HC Deb 16 February 1837 vol 36 cc607-30
Mr. C. Lushington

said, in reference to the observation made by an hon. Gentleman near him respecting the health of the Speaker, that he was perfectly ready to postpone his motion if such were the wish of the House. [Cries of "No, no."] He would then proceed. So much had at different times been said in that House on the subject of Church reform, that it would be unnecessary for him to trouble them with any preliminary remarks; and he felt quite sure, that the House, would be disposed to entertain with patience such statements and reasonings as the nature of the question rendered it necessary to lay before them, and that he hoped the time had now arrived when the question which his motion involved would be thought to merit more serious attention than motions of a similar character had hitherto obtained. He hoped also that in any remarks which he might make, he should manifest that which he really felt—a sincere respect for the motives of every hon. Member, while on the other hand he thought he had a right to expect that his own motives would not be misinterpreted. The question was one of the gravest moment—it was one of such paramount importance, that he hoped the House would feel the indulgence of any prejudice whatever on such an occasion was utterly misplaced. It was, he would maintain, the duty of every man in that House to come to the discussion of that question with an earnest wish to examine it deliberately, and to decide upon its merits after cool reflection. He had long pondered upon the question with much anxiety, but in arriving at the conclusion to which all his deliberations led, he must say, that he paid very little attention to the records contained in the journals of the House of Lords, and as little to the proceedings of the House of Commons. He rather preferred to study the effect which the existence of spiritual Peers had upon the minds of the people than the opinions or feelings which their presence within the walls of Parliament might have produced upon the Members of either House. Besides endeavouring to ascertain the effect which such a practice had upon the minds of the public at large, he had examined several polemical writers, and he had gone the length of consulting upon the subject that highest of all authorities, in which there was no error—that code which could not be disputed. The House need not be apprehensive that he was about to deliver a homily—all he meant then to trouble them with on that point was, that in the sacred volume there could be found no authority, no trace of an authority, for that frequent desertion of their spiritual duties of which Bishops, so long as they remained Peers of Parliament, must necessarily be guilty. The object of his motion was to relieve spiritual Peers from Parliamentary duties—to relieve them from duties incompatible with a discharge of the sacred trusts committed to them, and which they had vowed and sworn in the most solemn manner to fulfil. He was as willing as any man to allow for change of circumstances—he was willing to make ample allowance for an alteration in the spirit of the time, but he could not help referring once more to the fact, that the highest of all authorities, not only did not contain any sanction of an union of temporal dignities with the episcopal office, but expressly prohibited to Bishops an interference with secular affairs. Their interference in secular administration had been by Bishop Watson well described as a pollution. The opinion was not confined to that right rev. Prelate, it was shared by laymen of the most eminent character, and not only by those, but by many pious clergymen of the Established Church, who regarded the union of secular with ecclesiastical duty as highly detrimental to the interests of religion, and as incompatible with the episcopal character. The reputation of Lord Henley as a writer upon Church Reform, was well known to the House, and that noble Lord most distinctly recommended that the Bishops should not retain their seats in the Upper House of Parliament. That eminent person, Mr. Knox, a high Churchman, whose correspondence with Bishop Jebb, must be known to many hon. Members, observed in another work—"The dignities, titles, and emoluments of our establishment obviously constitute as severe a test of virtue as the mind of man could well be tried by; and that these objects minister to the bad passions of thousands, must be admitted." Such were the sentiments of an enlightened clergyman of the Established Church. In those sentiments he was sure many members of the Established Church, both lay and clerical, cordially concurred. But he would read an extract from a pamphlet, published a few months ago, entitled Fundamental Church Reform. This tract, he premised, was written by a clergyman, who had not announced his name, though the finger of fame bad pointed at the author. Young, noble, liberal, erudite, eloquent, and pious, a hundred mitres could not add to his impressiveness in the pulpit, nor increase his Christian influence. The writer remarks, speaking of the Bishops, "Some of our Bishops are still too wealthy. Should it be said that their wealth is needed to maintain their dignity as Spiritual Peers, it may be replied, that their Spiritual Peerage is worse than their wealth. They ought to retire from Parliament, and then their wealth would be no longer requisite. Retire they will before long. Public opinion cannot long permit such a hindrance to their usefulness. Of all the irrational practices defended by some, and allowed by multitudes, just because we are so much creatures of habit, this is one of the most irrational. In every view of the case it is mischievous. It makes the whole bench a moral Maelstroom, sucking even remote circles of the clergy into a gulf of worldly ambition. To the Bishops themselves the temptation to worldliness must be almost insuperable." …. "Sometimes by voting with Ministers against popular opinion" (the rev. Gentleman must refer to other times), however conscientiously, they have dis- gusted many. They have increased that disgust by their professional defence of our establishment; but when, except in one or two illustrious instances of individual fidelity have they defended evangelical religion, or taught the House of Lords to base all legislation on a reverence for God and for his word? It has stamped the Church with an aspect of secularity highly detrimental to its spiritual influence. It has accustomed the more licentious journals to throw unmeasured contempt upon the whole episcopal order. It has made Bishops courtiers, it has estranged them from their clergy; with the dignity of Peers they have assumed, perhaps unavoidably, a forbidding superiority over their brethren; they can never be brotherly—they can scarcely be paternal. On all accounts, therefore, their retirement from the House of Lords is much to be desired; and the Bishop, who, in his place in Parliament, superior to self-interest and prejudice, and the animosity which might be caused in the minds of a few, should move this removal, would deserve to have his name enrolled among those of the most distinguished patriots." Such were the sentiments of an enlightened clergyman, in the substance of which immense numbers of churchmen, clerical as well as lay, cordially participated. Those were the observations he admitted of an anonymous clergyman; but what said the Rev. E. Duneombe, Rector of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in a pamphlet, entitled A Guide to Church Reform? He hoped the House would bear with him whilst he road a little more on the subject. Mr. Duneombe said "Pomp, and form, and absence, have supplanted the authoritative powers of respect, and presence, and affection. Instead of flying to a diocesan with the dependent love and anxiety of children, many of his clergy approach him with fear and trembling, entering palace and await his coming with nervous apprehension and breathless palpitations, and quit it grateful that the interview is over." And again —"Our Bishops hold merely their formal and periodical intercourse with their clergy, are rarely ever seen, still more rarely known, by the laity of their dioceses."