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IRELAND IN THE NINETEENTH, AND SCOTLAND IN THE
“ The Lord Chancellor said that he was desirous of addressing a few observations to their lordships. The Habeas Corpus Act had been, com. paratively speaking, but recently introduced into Ireland ; or he should rather say, an act analogous to the English Habeas Corpus Act, which was applied in the 22d or 23 year of the reign of George III. at the close of the American war. The act contained a clause to prevent imprisonment beyond the seas : but, if he was not much mistaken, the Irish act had no provision of that nature; but of this he was quite cer. tain, that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had full power to suspend that act, without the intervention of Parliament, in cases of invasion or rebellion. Now he begged to observe that it was for the Executive to judge of what was rebellion. (Hear!) For his own part he did not hesitate to declare as a lawyer, as well as in his capacity of member of Parliament, that rebellion consisted no less in assemblages of large bodies of people, and adopting measures by which the law was placed in abeyance, than in the insurrection of whole provinces, and the array of disciplined insurgents against the king's troops. He need hardly add, that he contemplated, with a repugnance almost amounting to abhorrence, the possibility of the Government being called upon to exercise their judgment on this question ; but he rejoiced to think, if the necessity should arise, the executive power in Ireland was entrusted to vigorous hands. (Hear.) In the noble Lord at the head of the Irish government he reposed entire confidence.” Speech of the Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords on Thursday, 9th August, 1832, as reported in the Times of next day.
“ With respect to such meetings, I conceive that an erroneous view has been taken of the law regulating and prohibiting them. Such masses of people, though unaccompanied by banners or bands of music, are clearly illegal. If a meeting be so large as to excite terror in the minds even of people of delicate nerves, it is illegal." *
« What would become of the trade of the country if severed from England ? I would but ask my friend Sir Pulteney Malcolm, and four gun-brigs, to blockade every river in your country.” (His Excellency, after using this expression, turned round, and appealed to the gallant Admiral, who bowed his concurrence.) Answer of the Marquis of Anglesea to the Cork Deputation, as given in the Cork Reporter of Saturday, 11th August, 1832.
This is, at any rate, decided and intelligible language, and promises to bring the tithe question in Ireland to a speedy issue. Stanley may now be left out of the question. That clever, flippant, and somewhat impertinent debater, never could be looked upon as anything more important than the servant of the longer-headed and older members of the cabinet, delivering the message which had been intrusted to him. The message was, to be sure, rather enigmatical ; but we trusted that the cabinet, busied with a great game at home, did not wish to allow its cards to be looked into in Ireland ; and we attributed the arrogance of the delivery to the natural pertness and snappishness of him who had been charged with it. More light has, however, been at last let in upon us, and we should lie egregiously did we call the prospect pleasant. “ Large assemblies of people, adopting measures that put the law in abeyance,” are treasonable, declares no less an authority than the Lord Chancellor ; significantly adding, that it lies with the executive to sus
pend the Irish Habeas Corpus Act, whenever it sees fit; and that “the executive power in Ireland is entrusted to vigorous hands.” Almost at the same moment that one of the heads of the Cabinet is using these expressions, the chief official of government in Ireland is telling a de. putation from one of the principal cities in the island, that, “ if a meeting be so large as to excite terror in the minds of people, even of the most delicate nerves, it is illegal ;” and tauntingly contrasting the power of England with that of Ireland. If there be meaning in words, it has been determined at head.quarters, that the Irish people shall be forced to submit to the measures which Government has determined to take. The will of the executive is to carry it over the will of the people, by the strong arm. That this will not be submitted to without a struggle, the Irish volunteers, in 1778, and the convulsive efforts of a divided people, twenty years later, are good guarantees. It is therefore high time to direct the attention of the nation at large, and of the Ministry in parti. cular, (who, we sincerely believe, are anxious to act for the best, however strangely they may set about it in the present instance,) to the actual state of Ireland. When those who, joined by the Devil and Castlereagh in unequal marriage, are now one, seem about to become two, it is time to look about us, and see whether the collar may not be so adjusted that we may still dragon together. When the hollow sound of the waves breaking up the bulk-heads, and moaning, and gushing, and surging below decks, and driving the whole cargo crashing together, is heard, it is at least time to think how we may save the good ship from being torn asunder.
This, then, is the state of the question.
