« EdellinenJatka »
only one, of several modes which might have been adopted for bringing about a particular end. A diplomatic representation to the Pope to withdraw his rescript might have been tried. He was not very sanguine as to its success; but he regretted that some proceeding of that kind had not been adopted. He did not look to the other side of the Channel for a favourable result as arising from this measure. He saw so much danger to that part of the empire, that he could hardly suppress his regret that a rigid exactness of theory, so far as Ireland was concerned, had not given way to practical expediency. The measure before their Lordships might answer the purpose of a strong remonstrance, and it might dispose the minds of the parties to come to some reasonable compromise on the subject. Meanwhile, it secured the inestimable advantage of keeping inviolate and unimpaired that deposit of the law, the rights and privileges of the Crown and the empire, which had been bequeathed to us by our ancestors and committed to our charge.
The Earl of Winchilsea, regarding the question from a high Protestant point of view, characterized the Bill as a paltry Bill, below contempt, which endeavoured to vindicate in pounds, shillings, and pence the wounded honour of our illustrious Queen. He would vote neither for it nor against it.
Lord Lyndhurst observed that the House had not given much attention to the details of the Bill. He therefore reviewed it at considerable length, with the view of showing that the earlier or declaratory part of it was grounded on
the notorious law of this realm, and that the after or enacting part was expedient and just. Recapitulating in a condensed form the events of the aggression, he concluded, on all the grounds of principle and precedent, of public and national law and policy, that the act of the Pope was a violation of the independence of this country and our Sovereign, and therefore illegal and void. He did not found that opinion on Lalor's case, for that case he did not like: under it, indeed, vicars-apostolic would be equally illegal with territorial bishops. He briefly stated his approval of those portions of the Bill which had not been introduced by the Government, but had been forced upon it, especially the informer's clause, which would stimulate a slumbering Attorney - General. Having completed his legal review, he went on to a justification of himself, as a member of the Administration which passed the Relief Act, for his support of this Bill. His object in passing the Relief Act was the extension of toleration. Did he say toleration? He meant a full participation of all the rights and privileges of the rest of Her Majesty's subjects. But such toleration would never satisfy the Roman Catholic Church. The late Pope, in a letter to the Bishops of Belgium, declared "liberty of conscience" to be an "absurd and erroneous maxim—a wild notion," which he "rejected with disdain." Their principles were immutable. Now, as much as 300 years ago, their aim was "domination " — hesitating when it was politic, blinking when it was necessary, advancing when they might with safety. The provisions of the Relief Act had been totally disregarded in Ireland; titles had been assumed, the Jesuits recalled, and twenty monasteries of men established. The natioual election of a Roman Catholic Primate had been overruled by the Pope; a Synod established; and the Queen's Colleges, when they could not be sapped and perverted, had been condemned. Such were the evidences of the unchanging designs of that Church. Here, then, Lord Lyndhurst said, he would make his stand. In adhering to the principle of the Bill, he acted on the maxim principiis obsta, for while retracting nothing which he had conceded to toleration, not one step would he yield to ascendancy or domination.
The Duke of Newcastle expressed his deep regret at hearing a member of the Administration which had passed the Roman Catholic Relief Act ground his support of this Bill on the arguments urged by Lord Lyndhurst. The noble Duke combated the position that the Pope's act was an invasion of the Queen's supremacy. The Queen could not appoint Romish bishops, and her prerogative could not be infringed by the assumption of titles which were not the creatures of law. The clause exempting the Scotch bishops showed that the office was spiritual.
Much had been said about protecting Roman Catholics from the Pope: it was not the function of Parliament to interfere on behalf of parties who voluntarily submitted themselves to a spiritual power. If Parliament so interfered, there was an end to all religious freedom. The spread of ultramontane opinions was indisputable, not merely here, where they were comparatively harmless, but abroad, where they
were more dangerous. But against which party was this Bill directed? Practically it would militate against the English party. Of course he offered no apology for the want of common civility which characterized the proceeding of the Pope; but under all the circumstances of the case—remembering especially that the Court of Rome might very naturally have reckoned on the consent of our Government— he did not think that the omission to communicate to our Government their intentions should be visited with such legislation as this. It was convenient to call it a protest, but who ever heard of a protest which inflicted heavy penalties? An eminent lawyer and an attached member of the Church assured him that the measure, if carried out, would render invalid the appointment of the Irish bishops and the ordinations of priests, and would unloose the marriages which the priests had performed. Nor would the preamble deal with Roman Catholics alone; if it revived the old laws under which Lalor was prosecuted, the Dissenters of this country, and that most respectable body the Wesleyans, might tremble at the force and effect of this provision.
