HC Deb 06 June 1844 vol 75 cc319-91

On the Order of the Day for the second reading of the Dissenters Chapels Bill,

The Attorney General

(Sir W. Follett) said, that in moving the second reading of the Bill, he should endeavour to state to the House, as shortly and as clearly as he could, the objects which were intended to be affected by it; and he was the more desirous to do so, as he was perfectly satisfied, from the language that had been held out of doors with regard to this Bill, and from the nature of many of the petitions which had been presented against it, that there existed some great misapprehension on the subject. Petitions had been presented against the Bill from various denominations of Christians—some of them from Dissenters who claimed to have an interest in the property with which the Bill proposed to deal, stating that they felt aggrieved by it, because, if it were not for its provisions, they would be entitled to the property which the Bill was intended to appropriate. He would endeavour to deal with these allegations in the course of the remarks with which he should have to trouble the House. There were petitions too, from the Wesleyan Methodists. Now, he could not see any provision in the Bill which could in any manner affect the property of the Wesleyan Methodists, and he did not believe there was anything in it which could affect either their chapels or their property. There were also petitions against the Bill from members of the Church of England, although it was quite clear that the property of the Church of England could not, in any manner, be affected by a Bill which applied only to Dissenters' Chapels, and they could, therefore, in that respect, have no interest in opposing it. With regard to the Bill itself, it would be of very great advantage in preventing a great deal of ruinous litigation, and in that respect it must be highly beneficial in its operation. There was one case to which, in reference to this effect of the Bill, he would direct the attention of the House— the case of Lady Hewley's Charity, which had now been in litigation for fourteen years, and at the end of that period, there had been one of the points raised in it, and only one, settled, while the costs of the suit amounted to such a sum as seriously to affect the property of the Charity. The point which had been settled by a decision of the House of Lords was, that Unitarians were not entitled to the benefit of that Charity, nor were the members of the Church of England entitled to it. But after a litigation for fourteen years, and after the outlay of so much of the funds of the Charity in costs, it was at this moment as much a matter of dispute what class of Dissenters were entitled to the benefit of that Charily as it was when the suit was instituted fourteen years ago. He did not know whether hon. Gentlemen were fully aware of the position in which the case now stood. The litigating parties had not been content with litigating the Charity in the Master's Office, but an information had been filed by the Independents against the Presbyterians, alleging that the Presbyterians do not agree in doctrine with Lady Hewley, the founder of the Charity, and are no more entitled to the benefit of it than the Unitarians. This litigation might probably last another fourteen years if the funds of the Charity should be sufficient to carry it on, before any decision would be given. It must, therefore, be evidently of great advantage to those interested in foundations, established for the benefit of Dissenters, to have such grounds of litigation put an end to. At the same time it was clear from these disputes, that the Members of the Church of England had no pecuniary interest in the measure. But there had been petitions from the Wesleyans, and from Members of the Church of England, not founded on objections as to the matter of property, but on matters of conscience. Now, he had every respect for the conscientious feelings of the Wesleyan Methodists, and for those of the members of the Church to which he himself belonged, for the feelings which had induced them to present petitions against any Bill likely to foster any faith of which they disapproved, and hostile to that which they professed; but he could not help thinking that their present opposition came too late. It was now too late for them to stop and inquire whether the Legislature had acted wisely or not in extending to all Dissenters a complete system of toleration. That spirit of toleration had been the spirit of the legislation of this country for some years; that was the spirit of the Bill of 1779, which relieved Protestant Dissenting ministers from a declaration of belief in the doctrinal articles of the Church of England, and that was the spirit in which the Bill of 1813 was introduced and passed a Bill which repealed the exceptions in the Toleration Act, and which repealed the Act of William which made it blasphemy to deny the doctrine of the Trinity. That was the spirit in which these Acts were passed, and it was intended by them to place Unitarians and all other Dissenters on an equal footing of toleration with all other Dissenters from the Church of England—to give them the same right to endow with property, chapels, schools, or other charitable foundations which the members of any other denomination possess; and he could not help thinking that they would not be acting in accordance with that spirit of toleration if they allowed any petition, objecting to any particular creed or particular doctrines, to interfere with that which was merely an act of justice on the part of the Legislature towards those whose interests would be affected by this Bill. It was an unfounded alarm to suppose that this Bill was calculated to encourage Unitarian doctrines in this country. He did not believe that it was calculated either to encourage Unitarian doctrines or the doctrines of any other body of Dissenters; but if it were otherwise, and if those who made that objection believed such an effect might be produced by the spirit of toleration, the time at which the objection ought properly to be made was in 1813, when the Bill was brought in to make the Toleration Act perfect; but it was too late, after the several Acts which had been passed for the relief of Dissenters, to bring forward objections to this Bill in any spirit of intolerance. Passing from that ground of opposition, he would call the attention of the House to the circumstances which had induced the Government to introduce this Bill; and they could not avoid seeing that it was called for, and would be of great advantage. The Bill came before them, recommended by the unanimous concurrence in its necessity, and in the character of its provisions, of all the highest and most eminent legal authorities of the other House of Parliament. It had received the approbation of Lord Brougham, of Lord Cottenham, of Lord Lyndhurst—all of whom were Judges in Lady Hewley's case, and all of whom were well acquainted with the necessity for such a measure. It came to them recommended by the authority of Lord Campbell, who had been counsel in Lady Hewley's case, and it was approved of by Lord Denman and other eminent legal authorities. It was impossible that any Bill could come before the House of Commons more highly recommended, and the Government in adopting it, could have been actuated by no other motive—could have had no other possible object than an earnest and sincere wish to do justice. This was the motive which actuated the Government, and they believed that in adopting this Bill they were supporting a measure of peace well calculated to put an end to unseemly contentions, and to remove causes of what might often be ruinous litigation. Having stated to the House the reasons which had induced the Government to adopt this Bill, having stated that objections had been made to it from a great misapprehension as to its nature and the character of its provisions, he should now direct the attention of the House more immediately to the most important clauses which it contained. He should first direct attention to the first clause, against which he had been told there were not such strong objections as against other clauses of the Bill; but he could not see how that was, for the first clause contained some of the most important provisions in the Bill, and the most essential for the protection of property. This Bill was required, as it was intended for the protection of the interests of the Dissenters, and the first clause was most essential to that object, as he should show to the House. After the passing of the Uniformity and other Acts, subsequent to the Restoration of Charles the Second, no professor or teacher of any religion different from the Church of England occupied the position which the Dissenters now occupied, so that previous to the Toleration Act, if any gift were made to chapels or schools, or other similar foundations, for the benefit of such Dissenters, it would not be upheld by the Courts of Law—it would be regarded as illegal. Before the passing of the Toleration Act, all Dissenters including Roman Catholics were upon the same footing—all their foundations were illegal, none were tolerated, and any gifts for charitable or other purposes could not be sustained in our Courts of Law. After the Toleration Act was passed, which extended to all Dissenters generally, they would receive and hold property; the Roman Catholics, however, were excepted by name, and the Unitarians, though not by name, were practically excepted from the advantages of the Act, by the provision requiring any Dissenting minister, to obtain the advantages the Bill conferred, to sign a declaration of their belief, not in the Thirty-nine Articles, but of that portion of them which embraced the doctrines of the Church of England, including a belief in the Trinity; thus the Act excepted persons who denied the doctrine of the Trinity, as well as the Roman Catholics, who were excepted by Dame. The effect of the Toleration Act was, to enable all Protestant Dissenters to found schools, build chapels, and endow other charitable foundations, and the Court of Chancery and the Courts of Law would of course recognise those foundations as being as valid and binding as if made by Members of the Church of England. It was not so, however, with regard to the Unitarians or the Roman Catholics, who were excepted from the benefit of the Act. He must next state to the House the different provisions which had been made from time to time to relieve still further the Protestant Dissenters from the provisions of the Toleration Act, which contained any restriction. He was of Course most anxious to avoid anything in that House which might have the appearance of leading to theological discussion, but it was necessary to state that considerable repugnance was evinced at an early period on the part of Dissenting ministers to subscribe the Articles of the Church; for he found that in the reign of Queen Anne an Act wag passed, not permanently to relieve Dissenting ministers from subscribing the Articles of the Church, but giving them a temporary relief. In 1772, the subject was again brought forward, and a Bill was proposed for the purpose of excepting ministers of the Protestant Dissenting congregations from signing a declaration of belief in the Articles of the Church of England. It was quite clear that the Bill was intended to relieve what were now called Unitarian Dissenters—it was in fact recommended to the House of Commons on that ground, and it was resisted on the ground that it could give encouragement to those who denied the Trinity. That Bill so recommended and so opposed, passed the House of Commons in 1772, but was thrown out in the House of Lords. In 1779, however, a Bill was again introduced to the House of Commons to relieve the Dissenters from that declaration, and having passed both that House and the House of Lords, it became law in that year. Protestant Dissenting ministers were relieved from the obligation of subscribing the Articles embracing the doctrinal points of the Church of England. In 1813, the Statute which made it blasphemy to deny the doctrine of the Trinity was repealed, and by the Bill which then passed, any foundation for the benefit of Unitarians, either for the purpose of building chapels or schools, would be held to be legal by the Courts of Law. After the passing of the Bill of 1813, any persons professing the Unitarian doctrines might legally endow chapels, schools, or other charitable foundations, in the same manner as all other Protestant Dissenters. If, however, foundations were established prior to 1813 by those who were affected by that Bill, would the Legislature, after passing such an Act, and in such a spirit of toleration, now say that the property so given ought to be taken from those who enjoy its advantages because it was given prior to the passing of the Act of 1813. If they wished to grant a relief by the Act of 1813, would it be consistent to deprive those bodies of the property granted before the passing of that Act? It could be hardly said, that they were desirous of giving full effect by the Bill of 1813 if they objected to giving it a retrospective operation. Indeed, a retrospective operation had been given to the Act for the relief of the Roman Catholics. After the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act, and when the Roman Catholics had been placed in these respects on a footing with the Protestant Dissenters, and with the Members of the Church of England, an Act of Parliament was introduced, declaring the Emancipation Act to be retrospective, and imparting legality to endowments of chapels, schools, and other charities of the Roman Catholics, although given before the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act. Now, by the first clause of the Bill, of which he was then about to move the second reading;, not only the Unitarians, but all Protestant Dissenters were put upon the same footing with respect to the retrospective operations of the Act of 1813 as the Roman Catholics were placed by the Act to which he alluded. The first clause went to declare that foundations would not be interfered with merely on the ground that they existed prior to the Act. He was at a loss to know what objection could be made to the first clause, and if no objection could be made to it, it would be difficult to say what objection could be made to the second reading of the Bill. It was a most important provision of the Bill, and it came before them recommended by the highest authority from the other House of Parliament. He now came to the second clause of the Bill, a clause which was introduced to prevent the evils that might arise from such a spirit of litigation as that which was raised in the case of Lady Hewley's charity, amongst different denominations of Dissenters. The first clause he ought to have stated, related to all charitable foundations belonging to Dissenters; but the second clause related to chapels only, and did not extend to other charitable foundations. It was said that, as the law now stands, no lapse of time could be pleaded against a breach of trust. Now in one sense that statement was true. If a breach of trust were of a public nature, and proceeded to such an extent, that the Attorney General undertook to interfere in behalf of the public, then no lapse of time could be allowed to be set up against the Attorney General. In a case of a private breach of trust it was not so however, and it might happen with regard to these chapels, when it was left to the private members of the congregations to file their bill, lapse of time, according even to the present state of the law, might be pleaded. But he repeated, that when the Attorney General interfered, then lapse of time could not apply. He should be extremely happy if any Member of the Legislature who belonged to the legal profession would, if he took a different view, follow him in addressing the House; but he adverted to the subject to show the House that there was no violation of any principle of law proposed by the Bill, and that its provisions were in strict analogy with those which the existing law applied in other and analogous cases. By the law as it now stands, any party might give permanence to any religious foundation or gift, for the purposes of religious trust, by setting forth the particular class or denomination for which it was intended, as, for example, if a Roman Catholic wished to do so, he could stamp a permanent character on the religious trust, by specially setting forth that it was intended for persons of the Roman Catholic faith; and, in like manner, any Dissenter, by setting forth that the trust or foundation was intended for any particular religious denomination, could give it a character of permanence. He did not, however, think that they ought to assume every case where a charity was founded for a religious purpose, and the particular denomination was not stated for the benefit and advantage of which it was intended—he did not think that they were always bound to assume that the founder intended it for any particular sect or doctrine, even though he had at some time entertained that doctrine. There was no right to assume, if the founder had been of a particular denomination of Dissenters, that the trust was therefore intended for the use of that denomination; for they were aware that a large body of Dissenters would shrink from a special declaration of particular articles of faith, and from binding others to a similar declaration—they would rather allow them to judge for themselves, and draw their own belief from the Bible. When therefore, they did not find on the face of the deed the particular sect for which the trust was designed, it was a gratuitous assumption to say that the founder intended it for the denomination to which the founder formerly belonged. If a party, by his own free will or gift, gave it—nay more, if he purchased land for the building of a chapel, and it appeared that the land was intended to build a chapel on, for some peculiar sect of Dissenters, the Bill would not interfere; but it would interfere when the particular purpose was not mentioned in the deed of trust. He was certain that the Bill itself could not have been understood by those who had objected that it was a Bill for enabling trustees to violate their trusts. Now he would take the case of an Unitarian chapel, not founded by gift, or indeed, by any act of benevolence whatever; for that was not their origin: generally he might, he believed, say universally in this country the course had been this:—A congregation dissented from the Established Church; they wished to build a chapel for their own worship; they formed a voluntary association, subscribed funds, purchased land, and built a chapel. In the first instance, the management would be vested in trustees: that was necessary; but the fact was, that so little had the trustees to do with the management of the chapel, that as the original trustees died off, no fresh trustees were appointed. The minister and congregation relied on their possession; that was sufficient to keep the chapel with them, there being no fresh trustees. Then as to the alleged breach of trust, who appointed the ministers to these chapels? Not the trustees, but the congregation. Who paid them? Not the trustees, but the congregation. Who removed them? The congregation. The trustees had no more power over the doctrines preached in the chapels than an entire stranger; so that the breach of trust, if any, was not in the trustees, but in the cestuique trusts themselves. Now a right reverend Prelate in another place had made a statement which, for the sake of argument, he would assume to be correct, that a congregation of the Unitarians built a chapel in which they had religious worship according to their own tenets; that by degrees that congregation relaxed into Arianism; and that ultimately they became Socinians. What then? The congregation built the chapel; they elected their minister who preached in accordance with their religious views; father and son attended together; family succeeded to family; generation to generation; still they went on subscribing to pay the expenses of the chapel; but the congregation so kept up, and so acting, appointed their own clergyman, and he preached different doctrines from those which his predecessor had preached. Still the question was, who kept up the chapel? Who repaired it? Who added to it? It must be admitted that all these things were done by these Unitarian congregations: and yet the consequence of these recent decisions—he was not speaking of Lady Hewley's case, but of a case decided by the Lord Chancellor of Ireland—was, that if it could be established that 100 or 150 years ago the original founders were professed Unitarians, although for the last century Trinitarians doctrines had been openly professed in that chapel; though from time to time subscriptions had been contributed towards its maintenance, and benefactions towards the support of its Ministers or their widows, by the existing congregation—vet all must follow the original foundation; and all be taken from the Unitarians, and handed over to perfect strangers. How could they consider it founded in equity or justice, even if the law permitted it (and he would assume, for the purposes of that discussion, that the law permitted it), that the chapel should be taken from those who had gone on together, as he had described, in unison, and given—to whom? Given to perfect strangers. When he was speaking of the introduction of the Bill, he wished it not to be assumed that the law was at present perfectly clear on this point. It was not, and he believed that the concurrence of all lawyers, without political or religious distinction, in recommending the introduction of the Bill, was in consequence of the law being uncertain. Let it not be supposed that the Bill would deprive either Presbyterians or Independents of the property which they possessed. If it appeared on the face of the deed establishing any foundation that it was intended for a particular sect or purpose—if it stated that it was for those professing Trinitarian doctrines, or for a particular sect of Independents or Presbyterians, the Bill would not interfere with the trust; but suppose there should be no particular statement on the face of the deed, were they to assume that it meant the faith of the founder? If they were to make that assumption, how could they find out by evidence the faith of the founder? What had occurred in Lady Hewley's case? A will of Lady Hewley's—certain family documents—a catechism and certain opinions were produced for the purpose of shewing that Lady Hewley was a Trinitarian, and that the trust was intended for the Trinitarians. He would read the opin- ion which Lord Chief Justice Tindal gave on this point. Speaking of the evidence necessary for showing the meaning of particular words in a deed, he says— In all these cases evidence is admitted to expound the real meaning of the language used in the instrument, in order to enable the court or Judge to construe the instrument and to carry such real meaning into effect. But whilst evidence is admissible in these instances for the purpose of making the written instrument speak for itself, which without such evidence would be either a dead letter or would use a doubtful tongue, or convey a false impression of the meaning of the party, I conceive the exception to be strictly limited to cases of the description above given, and to evidence of the nature above detailed, and that in no case whatever is it permitted to explain the language of a deed by evidence of the private views, the secret intentions, or the known principles of the party to the instrument, whether religious, political, or otherwise, any more than by express parole declarations by the party himself, which are universally excluded, for the admitting such evidence would let in all the uncertainty before adverted to. It would be evidence which, in most instances, could not be met or countervailed by any of an opposite bearing or tendency, and would, in effect, cause the secret undeclared intention of the party to control and predominate over the open intention expressed in the deed. Such was the opinion of the Chief Jusstice Tindal in the case of Lady Hewley, with regard to the point alluded to. It was right that he should state to the House that there was a difference, a conflict of opinion on this point, and that the Lord Chancellor of Ireland was opposed to the opinion delivered by Chief Justice Tindal. But he had referred to it for the purpose of showing the mischief of the litigation of charitable funds. He did not mean to say, that in the discussion of that question the most solemn points of Christianity were discussed with any levity; but he did say, that it was impossible to argue questions of that sort in a Court of Law with that solemnity which ought to be observed with regard to them. He did not think it advantageous that the great truths of Christianity should be brought forward in that manner. He would ask any friend of religion whether he could wish that great questions of this kind should be taken to the Master's office, and there discussed in a sphere and in a manner so ill-suited to their character and importance. Well, what was recommended by this Bill? Simply that you should apply some sure and certain tests to questions of this kind; that you should not speculate upon the intentions of the founder, but should apply to cases of this sort the same test which was applied to other cases. And first of all, with respect to cases of private right. Let him remind the House how every case of private right was decided. There was no one single case of private right which did not depend upon usage. The House would bear that in mind—that there was no question of private right of property in this country which did not depend upon usage; and twenty years' undisturbed possession militated against any adverse title. And not only that, but suppose you set up a modus—he was not speaking of the existing Act, but according to the old analogy of the law—suppose you set up a modus against the Church how did you prove it? Usage was supposed to have existed from time immemorial, and yet bow was the modus proved? By modern usage and practice, the possession for twenty or for sixty years, a sanction was conferred which could not be affected by any contradictory proof. It was so too against the Crown. If they wanted to find the contents of a lost deed or charter, how did they do it? Surely by the usage of modern times. If they showed a usage under that lost deed or charter for twenty or thirty years, the Court would assume it. Undoubtedly if they could get the twenty years' usage immediately following the deed or charter, the evidence would be more direct, but the law was satisfied with the last twenty years, because it did not suppose that parties would slumber over their rights or allow parties to be in possession of what they themselves had a right to, and because modern usage formed the only fair criterion equally open to both parties. If this test then was applicable to all other cases, why should it not be applied to Dissenters Chapels? There was this advantage in the application of such a test, that they would not disturb existing interests—they would not take their chapels from congregations who had been in possession of their places of worship for centuries, nor would they take from them the benefit of those sums they had expended on their chapels or applied to the support of their ministers. But he was told there would be this disadvantage—the consequence it was said might be, that property now possessed by Presbyterians or other Dissenters, would in the lapse of time, fall into the hands of Unitarians. Well, but how could that happen? Because by this Bill the usage must be that of the congregation—not a portion of the congregation. Suppose there was a trust for the benefit of Presbyterians, if the minister went into the pulpit and preached Arian or Unitarian doctrines, any single member of the congregation might apply to have him removed. The congregration must have sanctioned the appointment of the minister; they must also have sanctioned the change of doctrine before any case of the sort could occur. There was therefore no real ground for apprehension that any Presbyterian congregation could be ousted, and its property handed over to Unitarians. With regard also to the Wesleyan Methodists it was a total misapprehension to suppose that this Bill would apply to their trust chapel property. The Government would be glad to listen to any suggestion, and make any alteration which would render more clear the principle they intended to apply to chapel property, but this he would repeat, that it was not intended to affect any case where either certain doctrines were expressly directed to be taught, or where on the face of the deed it appeared clearly the chapel was intended for the teaching of a particular faith. On the one hand, he had stated to the House, although he was afraid but imperfectly, the principle upon which the Bill rested; and he thought he might venture to ask the House whether the measure were open to the charges that had been against it? It had been brought forward by the Government in the belief that it could not interfere with the claims of justice; and he trusted that it would receive the sanction of the House as being a measure which would prove beneficial to the great body of the Dissenters in this country; for he was certain that it would be a benefit to them to put down that spirit of litigation to which those proceedings had given rise. With respect to the third Clause of the Bill, which declared that the Act was not to extend to any property the subject of an action or suit pending on 1st of March 1844, he should say that that was more properly a subject for discussion in Committee than on the second reading of the measure. The facts relating to those suits were stated in the Papers then lying before him; and they certainly did seem to make out a very strong case for embracing those suits within the operation of the Bill; because he understood that in one of the cases Unitarian doctrines had been taught for the last sixty years, and in the other case, those doctrines had been taught for the last century. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving the second reading of the Bill.

