Imatges de pÓgina

the intricacy of the subject, but because he felt it difficult to restrain his indignation at witnessing the attempts now made to overthrow the foundation of all public property. The effect of the present motion would be to malign the Established Church, to which, from habit, as well as from feeling, we ought all to feel a strong attachment; aud to involve in anarchy and confusion every principle which should be held most sacred by Parliament, particularly that of the inviolability of all public and private property, whether it belonged to the Church or to the laity. The Hou. Member, while he stated that he was anxious to place the clergy of the country upon a respectable footing, appeared to wish to place them under the ban of society, to place them in a situation which would preclude them from expressing to Parliament in the form of petition either their wants or their wishes. He (Mr. Hume) accused the Bishops of presumption, for having summoned their clergy in order to consider of a measure which would have the effect of depriving them of those funds which were given to them for the advancemeut of religion and morality, and to petition the House of Commons that such a measure might not pass into a law! The Honourable Member had broadly stated that the Clergy, were dependent upon and subservient to the Crown. He (Mr. G.) was aware that it had been for some time the fashion to create a feeling against the clergy. He knew at the same time that what affected the Church affected the State; they were by reason as by law united, and must stand or fall together. They all recollected that period of our history, the disturbances of which ended in the death of the unfortunate Charles. At that time a general anarchy and confusion prevailed, but it would be borne in mind that those proceedings originated in attacks upou the Church. Those attacks were first directed towards Church property, they were next made against the Bishops, and higher Dignitaries of the Church, &c. The Honourable Member had appealed to the landed interest in the course of his speech: he (Mr. G.) hoped that there was not in that House a country gentleman who would agree with the plan laid down by the Honourable Member. There was no principle more dangerous and destructive in politics than that which benefited one class of society at the expense of another. The motion of the Honourable Member only went to confound all justice, and to do under another name that which was in reality nothing less than a public robbery. It was not the first time that the Church had been so

assailed, and the members of that Establishment would not feel much reason to complain at finding themselves attacked as the great Founder of our religion had been. Of him it was asked by those who were opposed to Christianity, "Why not sell this ointment for three hundred pence, and give the money to the poor?" Not that they cared about the poor, but because they wished thus hypocritically to puzzle and embarrass him whose arguments they were unable to answer, or whose tenets they were unable to oppose. He differed entirely with the Honourable Member as to the nature of Church property; he (Mr. H.) seemed to be of opinion, that Church property was not as inviolably protected as any private property could be; upon that point they were at issue. He (Mr. Goulburn) maintained that Church property was as sacred as the private estate of any gentleman in that House; in asserting this opinion he was supported by some of the best authorities in the country on the subject, and he spoke in the presence of those who, if he was wrong, would correct him. The property of the Church was held by the tenure of performing certain duties as were many other properties in the country-but it never happened, even if the parties failed in those duties, that the penalty of the failure extended to the successor of the person in default. How, then, could the Honourable Member, even if certain that the clergy had been negligent of their duty, attempt to argue that the property which they possessed should never again be applied to the service of the Church? The Honourable Member mistook the nature of Church property altogether; it was property given not only for the use of the Church, but for the benefit of the people. If any clergyman had been deficient in his duty, down came that great Reformer of the modern school (Mr. Hume) to declare that the people must be mulcted of the means of obtaining moral and religious instruction. The Protestant Church of Ireland had produced more learned men than any other Christian Church. If the clergy of the Established Church were to be put on a small and precarious pittance, the House might despair of finding men of learning and abilities to fill the situation. The Honourable Gentleman compared the clergy of the Church of Scotland to the Church of Ireland; now when he (Mr. G.) compared the distinguished individuals of one Church with the distinguished individuals of the other, he saw no reason to alter the system of the Established Church on that ground. The alteration proposed by the Honourable Gentleman could not, if adopted, be

