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he thoughtscribe. The preat majorither churtended
organization of a third establishment, for which, neither the plea of antiquity, nor that of truth, can be urged. In a house of 330, there was only one member found to protest against the measure, on its introduction, as an act of injustice to the British people, and that member, to his honour be it said, was Mr. Thomas Duncombe. Though unconnected with dissenters, he took a clear, straightforward, and honest view of the case, and with the manly bearing which is characteristic of his public life, he at once avowed, that he, 'would oppose the motion, because the vote was permanent in its character, on account of the sources from which the money was to be drawn, and also on account of the purposes to which it was to be applied. It was impossible not to see that the vote was intended as part of a scheme for the endowment of another church establishment in Ireland, to which the great majority of the people in this country did not subscribe. The measure had been called a restitution; he thought it an aggravated plunder; it might have been called a restitution had it been a measure for suppressing the esta. blished church in Ireland, and appropriating its funds to general education. He denied that it was a mere question of degree; it was a question of principle. They found this vote an annual one, and they had no more right to make it permanent than they had to do the same with the Mutiny Act or the supplies. On the voluntary principle he should give his vote against the motion, to which, in justice to a large portion of his constituents, he could not give his assent.
The motion of the premier was carried by a majority of 102; the numbers being 216 for, and 114 against it. This result was anticipated, and became the signal for immediate and intense agitation. Meetings were held in every part of the country. Churchmen and Dissenters, and amongst the latter Methodists, Independents and Baptists were instantly on the alert. The most moderate amongst ourselves were foremost in the agi. tation, and spoke with an irritability and violence strangely in contrast with the censures they had been accustomed to pass on their brethren. Thousands of petitions were forwarded against the measure, a large proportion of which distinctly repudiated the right of the legislature to vote public money for the support of any class of religionists whatsoever. Efforts were also made to obtain time in order to allow a fair opportunity for the expression of public feeling, but the minister was immovable, and the second reading of the Bill was therefore moved for on the 10th of April.
Of the protracted debate which followed, it would be idle to attempt an analysis. It affords us little satisfaction, and was marked, even beyond the ordinary course of parliamentary discussions, by a singular misapprehension of the matter in debate,
an almost absolute avoidance of the principle involved, and the grossest possible misconception of the ground of opposition on the part of protestant dissenters. Men of various political creeds, tories, whigs and radicals vied with each other in the zeal of their advocacy, occasionally enlivening their otherwise dull harangues by party criminations, or the spleen of personal invective. Division of opinion was much more marked on the conservative than on the liberal side of the House. Lord John Russell, Mr. Macaulay, and Sir George Grey spoke the senti. ments and gave a tone to the policy of their followers, while Mr. Hume, Mr. Roebuck and other radicals were sufficiently infatuated to lend their support to a measure which, if carried out to its legitimate results, will raise up another formidable barrier to the progress of freedom, and the social welfare of the empire. A more illusive plea than that which was urged by the liberal members, in defence of their votes, was never heard in parliament. Ireland, it was said, has been misgoverned, the catholic population has been oppressed, the rights of the many have been sacrificed to the interests of the few, religion and sound policy have been equally violated by the maintenance of a protestant hierarchy which the people spurned, out of funds taken from the people's church ;-and, therefore, such was the non-sequitur of our legislators,-it was seemly and righteous to make all other religionists contribute to the support of an ecclesiastical institute which they deemed unscriptural and injurious -a fountain of error, a fruitful source of superstition and social debasement. One wrong was appealed to in justification of another; the outrage committed on the catholic was adduced in vindication of that proposed on the protestant. The misgovernment of centuries was to be atoned for by the perpetration of a new wrong of a precisely similar character, only on a different class of her Majesty's subjects. Protestant ascendancy was to give place, not to equality, for of that we are the advocates, but to the extension of the vicious principle of religious patronage to the catholic population. As they had loudly and justly com. plained of the inequity of being compelled to support a church which they disapproved, their remonstrances are met by a proposition, not to relieve them from this burden, but to subject the protestant community to the same intolerable load. The viciousness of the plan, and the hollowness of the pretexts by which it was enforced are seen out of doors. The common sense of the nation protests against the injustice, whilst our senators in utter contempt of the popular will, amuse themselves with the flimsiest pleas which a shallow philosophy can furnish.