Sir R. H. Inglis

was sure, that in one respect at least, he represented the unanimous feeling of the House, when he declared the unfeigned pleasure it gave him to see his hon. and learned Friend again in his place in Parliament, and in listening, however strongly he might differ from his opinions on this question, to the skill, the eloquence, and the power which he brought to bear on the subject. But here he must stop, because he felt unconvinced by the arguments his hon. and learned Friend had used, and it would be his duty to urge the House to come to a totally different conclusion. He was aware of the great disadvantage under which he rose to oppose his hon. and learned Friend, even on matters irrespective of law; but although he would not disown those general and religious views which formed the groundwork of many of the petitions which had been presented against this Bill, he did not rest his opposition on them alone, for he felt it was not necessary in the present instance to decide on the relative truth or falsehood of particular views of the Christian scheme. He viewed this measure as one of law and property which it was proposed to violate, and on that ground chiefly, though not exclusively, he was prepared to oppose it. In the spirit with which he approached this subject, he hoped not a word would fall from him to provoke any angry or sectarian feeling. It was asked, what had Members of the Church of England to do with this question? He replied, that Members of the Church of England had a direct interest in the maintenance of those principles which this Bill violated. Ever since the Municipal Corporations Act the management of charitable foundations, originally vested in members of the Church of England, had been placed in the hands of gentlemen who would not even profess to be nominally members of that Church; and if they were permitted to hold property vested in them for twenty five years, there would be considerable danger to the permanence of those foundations as connected with the Church. His hon. and learned Friend had said that this Bill was supported by all the legal authorities in the other House of Parliament. That certainly gave a considerable prestige of authority to the measure; but he appealed from Lord Lyndhurst sitting as Lord Chancellor on the Woolsack, and supporting this Bill, to Lord Lyndhurst presiding in the Court of Chancery, and declaring that common sense and common justice required him to give the judgment which he pronounced in the case of Lady Hewley's charity. He objected to the authority of these noble and learned Lords rather as statesmen than as judges; and his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General should have pointed out any one of those noble and learned persons who dissented from the judgment given in Lady Hewley's case, before he was entitled to quote them as advocates on his side of the question. He entirely acquitted the Government of any sordid motive of interest in taking up this Bill; in fact, it was notoriously less acceptable to their friends than to those who had politically long been most consistently engaged against them. Unquestionably the Bill came recommended by the authority of great lawyers; but the matter was not to be decided by authority, because the question was not the exposition of the actual law. If so, he would not have ventured an opinion. The question at issue was the creation of a new law. His hon. and learned Friend had said that the history of Protestant dissent in this country, justified him in regarding the first clause, however it might have excited opposition, not only as one of the most important but as absolutely essential to the Bill. Now with reference to the history of dissent, he was very willing to admit that when Parliament had relaxed the penal laws, and in 1813 gave a legal sanction, or at least a legal permission, to those who denied the doctrine of the blessed Trinity, it followed, perhaps it ought to follow, that foundations, which previous to that year were illegal, should receive the sanction of law, and so far, if the first clause had been limited to that object, it would not perhaps, have provoked his opposition to the Bill; but that was the utmost concession he could make. The great force of argument had been applied by his hon. and learned Friend to the second clause. He said the waste of property which had taken place in Lady Hewley's case, the angry feelings which it had generated, the scenes it had occasioned during its progress in the different courts, were matters which no person of Christian feeling could desire to perpetuate or to extend; and on the ground, therefore, not merely of preventing litigation, but of preventing litigation in matters so unsuitable to public discussion, he prayed the House to give its assent to the second clause of this Bill. His hon. and learned Friend said that property held in trust did not appear to him to require any greater protection than property held by private individuals; but he could not help thinking the strength of his case rested here—that whereas they might safely take an uninterrupted possession for twenty-five years as a sufficient guarantee for the soundness of the title of the person who held it, inasmuch as his next neighbour would not be likely to suffer an undisturbed possession of what he might be entitled to, the case was very different in respect to trust property, where the interest was so divided, that out of twenty individuals named in a trust-deed, it is very improbable that half knew their names were mentioned at all—so that by little and little the whole character of the trust might be altered by those on the spot electing persons of their own more immediate persuasion, and gradually changing the trust from Trinitarian to Arian or Unitarian uses. An instance had occurred within his own experience last week. He received a letter from a friend asking whether he were not a trustee of a particular chapel connected with the Established Church, and his friend was a co-trustee, and he wrote, intimating that the incumbency was vacant, but he thought both of them were safe, because A and B being on the spot, excellent men would recommend Mr. So-and-so as the incumbent. His friend did not know that he was a trustee. Others might be equally ignorant of the facts, and the obligations which such a trust imposed would have been unfulfilled, by the placing perhaps a person holding opinions different from the founder of the trust in that situation. To remove a trustee there must, of course, be an application to Chancery; how far, then, would the Bill prevent litigation? At a meeting held that day it had been unanimously agreed,— That upon a deliberative review of all the circumstances connected with this extraordinary interference with the jurisdiction of equity, it is the opinion of the meeting, that the measure will be a plain and palpable act of injustice, involving an intentional breach of trust, as far as regarded the religious views of founders, and indicating a disregard upon the part of the Legislature, of the paramount principles of Christianity. He had read the last passage, he might be permitted to add, without noticing its particular import, for he meant to maintain his pledge, and not introduce any imputation on the religious opinions of any one in the House:— Upon this belief, the Committee, in the event of the Measure passing, will proceed to form themselves into a permanent body, and to increase its members equally from members of the Established Church, the Wesleyan Methodists, Orthodox Dissenters, and Presbyterians of Scotland or Ireland, with the view of making the real character of the Measure known through the country, and calling forth such an expression of public opinion as will, in the ensuing Session, insure its immediate and entire repeal.

Sir J. Graham

By whom is that resolved?

Sir R. Inglis

thanked his right hon. Friend for reminding him of what he regretted he should even for an instant have forgotten—that the address bore the signature of one formerly a Member of that House, and long and well known as one of the prominent organs of what is called orthodox dissent—he meant John Wilks, the Chairman of the meeting. This must convince the right hon. Baronet that the measure was not likely to be a final one; that it would no more prevent litigation than it would settle legislation on the subject; and certainly, of all the measures introduced by the Government, none had been less popular. The Attorney General had slurred over the third Clause, though fully as important as any; which, indeed, was introduced in an utterly unprecedented manner; and the proceedings respecting which had been as strange as the manner of introducing it. In the Lords, the Clause had originally stood, with a "marginal note" longer than itself:— Provided that nothing hereinafter contained shall affect the right or title to property derived under any judgment, decree, or order already pronounced by a Court of Law or equity; or affect property the right or title to which was in question in any action or suit, pending on the 1st of March in the present year. Now, while the Bill was pending in the Lords, the most essential alteration was made in this clause with such reckless haste that the marginal note was actually retained, which was only applicable to the originally proposed enactment; and the section proceeded thus—utterly stultifying the marginal note:— Provided that it shall be lawful for any defendant or defendants in any other action or suit which may be pending at the time of passing of this Act, or whom the provisions of this Act would have afforded a valid defence to such action or suit, if commenced after the passing of this Act, to apply to the Court wherein such action or suit may be pending; and such Court is hereby authorised, on being satisfied by affidavit, that in effect the case is within the operation of the Act, to make an order thereon giving to such defendant or defendants the benefit of the said Act. He need not ask if a more completely ex post facto enactment had ever been passed? Why, one phrase alone of the measure, even assuming its principle (which he denied) to be correct—one phrase alone which it employed, must prove a fruitful source of litigation—"the usage of the congregation." What constituted that "usage?" If the preaching of the minister, as was said by the Lord Chancellor, where could be the evidence of it? A question was at issue at Cork, which turned upon what kind of sermons a certain individual preached many years ago. The individual alluded to, contended that he had always preached Trinitarian doctrines, whilst his opponents maintained that it was only within the last year that he had expounded them. How, then, could the usage of the congregation be ascertained in such a case as this, according to the Lord Chancellor's construction? It should not be forgotten that at the period when most of these endowments were founded, it was so unlawful to endow Unitarian places of worship, that such trusts could not have been legally enforced, and therefore, could not be presumed to exist. [The Solicitor-General: "No."] He would not be so presumptuous as to dispute the law of the hon. and learned Gentleman on his own authority, but he must adduce that of some of the most eminent lawyers who had occupied the highest offices, including Lord Eldon. "But," said the Attorney General, "you have no right to assume that it was intended that any specific doctrines at all should be preached." In opposition to this, however, it might be urged, in the language of Lord Lyndhurst, when giving judgment in Lady Hewley's case, "Is it to be supposed that such pious persons would expend their money in endowing the profession and the preaching of a creed opposed to their own, and which they must, at least, regard as erroneous?" Surely, there must be the same means available for interpreting the intentions of religious, as in all other trusts; if not by express words, by all other media of information open to a judicial mind. What he desired was, that the Court of Chancery should have the power of deciding those matters as it hitherto had done, and not that a Bill like this should be introduced. His hon. and learned Friend had said, how could they know when the breach of trust had commenced; and then said, that for several years, they had the concurrent opinion in a congregation, which might be known from the doctrines preached in the Chapel. Now, if his hon. and learned Friend could say what doctrines had been preached in the intermediate time, between its foundation and the present, he would have no objection to give to the Chapels respecting which that could be proved, the benefit of the first Clause. He conceived, however, that no principle had been quoted, or could be relied upon, to justify the introduction of such a measure as the present. In reference to it, however, he could not avoid making this remark. There was no one who could feel less disposed than himself to say anything disparaging of Sir Edward Sugden, if he were still a Member of that House; and being absent, he was still more disinclined to do so: but this he must Bay, that he defied any one in that House to point out an instance of a judge having fixed a day, like the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, for delivering his judgment upon a matter of great and paramount importance, and then of having postponed his decision, on the ground, either that the measure was to be, or had been, brought into one of the Houses of Parliament, which was to guide his decision. Surely, the province of a judge was to administer, not to alter the law, nor to wait while it was altered. There could be no difficulty in making an arrangement by which existing rights of a private character, such as that of Mary Armstrong, could be reserved and protected. The hon. Baronet concluded by moving, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.

Mr. Plumptre

seconded the Amendment, and said, he deeply regretted that Her Majesty's Government had not felt it their duty to defer to the undisputed demonstration of public feeling that had taken place against the Bill, which, if carried, would inflict a wound on the Christian feeling of this country not easily healed. It had been said there had been great misapprehension of the measure. Probably in its legal details all men might not be perfectly versed, but the opposition proceeded from all classes and ranks including the highest and most intelligent, petitions having already been presented against the Bill from hundreds of the clergy. It was said the Members of the Church of England and of the Wesleyan connexion were not interested in the Bill. And was it come to this, that men were not to move in any measures not directly affecting their own pecuniary "interests?" He hoped the religious bodies he had named would never be deterred from acting by any such selfish feeling. But the fact was, they and the great body of orthodox Christians of all persuasions felt that the measure would give a practical encouragement to error, and it would have been indeed astonishing had they not energetically opposed it. The Bill was well understood. There was an unfortunate unwillingness in the House to respond to appeals on religious grounds; but this should not prevent him from declaring emphatically that the measure outraged and insulted the Christian feeling of the country; and he would never avoid an opportunity of protesting, in his place in Parliament or out of it, against such an infraction of what he and a large portion of his fellow-countrymen held dearest— religious truth.