confined to Ireland. There was no argument which could apply to the Church Establishment of that country, to the subversion of its property, to the diminution of its dignity, that would not apply with equal force to the Establishment in this country. On the question of nonresidents he concurred with that Honourable Gentleman; he felt with him, he should feel strongly with any man, that resident clergy was most necessary in Ireland-a resident Protestant clergy was most essential to the welfare of that country, as affording the very best means of introducing tranquillity, and promoting public advantage of the most valuable kind; and he could declare, from his own experience, that as far as the power of the Bishops, Archbishops, and the Lord Lieutenant had been exerted, it had to his own knowledge been exerted to secure a resident clergy; the consequence was that clergy had lately been introduced into several parishes in Ireland, where before they were unknown. The Honourable Gentleman, in his observations on Church patronage, had said that that patronage was exerted with a view to promote family and parliamentary influence to promote those objects of political corruption, which so familiarly suggested themselves to the mind of the Honourable Gentleman. He (Mr. Goulburn) did not mean to say that there were not individuals in the Church of Ireland connected with the first families -connected with men who held seats in that House, but that was no imputation against the propriety of their appointment, unless it could be shewn they were disqualified on account of their conduct and character, or their inability to discharge their duties. He (Mr. Goulburn) would say, that the individuals who sat on the Irish Bench possessed talents as high, and character as virtuous as any clergy that adorned any Church in the world. The Honourable Gentleman, with the usual parliamentary tactic, had moved for a Committee of Inquiry; but no one could doubt the real object of that motion; and feeling, as he did, that if adopted by that House it would be fatal to the interests of the Church and to the rights of property, he would strongly oppose it.

On those principles he called for the support of the House.

Mr. STEWART defended the late Archbishop of Armagh from some charges of Mr. Hume. He said it was unfounded that the Prelate granted long leases of Church property for the benefit of individuals of his family, or for the benefit of any persons whatever.

Mr. M. FITZGERALD (Knight of Kerry) said, that if he had felt any difficulty from

the statement of the Honourable Gentleman (Mr. Hume) in voting with him, he certainly should feel much greater difficulty to vote with the Right Honourable Gentleman (Mr. Goulburn) upon any grounds stated by him. He could by no means concur with that Right Honourable Gentleman in the unqualified way in which he spoke of the Establishment. The Church of Ireland appeared to him (Mr. Fitzgerald) to stand in need of inquiry aud of reformation-its large-he might say, its enormous revenue, so dis. proportioned to its duties, disqualified its members from discharging those duties with that humility—that seriousness and perseverance which were so necessary to be exerted by the members of the Protestant Church in Ireland. In Ireland there was an incessant competition with the Established Church; it had to contend with an enlightened, active, learned, and zealous clergy, whose learning and whose poverty recommended them to the respect and confidence of their flocks; it had to contend with the clergy of the Catholic and Presbyterian religions, and if it were to be kept up as an instrument of parliamentary influence, it could not stand. It was the duty of the Ministers, whilst they professed a great regard for the Establishment, to bear in mind the fact, that the humbler members of the Protestant community were gradually departing from that religion, and attaching themselves to rival sects. Judging from the past, and from the very nature of the case, he did not hesitate to say, that if the Establishment uncorrected were to go on for a few years more in the accustomed track, there would nothing remain of the Protestant Church but its expense, its enormous establishment, its large possessions, and its unemployed dignitaries. The high families who sent their members to take possession of its wealth, would naturally adhere to the Church, but the middle and the humble orders would depart from it. It would be well if these observations of his were merely speculative; but it was a fact, within his own knowledge, that in many parishes in the southern parts of Ireland, in which some years ago a number of Protestants resided, in which Protestant colonists were settled, that those persons gradually departed from the Church, and went over to those professions where they found a more active, zealous and popular clergy. These circumstances, so strongly indicative of the decline of the Church of Ire. land, led to the union of livings. To such an extent was that practice carried, that, in some instances, 4, 5, 7, and even to his knowledge 11 parishes were handed over to one individual; and even that

