§ On the Clerk proceeding to read the Order of the Day for resuming the Ad- 397 journed Debate on Sir R. Inglis's Motion, with reference to the request of Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild to be sworn on the Old Testament,
§ MR. HENLEY
said: Before the Order of the Day for the adjourned debate is read, I wish, Mr. Speaker, to ask you this question—whether, to give a proper locus standi for the discussion of the important question which is about to be raised by the Amendment put upon the notices by the hon. and gallant Member for Middlesex, it would not be expedient that some further question should be put to Baron de Rothschild, one of the hon. Members for the city of London, in order to get upon the records of the House the fact that to take the oath in the way he has requested—the only answer he has yet made being, that he requests to be sworn upon the Old Testament—is binding upon his conscience, and the reason why he requires so to take it? I think that, simply to give order to our proceedings, we should do this. The Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Middlesex admits the proposition that it is binding upon his conscience, but we have it not upon record; therefore, it seems to me it would give greater regularity to our proceedings to have the answer from Baron de Rothschild himself. I wish, therefore, Mr. Speaker, to know from you, if it is open for any hon. Member to make a Motion to this effect before the debate upon the question comes on?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Amendment is upon the Order of the Day. The only record upon the Journals of the House is, that Baron de Rothschild came to the table, and when asked that which is the usual question, he said, "I demand to be sworn upon the Old Testament." Of course, that being a novel claim, it could not be admitted without the assent of the House; and I requested the hon. Member to withdraw. With regard to the question now put to me, I do not think, unless it has the full consent of the House, it is desirable to put the question to Baron de Rothschild which has been suggested. Of course it may be put; but otherwise, according to our regular and ordinary rules, we must proceed with the discussion of the Order of the Day.
§ MR. W. P. WOOD
I apprehend that the only possible question to be put to Baron de Rothschild is, whether or not he considers an oath so taken in form binding upon his conscience? That question, I 398 apprehend, might be properly put; and I cannot suppose that he would have any objection to answer it. If he has, it would; be for him to state it.
§ MR. SCOTT
I wish to ask a preliminary question. It fell from you, Sir, that the oath could not be put to the hon. Member upon the Old Testament, without a decision of the House to that effect. Now, I wish to know whether, if the decision of the House be to the effect that he; should be sworn upon the Old Testament, he could not then take his seat in this House, as a Member of this House, entitled to vote upon all questions? If that were it so, it would, I think, obviate the necessity I of any Bill being introduced into Parliament.
§ MR. SPEAKER
In answer to the question of the hon. Member for Berwickshire, he will see at once that there are two questions—first, the form of swearing, and the other as to the oath to be taken. With regard to the form of swearing, if the House should decide that the hon. Member for the city of London be sworn upon the Old Testament, of course it would be my duty to call him to the table to be sworn; but then comes the other question, whether he would take the oaths that are prescribed by the Act of Parliament.
§ SIR G. GREY
The suggestion, as I understand it, is, that Baron de Rothschild be called in, and asked whether, having asked to be sworn upon the Old Testament, he admits that to be the form of oath most binding upon his conscience? The hon. and learned Member for Oxford, as I understand, has no objection to that course. But, of course, it is for Baron de Rothschild to answer or not, as be thinks fit. I understand from you. Sir, that if the House concurs in the propriety of that course, there can be no objection to its being adopted. No objection being made, it appears to me that the best course would be to move that Baron de Rothschild be called in, and the question asked from him.
§ MR. HENLEY
My only object is to get something formally upon the records of Parliament, because the entry seems to stand so bald at present, inasmuch as a proceeding is entered of which we do not know the reason. This is the usual form of courts of justice.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
I confess I think it would be expedient that the question should he put to Baron de Rothschild; because, as the matter stands at present, it 399 is merely that he requests to be sworn upon the Old Testament, and not because that it is the mode of swearing binding upon his conscience. The notice of Amendment given by the hon. and gallent Member for Middlesex is—That Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild, one of the Members for the city of London, having presented himself at the table of the House, and having previously to taking the oaths requested to be sworn on the Old Testament—being the form which he is ready to declare to be binding on his conscience—the clerk be directed to swear him on the Old Testament accordingly.But I think it is very inexpedient that any Member of this House should declare for another what is binding upon his conscience. I think we should have a declaration from himself of what is most binding. If the Baron de Rothschild, on presenting himself at the table, asks for the Old Testament, and is ready to say that swearing upon it is the mode of taking an oath most binding upon his conscience, I certainly think we ought to have that upon record.
§ SIR F. THESIGER
We have not yet had the answer of Baron de Rothschild to the question which I think the House ought to put to him. Inasmuch as the question is a novel one, and as it is necessary that we should proceed with great care, I thought that if Baron de Rothschild came to the table and said, "I desire to be sworn on the Old Testament," which was, in fact, no answer to the question put to him by the clerk, that, at all events, the House being informed of the desire of the Baron de Rothschild, would have requested to know why he desired to be sworn in that particular form. I do not think the question we should put is that which has been suggested by my right hon. Friend; I do not think that we ought to invite the Baron to declare that that is the form most binding on his concience. But, inasmuch as the Baron has presented himself at the table of the House, and desired to be sworn in a form which is unknown to the House, we are bound to inquire why, and for what reason, he desires to be sworn in that particular mode. It is very possible that the answer which the Baron will give may render it necessary for the House to put a further question; but I will not anticipate that necessity, because it is quite sufficient for us at present to discuss whether he shall be invited to the table, and asked the question in the form I propose 400 —namely, why he so desires to be sworn on the Old Testament? It strikes me that it is possible he may then say, I desire so to be sworn, because that is the form of swearing which is most binding on my conscience. It then may be necessary for us to go further, and ask him if he be a member of the Jewish persuasion. [Cries of "No, no!"] We are here called upon to determine and decide the right course to pursue in a novel and unprecedented occasion. Do let us, therefore, proceed carefully and deliberately. Suppose Baron de Rothschild had come to the table, and said that he was ready to swear the oath by dashing a saucer to the ground, and that that was the form of swearing he held to be most binding on his conscience, should we have been precluded in that case from making any further inquiry on the subject? Are we to be bound by any technical rules which would prevent our investigating the grounds upon which any Member who presents himself to be sworn may choose to adopt a different form of oath to that which the House has laid down? If that is to be the rule, we must no longer say that technical restrictions exist in courts of justice alone, because we, the House of Commons, shall be precluding ourselves from that inquiry which is necessary to enable us to decide a most important question. I throw this out for the consideration of the House. Desirous as I am that we should proceed with care and deliberation, I think it is sufficient at present to say that the form of the question which I have suggested is the proper one to be put to the Baron. Whether that should be followed up by further questions, it is for the House to decide. That is a matter for future consideration; but for the present it is, I submit, sufficient to put the question in the form I have suggested.
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
I quite agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman that it is necessary we should proceed with care and deliberation in this business; but though there can be no doubt that the House has the power to put any question which it may seem fit to it to put, yet I think, in justice to the hon. Member for London, who is about to be called to the table, that he should be warned that it is in his discretion to answer any questions that may be put to him or not, as he may think proper. Therefore I hope that the hon. Gentleman, when called to the table, will not answer 401 any second question which will raise a debate on the oath of abjuration.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Is it the pleasure of the House that the hon. Gentleman the Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild be called in, and that I put the question to him whether, in claiming to be sworn on the Old Testament, he does so because he considers that form of taking the oath the most binding on his conscience?
§ MR. HENLEY
said, he wished to ascertain the Baron de Rothschild's reason, and he thought the question should be asked why he desired to be sworn on the Old Testament?
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
said, if they were to have a discussion upon every suggestion that was made, they would not finish the inquiry before the end of the present Parliament, much less in the present Session. It appeared to him very extraordinary, as they were such sticklers for precedent on Friday last, that they were now prepared to depart so completely from precedent as was proposed. According to the old form which was pursued in Lord Fanshawe's case, in Sir H. Mounson's case, and in Mr. Archdall's and Mr. O'Connell's cases, all the oaths at once were presented before the Member elected, and he was asked to take those oaths. He examined them altogether, not one by one, and then he stated his objections to all the oaths, or to any of them, Mr. O'Connell stated that he had no objection to the oath of abjuration or of allegiance, but to the oath of supremacy. [An Hon. MEMBER: We haven't come to that.] He knew that; but he wanted to show the House that they ought to come to it. He did not wish to lose time in the discussion of this question. He thought that the citizens of London were entitled to have an early decision of the whole matter, and that they had a right to require the House either to admit their Member, or to give them an opportunity of proceeding to a new election. What he should propose, therefore, was, that Baron de Rothschild be again called in for the purpose of having all the oaths exhibited to him. He could then state whether he objected to them, and what his objections were; and he thought that the House 402 would be bound to stop there, and to go no further, because if they were bound to hear the grounds of objection, they ought, following the precedent in Mr. O'Connell's case, to be stated at the bar, and not at the table. He proposed that Baron de Rothschild should not be called in at all, but that they should proceed to discuss the question adjourned on Friday last—namely, that he be sworn upon the Old Testament; but if he were to be called in, then he thought that all the oaths should be shown him, and that he should be required to state, once for all, what his objections were.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The course suggested partly by the hon. Member for Oxfordshire, and partly by the hon. and learned Member for Abingdon, appears to me to be the correct one. Baron de Rothschild has presented himself at the table of this House, and demanded to be sworn in a particular mode. What he is to swear we have nothing to do with now. The sole question is, as to the form in which he shall be sworn, the mode in which the oath shall be administered. He claims to be sworn in a particular way, and it is right we should know from himself why he prefers that particular way. That I apprehend to be the only question which is now to be put to him, and to that he will give his answer, if called upon. I must say I think it would not be fair to put any other question without the previous assent of the House; and that, I believe, is the view of the hon. and learned Member for Abingdon. I propose, therefore, that the Baron de Rothschild be called in, and that you (Mr. Speaker) ask him why he demands to be sworn in that particular form?