For upwards of a century, Ireland has been heavily taxed for the supe port of an ecclesiastical establishment, from which nine-tenths of the inhabitants do not, and cannot, derive any benefit. The duties of the priest, in every external church, are simply these ;-to preside over and conduct the public devotions of the congregation to which he is attach.. ed, to dispense the sacraments, to instruct the young, and to refresh the memories of the old in the dogmas of his church-to be the spiritual guide of his flock through life, their supporter and comforter in the hour of death. He is the connecting link between the visible and the invisible world. His is purely a spiritual authority, resting upon belief, conviction, love: if he seek to extend his sway by an appeal to the compul. sion of the temporal sword, he desecrates his office. Laws framed by man, and enforced by physical power, can only regulate the external conduct of men; but the clergyman's business is with the inner man : he cannot work with such instruments. He destroys his utility if he confounds himself with their ministers. His functions are not so incompatible with those of the teacher of earthly knowledge, but they are not identical ; and now that Christendom has been split up into so many sects, each jealous and distrustful of the other, it is better that the two offices be kept apart. What are the natural inferences from this view of the clerical function? In the first place, that every man ought to be left free, by the State, to choose which communion he will attach himself to : and, in the second place, that making any man contribute to the support of a body of clergymen, in whose worship and ministrations he cannot join, is an act of the grossest injustice ; inasmuch as it not only deprives him of his property, without any remuneration, but forces him to contribute to the propagation of doctrines which he believes to be erroneouş,
perhaps hurtful. It is constraining the true Israelite to bow the knee, and offer up burnt-offerings, to Baal.
But we have not yet stated the whole extent of Ireland's oppression. The impost of tithes, from which the Protestant Episcopalian church of Ireland derives a large proportion of its income, is admitted by all economists to be a tax* of a most unequal and oppressive nature. It is one of those which, pressing most hard upon the industrious, offers a premium to the sluggard. With every fresh outlay of capital, with every improvement of the productive powers of the soil, the burden increases, This iniquitous impost has, until very lately, been levied upon the poorest and least educated class in Ireland. The half-peasant halfpauper, was obliged to deliver up his last morsel, on demand, or to give his bed, table, and kitchen utensils, in addition, if he delayed. Such hardship, pressing upon untaught minds, unavoidably led to reprisals; and the blood-stained annals of Ireland are the fruits of tithes. Recently, at the persuasive interference of a few humane individuals, backed by the selfishness and avarice of those who thought they saw in the new system, a safer method of securing a larger portion of their demands, the burden has been thrown by the commutation-laws upon a wealthier and better informed class. Those who formerly stood aloof while the poor complained, or even lent their aid to defeat their struggles for redress, have been forced to make common cause with them. The discontented mass has been organized and taught to direct its concentrated strength against one point, and with the least possible exposure of any individual to danger. The declaration emitted at Graigue has been repeated from Cork to Inneshowen :-that the tithe-proctor might take what he could get, but that no man would pay voluntarily, and no man would purchase distrained goods. The numerous meetings held throughout Ireland—the vain attempts to sell cattle seized for arrears of tithe-the petitions which last session loaded the table of the House of Commons -all bear testimony to the silent dogged determination of the people to submit to
* The property in tithes, so far as they belong to the church, and not to lay impriators, is of this nature. Several centuries after the commencement of the Christian era, the clergy, following the recommendation of Saint Austin, who lived in the fourth century, preferred a claim to the tenth of the produce of land, founded on no better right than the analogy between their vocation, and that of the Levites under the Jewish law. The claim, in these days of ignorance and superstition, was partially complied with ; but compliance was understood to be voluntary, the claimants indeed having no appeal but to the charity and superstition of their focks. By degrees, compliance became general, and was enforced by the power of both the church and the state. But it is clear that such enforcement was as unjust as it was unsupported by the authority of Scripture. This enforcement, be it observed, was in favour of the Catholic clergy. At the Reformation, the same claim of a tenth was made by the Protestant clergy, enforced by the Reformed Church and the Government, and submitted to by the people. But can a claim originally unfounded in Divine law or human reason, be made good to perpetuity, by the submission to it of a succession of individuals ? Surely not. A claim supported by nothing but law, can be reduced to its original injustice and absurdity, by a repeal of the law. The present possessors of benefices must be maintained; but no persons after the present incumbents die out, can have more than a share of a departed right to be installed in the vacant benefices, and continue the exaction of tithes.
The relief to the community, especially to the working classes, by the abolition of tithes, will be of essential importance. For, as we think we have demonstrated in Nos. II. and VI. of this Magazine, tithes fall ultimately on the consumers of bread, and not on the proprietors of the soil. Our next number shall, under the title “Fallacies concerning Tithes," contain some remarks on the reasoning by which the opponents of that doctrine uphold the opinion that tithes are a burden on rent.
the imposition of tithes no longer. Catholics, Presbyterians, nay, even Episcopalians, declare that tithe is at an end in Ireland.