minister, often an absentee, neglected his duty. In such a state of things, it was not to be wondered at that the members of the Protestant religion disappeared from a Church which was known more by the splendour of its establishment and the wealth of its ministers, than by the zeal or the success of their labours. If Gentlemen were really zealous to promote the solid interests of the Protestant Establishment, how could they shut their eyes to the diminution of its numbers to the consequent decay of its power with a clergy better paid than any clergy in Europe? Was not that a subject for inquiry? The Church of Ireland was in danger; it was in danger not from the hostility of rival sects, but from the supineness of its own members, and the abuses of its own system; from the disposition which prevailed in certain quarters to defend every possible abuse, and to refuse every species of reform. It was his most anxious wish to see that most necessary reform take place; to see that Church purged of those abuses which were the seeds of its weakness: he felt a high regard for the Church; without the affectation of a peculiar interest for religion, he would wish to see the Establishment flourish in strength and purity. He despised affectation of any kind, but cant and affectation upon the solemn and awful subject of religion, he abhorred. Anxious as he was for the interests, for the glory of the Church, he would yet be a dishonest man if he did not augur its fall before long.

Mr. PEEL said, that the Right Honourable Gentleman (Mr. Fitzgerald) admitted that there was a disposition upon the part of Ministers to select those who were most qualified to discharge the duties of the calling. Would he not then give credit to the same Ministers for a disposition to reform error, and to correct abuse? He would call upon the House not to consent to a measure

founded on principles unjust, and likely to prove injurious. If the proposition were adopted, it would affect not merely the Irish Church, but the Established Church also; it was an attack upon both; and what was the situation of the Church with respect to that House? He should beg the House to recollect, that by Act of Parliament (with the policy of which he did not find fault), the clergy were prevented from having a voice in that House, that the ancient assemblies through which they were accustomed to deliver their opinions (the Convocation) had fallen into disuse, and that it there fore was but just that peculiar caution should be used in attacking the rights of men who had not organs through which

to defend themselves. The Honourable Gentleman had asked them, what was the Church of England? He had told them that there were various opinions, not as to its constitution, but as to the very meaning of the term. If, as the Honourable Mover had supposed, they were on the cere of voting that Quakerism should be established by law, he did not know what his notions might be as to the Church of England; but so long as the Protestant Reformed Religion was the religion of this country, he should be at no loss to say what the Church of England was. The definition of the Church of England was not to be sought in any obscure productions; but in the most solemn acts in which Parliament had provided for the maintenance of the liberties of the people, they had not thought it unsuitable to provide for the liberties of the Church. In the first volume of the Statute Book, in the first page, and the first chapter, in the confirmation of the liberties of the people of England, the Barons required, "Quod Anglicana Ecclesia libera sit, et habeat jura sua integra libertate, et suas illæsas.” At the Coronation of the King, it was not deemed unworthy of the attention of Parliament to require from the King an oath established at the Revolution, that he would maintain to the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law, and that he would preserve" unto the Bishops and Clergy of this realm, and to the churches committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges as by law do or shall appertain unto them or any of them." He denied, therefore, altoge ther that the Church was to be considered as a congregation of Quakers, or indivi duals of any other sect. Before Parlia ment went into an inquiry on the condition of the Church, they were to affirm that the property of the Church was applicable to any other purposes than the maintenance of religion. It was a vain and useless discussion to inquire into the competence of Parliament, nor should he be inclined to deny it; but of this he was sure, that on any principles on which Parliament could wisely act, they could not interfere with the property of the Church-that they could not touch it without weakening the confidence in private property. He should not look to the origin or antiquity of the Church of Ireland; but when the Honourable Member talked of the stipulations of the Act of Union as the reason why he did not abolish episcopacy altogether, he would ask whether the Honourable Member could prove it consistent with the Act of Union to reduce them to four Bishops and one Archbishop? The Church of

Ireland was a part of the United Church of England and Ireland, and in the Act of Union (the 8th article he believed) every Bishop and Archbishop was enumerated, and the rotation in which they were to take their places in Parliament settled.

