HC Deb 20 April 1852 vol 120 cc895-941

said, that the question which he was about to bring before the notice of the House was one of which the character and importance was not to be estimated merely by the terms of the Motion he had placed on the paper. If it had merely related to an omission on the part of an ecclesiastical dignitary of a purely administrative act, which might have arisen from carelessness or accident, it would have been superfluous and unnecessary for him to bring the matter under the consideration of Parliament; but the facts he was about to state to the House were so novel in their character, and the details which he should have to explain were so unprecedented, the injury done to interests which ought to have been protected was so great, the disregard of the first and most important functions of the episcopate so glaring; and the detriment to the Church, he might also say the scandal to the Church, so grievous, that in bringing the matter before the House of Commons, he did not despair of obtaining even its unanimous concurrence in his Motion. The history of Mr. Bennett, who was formerly the incumbent of St. Paul's and St. Barnabas, in London, and newly appointed Vicar of Frome, was unhappily somewhat notorious. He did not wish to enter into that further than was absolutely necessary to explain the excitement and apprehension that were created by the appointment of Mr. Bennett, to show how justifiable was the remonstrance made by the parishioners of Frome, and how reprehensible in his opinion was the conduct of the bishop of the diocese in disregarding that remonstrance. Mr. Bennett was appointed to the incumbency of St. Paul's, Knightsbridge, in 1843, when that church was built and endowed; but he was known before that time; he had been known by his preaching and by his writings, and those had been so much noticed by some parties, and so much complained of by others, that when there was a rumour of his intended appointment to the incumbency of St. Paul's remonstrances and warnings were addressed to the Bishop of London against that appointment. He (Mr. Horsman) would only give one instance among others of those warnings. It was an extract from a pamphlet published last year by a clergyman now incumbent of one of the churches of London, and who in his pamphlet recalled the warning that he had originally given to the Bishop of London with regard to Mr. Bennett. And here at the outset he must be permitted to say that he made no objection whatever, he had no complaint, no charge, to make against Mr. Bennett on account of his theological opinions. Whenever a conscientious opinion or religious conviction was entertained by any man, be he lay or ecclesiastic, as long as he broke no law, violated no obligation, inflicted no injury on society, that conscientious opinion, that religious conviction, ought to be respected by every one, and always should be respected by him (Mr. Horsman). But it was with respect to Mr. Bennett's acts as a minister of the Church of England, as an agent of the Church, and with the acts of those who were placed in authority over Mr. Bennett, that it was his (Mr. Horsman's) business now to deal. These were the terms in which the Bishop of London was warned by one of his own clergy and friends against Mr. Bennett before his appointment to St. Paul's:— I have not found, even in the Oxford Tracts, abounding as they do in awful errors, anything in the way of false doctrine more pernicious than is to be found in Mr. Bennett's published sermons. To this explanation of his opinion the author added:— If Mr. Bennett be appointed to the church now erecting in this neighbourhood, I shall consider it my duty to expose his false doctrine through the medium of the press. Again he repeated, that as to Mr. Bennett's doctrines he said nothing; he quoted that only to show that the Bishop of London was warned of the embarrassing consequences that might ensue from his appointment. That warning was, unhappily, disregarded—unhappily for Mr. Bennett, for the Bishop of London, and for the parishioners over whom he was appointed. Of the proceedings between 1843 and 1850 he did not wish to say anything but this—they knew from the best authority that during that period frequent discussions, frequent remonstrances, and frequent complaints took place between the Bishop of London and Mr. Bennett; but in 1850 circumstances connected with the churches of St. Paul and St. Barnabas forced themselves upon public attention by the tumultuous proceedings which unhappily occurred during the services in those churches. Of these proceedings he would merely state to the House the description which was given by Mr. Bennett himself, and not that which was given by any unfriendly hand. Various descriptions, some of them from authentic sources, he had before him, but he would take the description given by Mr. Bennett himself of the state of the locality over which he was sent as spiritual teacher, showing the feeling in the neighbourhood, and the consequences to which that feeling gave rise. Mr. Bennett, in a letter to the noble Lord then at the head of the Government, made this statement as to occurrences that had taken place on a Sunday at his church during service:— I wish to inform your Lordship that since that time it has been thought necessary by the Police Commissioners that our church and resi- dence should be guarded night and day, and that we are at present under the vigilant inspection of police constables, who are watching the streets without cessation, lest mischief should arise. I wish to inform your Lordship that on Sunday, Nov. 17, a very large mob of most tumultuous and disorderly persons collected together a second time all round the church, and this with a much greater demonstration of violence than on the preceding Sunday; that a force of 100 constables was required to keep the mob from overt acts of violence; that, notwithstanding the exertions of the police, much violence was committed, and a leader of the rioters taken into custody; that the mob again assembled at the evening service, at three o'clock, and were guilty again of violent cries, yells, and other noises, battering at the doors of the church, and disturbing the whole congregation; that similar scenes occurred again on Sunday, the 24th of November. That was Mr. Bennett's own picture of his church, and of the public feeling, regarding it, unmistakeably evinced. He said that one of those rioters was taken into custody and taken before Mr. Broderip, the magistrate, and he, in ordering the discharge of that person, accompanied that order with this remark:— The Queen's peace must be preserved, and I am determined to preserve it in this district; but those persons have much to answer for, and undertake a serious responsibility, who provoke breaches of the peace by exciting the indignation of their fellow-subjects by the ceremonies of the Roman Church at such a time as the present, and exciting the indignation of those who hold the religion of the country. It must be observed, in explanation of Mr. Broderip's remarks, that it was not the rites or ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church, properly so called, that excited this indignation; for although at that very moment the subject of Papal aggression had caused a great deal of public excitement, the congregations of the Roman Catholic Church were worshipping in as much peace and safety as the congregation of any church of the Protestant Establishment in any part of the country. These occurrences at St. Paul's forced themselves upon the notice of the neighbourhood—upon the notice of the public press, and upon the notice of the bishop of the diocese; and the bishop was compelled, after a long period of remonstrance, to adopt more decisive and more efficient measures in the matter. A protracted correspondence took place between the Bishop of London and Mr. Bennett, which ended in the bishop's requesting Mr. Bennett to resign his living—a request which Mr. Bennett construed into a threat. The ground upon which the bishop made his request, he set forth in his own published letter to Mr. Bennett; and, among other things, he said, referring to those proceedings which had excited so much public notice and tumult— I have more than once expressed to you my fear that you were exciting or encouraging in the members of your congregation a taste for forms and observances which would lead them to seek for its fuller gratification in the Church of Rome. That this has been the actual result in some instances there can be no doubt. Whether others have occurred of persons retained in our communion by the partial concessions made to a morbid appetite, may well be questioned. Mr. Bennett construed that letter, together with his other communications from the Bishop of London, into an intimation to him that he had better quietly resign his incumbency, for, if he did not, legal measures would be adopted to compel him to do so; and Mr. Bennett replied in these terms:— I dread becoming the occasion of any legal prosecution, or running the risk of ecclesiastical proceedings. I think it my bounden duty to sacrifice all that belongs to myself rather than place your Lordship under the necessity of appealing to any such means for correcting that which, in your opinion, is wrong. I would, then, put it to your Lordship in this way. I would say, if your Lordship should be of continued opinion, seeing and knowing me as now you do, that I am guilty of unfaithfulness to the Church of England and if your Lordship will after that signify your judgment as bishop that it would be for the peace and well-ordering of that portion of the Church which is under your episcopal charge that I should no longer serve in the living of St. Paul's, I would then, the very next day, send you a