Изображения страниц

have been far wiser, more equal, and better for every portion of the empire, had they met the proposition of the minister by a more consistent and a sounder policy. They might have said to him, 'You admit the anomaly, and now claim for the Catholic population of Ireland a consideration which has hitherto been denied them. This is as it should be. We concur with you in the opinion that wrong has been done, and are willing to strengthen your hands for the performance of what is right. But is not the change required more thorough and radical than you propose? The Irish catholics complain of the presence of an established Protestant church amongst them. They feel it to be an insult and grievous wrong, the monster grievance,' which irritates and deeply injures them. The endowment, therefore, which you propose, is a pitiful tribute to a sound principle, and if submitted as a means of satisfying Irish demands, must utterly fail. The great mass of the people you are seeking to conciliate, repudiate your Protestant church. What they demand is its suppression; and what they are entitled to look for, is some measure on your part which shall compass this end, with the least possible suffering to those whose interests are identified with the existing system. In the con. cession you offer, you admit the soundness of their complaint, while you wholly fail to remove its causes. You tithe the mint, the anise, and the cummin, but forget the weightier matters of the law. Abide, therefore, where your predecessors stood, or apply the principle of religious equality and social right to the whole bearings of the case. Maintain the enormity with all its hideousness, or remove from the face of the land that ecclesiastical institute, beneath whose deadly shade disquiet, turbulence, deceit, and formality, have found their dwelling-place for generations. Such language might and ought to have been used by the Liberals of the Commons' House; but it was reserved to a few, 'faithful amongst the faithless,' to adopt it, and the many deemed it Utopian and theoretical, or stupidly branded it as bigotry. So far respecting the past, and we refer to it only with the view of illustrating the future..

The same defective views which led to the endowment of Maynooth are now working out their legitimate issue, and unless counteracted by a united and enlightened people, will ere long secure the establishment of the Catholic church in Ireland. We are well aware that this was denied by many advocates of the Maynooth bill, and are of opinion that some of the supporters of that measure will refuse their sanction to this application of their principles. But this fact works no change in our conviction, but merely illustrates the short-sightedness and defective logic of our senators. It is no uncommon thing—the history of our parliaments is full of it-for men to employ arguments, and to give votes, without perceiving the obligations under which they are thereby placed. The course of events will come to their aid, and when the legitimate application of principles formerly avowed is called for, the ready excuse will not be wanting to many. Times, it will be pleaded, have their necessities superior to general . laws; or some other miserable evasion, some mere verbal quibble will be resorted to, to gloss over the treachery practised. Lord John Russell was more honest than many of his party, and fearlessly avowed what was involved in the vote he gave.

• The arguments, said his lordship,' wbich are so sound, and, as I think, so incontrovertible, to induce this house to found an endowment for the education of the Roman-catholic priesthood, will prove, upon another occasion, as sound and as incontrovertible with respect to an endowment for the maintenance of that priesthood. For my own part, preferring most strongly, and more and more by reflection, a religious establishment to that which is called the voluntary principle, I am anxious to see the spiritual and religious instructors of the great majority of the people of Ireland endowed and maintained by a provision furnished by the state.'

His lordship is now prime minister and his avowal, coupled with the circumstances to which we shall presently allude, is of ominous import. It has been repeated since his accession to office, and the practical adoption of the measure to which it refers is evidently regarded as of the highest moment. To affect to doubt his lordship's intention in the face of so distinct an enunciation of his views would be to incur a charge of folly, to which few parallels can be found. He may pause, he may delay. A month, a year, a parliament may elapse before he records his views on the statute-book, but his policy is declared, his settled conviction and purpose are made known. He only bides his time, and whensoever he thinks that has come, the whole machinery of government will be employed to carry through his measure. My belief is,' said his lordship a few weeks back, when replying to the inquiry of Mr. Thomas Duncombe, that if Mr. Pitt had carried that measure (some provision for the Roman-catholic church by the state,') he would have carried a measure conducive to the welfare of Ireland, to the maintenance of the Union, and to the peace of the United Kingdom. In conformity with that opinion I gave my vote in 1825, in favour of a motion made by Lord F. Egerton, now the Earl of Ellesmere, who moved that a provision be made for the maintenance of the Roman-catholic church. But what do I find at this moment? .... I cannot pledge myself

