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pacification of Ireland, is not to be obtained by such proceedings; and besides doing this, the shock which it gave to the feelings and principles of the conscientious, no less than the political friends of Church Establishment in Ireland, raised up so strong a tide of opposition to the Administration, as wasted by degrees its power, diminished its majorities, and left it ultimately a wreck, broken into a thousand fragments, and tossed over the wide surface of the ocean of Politics.
To Lord John it has been entrusted to collect these scattered fragments, and call his spirits from the vasty deep. At his first bidding they would not come, or when they did come, driven by the waves of politics together, it was not to unite, but to rebound from each other.
An experiment that has once been made, and proved futile as to the object to be effected, and almost ruinous to those who made it, will not by wise men be a second time attempted under similar circumstances. We might, therefore, in the language of some, exclaim,“ Let the policy of Government be what it will, let thêm distribute offices as they may, burying all distinctions between Protestants and Roman Catholics in perpetual oblivion, as far as civil privileges are concerned, yet it is abundantly clear the Protestant Church will no more be despoiled, the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland will not be endowed.” We should rejoice to find it so, but this must be borne in mind, that it is not what one Member of a Government, nor what a whole Cabinet intend, that can always be accomplished. Governments have yielded too frequently to pressure from without, to suffer us to forget that other elements than the dicta of official personages must be taken into consideration. Nor are we left to conjecture.
The recent speeches of Parliamentary leaders evince a desire to see the Romish Priesthood in Ireland endowed, and an intention of doing so as soon as the Protestant people of this country shall be found willing to permit such a course, and the Roman Catholic Priesthood consenting to it. Of these two difficulties we are inclined to build more on the former.
The proposed recipients of the bounty will no more object to receive the stipend, than to avail themselves of the Grant to Maynooth College, and the various Government payments of many thousands a-year, made either to their Priests, their Bishops, or for building schools, chapels, &c., in Ireland, or our colonial and tributary possessions.
They aim after establishments throughout the globe. Every country supplies proof of this. Absolute supremacy, unconditional endowment, fettered by no State interference, no exercise of the right of veto by a heretic-Sovereign, or Council—that they would readily receive.
It is clear that the Roman Catholics do not object to endow
ments as such ; but they apprehend probably the annexation of some condition which they may deem injurious.
But this appears now to be abundantly clear, that many of the present Government, like those of the last, have conceded the principle, and will contend that further endowment is but an extension of it.
They renounce the high religious ground that for Christian men to endow Antichristian errors, and the worshippers of the Triune Jehovah to promote idolatry, is the surest way to bring down Divine wrath and punishment upon the nation.
On the evening of Thursday, July 16, Lord John Russell, the head of the Government, and more moderate in his views than many of his Cabinet, is reported in the “ Times” of the following day, to have spoken thus upon these subjects :
“ With respect to the Church in Ireland, and the endowment of the Roman Catholic clergy, I voted with my Hon. Friend the member for Sheffield, in favour of providing for the establishment of Maynooth out of the funds of the Established Church. We were defeated by a great majority, the opinion of the House being adverse to that proposition. I afterwards continued to the end to give a zealous support to the Bill, which provided for the establishment of Maynooth out of the Consolidated Fund. I made no difficulty in supporting that Bill because the motion of my Hon. Friend was not carried."
Hence it is abundantly clear, that not only does the Noble Lord not see any insuperable objection to the endowment of Popery in Ireland, but would absolutely deem it preferable to impoverish the Protestant Church, that he may deck Popery with the spoils; would not only endow the idolatry of Rome, but would rob a portion of Christ's Church of its revenues, that he may give them to the Antichristian Church of Rome. As King Hezekiah of old, one of the most pious of Israel's kings, cut off the gold from the temple of the Lord, that he might, even at so costly a sacrifice, purchase peace with the Assyrian monarch, so would the Noble Lord now rob the impoverished but truthteaching Church in Ireland of its remaining revenues, in order to conciliate Rome, and render the modern Babylon friendly to this country.
But it may be supposed by some that his Lordship’s opinions have changed since then. Far otherwise ; he assures us they are what they were. In the next sentence of the same speech, he proceeds as follows:
Well, I now say that I retain my opinions with respect to the Protestant Church, and with respect to Roman Catholic endowment; but I do not think that it is necessary that I should urge these opinions at the present moment, for I should be doing that which I must confess at the present moment to be impracti
cable. I believe that, with respect to what some have proposed, viz., the destruction* of the Protestant Church in Ireland, there could be no worse or more fatal measure sanctioned by Parliament.
It is quite evident from Mr. Pitt's speeches, and the memoranda left by his friends, that he was of opinion that it was possible to endow or to make some provision for the Roman Catholic Church by the State. My belief is, that if Mr. Pitt had carried that measure, 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, twenty-one years ago, 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.
Such is the disposition, and such the desires of the Noble Lord. Why does he not proceed? Why not carry out his plan? Is it fear of failure in the attempt, or in the result? Let us quote again from the same speech :
“But what do I find at this moment? I see, generally speaking, that the Church of England, that the Dissenters of England, that the Established Church of Scotland, that the Free Church of Scotland, that the Established Church in Ireland, that the Protestant Association in Ireland, and, lastly, that the Roman Catholics of Ireland themselves are all vehement in opposition to such a plan. I received, only this morning, a placard from Edinburgh, in which the Roman Catholics of Edinburgh declared that they would resist, to the utmost of their power, any plan for the payment of the Roman Catholic clergy. I cannot see, then, that that is a measure which I am bound, consistently with my duty, to bring under the consideration of the House, until I see some kind of more favourable disposition towards it on the part of the people.”
