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from a Ministry which had abandoned its party standard, and from Lord Grey, the type of crotchety politicians, the reproach that the disestablishment of the Irish Church had been brought within the domain of party questions out of the region of abstract speculation. He defended the Bill on the ground of economy of the funds of the Irish Church. This was its object. Members of the other House who had voted for the first Resolution might consistently hereafter vote against a measure of disendowment, and Peers who voted for this Bill might consistently vote even against any future measure of disestablishment. Nor would this Bill kill the Irish Church by inches by means of continual extensions. It would, in all probability, insure a speedy compromise among religious parties in Ireland, and, at all events, could not be extended without the consent of this House. As to its origin, he denied the cogency of the accusations against the late Ministry for not having brought forward this question of the Irish Church while absorbed by the question of Reform; and he thought that the Fenian
. conspiracy, though not connected directly with the Irish Church, was a most proper occasion for the Legislature to show that its conscience had been awakened as to the necessity of diminishing the traditional disaffection which was the pubulum of Fenianism. The present Government, as represented by the Secretary for Ireland, had itself evinced a sense of the necessity of doing something. But it had done nothing. The occupants of the episcopal bench, with the esprit de corps existing between all Established Churches, had adopted the ecclesiastical motto, “Non possumus.” Hence the task was forced on the Liberal party. And in the plan it had chosen he was convinced it had decided rightly in not attempting to effect that for which, independently of other objections, the funds would have proved totally inadequate – viz. indiscriminate religious endowment. Their plan had been assailed as a violation of the rights of property. But the present question was one of policy, not of property. It was not even the fact that the property enjoyed by the Irish Church was the property of a corporation, for it was the property of any number of separate corporations. But, moreover, the right to corporate property was essentially different from the right to private property; and the State, guided by a conscience enlightened by reason, had a perfect right to deal with property given to religious as well as other public uses. He himself, as a public man, felt free, and even bound, to restore the property of this Church to its true uses, and to take it from a flagrantly unjust use; and believed, Protestant though he was of Protestants, that the interests of Protestantism in Ireland would suffer no detriment.
The Bishop of Oxford followed the Duke of Argyll, presenting the argument for the defence of the Church with his usual felicity and skill. He taunted the noble duke with the Presbyterian complexion of his arguments. He asserted that, whatever might be alleged, there was a clear intention to disendow, and the expediency and justice of this he denied. The circumstances of the
Canadian Church were entirely unlike those of the Irish Church. A nation or Church in its youth could dispense with endowments. A nation's youth was the time of endowments; but a Church which had once been endowed formed, as did men, habits from these circumstances, and it was ungenerous and unfair to abandon it, despoiled of its ancient endowment, to an unequal conflict with religious bodies which had not been endowed. He maintained that to confiscate the property of the Irish Church, which was still the Church of St. Patrick, would, besides being most unjust to the 700,000 Protestant souls, be unjust to the Church of Ireland itself, and would be to allot the penalty before allotting the blame-blame which, when the accounts were fairly cast up, would be found to attach first of all to the English Government, which had, as Boulter, Spenser, Swift proved, made the Irish Church the meanest instrument of our misrule. He urged, finally, the rejection of this measure, as what might be, he would repeat, represented as an attempt to buy off assassins; as unfair, since it made the Irish Church the State's whipping-boy; as inexpedient and ungrateful, since it would deprive Ireland of the most intelligent and energetic class of the community; and as a scheme which would, in deference to the sentimental grievance which persons felt at the possession of property by their neighbours, endanger the highest religious and political interests of the country.
