Front Page Titles (by Subject) Subsection I.: Reform of Religious Privileges. - Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, vol. 2
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Subsection I.: Reform of Religious Privileges. - Gustave de Beaumont, Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, vol. 2 
Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, ed. W.C. Taylor (London: Richard Bentley, 1839). Vol. 2.
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Reform of Religious Privileges.
The first, and perhaps the greatest, advantage which the Whigs possess over the Tories in all questions relating to Ireland is, that they are not at once stopped short by the obstacle of the church.
The Whigs are assuredly attached to the Anglican church, and prove themselves its ardent partisans; but they do not, like the others, insist on its preservation at any price. The Tories say, “Let Ireland perish rather than the Anglican church.” On the contrary, the Whigs say, “Let us save Ireland, and also endeavour to preserve the church.” The former would consent to make some reforms in Ireland, provided the church could be maintained in all its privileges and monopolies; in other words, they would offer some partial remedies to the country on condition of leaving intact the primary cause of its evils. The Whigs, on the contrary, look first to the miseries of Ireland, and the necessity of effecting their cure. They would be anxious to establish peace and tranquillity in the country without touching the church; but if, in pursuing this object, they are impeded by any abuses of the church, without any regard to the Anglican principle that fetters them, they abolish the principle and the abuse.
We everywhere find in the acts of the Tories and Whigs the consequences of this difference at starting. Take for example the doctrines and proceedings of each respecting the religious instruction of the people.
For more than a century the lower classes of Ireland were deprived of every kind of instruction, simply because they were Catholics, and the only schools in Ireland were Protestant. The Tories were then in power; and when reproached with an institution which gave the poor Irish no choice between ignorance and apostasy, they replied, as they still maintain, that national education is a privilege of the church which ought not to be taken away.
The Whigs, on the contrary, believing that the instruction of the people is essential to the safety of Ireland, recognise primarily the necessity of education; and as it has been clearly proved that Irish Catholics will not send their children to Protestant schools, the Whigs have been forced to attack the monopoly of the church; and, in spite of opposition, they have established new schools from which everything sectarian is banished, and where religious liberty is assured to all creeds. The establishment of these national schools was one of the first acts of the Whigs, and there is not one that does them greater honour.1
The Tory party believes the rights of the church so sacred, that a violation of them appears the greatest of evils; and when Ireland contests one of the rights of the church, for instance when it resists the payment of tithes, the Tories believe that the church should, at all hazards, be maintained in the integrity of its privileges: if the whole nation resists, its resistance must be beaten down, and the last Irishman exterminated, rather than that tithes should remain unpaid. In similar circumstances, the Whigs act differently; like the Tories, they wish the debts due to the church should be paid; they even prescribe this duty as one of rigorous obligation; but when they find the whole population rebellious, they do not take the same means of quelling the rebellion; they try rigorous means, but they do not persevere in them; they stop short at the commencement of the sanguinary career which the Tories traverse completely; the general interests of the country appear to them superior to those of the church, which nevertheless touch them nearly. They then endeavour to appease the people without overthrowing the church. They do not abolish tithes, the suppression of which would be a great blow to the church; but they endeavour, by modifying the institution, to render it less odious, and, by calming the popular passions, to render the government of the country possible.
It was thus that, in 1832, the Whigs abolished the most unpopular ecclesiastical tax, church-rates. And thus, in 1838, judging from the experience of five years that the Irish were resolved to pay no more tithes, the Whigs reduced the tithes one fourth, and transferred the obligation of payment from the tenant to the landlord. Such changes do not attack the evil in its root, but they render it less painful.
It does not enter into Whig principles to abolish religious supremacy in Ireland, which would be the first condition of peace and prosperity in the country; but they can at least render the fatal principle, which they do not destroy, less offensive and less odious, and that is a great deal. The Anglican church is not the only wound of Ireland, but it is the most sensitive, and the cure of the others is impossible if it be not assuaged. This is the reason why, under present circumstances, the Whigs alone can govern Ireland.
If the Whigs were animated by mere vulgar ambition, it would be their interest, so long as they retain the government, to protract the reform of the Irish church; for, so long as that church shall be maintained with all its defects in the midst of the violent passions it excites, accession to power will be very difficult to the Tories, whose very name would drive Ireland into insurrection, and who could not make their peace with that country, unless they began by attacking the religious institution to whose support they are so firmly bound.
Still, when we see the Irish church attacked by the Whigs, we can understand that this is not the object to which they would choose to apply their reforming principles, for it is the battle-field on which they feel least at ease. If they struggle first against the church when they enter on the career of reform, it is because the church is the first adversary that they find before them, and which they must either overcome, or withdraw from the contest. The reform of the church, then, is not so much an object which they pursue, as an obstacle which they labour to remove.
[1.][Note text has been omitted from the English translation. Please see the French version of the book for the content of this note.]