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
I wish to speak to order. There still remains, as it appears to me, an important question of a judicial character, and it is of the last importance that order should be strictly observed in a question of this nature. I would suggest, therefore, for the consideration of the House, as strictly in accordance with order, that no question whatever should be put to Baron de Rothschild except through you, Sir, and that every such question should be in writing, and be moved, seconded, and put from the chair and carried, before it be put by Mr. Speaker to Baron de Rothschild. I have expressed my opinion that we ought not to proceed to debate the Motion of the hon. Member for the University of Oxford, and the 403 Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Middlesex, of which notice has been given. If Baron de Rothschild, having claimed to be sworn on the Old Testament, is ready to declare that that is the mode of swearing which he considers to be most binding upon his conscience, I think we ought to have that declaration from the Baron himself. The question to be put to him from the chair, therefore, should be, "When you desire to be sworn on the Old Testament, is that the mode of swearing you conceive to be most binding upon your conscience?"
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
Whatever the form of question which may be put to Baron de Rothschild, I quite agree with the right hon. Baronet that to have the matter regularly before us, and in accordance with the orders of the House, it would be right that a Motion should be put and carried as to the mode in which the question shall be asked by Mr. Speaker, and that no question should be put except through Mr. Speaker, and by the direction of the House.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I quite agree with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon, and we are all agreed, I think, that this being a novel case, and one in which we are acting quasi judicially, we ought to proceed with extreme deliberation, and that no step should be taken without the assent of the House, come to after the fullest consideration. I should propose, subject to any amendment that may be suggested, that the Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild, having demanded to be sworn on the Old Testament, he be called to the table, and that Mr. Speaker do ask him why he has demanded to be sworn in that form?
§ SIR T. D. ACLAND
The question I wish to ask, Sir, is, "Does the Baron de Rothschild really desire to take the oaths required of every other Member of this House? It seems to me that his previous declarations implied the contrary.
It was then Ordered—
That Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild, one of the Members for the City of London, having demanded to he sworn on the Old Testament, be called to the Table, and that Mr. Speaker do ask him why he has demanded to be sworn in that form.
§ Whereupon Baron LIONEL NATHAN DE ROTHSCHILD having come to the Table, was asked by Mr. SPEAKER:—
§ "Baron de Rothschild, you have demanded to be sworn on the Old Testament, and I am directed by the House to ask you why you have demanded to be sworn in that form?"
§ To which Baron LIONEL NATHAN DE ROTHSCHILD replied:—
§ "Because that is the form of swearing that I declare to be most binding on my conscience."
§ And then Mr. SPEAKER directed him to withdraw.
§ SIR F. THESIGER
I think even now we are in a difficulty with regard to having the proper entry in our records. The House will observe that the ordinary question having been put by the clerk at the table, whether the Baron claimed to take the Protestant or the Roman Catholic oath, no answer whatever was given to that question. The only answer given, which was no answer at all, was, "I desire to be sworn on the Old Testament." ["Oh, oh!"]It is very well to say "Oh, oh!" but, with submission, I think I am quite right, and that nobody can consider that an answer to the question put by the clerk. And that being the ordinary question put to every hon. Member on presenting himself to take the oaths, I apprehend that it is not put without an answer being required to it; and there having been no answer in this case, I shall propose that the question be again put to the Baron de Rothschild, and that he be asked whether he claims to take the Roman Catholic or Protestant oath.
§ MR. W. P. WOOD
With great submission, it does not appear to me that there is anything in the objection.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
I rise to order. If the hon. and learned Gentleman wishes to have the question put, he had better put the question in writing.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild be called to the Table, and that Mr. Speaker do ask for an answer to the question already put to him by the Officer of the House, what Oath he claims to take, the Roman Catholic or the Protestant Oath.
§ MR. W. P. WOOD
said, there was really nothing in the point thus raised by 405 the hon. and learned Gentleman. The question put by the clerk of the House when a Member came to be sworn, whether he wished to take the Roman Catholic or the Protestant oath, was no matter of record at all. It would not be found upon the journals. It happened to be accidentally mentioned that the clerk of the House had asked the question, and hence this point; but the clerk asked it solely out of courtesy to hon. Members who presented themselves to be sworn, in order that they might be informed they had an option. The statute said, that Members professing the Roman Catholic religion should have a right to demand the Roman Catholic oath; but if they did not ask for it, the other would be administered as a matter of course. The two forms were presented separately, but it was never said in the journals that the clerk asked any such question as to which they would take. It was only done as a proper act of courtesy towards gentlemen who professed the Roman Catholic religion under an Act passed for their relief: and no hon. Member was obliged to answer the question at all; but if he did not answer, of course he would not have the benefit of taking the Roman Catholic oath.
§ MR. ANSTEY
, in confirmation of what his hon. and learned Friend had stated, would add that when he took the Roman Catholic oath he was obliged to demand it. He claimed the Roman Catholic oath, and it was tendered to him in due form. He appealed to every Roman Catholic Member in the House whether the same form had not been observed in their cases respectively.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, the difficulty was, that in this case there was a record upon the journals of a question that had been put. The hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford said such questions did not appear upon the journals; but there it was, in this case, actually printed in the records from which the journals were made up—the Votes. The question appearing there without an answer being given, made all the difference.
§ SIR G. GREY
As I understand it, the question was put by the clerk, for his own information, and not by the direction of the House. In the case of Roman Catholic 406 Members, it is not absolutely necessary that the question should be put; but if the Catholic oath is demanded, it must bead-ministered. In this case, however, with the desire to be clear in detailing the facts, it has been inserted in the record that that question was put; but in ordinary cases, there being no neceesity for putting the question, it is never inserted in the record. It appears that the question was put for the information of the clerk, and the case being a novel one, the fact was entered; on the jonrnals, in order to complete the narrative, but in ordinary cases no record is made, inasmuch as the question is not put either by order of the House or by statute, but simply for the information of the clerk.
MR. J. A. SMITH
wished to know under what statute the hon. and learned; Member for Abingdon termed the one oath, the Protestant oath?
§ SIR F. THESIGER
Under no statute. I apprehend it is quite immaterial whether it is a question authorised by the statute to be put or not; but I take the question as I: find it in the journals, and as I understand it on the authority of Mr. Speaker, I that it is a question put to every hon. Member. ["No, no!"] With great submission, I understood Mr. Speaker to say that the question is one which is put by the clerk to every Member; and the question now is, whether on my Motion the House thinks it expedient that the Baron de Rothschild should have this question put to him, and of course that the House will decide for themselves.
§ SIR J. TYRELL
I quite agree in the importance of proceeding with deliberation and circumspection; but I submit that, in point of fact, the Baron de Rothschild has not refused to take any oath whatever. He has simply asked to be sworn in a particular way, and it is for the House to deliberate and decide upon the question, whether he shall be sworn in that way or not?
§ MR. J. S. WORTLEY
There is something, I think, Sir, in the distinction which has been drawn by the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford; for although I believe it has been the usual practice, for the convenience of Members coming to the table to be sworn, to put the question as to which oath they proposed to take—that question has not hitherto appeared on our journals. But we are here in this position, that in consequence of the surprise 407 and hurry in which the question was brought forward, it does assume a formal shape on the journals. We are, therefore, in this difficulty, that in the journals it will appear that a question has been put to the Baron de Rothschild, which has received no distinct answer. I confess that I do not place so much reliance and importance upon this point, as some of my hon. Friends appear to do; but I cannot help thinking that the friends of the Baron de Rothschild are taking a most injudicious course. I think they are special pleading. I think they are trifling with a grave and important subject. What the House wants to know, and what it is entitled to know, is, does the hon. Member for London come to the table with the bonâ fide intention of taking the three necessary oaths which are required by the Act of Parliament to entitle him to take his seat? If he does, then I for one should be prepared to enter in the most candid manner into the examination of the form of oath he may desire to take; and I will add that in that case I shall not be less desirous of taking a liberal view of the question than others.
§ MR. MANGLES
The right hon. and learned Gentleman says, that the friends of Baron de Rothschild are special pleading, and trifling with the subject. Now, I ask him candidly to say, whether it is the friends or the opponents of Baron de Rothschild who have raised this preliminary question as to the particular book of the Bible upon which the Baron is to be sworn? Is it the friends of Baron de Rothschild, or those who are opposed to him?
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said: I think that pursuing the course indicated as that already adopted by the House in putting the question in the first instance, is the most convenient mode of proceeding, because if that course be not taken, the two oaths must be tendered to the Baron de Rothschild, and he will then have to choose between them, so that nothing will be gained by rejecting the proposition to put the question in the first instance.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The hon. and learned Member for Abingdon will allow me, with all respect, to suggest to him, that the course he now suggests would be simply an interruption to that course which he previously said he was prepared to adopt. The question now is as stated by the hon. Member for North Essex as to the form of oath, not which of the two oaths the Baron de Rothschild will 408 take, but the question last raised by the hon. and learned Member for Abingdon is, whether the hon. Gentleman desires to subscribe to the Roman Catholic or the Protestant oath. Now I submit that preliminary to that is the form in which he shall be sworn. The hon. Baronet the Member for North Essex put the question clearly and distinctly, that what we have now to consider is the manner in which the oath shall be administered; and the hon. and learned Member for Abingdon agreed in the first instance that that was the first question to be raised and decided. Supposing for a moment that the question now proposed to be put to the Baron de Rothschild were put and answered, still you would have to decide on the preliminary question of the form of putting the oath. Suppose the Baron should say I will take the Roman Catholic oath, or I will take the Protestant oath, that would be as to the substance not as to the form. The first question is, the form in which he shall be sworn, and, that decided, then the question which has been raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Abingdon may be put. With regard to the fact appearing recorded in our journals that the question was put by the clerk, that, I apprehend, was the result of mere accident, arising from the novelty of the case; and the desire that the circumstances should be correctly entered.
§ SIR F. THESIGER
I rise to say a word in explanation. The question I wish to have put to the Baron de Rothschild will, I think, have an important bearing, if answered one way or the other, on what is called the preliminary question, though I confess I am not able to distinguish between what is called the preliminary and the main question in the case. I think it is important in the argument that we should ascertain, in the first instance, which of the forms of oath the Baron de Rothschild proposes to take, and that, I say, has an important bearing on what Gentleman on the other side are pleased to call the preliminary question.
MR. V. SMITH
The first question has not, as it appears to me, been stated in the record. The case arises in this manner. The Baron de Rothschild appeared at the table to take the oaths, when the New Testament was tendered to him by the clerk, and he answered, I demand to be sworn on the Old Testament. The answer of the Baron de Rothschild applied to the tender of the New Testament, and it is 409 upon the demand raised in that answer, and in that wav, that we have to decide.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
The House will recollect that when an hon. Member comes to the table to be sworn, the clerk places in his hand the New Testament, and the usual course then is to tender to him the printed form of an oath which is called in the entry the Protestant oath; but if the Member is a Roman Catholic, and desires to take the form of oath prescribed by the Act to be taken by Roman Catholic Members, he declares it. But in this case there was a preliminary objection raised by the Baron de Rothschild by the demand that he made to be sworn on the Old Testament, and not upon the New Testament, which had been placed in his hand by the clerk. That is the first question to be decided, and it seems to me that before asking the hon. Gentleman any further questions, we should decide that.
§ SIR F. THESIGER
rose and said, that his object was not to give unnecessary trouble, but that they should proceed regularly, and with the leave of the House, if such was their wish, he would withdraw his Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. J. S. WORTLEY
said: I wish to test the feeling of the House on this question, and I will now submit a Motion for that purpose. I believe it will be found uniformly in the journals that the entry has always been, in reference to taking the "oaths," in the plural number—in fact, that the oaths have always been taken collectively. I move that the Baron de Rothschild he called to the table, and that Mr. Speaker be requested to ask him, "Are you willing to he sworn to the oaths required by Act of Parliament of every Member of this House on taking his seat?"
Motion made, and Question put—
That Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild be called to the Table, and that Mr. Speaker do put to him the following Question:—Are you willing to be sworn to the Oaths required of a Member by Act of Parliament before he takes his Seat?
§ MR. GOULBURN
It was put to Mr. O'Connell—who said, in reply, that he was ready to take two of the oaths, but not the third.
§ SIR G. GREY
Yes, but there were no preliminary objection in Mr. O'Connell's case, as there are in this case. I think the House ought to put aside altogether the question of Baron de Rothschild's creed. The question is, as it appears to me, should he be sworn in that form which he considers most binding on his conscience? Any preliminary objection to the oaths may be taken after that. The question is, to consider the whole subject collectively, and not to consider it as distinct from another question which may arise afterwards. This question stands distinctly on its own merits, and it ought to be decided without anticipating anything which may hereafter suggest itself.
§ MR. SHEIL
I rise for the purpose of moving an amendment. The Amendment is this: "That Baron Lionel de Rothschild be called in, and sworn on the Old Testament." [Mr. B. OSBORNE: That is my Amendment.] Then I beg pardon. That Amendment has not been put, and therefore I hope the House will allow mo to state why I think this is the stage when such an amendment should be put. What have we already done? We have resolved to ask the hon. Member for the city of London why he chose to be sworn on the Old Testament. That was the act of the House. We have received no answer to that question, and, having received no answer to that question, it remains to be considered what we are to do? Why, we must follow up our own questions and the answers given thereto by an appropriate step. It is, however, suggested to mo, by an hon. Member sitting close by, that I am taking this Amendment out of the hands of an hon. and gallant Gentleman who gave notice that he should move it. If that is so, I will not say another word.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
The right hon. Member who has just sat down has inadvertently said that the asking of the question why Baron de Rothschild wished to be sworn on the Old Testament, and his declaration that he considered that form of oath most binding on his conscience, was a step. The only step it is, is a step into a difficulty, for it is a farce to ask him to 411 come here and declare his wish to be sworn on the Old Testament, and then to ask him to come back again and repeat certain words of the oath, with the positive certainty that when he comes to the conclusion of the oath to the words "on the true faith of a Christian" he will stop short, and that, after all, the proceedings will thus be rendered ineffectual. The step will, therefore, be a step into a difficulty if you decide on tendering the oath to him as it is at present framed.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
The hon. and learned Member for Bute has moved his resolution as a preliminary resolution. If that resolution is not agreed to, then we can resume the adjourned debate, and the Motion of the hon. Baronet for the University of Oxford can be put.
§ On Question,
§ The House divided:—Ayes 104; Noes 118: Majority 14.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Goddard, A. L.|
|Arbuthnot, hon. H.||Gordon, Adm.|
|Arkwright, G.||Gore, W. R. O.|
|Ashley, Lord||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Greene, T.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Grogan, E.|
|Blackall, S. W.||Gwyn, H.|
|Blair, S.||Halford, Sir H.|
|Blakemore, R.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Hamilton, J. H.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Bremridge, R.||Harris, hon. Capt.|
|Brisco, M.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Heald, J.|
|Brown, H.||Heneage, G. H. W.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Henley, J. W.|
|Cabbell, B. B.||Herries, rt. hon. J. C.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Chatterton, Col.||Hildyard, T. B. T.|
|Chichester, Lord J. L.||Hogg, Sir J. W.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Hope, A.|
|Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.||Hotham, Lord|
|Cocks, T. S.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Coles, H. B.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Jones, Capt.|
|Denison, E.||Knox, Col.|
|Dick, Q.||Lacy, H. C.|
|Dickson, S.||Legh, G. C.|
|Disraeli, B.||Lewisham, Visct.|
|Dodd, G.||Lockhart, A, E.|
|Drax, J. S. W. S. E.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Drumlanrig, Visct.||Mahon, The O'Gorman|
|Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Duncuft, J.||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Morgan, O.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Naas, Lord|
|Fuller, A. E.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Nicholl, rt. hon. J.||Spooner, R.|
|Palmer, R.||Stafford, A.|
|Patten, J. W.||Stanford, J. F.|
|Pennant, hon. Col.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Plowden, W. H. C.||Thornhill, G.|
|Plumptre, J. P.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Powlett, Lord W.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Prime, R.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Pugh, D.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Raphael, A.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Richards, R.||Williams, T. P.|
|Scott, hon. F.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Seaham, Visct.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Somerton, Visct.||Wortley, J. S.|
|Sotheron, T. H. S.||Buller, Sir J. Y.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Heywood, J.|
|Anderson, A.||Heyworth, L.|
|Anstey, T. C.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Howard, Lord E.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Hume, J.|
|Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T.||Hutt, W.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Jackson, W.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Kershaw, J.|
|Berkeley, Adm.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H|
|Bernal, R.||Langston, J. H.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Brotherton, J.||Mackinnon, W. A.|
|Brown, W.||M'Cullagh, W. T.|
|Cayley, E. S.||M'Gregor, J.|
|Childers, J. W.||Mangles, R. D.|
|Clements, hon. C. S.||Matheson, A.|
|Clifford, H. M.||Matheson, J.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Matheson, Col.|
|Collins, W.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Melgund, Visct.|
|Craig, Sir W. G.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Morison, Sir W.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Duncan, G.||Osborne, R.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Parker, J.|
|Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.||Pelham, hon. D. A.|
|Dunne, Col.||Pigott, F.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Pinney, W.|
|Evans, Sir De L.||Price, Sir R.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Foley, J. H. H.||Reynolds, J.|
|Forster, M.||Ricardo, J. L.|
|Fortescue, hon. J. W.||Romilly, Col.|
|Fox, R. M.||Romilly, Sir J.|
|Fox, W. J.||Russell, Lord J.|
|French, F.||Sadleir, J.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Scholefield, W.|
|Grace, O. D. J.||Scully, F.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Seymour, Lord|
|Grenfell, C. W.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Grey, R. W.||Sidney, Ald.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Hallyburton, Lord J. F.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Harris, R.||Spearman, H. J.|
|Hastie, A.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Hawes, B.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Headlam, T. E.||Tennent, R. J.|
|Henry, A.||Thompson, Col.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||Thornely, T.|
|Tollemache, hon. F. J.||Williams, J.|
|Townshend, Capt.||Wilson, M.|
|Vane, Lord H.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Wakley, T.||Wyvill, M.|
|Walmsley, Sir J,||TELLERS.|
|Wawn, J. T.||Wood, W. P.|
|Willcox, B. M.||Smith, J. A.|
Order road for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [26th July]—
That from the earliest times of the existence of a Legislature in England, no man was ever admitted to take any part therein except under the sanction of a Christian Oath; and that the Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild having requested to take the Oaths on the Old Testament, and having, in consequence, been directed by Mr. Speaker to withdraw while the House deliberated, this House refuses to alter the form of taking the Oaths.
§ Question again proposed.
§ MR. HUME
said, that in consequence of what had taken place to-day, matters would be somewhat altered, and therefore he begged to move that Baron de Rothschild be sworn on the Old Testament He was sorry, he observed, in this age to witness such a contest as the present, one which resolved itself into a question of religious differences. It was melancholy to think that England, which was considered so much in advance of other nations, should in reality be so backward and so much behind them. In the United States, for example, no individual was excluded from the enjoyment of civil rights by reason of any religious differences. It appeared a melancholy fact—one which would do great discredit to the House—that we should be refusing the hon. Member for the city of London that portion of his civil rights to which he was justly entitled. The question was—for it was not his intention to address many words to the House—whether the clerk should now proceed to direct Baron de Rothschild to be sworn, as he desired, on the Old Testament. He hoped there would not be much opposition raised to that question. The report which had been prepared and laid on the table of the House in April last contained the whole of the systems which had existed from the earliest ages connected with the oath taken before Parliament; and any candid man would see thereby that the difficulties which had been thrown in the way of taking oaths had been greatly relieved, until now that they came to that position in which they found the present hon. Member for the city of London placed. He entreated the House, as they were mindful of charity, not to use such means as would drive individuals into the belief that the 414 Church could be affected, or that her doctrines or tenets could be interfered with, by the introduction of Dissenters. The hon. Member for the University of Oxford seemed to think that the admission of a few Dissenters would alter the character of the nation; and he had called it a Christian nation. It was a Christian nation, and he (Mr. Hume) hoped that it would continue so. But, what was the character of a Christian? It was "to do unto others as we would wish to be done by"—to throw no difficulty in the way of the civil rights to which Dissenters were entitled. The hon. Member for the city of London contributed towards the expenses of the State. He had enjoyed many of the honours and privileges to which Englishmen were entitled; and should it now be said that he was prevented from enjoying the privilege of taking his seat as a Member of the House of Commons? The Dissenters had long been persecuted. Since he (Mr. Hume) had been in Parliament, he had rejoiced to observe that many relaxations had been granted them. Toleration had for a long been the rule; religious liberty was now the question. Acts of the Legislature had decided how oaths should be taken in courts of justice. These Acts had not only cleared the way, but they authorised the House to swear Baron de Rothschild on the Old Testament. When the Baron de Rothschild should have come to the bar, and when he should be required to take the oaths prescribed, then would be the time to raise any further question. The question now was whether, agreeably to the ordinary mode adopted by his religious persuasion, he should be allowed to take that form of oath which he considered most binding on his conscience. Let the House, then, do an act of justice to the individual and to themselves; let them not exclude a man on account of any particular religious tenet, but let them, in furtherance of that religious liberty which ought to be universal, establish the fact that the Commons of England would grant complete civil rights to the subjects of the realm.
To leave out from the first word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild, one of the Members for the City of London, having presented himself at the Table of the House, and having previously to taking the Oaths requested to be sworn on the Old Testament (being the form which he has declared at the Table to be most binding on his conscience), the Clerk be directed to swear him on the Old Testament accordingly'—instead thereof
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ SIR F. THESIGER
regretted that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose had introduced the subject of religious liberty into this discussion, because they were not considering whether it was expedient that Baron de Rothschild should be allowed to take his seat, but all they were called upon to decide at the present moment was, whether, in the particular mode proposed, a person who came to the table of the House for the purpose of being sworn, and proposed to be sworn upon the Old Testament as the form most binding upon his conscience, could be permitted to take the oaths, and having so taken them, whether he could take his seat accordingly. Now, that was the question, and the only question, which the House had to decide. It had very properly been called a question rather of a quasi-judicial character, and he did really trust the House would argue it in the spirit of such a question; that they should avoid all the heat of party debate; that they should not introduce into the subject any passion or feeling, but calmly and dispassionately consider whether, according to the existing law, what was now proposed to be done could be done. He confessed it appeared to him that, it being of course desirable they should discuss that question in its most convenient form, what had been proposed by his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford was altogether objectionable. In the first place, he doubted whether there ought to have been any proposal made in the nature of his hon. Friend's resolution; for the Speaker having declared that what was proposed to be done was an unusual course, he apprehended there was no necessity to propose any resolution in affirmance of the present practice, but that the onus should be thrown upon those who wished them to depart from that practice; he would, therefore, suggest that his hon. Friend should withdraw his Motion, and that the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose should be substituted as a substantive Motion. That seemed to him the most desirable course. He supposed they were anxious to have the question decided in its most convenient form; and when it was proposed to depart from the practice of swearing upon the New Testament, he 416 apprehended that those who insisted on the propriety of that innovation should have the onus thrown upon them of showing that it was lawful to do so. Though it was stated that there were two distinct questions to be decided, it would, on consideration, be found that in reality they resolved themselves into one. A preliminary question was suggested to them, whether Baron de Rothschild could be admitted to take the oaths on the Old Testament; and the next question suggested to follow upon that was, whether he could take the oath of abjuration on the Old Testament, professing that that was the form of oath most binding on his conscience. He believed it would be quite impossible to separate those two questions; they were involved and blended together; and if a Member coming to the table could not take the oath of abjuration in the Jewish form, that was, sworn upon the Old Testament, he (Sir F. Thesiger) thought the House would find, on careful deliberation of the subject, that he could have no right whatever, according to established law, to take any of the oaths in that particular form. It was important they should bear in mind what had taken place there, and what they had to proceed upon; for although it might be perfectly true that the question which was put by the clerk at the table was an unauthorised question, and that no Member coming to the table was bound to answer that question, yet that question had been put and answered, and the question and answer appeared on the Votes, and would in due time be transferred to the journals of the House. Now, what was the question which had been put to Baron de Rothschild? It was, "Do you claim to take the Roman Catholic or the Protestant oath?" His answer was, "I desire to be sworn upon the Old Testament." It was quite clear from his answer that Baron de Rothschild did not desire to take the Roman Catholic oath. A Member coming to the table, and desiring to take the Roman Catholic oath, must distinctly, under the 10th Geo. IV., declare his desire to take that oath. He (Sir F. Thesiger) was, therefore, entitled to assume that Baron de Rothschild did not profess to be a Roman Catholic, and did not desire to take the Roman Catholic oath. If he did not profess to be a Roman Catholic, and did not claim to take the Roman Catholic oath, all that remained was, that he must take the other three oaths, which all persons who did not pro- 417 fess the Roman Catholic religion were required to take; namely, the oaths of allegiance, supremacy, and abjuration. Let him remark that when a Member came to the table to be sworn, the question was not put to him, "Are you ready to take this or that particular oath—whether of allegiance, of supremacy, or of abjuration;" but all those oaths were tendered to him, and it was impossible to separate the one from the other. Without taking all those oaths it was impossible that he could take his seat—he could not, in fact, be sworn. That was a point of important consideration in the matter. Nay, the Amendment of the hon. Member for Montrose assumed that, because it employed the expression "oaths" plurally, "that Baron de Rothschild having presented himself at the table of the House, and having previous to taking the oaths, &c.," it was quite clear that those oaths required were what were called the Protestant oaths, as distinct from the Roman Catholic oath; since, as the hon. Member was aware, there was only one oath taken by the Roman Catholics, under the 10th Geo. IV.; they were there dealing with the question whether a Member who might have all the oaths together tendered to him, and who was desirous of being sworn upon the Old Testament, as being in the form most binding upon his conscience—whether he could be admitted to be sworn in that form, it being perfectly clear that one of those oaths, namely, the oath of abjuration, contained in it the words "upon the true faith of a Christian"—that being unquestionably one of the oaths therefore which could not be taken in the Jewish form. That would be an important consideration which the House would please to bear in mind in arriving at a conclusion as to whether Baron de Rothschild, having desired to be sworn upon the Old Testament, had not altogether concluded the question against himself, and prevented the House from ever altering any more the form of the oaths to be taken at the table, inasmuch as he had declined to take the oaths, except in terms which virtually expressed his dissent from one of them, namely, the oath of abjuration. He hoped to be able to prove to the House that this was not a question depending upon the law and usage of Parliament, but upon the law of the land. He trusted he should be able to show the House that according to the provisions of existing statutes, it was quite impossible for any Member to be sworn at that table upon the Old Testa- 418 ment, even though he declared that that was the form most binding upon his conscience. In order to clear the way for discussion, he would concede to those who were desirous to have Baron de Rothschild sworn in the form which he himself had proposed, that from the very earliest period in our courts of justice, Jews had been sworn both as witnesses and jurors. Before the banishment of the Jews, in the reign of Edward I., there having of course been many transactions between Jews and Christians, and many of those having led to litigations between them, it was therefore absolutely necessary that the oaths of Jews should he taken, unless the courts had been prepared entirely to refuse justice to persons of that persuasion. Accordingly, it was a rule established from an early period in the cases of dispute between Christian and Jew, to have juries composed ex mediatate, as it was called, half of Christians, who were called sex probos et legales homines, and the other half of Jews, called sex legales Judœs. So far it was true that Jews had been admitted to be sworn according to the form of their religion, and to the form which they considered as most binding on their consciences. There were many instances of this upon record in the reign of John and Henry III. His hon. Friend had fallen a little into mistake; there was not an Act of Parliament which prescribed a form of oath to be taken in courts of justice—there was no form of oath prescribed at all. From a very early period, however, the courts themselves had altered the form of oath to meet the differences of religion in the persons proposed to be sworn, adopting that form which was shown to be the most binding on the conscience of the witness. The question was at last formally raised on the case to which reference had been made, of "Omichund v. Barker," wherein it was questioned whether Hindoos might be sworn in our courts in the form of their religion, and it was then decided by Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, Lord Chief Baron Parker, Lord Chief Justice Willes, and Lord Chief Justice Lee, that the evidence of all witnesses who believed in a Supreme Being should be admitted in the form they believed most binding on their consciences. And this rule had ever since been acted upon unquestioned. It was to be observed, that though the Judges had varied the form of the oath to meet the exigencies of the occasion, yet, it being an early rule of the common law that no evidence should be 419 received in any case, civil or criminal, except on the obligation of an oath, the Judges were not at liberty to dispense with an oath altogether; and it was not until 7 and 8 William III. that the affirmation of Quakers was allowed to be taken in our courts of justice, the Judges, in their cases, being obliged to resort to the Legislature for permission to dispense with the oath. It was a very remarkable thing, and one which would assist them presently still further in the consideration of the point, that for 130 years up to the 7th and 8th William III., affirmations were not received in criminal cases. The law with regard to oaths in a court of justice undoubtedly was that, ex necessitate, for the purpose of preventing justice from being defeated, they had permitted persons to be sworn in courts of justice according to the form of their religion, or according to the form most binding on their consciences. And when it was asserted that it was a general principle of law that oaths should be admitted in every case in the form which was most binding on the consciences of the persons proposed to be sworn, he ventured to deny that proposition in the extent in which it was put; and he must declare, as he hoped hon. Gentlemen would see, that that principle applied only to what were called assertory or juridical oaths, and did not extend to promissory oaths—to oaths to be taken by official persons, which were such oaths as the oaths of allegiance, supremacy, and abjuration. His proposition was, that the principle which was sought to be applied to all oaths in general was, upon the authorities, to be applied solely to juridical oaths, and not to be extended to promissory oaths. Such being the state of the case, they should now consider that they were dealing with the case of promissory oaths—that the oaths required to be taken by a Member of Parliament wore not oaths of a juridical character, to which the principle applied, but promissory oaths. The question, then, was whether such promissory oaths being required to be taken by Act of Parliament in a particular form, that general principle could be applied to that particular case. What he proposed to show was that the oath of allegiance, the oath of supremacy, and subsequently the oath of abjuration, were all of them required to be taken by Act of Parliament in what he would call the Christian form; and that the form proposed on the present occasion, which he should designate the Jewish form, was excluded from it by the 420 terms of the different Acts to which attention had been called. They had had the benefit of a report on the subject, which would very much facilitate the discussion and assist the determination of Members. It was true, as had been stated, that the first trace of an Act requiring the Members of the House of Commons to take oaths was the 5th of Elizabeth. But he had no doubt in his own mind that before the 5th of Elizabeth Members of the House of Commons did take an oath—a corporal oath, as it was termed—because originally the person taking it touched the Host or Corpus Christi; and subsequently the name was retained without reference to its origin. The 5th of Elizabeth referred to the 1st of Elizabeth for the terms of the oath to be taken by Members of Parliament; which oath was the oath of supremacy, and which was a corporal oath, and to be taken upon the Holy Evangelists, and ended by saying, "So help me God, and the contents of this book." That was the first oath of supremacy. They next came to the first oath of allegiance. That was contained in the 3d of James I. It was an oath to be applied to Popish recusants; and it was not until the 7th of James I. that Members of Parliament were required to take that oath—the first oath of allegiance, and which contained the words, "upon the true faith of a Christian." Now, there had been no alteration of those oaths of supremacy and allegiance down to the 30th of Charles II.; nor had there, in fact, been any alteration in that last with regard to those oaths of supremacy and allegiance. Under the 30th of Charles II., Members of Parliament were to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, or to take and subscribe the declaration against transubstantiation. Let them pause for a moment to inquire what were the oaths of allegiance and supremacy 30th of Charles II. applied to? Why, the oaths of the 1st of Elizabeth and the 3rd of James I.—the oath which was to be taken upon the Holy Evangelists, and which contained the words, "upon the true faith of a Christian." So matters remained until the 1st of William and Mary, when an alteration took place in the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. That Act repealed the 30th of Charles II. so far as it concerned the taking the oaths of supremacy and allegiance contained in it. It then provided another form of oath of allegiance and oath of supremacy, and it enacted that every person taking those substituted oaths 421 in the manner and form in which, under the 30th of Charles II., Members were required to take them, should be considered to have taken the oaths required by the Legislature. Now, when the Legislature used the terms in the 1st of William and Mary, that the substituted oaths were to be taken in the manner and form as prescribed by the 30th of Charles II., and when this latter Act of the 30th of Charles II., referring merely to the then existing oaths, names those provided in the Acts of Elizabeth and James I., did it not appear clear that those new instituted oaths required to be taken by the 1st of William and Mary were to be taken in the manner and form of the oaths of the 30th of Charles II., namely, upon the Holy Evangelists. If that were so, he apprehended the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford was under a mistake the other day when he said that, between the 1st and 13th year of the reign of William and Mary, any Jew could take his seat in the Legislature so far as Acts of Parliament were concerned, because in that interval there was no Act requiring oaths to be taken on the "true faith of a Christian." But as aliens they could not take a seat in Parliament. [Mr. W. P. WOOD: The Jews were not aliens.] He would not enter into that argument now; but he would like to know how his hon. and learned Friend reconciled that statute, which was passed in 1753, for the naturalisation of the Jews, and which was repealed the following year. [Mr. W. P. WOOD: That Act only applied to foreign Jews.] His hon. and learned Friend would find that Jews had invariably been regarded as aliens down to that late period. ["No, no!"] It was sufficient, however, for him (Sir F. Thesiger) to show that the hon. and learned Gentleman was mistaken in his statement as to that interval; because the 1st of William III. provided for oaths of allegiance and supremacy to be taken upon the Holy Evangelists. There was an Act—the 1st of William and Mary, c. 8—with regard to the alteration of oaths of allegiance and supremacy, which did not apply to Members of Parliament at all. At all events, so the matter rested down to the 13th and 14th of William III.; by which Act the oath of abjuration was introduced, which contained the words, "upon the true faith of a Christian." All Members of Parliament were required to take that oath of abjuration, together with the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. 422 The hon. and learned Member was under a mistake in supposing there was any doubt after the 1st of William, or that there was any necessity for Members to be sworn before the Lord Steward; for the 5th of Elizabeth and the 7th of James II. were not repealed until the 1st of William and Mary, c. 8; and it appeared to him (Sir F. Thesiger) that there was no necessity for Members taking any other oaths than those prescribed by the 1st of William and Mary. However, the 13th and 14th of William III. introduced the oath of abjuration, with the important words in it, "upon the true faith of a Christian;" and from that to the 1st of George I, there was no alteration in the form of the oath of abjuration; at all events, none with regard to any question now under discussion. The oaths continued to be taken were the oaths of allegiance and supremacy sworn on the Holy Evangelists, and the oath of abjuration containing the words "on the true faith of a Christian," and which, of course, could only be taken in the Christian form. He would advert immediately to the Acts of the reign of Queen Anne. He came next to the 1st of George I., which was the Act that contained the three oaths—the oath, of supremacy, the oath of allegiance, and the oath of abjuration, pretty much in the form in which they were now taken. The 1st George I. was supposed to have introduced a new law on the subject, because it did not refer the oath to the Holy Evangelists; and it had been held, therefore, that it operated as a repeal of the oaths in question. That was what the House had to decide. He (Sir F. Thesiger) would remark, however, that the oaths of allegiance and supremacy were word for word the oaths prescribed in the Act 1st William and Mary, as necessary to be taken on the Holy Evangelists. It had been assumed on the other side that the Act of the 1st George I. repealed these words, and enabled persons to come to the table of that House and say that they would take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy upon the Old Testament, reserving the oath of abjuration. The 16th section of the 1st George I., however, expressly required that the oath of abjuration should be taken with the other oaths, before Members elected to sit in Parliament, could take their seats in that House. And when it was found that the oath of abjuration contained the words, "on the true faith of a Christian," could it be contended, even for a single moment 423 that these oaths could be taken by such person or persons in any other than the Christian form? Following out, therefore, the Act 1st George I., and considering it in its construction with regard to former Acts of Parliament, requiring that those oaths should be sworn on the Holy Evangelists, and that the words "on the true faith of a Christian," should be added to them, he maintained that the intention of the Legislature in framing them was manifest—namely, that the only form in which they were admissible, and held to be binding, was the Christian form. But if there was any doubt on the legitimate construction of this Act of Parliament, he would refer for its construction to the well-known rule of law of construing ancient statutes contemporei expositio—the best interpreter was contemporaneous exposition. How stood the case, then, in that respect? From the 1st George I., to the present time, no person had presented himself at the table of that House claiming to be sworn in any other form than the form proscribed by that Act; therefore, if any difficulty was felt in the case, the House could resort to the construction put upon the statute by the practice since that period. This practice was adverse to the claim before the House; and, consequently, he had a right to maintain, even upon that ground, that the oath was held to be binding in the Christian form alone. The question, therefore, was not one dependent on the law and usage of Parliament—it depended on the Acts and statutes which he had recited; and he argued that no power existed in this country to change the form of an oath as fixed by Act of Parliament—especially a promissory oath—except the authority of the Legislature. His hon. and learned Friend on the other side of the House would not dispute that proposition, for he would find in the very case which he had alluded to—that respecting the swearing of infidels—that Lord Chief Justice Willes, confirming the doctrine of Lord Coke, had laid it down that it was an alteration of the oath, seeing that it applied not to a promissory but to a juridical oath. He (Sir F. Thesiger) therefore submitted that it was quite impossible for that House, without violating an Act of the Legislature, to administer the oaths in question to Baron de Rothschild in any other than the Christian form, the form always used in that House on such occasions, unless it were permitted by special legislation. He would not omit in his observa- 424 tions the case of 1st and 2nd Victoria, cap. 105, on which such great stress had been laid by hon. Members opposite. A member of the Provincial Synod of Ulster had had his house broken into and robbed, and he was called as a principal witness on the trial of the parties implicated. The trial took place before Chief Baron Joy; and when the witness came to be sworn, he declined to kiss the book, proposing to bold up his hand and swear in that fashion. The Judge doubted whether the oath so taken could be held as binding, but he permitted him to be sworn, and reserved the case for the opinion of the twelve Judges. The twelve Judges, however, came to the determination that the oath to be duly sworn should have been administered in the usual form—namely, kissing the book; and so justice was defeated. If that oath had been so administered in England, it would have been held good and sufficient, because it had been decided in 1657 by Chief Justice Glynn, when the Chancellor of Oxford claimed to be sworn not by kissing the book, but by placing his hand on it as it lay open before him, that this form of oath was as "good as any other, if it was considered by the testator as equally binding." No doubt such a form had been held binding on the conscience of parties in England for a long period, and therefore it was rightly ruled to be equally good as any other. Under these circumstances, however, Lord Denman considered it necessary to introduce a declaratory Act on the subject for the whole kingdom—an Act in affirmance of the law as it existed, not creating any new law—namely, 1st and 2nd Victoria, c. 105. That Act enacted—That in cases in which an oath may lawfully be and shall have been administered to any person, either as a juryman, or as a witness, or deponent in any proceeding, civil or criminal, in any court of law or equity in the United Kingdom, or on appointment to any office or employment, or on any occasion whatever, such person is bound by the oath administered, provided the same shall have been administered in such form and with such ceremonies as such person may declare to be binding; and every such person, in case of wilful false swearing, may be convicted of the crime of perjury in the same manner as if the oath had been administered in the form and with the ceremonies most commonly adopted.This was an Act, it would be observed, affirmatory of the existing law, as declared by the Legislature: but it was not an Act enabling from thenceforth persons to take any oath they chose, but only such as was declared by them to be binding on their consciences. Affirmatory statutes, declar- 425 atory of the law, did not repeal the law, nor did they abrogate previous affirmatory Acts of Parliament. He therefore contended that the Act in question, 1st and 2nd Victoria, c. 105, had no such operation upon any existing law; and, consequently, that if any law previously existent prescribed the administration of an oath in a particular form, it effected no abrogation of that statute. Notwithstanding these words applied to courts of law and justice in their general sense, he would admit even a wider sense for them; but still he maintained that the Act in question had no effect upon the common law as regarded its abrogation, nor upon the statutes, in respect of their repeal. It had, however, been sought to make this Act a substitute for the 1st George I. in the case under consideration. To make it so it should apply to every occasion and every such oath. But could it be seriously contended for a single moment that the oath of abjuration and other oaths required to be taken by the statute 1st George I. could be taken, as of right, by any person claiming to do so under the 1st and 2nd Victoria in the Jewish form. The question, therefore, was still to be decided, and that decision was to be governed by the statutes to which he had drawn the attention of the House—especially by the 1st George I. Having arrived at this point of his argument, it was scarcely necessary for him to argue that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" were essential to the oath, and that no one could legally take that abjuration and omit those words. If there were any doubt on this subject, he would refer hon. Members to a passage in the report, to which attention had been directed in the Committee. He alluded to an extract in page 16 from the 10th George I., which confirmed an Act of the previous year, and proceeded thus:—And whereas the following words are contained in the latter part of the oath of abjuration, namely, 'Upon the true faith of a Christian,' be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that whenever any of His Majesty's subjects professing the Jewish religion shall present himself to take the said oath of abjuration, in pursuance of the above-recited Act, or of this present Act, the said words, 'Upon the true faith of a Christian,' shall he omitted out of the said oath in administering the same to such person; and the taking the said oath by such person professing the Jewish religion, without the words aforesaid, in like manner as Jews are admitted to be sworn to give evidence in courts of justice, shall be deemed to be a sufficient taking of the abjuration oath, within the meaning of this and the said recited Act.426 There also was a subsequent Act of the Kith George II. to the same effect. It was at one time contended in the Committee that the words "upon the true faith of a Christian" were part of the jurat; but upon these Acts being pointed out, the Solicitor General, though he had originally taken a different view, admitted they were conclusive on the subject, and that the words wore evidently intended by the Legislature as a substantial and essential part of the law. Assuming that Baron de Rothschild was of the Jewish persuasion—for the House possessed no information on the subject—he would call their attention to the evidence given by a very respectable member of that persuasion, Mr. Alderman Salomons, before the Committee. The Chairman asked, "What is your objection to the oath of abjuration?" and Mr. Alderman Salomon's reply was—I have no objection whatever to the oath of abjuration, except to the words 'Upon the true faith of a Christian,' as being quite inconsistent with the form in which I am sworn, and it would no doubt make me, if I adopted those words, a very unfit public officer, and a very dishonourable individual; and it would be besides, in my opinion, an offence and an insult committed against the community at large.As far as you know the members of your persuasion, and the rules and regulations which govern them, they could not take an oath with those words in it, 'Upon the true faith of a Christian?—Most assuredly not.Under these circumstances, he (Sir F. Thesiger) had a right to assume that Baron de Rothschild would not take the oath of abjuration with the words "on the true faith of a Christian." As he (Sir F. Thesiger) took it, the House was not, however, prepared to strike those words out of that oath. He took it that no one could take his scat in that House without taking the three oaths of allegiance, of abjuration, and of supremacy, except he was a Roman Catholic. Baron de Rothschild was not a Roman Catholic. Therefore it was quite impossible, according to his (Sir F. Thesiger's) view of the question, that Baron de Rothschild could be permitted to take these oaths in the form proposed. In this inference he was sanctioned, and, indeed, fully borne out by the conduct of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. The question was one of deep interest, and many persons of the highest intelligence and learning in the law were deeply interested in its solution, Therefore, it did appear to him to be strange that no person had ever dreamt of the 427 course pursued on the present occasion in respect to its settlement. The noble Lord had shown his opinion to he adverse to that course by the different Bills which he had laid upon the table of the House to settle the question by legislation. These Bills spoke as plainly as acts could speak, that the noble Lord's view on the subject was, that this settlement could only he accomplished by the act of the Legislature. The report of the Committee, on which the noble Lord sat, contained all that could be said on the subject; and the noble Lord had laid his Bills on the table of the House after that report was made, showing thereby, in the strongest possible manner, that there was, in his opinion, no other mode of introducing to that House a member of the Jewish persuasion, or of any other form of faith differing from the Christian, except by an Act of Parliament. Under these circumstances, he called upon the House to pause before they took the step at present proposed to them—a step which he considered one of the most vital importance. He admitted that the occasion was novel and unprecedented; but that fact only made it all the more clear that to yield to the proposal and administer the oaths in question to Baron de Rothschild according to the Jewish form, would not only be a departure from precedent, hut a violation of existing Acts of Parliament. And then he reminded them this course would necessarily prepare for the day—which day would certainly arrive—a day of mischief, if not a day of danger, in which the House of Commons would be brought into collision not only with the courts of law on the question, but also with the House of Lords. He knew the noble Lord at the head of the Government was fully prepared to maintain boldly and fearlessly all the privileges of that House, but he was quite sure the noble Lord would feel with him that it was not desirable to invite such a collision as he had mentioned. He believed they would enter upon such a contest with the authority of the law and of precedent against them, and he certainly did look forward with very great apprehension to a struggle under such circumstances. He would conclude by expressing his conviction that no person could claim to be sworn in as a Member of that House unless he was prepared to take the oaths of allegiance, supremacy, and abjuration, and that in the form the Legislature had invariably provided—namely, in the Christian, and not according to any other form.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
Sir, I am anxious to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Abingdon, not only because he has most ably stated the arguments on this question on which he founds his opinion—that Baron de Rothschild ought not to be permitted to take the oaths at the table upon the Old Testament, but also because he has treated this question as I think it alone ought to be treated—as strictly a judicial matter of debate. Before I sit down I may have to notice some representations which have been made to the House to induce the House to treat the matter in a different spirit, but at present I shall refer immediately to the arguments of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just spoken. That hon. and learned Gentleman has laid it down that oaths promissory have always been taken in a Christian form, and that this House is bound not only by the usage and law and custom of Parliament, but by actual statute upon the point. Now the principle on which I wish to proceed is this—the electors of the city of London have sent to this House as their representative a Gentleman elected by a majority of those who have voices in the matter. They have not only returned him once, but twice, to this House; and I say that it is due to them—it is due to the whole body of the electors of this united kingdom—that we should take heed that they are put in the enjoyment of the full right to which they can pretend—that nothing but a positive obstacle of law should induce us to refuse admission to his seat in this House a Member so elected, and claiming entrance. I think that we ought to give every facility in a case of this kind, short of that positive obstruction of law; and that when this point arises, and then only, we ought to refuse to the Member claing his seat admission, and the right to take it. The hon. and learned Gentleman has, I observe, been obliged in this subject not only to deduce from Acts of Parliament that which is not in their letter, and which moreover is not clearly prescribed by their enactments, but also to deduce inferences from the language of former Acts of Parliament—some of which have been repealed—but which the hon. and learned Gentleman seems to think ought, by inference, to he binding upon us on this occasion. I will endeavour, Sir, to inquire whether there are any of these Acts of Parliament which are so binding as to oblige us to refuse to Baron de Rothschild the power of taking the oaths in the form which he has 429 declared to be the most binding on his conscience. The hon. and learned Gentleman has stated his belief that previous to the 5th of Elizabeth there were oaths prescribed to be taken by Members of Parliament. Now, I know no authority for such an assertion; and, for my part, conceiving myself bound by all the Acts of Parliament remaining unrepealed, I yet doubt the policy of the restrictive Acts upon this subject; and I conceive that although we are bound to conform to the letter of the statutes, we may yet confess that all these complicated Acts have given us no additional advantage—that they have been of use only in entangling the consciences and perplexing the minds of those who have to take the oaths presented under them, and that they have never afforded any further security for the allegiance of subjects, nor made any better provision for the legislation of Parliament. I therefore, instead of believing with the hon. and learned Gentleman, believe rather that the wisdom of ancient legislation, be fore those unhappy dissensions arose which have severed into various parties the Christian body—that that wisdom led our forefathers not to prescribe the administration of oaths on Members taking their seats in Parliament. It is no doubt of importance, although not of paramount importance, to see whether we are deviating from the ancient spirit of legislation. Let it then be admitted that there is an Act, the 5th of Elizabeth, prescribing the oaths to he taken, and providing that those oaths are to be corporeal, and that they are therefore to he sworn on the Holy Evangelists. The 7th of James I. likewise prescribes corporeal oaths to be taken on the Holy Evangelists. Here the hon. and learned Gentleman stops, and says it is quite clear that if oaths were to be taken on the Holy Evangelists that such were Christian oaths, and that we are bound to take care that any oaths now to be taken shall be Christian oaths still. Well, at this point I also pause. I find a Gentleman duly elected a Member of the House prepared to take tin oaths; in an unusual form indeed, but that only an unusual form because no other Member has ever wished to be sworn in tin same fashion. There is no instance, no precedent, of any Member having refused to take the ordinary oath. Baron de Rothschild, however, now comes before us and asks for the privilege of being sworn in the manner which he considers most binding; and it is for us to consider, the 430 demand being new, how we are to construe the Acts by which we are bound, and the customs and usages of Parliament. Well, then, having no precedent as to the usages of the House, so far as a refusal to take tin.' oaths on the New Testament is concerned, I naturally go to the usages of the courts of law, and before I come to the distinction between permissory oaths and juridical oaths. I look to see how the courts have interpreted the command to take the oath on the Holy Evangelists. Now, I admit, that if the Act were in force which prescribed that course, that we should suppose in general that the Bible was meant by the words "Holy Evangelists." But I find, however, that Lord Chancellor Hardwicke said—If a Jew should be indicted for perjury, and it is laid in the indictment that he swore tactis sacro-sanctis Dei Evangeliis, yet, according to Hale, the word 'evangeliis' in the indictment may be answered by the Old Testament, which is the evangelium of the JewsNow, when I read this, I say that I do net think that the words contained in the Acts of Elizabeth and James are, in fact, conclusive upon the point. But, beyond this, I find two very remarkable circumstances—the one being, that in the statute of I George I., which regulates our proceedings, I do not find any similar directions. The hon. Gentleman dwells on the authority of that Act but I submit that if that Act I repeals former Acts, that the Acts of Elizabeth and James I. are no longer to guide us—that we are not bound by the words on the "Holy Evangelists" to administer oaths only on the New Testament—and that at this moment there is no Act which; forbids us to administer oaths on the Old Testament. It is another important consideration that, from the 1st to the 13th William III., there was no oath which directly excluded Jews from coming to this table to he sworn. No doubt it may be rightly urged—but into that question I am not at present entering—that Jews were then prevented by statute, by the law of the land, from sitting in Parliament; but the question is now whether there was anything at the time under discussion which prevented their sitting in Parliament, so far as the preliminary oaths were concerned. The words "on the true faith of a Christian" were not then part of the oath; and will any person contend that if an elected Member had presented himself at the table to take the oaths—supposing that there had been no legal disqualification to prevent his being so elected—it 431 would have been urged that the Acts of Elizabeth and James were then so binding on you that you ought to have excluded the Jew because he would take the oaths only on the Old Testament? We come, then, to consider what is the manner in which oaths have been taken. The hon. and learned Gentleman says that they have always been taken in a Christian form; but at the same time he contended that this was a matter of positive statute, and, as I submit, he failed to make out that by positive statute we were bound to administer oaths in the form in which we usually proceed. The hon. and learned Gentleman could only show what had been the custom according to ancient Acts of Parliament. But the custom had been unvaried only because those who had presented themselves to be sworn had been willing, invariably, to take the oaths upon the New Testament. And unless you can point out that there is some statute which prevents the oath from being administered upon the Old Testament, I do not think that you ought to insist upon an objection which throws back the claims of an hon. Member duly elected. Well, Sir, an hon. Gentleman has tried to answer the argument derived from the Act of Parliament recently passed, which provides that if persons be sworn upon any occasion of appointment to office or employment, such persons are to take and be bound by the oath of allegiance. I do not think that that statute is conclusive upon the subject, but at all events it does this—it secures you from one of the dangers of admitting an oath not otherwise described, insomuch that if the person taking it be guilty of perjury, he would be subject to all the pains and penalties appointed in cases in which violation has taken place of an oath taken in the usual manner. Well, then, what are the oaths which the hon. Member for London would have to take? The hon. and learned Gentleman contends that these oaths are of such a nature as to form a conclusive objection, in the first instance, against the hon. Member's being sworn upon the Old Testament. Now, I own it appears to me that you ought not to go so far as to preclude argument on this subject. It does indeed appear to me that those Acts to which the hon. and learned Gentleman refers—the 9th of George I. and the 17th of George II., giving permission, as these Acts do in some cases, to omit the expression in question—do preclude the House from omitting the words "on the true faith 432 of a Christian" upon this occasion. But the question now is, whether the hon. Member for London should be allowed to go so far as to be sworn upon the Old Testament, and to state, either by himself or by counsel, what oaths he is ready to take, and in what sense he is ready to take them. Some have contended, and contended very properly, that the words "on the true faith of a Christian" are only the sanction and confirmation of the oaths, and do not belong to the oaths themselves. Now, Sir, I think, whatever may be the weight of that statement, that the Member claiming admission to the House should not be sent away at once from the table without the opportunity of supporting it by argument. My own opinion is, that if these words had been stated in the beginning of the oath—"I am a Christian," or "I profess myself a Christian," it might have been inconsistent with such an oath that the person taking it should