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1869]

PLEAS FOR THE CHURCH

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security would be shaken, the connection between England and Ireland dissolved, and private property annihilated.?

These and other arguments were passionately urged both within and without Parliament. For two or three years it rained pamphlets in defence of the Irish Church. Its members strained every nerve to enlist sympathy, and to identify their case with that of the Church in England, of the constitution, and even of the institution of private property. Through all their utterances ran a note of most unchristian rage, and a sombre sense of impending ruin made manifest their belief that they were fighting a losing battle. How vehement was the language used may be judged from one example: “Should the British Parliament consent to degrade the weaker sister Church in Ireland to a level with the Church of Rome, as a recognised teacher of the people, it will spit in the face of the English Church, who must share in the degradation which the other suffers; it will do violence to justice and reason, and will disown the constitution of the kingdom, which inseparably links the supreme government of the realm with the Protestant religion." These were the words of Dr. Verschoyle, Bishop of Kilmore, in a charge to the clergy of his diocese.3 Towards the end of the struggle, when the inevitable result was foreseen, excited Orangemen lost not only their temper, but their respect for the law as well, and talked plain sedition. A certain Rev. Mr. Flanagan particularly distinguished himself by his warlike tone. "If they ever dare," he said, “to lay unholy hands upon the Church, 200,000 Orangemen will tell them it never shall be. . . . Protestant loyalty must make itself understood. People will say, 'Oh, your loyalty is conditional.' I say it is conditional, and it must be explained as such. We must speak out boldly and tell our gracious Queen that if she break her oath, she has no longer any claim to the crown."1 A glance through the columns of any Irish newspaper for 1868 and 1869 will furnish many examples of similar utterances. In short, Great Britain appeared to be on the brink of a bloody war with Ulster.

i Plunket's “Life and Speeches," vol. ii. p. 256.

2 The following remarkable proof of the popularity of the Church deserves to be recorded :-“ It had been said the Irish Church was the bane of the country. He denied it. Who ever heard of a Protestant minister - the representative of the Church-being shot in Ireland ? He thought that fact furnished an unanswerable argument that the people did not regard the Church with disfavour" (Speech of Mr. Walter Boyd, Freeman's Journal, May 29, 1869).

A Charge delivered to the Clergy of the United Diocese of Kilmore, Elphin, and Ardagh,” by Hamilton Verschoyle, D.D. 1867.

3 66

Of course, no one contended that the condition of the Church was satisfactory, and many who held disestablishment and disendowment to be sacrilege declared that they were anxious to see a reform of the Church. Archdeacon Stopford, who denounced the destructive policy, had for many years advocated reform.

Dr. Maziere Brady went even so far as to recommend a reform which amounted practically to disendowment. No one was bold enough to say that things should be left as they were. Desirous at all hazards of maintaining the Establishment, a considerable number of Churchmen put aside the argument based on the truth of the Anglican doctrines, and advocated concurrent endowment. Sydney Smith had advised the payment of the Roman Catholic priests. Archbishop Whately had been strongly of opinion that this would do more than anything else to free the Irish people from that priestly influence which he held to be the chief cause of discontent. In the volume of “ Essays on the Irish Church" it was recommended as "the most beneficial and healing measure which could possibly be passed for the United Kingdom in general and for Ireland in particular." 3 Earl Russell believed that the withdrawal of state grants would be a misfortune to Ireland, checking civilisation and arresting the progress of 1869]

1 Northern Whig, March 21, 1868.

2 The common form of Orange rhetoric was in this style: “They would not suffer themselves to be robbed of their blood-bought rights. They were animated by the same spirit as broke the boom, as closed the gates of Derry; by the same spirit as chased the craven followers of James like timid sheep into the Boyne; and is one of the two parties should go to the wall, it would not be the Protestants” (Speech of Rev. Nash Griffin, Freeman's Journal, June 15, 1869).

3 First Essay, by Rev. James Byrne, p. 35.

REFORM PROPOSALS

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2

society in the rural parts. His scheme was for the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church and of the Presbyterian Church, and for the reduction of the Protestant Episcopalian Church to one-eighth of its existing revenues.

In 1866 Earl Grey submitted to the House of Lords certain resolutions recommending the adoption of a similar plan. Many of the Presbyterians in Ireland would have

. gladly accepted an arrangement which would have involved a great increase in the Regium Donum, and which was asserted to be necessary for the maintenance of religious liberty. But, whatever may have been the merits of the proposed arrangement, there was one fatal objection; the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland would have none of it. The National Association, which may be regarded as representing Roman Catholic opinion, distinctly rejected it. In this state of feeling the proposal lost all importance, and gradually dropped into the background. Earl Russell, while retaining his opinion that it offered the best solution, afterwards admitted that it could not usefully be pressed, and accepted the scheme of general disendowment. The willingness of the Church to correct its worst abuses, and the offer of concurrent endowment, were too late. Things had gone too far for compromise.