Mr. DENMAN could not consent that the House of Commons should be disqua lified, by the general assertions of the Right Honourable Secretary, from entertaining any proposition which might be laid before them with a view to the bene fit of the community. As to the argument deduced by the Right Honourable Secretary (Mr. Peel) from the Act of Union, if that Act was to preserve the Establishment from any change, it would afford a reason against any change which should originate with the Government, as well as against any which should originate with the House. If on the other hand the Act of Union was not to stand in the way of Reform, there was no reason why they should not look into the subject, and afford the Government the aid of their inquiries. The Right Honourable Secretary had spoken of the delicacy which they should feel in making any attacks ou the clergy, on account of their pecu. liarly helpless condition; as if the clergy of Ireland had no union with the government; as if the mode of distributing the patronage of the Church did not interest the most powerful persons in their behalf; as if they had not Archbishops and Bishops in Parliament to advocate their cause; as if they were not great freeholders, and had no representatives in that House. The Right Honourable Secretary had referred to the Coronation Oath and Magna Charta. He (Mr. D.) owned the reference to the Coronation Oath was alarming, and not the less so on account of the quarter from whence it came. It was the absurd construction of that Coronation Oath that had stood long in the way of a great measure of Reform, approved by all enlightened men-the emancipation of the Catholics-without which they could never hope for the peace of Ireland. The Right Honourabbe Secretary went back also to Magna Charta, where he found the liberties of the Church of England were secured. The Church, the Right Honourable Secretary would do well to recollect, was a Papist Church; and the liberties spoken of, liberties from the controul of the Pope, with no separation from its doctrines. The liberties of the Church were at that time secured, because, as forming an independent body in the State, it had been active in opposing the encroachments of the Crown. It was not now intended to bring those liberties into the slightest degree of jeopardy, as

the question was, whether the property of the Church might not be better administered for the benefit of the Church? In recent Acts of Parliament the principle now contended for had been recog nized; as for instance, in the Curates Bill, which went back to first principles, and took from the beneficed a share of their property to give to the laborious clergy.

Mr. PEEL explained, that he had never made the Coronation Oath an argument against the claims of the Catholics.

Mr. PLUNKETT could not suffer the first resolution of the Honourable Mover to pass, without expressing, in terms as strong as the English language would supply, and as the decencies of Parliamentary discussion would allow, his sense of the desperation and utter folly of the principles it contained. If it was true as to the Church of Ireland, it was true as to the Church of England; and if it was adopted, they would sanction the proposition that the property of the hierarchy was public property, and liable to be disposed of at the will of Parliament. Such a proposition was preparatory to the downfal of the hierarchy of the empire, and the downfal of the Hierarchy was preparatory to the downfal of the Throne. He was no advocate for the divine right or the sacredness of Church more than any other kind of property. But he was an advocate for the sacredness of all property. He spoke language which came home to the breast of every Englishman, when he said that the Church of England was an integral part of the Constitution. The Honourable Mover, however, would make arrangement as to the Church property without the consent of the Church; without the consent even of those who had the life interests in its revenues. What was the course he took? On the ground of the misconduct of the individuals, he would confiscate the property. And how would he give compensation? Why, to the individuals, while he took away the fee simple from the Church. This was “ the equitable adjustment" of the Honourable Member, as it was the custom to call every plan of spoliation and injustice. If he deprecated this as applied to the Protestant Establishment of England, he deprecated it the more as applied to the Establishment of Ireland. The Church Establishment in Ireland, as in England, was an integral part of the Constitution, but in Ireland it was also the bond of connexion with this country. To his Honourable and Learned Friend (Mr. Denman) he felt nothing but gratitude for his distinguished and zealous support of the cause of the Roman Catholics; but he would put it to him whe

ther it could be serviceable to that cause to mix it up with the subject now before the House? As for himself he would say, much as he regarded the Roman Catholics, devoted as he was to their cause, incorporated as it was with his very nature, impossible as it was that he should slacken in it while life remained, if he thought that its success would shake the Protestant Establishment in Ireland, he would fling it to the winds. But one of the strongest grounds on which he advocated that cause was, that he believed on his conscience, that he was satisfied on the most mature consideration, that no one object was so calculated to strengthen that establishment as the restoration of the great body of the people to their rights.