khat has comery throuback, wher

if I find the people of England and Scotland disposed to what I think a more just and useful arrangement, I will not pledge myself to be an opponent of such arrangement. Such then are the recorded views of the Premier, let us see whether he has surrounded himself with associates who are likely to concur in his policy.

In supporting Mr. Ward's motion, on the 23rd of April 1845, for charging the expense of Maynooth on the Irish ecclesiastical funds, Viscount Palmerston, now Foreign Secretary, said,

"Is it possible that you regard as permanent the arrangement that 6,500,000 or 7,000,000 of the poorest portion of the people of Ireland are to receive their religious instruction from a priesthood dependent upon the eleemosynary contributions of their flock, going from door to door, from farm to farm, and from cabin to cabin, to collect the wretched and precarious sums of which their income is composed ? Sir, I say that, in my opinion, whatever may be the feeling of any portion of this house, and of (as I admit it to be) the people of this country upon that subject, a provision by the State for the Catholic priesthood, is a measure to which the government and this house will at no distant period be compelled by their sense of justice to proceed.'

Lord Grey, now Home Secretary, in bringing forward his motion on the state of Ireland, on the 23rd of March of the present year, said,-' Another proposal which was last year made by a noble friend of mine on the other side of the house (Lord Wicklow), was to tax the landed property of Ireland for the payment of the Catholic clergy. I think that proposition perfectly just and reasonable as far as it goes, and I hope some day to see it adopted. But I think that by itself this would be insufficient, and that to make such a measure effectual, you must add to it an arrangement for taking away, as existing interests fall in, some part of the property now held by the established church in Ireland.'

Sir George Grey, now Colonial Secretary, in supporting the Maynooth Bill, 17th of April, 1845, said — He agreed with his noble friend the member for Dorsetshire, who spoke last night, that it involved a distinct principle-ay, and a very important principle too - the principle, namely, of the recognition of the Roman-catholic church in Ireland; the church to which the great body of the inhabitants of that country were warmly attached, and in whose com. munion they lived; that it was a recognition of that fact, and of more than that fact, namely, that in matters of this kind it was unjust, impolitic, and unwise, to disregard the opinions of the great majority of the people, and exclusively to maintain in a Catholic country a Protestant church.''

'Lord Lansdowne, now president of the Council, on the third read. ing of the Maynooth Bill in the Lords (June 16th) said, — He agreed with the noble Duke that the present state of Ireland was full of danger, and that measures ought to be taken for the improvement of that situation; and if the time should come when parliament should recognise the necessity of placing the clergy of Ireland in a different situation, he could have no doubt that the wisdom--the omnipotenceof parliament would find the means of carrying that salutary measure into effect.'

•Lord Campbell, now Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said on the same occasion, - He did not complain of the existence of the Episcopal Protestant Church in Ireland; he was one of those who placed no trust in the voluntary principle. * * * * * The Protestants should have their religious wants amply supplied'; and he would never sanction any measure which had the slightest tendency to deprive them of the rights to which they were entitled. But we knew there were 7,000,000 of Roman-catbolics who were required to obey the law—who were called on to contribute to the public revenue, and who were asked to defend the State by their personal services. Now ought not a similar provision to be made for the religious instruction of such men, as for that of their Protestant brethren ?'

Again we say, it were folly, stark madness to doubt that the present government, whose official life is in the keeping of O'Connell, is resolved on this measure, and only waits a con. venient opportunity to carry it into effect. The Premier, three Secretaries of State, the President of the Council, and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, have distinctly avowed their mind, and several of their subordinates, like Mr. Ward, Secretary to the Admiralty, and Mr. Gibson, Vice-President of tho Board of Trade, have done the same.

