Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

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 Tth 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 • 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 it 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 dune 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 I U>me—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 1 Ionian 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 1.upland. I^ord John then argued from the very terms and language of the letters apostolic, that there was an assumption of territorial power: it was nothing to say the authority could but 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 ac-^ knowledged 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 appoint- ment of Dr. Cullen, and the Synod of lhurles; he controvertco' some of the allegations of Lord.I. 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 Drummoml 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 voi<-e of God. To this anU-Euglisli spirit at Rome, as well as to the thirst for power, Mr. Druaunoiul 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 honuL'i1 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, it-cognised by the Legislature. The worst feature of the bill was. that it was to extend to Ireland, where it religious agitation would be moat 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 as 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 animadterting upon Lord John Unnsells 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 in- quire 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 tothe 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 which the plummet of inquiry had never sounded, not only had the Church of England not saved the country from Popery, but 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 be 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 by the Government, and which had led to fl national demonstr-ation seldom equalled-a result which, when known, would produce a feeling of great disappointment, and perhaps of mordfieation. He eontmsted the feebleness of the men~ure 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 pro ceeding 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 ofa 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 llussell 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 before the House. Mr. Reynolds, in opposing the motion, attacked the temporalities

man Catholic Archbishop of Ireland had entree, as such, to the Queen's drawing-room: that was inserted in the Gazette by a subordinate in the hurry of the Queen's reception; and he was not prepared to defend the giving to Roman Catholics honours to which they were not entitled.

In the midst of every token of a spirit the opposite of persecuting, what could induce the Court of Rorne to issue an edict declaring that this country was to be divided into bishoprics under an Archbishop of Westminster, of all places, who immediately proclaimed, "We govern and shall continue to govern the counties of Middlesex, Essex, and Hertfordshire?" Was that a spiritual charge? The answer was given by Mr. Newman, the loss of whose learning and talents to the Protestant Church all must deplore; and by the usual organs of the Roman Catholics both in this country and in France.

"The honourable Member for Kent (Mr. Plumptre) has warned me," continued the noble Lord, "that in dealing with this subject I should bear in mind the very strong sentiments which are entertained with regard to it, and should not fall short of the expectations of the people of this country, I shall be prepared to propose a measure as strong as my own convictions lead me to consider necessary—I shall not bate any part of what I think necessary; but, on the other hand, I cannot introduce measures which I consider to go beyond the occasion, or which would in any way trench upon what I think due to the religious liberty of all classes of Her Majesty's subjects. I shall not deem it necessary on this occasion to say more on this topic

than that I consider the present authority possessed by Parliament is fully sufficient to deal with the whole of these transactions, and the questions arising out of them. I believe that the specific measure I shall on a future day propose for the adoption of this House will be found to tend to the establishment of harmony and good feeling among all the various classes and professions of Christians in this country. That measure will be general in its application to the whole United Kingdom. I know it has been doubted whether, after what has taken place, this would be so; I know it has been surmised that one portion of the United Kingdom would be excluded from it. But such is not the fact. It never has been in the contemplation of Government to observe any such limitation."

Lord John Eussell briefly justified his letter to the Bishop of Durham, and vindicated himself from the charge of having insulted the feelings of his Roman Catholic fellow-subjects. "I beg to declare that I have never insulted the feelings of my Roman Catholic countrymen. I made some observations which had reference not to those to whom the honourable Gentleman would apply them, but to a section or body of the Church to which I myself belong. The matter of those observations may have been right or it may have been wrong; I do not conceive that any candid Roman Catholic, on perusing them, would feel that they were intended to apply to him: but it is sufficient for me to state, that in making them I used no stronger terms than I had heard the bishop of my own diocese employ in speaking of the same body in our own church."

« EdellinenJatka »