Mr. Macaulay

If ever there was an occasion on which I could desire to have before me the two examples, in the discussion of a measure like this, both as to the temper in which I should wish to debate it, and the temper that in speaking of it I ought to shun, then both these examples have been given me by the Mover of the second reading, and the Seconder of the Amendment. I despair, Sir, of adding much to the very powerful and luminous arguments of the hon. and learned Gentleman who, to our great joy, has again appeared amongst us; but I am unwilling to allow the debate to proceed further without offering some observations to the House. Sir, I think it desirable that some person should rise on this side of the House, generally occupied by those the most strongly opposed to the existing Administration, for the purpose of declaring a cordial and warm approbation of this honest, this excellent Bill, and my firm conviction, that none but the best and purest motives have induced the Government to bring it forward. I am glad also to beat my testimony to the exceedingly mild and temperate manner in which my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford has discussed this subject. I most highly approve of the resolution which he formed, and to which he so faithfully adhered, of treating the question as one of meum and tuum, and not as one of theology. But whatever the hon. Baronet omitted, has been fully supplied by the Seconder of the Amendment, for from him we have heard a speech, in which there was an utter and complete absence of every thing like argument or statement of fact, in which there was not even a shadow of reason, and there was nought to be heard but the language of theological animosity. In many of the petitions presented on this subject I have grieved to discover the exhibition of similar feelings, and when the hon. Member opposite asks me why I do not suppose the petitioners competent to judge on this matter, my answer is, because they treat it as a question of divinity, when they should but have looked at it as a question of property; and when I see them treat a question of property as a question of divinity, then I affirm, that however numerous they may be, they prove themselves not competent to judge this question. If the persons who desire this measure be orthodox, that is no reason that we should plunder others to enrich them; and if they be heterodox, that is no reason why we should plunder them to enrich others. I should not think it honest to support this Bill if I could not conscientiously declare, that whatever the religious persuasion may be of those interested on the occasion, my language and vote would be precisely the same. If instead of their being Unitarians, with whom I have no peculiar sympathy, it were a Bill in favour of the Catholics, or the Wesleyan Methodists, or the Baptists; if it were in favour of the old secession Church of Scotland, or of the free Church of Scotland, my language and my vote should be precisely the same. It seems to me that the point in all this matter, that on which great stress is laid, is the second Clause of the Bill. I can hardly conceive that there is any Gentleman in the House prepared to vote against the first Clause; that any would vote against the third, merely because of a marginal error in that Clause, or that because there is a provision respecting pending actions at law, he would vote for refusing a second reading to this Bill. As to the first Clause, I have heard of no objection made to it. My hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, if I understood him rightly, said, that if the Bill contained only the first Clause, it would not necessarily be exposed to his opposition. Indeed I do not think it would be easy for him, with his candour and humanity, after the clear, powerful, and able manner in which this part of the case was stated by my hon. and learned Friend, to oppose that Clause. We come then to the second Clause, and here lies the whole stress of the matter. The second Clause is one that rests upon this principle, that prescription as a general rule ought to confirm the title of those in possession,— that there ought to be a term of limitation, after which a title that might have originated wrongfully cannot rightfully be set aside. Certainly I never could have imagined that in an assembly of reasonable, civilized, and educated men, it would be necessary to offer a word in defence of prescription as a general principle, if I had not been painfully instigated to it by that body of sages lately assembled in conclave at Exeter-hall. I should have thought it as much a waste of time of the House, as to make a speech against the impropriety of burning witches, or of trying a right by wager of battle, or of testing the guilt or innocence of a culprit by making him walk over burning ploughshares. They did me the honour to communicate to me the burden of their opinions, that this principle of prescription, as declared by the present Bill, is untenable and unworthy of the British Legislature. They said that this principle of legislation, adopted for the purpose of terminating litigation and quieting people in possession, is a principle untenable, and one that is unworthy of a British Legislature; and they added, "the present Government is inconsistent in bringing forward a Bill containing this principle of limitation, because that Government has created two new Vice Chancellors." If these Gentlemen are bad logicians, they are just as bad jurists. I stand here as the advocate of prescription, and I do not forget the prescriptive right which the gentlemen who assemble on the platform of Exeter-hall have of talking nonsense, It is a pre- scriptive right which may be abused, and in the present case it is my opinion that it has been abused. At all events this roust be evident, that if these gentlemen are in the right, all the master philosophers, all the jurists, and all the bodies of laws by which men are and have been governed throughout the civilized world, are fundamentally in the wrong. How, it may be asked, can any civilized society exist without the aid of that untenable principle which is said to be unworthy of a British Legislature? It is in every known part of the world; in every civilized age; it was familiar to the old tribunals of Athens; it formed part of the Roman jurisprudence, and was spread with the imperial power over the whole of Europe. It was recognised after the French Revolution, and when the Code Napoleon was formed, that very principle of prescription was not forgotten. We find it both in the East and the West, it is recognised by tribunals beyond the Mississippi, and in countries that had never heard of Justinian, and had no translation of the Pandects. In all places we find it acknowledged as a sacred principle of legislation. We have it amongst the Hindoos as well as amongst the Mexicans and Peruvians; in our own country we find it coeval with the beginning of our laws. It is bound in the first of our Statutes—it is close upon our great first Forest Charter—it is consecrated by successive Acts of Parliament—it is introduced into the Statute of Merton—it is found in the Statute of Westminster—and the principle only becomes more stringent as it is carried out by a succession of great legislators and statesmen down to our own time. You have been convinced by experience of the advantage of this principle, and you have found that when particular points have been left unguarded by it, oppression has been the result, and legislation has been called in to remedy the evil. Sir George Saville brought in a law, barring the claims of the Crown; Lord Tenterden brought in a Bill, barring the perpetual claims of the Church. Go where you will, you will see it in the civil legislation of every country. You will find in our body of laws a perfect agreement as to this principle—you will find it in our first Great Charter—you will find it enforced by the Imperial and Greek Jurists—you will find it adopted by the great men that Buonaparte brought about him—ay, and you will even find it amongst the Pandects of the Benares. How, unless there has been some universal sense of the great good it contained, and of the great evil of wanting it, could men have been brought by distinct paths to the game conclusion? Is it difficult to gee how men have arrived at this conclusion? Is it not clear that the principle of prescription is essential to the institution of property itself, and that if you take it away, it is not some or a few evils that must follow, but general confusion? Only imagine if you were to do away with this principle in Exeter Hall—I beg pardon, I meant Westminster Hall—only imagine if you were to strike out this principle—if you were to intimate that it was unworthy of the British Legislature—what confusion would be the consequence! Only imagine any man amongst us being liable to be sued upon a bill of exchange accepted by his grandfather in the year 1760—only imagine, if a man had an estate and manor coming to him from his father, and grandfather, and great grandfather, and yet liable to be turned out of possession, because a will or deed in the reign of Charles I. was found in some old chest or cranny. Why, if this could be done, should we not all cry out, that it would be better to live under the rule of a Turkish pacha than under such an intolerable evil. Is it not plain that the enforcement of obsolete rights would in effect be committing absolute wrong; that this extreme rigour of law, without a limitation of time, would be a system of great and methodised robbery? If this then be the general principle, and if it is proper to establish a certain limit to rights, then I wish to ask how it is that it is not to apply to the case before us? I have read the petitions that have been presented here—I have heard the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford; and I should have heard, if he had any to state, the arguments of the hon. Member for Kent. My hon. Friend did his best to take this case out of the general principle; but instead of that his arguments were against the principle of limitation itself. He has said that here the measure arises out of wrongful possession. Why, all the statutes of limitation do. My hon. Friend says, this is ex post facto. What act of limitation is not so, to a certain extent? Let him go to the Statute of Merton, passed in 1235; to the Statute of Westminster, in 1275; to that of James I., in 1623; to that introduced by Sir George Saville, or that by Lord Tenterden, and he will find that every one of them had a retrospective effect. He will find that every one of those Acts looked to the past as well as to the future. Reasoning and reflecting men approved of this; every one approved of it; and until religious bigotry was aided by chicane, there was no one to find fault with it; and no one to differ from the general opinion. There is not a single Act for healing existing defects in titles that does not take away a right which, if such a law had not passed, would have existed. The 2nd Clause of this Bill does not differ from any statute of limitation that has ever been passed. The opponents of the measure said, "It is a reason against the Bill that you make the length of time during which these parties have been doing wrong a justification for them. It is an aggravation of the case, for you suffer this length of time to be a reason for consecrating the wrong." This is the case wherever the principle of limitation exists. It is a greater wrong to my tailor if I refuse to pay him for 20 years, than if I refuse to pay him for 12 months; but the law says that at the end of 12 months I must pay him, whilst at the end of 20 years I am not bound to pay him. It is the same with an estate. It is a greater evil for a gentleman and his family to be deprived of his property for five generations than for five days; and yet, after an ejectment of five days you may be restored to your estate, but at the end of five generations the right is barred. Every argument used against us on this occasion, is an argument against the whole principle of limitation; and if there be a case in which limitation ought to be applied, this, I would say, is the very case: suppose a person is turned out of an estate after holding for sixty or ninety years (about the time which the Members of the Unitarians are said to have held their chapels), then, bad as that might be, still all you would do, would be to take away from the individual that to which he had a defective title. He could lose nothing that was his own. But the property of the Unitarians is so mixed up with the acquired property under trustees, that it is impossible to take away the mere original soil, without also taking away something of great value, which is unquestionably their own. It is not a case of ordinary property, in which a man gets rents and profits, and expends nothing and loses nothing beyond the original value of the land. And yet limitation in this case is petitioned against as a grievance. Have Gentlemen bestowed their attention upon the petitions presented against this Bill, they are filled with vague declarations and theological invective; whilst the petitions in favour of the Bill contain statements of great practical grievances. Take for instance the case of Cirencester. The meeting-house was built in 1730, and it was in proof that in 1742 there were preached there Unitarian doctrines. That was twelve years after the chapel had been founded, and when a great many of the original subscribers must have been living. Many, too, of the present congregation were the lineal descendants of the original subscribers and large sums had been continually laid out by them in embellishing the chapel. Now doubts were raised as to their title. Then there was Norwich, where in 1688, a great dissenting meeting-house was established. At an early period anti-Trinitarian doctrines were professed, and so it went gradually on, until at length, in 1754, it was certain that both the preacher and the congregation were Arianists. At the present moment there is all round the meeting-house a burial-ground, in which there are the grave-stones of Unitarians. A library is attached to the school-house. All these expenses have been incurred, and at this moment the hands of the congregation are tied down, and they dare not build nor repair until they knew whether their title be good. Such is the common, the ordinary history of these congregations. Go to Manchester, go to— I do not know that I have cited the best cases for my argument—but go to Manchester, where I am certain Unitarianism has been preached for seventy years— that large sums have been laid out upon the chapel, and that it is, moreover, the place where Priestley himself once taught. Or take Leeds—I am assured that 4,000Z. has been subscribed for repairs to the principal Unitarian chapel there—that it is lying idle, because they dare not repair a single pew while this matter is pending. Go to other places—go to Maidstone— every where you will find the same story— there 700l. had been subscribed within a short period. At Exeter Unitarianism has been preached for eighty years, and 2,000l. has been expended upon the chapel. At Coventry, Bath, every where—I repeat, it is the same. Now, are these chapels places of which a British Legislature will consent to rob their possessors? I say, "rob"—I can use no other, no lighter word. How would yon feel were such a proposition made as to other property? Would it be borne? And what are those who oppose this Bill to get in comparison to what those who are injuriously affected by it are to lose? What feelings have these latter associated with Priestley's pulpit—with Dr. Lardner's pulpit? What feelings have they connected with the places wherein Unitarian doctrines have so long been taught, and around which are the grave-stones which pious love has placed over the remains of dearly prized sisters, wives, fathers, brothers — that these associations are to be so rudely disregarded, and structures wrenched from those to whom they are so valuable? To those who seek to obtain possession of them, they are of no value beyond that which belongs to any place in which they can get a roof over their heads. If we throw out this Bill we rob one party of that which that party considers to be invaluable, to bestow it upon another stronger party, who will only value it as a trophy of victory won, and as an evidence of the humiliation and mortification of those from which it has been wrested. An imputation has been thrown out—not, I think, here, but it has been thrown out in many other places—I say an imputation of fraud has been applied to the Unitarian congregations holding the chapels now in dispute. It has been said that they quite well knew the meaning of the original founder—that they knew that his views were Trinitarian; that nevertheless they had not acted up to those views, and that therefore they were guilty of fraudulent misapplication of funds, and fraudulent misapplication of lands and buildings. And further, Sir, it has been said by a great authority upon such matters, that they must have been necessarily, down to a comparatively recent period, either Trinitarians or counterfeit Trinitarians. Sir, it has been said that until 1779, every Dissenting teacher was under the necessity of subscribing to the Articles of the Church of England, and that if he was an honest man he could not have subscribed to them, and have been also an Unitarian. Therefore the in- ference is clear, that persons who taught in meeting-houses down to 1779 were either Trinitarians or rogues. Now, they were neither the one nor the other, and the eminent person who stated the contrary, intimately acquainted as he must be with the history of that Church to which he is an ornament, and who is, or ought to be, equally familiar with the annals of nonconformity, must know that from a very early period, the practice of compelling Dissenting ministers to sign the Articles of the Church of England was not persisted in. There were many eminent Dissenting ministers of early days who never signed them. Dr. Calamy resisted, and was not molested; and if it was so at an early period of the history of nonconformity, when penal laws were strictest—when, as the vulgar proverb has it, it might have been expected that new brooms would have swept clean—is it not to be supposed that, at a later period, their operation would have become still more lax? But the truth of the matter is this. As early as 1711 when the Whigs, by means of their coalition with Lord Nottingham, managed to get the Occasional Conformity Bill through the House of Lords, they inserted, by way of a favour to the Dissenters, a clause which very much took away the stringency of the obligation to subscribe to the Articles of the Church. This clause provided, that if a person informed against a Dissenting teacher for not having signed the Articles, that the latter could, at any stage of the consequent judicial proceedings pending the judgment, defeat the information by signing the articles, a proceeding which, it was also enacted, should throw the whole burthen of the costs upon the shoulders of the informer. The House may conceive that very few informations were likely to be laid under such conditions. The truth is that in 1773, it was stated both in Parliament and in papers put forth by the Dissenting body at that period, that the majority of Dissenting preachers then teaching had never subscribed the Articles. Therefore, I maintain that any argument grounded upon the supposed insincerity of the Unitarians falls valueless to the ground. As the case now stands, then, can it be necessary to prove how easily, how insensibly, how naturally, these congregations having—as was, indeed, the very principle: of the early Presbyterians —no confession of faith, no precise form of worship inserted in their trust deeds to fix the actual doctrines—no subscription to any such document, being in fact the very bond which held them together— what can be more conceivable, more probable, than that they gradually should have gone on hardly knowing that the doctrine preached one Sunday was not the same as that delivered the last; that they should have gradually passed from one set of opinions to another. I know that this statement has been treated with derision. I see that my right hon. Friend near me (Mr. Fox Maule) does not assent to it. Will he allow me to refer him to an instance with which he cannot but be well acquainted—I mean that of the first Scotch secession. He will not surely hold that the doctrines taught and believed by the first Scotch secessionists are the same in all respects as those professed by that body now. I have talked with many eminent and good and learned men belonging to that persuasion, and they have all admitted that upon points which were considered essential and fundamental by the original secessionists, their descendants have widely differed from them. Take for one point, the connection between Church and State. The first generation of seceders held that such connection was proper, and sound, and desirable. They subscribed the Solemn League and Covenant, and afterwards, when Whitfield vent to Scotland, although they agreed with him in his Calvinistic opinions, and admired—as everybody ought still to admire—his talents and his eloquence, yet they would hold no communion with him, because he held and taught that connection with the State was sinful. But how do matters stand now? Are not the descendants of those very men crying out the loudest for the voluntary system, and contending the most earnestly for the principle that the Church should not be interfered with by the State. Here is an instance of gradual change in opinion, and because of that change will you brand a great body of good men with such gross epithets as have been applied to a similar change of opinion among another body of Christians? True, my right hon. Friend may say and think that such a matter as the connection of Church and State is of less importance than the doctrine of the Trinity; but, Sir, I very much doubt whether, if he had lived in the times of the original seceders, he would have found many of them to agree with him. In their opinion, the question of the connection of Church and State was a vital question. Again, the Wesleyan Methodists are very eager in their opposition to the Bill. Sir, is there nothing, I ask, in their history to make them uneasy upon such a point? I think I can refer to some matters well calculated to afford grounds for very bitter recrimination. What were the doctrines of that great and good man, the founder of their sect, upon the subject of the lay administration of the Sacrament? He told his congregation, when they wished for it, that it was a sin which he could never tolerate—which should never be committed with his consent—and in effect, I believe it never was performed during his lifetime. After his death, however, the feeling in favour of the lay administration of the Sacrament became very strong and very general; a Conference was applied for, was constituted, and after some discussion, it was determined that the request should be granted. What is the consequence? Why, every building, every chapel, every plot of ground belonging to the Wesleyans is, Sunday after Sunday, applied or misapplied to the performance of rites which the founder of the sect pronounced to be a sin and a heresy. But now, forsooth, these persons cry out loudly that it is a fraud, downright fraud, when the opinions of congregations change with the lapse of time, and are modified by the progress of events, that they should be permitted to retain their original endowments. If we refuse to pass this Bill, the quantity of litigation which will arise you can hardly dream of. I own that, as I said before, it is painful for me to see the manner in which this Bill has been opposed and the quarter from which much of that opposition proceeds. That of the Church is mild in comparison with that of other religious bodies, and yet the opposition of the Church party is certainly more excuseable than the opposition of Dissenting bodies. Nothing is more natural than that the power of dominion, the habit of exercising authority, and that of treating religious bodies out of the Church as inferior to its members—nothing is more natural than that all this should produce great and grave faults. In the constitution of human nature it is hardly possible but that the high Church party, strong in their great endowments, in their power of affecting seats in Parliament, in the influ- ence and effect of their old Universities, and accustomed, as I said before, to look with somewhat of disdain on other sects—it is hardly possible, but at all events it is not astonishing, that such a party should set itself up against the principle of religious liberty; not that I approve of that, but it is almost what I expect. But, Sir, I am astonished that persons who have been over and over again compelled to invoke the principles of civil and religious liberty in their own behalf, should now cry out against this application of them. Sir, I have seen this conduct with astonishment, not unmingled with harsher feelings; but that which increases the astonishment, which deepens those feelings is, to hear from them this loud outcry of opposition at a moment when they themselves in a parallel case are imploring the interposition and protection of Parliament, and while they are demanding an ex post facto law for themselves, are opposing its application in the case of others. Sir, I allude to the question of Irish Presbyterian marriages. See how parallel the cases are: the Presbyterians have been marrying according to their own forms and rites for many years—so have the Unitarians been occupying property. In neither one case nor the other was any question raised for many years upon the subject—nothing occurred calculated to excite doubt or suspicion in the minds of the most honest or the most scrupulous person. Well then, about the same time arose both questions, and about the same time were they both decided. The Courts of Law, deeply feeling the responsibility and the necessity under which they lay of administering the law according to the letter of the law, decided that neither in the case of the celebration of Presbyterian marriages, nor in that of the possession of Unitarian chapels, could prescription avail against the letter of the law. Up got, immediately, the orthodox Trinitarian Dissenters; they first accused the lawyers who had pronounced this decision, and now they accuse the legislators who wish to relieve not only them, but other Dissenters from its effects. It was but the other day that I observed the oration of an eminent person amongst the Irish Presbyterians indignantly demanding whether, in the case of these marriages, old and forgotten laws were to be dug up and applied to times and to circumstances so different from those in which they were enacted; and yet in the course of a very few hours I find him urging the digging up and application of these very old and forgotten laws to another body of his fellow Christians. I should like to know how Presbyterian Dissenters would like the high Church party of England to take up the same tone towards them which they have thought proper to adopt in reference to their Unitarian brethren. Suppose the high Church party were to say, "We also have law upon our side. If the Unitarians are heretics, you are schismatics; and we refuse to give you the relief which you decline extending to them. You shall have no ex post facto law legalising the marriages celebrated by yourselves, if you refuse an ex post facto law to them, legalising their possession of the chapels supported by themselves. If they are turned out, your marriages shall be invalid." How would you Presbyterian orthodox Dissenters like to be treated as you treat others? Great and just as is the importance which you attach to the point of doctrine which separates you from Unitarians, by your conduct you seem to have forgotton that it is not the whole sum and substance of Christianity, but that there is a text about "doing unto others as you would that others should do unto you." There is, however, certainly one distinction between the two cases. The Trinitarian Dissenters are a far more opulent and powerful body, and have means more likely to be applied and more easily applied to influence constituencies and affect seats than have the Unitarians. We know that that sect is small—that it is unpopular—that it can produce little effect upon elections; perhaps I may go so far as to say that it would probably be the best way to win public favour altogether to repudiate them and their doctrines; and therefore, if such be the case—if there be any person of an arbitrary nature and intolerant turn of mind, who wishes to enjoy the pleasure of persecution with perfect personal impunity—then I say that he can have no more excellent opportunity for the indulgence of his propensities than the present. For myself, Sir, I have taken up the doctrines of civil and religious liberty, not because they are popular, but because they are just; and the time may come, and it may come soon, when some of those who are bow crying out against this Bill may be compelled to appeal to the principles on which it rests; and if that shall be the case, then, Sir, I will attempt to prevent others from oppressing them, as I now seek to Keep them from lording it over others. At present I contend against their intolerance in the same spirit as I may hereafter have to battle for their rights.

