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parishioners to effect those very objects for which the fund had been created. It was true, he said, that the English act of Queen Anne provided, that the valuation should remain in after years as it then was, but the Irish act contained no similar provision, and the omission must be considered as having been intentional, especially as a great proportion of church land in Ireland had not at that time been valued at all. The difference, likewise, between the sums paid in the two countries, proved that it could never have been intended to apply the same rule to both. For seven years, ending in 1824, the archbishops and bishops of Ireland had contributed no more than 910/.; whilst England had contributed 5,419/. to the First-fruits'fund, and for tenths, 8,851/., makingatotal of 14,270/. The see of Canterbury paid 2,680/., while the see of Clogher, the value of which was, at least, 10,000/., contributed only 350/. The operation of the tithe-composition act had proved the inequality still more completely. In the diocese of Cloyne, ninety-five livings, which were all that were valued, were estimated at 258/. 12*. Out of these ninety-five, there had been a composition of tithes in twentyfive only, and the amount of that composition was 10,580/. Surely it was improper to go forward any further in a system so evidently unfair While this fund was permitted to be so unproductive, no less than 500,000/. or 600,000/. of the public money had been voted by Parliament, for the very objects to which the first-fruits were intended to be appropriated ; and annual levies were raised upon the peasantry to build churches — a work which ought to be defrayed out of the proceeds of the fund. It
could not fail to appear monstrous, that 700,000 Irish acres, making nearly 1,000,000 English acres, attached to church benefices in Ireland, should yield so little towards the purposes for which they were destined.
Mr. Goulburn, and Mr. Dawson, opposed the motion, as being, in reality, a covert, and most dangerous, attack upon the property of the Irish church, and, through it, upon the property, not only of the church of England, but of all bodies in the state; and as being derived from a fallacious interpretation of the law, warranted neither by history, nor authority, nor expediency. No justification of the larger appropriation of ecclesiastical funds now proposed could be derived from the practice of the Popes, in whose usurpations the first-fruits originated; for the Pope had never presumed to ask more than half the income, and that very seldom; and even that had always been considered a grievous imposition. Neither could any assistance be derived from the statute 28th Henry 8th. That statute merely went to transfer the first-fruits to the Crown: but an act passed two years before had laid it down as a principle, that the annates were to be compounded for; and if the Pope would not take a reasonable sum, he was to be forced to do so. There was nothing in these acts to warrant the notion that it was intended to make a new valuation for the purpose of raising the rate, or imposing thenecessity of frequent revaluations. Therehadbeenaltoge-ther, since the time of the Reformation, only four valuations. The first was in the reign of Henry 8th, and then only a few of the livings were valued. In the reign of James 1st, there was a second valuation, confined, however, to those, livings. which had not been previously valued; and in the reigns of Charles 1st and Charles 2nd, there were subsequent valuations of those livings which had not been previously taken into account. On these latter valuations, it was distinctly enjoined that the livings should not be estimated at their extreme value, but rather by such a rule'as would be equitable in reference to the preceding valuations; and it would now be hard indeed if the legislature were to decide, that those livings should be again valued, and made liable for charges for the building and repairing of churches. They could never assent to the principle that the clergy ought to build and repair their own churches, as if churches were for the benefit of the clergy alone, or join in a measure which would involve the clergy in difficulties and distress at the very entrance of their benefices, and keep them paupers ever after. —The motion was rejected by a majority of 48 to 21.