Mr. MONCK approved of the motion. He would ask whether it was decent that the Irish Church should come year after year to Parliament to demand 30 or 40,000. for glebe houses and churches, before it was seen whether a part of the income of its own hierarchy might be applied to the supply of those wants?

Mr. GRATTAN said he should vote for going into the Committee. They should see how the Church worked. They had about 4 or 500,000 Protestants in Ireland. Ireland had become, in fact, entirely a Catholic country.

Mr. HUME, in rising to reply, put it to the Right Honourable Gentleman opposite if his language, or if any thing which he had said, deserved the warmth which the Right Honourable Gentleman had displayed. An attempt had been made to misrepresent his expressions, and he owed it to the House-he owed it to himself he owed it to the cause he was advocating, to meet that attempt as it deserved to be met. The Right Honourable Secretary for Ireland had grossly misrepresented his Resolutions, by comparing them to the Act of 1640, which went to sweep away the whole property of the Church, except a poor 1007. He would not only say this was grossly misrepresenting him, but it was wilfully misrepresenting him, for his Resolutions say, that no injury shall be done to the vested interests of any existing individual. The Right Honourable Gentleman (Mr. Plunkett) seemed to suppose that this was the first time the question of Church Property had come before the House. But last session the question had been discussed, and he was happy to see discussion had already done good. Last session Members had talked of commutation of tithes as a profanation; but now this measure was to be brought forward by the Secretary for Ireland. Some progress, therefore, had been made, and he hoped to see more. What does the Right Honourable Gentleman say, or

rather all the three Right Honourable Gentlemen, as to the desperation of my Resolution, when they find it has the support of a Bishop, and a very learned Bishop? Bishop Watson, in a letter to the Duke of Rutland, dated January, 1797, states, "There would be no injustice in altering the value of a benefice, when it reverts to the State on the death of an incumbent." This is what my Resolution states; it has the sanction of a Bishop, who was not only a very learn. ed, but a very honest man, which seems to be the reason why he never rose very high in the Church. He would ask (the Hon. Member continued) the Right Hon. Gentlemen, who accused him of spoliation, why did he set his seal to the Act relative to the tithe of agistment? Did he not know that a court of justice had decided in favour of the clergy; and did he not know that a Resolution of Parliament declared that man au enemy to his country who should levy a process on account of this tithe? The Right Hon, Gent. might not then be Attorney-General, but he took a conspicuous part in the management of affairs. And how can he charge me with spoliation, when he set his seal to an Act which despoiled the clergy of Ireland of 39-40ths of their property? Archbishop Boulter had declared, that the arable land of Ireland consisted only of one-fortieth of the whole, and the tithe from the remainder was taken from the clergy. With what assurance then could the Right Honourable Gentleman talk of putting me down with the strongest language? But it was the first resolution to which the Right Honourable Gentleman so particularly objected. He (Mr. Hume) was quite aware that there was a difference of opinion as to his first Resolution, which he was at present disposed to withdraw; but on the subject of the second Resolution he should divide the House. The Church Establishment, it was said, was to be kept up for the sake of morality. We must have Archbishops to keep men honest! But how did it happen that Scotland was so much superior in many of these points to other countries, when Scotland had no Hierarchy, no Archbishops? But, in truth, the clergy of Ireland were paid to promote the morality of some other people, for they were not to be found in Ireland. If they were paid, ought they not to work? But in Ireland there was in some places a congregation destitute of ministers, and there was a well-paid Church without a people!! The Right Honourable Secretary had quoted Magna Charta, to prove that the Church should not be despoiled, but this applied to the Catholic Church, which, according to the

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