Referring to the demonstrative argument of the Earl of Aberdeen, that there was nothing in the Act of 1848 to prevent our sendingaMinister to Rome, though we received no Nuncio thence, he regretted that the language of the original rescript had not been subsequently modified. But the language of Dr. Wiseman was wholly without excuse. He thought it would have been sufficient, as the case stood, if the two Houses had agreed to a joint address to the Queen. In that way the sanction of the three branches of the Legislature would have been given to the determined protest previously made by the country at large.
The Marquis of Clanricarde observed that the Government was not responsible for the amendments. In past times, the honour of the Crown had been vindicated by the Roman Catholics of this country, when their privileges were less; now when liberty had increased, and in spite of efforts to prevent it education had spread, the Pope would not be able to enforce rescripts giving unlawful titles in derogation of the rights of the Crown of England.
Lord Monteagle characterized the Bill as a complication of blunders and injustice. The Pope's conduct was unjustiiiable; but what could be more arrant quackery than to offer this Bill as a vindication? or what more unjust than to answer the act of the Pope with a penal measure upon our own fellow-subjects?
The Lord Chancellor admitted, and was ready to accept, the responsibility of Government for the Bill. He held that Lord John Russell's spirited letter to the Bishop of Durham had "disabuse the public mind:" "but for that letter, Her Majesty's throne would have been shaken." He argued legally, that the Queen was supreme over all courts in this country in relation to ecclesiastical matters. One of the counts in the indictment of O'Connell arraigned him for establishing courts of arbitration; but this rescript established a regular hierarchy in explicit terms, "with all the jurisdiction incident to such a hierarchy." With reference to laws still in force, but not put in action, he said he hoped never to
see the day when the law was invariably enforced. The country could not live under such a state of things. A man might be a trespasser on a common every time he crossed it, but would you punish him for every such act? Penal laws were to be executed only when the benefit of the State called for such serious, consequences. Referring to the argument of the Duke of Argyll, that religious liberty did not imply the right of every church to develop itself at its own discretion, he carried it out by saying, if that were so, the Inquisition might be revived in this country. It was said that the Bill would be disregarded: if the Catholic clergy should attempt to raise an agitation, a rebellion, or any outbreak of violence against the law, it would be for Parliament to pass measures to cause it to be respected.
The Earl of St. Germans still demanded the explanation of the Bill which had been required from the legal authorities who supported it. In reply, they had received from the Chancellor a No-Popery speech, better fitted for the meridian of the Mansion House than for the House of Lords. If Lord John Russell's letter was a soothing letter, it might be said that the proposition to trample under foot the Cardinal's hat would be calculated to sooth irritation. Still stronger measures were hinted at if the law should be resisted: what was that but a returning to penal legislation? Lord St. Germans concluded with a most earnest reference to Ireland. "I know something of Ireland. I am sure I take a great interest in all that relates to the people of that country, and I can uufeignedly declare that I never felt so strongly and deeply on any political question affecting them as I do upon this. I cannot contemplate the adoption of this Bill without dismay. You may put down rebellion with the sword, but, my Lords, how will you contend with
"' The unconquerable will And study of revenge, immortal hate, And courage never to submit or yield?'"
The Earl of Minto gave the latest explanation respecting his mission to Rome.
