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single resolution had been passed by the other branch of the Legislature.
The Earl of Derby replied that, not being a member of the Government, he could not, of course, state what their conduct would be in the event referred to; but he had no hesitation in stating that he should advise them not to resign, as such a course, under present circumstances, would, in his opinion, be inconsistent with their duty to the Sovereign and the country.
The Earl of Malmesbury vindicated the course which had been taken by Lord Derby, and contended that it was within the province of any independent peer to bring any topic which he thought worthy of the attention of the House under its notice. The discussion then terminated.
The further proceedings upon the Irish Church question in both Houses of Parliament, which it occupied during a considerable portion of the remainder of the Session, will be narrated in the ensuing chapter.
THE IRISH CHURCH AND DISESTABLISHMENT-Further proceedings in Parliament in
regard to this question-Prolonged Debate in the House of Commons on Mr. Glad. stone's first Resolution condemnatory of the Establishment-It is ultimately carried by a majority of sixty-five in a full House-Mr. Disraeli asks for an adjournment to consider the Ministerial position, which is agreed to-Explanations are given in both Houses as to the interview of the Premier with her Majesty and the course proposed to be taken by the Government–The conduct of the Ministers is severely criticized by Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Bright, Mr. Lowe, and other members - Much resentment is expressed at the threat of a Dissolution impending over the House of Commons, and at the use made of the Queen's name—Great Meeting of Bishops, Peers, and other eminent persons at St. James's Hall, to protest against disestablishment-Resolutions in defence of the Irish Church adopted with much enthusiasm Mr. Gladstone proceeds with his second and third Resolutions in the House of Commons—They are carried under protest from the Conservative party, but without a division - Discussion respecting the Maynooth Grant, the Regium Donum, and endowments of other religious bodies-Declarations respecting the two former by Mr. Gladstone--Sharp discussions between the Prime Minister and Mr. BrightHer Majesty's answer to the Address of the House respecting her rights of patronage in the Church of Ireland – The Suspensory Bill to prevent the filling up of vacant sees and benefices is brought in by Mr. Gladstone-Mr. Gathorne Hardy moves to postpone the second reading for six months— The Amendment is negatived by a majority of fifty-four, and the Bill is read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without difficulty- Principal provisions of the measure-Amendment respecting Maynooth College added on the motion of Col. Greville NugentThe Bill meets with a different reception in the House of Lords, where the second reading is discussed with great animation for three nights—Remarkable display of eloquence and argument in this debate-Powerful speeches of Earl Granville, Lord Derby, Lord Carnarvon, Marquis of Salisbury, Duke of Argyll, Bishop of Oxford, and other Peers - Masterly defence the Iris Church by the Lord ChancellorThe second reading is negatived on a division by 192 to 97—Result of this decision.
Although the division upon Lord Stanley's amendment mentioned in the preceding chapter had clearly shown what was the predominant sentiment of the House of Commons upon the policy proposed by Mr. Gladstone in respect to the Irish Protestant Church, the supporters of that Establishment were by no means prepared to give up their cause as hopeless, or to accept without à further struggle the resolution condemnatory of its existence which the leader of the Opposition had undertaken to propose. The contest was resumed with much vigour after the Easter recess, and although the argument had been partially exhausted in the long debates which took place upon the motion for going into Committee, it required a further discussion of three nights’ duration to bring the main issue, that of the cessation of the State Church as an Establishment, to a decision. It is true that the debate at times became somewhat languid, and at more than one period during its continuance the House was in danger of being counted out for want of a sufficient quorum, but there was a large number of members who desired to record their opinions or enunciate their protests on the question, and occasionally a speech was delivered which either from the position of the speaker or his being able to put a well-worn subject in a new light, gave some animation to the discussion, and sustained the flagging attention of the House. General Peel, who had seceded from the Ministry rather than concur in what he considered an unjustifiable dereliction from Conservative principles on the Reform question, and whose character for independence stood high in the House, obtained a favourable hearing on the subject now under discussion. He said that he regarded the resolutions as a party move, designed to re-unite the Liberal party, an object in which they seemed at present to be tolerably successful. Arguing that as long as the Act of Union was unrepealed the English and Irish Churches were one, and that this, therefore, was virtually an attack on the English Establishment, he warmly condemned both the inopportuneness and the substance of the resolutions. The transaction almost reconciled him to last year's Reform Bill, because no Parliament elected under household suffrage could be more inconsistent than this, and on this subject General Peel made some caustic remarks, recommending that the Treasury Bench should be sent to the British Museum, as the bench for the honour of sitting on which public men were ready to sacrifice every other honour, all consistency, and all statesmanship.