Mr. Colquhoun

did not presume to answer the eloquent speech of the right hon. Gentleman, but he wished to state the reasons why he could not agree with his argument though he had admired his eloquence. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to the manner in which congregations glided from one doctrine to another, and that difficulty of deciding doctrine surely pointed out the inefficiency of this Bill in stopping litigation. The right hon. Gentleman had talked of his tailor's bill. That was a thing easily defined, but perhaps not so easily settled— but it was clear, definite, having no shades; surely not to be compared with so fine, with so delicate, a matter as theology. He contended that the present measure would cause as much litigation as the present law. The right hon. Gentleman had asked who would venture to oppose the right of prescription? No one; no one with regard to private property; but with regard to public trusts the case was different. The right hon. Gentleman had again asked, who would violate the feelings of Unitarians by driving them from the chapels which contained the monuments of their deceased brethren; but he asked who would willingly see the pulpits of Matthew Henry, at Chester; of Newcombe, at Manchester; and of men equally distinguished, filled by others who advocated doctrines which they had denounced? He said, let the law in this case adjudicate between (he contending parties, and let not the Members of that House step in to arrest the adjudication of the law. The right hon. Gentleman had intimated that the Unitarians were not wealthy or powerful; but he would observe, that they were distinguished by a peculiar acuteness, which indicated a high position in society, whereas the parties who were likely to suffer through this Bill, by the loss of their chapels, were neither affluent nor high in society. He could see no ground for the introduction of this Bill, and he thought it essentially impolitic, as it took away the property of the poor and applied it to the purposes of the wealthy, defeating at the same time the intentions of donors, by applying their property, which they originally bequeathed for the purpose of religious worship, to propagating opinions which, during their lifetime, they contended were erroneous.

Mr. Bernal

complimented the hon. Member for the University of Oxford on the moderation of his views and argument. The hon. Member, in stating that he would not object to the first Clause of the Bill, had given up a great and most important principle. He had then proceeded to state that he was ready to adopt and frame a third Clause, if not ipsissimis verbis the same as the present, yet a clause which should reach cases of peculiar hardship. There was then but a slight difference between himself and the hon. Member. The only petition which he had presented on this subject, being a petition against the Bill, made him the more anxious to say a few words. He looked upon this as an honest measure on the part of the Government, and he thought that he and others, who all their lives had been opposed to hon. Gentlemen opposite, were called upon, not merely to second their efforts by a silent vote, but to come forward manfully and say, that they could not in their consciences agree in the sentiments of the petitioners. He thought that the clear and lucid statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General had in reality set the matter at rest. This Bill was not a robbery of the poor to benefit the rich. On looking at the language of most of the petitions which had been addressed to the House, it would be found that in those petitions there was not a slight infusion of the odium theologicum. Did the petitioners expect that noble Lords in the other House were to be legal automata, judicial manikins, and that because they felt bound to pronounce a decision in consonance with the rules of law, they were to be held absolved from all the rules of common sense, from all the rules of justice, when they addressed the other House in their character of legislators? Were they to forget that they owed something to the nation besides what they owed to their judicial station? He totally dissented from the doctrine that this Bill was adapted only to the case of the Unitarians; it might apply to many others who dissented from the doctrines of the Church of England, even to the great body of those who had been so active in presenting petitions against it. Would the Wesleyans say, that they maintained go exactly the doctrines preached by Wesley, that their property could not be taken from them and appropriated to other purposes? Was any Gentleman who remembered the case of Lady Hewley's charity prepared to say, that as to the Wesleyans there could be no litigation! In one case it appeared that the Synod of Ulster had sought to dispossess parties who had held the property, by themselves and their ancestors, for a period of eighty years—who had laid out large sums in improvements—who had erected a new chapel, which had never been used but by Socinians, and in which Trinitarian doctrines had never been preached. Was his hon. friend (Sir R. Inglis) prepared to say, that in such a case, when every vestige of the original building had disappeared, that because there might be some doubt as to what were the religious views of the founder, and because Unitarianism was at the time of the foundation an offence against the law and subject to certain penalties, that therefore he would deprive those parties of the rights they had for so many years enjoyed? For what purpose too? To give those possessions to the Church of England? No. To the Baptists? No. To the Presbyterians? No. To the Muggletonians, to the Society of Friends? No; but to give them to no one could say whom. Did they suppose that, by applying such remedial measures as this to what had been called 2 per cent. of the Dissenters, they would advance the cause of Trinitarianism? Did his hon. Friend imagine that such a course would benefit the cause of religion, or alienate men's minds from Unitarian doctrines; or did he not conceive rather that it would be met as a system of persecution, and fan the flame of religious discord and sectarian animosity? His hon. Friend contended that the intentions of the founder should be carried out; yet he said he would legalise all endowments subsequent to the Toleration Act in the manner proposed. But would not that be going contrary to the will of the founders? Were they sure that, in fighting against opinions which, at the time of the foundation of the chapel, were floating about in embryo, they were not violating the voluntas of the donor, and were not equally committing a breach of trust? It ought not to be said that we presume to interfere where there is the slightest indication of the intention of the original donor; let there be eighty years usage of Socinianism, that will not avail if you show me one word in the original deed which points out a Trinitarian form of worship. It was said, that the Bill was a breach of trust. He (Mr. Bernal) was afraid the breach of trust was put forth merely as the cheval de bataille, but that the odium theologicum remained behind. As to the unconstitutional proceeding, as it was called, of establishing the principle of limitation in religious and charitable trusts, why his hon. Friend (Sir R. Inglis) had seen one after the other of the constitutional land-marks, as they used to be thought, swept away. The doctrine of nullum tempus occurrit ecclesiœ had been abolished. Who was the author of that measure? One of the most sober-minded judges who ever sat on the judgment seat, Lord Tenterden; he was not influenced by revolutionary nightmares; he fortified his decisions and judgments by good sound practical sense; he thought the time had arrived when the old maxim that time should not run against the rights of the Church, ought no longer to be held; and if that doctrine were applied to ordinary trusts, why not extend it a little further, and apply it to the cases of chapels where there was not a scintilla of proof of the intention of the original founder? To do this was only an act of common sense and of common justice. He again congratulated the hon. Member for the University of Oxford on the expression of his opinions, and hoped that when the Bill got into Committee, the hon. Member would be found voting with him.

Mr. Milnes

Sir, I rise to add a few words to what has been already said in favour of this Bill, and I am in some measure led to do so, from motives almost of a personal nature. This evening I presented to the House a Petition against this Bill, signed by all the Clergy of the borough which I have the honour to represent. A few nights ago my noble Friend and Colleague presented a Petition to the same effect, from almost all the leading inhabitants of that borough; and therefore, compelled as I am, by a sense of simple justice, to support Her Majesty's Government on the present occasion, I do hope that the House will permit me, as shortly as I can, to explain to them, what motives have forced me to come to that decision, and, in so doing, I will do all in my power to avoid any repetition of the many admirable arguments which have been already urged. I own, Sir, that my first impulse in this matter has been derived from that great principle, enunciated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh—from the feeling that this is a case, in which, above all others, our first consideration, and our first determination, should be, to do as we would be done by. I think that theological peculiarities are not, for a moment, to be put in comparison with such a principle as that, and that if I and other hon. Members were to indulge our own theological predilections by throwing out this measure, we should act in contravention of that principle; while, on the other hand, by acceding to it, we are practically carrying out one of the highest principles of Christianity. When, Sir, I as a Member of the Church of England, examine the tenure by which the Church of England holds that property, which she administers for the benefit of this country, I can discover no ground whatever, on which she holds it, that does not involve the acknowledgment of the principle of development in religious communities; and therefore, for that, among other reasons, I am led to vote to-night, with Her Majesty's Government. When I find that large sums of money, left by our Roman Catholic ancestors for the declared purpose of having masses said for the benefit of the souls of individuals—left for the purpose of endowing a peculiar chantry, and for purposes which cannot be brought within the comprehension of our ecclesiastical scheme—when I find that I can only reconcile to myself the application of those funds for the purposes of the Church of England, by a reference to the principle of development in religious communities, and to such a development as has rendered those funds inapplicable to the purposes for which they were originally intended— I am led to apply the same principle, as I think I ought, to the case before me; and when I do so, I am compelled to admit, that that same principle of development, the benefit of which I crave for that community to which I belong, ought to extend in a far greater degree to Dissenters, whose religious views differ from those which I, as a Churchman, entertain, but whose right of private judgment I freely acknowledge; and therefore I cannot re- fuse my assent to the present measure. Sir, it is very clear to me, that this question would never have come before us, but for one practical abuse, which has been so admirably expounded by my hon. and learned Friend, the Attorney-General. I think we shall find, that the general process of legislation in this country has been to allow laws to lie dormant, until some strong case of injury arises; and then we set about repealing them. I believe that at this very moment, there are laws existing against Roman Catholics, of the most extravagantly penal nature, but which remain peacefully upon the Statute-book, because nobody attempts to apply them. I know of a law imposing a penalty on persons for not going to church on Sunday. I had the pleasure of bringing that matter before the House, when an attempt was made to act on it, and if the House permit the Government to carry the Ecclesiastical Courts' Bill, it will be found that that remnant of ancient bigotry is done away with. 1 think that Lady Hewley's case brought the matter plainly and simply before us; and when we find the conclusion which was come to by different Judges, and by the House of Lords itself, with reference to that case—a conclusion which could not be avoided, as the law stood and now stands—when we find that case about to be followed by a large number of suits against the possessors of similar institutions—when we find a case so plain, so simple, and so repugnant to our notions of natural justice, as that of the Strand Street Chapel in Dublin—I say that Her Majesty's Government could not do less, than bring forward this Bill, and I only hope that they will persevere in passing it, notwithstanding all the opposition which has been, and which may yet be offered to it. I am sure, too, that when this measure is clearly before them, and when it is clearly understood by them, the Dissenters themselves will feel it to be one, in which they are as much interested as the Unitarian body. When they understand, that this Bill involves the great principle of religious liberty, the basis of all their institutions, I do hope, that they will at least abandon that violent tone which they have now assumed, and come to a calmer consideration of this measure. But, Sir, we find it stated occasionally, in Petitions presented to this House, that there is no necessity for this Bill, because it is not the intention of any of these bodies to wrest from the Unitarians any of their present chapels. If that be so, what harm is done by the Bill? If that be so, will not things remain, after this Bill shall have passed, just in the same state as they were before its introduction? Then, Sir, we find statements made in the newspapers and elsewhere, that the proper title of this Bill should be, "The Unitarian Endowment Bill." It does not endow any body with a single shilling; and a denial of the measure, would be, in effect, a robbery of the Unitarians of all the sums which for years they have expended on these chapels. I do hope, Sir, that the feelings of opposition and dislike, with which this Bill has been regarded, will, when the circumstances which have led to its introduction are more generally known, disappear, and that the erroneous views which are entertained with regard to its application, will be cleared away. Let me for a moment direct the attention of the House to the effect which would be produced upon the religious feelings of the community, if such proceedings of ejectment as have been alluded to by the hon. Member who last addressed the House, should be carried out. What would be the feeling engendered, if these chapels were really taken away from the present holders of them, to be shut up, or at best delivered over to some other body? What natural feelings of indignation arise in our minds, when we hear of people being ejected harshly, from any property which they have long enjoyed! I do believe, Sir, that so far from such proceedings tending to the benefit of Orthodoxy in this country, their tendency would be to excite a sympathy for Unitarians and Unitarianism, Such as is not felt at present. I think it would be felt by a large body in this country that the Unitarians were oppressed, because they were weak, because those opposing them were strong, and because Parliament had not the courage to come in and protect them. My hon. Friend rested very much on the very gradual process, by which these changes have been brought about. Now that argument appears to me to have a much stronger application on our side. He said, "would not the donors of these chapels have shrunk with horror from the notion of any misapplication of their funds to Anti-Trinitarian purposes?" Now, I have paid considerable attention to the history of this matter, and I do say, that every step I have taken in that inquiry has confirmed me in the belief, that the course I now take is the right one. I find that in the early part of the last century, which may be considered as the birth-time of the Unitarian controversy in England, that principle insinuated itself so gradually, not only into the Dissenting body, but into the Church itself, that I defy any one to tell at what period it came into our theology. I find that even Richard Baxter, when the matter was brought before him, as to the necessity of creeds, and when he was told that a Socinian or a Papist would subscribe the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and Decalogue, answered, "So much the better, and the fitter to be a matter of concord,"—showing distinctly, that he did not attach the same importance to that ceremony, that was attached to it by the Church. I find, still earlier, the poet Milton denying that the doctrine of the Socinians was heretical. I also find that in the early part of this century these opinions had so far come into our theology, that even the Church of England itself was likely to become largely impregnated with Unitarian doctrines. I find Dr. Hey, the professor of Divinity in Cambridge, saying, "we and the Socinians are said to differ—but about what? Only about what we do not understand." And the language of Bishops Watson and Hoadly is of the same nature. I say, when these were the feelings of the dignitaries of the Church of England, is it unfair to believe, that this opinion and this doctrine was developing itself, imperceptibly, and without any imputation of fraud, among the Presbyterian Dissenters; at all events, to such an extent, as to afford a good foundation for the argument on which we now stand? Upon all these grounds, therefore, I am compelled to give my vote for Her Majesty's Government; and when I remember that I can number among my own ancestors some distinguished members of the Presbyterian party who afterwards adopted these Unitarian opinions, I do hope, that in my full belief in, and my loyalty to, the Church of England, I do not allow myself to be influenced by those opinions further than is just and natural, but that I shall be protected by that knowledge and by that connexion, from falling into the snare of what I must presume to call bigotry, into which so many persons whom I hold in high esteem have fallen. I implore the House to re- member that this question is not now as if it had never been before brought forward. Whatever may be the decision of this House to-night, the question has been deeply agitated throughout the country. Virtuous and impassioned men will take it up; bad and dishonest men will take it up also. Unless you pass this great measure, you will have, in your religious communities, such a play of religious fanaticism, as has not for many years been witnessed in this country. You will have false suits instituted by all sorts of parties, who have no interest in the matter, except the chance of deriving gain; and I am afraid, that on all sides, you will have acts of recrimination also—the Unitarians inquiring how far the Wesleyans carry out the doctrines of John Wesley the Churchman, and how far the Independents carry out the doctrines of Harrison and of the Independents of the Commonwealth. I see no means of escaping from all this, unless the House shall be pleased to adopt the measure which has been proposed by Her Majesty's Ministers.