When there, he had had a conversation with the Pope on the question of resuming diplomatic relations between the two countries. He told the Pope openly, that we should not be willing to receive in this country an ecclesiastic as his representative. The Pope said, he could not undertake to send a Minister who was not an ecclesiastic; but added, that this need not occasion any difficulty in the transaction of business between the two Courts, because we might adopt the course suggested by the noble Earl who had moved the amendment—the course taken by the Governments of Prussia and Russia, and accredit a Minister to him. On that understanding matters stood at that time; but when a clause, supported by the noble Earl (Aberdeen), was introduced into the Diplomatic Relations Bill in their Lordships' House, the Pope said that that circumstance had entirely altered the state of the case, and that after that parliamentary refusal to entertain such a Minister from him as could alone represent him, nothing on earth should induce him to receive a Minister accredited from this country to Rome. Lord Aberdeen had said, that while Lord Minto was at Rome a paragraph appeared in the Roman
Gazette announcing that a subscription wras opened to build a church in London, and that among the persons appointed to receive subscriptions was Cardinal Wiseman, "Archbishop of Westminster." He (Lord Minto) never saw that paragraph until he entered the House that evening, when a copy of the paper was placed in his hands. On a former occasion he had acknowledged he was aware that an intention existed of creating Cardinal Wiseman Archbishop of Westminster. Every one knew it. (Laughter.) It was spoken of on all hands. At the time that appeared, he understood that something had occurred, and that the elevation of Cardinal Wiseman would not take place. He thought he could perceive in the paragraph evidence that Cardinal Wiseman was not the person referred to. The Cardinal was not named in the paragraph, and he believed that it referred to Dr. Gregory.
Lord Aberdeen.—" What difference does that make? The paragraph speaks of 'an Archbishop of Westminster.'"
Lord Minto. — It certainly showed an intention to create somebody "Archbishop of Westminster." Of course he was aware of the intention, as he stated before, long before he visited Rome. (" Hear," and laughter.)
Lord Fitzwilliam said, that he did not quite understand the effect of the Bill. He would have preferred a declaration condemning the assumption of titles, and he would not have interfered with the peculiar circumstances of Ireland.
The Earl of Hardwicke observed, that the Bill was not thoroughly supported by any party: he should vote for it reluctantly, to maintain the honour and dignity of the Crown.
After brief reply from the Marquis of Lansdowne, the House divided, with the following result:—
Contents. For second reading— Present.... 146 Proxies . . . . 119
Present .... 26
Majority for the second
'reading .... 227
The Bill, thus sanctioned by the votes of a great majority of the Peers, passed through Committee in a single night. A good deal of questioning and explanation, however, took place at this stage between the opponents and supporters of the measure. Lord Monteagle addressed a string of questions to the Lord Chancellor respecting the operation of the various clauses, but professed himself unsatisfied with the explanations of the learned Lord. Lord Monteagle then moved an amendment, supported by Lord Campys, to exempt Ireland from the operation of the Bill. Viscount Canning, and the Earls of Wicklow and St. Germans condemned the application of the measure to that country, but could not vote for the amendment, because it drew a distinction between the supremacy of the Crown in the two parts of the United Kingdom.
On a division, Lord Monteagle's proposition was negatived by 82 to 17.
More opposition arose on specific clauses of the Bill, the leading
opponents being the Earl of Aberdeen and the Earl of Ellenborough, supported by other Peers. Lord Aberdeen pointed out, that the word "otherwise" prohibited the appointment of any bishops, and yet they exempted the bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church. The Duke of Argyll strongly objected to the provision which enabled any informer to sue for the penalty, and he moved to omit it. The Lord Chancellor ascribed the insertion of that clause to the absence of the Irish Members in the House of Commons. That was no reason, said the Duke of Newcastle, why the Peers should neglect their duty. But in fact, he added, Ministers were afraid to let a word of the Bill be altered, lest the other House should have an opportunity of revising it. The amendment was negatived by 61 to 26.
The first clause was carried by 77 to 26, and the other sections and the preamble without a division.
On the 29th of July Parliament was at length relieved of the measure with which it had so long and painfully travailed, by the Bill being read a third time in the House of Lords. The final stage was not suffered to pass sub silentio. The Earl of Aberdeen repeated some of his general arguments against the policy of legislation on the subject; announcing his intention of recording his protest against it. He argued that this Bill would prove most injurious to the public interests; he anticipated from it greater evil than he could contemplate "without feelings of the deepest horror."
The Bishop of Oxford made a speech of some length to explain the reasons which induced him to