Matters having gone this length, it was evident they must go still further. Some understanding must be come to, some arrangement must be made between the British executive and the Irish people, otherwise the machine of state could not continue to go on. Committees of Inquiry were appointed by both Houses of Parliament. That nominated by the Lords commenced its sittings on the 18th of January in the present year, and reported sometime in February. That nominated by the Commons sat on the 19th of January, made a first report on the 18th of February, and a second on the 4th of June. The evidence was most conclusive. Long before the Committees had terminated their labours, every rational member of the House was convinced that the old system of tithes was at an end in Ireland. The spirit of Ireland seemed to have breathed over Ministers ; for their first step was as beautiful a practical bull as heart could desire. The people complained of clerical oppression, and on the 2d of April a bill was introduced by Mr. Stanley, “ To facilitate the Recovery of Tithes, and for Relief of the Clergy of Ireland.” This hot haste to preserve the parsons from growing lean contrasted strangely with the ministerial dilatoriness in propounding a plan for the relief of the nation. At last, on the 6th of July, the mountain was delivered of
Mr. Stanley announced, in the House of Commons, his intention to introduce three bills. By the first, the composition act was to be rendered compulsory and permanent. The valuation of the tithe due in each parish was to be renewed every seven years, and new and more effectual modes of enforcing their claims in courts of law were to be given to the clergy. By the second bill, the bishop and clergy of each diocese were to be erected into a corporation, for the purpose of receiving the tithes for the whole body, and dividing them for their common benefit, in the proportions to which the respective bodies would now be entitled. By the third, landlords were to be allowed to buy up their tithes, at sixteen years' purchase, and the corporation above-mentioned to invest the money in lands, for their joint behoof. It was also proposed to leave to the state a power of purchasing the claims of the clergy for tithe. Only the first of these bills was introduced ; and even it only received the royal assent the last day of the session. Ireland, therefore, and our executive government, stand exactly where they did, except in so far as the former have shewn what measures they propose to adopt for the relief of that country.
Relief it is the height of mockery to call it. The church cess and church rates, the most annoying of the church impositions, are left to press as heavily as ever. The share of the national property allotted to the non-national church remains as great in amount as ever; the only change contemplated is its investment in the form which will most effectually secure it against the attacks of popular indignation. The executive have acted, as far as in them lay, up to Stanley's declaration :“ When it was intended to get rid of these claims without compensation, by a combination among the people, it was, he conceived, the duty of the legislature to substitute another species of property for that liable to be so affected.” Ireland met this juggling attempt to “ keep the word of promise to the ear, and break it to the hope,” as became her. Mr. J. Grattan met the first announcement of the Government scheme in Parliament, with four counter-resolutions, of which the following is the first :-“ Resolved,-- That it is essential to the peace of Ireland that
the system of tithes in that country should be extinguished, not in name only, but in substance and unequivocally.” The country at large continued its passive resistance to the levying of tithe. It was in truth the only resource left for its adoption.
When the institutions of a country do not leave in the hands of the people a sufficient control over their (nominal) representatives, and, through them, over the executive, the people's wisest plan, when aggrieved, ever is, by such a passive resistance as the Irish have offered to the collection of tithes, to weary out its oppressors. Now, the institutions of Ireland have hitherto given no such power to the people. Under the old system of elections, it would be mockery to speak of their control over members of Parliament. Under the new, their effective control over the British Parliament is, in the very question at issue, and perhaps in that alone, still doubtful. When the incorporating union of England and Scotland was effected, that church to which the majority of each nation belonged, was in each recognized as the established church, and its safety was secured by the articles of union. When the incorporation of Great Britain and Ireland took place, the effect was to bolster up the weakness of the established church, by merging its opponents in the more numerous British Parliament. By this means even Catholic Emancipation, when at last it was tardily granted, failed to give due weight to the adherents of that church. It is possible that, even in a reformed Parliament, the partie sans of the English, or, more properly, the enemies of the Romish Church, may be numerous enough to frustrate the efforts of the friends of Ireland ; and the suspicion which this fact is calculated to awaken in an Irish breast must be confirmed by the evident wish of Government to truckle to the present Establishment.
Ireland's hold upon the legislature is feeble enough; but her relation to the executive is absolutely and unequivocally servile. By an act* passed in the forty-seventh year of the reign of George III., modified and continued by several subsequent acts,+ all“ improper persons” in Ireland are forbid to retain arms in their possession. By “ improper persons” are meant all who have not, after making affidavit of the number and description of the arms in their possession, and of their belief that they are entitled to keep arms, obtained a license at Quarter-Sessions, and been registered in the books of their respective baronies: and also all persons who may at one time have been thus registered and licensed, but who have changed their place of residence without renewing their application. These licenses may be withdrawn by the bench of justices at any sessions, or adjourned sessions, without any cause being assigned ; and all arms must be delivered up by the parties from whom the licenses have been withdrawn, within forty-eight hours after notification. Any justice of the peace may grant warrant to search the house of unlicensed persons, suspected to have arms in their possession; and the bearers of the warrant, if refused admisssion, or not admitted“ within a reasonable time," # may force an entry. All offenders against this law are liable to have their arms seized ; and to be condemned to pay a fine of £10, or be imprisoned two months for the first offence, to pay £20, or remain in prison four months, for the second.
By the same act, all blacksmiths whatever are prohibited to exercise their profession without taking out a license and registering themselves
47 Geo. III. sec. 2, c. 54.
The words of the act.