Page images

their favour, they were extremely revenues of the Established Church unlike some of the Roman Catho. of Ireland. Putting aside the lics of the present day, who had great change it would make-the met the largest concessions of Par violation of engagements it would liament with reproaches and revil- make, -setting aside these matters, ings,— as if they wished to prove I cannot but think that you could how much they differed from their not abolish the revenues of the ancestors, and to make up for their Established Church of Ireland exuberance of loyalty and attach without striking at the root of ment to their country. He be. ecclesiastical endowments, and violieved that Mr. Lucas, and those lating the great principle upon who had spoken with him, did not which all our endowments are carry with them the great body of founded. That may be a wrong the Roman Catholics. In discuss. principle-I mean the principle of ing these subjects, he thought that ecclesiastical endowments; but it the oaths ought not to be a bar to is one I am in favour of, which has debate, nor ihe argument drawn been hitherto maintained by the from the Act of Union pushed too Parliament of this country, and I far; because there was nothing in cannot believe that you could abo. that Act to prevent a change, if the lish it in Ireland without leading great body of the people of Ireland in other parts of the United King. desired a change. Having said so dom to a similar abolition. Then much, Lord John came to the let us consider whether we can at practical question, and confessed present make a new distribution of that the experience of the last few the revenues of the Established years had not been lost upon him. Church according to number. DiSome years ago he had proposed a viding them according to number, compromise, but no one would you would give by far the greater consent to it; and he had been part of those revenues to the Rocompelled, therefore, to consider man Catholic Church. In so doing what course Parliament should you would be acting according to take-how it could remedy that principle - according to the prinwhich was alleged as a grievance. ciple you have adopted in other “ I am sorry to think (said he) that cases, as the late Mr. O'Connell while I cannot hold that the pre frequently put the contrast before sent state of things is, in its appa us,-as you have the Presbyterian rent arrangement, satisfactory, I religion in Scotland, so you would see the greatest difficulties — the have the Roman Catholic religion greatest objections — more than endowed in Ireland. If the Roman that, I see no small peril in the Catholic Church resembled the alterations that have been proposed. Presbyterian Church in Scotland, There are only two modes obviously although it would not be just that in which ecclesiastical equality--for the Roman Catholics should have, that is the important question- as the Presbyterians in Scotland can be attained. The one is the have, a national church entirely total abolition of the revenues of devoted to them, yet I can imagine the Established Church of Ireland. that a large endowment should be I am not prepared to take that given to the Roman Catholic course. I never shall be willing to Church ; but, unfortunately, eccleconsent to the total abolition of the siastical equality would not be

thereby increased." Lord John the endowment of the Roman Russell then proceeded to say, that Catholic religion in Ireland in the the Roman Catholic clergy, looking place of the endowment of the at their proceedings in this country Protestant Church in that country, as well as in foreign countries, and in connection with the State, is not considering that they were under an object which the Parliament of the direction of a foreign head, this country ought to adopt or to aimed at a political power which sanction.” (Cheers.) He must look appeared to him to be at variance at what was passing in Belgium, with a due attachment to the Crown Sardinia, and various countries in of this country, to the general cause Europe ; and “regard the influence of liberty, and to the duties which which, if not exercised, has been a subject of the State should per. attempted to be exercised in the form. " I am convinced (said he) United Kingdom of these date that if the Roman Catholic clergy years; and seeing these things, rehad increased power given to them, sist a proposal for the abolition of and if they, as ecclesiastics, were the Church of Ireland.” (Cheers.) to exercise greater control and Mr. Bright was met by ironical greater political influence than they cheers and laughter from the Oppodo now, that power would not be sition, when he expressed the sorexercised in accordance with the row with which he had heard the general freedom that prevails in speech of Lord John Russell. this country, and that neither in These manifestations were contirespect to political power nor upon nued as he contrasted the past other subjects would they favour career of Lord John Russell with that general freedom of discussion the present, cheered as he had been and that activity and energy of the by those who sat opposite, and human mind which belong to the listened to with silence by those spirit of the constitution of this who sat behind him. Mr. Bright country.(Loud and general cheering.) then proceeded to argue, at great I do not think that in that respect length, that in Irish affairs the they are upon a par with the Pres- opinion of the majority in Ireland byterians of Scotland. The Pres- ought to be more consulted, as had byterians of Scotland, the Wesley. been done in the case of the Canaans of this country, and the dians by yielding the Clergy ReEstablished Church of this country serves. and of Scotland, all no doubt exer Mr. J. D. Fitzgerald, amidst cise a certain influence over their loud cries of “ Divide," vindicated congregations; but that influence the constitutional demeanour of the which they thus exercise over their Irish members from the attacks of congregations must be compatible Lord John Russell. with a certain freedom of the mind Mr. Moore having replied, the —must be compatible with a cer- House divided, and rejected the tain spirit of inquiry, which the motion by 240 against 98. ministers of these churches do not In consequence of the opinions dare to overstep, and, if they did respecting the Roman Catholic overstep it, that influence would Church, expressed by Lord John be destroyed. I am obliged, then, Russell in his speech on this occato conclude most unwillingly to sion, Mr. Keogh, the Solicitor-Geconclude, but most decidedly—that neral of Ireland, and Messrs. Mon