Already in 1865 it had been apparent that Mr. Gladstone was prepared for disestablishment, and that the Irish Church was tottering to its fall. On March 28, 1865, Mr. Dillwyn moved “that in the opinion of the House the position of the Irish Church Establishment is unsatisfactory, and calls for the early attention of Her Majesty's Government.” The remarkable feature of the debate was the ground on which the Government opposed the motion. They did so, not because in principle they could dispute Mr. Dillwyn's contention, but because by assenting to the motion they would be bound immediately to bring in a Bill to give it effect. The motion, as Mr. Gladstone said, contained two propositions; first, that the position of the Irish Church was unsatisfactory, and second, that it called for the early attention of the Government. “For my part," he said, “I confess that I cannot refuse to admit the truth of the first, and perhaps most important, of the propositions;" and he proceeded to give what in effect were most convincing reasons why the Church should be disestablished. An institution so defended was hopelessly doomed.

1 Letters to Mr. Chichester Fortescue, 3rd edit. p. 66. The proportion of one-eighth was determined on the basis of population. See also “Recollections and Suggestions,” p. 295.

3 “ This right can only be secured by endowment, which would encourage, and not supersede, voluntary contributions, and which should be dealt out equally to the pastors of all denominations” (“ Ireland and her Churches," by James Godkin, p. 557). Mr. Godkin was editor of the Derry Standard, and had been one of the leading members of the Tenant League.

3 “ I at once discard any preferences of my own, and seek for general disendowment" (Speech in St. James's Hall, April 16, 1868). Earl Grey still believes that concurrent endowment was possible, and that the Roman Catholics objected only to being made stipendiaries of the State (“Ireland,” 1888, p. 61).

In 1868 the warning was uttered in plainer terms. On March 10 of that year, speaking on Mr. Maguire's motion for an inquiry into the state of Ireland, Mr. Gladstone, as leader of the Liberal opposition, pronounced his memorable sentence of death on the Irish Church. “In order to the settlement of the question of the Irish Church," he declared, “ that Church, as a state Church, must cease to exist." Following up this declaration, on March 30 he carried, by 330 votes against 270, a motion for a committee of the whole House to consider the Acts of Parliament relating to the Irish Church. A month later he carried against the Government, by 330 to 265, a resolution that it is necessary that the Established Church of Ireland should cease to exist as an establishment, due regard being had to all personal interests and to all individual rights of property." Two consequential resolutions having been carried, a suspensory Bill, with respect to new appointments in the Church and the proceedings of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, was introduced and carried through the House of Commons; but the House of Lords rejected it by a large majority. Parliament was dissolved in November. The 1869]

1 Every one of the Ulster members voted with the minority. Of the other Irish members, 65 voted for the motion, and 16 against (Barry O'Brien, “Fifty Years of Concessions to Ireland," vol. ii. p. 240).

DISESTABLISHMENT

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general election placed Mr. Gladstone in power, and on March 1, 1869, he introduced a Bill for the disestablishment and disendowment of the Church of Ireland. After long and fierce debate, it was read a third time in the House of Commons by 361 votes to 247. Modifications were made in accordance with amendments carried in the House of Lords, and the Bill passed into law on July 26.

The chief provisions of the Act were as follows: From January 1, 1871, the union of the Church of England and the Church of Ireland was to be dissolved, and the latter Church disestablished. Its property was vested in a temporary body called the Commissioners of Church Temporalities, who were charged with the administration of the Act; while provision was made for incorporating by charter a body appointed by the clergy and laity to represent the disestablished Church. Persons deprived by the Act of permanent incomes were declared entitled to annuities equal to such incomes, and lay patrons to compensation for the loss of their rights. The Regium Donum and the Maynooth grant were to be discontinued, compensation being given. The surplus proceeds were to be appropriated, as Parliament should direct, "mainly to the relief of unavoidable calamity and suffering, yet not so as to cancel or impair the obligations now attached to property under the Acts for the relief of the poor.” In the working out of the Act, the representative body, which was incorporated in 1870, has received, besides other sums, about £9,000,000 for commuted salaries, and £ 500,000 in lieu of private endowments; to lay patrons has been paid a sum of £778,888; and the compensation for the Regium Donum and other payments to Nonconformists was fixed at £769,599, and that for the Maynooth grant at £372,331. Out of the surplus Parliament has appropriated to intermediate education in Ireland, £1,000,000; to a pension fund for national school teachers, £1,300,000; for distress works, £1,271,500; under the Arrears of Rent Act, 1882, £950,000; and for sea-fisheries, £250,000. In disposing of Church lands, the commissioners were directed to give the preference of purchase

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