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A History of the Four Georges and of William IV, V

This resolution went no further in words


Lord Althorp announced that

it was the intention of ministers to submit to the House of Commons a scheme of their own as a temporary settlement of the Irish tithe question, and out of which was to be developed, in time, a measure for the complete removal of the difficulty. A very brief description will serve to explain the nature of {212} this measure. The Government proposed to advance a certain sum of money for the relief of the tithe-owners who had not been able to recover what the law held to be their due, and in the meantime to apply themselves to the preparation of some scheme which might transfer the tithe burden from the occupiers to the owners of the land. The Government thus admitted that at the moment they did not see their way altogether out of the tithe difficulty, but promised to apply their minds to the discovery of some final and satisfactory settlement, and undertook until then to pay to incumbents the arrears of tithes, and to collect the money as well as they could from the indebted occupiers. In point of fact, Lord Althorp and his colleagues proposed to become the tithe-collectors themselves and to let any loss that might be incurred fall, for the time, upon the State and the national taxpayers. The plan was tried for a while, and we need hardly say that it proved altogether unsatisfactory. The Government had no better means of compelling the farmers to pay the tithes than those means which they had already vainly put at the disposal of the tithe-owners. The farmer who could not
be coerced by the police and the military into settling his accounts with the incumbent was not likely to be any the more ready to pay up because the demand for payment was made by the Lord-Lieutenant.

[Sidenote: 1834--Henry Ward and the Irish Church]

It was becoming more and more evident every day that the whole conditions of the State Church in Ireland were responsible for the trouble of which the tithes difficulty was only an incident. Already a party was forming itself in the House of Commons composed of intellectual and far-seeing men who recognized the fact that the Irish State Church was in its very principles an anomaly and an anachronism. On May 27, 1834, a debate on the whole question of the Irish State Church and its revenues was raised in the House of Commons by Mr. Henry Ward, one of the most advanced reformers and thoughtful politicians whom the new conditions of the franchise had brought into Parliament. Henry Ward was a son of that Plumer Ward who was at one time famous as the author of a novel {213} called "Tremaine." If any memory of "Tremaine" lingers in the minds of readers who belong to the present generation, the lingering recollection is probably only due to the fact that in Disraeli's "Vivian Grey" there is an amusing scene in which the hero makes audacious use of an extemporized passage, which he professes to find in Plumer Ward's novel. Henry Ward, the son, afterwards won some distinction by his administration of the Ionian Islands while the islands were under the charge of Great Britain. In our Parliamentary history, however, he will always be remembered as the author of the first serious attempt to obtain a national recognition of the principle which, within our own times, secured its final acknowledgment by the disestablishment of the Irish Church. The resolution which was proposed merely declared that the Protestant Episcopal Establishment in Ireland exceeded the wants of the Protestant population, and that, it being the right of the State to regulate the distribution of Church property in such manner as Parliament might determine, it was the opinion of the House that the temporal possessions of the State Church in Ireland ought to be reduced. This resolution went no further in words, as it will be seen, than to ask for a reduction of the revenues of that


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