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Declaring his conviction that Parliament would not listen to the proposition that had been mooted for the arrangement of these affairs by the sort of treaty called a "concordat," Lord John concluded, "I am firmly persuaded that we have already, in our own public feeling, our own polity, our own public discussion, and in the existing law and authority of Parliament, sufficient to protect the integrity of that civil and religious freedom that all classes of Her Majesty's subjects are so earnest to maintain against all aggressions of this kind that may be attempted upon them. After all that has arisen to call forth the expression of that feeling, it is upon that feeling that I rely with the greatest confidence. It is on the attachment of the people to those institutions, on their deep and earnest feeling for all that regards their welfare and integrity, that I look for the surest protection of this kingdom against the machinations aud aggressions of the Court of Rome, or of any other foreign power, spiritual or temporal, whatever."
Mr. Disraeli, after a passing reference to foreign politics, dwelt at some length upon the depression of the agricultural class, observing that there must be some cause deep-seated in the constitution, why all classes but one should be in a flourishing condition; that class, in fact, contributed the capital by which the other classes prospered. In discussing the motion of which he had given notice, he should consider the subject of agricultural distress with reference to the whole of our system of taxation, and show that whilst the policy of the Government had destroyed an artificial
system, it had left the artificial burden. Upon the question of the Papal aggression, he criticised the letter of Lord J. Russell, which he thought had not been provoked solely by the appointment of Dr. Wiseman—an act, not insidious, but frank almost to indiscretion, nor insolent, for it was fully expected, and was in daily operation in Ireland; but it was connected with the existing state of our relations with the Court of Rome.
The motion was then agreed to.
On the first evening of their meeting, each House was called upon to pay a tribute of acknowledgment to the name of a valuable officer lately removed from its service. In the House of Lords, the Marquis of Lansdowne announced that the Earl of Shaftesbury had, from the weight of advancing years and infirmities, resigned the post of Chairman of Committees. Lord Lansdowne paid a high compliment to the integrity and ability of Lord Shaftesbury, and intimated the neutrality of the Government on the choice of his successor, by stating that he did not wish that there should be any discussion on the subject. Lord Stanley added his tribute of sincere admiration for Lord Shaftesbury, and moved that Lord Redesdale be his successor. The Duke of Wellington mentioned, that some years ago, in anticipation of the present resignation, he had recommended Lord Redesdale to devote himself to the Committee business of the House: he believed there was now no person more capable of the duties of Chairman. Lord Lansdowne concurred. Lord Redesdale was unanimously chosen, and suitably acknowledged the honourable appointment
In the Commons, a resolution of respect to the memory of Mr. John Henry Ley, late First Clerk of the Table (who had died during the recess) for the distinguished and exemplary manner in which he had discharged his duties for 39 years, was moved by Lord John Russell, and adopted by the House, after testimonies of warm respect expressed by Sir R. Inglis, Mr. Goulburn, and Mr. Hume. The last - mentioned gentleman made some unfavourable comments on the choice made by the Government of a successor to Mr. Ley, which was vindicated by Lord John Russell.
On the 7th of February, the Prime Minister, in pursuance of the notice which he had given, proceeded to take the first opportunity for introducing his measure for counteracting the ecclesiastical aggression of the Church of Rome.
In moving for leave to bring in a Bill to prevent the assumption of certain ecclesiastical titles, in respect of places in the United Kingdom, Lord John Russell prefaced his motion by adverting to the deep interest felt by all classes in the country, denoted by the numerous petitions to the House, and the addresses to the Crown, which cast a serious responsibility upon the Government, as well as to the anxiety with which he approached this important subject, not diminished by the intimations which had recently fallen from certain Members in that House. After referring to late occurrences in Ireland—the appointment of Dr. Cullen, the mode of his appointment, and the spirit he manifested; the Synod of Thurles, and its dealing with the colleges, and with questions of the occupancy of land—that synod consisting en
tirely of ecclesiastics, who had thought proper to prescribe to the Irish people their duties in reference to these questions; he observed that these questions gave warning of other measures on the part of the Court of Rome, to be attended with more important results. After a brief allusion to the proceedings of that Court in certain Roman Catholic countries, Lord John addressed himself to the subject of the letters apostolic, changing the organization of the heads of the Romish Church in this country, which he declared had been done entirely without the consent or knowledge of the Government of this country. Premising that it was the nature of all ecclesiastical bodies to endeavour to encroach upon the temporal authority—a doctrine more especially true of the Church of Rome—he proceeded to consider what had been the conduct of other Governments with regard to measures of this kind attempted by the Pope. He showed, that in France, under the old Bourbon rule, as well as in more recent times, and even in Austria, the sanction or placet of the Sovereign was indispensable to the validity of high spiritual appointments; and he asserted broadly that no Roman Catholic power would permit a bull to be brought into its country without the sanction of some civil authority, and that there was no such Power, however weak, upon which the Pope would have attempted to pass such an insult as he had offered to the Queen of England. Lord John then argued from the very terms and language of the letters apostolie, that there was an assumption of territorial power: it was nothing to say the authority could not be enforced;
it was enough for him that it was assumed. He next showed, from the earliest history of this country, even in the time of the Conqueror, that our Roman Catholic ancestors were jealous of the encroaching power of Rome, and took measures to check it. Before he indicated the course he intended to propose, Lord John stated that the Government had, in the first instance, consulted the legal advisers of the Crown as to the existing law, who were of opinion, that neither by the common nor statute law could the mere assumption of titles be prosecuted as an offence; and that, although the introduction of bulls or writings from Rome was illegal, and subjected the party to penalty, the law had been so long in disuse, that a prosecution would on that ground probably fail. After specifying the objections to which other courses were open, the Government, he observed, had, under the circumstances, and with reference to the control which the new Roman Catholic prelates would obtain over large endowments in the hands of Roman Catholic trustees in this country, proposed, in the first place, to prevent the assumption of any title, not only from any diocese now existing, but from any territory or place in any part of the United Kingdom, and to restrain parties from obtaining by virtue of such titles any control over trust property. In conclusion, he remarked, the best course Dr. Wiseman could pursue was, to renounce the title he had assumed, and, as he assured him (Lord John) was his original intention, to reside at Rome; but if other counsels should prevail, and he should instil motives of ambition or revenge into the Court of
Rome, we must prepare for a long and arduous struggle, in which the part he should take would be guided by the principles which had always governed his conduct in these questions. He was for the fullest enjoyment of religious liberty, but he was entirely opposed to interference by any ecclesiastics with the temporal supremacy of this realm.
Mr. Roebuck said, one broad fallacy ran through the whole of Lord J. Russell's speech; he applied facts and principles derived from Roman Catholic States to one that was not Roman Catholic, and he omitted all reference to a country which bore the strongest analogy to ours—the United States of America, which, governed by our institutions, and speaking our language, was not afraid of the Pope. He insisted upon the injustice of legislating against one class of ecclesiastics only—a class which in Ireland had been constantly acknowledged by their territorial titles, even in Acts of Parliament. He objected to this Bill as a step backwards in obedience to prejudices out of doors; an Act, however, which derived its benefit from its utter inefficiency. If Dr. Wiseman, instead of being called Archbishop of Westminster, were called Archbishop in Westminster, the Act would not touch him. What was the offence to be called? How was it to be tried? What was to be the penalty? He warned the House of the terrible consequences of such a persecution in Ireland. The whole conduct of Ministers, he contended, had induced the Roman Catholics to believe that what was about to be done was no offence; and he had heard, he said, that Lord Minto had received a letter from Abbate
Hamilton, a Scotchman, resident at Rome, who reminded his Lordship, that when coming from an audience of the Pope, he had stated that he had seen the brief by which the Roman Catholic hierarchy was to be established in England.
Mr. J. O'Connell declined to discuss the merits of the Bill—a mouse out of a mountain. He explained and vindicated the proceedings of the Papal authorities in reference to Ireland, to the appointment of Dr. Cullen, and the Synod of Thurles; he controverted some of the allegations of Lord J. Russell as to the conduct of the Pope in other Catholic countries, as well as his deductions from English history; and repelled the implied charge of disloyalty made against the Roman Catholics because they do not acknowledge the spiritual or ecclesiastical supremacy of the Queen over their own affairs.
Mr. Henry Drummond was astonished to hear that this was not a question of aggression; in no State of Europe would the Pope have dared to do what he had done here. This act was in furtherance of the old scheme for establishing the domination of the priesthood and the subjection of the laity. In Ireland, hostility towards this country was kept up in the minds of the people, who were taught to believe what their priests told them as if it were the voice of God. To this anti-English spirit at Rome, as well as to the thirst for power, Mr. Drummond traced this act of usurpation, the civil and social evils attending which he described in very dark colours.
Mr. Roche, who characterized the speech of Lord J. Russell as a homage to the spirit of bigotry, which he had contributed to raise,
contended that the Bill proposed was unnecessary, inasmuch as the statute of 13 Elizabeth, c. 2, was sufficient to meet the offence of introducing bulls; whilst it was an attempt to ignore the Roman Catholic Church, which had been virtually, and even directly, recognised by the Legislature. The worst feature of the bill was, that it was to extend to Ireland, where a religious agitation would be most mischievous.
Mr. Moore said, the appeals which Lord J. Russell had made to ancient English history, and to the examples amongst European States, seemed to adopt the policy of despotic Governments, and to abandon that of free institutions. America was a more germane example, and that he had overlooked. The question was, whether the Roman Catholic prelates should be nominated at all; if the Pope must not nominate, and the State stood aloof, the Sovereign protesting against the religion of onethird of her subjects, this was tyranny. If the nation had retrograded into second childhood, this House should assume its high function of asserting, against the wild voice of agitation, the development of mature public opinion. If so much respect was paid to the voice of the people of England, what was to be said of the people of Ireland? There but one answer would be given to this measure, "We defy you to carry it into effect."
Mr. Bright, in animadverting upon Lord John Russell s letter, accused him of appealing thereby to the bigotry of the country. There was a belief that the Roman Catholic religion was making rapid strides in the United Kingdom, and that this measure of the Pope was an indication of its progress; and thinking, as he did, that it would be a calamity to this kingdom if it should return to Catholicism, he proceeded to inquire how far our past policy had been calculated to make this a Protestant empire. In the course of this inquiry, he described the Irish Church, abounding in wealth, and leagued, as he affirmed, with the civil power in acts of oppression, as at the root of the extended Catholicism of Ireland. And how had our legislation acted with regard to the Roman Catholic religion in England? According to the noble Lord's letter, the Church of England, which had been called the bulwark of Protestantism, was a kind of manufactory of home Popery. Notwithstanding the power and influence of the episcopacy in England, and its revenues, the depth of winch the plummet of inquiry had never sounded, not only had the Church of England not saved the country from Popery, bat it was said to be deeply infected with it; yet it was the ascendancy of this Church that the Bill of the noble Lord was intended to bolster up, and which he believed would he impotent for the object in view.
Mr. Disraeli said, the reason why he should vote for the introduction of the Bill was, that the community might see the result of the agitation which had been fostered bv the Government, and which had led to a national demonstration seldom equalled—a result which, when known, would produce a feeling of great disappointment, and perhaps of mortification. He contrasted the feebleness of the measure with its antecedents, and even with the speech of the noble Lord that night, the proportions of
which could not have been more colossal if the object had been to re-enact the penal laws. He had expected at least a measure consistent with the exposition of the First Minister, who had given a most unsatisfactory reason for the contrast between his introductory statement and the remedy he proposed. With respect to the proceedings of the Pope, remembering the language and acts of the present Government, and of the noble Lord himself, it was not just or fair for him to say that that proceeding was a blunder on the sudden. The course which the Government were now taking was not merely very unsatisfactory for the present, but extremely perilous for the future. Suppose another Papal aggression, was there to be another measure adapted to the new assault? He considered a Roman Catholic hierarchy not recognised by the law to be a great political evil; but the problem was to be solved by the introduction of a measure equal to the occasion, not by a petty remedy unworthy of the dignity of Parliament.
Mr. M. J. O'Connell disputed the grounds upon which the noble Lord had based his Bill, the effect of which would be merely to create annoyance and irritation.
Sir R. Inglis, after briefly replying to Mr. Bright, thanked Lord John Russell for his speech, as well as for his letter, and wished he could make the same return for the Bill he had proposed, which he feared would fall far short of what had been expected. He would not, however, pronounce a decided opinion upon a measure not yet beforo the House.
Mr. Reynolds, in opposing the motion, attacked the temporalities