sell and Sadleir, Lords of the Trea- that while the vote on that occasury, resigned their offices. A sion had the sanction of Governcorrespondeuce ensued between ment, the reasons for that vote the Earl of Aberdeen and Mr. given by Lord John Russell, and Monsell, which resulted in the the sentiments of which you comthree honourable Members with- plain, are not shared in by me, drawing their resignations; this nor by many of my colleagues. I correspondence contained the rea- wish this to be distinctly undersons and explanations which in- stood, as I might otherwise be duced the resignations and their justly charged with a departure withdrawal. In a letter, written from those feelings which, both in on the 2nd of June, to Lord Aber- and out of office, I have held and deen by Mr. Monsell, he said, “ he still hold with regard to the Rowas not present in the House of man Catholic body, and the open Commons on the previous night, avowal of which had appeared to but had learned from the news. several Roman Catholic gentlemen papers, that in the course of a dis- to justify them in accepting office cussion upon the Ecclesiastical under the Governinent. Words Revenues of Ireland, Lord John spoken in the heat of debate are Russell, who is the organ of the liable to be misapprehended, and Government in the House of Com Lord John Russell desires me to mons, spoke of the Roman Catho say, that he did not impute want lic Church in a manner which of loyalty to the Roman Catholics, could not fail to be most offensive and that he expressly said that to members of that communion. political and social equality ought His lordship described not indi. to be maintained." Lord Abervidual members of the Roman Ca- deen added, that a similar commutholic Church, but that Church nication had been made to Messrs. itself, “under the direction of its Keogh and Sadleir, and he trusted head,' as hostile to free institu- that after this explanation Mr. tions and disloyal to civil govern- Monsell would not persevere in ments, and therefore the qualifi- an intention, which would be to cation which his lordship added to him (Lord Aberdeen) the cause of his censure could not apply to any sincere regret. To this letter Mr. one who, like myself, are in deep Monsell replied, on the 4th of and thorough unity of sentiment June, that the above explanation and spirit with that Church and showed that the sentiments of its head." Mr. Monsell added, which he complained were not that no minister having expressed those of Lord Aberdeen's Governdissent from Lord John Russell's ment. Mr. Monsell could not conopinions, they had gone forth as ceal from himself, however, that the opinions of the Government, even the frank and generous conand therefore he could not, with sistency with which his lordship honour, remain a Member of a had acted on the occasion, may government professing such opi- prove insufficient in some quarters nions. Lord Aberdeen, in his re to allay the apprehension which ply, dated the 3rd of June, ex has been excited; with me, howpresses his great concern at re ever, it is otherwise ;” and he conceiving the tender of resignation, cluded by saying, he had no hesiand said, “ I have to inform you tation in acceding to his lordship's

wishes, by withdrawing his resig- which was the notorious “ Braintree nation.

Case.” The state of the law was In the House of Commons, on found to be this.