Mr. Fox Maule

said, that differing as he did on this occasion from those with whom it had been his happiness to act on many occasions throughout his whole political life, he stood in a somewhat painful position. But he could assure the House, that he had not placed himself in that position without duly considering the question with which he had to deal, and it was only because it was his firm conviction, that if he agreed to the Bill, he should give his assent to an act of injustice, that he felt it to be his duty to oppose the Motion for the second reading. Nothing had given him more sincere pleasure than to find the opposition to the measure led by the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford University, on the simple and plain ground of its being an Act incompatible with the Law and the Constitution; and that he had not attempted to throw into it any ingredient of polemical discussion. Far from wishing to depart from the course which his hon. Friend had so adopted, he should endeavour, in the remarks which he should feel it his duty to offer, to follow as nearly as he could in the hon. Baronet's steps. He concurred with the hon. Baronet that the House of Commons was no arena for polemical discussion: and no one would be more sorry than himself to see its time so occupied. When he saw arrayed in support of the Bill, such a force of legal talent as had sent it down from the other House of Parliament—when he saw that it had been supported in the House of Commons by men, from some of whom, however much he might differ in political matters generally, of whose high legal character and authority but one opinion could be entertained—he could not but feel some hesitation in speaking in the face of their decisions and their expressed opinions; yet, ignorant as he must profess himself to be, to a considerable degree, of the real position of the law, still his individual opinions upon the subject leading him to look upon the Bill as an act of injustice, he claimed, as an independent Member of Parliament, the privilege of voting according to his conviction. The Bill appeared to him to have for its main principle the introduction of a prescription of twenty-five years, in matters to which the law of prescription had not hitherto been applied, and it made the prescription of twenty-five years so for the first time introduced supersede the intentions of the founders of trusts for religious and charitable purposes. Now, so far as he was informed, there were now the means within the Law and Constitution of England, as they existed, of ascertaining as far as it was possible to do so, the intention of the original founders of such trusts, and of appropriating the funds to their original purpose. But it was said this would lead to expensive legislation, that might be; but that would be a reason to deter parties from unnecessarily disturbing the present possessors. But it seemed to him that not only was the Bill unjust, as likely to divert trusts from their legitimate purposes, but that it would be the means of checking the course of charity, and stopping up the channel of Christian benevolence. If they proceeded to tamper with the law in the way now proposed, it was his belief that they would prevent persons from founding trusts for religious and charitable purposes; for no man could know whether in the course of a few years, the trust would not be altogether diverted from the purposes for which it was established, and the funds devoted to the teaching and dissemination of doctrines which he deemed at variance with the truth. They were now about to apply the right of prescription to property of this description for the first time; and they proposed to do so upon the same principle as was already applied to the tenure of other property, as estates and manorial rights. If that was the intention, he must, however, deny that they were following out the principle justly as respected the parties concerned. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Macaulay) had said that he knew of no law of prescription which was not retrospective: but his right hon. Friend and he differed, it would seem, as to the term "retrospective." He considered that in applying the Law of Prescription, no right should be taken from any man which he possessed at the time of passing the law of asserting his rights, and that the new law should not affect pending suits. Now all laws limiting prescription, as he was informed, and as he knew in some cases, have been prospective not retrospective in their operation to this extent, that the right of the parties to assert and make good their claims had been limited in some cases to one period, and in others to another. When he looked at the Statute of Limitations of James I., he found that that Act bore upon the face of it that from and after the passing of it, any person having any title or cause to pursue such writ as was alluded to in the Act should be bound to pursue it within a certain number of years after the passing of that Act. That was not the course adopted in this Bill, If it had been, he should not have given his opposition to that part of it. But then came the Statute of Limitations, by which property in Scotland was enjoyed, and in that a still more definite law was laid down, because there it was specially said that His Majesty, being careful that no persons who had any just claim should be prejudged of their action by the prescription of forty years (which now ran in Scotland), already run and expired before the date of that Act, granted full liberty and power to them to institute their said action within the space of thirteen years next following the date thereof, as effectually as if the same had been within the forty years prescribed by that Act. He maintained that in both those Acts regulating the Law of Prescription, a right was given to persons to follow up any interest they might have in any suit or action within a given time after the law was enacted. That, however, was not the case in the Bill now before the House. He granted that once such was the intention of the Bill; but it had been altered and framed so that no person, having a claim under the present law to ascertain the intentions of the original founder of religious or charitable establishments, could have that right after this Bill was passed. As the Bill stood it would commit an act of injustice, to which he, for one, would not subscribe, and to which a large part of the nation were extremely and decidedly hostile. But it was said, if the Bill were not to pass, the law as it stood would lead to an enormity of litigation. Confining himself to the simple question of the claims made against the Unitarian body, and judging of the future from the past, he denied that any great amount of litigation would ensue. In England he believed but one case had arisen in which litigation had been resorted to for the purpose of recovering trust property from the possession of Unitarians, with the exception of a certain suit tried before Lord Eldon in 1817, in which the attempt was not to dispossess Unitarians, but the case was brought before the Courts of Law by a body of Unitarians in endeavouring to eject from a certain chapel a Trinitarian minister, who had obtained possession, and preached Trinitarian doctrines. The interminable maze through which a person must go when he got into these courts was, he thought, a sufficient guarantee that no one would willingly plunge into the mazes of Chancery without a perfect assurance that his cause was a just one, and that the law was on his side. It appeared to him that Her Majesty's Government might have been more decided about this Bill. There was no question that when it was first introduced the sting of it, so far as concerned the rights to property of certain persons, was not so malignant as at present; there was no question that when the Bill appeared in the House of Lords it did not touch the rights of persons having claimed under the law as it at present stood; and it was not until the Bill had been read a third time that quietly in a corner the 3rd Clause was so altered as to be stringent without precedent, and notoriously, as he said, unjust. He was informed that when the Bill was first introduced it did not even extend to Ireland; that so late as August last a deputation of the Moderator of the Synod of Ulster, and some others, waited upon the Lord Chancellor, and were informed by his Lordship that he had not at that time made up his mind to legist- late on this subject: but that, when it was made up, he would inform that body who had some interest in the Bill. The first information that he gave them was a copy of that printed Bill after it was brought into the House of Lords, when the fact superseded his intention. But the noble Lord stated, that the Bill should not extend to Ireland before that body had had an opportunity of being heard against it before a Committee of the House of Lords. That body, however, had had no opportunity of being heard by themselves or their counsel against that part of the Bill which so materially affected them. But it was said that this Bill, and he believed it to be the case from all he could gather respecting it, was introduced mainly to meet two cases which were at present before the Courts of Ireland. There was no such case in England at the present time, and therefore it was a Bill in anticipation of cases in England, and against existing cases in Ireland. But much had been said of the hardships of cases in which actions were brought, the claimants having no connection with the property about which they were disputing, and who were, in fact, little better than common informers. If he was rightly informed, that was far from being the real fact; for instance, in the case of the Eustace-street Chapel, it was true that the plaintiffs came from Fermoy, and that they had little local connection with the chapel. But if he was rightly informed, they had a positive interest in the funds of the chapel, which gave them a right to interfere in case of their misapplication. Indeed, he believed that the Lord Chancellor, although he had not affixed his official seal to the judgment, had given an intimation of what that judgment ought to be, and was only suspending his judgment until Parliament should pass an act to supersede the rights of individuals who would be affected by it. This, he must say, he considered to be an act of withdrawal of justice which the House ought not to adopt. He (Mr. F. Maule) was not inclined at present to go into any question of creeds, the case for the House to consider was not what tenets this Bill would favour, nor what it would not. Of this he felt convinced, however, that so far from preventing litigation, this Bill would increase it to a vast extent. He knew that it would be useless for him to ask the House not to pass this measure, but he thought it his duty thus briefly to state the grounds upon which he was opposed to it.

