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IPEECH MADE IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, APRIL 4, 1845, ON SIR ROBEAT
PEEL'S MOTION FOR LIBERTY TO BRING IN A BILL TO AMEND THE
I RISE to move the adjournment [loud cries of
go on," no, no”]. The hour is so late that I shall hardly be able to proceed [go on, go on). I must, I see, obey the injunctions of the house, and therefore I shall go on as well as I am able. It were unjust on the part of any Irish Catholic to withhold a tribute of unqualified panegyric from the great measure proposed by the right honourable gentleman, and from the spirit in which it is propounded. He can have no motive but the honourable one of doing service to both countries; and he will, I trust, secure the gratitude of the one, and, notwithstanding a temporary clamour, his objects will, ere long, be justly estimated by the other. The grant to Maynooth is large. The substitution of a permanent legislative endowment for an annual parliamentary donation, is attended with two advantages; first, the periodical recurrence of a discussion in which religious antipathies find a vent will be avoided. Gentlemen with strong theological addictions, must henceforth seek relief in a celebrated spot of pious gathering in the Strand, and must avail themselves of that exceedingly commodious, and far more appropriate medium of evacuation. It this regard, the proposition of the right honourable gentleman is most commendable ; but it is still more important that fixity of tenure should be given by an act of parliament to a great Catholic establishment. Maynooth is converted into an institution, and is placed on the same footing, as the rest of your national incorporations. You are taking a step in a right direction. You are advancing in a career of which you have left the starting-post far behind, and of which the goal, perhaps, is not far distant. You must not take the Catholic clergy into your pay, but you can take the Catholic Church under your care. You can build houses of worship, and grant glebe houses, upon a secure and irrevocable title. fect independence of the Catholic clorgy is indispensable. A stipend at pleasure, and which the crown could call back, would be odious. An honourable relation-a relation honourable to both-may be esta lished between the Catholic Church and the state, but you must never think of exacting from that church an ignominious complaisance. I um well aware that there exists in this country great objections to Maynooth, but those objections are in a great part connected with defects, of which the correction is not difficult : those defects, indeed, frise in a great degree from the niggard spirit in which you have doled out a wretched pittance to Maynooth, utterly incommensurate with its wants. I am not astonished that a Scotch volunteer should entertaiu fil antipathy to Maynooth ; but it is matter to me of some surprise that it should be an object of antipathy tv an English Conservative in the true sense of a plırast vfieri misapplied. Maynooth was founded
in a great measure at the suggestion of the apostle of order, the great Edmund Burke. Let him be assured that he has made great progress in the art of governing Ireland, by whom the works of Edmund Burke are perused with admiration. That sagacious man saw that it was not the interest of Protestant England that the priesthood of Catholic Ireland should be educated in France: he thought that evils could arise from a French and Irish ecclesiastical fraternization : he did not wist that French principles should be imported into every Irish parish, ana he denounced the introduction of a Gallo-Hibernian establishment into Ireland. Edmund Burke was of opinion that the Irish Catholic priesthood should be educated by the state for the state. It has been sometimes observed that the Irish priest of the old regime had, by hủy continental education, acquired a deportment of a superior kind. I believe this notion is, to a great degree, a mistaken one.
There were, of course, several ecclesiastics of the old school, of accomplished manners ; but Farquhar the Irish dramatist, who knew his countrymen. represents Foigard as a graduate of the University of Lovain. The priests of Maynooth are not the coarse-minded men which they have been represented to be ; many of them are superior to the dignitaries of your own establishment; but we do not want fine gentlemen for the hard services of the Irish Catholic Church. I have heard it observed that the deportment of the Irish Catholic priesthood has occasioned the alienation of the Irish Protestant proprietors. That alienation, however, has its origin in political far more than in social
As long as the priest was subservient at the hustings, he was welcome in the drawing-room. The separation of the gentry and the priesthood arises from a succession of political struggles—from the Catholic question, from the tithe question, from the municipal questioii, from the registration question—a question of which the settlement cannot be final, unless it be just. Give the Catholic priest and the Irish Protestant proprietor a common interest in maintaining the institutions of their country, and their reconciliation will be immediate and complete ; indeed, the only danger to be apprehended is, that their alliance may become too unqualified and too compact. Í conceive it to be clear that the maintenance of Maynooth is matter of contract-of contract, to be explained in the spirit of legislative equity, and not of scholastic disputation. Maynooth is sustained by two sta tutes which preceded the Union, ratified by forty-five years of annual grant. If it be matter of contract, the question at once arises whether the sum hitherto voted is adequate to the purposes for which it is designed. That question is to be tried, by cousidering the extraordivary change which the country has undergone-a change to be always kept in mind by those who consider the principles upon which the government of Ireland is to be carried on. I do not know of an' instance of so great a national metamorphosis. Population is doubled, but the increase of population does not afford a just measure of the astonishing moral and political transition through which the country has passed. When Maynooth was founded, there were not more than two or three Catholic barristers in Ireland. We have seen a Catholic Chief Baron, a Catholic Master of the Rviis, and four Roman Catlıolics holl. ing the high office of Attorney-General in Ireland. When Maynooth was founded, no Roman Catholic was admissible to parliament. The majority of Irish members are now returned by Roman Catholic constituencies. When Maynooth was founded, there was not a single Roman Catholic in an Irish corporation. We have now the preponder. ance in almost every corporation in the country. When Maynooth was founded, the great mass of the people were destitute of the elements of education, and now you can scarce meet a peasant upon a public road, vho cannot, read, and write, and count; and men who read, and write, and count, cannot fail to think. Under these circumstances of marvellous mutation, is the Catholic priest to remain stationary in instruction ? And in the great revolution through which the country is revoiring, shall not the Catholic Church be carried on with it? If it be clear that the augmented grant to Maynooth is just, it seems to me to be equally clear that it is in the highest degree expedient. It will be essentially beneficial to Ireland, and whatever is beneficial to one coulitry must be serviceable to the other. Great ability will be allured into Maynooth-gold for genius bas a magnetic power. The professorships of Maynooth will be filled by men of great talents, and great eruditioni. Å general improvement will be the necessary result. Locate in every parisil an educated Catholic priest, whose mind has undergone the process of literary refinement, and you will accomplish much in the work of national amelioration. But the advantages resulting from this measure are so obvious, that it is perhaps better that I should address myself to the objections which are pressed against it. It is said that Catholics and Protestants are to be educated together. With respect to the laity, that observation is, perhaps, a just one ; but in every coun. try in Europe, meu destined for the Catholic Church are educated in ecclesiastical seminaries, and educated apart. The strictest discipline, habits of subordination almost passive, and a total abstinence from sensual indulgence of every kind are indispensable amongst those who are sducated for the priesthood of the Catholic Church. Four years passed in Trinity College, Dublid, would constitute a bad apprenticeship for the confessional. The Catholic priesthood are now not only pure, but unsuspected, and wliere interests of such importance are at stake, no empirical experiments should be tried. It has been alleged that at Maynooth students of very humble parentage are gathered in a mass of unmixed custicity, and each individual contributes his quota of contamination. It is a great mistake to imagine that the students of Maynooth are meu of such low origin. It is to the middle classes that they generally belong, as is stated in the document read to-night by the right honour. able baronet, and which emanated from the Catholic bishops of Ireaud. For my part, I am not anxious to see the younger sons of the Catholic gentry enter in large numbers into the Catholic Church. The oluties of a Roman Catholic priest are so severe, that men cradled is luxuries are scarcely fit for their discharge. It ought to be borne it wird tirat some of the greatest ornaments of the Catholic Church lave always come from what I might, call the Apostolic order. The Catiu dia
Church has a sort of ennobling influence, and the consciousness of spiri. tual authority often imparts dignity to those who are not highly borne How often in the olden time did the mitred plebian stand erect before the Norman baron, and in the cause of the serf and of the peasant, with: che crozier turu zice tho lance. It is tne boast of your own AngloCatholic poutificate that sone of the greatest of your divines have risen from the humblest gradations to the highest episcopal dignities. A man as lowly born as Wolsey may, under your reformed system, become the Archbishop of Canterbury, and take precedence of men who to the conquest of England trace back their descent.