We admit the many and grievous wrongs of Ireland. When other voices were silent we denounced them, and pleaded,
sophy of Ireland pleader,
honestly at least, that our catholic fellow countrymen were entitled equally with ourselves to share the privilege of the British constitution. For these rights, to the utmost limit, we are still prepared to contend. The constitution is theirs as well as ours, and he is no friend to popular freedom who would exclude from its pale, or deprive of a fraction of its benefits, the worshippers in any temple, or the abettors of any religious creed. We have, however, yet to learn that this has anything to do with a public endowment of the church, or with the training of the priesthood of the papacy. To the former, its adherents are entitled by the common tenure of citizenship, while from the latter, they are debarred by the sacredness of conscience and the voluntary nature of religion. Let right be done to Ireland. Let it be done in a generous and confiding spirit. Let it be done under a sense of our past misdeeds, and with a liberality which betokens repentance as well as justice. The first step, however, in this line of policy, the only one consistent with sound principle and enlightened legislation, is the entire extinction of the protestant hierarchy of that country. This is the bane of Ireland, the outward and visible token of her misrule and degradation. It stands out before the eye of Europe, an anomaly which no reasoning can justify, and for which no necessity exists. Ireland will never be pacified, she ought not to be so, while this corporation is upheld. Its historical associations madden her sons, whilst its altars and worship are connected in their minds with the imprisonment, proscription and murder of their fathers. Our love of protestantism, therefore, combines with our sense of justice in demanding the overthrow of this system. There is no hope for protestantism in Ireland whilst it is presented to her sons through the medium of this politicoecclesiastical institution. They regard it as their oppressor, the heartless creed of a tyrannical lord, deaf alike to the dictates of justice and the pleadings of mercy. To the overthrow of this establishment, the so-called liberal members of the House should therefore have addressed themselves; but instead of this they have sought to renew its lease of gain, if not of power, by buying off the most formidable body of its assailants. The old hierarchy is to be protected by the creation of another, and that too, not at its expence, but at the cost of the community. It was well observed by Mr. Muntz, and we perfectly agree in his statement, that ‘ he wished to see all classes and sects have the fullest, and the freest, and the fairest exercise of their religious opinions and worship. But that was one of his strongest reasons for opposing the pitiful measure now brought forward, a measure which the government ought to have been ashamed to introduce, and the Irish nation ashamed to recelve. So absolutely ignorant are our senators, of the first principles of religious liberty, that they congratulated each other on the service they were rendering to her sacred cause at the very time, and in the very act, by which they were violating her spirit and setting at naught her injunctions. So true is it that perfect religious freedom cannot co-exist with the establishment principle. We have long been seeking to work this conviction into the hearts of our people. They have been indisposed, however, to admit it. In their simplicity, they have continued to hope better things, and to turn a deaf ear in consequence to our counsels. Henceforth we need not reason. The debates of the past month have certified the fact, and to these we shall henceforth appeal in confirmation of our views. The honourable members for Durham and Rochdale are entitled to our gratitude for their able exposition of the ground on which dissenters oppose this Bill. It is perfectly refreshing amidst the rubbish and lumber of the debate, the latitudinarianism of some, the besotted bigotry of others, the perverse mispresentations of not a few, and the splendid plausibilities of two or three, to light upon the clear and statesman-like view which they took of the subject. No speeches were more practical at the same time that they were grounded on principles of universal and permanent application. It was with withering power that Mr. Bright, after repudiating the reasonings of many oppoments of the Bill, and stating that his main objection was derived from hostility to the appropriation of public money to the support of any religionists, exposed the hollowness of the measure and its unfriendliness to the interests of the Irish people.
‘The object of this measure,' remarked Mr. Bright, ‘was to him just as objectionable, when he learned that it was intended by this vote to soothe the discontents which existed in Ireland. He would like to look at the causes whence this discontent arose. Did it arise because the priests of Maynooth were now insufficiently well clad or fed! He had always thought that it arose from the fact that one-third of the people were paupers—that almost all of them were not in regular employment at the very lowest rate of wages—and that the state of things amongst the bulk of the population was most disastrous, and to be deplored; but he could not for the life of him conceive how the grant of additional money to Maynooth was to give additional employment, or food, or clothing to the people of Ireland, or make them more satisfied with their condition. He could easily see how, by the granting of this sum, the legislature might hear far less in future times, of the sufferings and wrongs of the people of Ireland than they had heard heretofore; for they found that one large means of influence, possessed by those who had agitated for the redress of Irish wrongs, was to be found in the support which the Irish catholic clergy had given to the various associations for carrying on political agitation; and the object of this Bill was to tame down those agitators—it was a sop given to the priests. It was hush-money, given that they might not proclaim to the whole country, to Europe, and to the world the sufferings of the population to whom they administer the rites and the consola: tions of religion. He took it that the protestant church of Ireland was at the root of the evils of that country. The Irish catholics would thank them infinitely more if they were to wipe out that foul blot, than they would even if parliament were to establish the Roman catholic church alongside of it. They had had every thing protestant—a protestant clique which had been permanent in the coun: try; a protestant viceroy to distribute places and emoluments amongst that protestant clique; protestant judges who had polluted the seats of justice; protestant magistrates, before whom the catholic peasant could not hope for justice. They had not only protestant, but exterminating landlords, and more than that, a protestant soldiery, who, at the beck and command of a protestant priest, had butchered a catholic peasant, even in the presence of his widowed mother. All these things were notorious; he merely stated them. He did not bring the proof of them, they were patent to all the world, and that man must have been unobservant indeed who was not perfectly convinced of their truth. The consequence of all this was, the extreme discontent of the Irish people. And because that house was not prepared yet to take those measures which would be really doing justice to Ireland, and to wipe away that protestant establishment which was the most disgraceful institution in Christen. dom, the next thing was, that they should drive off the watch dogs, if it were possible, and take from O'Connell and the Repeal Asso: ciation that formidable organization which has been established throughout the whole country, through the sympathies of the catholic priests being bound up with the interests of the people. Their object was to take away the sympathy of the catholic priests from the people, and to give them more Latin and Greek. The object was to make the priests in Ireland as tame as those of Suffolk and Dorsetshire. The object was, that, when the horizon was brightened every night with incendiary fires, no priest of the paid establishment should ever tell of the wrongs of the people amongs: whom he was living; and when the population were starving, a pauperized by thousands, as in the southern parts of England, the priests should not unite themselves with any association for the purpose of wresting from an oppressive government those rights to which the people had a claim. He was altogether against this system for any purpose, under any circumstances, at any time whatever, Nothing could be more disastrous to the best interests of the com: munity, nor more dangerous to religion itself. If the government