Mr. Horsman, after remarking that no one yet had ventured to defend the Irish Church as having done its duty as an Establishment, justified the Liberal party from the charge that they had neglected the question when in office, and were now precipitately intruding it for personal objects. It was the obstinacy of the Conservative Opposition, he said, which had prevented the settlement of this and other kindred questions, and he maintained that it had been first raised this Session by Lord Mayo's speech, suggesting the policy of "levelling-up.' He entered, too, at length into the dispute between Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Hardy, vindicating the former from the charge of sudden and unexpected change of opinion, and by numerous quotations from newspapers and leading articles showed that he was understood in 1865 to have pronounced against the Irish Church. He confessed that at that time disestablishment seemed unlikely ever to be proposed by a Liberal Minister, but the question had come rapidly to the front, and for this the Conservative party were chiefly responsible by the fundamental change they had sanctioned last year. Nevertheless, had not the Government challenged them to it by their inadequate Irish programme and their policy of general endowment, he should have deprecated any sudden revival of the question. But now it had become necessary that the Liberal party should affirm their counter policy of universal disendowment and disestablishment, and for that purpose the three resolutions must be pressed and carried. To another accusation brought against the Liberal party, that they were only anxious to turn out the Government, Mr. Horsman replied in a vein of sarcastic banter by assuring the Ministry that their opponents were clear that they were best promoting disestablishment by keeping them in office. Of nine members of the Cabinet, eight were understood to be in favour of disestablishment, though the ninth-Mr. Hardy-obstinately refused as yet to bring his mind to it. With respect to the disestablishment of the Ministry, he believed there were no differences
Mr. Adderley descanted on the vagueness of the resolution, which disestablished by a phrase and disendowed by an inference, and the motive for this, he remarked, was the necessity of bringing together those who would be scattered to the winds if Mr. Gladstone had ventured even on the outline of a definite plan. His chief supporters were the opponents of all Establishments, and the resolution sinned against the rule laid down by Mr. Gladstone himself, that no statesman ought to touch the question who was not prepared with a settlement of it. That there were grave anomalies in the Church was acknowledged by the Government as fully as by the Opposition, and they were as ready to deal with it when the Commission had reported. But the Opposition had recklessly disturbed the question before they were ready to deal practically with it. This was the action of an agitator, not of a statesman; but the agitation and not the settlement of great questions was the peculiar function of the Liberal party. Criticizing Mr. Gladstone's views, as declared in his two speeches, he pointed out that he was the first statesman who had proposed to alienate the religious property of the country, and pressed for some further explanations of the calculation by which he left the Anglican community in possession of three-fifths of the endowments.
The Marquis of Hartington held that we were bound in honour and in justice to leave no stone unturned to remove any admitted grievance of the Irish people. The abolition of the State Church in Ireland would be a message of peace to the Irish people, and he
entreated the party opposite not to withhold it. He asked them to meet their question with the modern weapons of argument, and not to bring from their armoury the mouldering weapons associated with the hateful cry of “No Popery."
Mr. Mowbray, in replying to the noble marquis, warned the House that the change which it was invited to make in the Constitution would be an infringement on the rights of the Crown, and an interference with the House of Lords. He was persuaded that the country would not endorse such a policy, and the Government were prepared to appeal with confidence to the new constituencies to reverse the decision which a majority of the expiring Parliament might be thoughtless enough to sanction.
Mr. Serjeant Sullivan reminded the House that changes similar to those which Mr. Mowbray predicted as unconstitutional and dangerous had already been effected in sweeping away ten Irish bishoprics.
Mr. Newdegate asserted that the proposition for the disestablishment of the Church had been put forward at the instigation of Cardinal Cullen and the Roman Catholic hierarchy of Ireland, and that if it were carried into effect it would be impossible to maintain the union between the two countries.
Sir W. Heathcote opposed the resolution, expressing his belief that the Irish Protestants, finding themselves divested of the protection of the State, would raise the cry of religious equality all over the kingdom. The first resolution he considered amounted to simple confiscation; the second assumed to give the Queen a dispensing power, which could only be conferred by a statute.
Mr. Walpole opposed the resolution with much energy. He argued that the whole question of Church Establishments was ultimately involved in the present proceedings against the Irish Church. . Admitting the abstract right of Parliament to deal with the Act of Union, he maintained that the article relating to religion was so stringent, and drawn with such peculiar care, that it required more than ordinary consideration before so solemn a stipulation was interfered with ; and he contended that circumstances did not now exist to justify Parliament in setting it aside -a statement which he justified by an elaborate vindication of the Church of Ireland in reference to the purity of its doctrine, the learning of its prelates, and the loyalty which it inculcated. All that had made it a practical grievance had disappeared, and the removal of the Church would never give contentment so long as the land question remained unsettled. He required Mr. Gladstone to inform the House as to the details of his scheme—what was to be done with the surplus funds when all vested interests had been satisfied ?-in what manner private property, secured under the same settlement as Church property, was to be dealt with ? Instead of pacifying Ireland by an act of confiscation, he believed that it would alienate our best friends, would divide the people into hostile camps, and would put an end to the era of improvement
and tranquillity which, until the Fenian delusion broke out, seemed to have at last dawned upon Ireland. .
Lord Elcho, in opposing the resolution, said that Mr. Gladstone had borrowed the traditional policy of the Liberals, of forcing on in opposition measures which they had neglected in office, and argued with great warmth and earnestness against the time and substance of the motion--which was part of the necessity of catching "the Irish vote.” As to disestablishment being an act of atonement, whatever might have been our sins in past days, our government of Ireland had recently been unselfish and beneficial. Refusing to argue this solely as an Irish question, he maintained that the logical result of the resolution would be the disestablishment both of the English and Scotch Churches.
Mr. Gladstone, in reviewing the course of the debate, remarked that it had turned upon extraneous points, and that no one had attempted to defend the Irish Church on its merits. But this was not surprising, for it never had and never could discharge the duty of an Establishment; it never had been nor could be more than the Church of a fraction. Reminding the House that two policies had been submitted to it, one of procrastination, the other of immediate action--for neither side denied that the present state of things was unendurable-he pointed out that Mr. Disraeli's plan of joint endowment had been repudiated by members of his own Cabinet and by his followers. He declined distinctly to answer Mr. Walpole's questions referring entirely to the details of a measure which could only be brought in by the Executive Government, and as he had not lightly undertaken the task, and should not shrink from any responsibility in connexion with it, he would not peril a great public interest by stepping now beyond the province of a private member. It was sufficient to say that the object of the motion was to do an act of justice to Ireland. Commenting on the charges of“ conspiracy,” he remarked that had time permitted it would be easy to prove that the High Church party, which was represented to be plotting for this measure of disestablishment, was at the very moment working for Mr. Disraeli. But the supporters of the motion claimed to be in spontaneous alliance with the party all over the world which was striving to break down the system of religious ascendancy. Discussing the objections to the resolutions, he declared, with reference to the danger to the Church of England, that there was no reasonable ground for fearing it would be injuriously affected, for to remove a bad establishment was not to weaken a good one. As to the time, there were three grounds for moving in the question now. Public opinion had made a remarkable advance; the Government themselves had opened the question of the religious condition of Ireland ; and the third reason was the state of Ireland itself, where peace was only secured by the exercise of the overwhelming power of England. To the objection that disestablishment would alienate the Protestants, he protested warmly against the doctrine of exclusive loyalty,