Lord Russell was of opinion that great art had been used in avoiding the real question at issue, and in throwing dirt on opponents; and he drew a parallel between the political conduct of certain former members of the houses of Russell and Stanley. Passing lightly by objections to the Bill on points of detail, which might be easily corrected in Committee, and the advantages alleged to accrue to Ireland from the presence of the clergy as a body of resident gentry, he contended that the Irish Church not only failed in promoting religion and morality, which were the only true objects of a Church, but worked great harm by keeping up among the people the feeling of an inequality. This might, indeed, have been assuaged had Mr. Pitt's pledge given at the Union been redeemed. As it was, a cure of this grievance of inequality was imperatively demanded. He himself, at one time had thought, but he thought no longer, that an endowment of the other religious bodies in Ireland would be sufficient. The Conservative party in that House appeared ready to reject the measure of relief which this Bill contained, notwithstanding its approval by a majority of the House of Commons; but he warned them, by reference to the precedents of the Catholic Relief, Corn Law Repeal, and Reform Bills, that if this Bill were rejected, Bills would be sent up from the other House by still increasing majorities for the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church. He proceeded to defend the conduct of the late Ministry in not having undertaken a measure of this sort together with a Reform Bill, and concluded
by expressing his confident conviction that none of the fatal consequences predicted by the opponents of this Bill would follow.
The Lord Chancellor followed with a speech which fully maintained, if it did not enhance, his reputation as a master in the arts of luminous statement and of close and subtle argumentation. No better defence of the Established Church of Ireland than this oration, which was subsequently printed and widely circulated, proceeded from any quarter.
The noble and learned lord began by observing that this Bill professed to be a mere corollary, and that the proposition whence it followed, which had not been brought, indeed, before this House, was embodied in the Resolution of the House of Commons that the Church of Ireland should cease to exist as an Established Church, which implied both disendowment and disestablishment. These were the real issues now at stake. But the Bill, the very title of which was a misnomer, was, apart from the consequences which it involved, so full of faults of detail that the only possible way of remedying it in Committee would be by striking out every clause. By it the succession of the Church, uninterrupted for ages, would be broken off, not because something had been determined, but because it might be—with the result that the national Church would be placed in a worse position than any voluntary Church, and that the working in the different dioceses of the island would become entirely unequal. In the course of a very elaborate review of the Bill, for which he denied that the Act of 1833 was any precedent, he showed that the consequences to the families of deceased bishops and incumbents would be calamitous; that one of the most practical results would be, by suspending the patronage of the bishops, to deprive seventy out of every seventy-five curates of all chance of benefices; and that generally the action of the Church, and the process of augmentation of poor livings by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, to which the faith of Parliament was pledged, would be paralyzed. Then, passing from the details, he claimed the authority of Lord Palmerston for the conclusion that the Act of Union was against the Bill; and he distinguished the legislative interference with the Church Establishment in Australia and Jamaica from the present attempt. But the Bill was said to be required as an act of justice. Now, there being admittedly no rival claimants, there could be no injustice in the retention by the Irish Church of its property-unless, indeed, the possession of property by any Establishment were an injustice to other religious bodies, which would be a principle as fatal to the English as to the Irish Church Establishment, since the question of numerical proportion would then be immaterial. On the contrary, the injustice would be in disturbing a settlement to which much of the physical prosperity of Ireland was due, and in burdening the Protestant population with the necessity of creating a new fund for the support of religion. He thought no better of the other ground on which this Bill was put - viz. policy. It was the land question
on which popular interest was concentrated, and the present was an English, not an Irish question. The Bill, then, would not conciliate the disaffected, but it would offend and irritate the most thrifty and loyal portion of the nation ; it would produce two classes of absentees, the Protestant clergy and gentry; still further, it would cripple and dishearten the Protestant Church in Ireland, driving those outside the large towns into Catholicism, and, however deep now the affection of Englishmen for their Church, perhaps preparing the way for the overthrow even of that; and this legislative interference with corporate property might prove perilous to the rights of private property, which rested, like corporate property, upon law, and the law as to which was equally susceptible of change. He concluded by keenly criticizing the origin and objects of the Bill, and by advising the House, without being moved by the decision come to by the House of Commons, to judge the Bill on its own merits and to reject it as an attack on property, on the supremacy of the Crown, and on the. interests of Protestantism and of peace in Ireland.