We cannot but regard this question as one of the most important that has been urged on the public mind since the days of the Reformation, in the sixteenth, and the Revolution, in the seventeenth century. We feel satisfied our readers will concur with us in this view; and, lest they should think we have overrated either the approximation or magnitude of the evil, we give the following extracts from two or three leading London Journals
The Standard” of Friday, July 17, 1846, animadverting upon this speech of Lord John's, observes :
* There is much that may be injurious that is not destructive. It should be borne in mind that the suppression of Bishopricks, and the taking away twenty-five per cent. of the incomes of the Irish clergy, was not considered destructive, but beneficial to the Irish Church, by some. How would they like the same system extended to their own revenues ?
“ He would have no great objection to subvert the Protestant Church in Ireland, and to establish the Romish Church in its place, but he knows that the people would not endure the atrocious sacrilege.
“ This is a useful warning to the people ; it tells them, as plainly as words can tell anything, that they, under its Divine Head, have the fate of the Protestant Church in their hands. Let them cherish and improve the Protestant spirit, and no divided Cabinet, or united pro-Romanist Cabinet, can prevail against them; but the Protestant spirit must be kept alive, and in full vigour.
“Let the Protestants of the empire remember 1829, and the long and dreary period of seventeen years of divided government that preceded.
“ Lord John Russell's announcement of the revival of this system of divided government is a loud summons to a Protestant organisation extending through the length and breadth of the United Kingdom-a Protestant organisation not directed to the displacement of the present Ministers, or of any other Ministers, but to the maintenance of the Protestant religion under whatever Ministers may govern.”
The “Morning Chronicle," echoing the views of a large section of the Liberal, Romish, and ultra-Radical party, speaks out rather more boldly, in a leading article of Saturday, 18th :
“ With respect to the Irish Church, the division in the Cabinet appears to be more serious and irreconcileable than on the factory question. Lord Grey is in favour of a sweeping reduction, if not an abolition of the Irish Establishment. Lord John Russell does not go so far. He would reduce the Church in the south and west, where it is without congregations, and would equalise the two religions by giving the Roman Catholic priests an endowment, either out of Church property or from the national exchequer. A third party in the Cabinet regards the Prime Minister himself as having gone too far. not informed of the views of this party, but as all the members of the present Cabinet are committed to the principle of appropriating a portion of the Irish Church revenues to secular purposes, we may presume that those who do not go so far as Lord John Russell are simply in favour of the old appropriation clause.* With these conflicting opinions in his Cabinet, Lord John Russell desires that the Irish Church question should sleep for the present, in order to devote exclusive attention to the social evils of Ireland. Neither Government nor Parliament has time for everything, and the social grievances of Ireland being the worst, require the first attention. We entirely agree with the soundness of this view. If the state of opinion
Morning Chronicle," July 18, 1846.
and the current of events will permit the Church question to lie by for a year or two, the time may be well spent in the application of vigorous and extensive remedies to the social disorganization of Ireland.”
The “Times” of Saturday, July 18, seeming desirous rather to conceal than point out--to diminish than aggravate the magnitude of the departure, avowedly apparent in the policy of the present Government, from a Protestant, to a Pro-Popery policy, remarks as follows:
“There are several questions on which Lord John gives us no absolute guarantee. The appropriation of any part of the revenues of the Irish Church to educational purposes he considers at present inexpedient, offensive, and unnecessary. When it is remembered how much religion and education are conjoined in all ecclesiastical laws and foundations, especially those of the Irish Church, we know not that we can have a better and more available security for that establishment than such an opinion as the above."
The present times are characterized by an unprecedented activity. In politics, science, charitable and religious movements, there is a prodigious amount of energy and activity displayed,whether rightly or wrongly directed is another question. The advocates of error and those of truth seem to have started in a race, and to be resolved each to outstrip the other. Romish chapels and Protestant churches rise now in rapid succession around us. Measures in Parliament are precipitately brought forward, and carried even by those who were avowedly opposed to them.
But we would here turn aside from considering what has been done to contemplate the mode of doing it. We will not assert that the course pursued was an unconstitutional one, though we cannot but regard it as taking rather an unfair advantage, to have gained confidence only to betray it, to have raised expectations never to be realized. The same course may be adopted on other subjects. The Act of 1829, the Act for endowing Maynooth College, the Corn-law Act, have all been brought in unexpectedly, and carried by means of men of generally opposite views, and returned to Parliament on different principles.
A single session may not elapse before some startling project for Church spoliation, or the endowment of the Romish Church in Ireland, shall be brought forward, and passed as a law binding us, as a Protestant nation—too wrapped in security to apprehend danger--too prosperous to fear adversity-too grasping after political power and wealth to stop to inquire whether, in attaining it, they may not be alienating from themselves the favour of Him by whom kings reign, and princes decree justice, and practically forgetting that “righteousness exalts a nation, but that sin is the reproach of any people."