• If ever,' says Mr. Robertson in bis earnest and able pamphlet, " there was an administration which had its purpose blazoned upon the forehead of it, this administration has been constructed with a view to the endowment of popery. For one person in the upper Liberal circles against paying any sect, there are twenty in favour of paying all. Every body thinks it good policy to pay the priests and make good subjects of them. Catholic ascendancy is the cherished purpose of Conciliation Hall. It will be done when O'Connell wishes it ; for he is the strongest, and premiers are not false to their own convictions wben their interests coincide with them.'-p. 15.

Against this formidable array of witnesses, which in all ordinary cases would be deemed conclusive, the evidence of Mr. Macauley is adduced, given, be it remembered, in the course of a contested election, and expressed withal in terms sufficiently vague to allow ordinary politicians to escape. We give the words of Mr. Macauley, with the comments of his opponent, and should be glad to receive his reply. We are constrained to suspect-though we do it with great reluctance--that these comments unveil the miserable shifts to which an able man can

stoop in the accomplishment of his design. We need scarcely remark, that we have no sympathy with the closing assertion of Sir Culling Smith. Believing that the constitution ought not to involve the recognition of any ecclesiastical polity, we cannot refer to its Protestantism in condemnation of the anticipated ministerial measure.

• Let me refer to the words which Mr. Macauley used at a recent meeting. He says, “Let no man say that I mean,-what has been absurdly and calumniously imputed to me,-that I wished to make the Irish Catholic priests State-pensioners,-that I take up the opinion that Catholic bishops should be in the House of Lords. Is it necessary that a sane man, speaking to sane men, should contradict such frivolities as these? I shall most deeply deplore, and most strongly oppose, a proposition to pay the Irish Catholic clergy; and I can truly say that, if I had contemplated such a proposition as likely to be brought forward by the present government, I would not have been a member of it.' Now, I should like to ask Mr. Macauley, does he think it also an ahsurd and calumnious imputation, that he, and those with whom he is acting, intend to apply a portion of the ecclesiastical revenues of Ireland to pay the Roman-catholic clergy? Does he mean to say that he will give his opposition to any measure having in view that a portion of these revenues should be applied to purchasing manses and glebes for the Romancatholic clergy? It is all very well to use the phrase, ‘not to make the Roman-catholic clergy state-pensioners.' They themselves say that they will not be made state-pensioners, and I do not wish to raise the question here, where the Catholics are in a minority, whether their assurances upon that subject are to be believed or not ; but without making them state-pensioners, without involving them in that dependence on the State, to which they say they would not consent,-it is perfectly practicable, and, upon the principles of secular whig politics, perfectly consistent, to purchase for thein manses and glebes ; and Mr. O'Connell is understood to have declared that there is nothing to prevent the Roman-catholic clergy accepting glebes and manses, if they were in any way furnished to them. Well, I should like two questions to be answered; the first question to be answered by Mr. Macaulay,Are you willing and prepared to do this ? and the second question to be answered by the people of Edinburgh, of Scotland, and of England,--Are you willing and prepared that it should be done? Then there are other and very possible ways in which the government may give its weight and sanction to the encouragement of the Roman Catholic religion. There are a number of parishes in Ireland in which there is not a single Protestant. Now I will anticipate any feeling which may be expressed by any friend of Mr. Macauley's present, by saying, that, in my opinion, it is neither legiti. mate nor reasonable, that in a parish where there is no Protestant, a minister should be paid for doing nothing. In such a parish as I have described, it is in the highest degree probable that Government will propose that the Established Church of Ireland should be curtailed ; and I for one will add, that if that were the whole of their proposition, I would not be prepared to oppose it; but I conceive it also to be in the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »