HC Deb 17 December 1847 vol 95 cc1355-6

wished to put a question as to a letter which had appeared in the public papers, signed "H. Exeter." That letter appeared to him to be one of the most extraordinary nature he had ever heard of; and as Roman Catholic clergymen were assailed for violating the law, and denouncing individuals from the altar, when H. Exeter adopted a course exactly similar, fair play should be observed. The letter of which he spoke contained these words:— My Lord, the name Russell ought to be—ever will he, I am sure, in your reflecting hours—a security to us against the application by you of a phrase so sacred as 'the rights of the Crown,' to a matter so foul as the provisions of the statute of which I am writing. Would the House believe that this foul statute, with its foul provisions, was nothing less than the Act of Parliament by which the power of the Pope to nominate bishops was superseded, and vested in Her Majesty? The next passage was— My Lord, the Crown has no right, can have no right (I trust, too, that it will be found to have no power), to force a bishop on the Church whom the Church has just right to reject as a 'setter forth of erroneous and strange doctrine, contrary to God's word.' True, my Lord, the Statute 25 Henry VIII., chap. 30 (the Magna Charta of tyranny), does give to the Crown a power which your Lordship has been pleased to call a 'right' to condemn to prison and to penury any dean or any chapter which may refuse compliance with such a mandate. But no statute has the power to effect the execution of the mandate itself; no statute has the power to make an honest and conscientious chapter to elect, or an honest and conscientious prelate to consecrate to the office of bishop, such a person as I have described above. Would the House believe that such an Act, passed to give effect to the Royal Supremacy, and guarding it by the penalties of a præmunire, was to be described by a bishop as the magna charta of tyranny? He wished to ask whether the hon. and learned Attorney General had seen the letter addressed to the Prime Minister, and whether the hon. and learned Gentleman would, with the Solicitor General, take into consideration the steps which should be adopted with reference to this insult to Her Majesty's authority, and blasphemy on the Protestant bench and Protestant establishment?


I certainly have seen the letter the hon. Gentleman alludes to, but having so much professional business to attend to, I am ashamed to say I have not read it. When the matter is brought before me professionally, or officially, I, in conjunction with my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General, will give it our best consideration.