formal resignation. The grounds upon which Mr. Bennett was prepared to make that resignation appeared to him (Mr. Horsman) to be very fairly and clearly expressed. His resignation was accepted by the Bishop of London, who went into details of the history of the St. Barnabas controversy, stating the many occasions on which he had had reason to find fault; the frequent remonstrances he had made; the evidence of matters having weekly and daily got worse; and the reason for which he desired and accepted Mr. Bennett's resignation. The Bishop wrote— In your recently published letter to Lord John Russell you declare that what your intention and mine was at the time of the consecration of St. Barnabas, 'in ceremonies and rituals, that it shall be now, please Rod, for ever the same, unchanged, unchangeable.' It is an unavoidable inference from this solemn declaration that the novelties of which I complained, and which I called upon you to lay aside, will not be given up, although I have forbidden them, as being contrary to the Church's order and intention. This leaves no choice as to the course to be pursued. It is impossible for me not to think that 'the peace and good order of the Church which is under my episcopal charge,' would be seriously interrupted, and an occasion of triumph given to the Church's enemies, if you were to continue in your present post, deliberately and avowedly disobeying the administrations of your bishop, and setting up your own judgment of the Church's intention in opposition to his. It is with great pain, but with no hesitation as to the necessity which binds me to this conclusion, that I now signify my acceptance of your renewed offer to resign the incumbency of St. Paul's, and with it the chapel of St. Barnabas. The grounds upon which the Bishop of London requested Mr. Bennett's resignation were, first, that Mr. Bennett had shown unfaithfulness to the Church; and, secondly, had shown insubordination to his bishop; and the bishop pronounced his deliberate though painful and reluctant judgment, that his resignation was required for the peace and good order of his church, and that he should leave the diocese. Upon these grounds the bishop requested—Mr. Bennett said "compelled"—his resignation. Mr. Bennett accordingly resigned St. Barnabas. It was understood that he quitted England—it was said he had gone to visit Rome, and it was believed he had gone there in more senses than one. Of this, at least, the people of England felt sure, that as a minister of the Church of England they had heard the last of him—they did not think that any pulpit of the Establishment would ever hold him again, or any Protestant flock own him as its pastor. It was to the astonishment, therefore, of the public that within twelve months after Mr. Bennett's forced resignation of an incumbency in one diocese, he obtained a benefice in another—that being unfit for St, Paul's, he was instituted to Frome. In fact, he had no hesitation in saying it was a matter that had created so great a degree of astonishment as to be almost received with incredulity. After what he had said and written when quitting St. Paul's, it was a matter of surprise that Mr. Bennett should wish to regain preferment in the Church of England. It was a matter of still greater surprise that any patron of the Church of England should select him as a nominee; but it was a matter of the most surprise of all that any prelate of the Church of England should approve and ratify that selection. It must be remembered that Mr. Bennett, in that energetic letter cited by the Bishop of London had vauntingly proclaimed himself "unchanged and unchangeable." But an interval of eleven months had elapsed—was there any change that had come over Mr. Bennett in that interval? It might have been supposed that the Bishop of Bath and Wells, or any other person who presented Mr. Bennett to the living, might have some secret knowledge that a change had taken place in Mr. Bennett's opinions. The time was short for such a change. Barely twelve months had elapsed; but during that interval how had he been employed? What Church had he belonged to? What faith had he professed? With what congregation had he mingled? Those were questions the House would think of importance, and they were questions which he had it in his (Mr. Horsman's) power to answer. He, therefore, begged the attention of the House to the facts he was about to relate. He had already stated that the appointment of Mr. Bennett to the vicarage of Frome had created a good deal of excitement and discussion. A great deal had been said about it in the public press, and, among other publications, a letter had appeared in the public journals to which his attention was called in January last, written by a clergyman of the Church of England named Pratt, who was staying in Ireland. It was addressed to the editor of the Achill Herald, and was in these terms:— Achill, Jan. 12, 1852. Dear Sir—A few days ago I met an English gentleman at Clifden, county of Galway, and he told me that during the last summer he spent several weeks at Kissengen, in Bavaria, for the benefit of his health. In the same hotel with him was staying the Rev. Mr. Bennett, late of St, Paul's, Knightsbridge. During the whole period of his residence at the place, Mr. Bennett never once attended the English service, but regularly went to mass, and his inseparable companion was a Capuchin friar. How comes it that such a man is instituted to a living in the Church of England?—Yours faithfully, "CHARLES O'N. PRATT, Curate of Christ Church, Macclesfield. That statement was very vague. Of course, he said when he saw it what any other hon. Gentleman would say, that it was vague; and accordingly he said, before any credit should be given to that statement, the writer should be asked whether he was willing to give the name of the party from whom he had received that information. A friend of his consequently wrote to Mr. Pratt, and by return of post received a reply, in which Mr. Pratt expressed his utmost readiness to give up his authority, and referred him to a gentleman holding an academical employment not far from London, of high character, and unimpeachable veracity, A private communication was then made to that gentleman, asking him whether the statement made by Mr. Pratt, and said to have been made upon his authority, was correct. He now held in his hand the reply of that gentleman, but, as it was not written for publication, he would not read the name; but the letter, with the name of the writer, were at the service of any hon. Gentleman who wished to see them. This gentleman was a professor of one of the seminaries in the neighbourhood of London. He said— An English clergyman, whose name in the hotel-book was Bennett, wearing the peculiarly longitudinal vestment affected by the Puseyite clergy, and travelling in company with Sir John Harrington, churchwarden of St. Barnabas, lodged for three weeks at the Hotel de Russie, Kissengen, on the same floor with my rooms. My attention was called to him in the first instance by hearing the German waiters, &c., talking about him—his conduct, with that of his friend, being calculated to attract inquiry as to his religion, the general idea being that he was a Jesuit or Capuchin. I then found that he and his friend went every morning between seven and eight, as was said, to the Roman Catholic Church, to the morning service. I never myself saw him in the Roman Catholic Church, because I never went there; but I can testify as to the regularity of his morning excursions, and, as every one said that their object was to attend mass, I presume there is no reason to doubt the fact. If there be, any one at Kissengen can attest it. During the same period neither he nor any of his party were to be seen on Sundays in the English chapel. It is a single room, capable of holding, perhaps, 100 persons, and had he been there he must have been at once visible. But, as I believe, they remained considerably longer at Kissengen than myself, the English chaplain seems to me the person who could give the most convincing testimony on this point. I likewise heard him inquiring about a missal, and saw a Capuchin, or some such monk, going in and out of his room. But I cannot with truth asseverate that within my knowledge he was his inseparable companion. My rooms were, unluckily, next to Sir John Harrington's; unluckily, as I was very ill, and Sir John constantly talked in so loud a voice that nearly all his talk was forced upon me, the partitions between German rooms being, as you probably know, almost ventriloqual. I was therefore compelled to hear long details about Roman Catholic matters exclusively, in which Mr. Bennett was constantly implicated. The whole effect was to leave no doubt on my mind whatever that Mr. Bennett was a thorough Romanist, and I considered it so settled that I was never so astonished as at perceiving in the papers his appointment to Frome. There was a great deal more to the same effect in the letter, but it stated that the facts were notorious amongst all the Englishmen resident at Kissengen; and one point on which the writer especially dwelt was the fact of Mr. Bennett never having attended the Protestant chapel at Kissengen, and he suggested that an inquiry on that subject should be made of the then resident chaplain. He (Mr. Horsman) had felt it to be due to Mr. Bennett to obtain evidence from every reliable source before bringing this Motion before Parliament; and therefore after ascertaining who was the Protestant clergyman at Kissengen last year, he had taken the liberty to write to that gentleman, asking for information on that one point, as to Mr. Bennett's attendance at his chapel; at the same time apprising him of his object in making the inquiry, and leaving it to him to answer or not as he thought fit. He would not trouble the House by reading his own letter, having already stated its substance. His question was, not whether Mr. Bennett was in the habit of attending the Roman Catholic Church, for of course the English chaplain did not go there, but whether Mr. Bennett was in the habit of attending at the Protestant Church? This was the answer he received:— Sandwich, April 14, 1852. Sir—I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 12th inst., and in reply to your question respecting the present vicar of Frome and his attendance at public worship during last summer at Kissengen, I can only say that I believe he did not at any time form one of my congregation.—I have the honour to remain, Sir, your obedient servant, "F. LE GRIX WHITE, Late British Chaplain at Kissengen. E. Horsman, Esq., M.P. Then, having stated that the fact of Mr. Bennett's attendance at mass during his residence at Kisssengen was notorious; that the fact of his not attending the Protestant chapel at Kissengen was notorious; and having brought before them as evidence of that a letter written by a gentleman lodging for weeks in the same house with Mr. Bennett at Kissengen, who stated that he went out regularly every morning to the Roman Catholic chapel; and a letter from the Protestant clergyman saying that Mr. Bennett never attended the Protestant church, he thought it might be considered as established in a manner conclusive that during Mr. Bennett's residence at Kissengen, to all intents and purposes, outwardly at least, he was a conformist to the Roman Catholic Church, and held no communion or sympathy with the Protestant Church of which he had been a Minister. This, then, was a brief summary of Mr. Bennett's history during 1851. In January of that year he relinquished his ministry in London, at the request of the Bishop of London, because the bishop held that he had been unfaithful, and that the peace and good order of the Church required his resignation. In the summer of that year he went on the Continent, and was a constant and habitual attendant at a Roman Catholic Church; and then, in the autumn of the same year, he returned to England, and was appointed by a Protestant bishop as Protestant minister over the Protestant congregation of Frome. It would create no surprise that, under those circumstances, the appointment of Mr. Bennett to Frome had created much excitement and a good deal of apprehension in that locality. The people of Frome, knowing what had taken place in London, and fearing lest a repetition might take place in Frome, addressed themselves to the lady who exercised the patronage of the vicarage, deprecated the appointment, and implored her to abstain from a step which might produce the most lamentable results. Their memorial was couched in language strong, but most respectful, in a spirit as temperate as it was firm. They said— We owe it to God, to our flocks, to our children, to our servants, to ourselves, to protest against the confiding the cure of souls among us to one from whose writings, published but a year and a half ago, we cite the following passages, not by any means as exhibiting the whole of what we deem opposed to the Scriptural truthfulness of our beloved Church in his productions, but merely as exemplifications of the teaching which, as members of that Church, we solemnly repudiate. This memorial, couched in language so fitting, signed by five of the clergymen, and by a number of the laity of Frome, attached members of the Church of England, was presented to the Marchioness of Bath. The reply was that which, under the circumstances, might obviously have been expected. The motives which induced the appointment were not such as were likely to be departed from after the appointment was made, and this was the answer returned:— Longleat, Jan. 3, 1852. Rev. Sir—I have received with sincere regret a communication, signed by yourself and others, relating to the appointment of the Rev. W. J. E. Bennett to the vicarage of Frome, in my gift, fin reply I beg to inform you that the appointment is already made, and cannot be revoked.—I remain, Rev. Sir, yours faithfully, "H. BATH. The Rev. W. B. Calvert, Vicarage, Frome. Now, let him observe, upon that act on the part of the Marchioness of Bath he did not intend to make a comment; the Marchioness of Bath exercised therein a legal right, and exercised it, no doubt, according to her conscience; and, acting so with the law, and according to her conscience, it was not his wish now to say a word impeaching the legality of the act, or the motives which led to it. She exercised the power of patronage duly vested in her; but it was to be borne in mind that the right of patronage, though large, was by no means an absolute right. Of all the rights which attached to property, he doubted whether there was one which ought to address itself so directly to the conscience of the proprietor as when he was called upon to undertake the responsibility of selecting a man to be charged with the spiritual interests of the people among whom he was to live; yet this so grave and solemn responsibility the law had fenced about with very slight restrictions. One restriction there was, and almost the only one—the patron might present, but the presentee must be approved by the bishop: the sole security for a congregation against the abuse of patronage existed in the character and conscience of the bishop. The patron might be a weak man, or a rash man, but there was the strength and prudence of the bishop to correct him; the patron might be profligate, but the bishop was pious; the patron might be an infidel, but the bishop at least was sure to be orthodox. Here, then, was the security of the people and of the Church; the impregnable fortress of the bishop's orthodoxy, proof alike against assault from without, and treachery within. To this last refuge the parishioners of Frome betook themselves—they appeal to their bishop, in a memorial, not vague, not indefinite, but showing clearly that they had just views, both of popular rights and episcopal obligations. They placed their objection to Mr. Bennett's appointment on three distinct grounds: first, they put it on Mr. Bennett's own published writings; secondly, on the Bishop of London's condemnation and virtual expulsion of Mr. Bennett from the diocese of London; and, thirdly, on Mr. Bennett's own statement of the reasons and conditions on which his resignation was asked and accepted. And, first of all, let him call the attention of the House to the testimony laid before the bishop, out of Mr. Bennett's own writings. Here, again, let him say, that if he made any allusion to those writings, he offered no opinion whatever on them, but adduced them merely to show the facts which were laid before the bishop for the bishop's own observation, own consideration, and own judgment; he (Mr. Horsman) propounded no opinion whatever about those writings, as to whether they were sound or otherwise. The two passages cited by the parishioners were taken from recently published writings of Mr. Bennett. The first of them was in allusion to the decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the case of Gorham v. the Bishop of Exeter:— Unless a certain possibility (namely, as appears, the reversal of a recent decision of the Judicial Committee of Privy Council) be realised, the pastors who have as yet been enabled to adhere to the Church of England, finding that she denies herself, and forfeits her claim to catholicity, will, one by one, be rejected by the force of law from her communion; and, although not loving the peculiarities of Rome, will, in order to preserve any faith at all, either in their own hearts or in the hearts of those over whom they are set, be compelled to seek salvation within her bosom. This will probably happen within ten years. Then will come the end—Protestantism will sink into its proper place and die; and whatever was catholic in the Church of England will become Roman. That was the first passage taken from Mr. Bennett's writings, and laid before the bishop. The second, much shorter, but very emphatic, ran thus:— All ideas of the Bible, and the dispensing of the Bible, as in itself a means of propagating Christianity, are a fiction and absurdity. Now he (Mr. Horsman) would express no opinion whatever as to these passages; whether they called for condemnation or whether they justified accusation, or whether they might or might not be capable of explanation; what he would say was this—that these two passages were laid before the bishop of the diocese by the clergy and laity of Frome, who, calling his attention to them, only prayed him to delay before he granted institution. The second point they laid before the bishop was the testimony of the Bishop of London as to the character and proceedings of Mr. Bennett when he was in that prelate's diocese, a short time before. They quoted the letter of the Bishop of London, in which he declared that he could not take the recommendation of Mr. Bennett as a title for orders; they quoted the statement in which he gave his reasons for wishing Mr. Bennet to resign; and they quoted the fact that this resignation had been at length accepted. The third point which they laid before the bishop was the letter to which he (Mr. Horsman) had already referred, but to which, as bearing closely upon this part of the question, and as having been brought so distinctly before the bishop, he would refer again, in order to fix the attention of the House upon what was the exact question brought before the bishop of the diocese by the parishioners of Frome. These were the words which Mr. Bennett addressed to his parishioners in London immediately after his resignation:— You will remember, I hope, for my justification, that in my proposal to him (the bishop) to resign the living of St. Paul's, I certainly said there were two conditions—two distinct conditions; not one combined with the other, but two distinct conditions, upon which my offer of resignation was to be fulfilled. 1. He was to say that he was 'of opinion that I was guilty of unfaithfulness to the English Church;' that unfaithfulness being gathered from the principles of duty in doctrine and in practice set forth in my letter of July 15 (see page 92); and, that being so, he was to pronounce thereupon his judgment, as bishop, to that effect. 2. He was in the same manner to say that my resignation would be, in his opinion, for the peace and better ordering of his diocese. Of course when an offer is made upon an hypothesis, and the offer accepted, the hypothesis is allowed. The bishop has therefore' pronounced me, in his judgment as a bishop, guilty of unfaithfulness to the English Church.' There can be no question whatever on this point. Such was the matter laid before the Bishop of Bath and Wells by the parishioners and clergy of Frome. These were the three grounds on which they begged him to defer the institution of Mr. Bennett: first, Mr. Bennett's own writings; secondly, the condemnation of Mr. Bennett by his own bishop; thirdly, Mr. Bennett's own statement of the conditions on which his resignation had been made and accepted. He would now ask the House, under such circumstances—was it necessary to ask the question at all?—what, under such circumstances, was the duty of the bishop of the diocese? The duties of a bishop, indeed, were not very strictly defined. Perhaps there was no person in authority, ecclesiastical or laical, who wielded authority so large, with responsibility so limited. Usually raised from a position of comparative obscurity to one of great wealth, of high rank, of considerable power, the bishop was in that condition in which he might do very much as he pleased; he was a dignitary at large, who could spend his time wherever he fancied, employing himself in any way he found agreeable, and doing nothing that was not agreeable. He was accountable to no one; if he were a man of conscience, his powers of usefulness were great; if an ill-disposed man he had powers of mischief measureless. Yet the power of the bishop, almost absolute and unlimited as it was, had one remarkable restriction; left to his own dis- cretion in all other matters, in his exercise of appellate jurisdiction, in presentations to benefices, the bishop falls under well-defined obligations, and is subject to strict laws. In that respect there was no doubt what were his functions, no vagueness as to his duties; the obligations imposed on him by the law were clear; the statutory directions by which he was to abide were so plain, so unequivocal, so peremptorily enjoined, that no man of ordinary intelligence could misunderstand them, as no man with a conscience could disregard them. If there was one case in the canons more carefully guarded against, more scrupulously provided for than another, it was this precise case of Mr. Bennett, where a clergyman who had been instituted in one diocese, removed and applied for institution in another. He had set forth on the notice paper what were the obligations on a bishop, distinctly and clearly required by the law. No bishop," said the law, "shall institute any to a benefice who hath been ordained by any other bishop, except he first show unto him his letters of orders, and bring him a sufficient testimony of his former good life and behaviour, if the bishop shall require it; and, lastly, shall appear on due examination, to be worthy of his ministry. The clergyman so applying for institution must further lay before the bishop of the diocese a certificate signed by three beneficed clergyman. Amongst the text-books and authorities on this question, any one would find the form of certificate usually granted by the bishop on such occasions. It must be signed by three beneficed clergymen, and if they were not of the diocese to which the presentee was removing, it must be countersigned by the bishop of the diocese from which he came. The form of certificate was in these words, and the precise words were extremely important:— We, whose names are hereunder written, testify and make known that A. B., Clerk, A.M. (or other degree), presented (or to be collated, as the case may be) to the canonry (or to the rectory or vicarage, as the case may he) of—, in the county of—, in your Lordship's diocese, hath been personally known to us for the space of three years last past; that we have had opportunities of observing his conduct; that, during the whole of that time, we verily believe that he lived piously, soberly, and honestly; nor have we at any time heard anything to the contrary thereof; nor hath he at any time, as far as we know and believe, held, written, or taught anything contrary to the doctrine or discipline of the United Church of England and Ireland; and, moreover, we believe him in our consciences to be, as to his moral conduct, a person worthy to be admitted to the said canonry or benefice (as the case may be). In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands this—day of—, in the year of our Lord—,C. D., Vicar of—: E. F., Rector of—,G. H., Vicar of—. If all the subscribers are not beneficed in the diocese of the bishop to whom 'the testimony is addressed, the counter signature of the bishop of the diocese wherein their benefices are respectively situate is required. Now, this certificate, so signed by three beneficed clergymen, was to set forth, be it observed, that for the three years last past, they had constant opportunities of observing the conduct of the presentee, and that during that period they were prepared to say he had done nothing against the doctrine or discipline of the Church of England. The question here to be asked, then, was, of course, whether three beneficed clergymen of the diocese of London had signed such a certificate in favour of Mr. Bennett, had certified that during the three years last past he had done nothing against the doctrine or discipline of the Church of England, had affirmed that during the whole of 1851 they had had constant opportunities of knowing and observing Mr. Bennett—for the certificate must apply to that year—when Mr. Bennett was on the Continent, and in the habit, as it clearly appeared, of frequenting Roman Catholic chapels. This was the first question to be asked—whether three beneficed clergymen of the Church of England had signed the certificate thus required by law to be signed? Now, he heard, incredible as it might seem, that such a certificate had been signed; that, incredible as it might seem, three beneficed clergymen of the Church of England, residing in the diocese of London, had positively signed their names to a statement that during the three years last past—the year 1851 being one of those years—they could answer, from personal observation, to Mr. Bennett's having been true to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England; that during the whole of these three years, in the course of which the Bishop of London's complaints had arisen, Mr. Bennett had been faithful to the Church of England, and had done nothing against her discipline and doctrine. There was another question to be asked. The rule was, that, if all the clergymen signing such a certificate were not resident in the diocese to which the clergyman repaired, the certificate must be countersigned by the bishop of the diocese from which he came. It, therefore, naturally suggested itself to put this second, and very painful question—Had the Bishop of London countersigned this testimonial? Had the Bishop of London, who procured Mr. Bennett's resignation of his living in London, because Mr. Bennett was unfaithful to the Church, and insubordinate to the bishop, signed or sanctioned a certificate that during the whole of the three years last past Mr. Bennett had been a faithful and obedient minister in his diocese? He heard, again, that the Bishop of London had signed that certificate, but he also heard, though only as a rumour, that the Bishop of London had signed it with a qualification. Well, now, it was most important to know what that qualification was. He was well acquainted with the practice in granting these certificates, and how the signature of the prelate was usually appended. The requirement of the canon was most precise on this point; it said— And the said curates and ministers, if they remove from one diocese to another, shall not be by any means admitted to serve without testimony of the bishop of the diocese, or ordinary of the place as aforesaid, whence they came, in writing, of their honesty, ability, and conformity to the ecclesiastical laws of the Church of England. This canon was clear enough; the practice however, in ordinary cases, was, that the three clergymen having signed the required certificate, the bishop's counter signature was merely to the effect of attesting that the clergymen so signing the certificate were resident in his diocese, and known to him, but vouching in no degree for the accuracy of the statements made by them, and carrying, in fact, no allusion whatever to what was embodied in those statements. The bishop's signature was merely this—"I certify that these signatures are genuine, and that the parties are known to me." It might be presumed that, in accordance with this usage, such had been the mode in which the Bishop of London had given his signature in this case; but it was understood that there was, in this particular instance, this remarkable deviation from the usual practice, that whereas, ordinarily, the bishop's signature merely conveyed an attestation of the genuineness of the clergymen's signatures, the Bishop of London, if he were rightly informed, did actually write on the margin of Mr. Bennett's testimonial a caution that he was merely to be understood as certifying that the clergymen's signatures were genuine, but that he was no party whatever to the statements which those signatures attested. He (Mr. Horsman) did not know whether such was the case, but he had heard that it was, and he would assume that the Bishop of London had so far hoped to save his consistency, in not being a party to any of the statements which the three clergymen might have thought fit to make. This was certain, that the reception of the Bishop of London's signature, with this unusual qualification, placed an additional responsibility on the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and afforded an additional ground for extreme prudence and precaution. He was only stating what he had heard with regard to this certificate, but it was evident that the matter stood thus: either they had three clergymen of the Established Church granting a testimonial on which he would not further comment, countersigned, if you pleased, by their bishop, with a qualification, of itself inviting inquiry; or, on the Other hand, they had not found three clergymen bold enough to grant that certificate, they had not found any bishop who would countersign it, and therefore the Bishop of Bath and Wells had deliberately dispensed with one of those precautions admitted to be essential for the security and good government of the Church. But there was a further point. Even after the certificate had been produced before the bishop, there was another duty enjoined by the canon; the bishop, even after receiving the certificate, had another duty to perform; the 39th canon required that "the bishop shall satisfy himself, by due examination, that the candidate is worthy of the ministry;" and the 48th canon declared that "no minister shall be permitted to serve in any place without examination and admission of the bishop of the diocese." That examination, again, was not a mere matter of form; there was no point on which the law was more explicit or more strongly laid down. In Dr. Burn's Ecclesiastical Law, a judgment of Lord Ellenborough's was quoted, which, in the general construction of the Statute applied to all like cases:— It appears, then, that there is to be an examination by the bishop, which is to precede the admission of the curate; which duty of examination is cast upon him by the express terms of the canon; and, therefore, if the bishop either will not examine at all, or only in a mode altogether ineffectual for the purpose for which such an examination is required—if, in short, he should appear to refuse or elude the performance of this express duty, the Court will interfere by mandamus to compel such an examination to be made as appertains to his duty. Lord Ellenborough went on to say— The word of the statute is 'approve,' and he must exercise that approbation according to his conscience upon such means of information as he can obtain; and everything that can properly minister to his conscientious approbation or disapprobation, and fairly and reasonably induce his conclusion on such a subject, though it might not be evidence that would be formally admitted in a court of law, may, I am of opinion, be fitly taken into his consideration. On these grounds the parishioners of Frome memorialised the bishop, praying him to consider the circumstances which they had laid before him, and not at once grant institution to Mr. Bennett. The bishop, who could not have been ignorant of the facts, and who was certainly less ignorant of the law, did not condescend to notice any one of the circumstances which had been laid before him by the memorialists. His reply was couched in these terms:— Brighton, Jan. 12, 1852. Rev. and Dear Sir—I have read and given my best attention to the memorial signed by yourself and some of the clergy, and other persons, forwarded to me from Frome, upon the recent appointment of Mr. Bennett to that living by the Marchioness of Bath. I can assure you, had I not been satisfied that Mr. Bennett was not attached to, or likely to be influenced by, the doctrines of the Church of Rome, or likely to influence in that direction others of any congregation committed to his care, I should have declined instituting him, from whatever quarter his nomination might have come; but as I am fully satisfied that Mr. Bennett has a firm and deep-rooted attachment to our own Church, and to all the doctrines of the Church of England, repudiating all Romish doctrines, I feel that I should be acting unjustly by him, and uncourteously as well as unfairly by the Marchioness of Bath (whose firm attachment to our Church is so well known), if I were to refuse him admission into my diocese. I shall, therefore, adhere as firmly to my intention of instituting Mr. Bennett (however respectable the signatures to any protest may be) as I should have objected to have done had my opinion of his attachment to the Church been otherwise. I will only add, in conclusion, that as you and all those who have signed the protest have done no more than they considered to be their duty in thus expressing their opinions to me, and I have myself as candidly stated my own feeling on the subject, which I trust will have the effect of allaying any fears which they have entertained, it is my earnest hope that there will be no unseemly opposition on the part of the clergy, or any of those who have signed the protest, and that Mr. Bennet will be received with kindly feeling.—I am, Rev. and dear Sir, your faithful servant, R. BATH and WELLS. The Rev. H. D. Wickham. The bishop took upon himself the gift of infallibility to decide against all evidence and all law, and adhered firmly to his determination to give institution to Mr. Bennett without delay. The memorialists were dispirited, but they did not yet quite despair. Again they wrote to the bishop, preferring another request. To their first letter they had received an answer which, though not altogether courteous, and certainly not conciliatory, was yet a model of episcopal kindness and Christian courtesy compared with the reply to this second request. Their letter was now in these terms:— Frome, Jan. 15, 1852. My Lord—I am requested by those of the clergy and laity who presented the memorial to your Lordship, praying you not to institute the Rev. Mr. Bennett to the vicarage of Frome, to acknowledge the receipt of your reply, and to express their deep regret that you still intend to proceed with his institution, though he has not retracted, so far as we are aware, any of those doctrines and opinions cited in our memorial, which create in us so much alarm. At the same time we beg to thank your Lordship for the credit which you give us of objecting to Mr. Bennett from a sense of duty; and, upon the recognition of this principle, we now trust that your Lordship will so far oblige us as to stay institution for the brief period of a fortnight, in order that we may deliberate calmly on a matter of such grave importance, and consider whether it may be our duty to take any further steps.—I am, my Lord, your very obedient humble servant. HILL D. WICKHAM. The Right Rev. the Bishop of Bath and Wells. Was that an unreasonable request, or one that should have been uncourteously received? It was a petition from those under his spiritual charge—a congregation of men deeply moved on a religious question, and showing a degree of religious solicitude on, to them, a vital point, with which he should have thought a Christian bishop might have shown some sympathy. What was the reply of the bishop to this letter, signed by clergy and laity in the parish of Frome, addressed to him under such remarkable and painful circumstances? Some days elapsed before any answer at all was returned, and then the bishop sent this reply:— Jan. 19, 1852. Rev. and Dear Sir—I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter containing the communication you were requested to forward to me, and remain, your faithful servant, R. BATH AND WELLS. He did not think it necessary to comment upon that production. Those gentlemen who had signed the memorial had, in fact, presumed to exercise that right of private judgment which seemed distasteful to the bishop, and they had met with their reward. He remembered reading that Archbishop Laud was said to have expressed a hope that he should see the day when there should be never a Jack Gentleman in England that should not stand uncovered before the meanest priest. That letter showed something of the spirit of Laud; but he trusted that the gentlemen of England would never bend to it. Mr. Bennett was therefore instituted to the vicarage of Frome, with a large income, the patronage of three livings, the appointment of several curates, and all the means and opportunities of using his influence which were afforded to a minister of the Established Church in a position of authority and honour. What was Mr. Bennett's first public act? The people of Frome had not long to wait for an indication of his intentions. When Mr. Bennett resigned the living of St. Barnabas, three of the curates also sent in their resignations in a public letter which the addressed to the Bishop on London, in these terms:— TO THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON. My Lord—We, the undersigned curates of the district church of St. Paul, Knightsbridge, and St. Barnabas, Pimlico, in your Lordship's diocese, having heard from the churchwardens that it is your Lordship's desire that the services in these churches should be performed in a manner different from that which we had the great privilege of enjoying hitherto, beg to resign our cures into your Lordship's hands.

"G. F. De GEX, Curates of St. Paul's.
"HENRY FYFFE, Curate of St. Barnabas.

"St. Barnabas' College, Pimlico, Dec. 13, 1850."

MR. Bennett's first public act was to dismiss the popular curate whom he had found established at Frome, and to put in his place the rev. curate whose name was at the head of that resignation. Mr. Bennett was instituted; the popular curate was dismissed; Mr. De Gex occupied his place; and his (Mr. Horsman's) narrative was now concluded. But what was the condition in which the parishioners of Frome now stood? The clergy had memoralised—the laity had protested—the Nonconformists in the town had held a public meeting, at which they had raised their voices in behalf of Protestantism and against what they termed this "now Papal aggression." [Hear, hear!] It was a question which he begged to tell hon. Gentlemen the Dissenters of England had as strong an interest in as the members of the Established Church. They might not be amenable to the discipline of the Established Church; but who could say that the Protestantism and Christianity of England had not been deeply indebted to the Dissenters? Too often had we found that the Church Establishment had become the instrument for conversions to another faith; but among Dissenters those conversions had been rare; and the time might yet come when among the Dissenters of England might be found the best bulwark against any aggressions upon the Protestantism of the country. But he would repeat, and he thought it an indication of opinion which ought not to be sneered at, that the Protestant Dissenters of this country had protested against the appointment of Mr. Bennett. In consequence of these proceedings, many of the most respectable families of Frome had absented themselves from the church. The trustees of one of the charity schools, twelve in number, had met and passed a resolution by a majority of nine to three, that the school children should not frequent it. One of Mr. Bennett's curates from the diocese of London had already been transported to Frome. The people of Frome knew this; they knew that in the diocese of London two of Mr. Bennett's curates went over to the Church of Rome, even whilst ministering in the Church of England: they knew also that to the very last moment before their departure they were making use of every opportunity which their official position, and the facilities of access they obtained to families, might give them, of making converts to that Church whose doctrines they had themselves embraced. They knew that Mr. Bennett had established a convent of Sisters of Mercy in the parish of St. Barnabas, and that nearly every one of the Sisters of Mercy had gone over to the Church of Rome, and that others of his congregation, neither few in number nor obscure in station, had followed their example. The people of Frome knew all this, and they felt that they were not safe from the repetition of a similar occurrence. But the case of those who, under Mr. Bennett's previous charge, had joined Rome, was not the worst. Many, no doubt, who had left one faith and embraced another, had found some resting place for their conscience; but many there were who had gone to the verge of the precipice, but had not passed beyond it; who had gone too far, and yet had not advanced far enough; who had been unsettled in one faith without being established in another. The misery that had been created in families by these proceedings of Mr. Bennett's was not to be told. He was speaking in the presence of those who could bear fatal testimony to the truth of what he was stating—who knew the family affliction, the domestic sorrows, the social distrust that had been diffused throughout his late parish—who had heard of the parental anguish—who had been told even of broken hearts. Those things had occurred in London, and might they not be repeated at Frome? Where was the redress? The Bishop of Bath and Wells said that he was satisfied; but were the Protestants of England satisfied? Was Parliament satisfied? Was there no redress for these things? Where was it to be found? Not in the morality, unhappily, of our clergy—not in the consciences of our prelates. Our clergy were too much mistrusted, our prelates too deeply tainted. But the laity of England, thank God, were yet sound. It was the laity of England who were the Church of England; they were its strength, they were its soundness, they constituted its hope, and it was for the laity of England to bestir themselves on occasions such as these. And how could they do it so legitimately as through their representatives in Parliament? He invited the House to proceed in that manner which was most in conformity with our ecclesiastical constitution and Parliamentary precedent. He proposed that Parliament, representing the laity of England, should lay their petition at the foot of the Throne; that they should pray the Sovereign that she would add one other to the many claims which she had already established to the love and admiration of her grateful subjects; that she would show herself the protector of her people and their religion, not against assaults from without, but against treachery from within; not against enemies avowed, but against her own unworthy sons; and when that un-worthiness should be found in high places, that, by compelling even the dignitaries of the Church to show that obedience to the laws which the Bishop of Bath and Wells had so wantonly repudiated, she would purge that great scandal from the Church of which she was the appointed head, and vindicate her title as Defender of that Faith on which had been established her people's liberties and her own Throne.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That an Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to direct inquiry to be made, whether due respect was paid to the Decrees of the Constitutions and Canons Ecclesiastical of the Church of England in the recent institution of the Rev. Mr. Bennett to the Vicarage of Frome.


Sir, I do not think that it is possible to exaggerate the importance of the ques- tion which the hon. Gentleman has brought under the consideration of the House. And when I think to what a class of discussions the present debate may give rise, if the House sanction the Motion which the hon. Gentleman has made, I confess that I look to our Parliamentary future as rife with elements of very peculiar interest. Sir, I myself am not rising now to offer any opinion upon the circumstances which the hon. Gentleman has laid before the House this evening. I never felt more acutely the inconvenience, in a popular assembly like the House of Commons, of discussions such as that in which we are now engaged. But I have been very much struck, while I listened to the speech of the hon. Gentleman, with the inadequacy of the proposition which he has made for dealing with the circumstances to which he has called our attention. According to the hon. Gentleman, a very great grievance is experienced by some of Her Majesty's subjects, and that too with regard to matters which are peculiarly calculated to interest the feelings of her subjects. But I do not understand that the hon. Gentleman has really proposed any remedy for this grievance which he has alleged. I think that before the House assents to the Address to Her Majesty which he proposes, it will do well to consider whether, by agreeing to it, they will establish any authority which will be able to cope with the circumstances to which the hon. Gentleman has referred. Suppose, for example, that the House assents to this Motion—suppose that Her Majesty has issued a Commission to inquire into these circumstances—which, in fact, is what the hon. Gentleman is seeking—no authority will accompany that Commission of Inquiry which will force any one to make any communication which he is unwilling to offer. That Commission of Inquiry will not have the power to obtain from the very individuals whom the House would probably wish to be subjected to its inquisition that information which they might require. It appears to me that upon the statement of the hon. Gentleman one of these two alternatives must turn—either that there is at present existing a remedy for this alleged grievance, or that there is not. I speak, of course, upon such a subject with a deference that must become any Member of this House who has not the particular learning which applies to these questions; but I have always understood, and I cannot help believing, that there must be an appeal from the prelate who acts in contravention of the canons of the Church to the archbishop. If then there be an appeal to the archbishop, if the conduct and decisions of the prelate are subject to that superior revision, that surely must be a reason why the House of Commons should not interfere before that appeal has taken place, and, in lieu of having recourse to such a tribunal, should not substitute a means which is confessedly so inadequate to obtain the result which is desired. But I may be told, though I shall be somewhat surprised if I am told, that no such appeal exists. Well then, is it not clearly a case for the legislation of Parliament, if a remedy does not exist for the alleged grievance, and that, too, one of so important a character? Parliament may no doubt issue a Commission, which may subject all the individuals concerned to a most searching inquiry, which may obtain that information which the hon. Gentleman desires, and may lay before the House all those details which may be the foundation of sound useful and necessary legislation. I know that many persons are of opinion there is a too great facility in the institution of clergymen to benefices. I do not wish myself to give an opinion upon that subject; I do not wish to enter into any controversy on subjects of this kind on the present occasion; but I can easily understand that such an opinion may exist, and that there are many who are of opinion that it is a proper subject on which to legislate, in order that some checks and some increased control should be established on a subject which interests the feelings of every person in this country. But in what way does the proposition of the hon. Gentleman meet this difficulty? I think that with his view of this case he was perfectly justified in bringing this question before Parliament; and I think that the hon. Gentleman, if he is of opinion that no remedy exists for the grievance which he believes to be suffered by the inhabitants of Frome, would be taking a most justifiable and legitimate course if he proposed to legislate on the subject. But if a remedy exists, as I think and believe that it does, in an appeal to the archbishop or otherwise, then I think that the hon. Gentleman must himself believe that these means should be had recourse to before this House agrees to a Resolution like that which he recommends. If it is, on the other hand, the opinion of the hon. Gentleman that no such means exist, then I think that he must feel that the proposition which he has recommended is inadequate to cope with the grievance which exists, and that he must call on the Legislature in a becoming manner to meet the conjuncture to which he has called attention. I have addressed myself to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, without wishing to give any opinion upon the merits of the important case which he has brought before the House. Far be it from me to vindicate the character of any clergyman who it can be shown has behaved in a manner in which it is stated that Mr. Bennett has conducted himself. I do not give any opinion. I do not presume to give one, on any of these important circumstances. I feel that this is not a tribunal which should decide upon questions like that which has now been brought before the House. I feel the inconvenience of an assembly like the present to decide upon such a subject, mainly upon a Statement by the hon. Gentleman. But what I wish to impress on the House is, not to be led away to adopt a Resolution which will be inefficient to attain the purposes contemplated by the hon. Gentleman, and which in itself is one that I think they would find extremely inconvenient, if adopted. Commissions of inquiry issued by Her Majesty, without any power to elicit the information which they are sent forth to obtain, are a mockery, which it is very unwise in the House of Commons to have recourse to. If Commissions of Inquiry are issued under extraordinary circumstances, and for extraordinary purposes, it is of the utmost importance that we should take care that those inquiries should be really efficient, and that the Commissioners of Inquiry should be accompanied with powers which will secure the means of eliciting the information they sought for. I cannot think that the hon. Gentleman will feel it his duty to press this Resolution to a division. He has brought before the House—and I think he was justified in doing so—matters of grave importance which must be interesting to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects, and having done so, I trust the hon. Gentleman will be satisfied with having directed the attention of the House to the subject. It is quite impossible that conduct like that which he has alleged in this case should take place without being the subject of public comment and examination. And whatever may be the merits of the case, no one can doubt that public discussion upon such subjects must ultimately be at- tended with public advantage. But I must recur again to the consideration of that point which I have already brought under the consideration of the House—that when a grievance like this is alleged, and a remedy exists, as I believe it does, the House surely will not sanction the issuing of a Commission of Inquiry which has no power to elicit and secure the information which it wishes to obtain; and if, on the other hand, no remedy does exist, it surely is the duty of Parliament to legislate upon such a subject, and to secure that in this, as in all other cases of grievance, a remedy should be supplied by law. In either alternative I cannot feel that the House of Commons would be taking a course which meets the difficulties of the case, or which becomes itself, if it only prays for a Commission of Inquiry to issue, which will go forth to perform its task without the power which is necessary to insure its fulfilment, and which will disappoint all public expectation, and can only lead to protracted discussions, without securing that settlement which we all desire. Let me also press upon the attention of the House that we only evade the difficulty by acceding to a Motion like that made by the hon. Gentleman. We should be establishing a precedent which you may be sure you would find, are long, pregnant with difficulty and embarrassment. I cannot understand, if you adopt the Resolution of the hon. Gentleman, how a single clergyman can be be instituted to any living without the House of Commons interfering to challenge the propriety of his induction in every instance. What do you do by assenting to this Motion? You address Her Majesty to inquire into the propriety of the institution of an individual into a living; and a precedent will thus be furnished for continual mischievous interferences, but not for any beneficial settlement of the difficulties and grievances of which you complain. I trust, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman, satisfied with having brought amply and ably before the House a subject of very great importance, and indeed of an importance which cannot be exaggerated; satisfied also that none of the persons connected with these transactions can rest without placing their conduct fairly before the country; feeling that correct and complete views of all the circumstances connected with this case will now be the consequence of this discussion; feeling that it is his duty, from the position which he has taken himself with regard to this ques- tion, either to have recourse to the remedy which the law supplies, or, if the law supplies no remedy, himself to propose the redress which new legislation will offer; I say, Sir, that I trust that the hon. Gentleman, feeling these considerations, will not press to a division a Resolution which I am sure will be pregnant with great inconvenience and great embarrassment to our future deliberations. I therefore, beg to move the Previous Question.


hoped that his hon. Friend would not accept the advice which had just been given him by the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer. It must be evident to the House that this question was one of considerable embarrassment to the right hon. Gentleman, because, in spite of the command of language which he usually possessed, it was most evident to every individual present, that from the beginning to the end of his address he was at a greater loss for some means to answer the able speech of the hon. Gentleman who had brought this question forward, than he (Sir H. Verney) believed he had ever been before. The right hon. Gentleman, indeed, had found himself utterly unable to parry the attack which had been made upon a portion of the conduct of the Establishment to which they all belonged, and which they were all anxious, if possible, to defend. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to stand there, as the First Minister of the Crown in that House, to tell them that the Queen, as "Defender of the Faith," had no power to institute an inquiry into circumstances of a most important nature connected with the Church? He (Sir H. Verney) could not believe that such was the fact. Was it to be stated in that House that a prelate had instituted a clergyman who had been guilty of the practices of which the Rev. Mr. Bennett had been guilty, and no answer was to be given to these allegations? There was far greater danger to the country from the abuse of their power by the dignitaries of the Church, than in the attacks of foreign foes, or of those who might seek to impair our institutions, greatness, and power. He therefore hoped that his hon. Friend the Member for Cockermouth would persevere with his Motion; that nothing would induce him to allow the question to be shelved, but that he would afford the House an opportunity of fairly and honestly expressing its opinion upon it.


said, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that that House was not a fit tribunal for the discussion and decision of a question like the one which had just been brought before them. The right hon. Gentleman had stated unanswerably, that if once they admitted the principle that an alleged grievance with respect to the institution of a particular individual was to be brought legitimately before the House, every subsequent presentation might be brought before them, and there would he few occasions on which there would not be found grounds more or less plausible for bringing such cases before the House. Granting, if they pleased, that there was a primâ facie case for inquiry, he defied his hon. Friend who last addressed the House, or any other person to contest the conclusion of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, namely, that if they adopted the Resolution, they could not stop there. Another point to be borne in mind was, that it would be a brutum fulmen for the Queen to grant the prayer of the Resolution, and issue a Commission of Inquiry; for did anybody in that House suppose that the parties implicated in this discussion would succumb to a Commission issued at the request of one branch of the Legislature only? Had they not had sufficient experience to show that the power to enforce attendance in such cases was absolutely wanting in such cases? He would not attempt to go into the merits of the particular case which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman) had brought before them. He limited himself to the consideration of the fact, that the House of Commons, consisting, not as an hon. Member had said, of members of the Church of England—he (Sir R. H. Inglis) wished it did—but of various sects, was not a fit tribunal for the decision of such a case. The hon. Member had flattered them a little too much when he assumed that the Members of that House were all equally interested either in the maintenance of the external fabric or the internal doctrine of the Church of England. The fact was, that they were not a tribunal to which any English churchman would willingly submit questions connected with either his faith or his practice as a churchman. Did the House consist—possibly it might—he often believed it did—of a majority of Members, nominally at all events, and perhaps consistently, attached to the Church of England? And even if this were so, would it be contended by any one that that House constituted such a tribunal as other members of the Church would willingly make their appeal to? Who in that House represented any of the four parties whose interests were now brought under discussion? Who represented the Rev. Mr. Bennet? who represented the parishioners of Frome? who represented the Bishop of Bath and Wells? or who represented the Bishop of London? Was it possible for that House to pass a Resolution like that proposed by the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Horsman), which anticipated and assumed the guilt which he called upon the House to investigate? The arguments and facts that had been brought forward were all one-sided, and were not met by any antagonistic statement by any one authorised to present it to the House. And he was satisfied they would best discharge their duty, and save the House from being in future the arena for such discussions as the present, by adopting the course proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


said, that the same fallacy with respect to the proposition of his hon. Friend the Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Horsman) had pervaded the speeches both of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer and of the hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. Inglis). His (Mr. Ewart's) hon. Friend had not called upon that House to constitute itself a tribunal for the investigation of this matter, but merely to interpose—to ask the proper authorities in whom the power was vested to conduct such an investigation. Now this, he maintained, was a perfectly constitutional course, and one which was constantly adopted in the cases of Addresses to the Crown. Nothing could be more absurd or impolitic than for that House to constitute itself a tribunal for the settlement of theological questions; but it had the power both of making laws and of putting the laws in motion, by appealing to the proper authorities who were charged with that duty: that was all that his hon. Friend had asked them to do.