There were the 26th of May, Dr. R. Philli. those who contended that when a more moved for leave to bring in rate was to be made for necessary a Bill to alter and amend the laws repairs, and for supplying the ordirespecting church-rates. He pre nances of the church, it could be mised that there could be no ques. enforced even by a minority of the tion now that under the existing ratepayers. That was the question law it was the bounden duty of upon which the Braintree Case then every parishioner to contribute to pending before the House of Lords the repair of the fabric of the turned. parish church ; and that this obli Mr. Phillimore cited the evi. gation, which extended over lands, dence of Mr. Baines and Dr. Lushgoods, and stock in trade, could be ington to show that the great towns legally enforced. This extensive did not pay the rates; and that obligation was traced to the fact constant feuds arose in parishes, or assumption, that the church and were conducted with great bitand the State were identical. Be- terness. In 1834 the evil was fore the Reformation, no legal dif- admitted on both sides of the ference of opinion was acknow- House. In April, 1834, Lord ledged, nor was dissent contem- Althorp proposed that a sum of plated in the eye of the law. 250,0001. should be secured on the After the Reformation, there were Consolidated Fund, and 50,0001. statutes enforcing the strictest uni more upon church lands, in lieu formity, even so late as the Canons of church-rates. That proposition of 1603. The principle received was rejected, because manifestly it a shock in the time of Charles the did not afford the relief which the First; but was renewed again in Dissenter required ; for, of course, all its vigour under Charles the the injustice of which he comSecond. It was not until the time plained would have been continued of William and Mary that the so long as he had to pay towards Toleration Act was passed; but this sum, which was to have been before the conclusion of the reign taken out of the Consolidated of George the Third, Dissent Fund. In the year 1835, Sir reached a degree of toleration Robert Peel expressed in strong which amounted to a legal recog- language his firm conviction that pition. There still remained some another year ought not to be al. relics of a former state; but under lowed to go by without some adQueen Victoria marriages were al- justment of this much-vexed queslowed before the Registrar; and tion. In March, 1837, Mr. Spring lastly, there was the Act of last Rice, then Chancellor of the Exyear rendering no longer neces- chequer, proposed the total aboli. sary the registration of meeting- tion of church-rates; looking to a houses in any Ecclesiastical Court. better system of management and Now, whereas before 1830 no sin- to pew-rents, to give an increased gle instance existed of church. value 10 church property. rates being resisted on the ground March, 1841, Mr. Easthope brought of principle, since that date con- forward the case of Mr. Baines, tests have been numerous ; one of condemning the state of the law


by which he was imprisoned for he should not have any right to non-payment of church-rates; and compel any clergyman to perform subsequently the similar case of any religious service over him or Mr. Thoroughgood, the Dissenter, in his behalf. But if they withwas called to the attention of the drew their statements, should, House. In March, 1845, Mr. Tre on complying with the obligations lawney proposed a resolution re of churchmen, be restored to the commending the adoption of eifec- church. He proposed that per: tual measures for the abolition of sons signifying their dissent should church-rates; when an amendment cease to have any right to appear was moved by Mr. Page Wood, for at the church vestries, or to vote discharging persons who had been upon any question of a churchincarcerated for non-payment of rate, or upon any question relating this impost. In April, 1851, the to the ecclesiastical management House ordered a Select Committee of church property. With regard to consider the law of church-rates, to churchmen, he proposed that and the difference of practice which the law should remain as it was, existed in different parts of the but that the Consistorial Court country in the assessment and levy- should decide summarily viva voce, ing of these rates. The report of and that there should be only one that Committee contained no con appeal therefrom on a point of law. clusion, but it set forth a very valu. He anticipated, he said, censure able body of evidence.

and animadversion; but he had Mr. Phillimore dissented by an- brought forward this measure as a ticipation from the amendment sincere friend of the church, with about to be moved by Sir William a desire that its benefits might be Clay, because the funds saved by extended throughout the country, the better management of church and in a belief that it would lay property ought to be applied to a foundation, whereby peace and remove spiritual destitution; and happiness, truth and justice, relithe purchase of seats in a church, gion and piety, might be estahe rejoiced to sny, was illegal. blished in the realm.

His own proposition was, that Sir W. Clay then moved his all dissenters should be exempted amendment--" That this House from the payment of churi h-rates, do resolve itself into a Committee by the simple process of stating in to consider whether church-rates writing that they are dissenters should not be abolished, and profrom the Church of England, and vision made for the charges to handing that statement to the which such rates are at present church wardens. The copy of applicable from pew-rents, and these written statements would be from the increased value which kept by the church wardens, and inquiries instituted by authority their production in any court of of the Crown have shown may be justice would be held to be evi- derived under better management dence to exempt any dissenter. from church lands and property." He further proposed that all per- After dwelling upon the long and sons exempted on this ground eventful history of the “ Braintree should cease to have any right Case,” the still uncertain state of whatever to any church rite, pri. the law for enforcing church-rates, vilege, or ceremony, that is to say, and the vexatious proceedings

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »