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He agreed with the Ministers that if legislation were attempted upon this subject, it should embrace the whole United Kingdom; and if that was done, according to the Solicitor-General, by striking at territorial titles, this Bill would put down an organized episcopacy in Ireland, and prevent meetings in synod. He doubted the Solicitor-General'slaw; but if accurate, it was clear that all that had been done in 1820 was as nothing. Two centuries ago there was an organized episcopate in Ireland, and the canon law existed there; if so, the blow about to be inflicted went further than the penal code which existed prior to 1629. Sir James then retracted the policy which had been pursued with reference to Roman Catholic relief, and pointed out the difficulty of dealing with the Papal pretensions without reverting to the code of Elizabeth. The appointment of bishops was incident to the spiritual jurisdiction of the Pope, and territorial divisions were the necessary and inevitable consequence. Referring to Lalor's case, in 1607, he observed that if the act of the Pope had violated the statute of Richard Re touching the regalities, the Crown, and the realm, here was an ancient law, under which the parties could be prosecuted before a jury; but if the object was to put down the Pope's spiritual supremacy, we must embark in a fearful contest, which for 200 years had distracted England and ruined Ireland. With reference to the territorial titles of Roman Catholic prelates, Sir James quoted Lord Clarendon's letter, in which, he contended, these titles had been distinctly recognised; and likewise a speech of Sir J. Romilly, who had said, in terms,
that "the Pope might divide the country into bishoprics and archbishoprics." If the effect of the Bill as altered would be to carry its provisions to the same extent as in its integrity, the Government, as he had said, must withdraw it; but, in the social condition of Ireland, this question should not be left in doubt. The passing of this Bill would be a repeal of the Emancipation Act, and then the Dissenters must look about them. Synods were to be proscribed; but if laymen and Dissenting ministers could meet, why should Roman Catholic bishops be interdicted? Step by step we should be led by this measure to the destruction, he feared, not only of religious, but of civil liberty. We were in this dilemma—that if the measure were cut down, it would be contemptible; if made effectual, we must embark in a course of legislation that would conduct us to a penal code, with all its horrors; impotence would be disgraceful, and vigour would be pregnant with danger—a danger, as regarded Ireland, of civil war.
Lord J. Russell defended the general principle of the Bill. He reviewed the recent examples of Papal encroachment on the Continent, observing that the friends of liberty, whether in Germany or Italy, or elsewhere in Europe, must now be looking to this country, and if, after Protestant feeling had been so strongly manifested there, a Bill was brought before this House to restrain the aggression of Rome and assert the supremacy of the Crown, and that Bill were rejected without any clear or definite substitute, they would think that, in addition to its other triumphs, the Court of Rome had achieved its greatest conquest, over the minds of the House of Commons. Lord John then proceeded to show the difficulty of defining what was spiritual jurisdiction, remarking that we could not trust to the decision of the See of Rome as to the division between spiritual and temporal matters; and, referring to the substitution by the Papal rescript of new sees for the ancient sees of England, he insisted that this was not a spiritual, but a temporal act—an assumption of power over the realm of England, at variance with the rights of the Crown and with the independence of the nation. Then, how was this aggression to be met? The expedients hinted at by Sir J. Graham might be wholly ineffectual; the precedent of Lalor had been misapprehended by him; Lalor had been prosecuted, not for anything done immediately against the temporal power of the Crown, but for using episcopal jurisdiction; and if Cardinal Wiseman had been proceeded against as Lalor, it would have raised a storm in the country. If Lord Stanley, as the head of the Ministry, had proposed resolutions, Lord J. Russell might, out of respect to the Government, have supported them; but in the absence of any other definite proposal, and though the present Bill might not be the best possible course, he claimed the support of the House. Lord J. Russell referred to his own letter to the Bishop of Durham; and, while adhering to everything he there said, pointed out that its promises were "sufficiently guarded:" the letter merely said that the "propriety of taking any proceedings should be deliberately considered." But it would be far better to fall somewhat short of what the occasion might seem to j ustify, than to exceed
in any degree the absolute necessity of the case. He again said, he would not conceal that this Bill might not meet every danger we might have to encounter: if the spiritlately shown benotchecked— if further aggressions should take place—if it should be attempted to deprive the people of Ireland of the benefits of mixed education —or if those who served the Crown were to be menaced with the withdrawal of religious consolations— then other measures might be necessary; for, while remaining a friend to religious liberty, Lord John Russell would never confound that cause with the cause of Papal encroachment. „ Mr. Walpole, in a long argumentative speech, advised Lord J. Russell to reconstruct the preamble of the Bill, so as to make it distinct in constitutional principles and declaration of law; and when the Bill should be carried, to allow it to be carried into effect. Then, with truth, honour, and justice on her side, the Queen might challenge the loyal support and attachment of her subjects.
Mr. Roebuck warmly opposed the Bill, and commented on the late condition and present prospects of the Ministry. What was the relative position of the two great powers in this country? On the one hand we had a great people, the foremost in the world, hardly equalled, certainly not surpassed, by any nation upon earth. We had a Sovereign whom all hearts obeyed, in whose presence we were proud to be men, and for whom we were all ready to die. Now, that was one side of the question; and, in addition, did it not prove what was the real Protestant feeling of the country? Then, as to the other side, he would take the "foreign prince." As a prince, he was nothing—he was without power; he had not an acre of land that he could call his own; and his power was altogether a moral influence, which by an Act of Parliament could not be overborne. Abstaining from any discussion on religious liberty, and confining himself to the political bearings of the question, Mr. Roebuck at last came to the effect of the measure on the "Irish difficulty." It was not the loyal, humble, and every way docile body of English Catholics who gained Emancipation, but the Roman Catholics of Ireland. Will they be quiet with this law upon the statute-book. Govern Ireland! Why, how could the noble Lord govern at all? He depended in that House on the support of his Irish friends, and the withdrawal of their support had rendered his Administration powerless. The noble Lord had some time since discovered the great mistake he had made, and at this moment he felt acutely how unwise he was in departing from the course prescribed to a leader of a party, to say nothing of the head of a Government, by entering into a discussion in a newspaper upon such a subject. He would soon experience the truth of the remark, that whoever attempted to arrest the advance of a great principle would be destroyed. The noble Lord had made such an attempt, and already it was clear that his destruction was inevitable. The First Minister of the Crown! He was not. His an Administration! It was not. The Government was without power; it could do nothing. The moment the discussion on the Bill should be brought to a close, there would be an end of the noble Lord's Ad
ministration. This was the consequence of the noble Lord's abandonment of the principles by which he made his political fortune. In a few days after the present discussion had terminated, some question affecting the policy of the country would be brought forward, and what must be the result? The noble Lord had disgusted the Irish Members—he had offended all the Members of the English Liberal party, who had believed that the motto of "civil and religious liberty" was inscribed on his banner. To whom did the noble Lord now look for support? By whom was he cheered? Of whom would his majority be composed? Never was there exhibited in that House a more marked contrast than was shown last night in the reception accorded to the speech of Sir James Graham, and that of the noble Lord. The cheers which greeted the right hon. Baronet were hearty and enthusiastie, but they came from that (the Ministerial) side of the House. The noble Lord attempted to answer the right hon. Baronet's speech, and the cheers, such as they were, came from this (the Opposition) side. The contrast damped the noble Lord's courage, and from the time of his rising until he resumed his seat his spirit was annihilated. Recent proceedings had taught the Irish Members a lesson they would not readily forget, and which they would apply to coerce any Ministry which might hereafter be formed. They would take advantage of their position, and, in spite of all official prestige, any Ministry must quail before them. He advised the Irish Members to close the discussion. The people were tired of this question. They believed that the interests of the country were not involved in it . They believed it to be a mere party dispute, for which this Bill was made an excuse. He believed that the noble Lord was sincerely anxious to get out of his difficulty. He could not get out of it but by one means, and that was by retiring from office. At present nothing but this Bill stood between him and destruction.
The Attorney-General elucidated the legal bearings of the question; showing how far the Bill was intended to operate, and would most probably operate, and meeting the difficulties which had been foreseen by its opponents.
The Bill, he believed, would in nowise affect the sacred principle of full liberty of conscience, or interfere with the fullest possible spiritual action on the part of every Roman Catholic in the country. He would explain how the canon law would be put in operation in this country by means of the Pope's rescript. That law could only be introduced by bishops of territorial dioceses in synod assembled. The canon law was not the law of England, but the English law would take cognizance of that portion of it which concerns the matter in hand, as a fact to be proved by witnesses of competent character; 'and when the fact was once proved, the law would not inquire whether it was right or reasonable, but adopt the fact and act on it. A considerable number of Roman Catholics in this country were very wealthy, and they were, as a body, richly endowed with respect to ecclesiastical benefices. There were claims of lay patronage on behalf of Roman Catholic proprietors. The bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, as he believed, had always
claimed the right of appointing the priests to those benefices. That claim had been hitherto successfully resisted by the laity. The prelates of the Roman Catholic Church being simply bishops, and not having any territorial dioceses, could not enforce that claim. But the moment they were made territorial, and had dioceses, by the force of the canon law the bishops would have the right to appoint, under certain circumstances and under certain condiditions, the priests to those benefices. They would then come to the Court of Chancery, and the Court would enforce every one of these trusts; upon proof of the fact of that being the canon law of the Church of Rome, the Court of Chancery would enforce the canon law, would remove the priest, and give the income of the benefice to the person so appointed by the bishop of the diocese. In that manner therefore would the canon law in relation to temporalities be introduced by the Papal brief, if it were not met by this measure. The analogies suggested in the cases of the Wesleyans, and other bodies establishing purely spiritual hierarchies, and not superiuducing a foreign law in reference to temporalities, did not hold good. He spoke with diffidence, but he had formerly paid much attention to the civil and canon law, and he had now again endeavoured to make himself master of the subject: he believed he should state exactly the truth when he said there were no spiritual functions whatever which could not be performed to the same extent, and in all respects as effectively, by a person exercising the spiritual functions of a bishop, as by the same person being the territorial bishop of the diocese. He invited any gentleman who might speak after him in this debate, to say what episcopal function there was that could be administered by a bishop having a territorial diocese, which could not be equally performed by a bishop not having a territorial character. If that were so, it was idle to talk of persecution and of tyrannizing over the Roman Catholics. In the legal opinion given by eminent gentlemen, that the first clause of the Bill in effect contained the clauses to be omitted, he did not agree, to its full extent. Contracts deliberately entered into with any person calling himself "Archbishop of Westminster" would, without a shadow of doubt, be enforced by the courts of law; and if bequests were made to "the Archbishop of Westminster for the time being," the only thing which the Court of Chancery would look to would be to ascertain whom ike testator meant, and it would do the same in reference to trusts to be declared by "the Archbishop of Westminster for the time being:" to this extent the second clause, and the second clause only, was included in the first. But if there were any act which could only be operative by reason of any person being bishop of a territorial see, and holding a territorial title, then that act would be void; it could not be sustained in any court of law, and its temporal consequences would not follow. The measure, as a whole, might check the first step towards giving the Romish Church in England a predominance over that in Ireland; but it would not injure religious liberty, and ought not to injure the friendly relations with Ireland which all Englishmen desired to maintain.
Mr. Fagan reiterated the argu
ment, that under the re-established hierarchy the bishops would be released from their slavery to the Pope, and the clergy be secured from arbitrary injury by the bishops. He declared that no Roman Catholic priest or layman held himself bound by any canon law that was opposed to the municipal law of the land, otherwise than as it related to faith and doctrine: all that was inflexible and unchangeable about Roman Catholicism was its faith—the truth it derived from God; its discipline was ever varying with the variation of times and circumstances. The abominable canons of the olden times had nothing whatever to do with the Roman Catholic religion of the present day. Without question, there had been periods when the Roman Pontiffs exercised a temporal authority over sovereigns of this country wholly unwarranted by their office; but those things had passed away, never to return. The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster had been anxious not to give offence to the Government and people of England by calling together the clergy in synod for the purpose of framing rules and regulations establishing the rights and immunities of the clergy; but Mr. Fagan hoped that the day was not far distant when a canon law suitable to the laws and institutions of this country would be established here. As to synodical action, neither this Bill nor any other could prevent its being carried out: it worked through all the period of persecution and penal laws, and it would continue to work. Lord J. Russell could not be aware of the ferment the measure had produced in Ireland. Even Mr. Fagan's own constituents in Cork, who were as calm as a summer sea when compared with the excited in