Sir John Newport was more successful in endeavouring to institute an inquiry into the abuses which were alleged to exist in the administration of the parochial rates levied in Ireland for the religious service of the protestant establishment. In the preceding session he had introduced a bill for the remedying of these abuses, and the bill had passed the Commons; but, in the House of Lords it had been deprived, he said, of its most remedial clause, which gave any parishioner, who might feel aggrieved by the amount, the inequality, or the application of the rate, an easy and expeditious mode of relief, by appealing to the next quarter sessions. The measures proposed by that bill he now embodied in a series of resolutions
which stated the evils complained of, and pledged the House to adopt measures for their removal. It should never, he said, be forgotten that the great majority of the persons who paid such rates were Catholics, and that, being so, they could not legally interfere in the management of them. The money raised by them was not only squandered on purposes not warranted by law, but salaries were created and augmented in direct violation of positive enactments. The law provided that the salary of the parish-clerk should not exceed 10/.; yet in two-thirds of all the parishes of Ireland, it was double, and triple that amount; and, in one instance, 430/. had been levied to build a house for that officer and the sexton. Such charges as these were generally followed up by others equally extravagant for organs, and a host of organists and attendants on organists, all for the protestant church, and all paid, in a great measure, by the Catholic peasantry. In Dublin, a vestry had voted to the parish curate a piece of plate worth 100 guineas, and directed that a levy of that sum should be made. Why call on the Catholic parishioners to pay 100 guineas to purchase a piece of plate for the Protestant curate? In the same parish there were such charges as the following:—-the salary of the parish-clerk, 50 guineas—the vestry-clerk, 50 guineas; and the salary of the organist had, in ten years, amounted to 840/. The bellows-blower was paid from 10 to 15 guineas a-year; then came the sextons, sextonesses, maid servants, and a crowd of similar claimants, with salaries of 50 guineas a-year. In a parish in Cork an ingenious mode of increasing die salary of the clerk had been adopted; for he received an additional salary for singing anthems—he was paid 20 guineas for teaching the boys to sing, and 20 for instructing the girls, so that the whole amount came, in some years, to 120, and in others, to 143 guineas. A still more extraordinary theory was, that, in some parishes, in which bible societies had been established, the Catholics were subjected to a parochial rate for their support—for the support and prosperity of associations confessedly directed against the interests of their own religion.
On the part of government it was admitted that there were many things connected with the levying and administration of these parochial rates which called for revision; and the motion was resisted, not so much because it was unfounded or inexpedient, as because it was unnecessary, government being about to introduce immediately, along with other measures founded on the report of the committee of last session, a bill to remedy and diminish the evils complained of. If the provisions of that bill should be reckoned in any respect defective, it would be open to the mover of the present resolutions, to propose any amendments which he might deem better suited to effect his purpose. Mr. Goulburn therefore, requested sir John Newport to withdraw his motion, and allow leave to be given to bring in the bill to which he had referred; but the latter having expressed his determination, without any wish or intention to embarrass the proceedings of ministers in the measures which they contemplated, to persevere in his resolutions, that "they might appear on the Journals, and act as a spur to the intentions of his majesty's government on the
subject," Mr. Goulburn moved an amendment, to the effect that "leave be given to bring in a bill to consolidate and amend the laws for regulating the levying and application of church-rates in Ireland." On a division, the original motion was carried. Mr. Goulburn's bill was subsequently brought in, and passed.
In the discussion upon this motion, Mr. Goulburn stated to the House, that the act of last session, to facilitate the commutation of tithes, had come into general operation, and had already more than justified the most sanguine hopes of those with whom it had originated. Last session the number of parishes in which a composition had taken place, was two-hundred and fifty-nine: a short time ago, the number was six-hundred and seventy-six, which was nearly one-fourth of the total number of parishes in Ireland. From this it would be seen, to how great an extent it had already proceeded; nor were its benefits confined to the particular parishes which had compounded, as it was found that the neighbouring ones partook, in some degree, of the advantages immediately attending its adoption. In fact, its influence was felt throughout the entire country. In the county of Cork, the number of cases at the quarter sessions had diminished one-half since the tithe composition act had come into operation.
The measures, which had been originated or encouraged by government in Ireland, for promoting the education and moral improvement of the great mass of the people, were brought under consideration in the course of voting the Irish miscellaneous estimates (30th March-) On the motion for going into a committee on these estimates, Mr. Spring Rice opposed the Speaker's leaving the chair, directing his resistance against the sums which it was proposed to vote to the Association for the Prevention of Vice, and to what was known by the name of the Kildare-place Society. To the first he objected as an improper application of public money; were its objects within the province of the church, and by the church its funds ought to be supplied. Of the 12,500/. to be voted, not less than 2,500/. were for catechetical premiums in Dublin alone, while catechetical duties formed a part of the duty of the clergy. The schools, likewise, of this association were at once too limited in number, and too protestant in principle, to effect any extensive good. To the vote, again, of 100,050/. for the Kildareplace Society he objected; first, because that association asserted that it could extend the benefits of education to one hundred thousand children, whereas the number actually educated was only fifty-two thousand, four hundred and four, —Secondly, because the schools of the association were not equally open to Protestants and to Catholics; for, out of the fity-two thousand, four hundred and four, only, one half were Catholics. Thirdly, because the teachers were Protestants, and the church catechism was taught. The compulsory reading of the Scriptures was the great objection Catholics had to entering these schools; and it was the duty of the state to take care that all classes of the community should be educated without any compulsory conditions of this kind. With equal fairness, a Catholic might be required to sign, as the sine qua non of admission, the declaration against
transubstantiation. He moved the following resolution "That this House concurs in the opinion expressed unanimously by the commissioners of education, and assented to by the archbishop of Armagh, and archbishop of Cashel, that no general plan of education in Ireland, however wisely and explicitly arranged in other respects, can be carried into execution, unless it be avowed and clearly understood as a leading principle, that no attempt will be made to interfere with any peculiar tenets or distinct religion."