Earl Granville, in a lively reply to the objections to the Bill, drew attention again to his arguments, which remained unanswered, respecting the disestablishment of the Church in the colonies. He would not follow the Lord Chancellor's minute criticisms on the details of the Bill, but he believed them capable of full defence. He then adverted to the observations of the Bishop of Oxford, who, however, he said, had spoken with so much gaiety of the probable consequences from the Bill that it was impossible to think he believed the fortunes of the Church of England in jeopardy ; to expressions, which he deplored, of the Primate of Ireland on the division of races in that country ; to attacks, in particular by Lord Salisbury, on his quotation of the opinions of foreigners, and to the arguments of Lord Derby and other Peers on the obligation of the Coronation Oath.
After three nights of highly animated and interesting discussion the House proceeded to a division, which gave the following result:For the Second Reading
97 Against it
192 Majority against the Bill
95 Thus negativing by nearly two to one the decision which the House of Commons had pronounced by successive majorities of no inconsiderable amount.
The result, however, was not unexpected, and it created little surprise and no commotion in the public mind. . It was never supposed that the Upper House of Parliament—the natural guardian of established institutions and prescriptive rights--would, at the very first assault, surrender the defence of an establishment, which, whatever might be its demerits or defects, rested its proprietary claims on the basis of ancient and recognized possession. Nor, on the other hand, was it felt by the promoters of the Suspensory Bill that the actual issue involved in it, although not immaterial as affecting the amount of prospective compensations, was of such vital importance as to be made a ground of serious conflict between the two Houses. Acquiescing in the decision for the present, the Opposition party regarded their defeat at this stage of the contest rather in the light of a foregone conclusion, and consoled themselves with the belief that the verdict of the present House of Commons would receive so ample and decisive a confirmation from that which was just about to be elected, as would make the concurrence of the House of Lords, though for the present deferred, an inevitable concession to the clearly declared opinion of the country.
FINANCIAL AFFAIRS-State of the Public Revenue-Mr. Ward Hunt, Chancellor of
the Exchequer, makes his financial statement—The public accounts show a deficit for the past year of 1,636,0001.–Mr. Hunt proposes to take the Income Tax for the ensuing year at 6d., and anticipates a balance of revenue over expenditure of 722,0001. for 1868-9-Mr. Gladstone expresses a general approval of the scheme, but attributes the present deficit to the permanent increase of expenditure--General discussion on the financial statement—The Resolutions proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer are adopted—PUBLIC EXPENDITURE - THE ESTIMATES— Mr. Corry, First Lord of the Admiralty, proposes the Navy Estimates, and describes the condition and progress of our Naval Armament and Dockyards— Remarks and Amendment of Mr. Childers, wbich is supported by Mr. Gladstone, but negatived Motion of Mr. Seeley for reformation of Admiralty Accounts-Answer of the First Lord of the Admiralty-A Select Committee appointed - Mr. Graves moves a Resolution in favour of diminishing the number of dock yards--Speeches of Mr. Corry and Mr. Childers- Motion withdrawn-Army Estimates moved by Sir John Pakington-His statement respecting Military Expenditure, the administration of the War Department, and other topics --Debate on the various questions raised by the Estimates—Votes agreed to-Lord Elcho introduces the subject of military organization, and moves for a Royal Commission to inquire into the question-After some discussion the motion is withdrawn - Resolution moved by Mr. 0. Trevelyan for discontinuing the system of Purchase of Commissions-An Amendment modifying the Resolution is moved by Capt. Vivian-Defence of the Purchase-system by Sir John Pakington, General Herbert, Col. Loyd Lindsay, Lord Elcho, and other members—The motion and amendment are withdrawn-Important alteration in the Mutiny Bill, prohibiting flogging of Soldiers and Marines in time of peace carried against the Government by Mr. Otway- The Amendment is accepted by the House of Lords after speeches from his Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, Earl Grey, Viscount Hardinge, and other Peers- Organization of the Civil ServiceMotion of Mr. Childers for extensive reform of the Civil departinents, and statement of his plans - Answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer- Motion withdrawn - The Indian Budget—Sir Stafford Northcote makes the Annual Financial Statement for India in a very thin House shortly before the Prorogation - Comments on the Statement by Mr. Laing and other Members—The Resolutions are adopted.
The year 1868 was not signalized by any important financial operations. The state and prospects of the public revenue, now beginning to manifest the effects of a deficient harvest and of con