly was infringed by the loud outbursts of applause which the eloquence and ingenuity of the right rev. Prelate drew forth from the Strangers' Gallery. Though it is a great injustice to such a speech to represent it by a summary, it is the only shape which our limits will admit of. The Bishop began with a very candid admission to the supporters of the Bill, disclaiming the intention of opposing it as necessarily a violation either of the Coronation Oath or of the Treaty of Union, since both parties were in this case supposed to be assenting to the change of the original compact-or even as itself an attack on the rights of private property. Rather he warned the House against letting the corporate property of the Irish Church be infringed upon, for the very reason that it was corporate property, and that the attack on corporate property, if yielded to, foreshadowed an attack on private property, since sacrilege naturally preceded Communism. There were three main arguments which had been urged for the Bill—viz. those of justice, of policy, and of the verdict of the nation having been pronounced in its favour. But he joined issue on each of these points. The Irish Church was said to be an injustice, as being opposed to religious equality, and because it was the Church of a minority. He allowed it was an instance of inequality ; but so was the English Church. The only justification for any State Church, indeed was, not the claims of the particular religious community, but that the State believed its own work could be done better by one religion than by another. As it was, this Bill which pretended to be directed against religious inequality did in fact establish it. As for the argument that the Church was the Church of a minority, he did not see how the Bill would appease the popular feeling of old injustice, unless not merely the inconsiderable part of the fruits of ancient injustice which the Church enjoyed, but in course of time also the infinitely larger possessions of the lay minority were also to be restored to their former owners. Then, secondly, the Bill was supported on grounds of policy. But he was not sanguine of the effects of the measure as a means either