The motion was supported by Mr. Fitzgerald, who thought that the associations in question could never do good, because they were governed by rules which necessarily made the Catholics of Ireland their opponents; and that no real benefit could be expected until the superintendence of education, as a matter of public concern, was vested in a responsible and impartial public board. To prevent the schools of Ireland from continuing to be each merely an arena, on which the Protestant and Catholic clergymen were contending for scholars, it was essential not to interfere with the religious instruction of the children. The use of the Bible without notes, and of the church catechism, would disappoint all attempts to educate Catholics by means of societies; for any plan of education which did not conciliate the Catholics, and obtain the co-operation of their priests, must necessarily fail. Why introduce such a bone of contention? for all candid persons must admit that the Bible was not necessary for the purposes of school education. It was not used as a school-book in those seminaries where the members of that House were educated;it was not put, as a book of in-.
struction, into the hands of the boys at Eton, Westminster, or Harrow; nor was it used for such a purpose even in the under-graduate course at Cambridge or Oxford. The House ought to establish a general system of education, excluding religious instruction from the schools, and allow the people to read the Bible of their own accord. If the lower classes were permitted to follow their own inclinations, instead of having the Scriptures forced upon them, they would provide themselves with Bibles; and even the command not to look into them, would cease to have any effect. Mr. Fitzgerald, however, gave a description of the state of education in Ireland, the principal features of which seemed to be equally novel and picturesque, and constituted what Mr. Peel very justly denominated a picture of over-education, and what he hoped parliament would have too much good sense either to sanction or encourage. "So far," said Mr. Fitzgerald," from the peasantry of Ireland being in the state of ignorance which is attributed to them, I am convinced that in any district they will be found better educated than the inhabitants of any corresponding proportion of the empire. Perhaps I should except Scotland, where the people are all well instructed; but my assertion is unquestionably true, as far as regards England. At all events, I can answer for my own constituents, and am ready to set them against the peasantry of any part of England of the same dimensions as the county which I have the honour to represent. The very poorest class of persons in that county can not only read and write, but are well versed in the higher attainments, in Arithmetic, Al
gebra, Greek, and Latin. I do not mean to challenge the members of this House, although I feel that, with the exception of the learned professions, and, perhaps, some
. coteries of blue-stocking ladies, the poor peasantry of the county Kerry are more learned than the majority of those who compose even the higher circles about London. It is not an unusual thing to see a poor, bare-legged boy, running about with a Homer, a Cicero, or a Horace, under his arm."
By those who opposed the motion, it was admitted, that any attempt to make proselytism a part of a system of education, must occasion its failure; and that it was
. most desirable, if not imperative, to avoid intermeddling with the religious instruction of the Catholics in any way which might wound their feelings, or be inconsistent with their faith. There seemed to be nothing objectionable in the principle of the proposition of Dr. Murray, that the children of Catholics and Protestants should be educated together;that they should learn in common, but receive their religious instruction respectively from their own pastors. Still, however, the societies in question had done much good; they were rapidly gaining ground in the estimation not only of the more wealthy and intelligent classes of the community, but likewise amongst those whose opinions were, if possible, of more importance—those for the education of whose children the societies existed: and, if parliament would only compare the state of education in Ireland before their formation, with the progress which had since been made, and the amelioration which their exertions had effected, it would hesitate to condemn them,