swear upon the Old Testament. But that is not the present case—it is entirely different. The original intention of putting in the words "on the true faith of a Christian" appears to have been in order to give a solemnity and sanction to the oaths with regard to one class of Christians, namely, the Roman Catholics, who might have been then suspected of being disaffected towards the Crown, but not to have been intended for he purpose of excluding the Jews. That, Sir, is the material point of the argument. I have said, that I think myself that it is not in the power of this House to dispense with the words "on the true faith of a Christian." When that question comes to be debated, I certainly, according to all the study which I have been able to give to the subject, shall feel myself compelled to vote against these words being omitted in the oath. At the same time I do not think that you are enabled at present to declare that Baron de Rothschild shall not be sworn according to the form which is most binding upon his conscience; and looking on this as being a matter for grave deliberation, I think that we must allow to the hon. Member who proposes to be sworn at the table every latitude, in order that his case may be fairly and amply stated. I think that this much is due to the electors of the city of London—this much is due to the Member of Parliament elected by them—this much is due for the satisfaction of the rights, not so much of the individual primarily inte- 433 rested, as for those of the whole of the: people of this country. And now, Sir, I will allude to a view which has been taken of this question, and against which I feel it my duty to protest. It was said the other day, in the course of this debate, that so far from this not being a party question, it was essentially a party question, and indeed the greatest party question of the day—that it was the question of prejudice against progress—of intolerance and bigotry against the principles of civil and religious liberty. Sir, I utterly dissent from these doctrines. If it were a question of prejudice and bigotry against civil and religious liberty, then what would have been my course upon the matter may be gleaned from this fact, that I have no doubt whatever that the Jews ought to be admitted to the right of sitting in this House, and that there are no valid reasons—nothing, in fact, but a remnant of the persecuting spirit which could wish to prevent them. But that which you have now to consider is no party question—is no theoretical question; it is a question whether you are enabled by the law as it now stands to allow a Member who is a Jew to be sworn in such fashion as he can take the oaths. I feel convinced that if you are of opinion—that if those of the House who are most opposed to the admission of the Jews be, nevertheless, of opinion—that, lawfully, Baron de Rothschild can take his seat, you ought, by all means—whatever political consequences you think may follow—however much you may wish to avoid any alteration of the Christian character of this House—I think that you ought undoubtedly, and at once, to admit him. But, on the other hand, should you not think that the law enables the hon. Gentleman to take his seat according to the statutory provisions which are now in force, then, in that case, no opinion favourable to according the claims of the Jews by means of a legislative measure ought to induce you to move forward one step in the direction in which you have been summoned. If, however, you determine to take any other course—if you determine to take a course which will bring you into collision with the courts of law without being justified by the words of the Acts of Parliament on which you rely, depend upon it that the most serious evils may—indeed, must—follow. Not that I should be afraid, were I well convinced that I was in the right, of meeting the decisions of any court of law. 434 But there is a question beyond this. If you be not convinced that you are acting according to law—if you be prepared to act according to conscience, and for the promotion of civil and religious liberty—you will then be exorcising that dispensing power, the employment of which has, upon one great occasion, induced the people of this country, and induced them with great cause and justice, to bring about a revolution. I should be sorry, indeed, if this House, which now possesses much of the power formerly belonging to the Crown, should attempt to exercise any such power. I was sorry to hear it proclaimed in this House that we ought to treat this question otherwise than as a judicial question; but I was happy to find that the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke before me has handled it in a proper manner; and I trust that throughout the remainder of this discussion the debate will be carried on upon similar principles. I have now, Sir, stated the result to which I have come on the present occasion. I think that the Member claiming his seat ought to have his demand complied with, that he should be sworn upon the Old Testament; and, that, further, the House ought most earnestly and deliberately to weigh everything which can be said in favour of his actually being allowed to take his seat. But, according to my deliberate opinion, I cannot lend myself to the changing of the words of the oath, "On the true faith of a Christian," without the sanction and support of an Act of Parliament.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
could not follow the noble Lord without acknowledging the moral courage and the prudence of his speech, and thanking him for both. But he would respectfully ask the noble Lord in what state he would place Baron de Rothschild when he came to the table? The noble Lord seemed to forget that the taking the book in the hand and kissing it was not the first but the last act connected with the taking the oath, and that the hon. Member for London must hold in his hand the three oaths, and must be considered as binding himself to all the three. Let it not be forgotten that these oaths were not imposed by mere resolution of I the House; they were as much parts of the statute law of the land as Magna Charta or the Bill of Rights, and, whether right or wrong, they bad absolutely and essentially the force of Acts of Parliament. It was quite a mistake to suppose that the question was decided by Lord Denman's Act. 435 Where cases were specified, and there were also general words in a statute, the general words were to be construed with reference to cases ejusdem generis; there was no pretence for saying that such a case as that of the Baron de Rothschild was ever contemplated by Parliament at the time Lord Denman's Act was passed; and if this was not a case of the same kind with those specified in the Act, the Act might as well—for this question—never have been passed. He had been told that it would be desirable to give the House the opportunity of dividing upon the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose, instead of calling upon them to affirm a negative. He (Sir R. Inglis) preferred his own proposition, but would not press it if he understood it to be the wish of the House to take the division upon the affirmative rather than the negative. At that hour (past three o'clock) he would not detain the House further.
§ SIR G. GREY
proposed that, as there was to be a Commission at a quarter before five o'clock, the debate should now be adjourned, unless the House were ready to divide at once.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
Possibly the House would allow him to take that Bill on Thursday instead of next day.
§ MR. DISRAELI
apprehended that it would be more convenient to adhere to the arrangement which had been made.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
certainly would not, after what he had said, postpone that Bill if there was any objection to a postponement.
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
would object to an adjournment of the present debate even to the next day. The question being one of privilege, the discussion ought be continued. After the somewhat extraordinary speech of the noble Lord, those who supported the claim were placed in a dilemma. If his own opinion had any weight with the Gentlemen on his side of the House, he should recommend them to grant no supply to the noble Lord till he had brought in a Bill to remedy the grievance brought before the notice of the House. The noble Lord, after his speech, was bound to proceed by Bill immediately; and he (Mr. Osborne) hoped that Gentlemen favourable to that proceeding would join him in refusing supply at present. He would move that the debate be resumed at Five o'clock.
§ SIR G. GREY
said, that except with the general concurrence of the House, the debate ought not to be postponed to another day.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
wished to give the noble Lord at the head of the Government an opportunity of explanation. He had stated very justly that this was a judicial question; he (Mr. Anstey) wished to ask him, before his unfortunate and unadvised speech went forth to the country, whether Members were to understand that whatever might be the arguments they should bring forward in this discussion in exposition of the right of Baron de Rothschild to his seat after taking an oath in which the words "upon the true faith of a Christian" were omitted, it was the intention of the noble Lord to give his vote with those who had hitherto opposed any concession upon this subject?
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
This question is of course not new to me. I was told last year, as well as this year, that it was very likely Baron de Rothschild might be advised to ask to take his seat, and of course it became my duty to consider the question very maturely. I did so consider it, both last year and this; and last year I asked the then Attorney General, and this year I have asked the present Attorney General, and neither of them has been able to advise me to vote in favour of the seat being taken with the omission of the words "upon the true faith of a Christian." I could not either bring my own mind to that conclusion; and with this opinion, and with the best study I could give to the question, I have come to this result, which I have thought it my duty to state, as the question was before the House. As to presuming that the hon. and learned Member for Youghal may not bring arguments so convincing as to alter my judgment, that certainly I will not pretend to do; and if he should be able so to convince me, I must own that I have been utterly wrong, and follow him into the lobby.
§ MR. S. HERBERT
suggested that, as no Member had risen to speak upon the first question, the House might dispose of that by dividing at once.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
wished to know whether the House, by what had passed, was precluded from discussing whether the Baron de Rothschild had any right to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy?
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
had thought the hon. Member, and those who acted with him, had made up their minds with respect 437 to the proposition of the hon. and learned Attorney General the other day. Of course, Baron de Rothschild could not be compelled to address any argument to the House with reference to the question.
§ MR. W. P. WOOD
, believing there were many Members who were desirous of addressing the House on the main question. and after the speech of the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown, upon which he (Mr. P. Wood) should certainly like to offer some opinions, possibly at some length, was in favour of the debate being adjourned.
§ Debate adjourned till this day at Five o'clock.