—Besides the very good authority he had already referred to, he begged to draw the attention of the House to the evidence afforded on this subject by a dignitary of the Established Church. "A good and honest Bishop," says a canon residentiary of St. Paul's, who has lately written a pamphlet, commenting on the acts of the ecclesiastical commission (I thank God there are many who deserve that character), "ought to suspect himself, and carefully to watch his own heart. He is all of a sudden elevated from being a tutor, dining at an early hour with his pupil (and occasionally, it is believed, on cold meat), to be a spiritual Lord; he is dressed in a magnificent dress, decorated with a title, flattered by chaplains, and surrounded by little people, looking up for the things which he has to give away; and this often happens to a man who has had no opportunity of seeing the world, whose parents were in very humble life, and who has given up all his thoughts to the frogs of Aristophanes and the tar-gum of Onkelos. How is it possible that such a man should not lose his head, that he should not swell, that he should not be guilty of a thousand follies, and worry and tease to death (before he recovers his common sense), a hundred men as good, and as wise, and as able as himself?" Various writers, at various periods, amongst the laity, amongst the subordinate clergy —of episcopal, nay, of archiepiscopal rank —had expressed their objections to the union of ecclesiastical with secular dignity. Archbishop Leighton would not allow his household, or any over whom he had authority, to address him, my Lord Bishop, and when strangers so addressed him, he never failed to express his displeasure. That eminent Prelate, as well as the various other authorities to which he had referred in support of his motion, considered the title of Lord as a distinction, the tendency of which was directly the reverse of favourable to the interests of the Established Church; so far from securing the affections, it did not even command the respect of the people. And this could hardly be matter of surprise, for the influence of such distinctions naturally was, to engender loftiness of demeanour, contemptuousness, and arrogance— habits which they carried with them, even into the sanctuary. He would suppose that any Member of that House happened to go into a provincial cathedral, be would naturally ask, who was that stately personage habited in robes of white and black, with lawn sleeves, walking up the aile, accompanied by his dean and chapter, and his vicars choral, preceded and fol- lowed by the inferior officers of the cathedral; the organ, which should peal in honour of the Creator, sending forth its notes to welcome the creature. If any one inquired for whom all this pomp was produced, in whose honour this splendid and imposing ceremonial was gone through, the reply could hardly be, that it was in honour of one of the representatives and successors of the apostles; such a reply would be hardly consistent with the general character and aspect of the spectacle then presented to view, and yet it would be nevertheless true that that elevated dignitary claimed to be the successor, representative, and imitator, of the humblest of mankind. He repeated, that if the inquiry were made, the answer would be, that the personage in question was no other than the Lord Bishop of the Diocese, who was now welcomed with all this homage, after seven or eight months absence; who had arrived from his London mansion at his country palace, and as a part of the ceremonial, was then mounting his throne in the house of God, to be gazed at, and reverenced as something above humanity, exempt from the frailties and imperfections of our common nature. While seated on that throne, if his thoughts wandered to the last vote he might have given in Parliament, it would probably turn out to have been one tending to disturb the peace of 8,000,000 of his fellow-creatures, and to plunge into desolation and blood a whole people, and yet if he were called on to defend such a vote, he would say, that it had been given in the service of God, and in the faithful discharge of his sacred office. Returning, however, to the grand ceremonial going forward in the cathedral, he would say, there might be scoffers found in that assembly who would think that its gorgeousness ill accorded with the humility and self-denial which were generally thought to be one of the most important duties of a Christian Minister to inculcate by his precepts and enforce by his example. Might not a person, on leaving such an assembly as that, contrast, without occasioning much surprise, the humility of the apostles with the magnificence of their successors? It was a magnificence sufficient to dazzle one of the most virtuous and amiable men that ever sat on the episcopal bench—the late Bishop Jebb, as appears from his correspondence with Sir R. Inglis, in which, within the compass of one short passage, he twice referred to his enthronement as a matter in which he felt a deep interest. With the permission of the House, he would take the liberty of reading to them the passage to which he referred. It was really not beside the question under discussion; and he considered it in many points of view, to be both interesting and important. The hon. Member read the following extract from a letter of the right rev. Prelate:—" This is the first day I was able to set apart for being enthroned in the cathedral of Limerick. On many accounts—political, moral, and religious —I do not like the reducing this, which ought to be a solemnity, into an unimportant form; matters, therefore, were so arranged, that the chapter, headed by the dean, met me at the cathedral door, a short time before the hour of daily service, which immediately followed the act of enthronement, and thus one had something more than a legal and official ceremony." Thus it appears that, in the opinion of this good Bishop—he who so extolled the humility of that "human seraph" Archbishop Leighton—political ends were to be promoted, and religion benefited by his unusual ceremonious enthronement. The following year he left his diocese or pastoral duty in the month of January, and did not return to it till September. The exercise of their baronial duties greatly interfered with the clerical offices of Bishops; it was impossible that a Bishop could attend to the duties of his diocese and to his duties as a member of the Legislature at the same time. But the evil was rendered still greater, as it happened, that it was almost always found, that the bench of Bishops opposed every measure of a liberal tendency, or which enlisted on its side the feelings of the people; that, in fact, they invariably opposed every proposition that had for its object the extension of liberty, civil or religious. It was not the custom of any other Protestant clergy to mix up baronial and ecclesiastical privileges. In the Church of Scotland there was no union of civil and ecclesiastical offices; and as an instance of the rigour with which this principle was enforced, he might mention, that Lord Belhaven was compelled to give up the office of elder when he undertook the office of Lord High Commissioner of the General Assembly. Neither was the English form of Church Government permitted in Denmark, Swe- den, or the United States, or amongst the Protestant Bishops of Germany. The Established Church in England was the only church, except the Roman Catholic Church, which suffered the heads of the church to intermeddle in political affairs. But in some Roman Catholic countries, the Bishops were prevented entirely from interfering in political affairs and the consequence was that they enjoyed the reverence and respect of all classes and parties in the country. If the Bishops of the Church of England followed this example, they would meet with the same reverence and respect. Let them remain in their dioceses, let them promote education, let them exalt their clergy, and apply themselves devotedly to those duties to which, by the most solemn pledge, they were bound. They would then, no longer be assailed; they would meet their reward in the affection and reverence of a whole people. When he used the expression of "exalting the clergy," he meant it in a very different sense from that in which it had been lately used in the address of a certain prelate at an ordination. The charge to which he alluded, comprised forty-eight octavo pages, forty-one of which were occupied in a political discussion of certain Acts of Parliament passed last Session, one of which, especially, this political Prelate, described as "degrading and corrupting," as "wholly unnecessary," "as pregnant with the most disastrous consequences to the Church of England," as replete with danger and mischief; and he charges the members of the Ecclesiastical Commission with "a proneness to extend their own powers, a mischievous latitude and laxity in construing the terms in which their trust is confided to them; a violation, in short, of both the letter and the spirit of the commission under which they act." He would ask whether charges of this description were calculated to increase the respect of the people for the Established Church? And let it be remembered, that the Acts thus described, thus commented upon, received the sanction of his Majesty, who was not only the political, but the spiritual head of the Church. He was not surprised, when the heads of the Church thus took the lead, that the inferior clergy should follow the example of their superiors, and become notorious, from the dean down to the lowest curate, for their addiction to politics. There could not be a better proof of this than the fact, that Dr. Hampden, a most eminent, learned, and pious man—was made the victim of clerical vengeance, because he dared to advocate the admission of Dissenters to the University. A political bias extended through the whole of the clergy from the highest to the lowest. In the case of Dr. Hampden, the clergy of the University of Oxford and the Vice-Chancellor, objected to the appointment, although it was sanctioned by his Majesty; and they had seen many instances lately, in which the clergy of the Established Church had shown disrespect to his Majesty's representative. The people saw these things, and saw them with regret, and they attributed them in a great measure, if not entirely, to the political character given to the Church by the admission of Bishops into the House of Lords. The hon. Member concluded by moving the following resolution:—"That it is the opinion of this House, that the sitting of the Bishops in Parliament is unfavourable in its operation to the general interests of the Christian religion in this country, and tends to alienate the affections of the people from the Established Church."

