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which the entire property of the Irish Church would be vested, subject to life interests. Titles would terminate when the provisional period was at an end; but with respect to bishops, all peerages were to lapse immediately. The College of Maynooth would be placed on a footing precisely analogous to that of the Established Church-viz., a valuation of the annual grants at fourteen years' purchase. The gross value of the Irish Church property Mr. Gladstone estimated at £16,000,000. From this sum fell to be deducted the life interests of incumbents of all kinds, which would amount to £4,900,000; compensation to curates, £800,000; other compensations, £900,000; and Maynooth engagements, £1,100,000. Mr. Gladstone proposed with the large surplus to make provision for the blind, deaf, and dumb, and other charities and lunatic asylums, for the relief (as expressed in the bill) of unavoidable calamity or suffering, but not so as to cancel the obligation of property for the relief of the poor.
The Premier, in an eloquent passage, called upon the House to complete the great work of peace and justice. His speech occupied rather more than three hours in its delivery, and it was the universal opinion that a more masterly or luminous statement -considering the greatness of the scheme and its complicated nature—had never been made in Parliament.
The second reading was fixed for the 18th of March, and on that date Mr. Disraeli vigorously opposed the bill, which he regarded as justifying acts of spoliation and confiscation against private as well as public property. Other able speeches against the bill were made by Dr. Ball, Sir Stafford Northcote, Mr. Spencer Walpole, and Mr. Gathorne Hardy. The Attorney-General for Ireland, Mr. Sullivan, Mr. Lowe, Mr. Bright, and Mr. Gladstone all supported the measure; and the debating power on both sides was regarded as worthy of the House of Commons in any past time.
It was generally admitted, however, that the finest oratorical effort in the course of the debate was Mr. Bright's. He rose on the second night, and his speech all through was remarkable for its great power and earnestness. He observed in the outset that the question which the House had to decide upon was this—whether the Protestant Established Church in Ireland should cease to exist as a State institution. The matter at issue was not whether all establishments were good, but whether an Establishment was good for Ireland. The question had been brought to this point by the existence of a great Irish question and a great ecclesiastical griev
He called Lord Stanley as a witness to this. There were few men in the House better informed than the noble lord ; there was no one more calm and impartial in his judgment; no speaker more measured and careful in his language; yet at a political banquet at Bristol he spoke of 'the painful, the dangerous, and to us, in appearance at least,
the discreditable state of things which continues to exist in Ireland.' The noble lord concluded with the emphatic declaration, ‘Ireland is the question of the hour.' He (the speaker) was not sure that since Belshazzar's feast there had been any announcement more startling, more solemn, or more calculated to disturb the merriment of a great and joyous banquet. Lord Mayo, too, had admitted that there was an ecclesiastical grievance in Ireland. The late Government being totally unable to grapple with this question—as he proved from the utterances of its various members—Mr. Gladstone had been called in to settle it. Mr. Bright remarked that the settlement now before the House had met with the sympathy and support of the great bulk of the British people. To the question asked from the other side, What is Protestant ascendency ? he replied by describing the Irish Church as a Church of conquest—the most flagrant violation of the Protestant Reformation in Europe—which had only been maintained by British power, and against which the Irish people had never ceased to protest.
Answering Mr. Disraeli’s contention that the Establishment was a protector of freedom of religion and toleration, Mr. Bright excited the House to cheers and laughter by remarking that Mr. Disraeli seemed to read a different history from anybody else, or that he made his own history, and, like Voltaire, made it better without facts than with them. Regarded in every light, the Establishment had failed completely. It had made Ireland not only the most Catholic, but the most Roman of countries, and it had made Catholicism not only a religion, but a patriotism, for which multitudes of Irishmen were ready to die; and as to binding England and Ireland together, it had done that as soldiers and police had done it, and no more. The bill was put forward by the Government as the means of creating a real and solid union, and of removing Irish discontent, not only in Ireland, but across the Atlantic. Already the Irish in Australia and America were watching the proceedings of Parliament with intense interest; and though emigration would continue, the Irish would leave us no longer as enemies. The complaint which Lord North made so long ago as the first American war would at length be put an end to. By way of encouragement to the disestablished Irish Church, Mr. Bright referred to what had been accomplished since 1843 by the Free Church of Scotland, which had gone out of the Establishment absolutely naked—'not a church left them, nor a glebe house, nor a curtilage, nor a commutation, nor, I will be bound to say, with a single good wish, or, a “God bless you!” on that side of the House.' Yet they had built 900 churches, 650 manses, 500 schools, three theological colleges, and two training institutions. Yet the learned member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) had the courage to say, in the presence of many members of the Nonconformist body, that the ministers of the voluntary churches are rather of a low class—hat they are not high-born. As
As to being high-born, I think the prophets of old were many of them graziers. The apostles were fishermen and handicraftsmen. It was a religion, as we are told, to which “not many noble and not many mighty were called.” It may be that in this age and in this country the light of the Reformation and of Christianity may be carried through the land by men of humble birth with just as much success as may attend men who were born in great mansions or palaces.'
Mr. Bright asked whether there was any reason why the Scotchmen in the north of Ireland, the Presbyterians, should be less liberal or energetic than their countrymen of the Free Church in Scotland; and he concluded with this glowing peroration :
'It is too late to-night to go into the question of the surplus. There is one thing that I should say about it—and I say it in the hearing of my hon. and learned friend (Sir Roundell Palmer), who is understood to take a different view on this question from some on this side. John Wycliffe, as the House knows, lived five hundred years ago ; he was born in the town of Richmond ; and he was, perhaps, the first and greatest of the English Reformers. John Wycliffe was obliged to consider this question as to what should be done with regard to religious endowments; and he said, “If Churches make bad use of their endowments, princes are bound to take them away from them." It is not too much for us to say that if endowments are found to be mischievous, Parliament may put them to other uses. I sometimes wonder how it is that in five hundred years we make so little progress on some subjects. That was the opinion of Wycliffe in the fourteenth century, and we are now discussing the same subject in this House ; and right hon. and hon. and learned gentlemen get up in this House and denounce as almost sacrilege and spoliation any attempt on the part of the Imperial Parliament to deal with the endowments of the State Church in Ireland. And as to the uses to which these endowments are put, if I were particular on the point as to