It has been suggested that it is unre:tsonable to put the people of this country to the cost of educating the priesthood of Ireland; and my honourable friend the member for Sheffield has intimated an intention to postpone the additional grant to Maynooth, until a fund to be derived by some posterior arrangement, from the superfluities of the Irish Protestant Church, shall have been created. I have the utmost value for the opinions of my honourable friend, and listen to all he says, upon this or any other subject, with the most unaffected respect ; but he will permit me to observe, that
i wo not be reasonable, to procrastinate a measure so obviously equitable, as he will be the first to adinit this to be, and he ought not to insist upon the delay of what he knows to be justice to one church, until he shall have succeeded in inflicting what he considers to be injustice upon the other. Even if the sum proposed to be granted were fiveföld, what the minister recommends you to concede, there is so much true economy in the results of wise legislation, that your very love of saving should induce you to act with liberality to Ireland. Are not lectures at Maynooth cheaper than state prosecutions ? Are not professors less costly than Crown Solicitors ? Is not a large standing army, and a great constabulary force, more expensive than the moral police with which, by the priesthood of Ireland, you can be thriftily and efficaciously supplied ? The last objection to which I shall advert is the familiar one, that you ought not to become contributary to the propagation of what you take upon yourselves, with some assumption of infallibility, to be the untruth. It should be remembered by those who make this objection, that principal is entirely independent of amount. If to grant £26,000 is a mortal sin—to grant £9,000, even in the opinion of an Oxonian casuist, ought not to be considered as a venial offence. The same observation applies to all the contributions annually made for the maintenance of the Catholic Church in our colonial dependencies, and to which the First Lord of the Treasury referred with su much distinctness. But, independently of these considerations, is it not most injudicious, and what is far worse, is it not most Anti-Christian jo tell seven millions of your fellow-citizens that their religion is idolatrous, and their creed is but an avenue to perdition ? For my part, 1 near these unchristian impunities with Christian forbearance ; I do not permit my equanimity to be disturbed, by what I consider to be the bad argument, and the profane scurrilities which are directed against the Catholic religion. When I consider the grounds upon which thu,
religion rests-wien I see its doctrines coeval with the foundatiute of Christianity, and maintained by the authority of the fathers who have written, and the martyrs who have died for their sustaimnent- when I see that for so many centuries the faith of the Catholic (hurch has by a wonderful apostolical succession been preserved unbroken—when I see heresy after heresy decay, while the Catholic Church remains immutable and predominant, fulfilling the prediction, that no unearthly power of evil shall prevail against it-when I see it rising in providentiai resuscitation in those countries, in which it was supposed to have been 20 deeply interred, that, excepting by some interposition more than human, it could not be raised to life and to liglit again—when I see it making its uniform, its irresistible advances in a progress which so many circumstances concur in inducing me to beliere to be mysteriously preordained—when I see it spreading itself to the remotest regions of the world, undivided, universal, and eternal-it is not with a feeling of resentment that I listen to the contumelious imputations which are cast by rash men upon the Catholic religion. I will even add, that it is with a sentiment often described as one “akin to love,” that I hear well-meaning men who set up a claim to personal infallibility, indulge in denunciations of that faith, which, even upon their own admission, was professed by some of the loftiest minded and loftiest hearted Christians, by whose virtues a lustre is cast, not only upon the church in whose doctrines they believed, but upon the nature of man, which they exalted and adorned. I could retaliate if I thought it worth while or befitting to do so. I could readily refer to circumstances connected with the history of the Reformation in this country, with as much poignancy as is too frequently displayed by those who make the Catholic Church the subject of their most unjust and unreflecting vituperation. But I have no disposition to wound the sensitiveness of any may that hears me ; and, indeed, so far from entertaining any hostility to the Established Church in England, I am free to acknowledge that it is in many particulars so identified with the more ancient and universal church, it has produced men so eminent for their virtue, for their elo. quence, and for their sincerity, and it is distinguished, except whe: e its revenues are concerned, by a spirit so tolerant, I will not withhold from it the humble but honest tribute of my individual commendation. While, however, I distinctly state that I feel far less anger than I feel sorrow, at the coarse invectives directed against the Catholic religion, aid entertain emotions not unallied to pity towards those who are suficiently fanatical to indulge in them; let me be permitted to add, that I think that every assault upon the character of the Catholic reli. gion ought to be strenuously deprecated, because Christianity itself in wounded through its sides, and by those who assail the religion proressed by the majority of Christians, it ought to be most seriously considered, whether they are not in reality supplying sophistications to those guilty men who labour in the propagation of infidelity, those messengers of desolation by whom hope is blasted, and whoin every man who believes in revealed tryih in any form, ouglt to concur is