Mr. Gladstone

felt that be ought to apologise to the House for addressing them on a subject which did not come within his own peculiar official province; but as it was a question respecting which Her Majesty's Government had been supposed (and he believed with perfect sincerity) by many parties to have shown a most culpable disregard to the interests of religious truth, he thought it his duty to look at this question for the purpose of arriving at the best conclusion he could respecting it:—and having made up his mind that this Bill was one which it was incumbent on the House to pass, unless they were prepared to sacrifice their name and character for a want of regard to the sacred principles of justice, he must, and did desire to take his share in any responsibility connected with its introduction. He should distinguish, briefly, between the substantial purpose in view, and the legal instrument by which it was proposed to effect that purpose. He would not presume to make any remarks on the adaptation of the Bill, in any particular clause, or expression to attain any particular object, and therefore he should not enter into that portion of the question. He had before him a great question of justice; namely, whether those who were called Presbyterian Dissenters, and who were a century and a half ago universally of Trinitarian opinions, ought not to be protected at the present moment in the possession of the chapels which they held, with the appurtenances of those chapels? That was the substantial question of justice before the House, and on that question he should venture to propound the strongest opinion. The hon. Member for Oxford and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. F. Maule), had spoken against particular portions of the Bill, and had objected to some of the expressions in it; but their speeches did not contain one single argument on the justice of the question. They did not enter into the inquiry whether Unitarians ought to be protected in the possession of property originally given specifically for Unitarian purposes. But he was prepared to prove that, although the original founders of those meeting-houses might have been, and were, in the vast majority of instances, persons of Trinitarian opinions, yet, on the principles of justice, the present holders, being Unitarians, ought to be protected. The hon. Member for Kent certainly did touch the principle of the Bill, but he did it in the way of mere assertion. The hon. Member used strong language, and said the opposition to this Bill was entitled to respect from the Government. He trusted the Government would pay respect to every opposition founded on sincere motives, and conducted by honourable men, but he thought the opposition to this Bill was less owing to what was called theological animosity than 10 misapprehension as to its nature. The hon. Member for Kent said this Bill was an insult to the Christian feeling of the country. He (Mr. Gladstone) would not reproach the hon. Member with any expression which he might use, because he knew there was not a particle of bitterness entering into the hon. Member's composition, even though it might appear in his language; but if the Bill be required by the principles of justice, then so far from its being an insult to the Christian feelings of the people, it was a Bill which the Christian feelings of the people should require the Legislature to enact. And they might depend upon it, that when the people of England should be made aware of the real nature of this question, as they would be by this night's discussion, their Christian feelings would make them demand of this House to give effect to the principle of justice embodied in the Bill. Great prejudice had accrued to this Bill in the public mind from an undefined association between the measure and the Lady Hewley case. It had been hastily and rashly assumed that the Bill was intended, substantially, to prevent the doing again what was done in that case: but, without pretending to look at the case with a legal eye, he saw broad and essential distinctions between the case of Lady Hewley and the general mass of cases to which the Bill was intended to apply. Lady Hewley was a foundress—a person entrusting a large portion of her property— not for her own benefit, but for certain purposes which she specified. But were the parties who instituted those other chapels founders of all? Were they entitled to be so considered in the eye of the law? He apprehended those parties were not applying the property to the benefit of others, but to their own benefit. The difference between those cases was broad and practical. He believed that the right which a founder had, to have his intention ascertained, respected, and obeyed, was a right entirely different from that which might be possessed by any number of persons associating together to form a body, of which themselves were to be the first members, the first to enjoy the benefits arising from that association, and which body was to be propagated, in the natural course of mortality, by the perpetual replenishing of succeeding generations. In the case of Lady Hewley, it could not be said there was no indication of the intention of the foundress. She, in her deed, made reference to the Apostles' Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and a Catechism, running essentially into detail. But the Bill was dealing with cases in which no distinct, substantive, bona fide indication of the founder's intention had been given, or could be ascertained. On these two important grounds he (Mr. Gladstone) begged the House to put out of their minds the case of Lady Hewley, and to consider the Bill upon its own merits, and altogether apart from that case. He had presented petitions to the House from both parties. In a Petition from the General Baptist Church, a party favourable to the Bill, it was slated that although they had a good moral title to the property in their possession, they were in danger of losing it by a technical rule of law. The party opposed to the Bill, held the following language—he quoted from a pamphlet on the subject by Mr. Evans—"The present law says the will of the founder is to be observed, but the Bill says the will of the founder is not to be observed." He would pass by the question whether the parties who originated these chapels were founders or not—if they were not, it was impossible to make out the doctrine of breach of trust. If the present possessors were mere representatives of the first partners or associates in those congregations, it would be impossible to raise even a naked presumption that there was any obligation to perpetuate the opinions of those first associates. But he did not think it necessary to stand on the ground occupied by the Member for Edinburgh. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to allow, for argument sake, that though there might have been originally a case of fraud, still the present possessors, who were innocent of that fraud, should be protected in the enjoyment of the property. He confessed, that if it could be shewn to his satisfaction that there was a case of fraud, he should feel that the matter was involved in great difficulty. He should have to consider a great many points telling in favour of the present holders of property. He should have to consider their possession of that property for a considerable length of time, their undoubted innocence, and freeness from all evil motive; the time during which their opinions prevailed—their personal succession, lineage and descent from the original institutors of those chapels; the insuperable difficulty of finding any other claimant with a good title; the indecency and scandal arising from going before legal persons with the view of obtaining possession of those properties; and, without meaning to give offence to any persons, he should have to consider, that while for one hundred years, on the average, Unitarian opinions were preached in those chapels, during which time the class of persons who now came forward proclaiming themselves to be the rightful possessors of those chapels, endured in silence the abuse of those trusts, and fought side by side and shoulder to shoulder with the Unitarians in their struggles for the civil franchise, and who derived great assistance from the Unitarian body in the exercise of that franchise, that class of persons had, during three or four generations, abstained from taking any legal steps for the recovery of those chapels, and, therefore, if there had been a breach of trust, he should still feel the case to be one of a most painful and difficult description. But had there been a breach of trust? The custom out of doors had been, not to prove the intention of the founders, but to assume it. At a recent meeting of merchants, bankers, and others on this subject, it was alleged that the first institutors of those chapels believed in the doctrine of the Trinity, and therefore the Unitarians were necessarily disqualified from holding the property. That was leaping over the gulf that contained the whole question. He was prepared to join issue with them on that point. So far from it being true that, as Mr. Evans expressed it, "The present law says the will of the founder is to be observed, and the Bill says the will of the founder is not to be observed," he believed that the will of the founders would be set aside unless the Government interfered by this Bill. In order to show that the Unitarians were disqualified, it was necessary to show, in the first place, both that the trustees held under the original institutions of those chapels as under founders; and likewise, that the intention of those parties who first associated themselves together was to bind their posterity permanently to the same profession of faith which they themselves held. In considering this subject it would be necessary to raise an historical question of very great importance. Here the opponents of the Bill would find a most insuperable difficulty. The House must bear in mind that they were dealing with a body which they would find, on examining its history, had been from generation to generation, and almost from year to year, during the 17th and 18th centuries, in a state of perpetual change. The House must take into consideration the direction religious inquiry was taking in the body of Puritans at the time these endowments were made; and he would beg to call their attention to some particulars illustrating this important subject. A very strong feeling he was aware prevailed out of doors with respect to this Bill; but he was sure that if it was proved to the people that the measure was designed to carry out the principles of justice, not only with respect to the present holders of chapels, also with regard to the intentions of those to whom they were originally established and endowed—the opposition which the Bill had hitherto encountered would speedily be abandoned. He would first ask, "Who are the parties into whose views we ought to institute an [investigation?" Was it the body of Presbyterians as existing previously to the Act of Toleration? Why, the Presbyterian body, which originally held the tenets of Calvin, had adopted Arminian doctrines at the period of the Act of Toleration. That body which, in 1643, adopted the Westminster Confession, in 1690 had abandoned it; and he could not find that, since that period, the Westminster Confession had been resumed by them. Such was the rapidity of the changes that had taken place amongst the Presbyterians, That was an important point for the consideration' of the House. If a person without a creed had changed, there would be little ground for surprise; but when the persons who framed creeds were found departing from them, he could not resist the inference that they had strong reasons for so doing, and that those reasons were satisfactory to the body at large at the time the change took place. In 1657, Baxter wrote a work in which he declared that he objected to all confessions of faith not couched in Scripture terms. That would exclude the use of the very term on which this controversy was supposed to hang. That was opening a wide door. He declared his objection to the use of any Creed in which phraseology otherwise than scriptural was used, and he stated that there never would be peace in Churches until the amount of Creeds was contracted and conformed to the language of Scripture. In this opinion and in these objections, eighty of the Dissenting Ministers in London concurred. He would, however, read on this subject an extremely curious passage of an earlier date—extracted from Mr. Cotton Mather's History of the Pilgrim Fathers in New England; and he would call on the House to observe the idea of Christianity, as a shifting, changing, advancing subject, contained in these passages. In the address of Mr. Robinson, the leader of the Presbyterians, delivered at Leyden, July, 1620, to the first planters of the Colony of New England, before they sailed for that country, was the following passage:— For my part, I cannot sufficiently bewail the condition of the reformed Churches, who are come to a period in religion; and will go at present no further than the instruments of their first reformation. The Lutherans can't be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw. Whatever part of his will our good God has imparted and revealed unto Calvin, they will die rather than embrace it. And the Calvinists, you see, stick fast where they were left by that great man of God, who yet saw not all things. This is a misery made to be lamented; for though they were burning and shining lights in their times, yet they penetrated not into the whole counsel of God, but were they now living, they would be as willing to embrace further light as that which they first received. I beseech you to remember it; it is an article of your Church covenant, that you will be ready to receive whatever truth shall be made known unto you from the written word of God. Remember that, and every other article of your most sacred covenant, This was in those early days very important, and there they might find the seeds of all those progressive changes which had since been developed. It shewed how they might fall into error if the Parliament now adopted the views of the Dissenters of any one period as the sure guide as to what they were at present. The same deduction might be fairly made from the writings of other eminent leaders of the party at other periods of the history of the Presbyterians. Mr. Hallam tells us, at the beginning of the reign of William 3rd,— That the feeling of the Dissenting body, which originally had been one of resistance to particular forms imposed by authority, had at that period become rather a feeling of opposition to all Creeds and human compilations whatsoever. But when were those foundations really made? The great mass of them, according to the Unitarian body, were made between 1690 and 1710. The Bishop of London coincided in that view. There was no public record to fix the time absolutely, but it might be safely assumed that the mass of those foundations were made in the twenty years succeeding the passing of the Toleration Act. But the parties by whom these foundations were instituted did not die on the very day on which they were made. Allowing to those founders the usual term of human life, they might assume that for some thirty years after the institution of the endowments— say till 1740—they were themselves alive, watching the progress of events, and approving of what took place, where no specific objection was made. He thought, then, in order to ascertain the intentions of the founders, they ought to look to the state of opinion in these religious bodies between 1690 and 1740. But between 1690 and 1740, two great antagonistic principles were in daily conflict. One of them was the authority of religion—the view that religious truth is something permanent and immutable. The other was that which relied exclusively on the supremacy of private judgment. These two principles were struggling against each other. The supremacy of private judgment, and the disinclination to tolerate, in any form, human interpolations of Scripture, were practically gaining the upper hand over the old principle. The House was aware that it was intended by the Toleration Act that parties availing themselves of that Act should subscribe, and that too in a most explicit form, to the doctrine of the Holy and Blessed Trinity. But what were the facts connected with the case of Dr. Calamy? His case was indeed a remarkable one. There could be no doubt but that Dr. Calamy was a most sincere man in his religious opinions, and that he firmly believed in the doctrines of the Trinity; and the fact was, with reference to Dr. Calamy, that notwithstanding his known opinions on this subject, he never subscribed to them. Hallam, the historian, pronounced the Toleration Act but a scanty measure of justice. He stated, that the Toleration Act extended to Papists, as well as to those who denied the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, but was, in fact, inoperative till more tolerant practices grew up in the 18th century. It was pretty evident that, at that time amongst Dissenting bodies subscriptions to articles of faith had been practically dispensed with. Let the House consider what were the, opinions of Baxter as declared in his latest work. Baxter was considered the leader of the Presbyterian body. He was a man of great virtues, of genius, and, as far as his active qualities were concerned, he deserved to take a high position. In 1689, Baxter was pressed to persuade the Dissenting body to submit to a subscription to the doctrine of the Trinity. The fact of Baxter being asked to do this clearly, convincingly, and satisfactorily established that there existed among the Dissenters strong elements against such a subscription. If the House would permit him, he would read the extract to which he referred, and which would shew the House in what sense and manner the Dissenters subscribed. It was contained in his "Sense of the Articles of the Church of England." Wishing that God's own word were taken for the sufficient terms of our consent and concord, in order to union and communion, and knowing that the ambiguity of words and our common imperfection in the art of speaking do leave an uncertainty in the sense of most human writings till explained, and yet supposing that the authors of the articles meant them orthodoxy, that I may not seem needlessly scrupulous, I subscribe them, and that I may not be unconscionably rash in subscribing, I here tell all whom it may concern how I understand the words which I subscribe. That was, he thought, a proof that there existed among the Dissenters an indisposition to subscribe, although Baxter had himself subscribed. He could not help calling the attention of the House to some facts connected with an earlier period, which all showed the tendency of man's mind to fix itself upon canons of Scripture. In 1648, the House was aware that an or- dinance which passed the Long Parliament inflicted the penalty of death upon any person who started objections to the historical authority of any one of the books containing the Canon of Scripture. But he would pass to the period which followed the Revolution and the point he contended for was, that subscription was not generally required from the period of the Act of Toleration. In support of this assertion, he would refer them to a public document of the period, dated 1694. It was: — Heads of Agreement assented to by the United Ministers in and about London, formerly called Presbyterian and Congregational; not as a measure for any national constitution, but for the preservation of order in our congregations, that cannot come up to the common rule by law established.—As to what appertains to soundness of judgment in matters of faith, we esteem it sufficient that a Church acknowledge the Scriptures to be the Word of God, the perfect and only rule of faith and practice, and own either the doctrinal part of those commonly called the Articles of the Church of England, or the Confessions of Catechisms; shorter or longer, compiled by the Assembly at Westminster, or the Confession agreed on at the Savoy, to be agreeable to the said rule. He certainly was not in a condition to say that subscription was repudiated at the period of the Toleration Act; but it certainly appeared that a subscription to articles of faith was no longer considered necessary, and was not insisted on for the ministers of religion. At the same time, he must observe that even those who signed the declaration could have no intention to bind their posterity. This was manifest from what he might term the foundation deeds, in which the trusts with respect to meeting-houses were declared in general terms. They stated that they believed certain points of faith and certain things to be true, still holding that they had the power upon conviction to retract that belief. Consistently with that caution and reserve, it was found that these Trusts in respect to their places of worship were created in terms and words the most general, not at all confounded or mixed up with anything like doctrinal tests or rules of faith. Hence he contended it was quite fair to raise by implication the principle that they objected to bind by means of any such doctrinal tests introduced into these trusts their posterity, He would now advert to two other points, to one of which this answer had been made. It was said that those who declared those trusts, and were associated in those chapels, never specified the doctrine of the Trinity, because to question that doctrine was forbidden by law; but that was a bad compliment to the sagacity, foresight, and common sense of the parties by whom the trusts were drawn. Any one who had carefully looked into the history of that Church, and who had perceived the changes which had taken place during the last 200 years, from the period of 1640, when the existing rule of faith was upset by Archbishop Laud—the change again which took place in 1648, the Act of Uniformity in the year 1661, until the Act of 1689, when non-conformity had been recognised by law, would perceive that nothing was less to be expected from the concurrent evidence of all those changes than the establishment of the doctrine of a finality in religion. Indeed it was then impossible to expect any such thing, since at the time when some of these trust deeds were drawn up the most furious contests were carried on respecting the great doctrine of the Trinity. Two persons named Biddle and Irving came over, and openly disputed that essential doctrine, and clouds of pamphlets which it would require years to read, were issued upon the occasion. Indeed, from the period of the passing of the Toleration Act, up to the year 1710, a stream of polemical disquisitions on this question continued to pour from the public press of the day, These were, he thought, symptoms sufficiently plain, and capable of being made use of by Parliament to guide it at present in the course of its legislative duty. Such was the history of this liberty, or license, call it which they might, with respect to faith and belief, It was a conclusion at which they must arrive, that which was law in one year, for instance, in 1702, was not law in this respect in 1703. A Bill was introduced in 1718, which was to repeal the Acts in force against schism, and which was called "An Act to Strengthen the Protestant Established Church." In 1718 a Bill was brought forward by the Ministers, for the purpose of repealing the Restrictive Act of Queen Anne,—that was to say, portions of the Schism Act, and was called "A Bill for strengthening the Protestant Interest." That Bill passed a first and second reading in the House of Commons. The Order of the Pay being read for the going into Committee of the whole House upon the Bill from the Lords ' For strengthening the Protestant,' &c., the Lord Guernsey moved, 'That it be an instruction to the said Committee, that they have power to receive a clause, that any person when he comes to take the oath of abjuration and other oaths, subsequent to the receiving of the sacrament, in order to his qualification, shall acknowledge that the holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament were given by divine inspiration, and shall acknowledge his firm faith and belief in the ever blessed Trinity;' but the previous question being put, that 'the question be now put upon the said Motion,' it passed in the negative by ninety voices; several Members who voted against the Bill 'For strengthening the Protestant interest.' &c., having, notwithstanding their opposition to that Bill, voted also against the Amendment proposed by Lord Guernsey. Now here was a declaration of doctrine in a simple form; but all the Dissenters of that day opposed Lord Guernsey's Clause; and did not that fact clearly point out what was the tendency of the Dissenting interest, at that most vital period of their history? It should be recollected that, at that period, the founders of these trust were alive, and could take care of their foundations, if their wish really was that their opinions should be perpetuated. It was about that time too, that the Salters' Hall controversy occurred. Two Dissenting ministers of Exeter, named Hallet and Pierce, were accused of preaching anti-Trinitarian doctrines, and it was a remarkable fact that, although they were condemned by their congregations, it was not because they had preached unchristian doctrines, but on account of their having fallen into errors which justified a withdrawal from their ministry. The resolutions passed on that occasion were as follows:— 1. That there are some errors in doctrine, which are a sufficient ground for the people to withdraw from their ministers holding such errors.—2. (To deny the divinity of our Lord) 'is an error of that nature.' Hallet and Pierce dismissed. Meeting at Salters' Hall, from 'London and its vicinity,' Feb. 1719—carried by fifty-eight to fifty-seven, 'that a declaration concerning the Trinity should not he inserted in the paper of advices.'—March 3. Moved to declare belief in the Trinity apart from the 'advices.' 'The moderator, conceiving the Motion to be an interruption of business, which was then discussing, refused to put to the vote.' Sixty ministers withdraw and declare for themselves. The residue (some say a majority, some say a minority) also declare but recommend to Exeter 'moderation, peace, and love.'—May. Ministers of the west meet—fifty-six subscribe the first article—nineteen refuse—headed by Hallett and Pierce. If they kept in view the fact that the founders were alive when these proceedings occurred, it would be conclusive as to the question, and satisfy them, that in passing this measure they would not be violating the wishes of the founders. He troubled the House because he considered the subject important; but in what more he had to say he would be brief. There was one singular testimony to which he would refer; and he must say it was even more full than he could give in proof, not that non-subscription had been a fundamental principle, but that subscription had been long disused. He found that Mr. Wilson, who had taken a leading part in the Lady Hewley controversy, had declared— It is equally a matter of historical notoriety that the English Presbyterians of the time of Lady Hewley's charity, and subsequent thereto, refused to subscribe any tests, creeds, or declarations of faith, because they objected to bind themselves to the words and phrases of any human composition, as the Scotch Presbyterians of the Church of Scotland then did, and as the rev. Scotch petitioners in full communion with the Church of Scotland, and the said rev. Scotch petitioners in connexion with the Secession Church now do. He had already referred to the sentiments of Dr. Calamy; but he was now about to quote the opinions of a much greater man, Dr. Doddridge, who gave a very clear account of his opinions. Dr. Calamy wrote a pamphlet in 1718 on the subject of the Salters' Hall contest. He was then engaged delivering lectures, and speaking of the party who solicited him to join in the controversy at Salters' Hall; what he said was:— I told him that, as for the true eternal divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, I was very ready to declare for it at that time or any other, and durst not in conscience be at all backward to it; but I could upon good grounds assure him that that was not the point in question among those who were to meet together on the day following; that certain gentlemen behind the curtain had so influenced their respective friends, for two different ways and methods to which they severally inclined, that, as they appeared disposed, a fierce contention and a shameful breach was in my apprehension unavoidable. As to the grand matter which they contended about, I was entirely of the mind of the celebrated Mr. Chillingworth, who closes his preface to The Religion of Protestants a safe Way to Salvation, with these memorable words, 'Let all men believe the Scripture and that only, and endeavour to believe it in the true sense, and require no more of others; and they shall find this not only a better, but the only means to suppress heresy and restore unity. For he that believes the Scripture sincerely, and endeavours to believe in the true sense, cannot possibly be an heretic. And if no more than this were required of any man to make him capable of the Church's Communion, then all men so qualified, though they were different in opinion, yet, notwithstanding any such difference, must be of necessity one in communion.' They could not, he thought, have a more unequivocal or explicit declaration against subscription than this; but what was said by Dr. Doddridge? Why, Dr. Doddridge's words were signally explicit, and still more remarkable. He said:— I think we cannot be too careful not to give any countenance to that narrow spirit which has done so much mischief in the Christian Church. And what confusion would need amongst us, if those who were supposed to be of different sentiments, either in the Trinitarian, Calvinistical, or other controversies, were to be on both sides excluded from each other's pulpits. He thought it was clear, then, from what took place in Parliament, from the proceedings of the meeting of Dissenting Ministers, and from the opinions of those who were the greatest ornament of the Dissenting Body, that before the death of those who had first associated for the establishment of Chapels, the belief in the Trinity had become an open question, and was not considered a test of religious belief. Those who looked into the history of the facts, must be convinced that those foundations were made on the understanding that the body benefitted should be left to its unrestrained private judgment. He did hope, therefore, not only that this Bill would pass, but that the feeling that prevailed out of doors would be allayed. The hon. Member for Kent himself could not tell them they were passing a Bill for the encouragement of error. If there were a question as to the right to an estate between a pious man and a profligate, to which it was proved, that the latter had the best title, would the hon. Member be deterred from adjudging the estate to the rightful owner, by being told that he would be encouraging error if he did so? Now, the duties of the Judge in that case corresponded to those which the House was on this occasion called upon to perform. They were now called upon to adapt the law to the general principles of equity and justice. So far from feeling that there was any contrariety between his principles of religious belief and those on which legislation in this case ought to proceed, he said that the only use he could make of those principles was to apply them to the decisive performance of a great and important act—an act which, whether its consequences may be convenient or inconvenient, and he for one believed that the balance would be greatly on the side of convenience—was founded on the everlasting principles of truth and justice.

Mr. Sheil

I am delighted to hear from such high authority that this Bill is perfectly reconcileable with the strictest and the sternest principles of State conscience. I cannot doubt that the right hon. Gentleman, the champion of free-trade, will ere long become the advocate of the most unrestricted liberty of thought. It is very much to be regretted that the arguments which he has pressed upon the House to-night were not urged in Lady Hewley's case, for if they had been pressed with the clearness, the force, and the irresistible historical evidence which he has adduced in such powerful array, I cannot help thinking that the decision in Lady Hewley's case would have been different. I should not have ventured to interfere in this debate if any other Roman Catholic Member had spoken; but I think it right to avail myself—and I will do so with great brevity—of the opportunity which you, Sir, have given me, to state that the entire of that great and powerful community of which I have the honour of being a member, are, I believe to a man, in favour of this Bill; not, it is obvious, that they have any interest of a sectarian character, or that there is any question at stake in which they have any concern, but because they think that this measure is founded upon the great principle of religious toleration. Of whatever sins the Catholic Church may have been guilty when connected in an impure political contact with the State, the Irish Catholics are most thoroughly tolerant; for my own part, (and I am utterly Athanasian), I endeavour to associate with the lofty faith of the illustrious Bossuet, the gentleness and the charity of the merciful Fenelon. The Member for the University of Oxford, almost at the outset of the remarks which he made, intimated that the Prime Minister was about to incur the panegyric of those parties who were not his habitual supporters. Two things are plain—that the right hon. Baronet has no sort of motive in courting our support, and that we, on the other hand, have no sort of motive for making him the object of our unwonted panegyric. But, Sir, I have so thorough and complete a sense of the merits of this Bill, and of the pure, and high, and most honourable motives which have led to its introduction, that I cannot refrain from expressing my strong approbation of a measure, in the promotion of which, be it remarked (as the Attorney General stated at the commencement of his admirable speech, which was heard with so much gratification on all sides of the House), every one of the noble and learned persons in the other House who have held the office of Lord High Chancellor of England, by a rare coincidence of opinion, and with an almost emulous unanimity, zealously concurred. Although that fact has been adverted to before, I refer to it again, because, as it has been well said in the course of this debate, the great object is not to carry a majority in this House, but to carry a majority out of this House, and to disabuse the public mind of the erroneous impressions which, from the number of petitions presented, must, I conclude, exist with regard to the propriety of passing this Bill. The object of this Bill is to confirm the principle of toleration by which this great country is so eminently distinguished, and to put an end to those controversies in Courts of Justice which bring the most sacred subjects into a desecrating familiarity. The object of this Bill is to quiet possession where a number of years have elapsed, exceeding by five the period within which the right to bring an action in the case of private property is strictly confined. This Bill is founded upon the principle of analogous limitation. It is a Spiritual Act of Settlement, of which in Ireland we stand in great need; and of that need what stronger proof could I have than the case to which the hon. Baronet, the Member for the University of Oxford, reluctantly adverted—the case of Mary Armstrong? It is a principle of equity, of subtle equity, that if there be an original trust, every subsequent donation, though it may be made with a different intent, attaches to and is attracted (if I may use the phrase) by the original trust. What is the consequence? That when once it is proved that a trust was Trinitarian, a subsequent Uuitarian gift becomes identified with and is to be applied to the purposes of that trust. That is the case of Mary Armstrong. Her husband became the pastor of a Unitarian congregation in 1806. He died in 1839. A small fund for pastors' widows was created in the interval, in a great measure by the sisters of the present Lord Plunket, who is the son of a distinguished Arian minister. Out of that fund Mary Armstrong and her four daughters have received just enough to maintain the painful struggle between decency and privation. If this Bill is not passed, Mary Armstrong and her four daughters will be cast out, with Providence for their guide and Predestination for their comfort, upon the world. The hon. Baronet felt the force of that case. His good-nature—for in him the milk of human kindness has not been soured—got the better of his habitual predilections, and he suggested that a special clause should be introduced into the Bill for the protection of Mary Armstrong. The hon. Baronet will see upon reflection that that is a proposition which cannot be sustained. The case of Mary Armstrong is not a solitary instance. Hundreds of clergymen and their families will be deprived of the means of sustaining life if this Bill is not passed. But really, Sir, it is not of so much importance to shew what this Bill does do, as what it does not do. This Bill will not interfere with express trusts. Let the House bear that in mind. If a donor shall make an explicit declaration of his opinions on religious subjects, no matter how fantastical—if in any deed Or will that he may execute, his intention is manifest, a Court of Equity, though a century shall have elapsed, will, after this Bill shall have passed, carry that intention into effect, and no time will run against that express trust; The law is not changed in this regard. But if a trust be not express—if it is to be elicited from circumstances—if it be mere matter of conjecture — the subject of judicial surmise, which it is not always easy to form, and resulting not unfrequently from a slight preponderance of probabilities, in a balance which it is difficult to adjust—in that case, after the lapse of twenty-five years of uninterrupted possession and of uninterrupted doctrine—in that case, and in that case only, will this Bill operate—in that case only will possession confer a title; and thus will the most iniquitous litigation be put down. Sir, this Bill is not confined to Unitarians. It does not make Unitarians the objects of especial favour. There is a cry against Unitarians through this country. At one time, you did not pursue an Unitarian when you had a Papist for your game, but now the sport is capital if a Socinian is to be hunted down. The object of this Bill, however, is not to extend privileges to any particular sect, but to confer equal protection upon all classes. There is no exception against Unitarians, there is no provision, on the other hand, in their favour. All are placed on a perfect level, and, by the bye, let me remind the House, that the distinction between Unitarian and Trinitarian in Ireland is an erroneous one. The separation of the Presbyterian body in Ireland was not connected with the question of the Trinity, as the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down has distinctly proved. It was not on a question as to the Trinity that the Presbytery of Antrim separated from the rest of the Synod, but on the question of Non-subscription; It was not a question between Trinitarians and Anti-Trinitarians, but between subscribers and non-subscribers; one portion of the Presbyterian considering it necessary to subscribe the Confession of Westminster, and another portion being of opinion that the act of subscription was a relinquishment of liberty, and was at variance with the right of private judgment. But the conformers have taken advantage of the decision in Lady Hewley's case against the non-conformers, and because they differ in their interpretation of the Apostle's Creed, (though they both admit it,) the con-formers are determined to avail themselves of a Court of Equity to reduce them to the lowest state of Apostolical destitution. This is a religious luxury in which the Trinitarians ought not to be indulged. This Bill, then, does not interfere with express trusts. It does not interfere with the Established Church. I cannot help being surprised that the hon. Baronet, the Member for the University of Oxford, not indeed the visible Head of the Church, but its fearless, undaunted, and dauntless champion, should have thought it his duty to inter- fere in a case in which the Church has no concern. "From the vantage-ground of Truth," if I may venture to use an expression employed by Lord Bacon in translating from, or rather imitating, a passage in Lucretius (which the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, quoted so happily a few nights ago, when the House was threatened with a calamity which there were 138 reasons for not inflicting,) "From the vantage-ground of Truth" all Dissenters should be viewed with equal disregard. And if by the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the words of the Latin Poet were justly quoted when he intimated that he would retire to the temple of the Wise (situate I suppose, in Cumberland), whence he would look down upon us in a spirit of philosophical commiseration, how much more aptly might the maxim of the great follower of Epicurus be adopted by the hon. Baronet, the Member for Oxford, who from the height of Orthodoxy, so clear and so serene, should look down upon the wanderers in Dissent with a feeling not unmingled with disdain, and should not condescend to mark the mazes in the labyrinth of aberration in which the wanderers have unhappily lost their way! From the summit of St. Peter's, the Catholic divine sees every conventicle upon a level: and from the cross of St. Paul's, (an imitation so close, that it is almost a copy,) the Member for Oxford, although not placed quite so high, should not be able from so great an elevation to distinguish, among the crowd of sectaries below, their different degrees of diminution. But I will venture to put a question to the hon. Baronet.—What I am about to suggest to him has been brought under my consideration by a notice which stands in the Order Book in the hon. Baronet's name—"Sir Robert Harry Inglis to insert in Section 7 (saving Royal Residences, Cathedrals, &c.) after the word 'erected,' the words, 'and the College of the Blessed Virgin Mary near Winchester.'" Does not the hon. Baronet know that William of Wykeham was the founder of St. Mary's College in Oxford? Does he not know that William of Wykeham selected the Virgin Mary as his peculiar patroness?—that he gave directions that Amendment proposed by Sir R. H. Inglis, in Sect. 7 of Ecclesiastical Courts' Bill. a ritual should be performed in honour of the Virgin, and that her statue should be placed in some high spot as a conspicuous intimation of his peculiar piety?—that he directed mass to be said three times a-day for the repose of his soul, and that an Ave Maria and Salve Regina should be every night performed in the choir? If in the case now before the House there has been a breach of trust, has there been no breach of trust in the case of William of Wykeham? At a meeting lately held at Exeter Hall, and Under Very peculiar auspices, a gentleman named Hamilton said, that if the saints in heaven (meaning thereby, no doubt, the Presbyterians) could only guess the desecrating purposes to which their donations Were applied, their eyes would be dimmed with tears such as immortals weep. If William of Wykeham knew that the statue of the Virgin had been the subject of iconoclastic profanation—that his 'masses had been suppressed—and that a ritual in a modern tongue had been substituted for the ancient and imperishable language of Rome—if he were to hear— oh! worse than the demolition of the Virgin's statue —worse than the fall of her altars—worse than the suppression of the mass!—that his own College, founded by a Bull of Urban the Sixth, Was now represented in the House of Commons by the terror of Cardinals, the dismay of the Vatican, the scourge of Rome,—how would William of Wykeham be amazed!—To the defrauded spirit of William of Wykeham (worth a hundred Lady Hewleys,) let restitution be made, and then you may consistently become the abettors of the orthodox Presbyterians; but until that be done, do not become the auxiliaries of men who desire to avail themselves of a Court of Equity to do a very signal wrong. Let us, for God's sake, put a stop to a spirit of litigation of a very peculiar character-—litigation in which controversy and chicane are combined—in which the mysteries of Calvinism are rendered darker by the mystifications of jufisprudence—and in which the enthusiasm of orthodox solicitors is associated with the rapacity of acquisitive divines! It is surprising that men who are complaining of the existing Law of Marriage, and calling for a repeal of it, by which property may be affected, should themselves shew so little forbearance; it is Wonderful that they will allow so small a portion of liberty to others, while they themselves demand it in so large a measure—that they, whose ancestors heroically suffered persecution almost to death, for their honourable adherence to that which they believed to be the truth, should be prompt to inflict pains and penalties— that they should seat themselves in the iron chair of Calvinistic infallibility—and that they should read the Book of Mercy by that lurid light with which Geneva was illuminated when Servetus was consumed.

Sir Robert Peel

Notwithstanding the preponderance of argument on one side of this question—a preponderance unexampled within my recollection of any former debates— I still should be unwilling to permit this debate to close without briefly expressing the grounds upon which I have determined, in conjunction with my Colleagues, to give this Bill a most decided and persevering support. I undertook to give that support under a very different impression with respect to ultimate success from that which I now entertain. I undertook to give my support to this Bill when I had good reason to doubt whether it could be conducted to a successful issue; but I did entertain so strong a belief in regard to the justice of the principle upon which the measure is founded, that I and my Colleagues were prepared to make other considerations subordinate to the fulfilment of that duty which appeared to impose upon us the obligation of sanctioning a Bill founded upon that principle. My opinion was formed without any elaborate consideration of the historical truths or strict investigation of the legal doctrines presented to me. With respect to the legal doctrines, I assure the House I am not about to undervalue those great doctrines founded on the law of England. That great doctrine of trusts I dare to say ought to be held in general veneration and respect, but if there are any other doctrines imposing the necessity of inflicting a wrong, I will then look out for a remedy and a mode of obviating the injustice. First, because I think individual justice requires it; and, secondly, because in proportion to the importance of the doctrine, so in proportion is the necessity increased of not submitting that doctrine to the odium of being made the instrument of inflicting wrong. I think it would be injustice to permit any rule of the law to be applied, that the chapels now held by certain Dissenters from the doctrine of the Church of England shall be taken from them, and applied or given I know not to whom; and after their being so taken away from the present possessors, then will arise the most complicated questions, as to whom possession should devolve. I find that before 1813 there were a number of chapels founded with trust deeds, some of which expressed that the doctrines of the Trinity should be preached in those chapels, founded by those who dissented, indeed, from the Church of England, but who concurred with the Church in the maintenance of Trinitarian tenets. Now, when it was clearly expressed by the founder that the doctrine of the Trinity should be preached under that endowment, we do not intend to disturb the arrangement. The intention of the founder is, then, to remain perfectly intact. But there are other chapels where there is no intention expressed in the trust deed as to the nature of the doctrine to be preached. In the great majority of these deeds of endowment, the words are that the chapels are for the worship of Almighty God by Protestant Dissenters of the Presbyterian denomination. These being the words, there being nothing more expressed, am I, notwithstanding their prescriptive enjoyment, to dispossess those now in possession, and confer the endowment upon others? Would it not be inconsistent with justice? And am I to be called upon, from deference to any great doctrine of English law, to violate the first principle of justice, in order to maintain the technical application of the rule? I can perfectly well understand why the Unitarian founder said nothing of his intention. The law was against him. There was a motive for the concealment of his intention. It was wise in him to deal in generalities, because the law told him that if he made his endowment Unitarian, the foundation would be forfeited. But why should the Trinitarians, who meant to maintain the Trinity, remain silent as to their intentions? The doctrine of Unitarianism was repugnant to Trinitarian feelings, the law would respect their endowments, and if the intention existed, what motive could they have then in their trust deeds for expressing nothing more specific than that "the chapel was founded for the worship of Almighty God by Protestant Dissenters of the Presbyterian denomination?" Is it not more probable that the founders of those chapels were hostile to any subscription whatsoever—that they wished to retain full freedom of opinion—that they objected to conform to any class, and that they therefore refused to bind their successors by any formula of particular doctrines—respecting in them that freedom of opinion which they claimed for themselves? And can I then with any justice, presuming that to be their intention—would it, I say, be showing a respect for the trust—a veneration for the intention of the founders, if I were to impute to them opinions and desires which they never entertained? I said that my determination to support this Bill was formed upon a knowledge of the injury which would result from its application in particular instances. I dare say every hon. Gentleman here, who refers for a moment to the locality which he represents, will find in some small retired nook some little unpretending chapel, to which, if he applied the rigours of the law, grievous injustice might be done. Each hon. Gentleman is conversant with his own locality. For myself, I represent a town in which there is an Unitarian chapel; it was founded in the year 1724 by an Unitarian, and it never was supposed that it was founded for the promotion of Trinitarian doctrines. For fifty-three years the minister held anti-Trinitarian doctrines, and I recollect the close of his life. There was but one single bequest for the endowment of that chapel, left by the daughter of that minister, previous to the year 1813. Perfect religious peace reigns amongst the constituency which I represent; we have Roman Catholic Establishments, Unitarian Establishments, Church of England Establishments, and chapels connected with the Church of England, yet we are altogether undisturbed by religious disputes. But, if you will let in, under a professed veneration for the doctrine of trusts, a speculative attorney—a speculative attorney, for the sake of costs, to bring that Unitarian chapel (circumstanced as I told you, with but one single bequest—and that bequest the bequest of the daughter of a professed Unitarian minister), and to carry the endowment into the Court of Chancery, the expense of the costs to be supported by the endowment, the speculative attorney is the only person to profit by it, because it is impossible that the Independents, or the Baptists, or the Wesleyan Methodists, can ever estab- lish their title. Then, no doubt, you will extinguish the funds of the institution, and introduce religious discord into a community where religious peace before existed. But what is the case of Ireland? What is the case of the remonstrant Synod of Ulster? Will you permit the grievous infliction of the injury which will be inflicted if every chapel in connexion with the remonstrant Synod of Ulster, in Ireland, is to be made the subject of a suit in Chancery? What is the history of that remonstrant Synod? It has lost two chapels already, at an expense, in one case, of costs to the amount of 2,000l. Two chapels, I believe, have already been taken from them, and other suits are pending, and others will be commenced, if this Bill does not pass. In the year 1839 the separation took place. The remonstrants of Ulster, having previously professed Unitarian doctrines, separated frum the Presbyterian Synod, and the separation was made upon the distinct understanding that the remonstrant Synod should remain in possession of all the privileges and immunities enjoyed by them before. Their chapels then were in decay. The members of the congregation, however, since 1830, have repaired the chapels, rebuilt them, taken fresh sites, furnished additional burying-grounds, and have altogether much improved their condition. Not a word of disturbance was heard till after the decision in Lady Hewley's case, and then the principle which governed that decision induced persons who appeared to have no interest in the matter to bring actions against the remonstrant Synod of Ulster! To do what? To recover Trinitarian property? No; but to take from Unitarians the chapels they have built or enlarged, and the burial-grounds where their wives and parents and children are interred. The right hon. Gentleman says, they wished to reduce them to the lowest state of Apostolical destitution. Yes, but not on the principle that Apostolical destitution is a good thing. If the general rule were Apostolical destitution— if all derived their means from their preaching, and not from property, it might be all very well. But this proposition is, that one party shall have to bear the Apostolical destitution, and that the others shall benefit at their expense; and that is a proposition opposed to the first-principles of justice. Sir, an appeal was made last year to the Government by the Synod of Ulster. It came through my noble Friend (Lord Stanley) and was signed by 40,000 persons. They represented that they were, on general principles, opposed to the present Administration, but that, looking at it as an executive Government, they were confident that we could not tolerate the wrong that was about to be done. They told us of the separation in 1829; they told us, too, the history of the widows for whom the Unitarians had founded that charity; and upon their statement I saw that the Legislature must ultimately interfere to prevent injustice being done by the strict application of the existing law. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the Government did not at that time contemplate separate legislation. When the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kendal last year introduced his Bill, the Irish Unitarians said, "Do not postpone the relief to the English Unitarians by the attempt to include us. We know there will be a combination of opponents if you attempt to give relief at the same time to the Unitarians of both parts of the United Kingdom. Let the English Unitarians now have the benefit of the law, we are content to wait." But the Government thought that it would appear to be, and that it would be, so unjust that one rule should be applied to the Unitarians of England and another to those of Ireland, that we deprecated altogether the passing of the Bill. We said, "Postpone it till the next Session; let the House of Lords consider the case on the principles of justice; and we entertain a hope that ultimately at least justice will be done to both sides." At the same time, we did what we could in the interval to effect a settlement by an amicable arrangement. We asked the Synod of Ulster to be guided by four Members of Parliament, to be selected from men of different parties. That offer was declined. I then earnestly advised that the Crown might be allowed to appoint commissioners to consider what ought to be done on the principle of equity; that the facts might be laid before Parliament, that we might have before us the history of the separation, and an account of the amount contributed by Unitarians. It is right, however, I should say that this proposal also was refused, and that the representatives of the Synod of Ulster would not consent to the Commission unless the Crown would stipulate to abide by the opinion of certain Chancery barristers, who were to decide the case according to the strict principles of equity. I had read the decision in the House of Lords in Lady Hewley's case, and the opinion of Lord Chancellor Sugden in another case, and I knew well, if these Chancery lawyers were bound to decide the case according to the strict principles of equity, there could be no doubt what that decision would be; and, therefore, I in my turn refused. If then the Ministers are now compelled by a sense of duty to come forward and ask for the interference of the Legislature, it is not until they have exhausted every effort to bring about an adjustment by means of an amicable settlement. Sir, I will not further enter into the discussion of this case. I will only repeat, that if you choose to apply the strict principles of justice, you will do in many cases very grievous wrong, and that you are not upholding the authority of the law, or securing veneration for its great principles and doctrines, if by the persevering maintenance of them you inflict injustice on any parties. I do not believe that in the part which I and my Colleagues are taking on this subject, we are inflicting any injury or doing any injustice to that great Establishment, the Church of England, whose interests and welfare we are bound to protect. I believe that it will more conduce to the character, and to the support of the Church of England, to appear in the amiable light of a mediator between the sects which dissent from that Church. The Church has no interest in the adjudication of this question. To the Church these funds cannot possibly belong. Is it not better, then, for the character of the Church of England, that it should say to these parties, "We don't want to profit by your weakness and dissensions, or to send you to a court of law, or to recur to that religious policy which was laid by a hundred years ago. We don't want to see repealed the exhibition which occurred in the case of Lady Hewley." I don't believe that it would be for the interests of the Church or of religion, that the religious opinions maintained by the founders of these chapels should undergo discussion in a court of law: but I do say that it will be for the character of the Church, having no interest in the question, to appear in the light of a mediator, attempting to do justice, and refusing to benefit by the dissensions of those sects. Notwithstanding the obloquy that has been cast on the supporters of this Bill, and the imputations that have been made on their religious principles and opinions, I do believe, that after the lapse of a short time, they will no longer have any weight. This is not the place for the profession of religious opinions, and I am not sure that at any time the perfect sincerity of any religious opinions can be ascertained by the mere profession of them. The sincerity of our religious opinions is shown much better by our acts and conduct than by our declarations in any place, much more in a House of Parliament. The faith of the member of the Church of England rests on a totally different ground from that of those who are affected by this measure. Our hope of salvation rests on a different basis—but it is not inconsistent with the spirit and principles of our religion to bear in mind that although faith is great, and although hope is great, yet there is one thing that is at least as great, which is that comprehensive charity that induces us to be tolerant of opinions which we believe to be errors, but above all, to take care that we do not, on the ground of religious differences, which we dare not avow, act in the spirit of persecution by appealing to the doctrines of the law, and professing to maintain the principles of justice—to take care, I say, that we do not inflict the penalties of law in an apparent anxiety to maintain the law, but really on account of our being opposed in religious opinion to the persons on whom those penalties may fall.

Lord J. Russell

said, I entirely agree with what the right hon. Baronet stated at the commencement of his speech, that there never was a case in this House, at least within my experience, a case in which the weight of an argument was so overwhelming in favour of one side and against the other. Therefore, I think it unnecessary to enter into any argument in support of this Bill, and merely rise from the strong feeling that I have that this Bill, having been brought in on sound principles of policy and justice, I ought to record my testimony in behalf of the measure itself, and of the conduct of the Government in bringing it in. With respect to the argument, I think that the clear and able statement of the Attorney General, whom, after a long absence, I am gratified to see reassuming his place in this House—and at the same time re- asuming that lucid power of argument on whatever subject he treats, which so prominently distinguishes him—after that able argument, and after the brilliant speeches of my hon. Friends near me, it is unnecessary for me to enter at length into the question or to seek to add to the force of those arguments. My hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, with great judgment, declared, at the commencement of his speech, that this was not a place for religious controversy, and that the question should be discussed as one of probity and justice. But my hon. Friend must be aware that the question has not been so treated by those whose petitions have been presented to this House. At the meeting presided over by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Fox Maule) the first resolution declared that this Bill was objectionable, because it interfered with the rights of property and contributed to the maintenance of a dangerous heresy. Now, if it interferes with the rights of property, throw it out on that ground; but if it be a just measure, and tend to support the rights of property, then do not throw it out because it may tend to maintain what is stated to be a dangerous heresy. I say, therefore, that those who have opposed the Bill have done so on two grounds, when one ought to have been sufficient. With respect to the ground as to rights of property, I cannot conceive it to be just, that with respect to individuals their rights should have prescription to plead in their favour, and that there should be no such claim in cases of the kind now under discussion. In questions of the kind before us, suits and litigation are likely to be more tedious and complicated, and their ultimate results tending to far more confusion. Suppose, for instance, it were a suit between individuals, a claim set up by an individual to be the heir of Sir Edward Coke; here, if the decision were adverse to the one party, some other member of the family might make the claim and obtain the property. But in the other case, after persons have held a chapel for more than a hundred years, through themselves, their fathers, and grandfathers, in uninterrupted succession, would you propose to take away the property from them though by the decision of a Court of Equity, it has been shown that there is no heir to whom you can transfer that property—you cannot say that there is any person entitled to enter into possession of it. What, then, would be the consequence but endless confusion and litigation, comprehending discussions of the various minutiae and modifications of creeds as to what had been the opinion of Presbyterians, Wesleyans, and other classes of Dissenters, at different times and at present? I say, therefore, Sir, that as a question of property, as a measure tending to settle the rights of property, this Bill is entitled to the support of the House, and without now entering farther into the general argument, that cordial support the measure shall receive from me.

Viscount Sandon

had come down to the House strongly biassed in favour of the Bill, and all that he had heard had not shaken, but confirmed his opinion. But he wished to call the attention of the House and the Government to an important point which, he feared, might be overlooked. Care should be taken that while intending to maintain the right of private judgment for these congregations, the Bill did not impose a new test, and that in making possession for a given number of years the test of the intention of the founder, it did not bind down all congregations so that they should never hereafter be able to alter their opinions. Care should be taken that in future these congregations should have the same liberty that was intended to be given them by the Bill, and he feared this object had not been secured. In conclusion he would recommend the Government to consider whether a longer test term than twenty-five years possession might not be desirable.

The House divided on the question, that the word "now" stand part of the question—Ayes 307; Noes 117: Majority 190.

List of the AYES.
Acheson, Visct. Baillie, H. J.
Acland, Sir T. D. Bannerman, A.
Acland, T. D. Baring, hon. W. B.
A'Court, Capt. Baring, rt. hn. F. T.
Adare, Visct. Baring, T.
Aglionby, H. A. Barnard, E. G.
Ainsworth, P. Barneby, J.
Aldam, W. Barrington, Visct.
Allix, J. P. Barron, Sir H. W.
Anson, hon. Col. Beckett, W.
Archbold, R. Bell, J.
Arkwright, G. Bellew, R. M.
Arundel and Surrey, Bentinck, Lord G.
Earl of Bernal, R.
Astell, W. Blewitt, R. J.
Baillie, Col. Bodkin, W. H.
Boldero, H. G. Eliot, Lord
Borthwick, P. Ellice, rt. hon. E.
Bowes, J. Ellis, W.
Bowles, Adm. Elphinstone, H.
Bowring, Dr. Entwisle, W.
Bramston, T. W. Escott, B.
Bright, J. Evans, W.
Brocklehurst, J. Ewart, W.
Brotherton, J. Fielden, J.
Browne, R. D. Ferguson, Col.
Browne, hon. W. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Bruce, Lord E. Fitzroy, Lord C.
Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W. Fitzwilliam, hn. G. W.
Buller, C. Flower, Sir J.
Buller, E. Forester, hn G. C. W.
Butler, hon. Col. Forman, T. S.
Butler, P. S. Forster, M.
Byng, G. Fox, C. R.
Byng, rt. hon. G. S. Fremantle,rt.hn.SirT.
Campbell, Sir H. French, F.
Campbell, J. H. Gardner, J. D.
Cardwell, E. Gaskell, J. Milnes
Cavendish, hn. C. C. Gibson, T. M.
Cavendish, hn. G. H. Gisborne, T.
Chapman, B. Gladstone, rt.hn.W.E.
Charteris, hon. F. Gladstone, Capt.
Chelsea, Visct. Godson, R.
Christie, W. D. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Chute, W. L. W. Gore, M.
Clay, Sir W. Gore, hon. R.
Clerk, Sir G. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Clive, hon. R. H. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Cobden, R. Granby, Marq. of
Colborne, hn. W. N. R. Greenaway, C.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Grey, rt. hn. Sir G.
Collett, J. Grimstone, Visct.
Collins, W. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Guest, Sir J.
Courtenay, Lord Hale, R. B.
Craig, W. G. Halford, Sir H.
Crawford, W. S. Hanmer, Sir J.
Cripps, W. Harcourt, G. G.
Currie, R. Hastie, A.
Curteis, H. B. Hawes, B.
Dalmeny, Lord Hayter, W. G.
Dalrymple, Capt. Heathcoat, J.
Davies, D. A. S. Heathcote, Sir W.
Denison, J. E. Herbert, hon. S.
Denison, E. B. Heron, Sir R.
D'Eyncourt,rt.hn.C.T. Hill, Lord M.
Divett, E. Hobhouse, rt.hn.Sir J.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Hodgson, F.
Douglas, J. D. S. Hogg, J. W.
Dowdeswell, W. Hollond, R.
Drummond, H. H. Hope, hon. C.
Dugdale, W. S. Hope, G. W.
Duncan, Visct. Horsman, E.
Duncan, G. Hoskins, K.
Duncannon, Visct. Howard, hn. C. W. G.
Duncombe, T. Howard, hon. J. K.
Duncombe, hon. A. Howard, Lord
Dundas, F. Howard, hn. E. G. G.
Dundas, hn. J. C. Howard, P. H.
East, J. B. Howard, hon. H.
Easthope, Sir J. Howick, Visct.
Eaton, R. J. Hume, J.
Ebrington, Visct. Hurst, R. H.
Hutt, W. Praed, W. T.
Jermyn, Earl Pringle, A.
Johnstone, Sir J. Protheroe, E.
Knatchbull,rt.hn.SirE. Pulsford, R.
Knight, H. G. Pusey, P.
Labouchere, rt. hn. H. Rawdon, Col.
Langston, J. H. Redington, T. N.
Langton, W. G. Reid, Sir J. R.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Repton, G. W. J.
Layard, Capt. Rice, E. R.
Leader, J. T. Roebuck, J. A.
Legh, G. C. Ross, D. R.
Lemon, Sir C. Rumbold, C. E.
Lennox, Lord A. Rushbrooke, Col.
Leveson, Lord Russell, Lord J.
Liddell, hon. H. T. Sanderson, R.
Lincoln, Earl of Sandon, Visct.
Loch, J. Scholefield, J.
Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B. Scott, R.
Mackenzie, W. F. Seymour, Lord
Mackinnon, W. A. Seymour, Sir H. B.
Maclean, D. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
McNeill, D. Shelburne, Earl of
Maher, N. Smith, B.
Mainwaring, T. Smith, J. A.
Mangles, R. D. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Marjoribanks, S. Somerset, Lord G.
Marsham, Visct. Stanley, Lord
Marsland, H. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Martin, J. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Martin, C. W. Stanton, W. H.
Master, T. W. C. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Mildmay, H. St. J. Stuart, W. V.
Milnes, R. M. Stock, Mr. Serj.
Mitcalfe, H. Strickland, Sir G.
Mitchell, T. A. Strutt, E.
Mordaunt, Sir J. Sturt, H. C.
Morris, D. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Morrison, J. Talbot, C. R. M.
Muntz, G. F. Tancred, H. W.
Murphy, F. S. Thesiger, Sir F.
Napier, Sir C. Thornely, T.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. Tollemache, hn. F. J.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Tomline, G.
O'Connell, M. Towneley, J.
O'Connell, M. J. Traill, G.
O'Conor, Don Trelawny, J. S.
O'Ferrall, R. M. Trench, Sir F. W.
Ogle, S. C. H. Tufnell, H.
Ord, W. Vane, Lord H.
Owen, Sir J. Villiers, hon. C.
Packe, C. W. Vivian, J. H.
Paget, Col. Wakley, T.
Paget, Lord A. Walker, R.
Palmerston, Vist. Wall, C. B.
Parker, J. Wallace, R.
Patten, J. W. Warburton, H.
Pattison, J. Ward, H. G.
Pechell, Capt. Watson, W. H.
Peel, rt. hn. Sir R. Wemyss, Capt.
Peel, J. White, H.
Pendarves, E. W. W. Whitmore, T. C.
Pennant, hon. Col. Wilde, Sir T.
Philips, M. Williams, W.
Phillpotts, J. Wilshere, W.
Plumridge, Capt. Wodehouse, E.
Powell, Col. Wood, C.
Wood, Col. T. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Worsley, Lord Yorke, H. R.
Wortley, hn. J. S.
Wortley, hn. J. S. TELLERS.
Wrightson, W. B. Young, J.
Wyse, T. Baring, H.
List of the NOES.
Acton, Col. Hughes, W. B.
Adderley, C. B. Humphery, Ald.
Antrobus, E. Hussey, A.
Ashley, Lord Hussey, T.
Baskerville, T. B. M. James, Sir W. C.
Bateson, T. Jocelyn, Visct.
Beresford, Major Jones, Capt.
Berkeley, hon. C. Kemble, H.
Bernal, Capt. Ker, D. S.
Blackburne, J. I. Kirk, P.
Blackstone, W. S. Law, hon. C. E.
Blandford, Marq. of Lawson, A.
Boyd, J. Lefroy, A.
Brisco, M. Lopes, Sir R.
Broadley, H. Lowther, hon. Col.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Bruges, W. H. L. McGeachy, F. A.
Buck, L. W. Manners, Lord C. S.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Marton, G.
Chetwode, Sir J. Masterman, J.
Cholmondeley, hn.H. Matheson, J.
Colquhoun, J. C. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Colvile, C. R. Maxwell, hn. J. P.
Copeland, Ald. Miles, P. W. S.
Cresswell, B. Mundy, E. M.
Darby, G. Neeld, J.
Dashwood, G. H. Newdegate, C. N.
Dawnay, hon. W. H. Newry, Visct.
Dick, Q. Norreys, Lord
Dickinson, F. H. Northland, Visct.
Drax, J. S. W. S. E. O'Brien, A. S.
Duncombe, hon. O. Palmer, G.
Du Pre, C. G. Philipps, Sir R. B. P.
Farnham, E. B. Polhill, F.
Feilden, W. Pollington, Visct.
Fellowes, E. Rashleigh, W.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Rendlesham, Lord
Forbes, W. Richards, R.
Fuller, A. E. Rolleston, Col.
Gore, W. O. Round, C. G.
Gore, W. R. O. Russell, C.
Goring, C. Russell, J. D. W.
Granger, T. C. Ryder, hon. G. D.
Greenall, P. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Grogan, E. Sheppard, T.
Hall, Sir B. Shirley, E. P.
Hamilton, C. J. B. Sibthorp, Col.
Hamilton, G. A. Smith, A.
Hamilton, Lord C. Smyth, Sir H.
Hardy, J. Smollett, A.
Harris, hon. Capt. Stewart, P. M.
Heathcote, G. J. Thompson, Mr. Ald.
Heneage, G. H. W. Tollemache, J.
Henley, J. W. Trollope, Sir J.
Henniker, Lord Turnor, C.
Hillsborough, Earl of Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Hornby, J. Verner, Col.
Howard, Sir R Vesey, hon. T.
Wawn, J. T. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Williams, T. P. Plumptre, J, P.

Bill read a second time.

House adjourned at a quarter to one o'clock.