Mr. Hawes

rose to second the motion; he did so most cordially, under the conviction that by so doing, he was giving the best support to the religious character of the Established Church; and, at the same time, acting upon the soundest principles of religious liberty. It was, in his opinion, contrary to the doctrines of religious liberty that any one sect or denomination of Christians should possess political powers which others did not enjoy. Those who had advocated the Test and Corporation Acts, and the measure of Catholic Emancipation, but who now opposed Government, ought to have known that the vantage ground which the friends of religious liberty had thereby obtained would be made the most of on every occasion in their power. They should not be surprised, therefore, at the motion which was now made. Lord Henley had stated in his pamphlet on the subject of Church Reform, that the strength of the Church should rest in the heart and good esteem of the people, and ought not to be polluted by politics. It was mischievous to the Church, therefore, as well as injurious to the State, for the Church to mingle in politics. If any argument were wanted to prove this, he would point to the Church of England, and ask what had it gained by its political supporters? and then to the Church of Scotland, and ask whether that Church was not every way as secure as the Church of England, although she had no Parliamentary privileges? Look at the Dissenters of England also—was there any lack of defenders for their rights? Not at all. He was convinced, that if the Church of England left her defence in the hands of laymen, instead of taking it into her own hands, it would be much better for her.

Mr. Hume

presumed that the arguments which had been used by the hon. Mover and Seconder on this occasion were such as could not be answered, at least nobody on the other side seemed prepared to answer them. He rose, therefore, chiefly with a view to claim the vote of the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department. The same arguments which the noble Lord had used the other night, in giving his candid opinion that clergymen ought not to belong to the commission of the peace—applied to Bishops sitting in Parliament. The noble Lord had impressed upon the House, that the duties of clergymen were inconsistent with the commission of the peace. If that argument were true as respected clergymen in general, he thought it peculiarly applicable to the Bishops, who had plenty of duties to attend to if they chose, and were well paid for it. Now, he would first put this question to the noble Lord: whether, upon the same principle he had formerly laid down, the presence of the Bishops in the House of Lords was not inconsistent with their sacred duties? The Bishops had always acted the part of political agents in the House for the Government which had preferred them. This was not precisely true, perhaps, of late years, for latterly the Bishops had been generally opposed to the Government. But let them look back at the history of former years, and they would find that for ages the Bishops had been the constant supporters of Government in everything that it proposed militating against the people, instead of interposing as peace-makers between it and the people over whom it sought to tyrannise. The Bishops had always been the aiders and abettors of tyranny. Did any one deny it? He defied any of the hon. Gentlemen opposite to point out a single instance where the Bishops, as a body (he did not deny that there had been some honourable exceptions occasionally), had not always been forward in aiding and abetting against the people, and every reform to which they aspired. They had opposed the abolition of the Slave-trade; they had thrown impediments in the way of the education of the people, while, on the contrary, they ought to have considered their own immediate business; and, as for every improvement in the internal state of the country, he defied any hon. Member to show that the majority of the Bishops had ever always aided and abetted it. By such conduct, the Church had essentially diminished the strength of its hold on the country, and the sooner the practice of Bishops sitting in Parliament was done away with, the sooner the Bishops were sent back to the duties of their dioceses, the better it would be for themselves, for the establishment to which they belonged, and for the community at large.

Lord John Russell

Sir, as the hon. Member for Middlesex has taken upon himself to state my opinions, I shall take the liberty of denying the accuracy of his report, and at the same time take the opportunity of informing the House what are my opinions in my own way. The hon. Gentleman who brings forward this motion in so doing brings forward a proposal for a change in a very essential principle of the British Constitution, which, as he must be aware, recognises "the Lords spiritual and temporal and the Commons, in Parliament assembled.'' The change which the hon. Member proposes to make in this constitution is of a very essential and prominent nature. It is not like the change which we effected when we passed the Reform Bill, which was done upon the ground that the House of Commons, which ought to represent the people, did not sufficiently do so, and that it did not perform the functions which it ought to perform, and in consequence of which it became necessary to make it more in accordance with the ancient Constitution. Now there is no such claim, there are no such pretensions, in support of the present motion. It is a motion to alter one of the most ancient points in the constitution of these realms, and to resort upon new grounds to a new constitution of Parliament. I say, therefore, that to such a change I am averse, unless I have the strongest reasons, not vague and undetermined, but strong and well defined reasons in its support. Now the reasons by which the hon. Gentleman sought to advocate his proposal are altogether vague, desultory, and unsatisfactory. The hon. Gentleman began by talking of removing the Bishops from the House of Lords; but appeared to be altogether uncertain with what object towards the Church, and where his object would end. The hon. Gentleman quoted Bishop Leighton, and then pointed to the Scotch Church, where there are no Bishops, in contrast with the pomp with which the Bishop is installed in this country, and the state of his enthronement on attending a cathedral, which ceremonies and state I have seen attendant upon the person of as good a man as ever lived in this or any other country. Now, to what do these allusions tend? Do they tend to the question of the removal of the Bishops from the House of Lords? Not at all; but to the establishment of the Presbyterian system of the Church of Scotland. The hon. Gentleman then referred to the United States, where there was no Church Establishment at all. When the hon. Gentleman, therefore, proposes to me to have no longer a Parliament of Lords spiritual and temporal and of Commons, but one only of Lords temporal and Commons, the arguments he uses lead at once to two altogether distinct considerations, namely, in the first place, to a Church in which there are no bishops; and in the second, to a State where there is no church establishment. Now I must own it appears to me that if these are the grounds upon which the hon. Member proposes the change he particularises in his motion, these grounds are not sufficient to support that motion, nor will the change he wishes in it be sufficient to answer the hon. Gentleman's purpose. This change, if agreed to, must lead to farther change, and I must own that such a change once commenced, I cannot see any point at which we may consistently stop short of the constitution of the United States, in which there is no established church. The hon. Gentleman who makes this motion, and the hon. Member for Middlesex, argue that there must be a distinction between civil and spiritual functions. The hon. gentleman should recollect, however, that in this country the head of the government and the head of the Church are one. The King is the head of the Church, and the Government of the Church becomes that of the Government of the country; it is impossible, therefore, with such a Constitution to have the complete distinction of civil and spiritual functions which the hon. Gentlemen desire. Such a distinction cannot exist consistently with a church establishment. It is a very different thing for the Duke of Wellington to have said that in the appointments of magistrates it was advisable not to select clergymen where laymen could be found to do the purpose; this is a totally different principle from that proposed by the hon. Gentleman to remove the Bishops from their seats and their duties in the House of Lords. The Established Church is a distinct part of the constitution of this country. The Bishops, by holding seats in Parliament', are the acknowledged representatives of that part of our constitution. If they are to be excluded from their seats, I then do not see by what rule we could exclude the other orders of the clergy from seats in the House of Commons. It appears to me, however, that the Bishops are that portion of the clergy which can best execute the political duties of the Church, and that with the least disturbance or interruption of their spiritual functions, many of these duties being of such a nature that they can be attended to when absent from their dioceses, whilst the inconvenience attendant upon clergymen leaving the flocks of their respective parishes would be very great. However this may be, I must say I know not upon what grounds we should pretend to exclude this great body of men altogether from the privilege of being represented in Parliament, considering the property that belongs to them, and the station they hold in the country. Would it not be exceedingly unfair in Parliament to discuss and pass measures affecting all these interests—as tithes, and advowsons, and ecclesiastical property in general—and to say that on all these great questions they would not allow those who are most deeply interested in them to take any part? With respect to the total distinction and distribution of civil and political functions I own that all experience is against it, for it has been found that persons who have religious functions to perform have not confined themselves to the exercise of those functions, but have frequently taken part in political contests. But if this is a characteristic of Bishops, does not the same description apply to Dissenters? Since I have been connected with the Government, I have heard of applications to the Lord Chancellor for livings of which he had the patronage, and may therefore take the liberty of stating how these applications are made, and also the manner in which the patronage was given. I know that both in the time of the former Lord Chancellor as well as the present Lord Chancellor, such a case as this has frequently occurred. Application has been made in favour of a deserving clergyman or a curate of fifteen or twenty years' standing, and it has been urged that he was a gentleman greatly beloved, that he attended to all the spiritual wants of his flock, and that all parties were anxious that the vacant living should be given to him, and he was appointed. But might not those who contend that civil and religious functions should be separated raise their voice against such a practice, and say that though the curate is not a violent partisan, his brother, or his nephew, or his cousin is, and that the living ought not to be given to an individual connected with a person of such political opinions? With regard to the Dissenters, I know many ministers of the different sects for whom I have the greatest respect and regard; I know how much they attend to the spiritual interests of the Church to which they belong; but if I were to select those who are most respected, and if I am asked whether they separated religious functions from political, I am glad to say they do not. I am glad to say, that so long as I have taken a share in politics, I have found the Dissenting ministers the warmest friends of political liberty, and whenever the rights of their fellow-subjects have been in danger, they have always been eager to promote the cause of political freedom, and I give them credit for it. To the proposition of the hon. Member I must therefore object, because in a country like this, where political and ecclesiastical duties are so intermingled, I cannot see how, by dint of resolutions, we are to reach the millennium, and have a certain number of persons of the Established church ministers of religion —solely and exclusively devoted to religious interests, with their eyes constantly directed to what is above—and another set of persons who shall in like manner confine themselves to political interests. The hon. Member who moved the resolutions said the Bishops had for many years voted against measures in favour of political freedom, and for measures calculated to oppress their fellow citizens. Now, though I seldom concur in the votes given by the Bishops, yet I must say, while their appointment is vested in the Crown, it is natural to suppose that the Minister of the day will raise pious and learned clergymen to the bench who are favourable and not adverse to his political opinions. That, however, has not always been the case, and I can give instances of Bishops, even under Tory Governments, who have advocated the principle of separating political from religious functions. I allude to Bishop Wight, Bishop Kennett, and Bishop Hoadley, who were the warmest advocates of political freedom. The latter Prelate, in his place in the House of Lords, argued in favour of the separation of the functions, because the "kingdom of God was not of this world," and asserted in the strongest manner the Whig principles which he openly professed. And as it happened in these days, when the Government was in the hands of the Tories, so it happened when the Whigs were in office in the reign of Queen Anne and George 1st. The parties in power appointed men of learning and piety, but at the same time men who held the same political opinions. This was the case also in the time of Lord Liverpool; and what wonder, then, was there that these prelates, when raised to the bench of Bishops, retained the same opinions which they held before their appointment? Had they acted in a different manner—had they shifted from day to day —had those prelates, for instance, voted with Lord Grey on all occasions, and then shifted round and voted in a different way when the right hon. Baronet was in difficulty, though the first mode of acting might have been more agreeable to my opinions it would not have made the bench of Bishops more respected. The practice existed one hundred years ago, and continued in the Government of Lord Liverpool, and it could not be considered any argument for the proposed change that a Government which had been in office for twenty or thirty years had appointed Bishops who professed the political opinions of the party. Rather general reasons had been given by the hon. Gentleman. I dissent from these reasons, because they would not effect the object he has in view, and I am not disposed, therefore, on such grounds to agree to the alteration.

Mr. Ewart

said, that was the way in which the question was generally met. It was not met by argument but by clamour, for he had heard no argument, from the other side. The noble Lord had admitted that in former times men were created Bishops for their political opinions, and that under Whig Governments they were Whigs, and under Tory Governments Tories. He had also stated that within a certain time they had assumed a Tory character. Now the statements of the noble Lord were at variance with the Constitution. The mitred abbots were swept away at the Reformation, and that was as good a precedent for the change as any precedents for the Reform Bill. He was astonished at the arguments of the noble Lord. They were the arguments of the learned prelate, the Bishop of Exeter, to whom the noble Lord had referred in the early part of the evening. He was sorry the noble Lord had become the patron of that reverend, celebrated, and most polemical prelate, and had adopted his argument, that the Bishops were the pastores pastorum, and not the pastores populi. He would appeal to the religious feelings of the country on that point, and ask whether they represented the clergy in the House of Lords? They might represent the higher order of the clergy, but they did not represent the curates and the clergy in humble life. His hon. Friend, the Member for Middlesex, had correctly stated that the votes of the Bishops were not in unison with the feelings of the country. They had repeatedly voted against one great measure for which the people had struggled so much—the abolition of the slave trade; but he could state more, and the instance which he was about to give would show the practical grievance of allowing Bishops to sit in the House of Lords. On one occasion, and he had seen the circular, the Bishops were summoned to attend the House of Lords to vote against the abolition of the punishment of death for forgery. They went down and voted against their inward feelings, in order to fulfil their political duty. Men of the highest character concurred in the necessity of removing the Bishops from the House of Lords. Hallam stated that the Bishops should be swept away as the mitred abbots had been. Lord Falkland though a Tory, voted against them. He might quote also the authority of Spenser and Milton, who were both against them. He hoped the minority on this division would far exceed the minority of last Session, that minority had exceeded that of the preceding Session. The principle was working its way silently; there was a current underneath, the people's minds were changing on the subject, and the public feeling would eventually carry the question through the House.

Mr. Charles Buller

was disappointed with the speech of the noble Lord, because at an early part of the evening the noble Lord had made a capital speech on their side when he described a right rev. Prelate as a libeller and a calumniator. It was strange, therefore, that he could fix on none but one right rev. Prelate, and he was astonished at his chivalry in running a tilt on behalf of one whom he had so described. The noble Lord had asked the usual question when any reform was proposed—how far would they carry the plan? He would give a plain answer: the answer of the Radicals was— they would carry the Bishops to the door of the House of Lords, and let them go whither they liked. The most decent course they could take would be to go to their dioceses. The noble Lord had spoken of Presbyterianism, and said if the Established Church were Presbyterian there would be no Bishops in the House of Lords; but did not the noble Lord know that in France the Bishops had no seats in the Upper House? And the same was the case in Spain. The Bishops in these countries had no legislative functions to perform, and why should not our Bishops be placed in the same position? Formerly there were three estates in this country. These were Lords, Commons, and Clergy; for the Clergy had a separate chamber, and were as much entitled to legislation as the Commons or Lords. That, however, had been done away with when the Convocation was abolished; and he was glad it had been abolished. The effect of the disposition of the clergy to meddle in political matters had frequently been most injurious to the cause of liberal principles. If the noble Lord were disposed to deny this fact, he (Mr. Buller) would refer him to a late contested election for Devonshire. At that election the noble Lord was defeated by a majority of six hundred; and he had understood that more than six hundred parsons voted on that occasion against the noble Lord. The noble Lord was, therefore, one instance in his own person of the evils resulting from allowing political to mix themselves with ecclesiastical considerations. At the same time, if they took the Bishops away from the House of Lords, he should have no objection to let some of the clergy into the House of Commons. Indeed he should be glad to see them there; for he was sure they would be less noisy there than elsewhere. In his opinion it was most unfitting that the First Lord of the Treasury should have religious patronage to be used for political purposes; and if any hon. Member would move for the abolition of such patronage, that hon. Member should have his support. While that patronage existed, what could be expected but that, as the noble Lord had stated, Bishops elevated to the bench by a Tory Government should support Tory principles, and that Bishops elevated to the bench by a Whig Government should support Whig principles? Let them look through the annals of the House of Lords, and they would find that the Bishops did not possess one legislative claim on the gratitude of the people. On the gratitude of Governments they had many claims; none on the gratitude of the people. On the contrary, whenever any question was brought forward which agitated and interested the people of England, the Bishops were always found banded together as one man to defeat the wishes of the people. They had opposed the abolition of slavery. [No.] He said they had. Let the lists of the divisions on that question in the House of Lords be examined, and that would prove to be the case. On all questions of religious toleration the Bishops had shown their hostility to liberal principles. He was for excluding Bishops from the House of Lords on a principle recognised by the Constitution in other matters. Why were Bishops not dealt with as Judges were? Judges were excluded from the arena of politics. They were all excluded with the exception of the Lord High Chancellor. He really could not understand the cause of this extraordinary denial. His argument was, that there was only one Judge recognised as such in the House of Lords, namely the Lord High Chancellor, and his legal merged in his official functions. Other Judges might be raised to the peerage, but they did not sit in the House of Lords as Judges. Members of the legal profession were told, "If you become Judges you must sepa- rate yourselves from political discussions and contests." This was most fitting; but, surely, if it were necessary to adhere to such a principle with those who only superintended the temporal concerns of the people, it must be necessary to adhere to it with those who superintended the spiritual concerns of the people. If it were necessary to guard the character of the judges from imputation, it must surely be necessary to guard the character of the Bishops from imputation. The tendency of the present system was to make at once bad Bishops and bad Peers. Instead of attending exclusively to the discharge of their important duties, the Bishops were now at the nod and beck of the First Lord of the Treasury. Hopes of promotion were held out to them as the reward of political services. The hon. Gentlemen opposite might not think it worth while, or they might not think it prudent, to argue this question. They might, perhaps, be desirous to leave to the noble Lord the unpopular task of defending the Bishops against the feelings of the people. It was of little importance what they did. Let them go on in the way they were going. The question itself was making a rapid progress in the country; and he had no doubt that ten years hence the majority in its favour would be greater than the majority against it might perhaps be on the present occasion.

Sir Robert Peel

said, that if any unpopularity were attached to the most decided opposition to the motion of the hon. Member for Ashburton, to his full share of that unpopularity, he begged leave to put in a distinct claim. Feeling as he did upon the subject, he certainly would not be guilty of so base an action, as to leave the whole of the unpopularity with the noble Lord. It might not serve the noble Lord for him (Sir Robert Peel) to say so; but he must declare, that he never heard a speech delivered in a more manly manner than the speech of the noble Lord, or one which reflected greater credit on the noble Lord's abilities and judgment. For if it were true, as had been asserted by the hon. Member for Liskeard, that the noble Lord had lost his election for Devonshire, by the votes of 600 clergymen, and it being undoubtedly true, that a large majority of the bishops were opposed to the present Government, the noble Lord had set a most laudable example of the conduct which, under such circumstances, ought to be pursued by every man, and every Minister; and had not allowed any personal feeling to prevent him from frankly avowing his opinion on a great constitutional question like that under the consideration of the House. There was one objection to the motion of the hon. Member for Ashburton, which struck him (Sir R. Peel) as being at once fatal to it. The hon. Gentleman asked them to proceed, not by a legislative measure, but by a resolution. The hon. Gentleman asked the House of Commons to agree to a resolution, depriving a portion of one branch of the Legislature of its functions and privileges. Now what right had they to take any such step? If the hon. Gentleman were desirous of involving the House of Commons in a dilemma, he could not succeed more completely, than by persuading them to pass a resolution which, if passed, would have no effect whatever, but would be nearly a piece of waste paper. In former questions of a similar nature, it had always been proposed to proceed by Bill. But the hon. Member for Ashburton proposed by a resolution, to effect that which he despaired of effecting by Bill. Why should the House of Commons risk bringing their own resolution—he would not say into contempt—but why should they pass a resolution which must prove invalid and unavailing? The noble Lord had justly observed, that the inferences to be drawn from the reasoning of the hon. Member, led to much more serious and extensive consequences than the hon. Member himself seemed to be aware of. Not only, however, was that the case with the speech of the hon. Mover, every argument which had been used by the hon. Gentleman, who seconded the motion, went the length of showing the expediency, not merely of removing the Bishops from the House of Lords, but of abolishing the establishment. The hon. Gentleman said, that when Parliament repealed the Test and Corporation Acts, they established the principle, that no religious creed should have any advantage over any other. He (Sir R. Peel) had never heard such a principle maintained. The hon. Gentleman also contended, that the same thing took place on passing the Bill for the relief of the Roman Catholics. He (Sir R. Peel) had never heard so before; but he had heard the direct contrary. It would, indeed, be a great discouragement to any attempt to relieve any portion of the people from civil disabilities, if the House were to be told, "You must not stop here; you must carry your measure infinitely further, and stop only with the destruction of the National Church." Because the Test and Corporation Acts were repealed, because relief was granted to the Roman Catholics, was it thence to be inferred, that no one religious creed should have an advantage in this country over any other? It was evident, that if these hon. Gentlemen were to succeed in expelling the Bishops from the House of Lords, their next step would be, to propose that the Protestant clergy should no longer hold the exclusive possession of church temporalities. The hon. Member for Liverpool had mistaken, not only the argument, but the statements of the noble Lord. The noble Lord had never talked of any rapid changes on the part of Bishops, from Whig to Tory, or from Tory to Whig principles. The noble Lord had never talked of Bishops rewarding their patrons by mean political subserviency. What was the fact? That while human nature remained what human nature now was, and always had been, men possessed of patronage would, ceteris paribus, exercise that patronage in favour of those who agreed with them in opinion. And nothing could be more reasonable. Why, if his Majesty's present Government were to depart from that usage, and were ceteris paribus, to select political opponents for Bishops, would not the House hear the loudest reprobation of such a proceeding? Undoubtedly, the noble Lord stated, that during the long continuance of a Tory Government in power, the Bishops generally professed Tory principles. But did the noble Lord add, that that was out of servility to their patrons? Not at all. They were originally selected for advancement to the bench of Bishops, because they were supposed to hold certain political opinions. They did hold those opinions; and they continued to hold them. But it was said by the hon. Member for Middlesex, that after they had become Bishops, the hope of translation to more lucrative sees would tempt them to change their political opinions, and to maintain the principles of any new Government. Had his Majesty's present Government found that to be the case? The political opinions which they held, at the time of their original appointment, they still held and acted upon. The hope of translation had no effect upon them: there was not one of them who had voted that black was white. All, therefore, that their worst enemies could allege against them was, that they were consistent, bigoted politicians, who obstinately adhered to their own opinions. As to the separation of the civil from the religious duties of the clergy, he was convinced that it would be a measure highly injurious to the country. He did not wish to see the Church excluded from its fair share of political influence. If such an object were to be accomplished; if the clergy were compelled to confine themselves to the discharge of their ecclesiastical duties; if they were compelled to eschew all reference to, or interest in, temporal matters; if they were forbidden to participate in the feelings and wishes of their lay countrymen, he doubted, whether instead of the active, intelligent, enlightened, patriotic men, of whom the great body of the clergy of this kingdom was at present composed, we should not have a set of lazy, worthless, cloistered hypocrites. Into that question he would, however, not now enter. As to the plausible arguments which had been urged in favour of the destruction of a monarchical, and the establishment of a democratical, Government, he should be ashamed of himself if he condescended to say a single word in answer to them. He had risen only, because he did not wish it to be believed that he was capable of desiring to leave all the unpopularity of resisting the present motion on the shoulders of the noble Lord. Whether the declaration might be popular or unpopular he cared not; but he was prepared to give his most decided opposition to a proposition, the ultimate tendency of which would be to injure, if not to destroy, the civil and religious constitution of England.

Mr. Lushington

expressed his conviction, that the great majority of the people of England were desirous of relieving the Bishops from their Parliamentary duties.

The House divided:—Ayes 92; Noes 197: Majority 105.

List of the AYES.
Aglionby, H. A. Bowes, John
Bainbridge, E. T. Bowring, Dr.
Baines, Edward Brabazon, Sir W.
Baldwin, Dr. Brady, D. C.
Beauclerk, Major Bridgman, Hewitt
Bewes, T. Brocklehurst, J.
Bish, Thomas Brotherton, J.
Blake, M. J. Browne, R. D.
Bodkin, J. Buckingham, J. S.
Buller, Charle O'Connell, D.
Butler, hon. P. O'Connell, M. J.
Callaghan, D. O'Connell, Morgan
Chalmers, P. Oliphant, Lawrence
Chichester, J. P. B. Palmer, Gen.
Clay, W. Parrott, J.
Collier, J. Pattison, J.
Conyngham, Lord A. Philips, Mark
Duncombe, T. Pinney, W.
Dundas, hon. J. C. Potter, R.
Dundas, J. D. Power, James
Elphinstone, H. Pryme, George
Evans, G. Rippon, C.
Ewart, W. Roche, William
Finn, W. F. Roche, D.
Fitzsimon, C. Rundle, J.
Fitzsimon, N. Russell, Lord J.
Gillon, W. D. Ruthven, E.
Grote, George Scholefield, Johua
Gully, John Stuart, V.
Hall, B. Tancred, H. W.
Harvey, D. W. Thompson, Colonel
Hastie, A. Thornley, Thomas
Hector, C. J. Tulk, C. A.
Hindley, C. Verney, Sir H., Bart.
Hume, J. Villiers, Charles P.
Humphrey, J. Walker, C. A.
Hutt, Wm. Wallace, Robert
James, W. Warburton, H.
Leader, J. T. Wason, R.
Lister, Ellis Cunliffe Westenra, hon. C. J.
Mactaggart, J. Whalley, Sir S.
Maher, J. White, Samuel
Marjoribanks, S. Wilks, John
Marsland, H. Williams, W.
Molesworth, Sir W.
Musgrave, Sir R. Bt. TELLERS.
Nagle, Sir R. Lushington, Charles
O'Brien, C. Hawes, B.
List of the NOES.
Agnew, Sir A., Bart. Campbell, Sir H.
Alston, R. Canning, hon. C. J.
Angerstein, John Canning, Sir S.
Arbuthnot, hon. H. Castlereagh, Visc.
Ashley, Lord Cayley, Edward S.
Attwood, M. Chandos, Marq. of
Bailey, J. Chaplin, Col.
Barclay, David Chapman, Aaron
Barclay, Charles Chisholm, A.
Baring, W. B. Clive, Viscount
Baring, T. Clive, hon. R. H.
Barnard, E. G. Colborne, N. W. R.
Beckett, Sir J. Cole, hon. A. H.
Bell, Matthew Compton, H. C.
Bentinck, Lord G. Conolly, E. M.
Bethell, Richard Coote, Sir C. C, Bart.
Boiling, Wm. Copeland, W. T.
Borthwick, Peter Corry, rt. hon. H. T. L.
Bowles, G. R. Crawley, S.
Bramston, T. W. Crewe, Sir G. Bart.
Brownrigg, S. Curteis, E. B.
Bruce, C. L. C. Dalbiac, Sir C.
Buller, E. Davenport, John
Buller, Sir J. B. Yarde Dick, Q.
Bulwer, H. L. Duffield, Thomas
Byng, G. S. Dugdale, W. S.
Eaton, Richard J. M'Leod, R.
Elley, Sir J. Mahon, Viscount
Fazakerley, John N. Martin, J.
Fector, John Minet Maule, hon. F.
Finch, George Maunsell, T. P.
Fleetwood, Peter H. Maxwell, H.
Folkes, Sir W. Meynell, Capt.
Forster, C. S. Miles, William
Fort, John Miles, Philip J.
Freemantle, Sir T. W. Mordaunt, Sir J., Bt.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Morpeth, Viscount
Gladstone, W. E. Mosley, Sir O., Bt.
Gordon, hon. W. Mostyn, hon. E. L.
Goring, H. D. Neeld, John
Graham, Sir J. R. Norreys, Lord
Grant, hon. Colonel North, Frederick
Greene, T. O'Brien, W. S.
Grimston, Viscount Owen, Hugh
Grimston, hon. E. H. Palmer, Robert
Halford, H. Parker, John
Halse, James Parry, Sir L. P.
Hamilton, G. A. Patten, John Wilson
Hamilton, Lord C. Peel, Sir R.
Harcourt, G. G. Perceval, Colonel
Hardy, J. Philips, G. R.
Harland, W. Charles Pigot, Robert
Hayes, Sir E. S., Bt. Plumptre, John P.
Heathcote, G. J. Pollock, Sir Fred.
Henniker, Lord Poulter, J. S.
Hinde, J. H. Price, Sir R.
Hobhouse, Sir J. C. Pringle, A.
Hogg, James Weir Reid, Sir J. R.
Holland, Edward Rice, right hon. T. S.
Hope, Henry T. Richards, J.
Hotham, Lord Richards, R.
Houstoun, G. Rickford, W.
Howard, R. Rushbrooke, Colonel
Howard, P. H. Russell, Lord J.
Howick, Viscount Sandon, Viscount
Hoy, J. B. Scarlett, hon. R.
Hughes, Hughes Scott, Sir E. D.
Hurst, R. H. Scourfield, W. H.
Jackson, Sergeant Seymour, Lord
Jervis, John Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Ingham, R. Shirley, E. J.
Inglis, Sir R. H., Bt. Sibthorp, Colonel
Johnstone, Sir J. V. B. Smith, J. A.
Jones, Wilson Stanley, Lord
Jones, T. Stewart, John
Irton, Samuel Stormont, Viscount
Kerrison, Sir Edward Stuart, Lord D.
Knight, H. G. Stuart, Lord J.
Knightley, Sir C. Sturt, Henry Chas.
Law, hon. C. E. Talfourd, Sergeant
Lawson, Andrew Tennent, J. E.
Lees, J. F. Thomson, C. P.
Lefevre, Charles S. Townley, R. G.
Lefroy, Thomas Trench, Sir Fred.
Lennox, Lord G. Trevor, hon. A.
Lennox, Lord A. Trevor, hon. G.
Lewis, David Twiss, H.
Leveson, Lord Tynte, C. J. Kemeys
Long, Walter Vere, Sir C. B., Bart.
Longfield, R. Vesey, hon. T.
Lowther, J. Vivian, J. H.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Vivian, John Ennis
Maclean, D. Wall, C. B.
Walter, John Wood, Colonel
West, J. B. Worsley, Lord
Weyland, Major Wynn, rt. hon. C. W.
Wilde, Sergeant Young, J.
Williams, Robt. TELLERS.
Winnington, H. J. Baring, Francis
Wodehouse, E. Dalmeny, Lord