said, he would state clearly to the House the grounds upon which he would support the Motion. This House was no doubt the most improper tribunal for dealing with religious questions. But, then, the House had constituted itself such a tribunal. He never wished to hear such discussions in it, and had always deprecated them, but he did not see how they could be avoided so long as they had a Church established by law. The House having sanctioned a Church Establishment, and having laid down certain rules by which the discipline of that Church should he conducted, he thought they were bound to see that those rules were not violated. And that was all that was asked on the present occasion. It had laid down special rules for the government of that Church. A scandal had now arisen in that Church. The parishioners of Frome complained that a clergyman of that particular Church had been sent among them whose tenets and practices were contrary to the rules and stipulations of the law. They had appealed to the proper authority, the bishop of the diocese; and they had been refused redress. Well, what were they to do? They could not appeal to Her Majesty. They, therefore, came before that House, asking that justice should be done between them and the obnoxious pastor, and undertaking that on an inquiry it would be made apparent that the practices of Mr. Bennett were contrary to the faith they venerated, and, if permitted to be perserved in, would lead to the establishment of the Church of Rome instead of the Church of England. On what ground could the House of Commons resist the appeal, even granting that thus a precedent would be established? In that House Her Majesty's Ministers were acting for Her Majesty, and they were bound to see that the House should not overlook those things which were calculated to be injurious to the religion of which Her Majesty was the head. The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer met the Motion of his (Mr. Hume's) hon. Friend by denying the fitness of the tribunal to which he proposed to refer this question. But he (Mr. Hume) recollected twenty instances in which, in cases similar to this, Commissions of Inquiry had been appointed, on an Address of the House of Commons, to inquire into the existence of alleged grievances. He might refer to the well-known case of the Commission which was appointed in consequence of the Motion which he had brought forward with respect to the misappropriation of the revenues of the Church, and the evils which arose from the non-residence of the clergy. A Commission having been appointed to inquire into these subjects, a measure was passed which corrected the abuses to which he had referred; and to it he, in a great measure, attributed the improved usefulness and efficiency of the Church of England, and its greater freedom from abuses. Surely, where the public property had been applied by law to the support of religious teachers, that House had a right, upon complaint being made of their conduct, to address the Crown to institute an inquiry into it. It would be next to insanity for a private Member to bring in a Bill on such a subject until the correctness of the facts stated by the inhabitants had been ascertained by inquiry. He believed that a more legitimate case for inquiry than the present had never been made out, and he warned those who now refused to inquire into the abuses of the Church that the time might come when those abuses would endanger the existence of the institution.


said, he felt the force of what had been stated by the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, namely, that the constitution of the Church would most likely have provided a remedy for the grievance complained of. At the same time, it was possible that in the lapse of years the powers conferred by the Constitution for the remedy of such abuses might have grown rusty. He was, however, quite certain that, the question having been raised, the country would demand that it should be fully investigated: this was a question, which having been raised, must be dealt with. And though he should wish to leave it in the hands of the Government to decide how the investigation should be made, so that they in the proper and due exercise of the privilege vested in them of advising Her Majesty, should indicate the course that ought to be taken, he would beg the Government not to imagine that the question could be passed over without satisfying the public by a full inquiry. Although he deprecated the interposition of the authority of that House, since that might be thought to trench upon the independence of the Church of England, for his own part he did not see any specific objection to the Commons of England addressing the Crown upon this subject; nevertheless, he ventured, as an independent Member, determinately attached to the Church of England, to beg of the Government not to ask the House to ignore the proposition of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cockermouth, without suggesting some practical means by which Her Majesty's authority, as temporal head of the Church, might be brought to bear upon this important question.


said, that his hon. Friend who had last spoken had said that as this question had been raised it ought to be dealt with, and in that opinion he most cordially concurred. He felt not only that this was a question which ought to be raised, but that, having been raised, it ought to be dealt with; and he would say for himself, as he believed he might say for every Member of Her Majesty's Government, that the matter ought not to rest in its present position, but that unquestionably inquiry ought to be made, and a remedy ought to be provided. At the same time he must say, not only as a Member of the Government and a Member of that House, but as a sincere and attached member of the Church of England, that, having listened with painful attention to the speech of the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Horsman), he did Dot think the plan suggested by the hon. Gentleman was the mode of inquiry which the House ought to adopt. He was bound to express his reasons for entertaining that opinion, and to call the attention of the hon. Member for Cockermouth to the fact, that the Resolution proposed by the hon. Gentleman went solely, as he (Sir J. Pakington) understood it, to call in question the conduct of the Bishop of Bath and Wells in having instituted Mr. Bennett to the vicarage of Frome. Without meaning to use the expression offensively towards the hon. Member for Cockermouth, he must say that this was, in fact, an attack upon the Bishop of Bath and Wells. Looking at the matter in this point of view, he thought they could not fail to remember that the Bishop of Bath and Wells was not only very advanced in years, but that his health was greatly impaired. ["Oh, oh!"] He could not vindicate the conduct of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, but it appeared to him that the question raised by the hon. Member for Cockermouth was not as to the conduct of that prelate in having instituted Mr. Bennett to the living of Frome without further inquiry—though that circumstance he did not hesitate to say that he (Sir J. Pakington), for one, regretted—but the real question raised by the hon. Member for Cockermouth was really as to the alleged conduct of Mr. Bennett at Kissengen. He certainly thought the alleged conduct of Mr. Bennett at Kissengen ought to be made the subject of inquiry, for it appeared to him that if the statement of the hon. Member for Cockermouth, which had been made with great particularity, and was supported by evidence which appeared of the most respectable character, was true, Mr. Bennett must be regarded as being a Roman Catholic, and as therefore entirely unfit to hold preferment in the Church of England. He (Sir J. Pakington) did not wish to prejudge the case; but whatever the conduct of Mr. Bennett might have been at Kissengen, they had every reason to suppose that it was unknown to the Bishop of Bath and Wells at the time he instituted Mr. Bennett. He believed, indeed, that if the subject were investigated, it would be found that the institution of Mr. Bennett to the vicarage of Frome was the means of bringing out the statements they had heard, and that previously to his institution those circumstances which had been detailed by the hon. Member for Cockermouth had not been made known in this country. But the Motion of the hon. Member did not touch Mr. Bennett's conduct at Kissengen; and he (Sir J. Pakington) thought, looking at the extreme danger and inconvenience of making these matters the subject of discussion in the House of Commons, except under circumstances of the most pressing necessity, that it would be most unadvisable—setting aside the transactions at Kissengen—to make the mere institution of Mr. Bennett to the living of Frome the subject of a Motion in that House. He did not think, indeed, that the hon. Gentleman would have touched that question had it not been for the remarkable circumstances stated, whether truly or not, to have occurred at Kissengen. He (Sir J. Pakington) would only further advert to the observations made by the hon. Gentleman with reference to the letters dimissory of Mr. Bennett having been signed by the Bishop of London. He (Sir J. Pakington) did not feel at liberty to make any authoritative statement in that House on the subject; but it happened to be within his own knowledge, upon authority he could not doubt, that the language used by the Bishop of London had been such that he wag strongly convinced if that language were known to the hon. Member for Cockermouth, he would not feel the slightest disposition to complain of the conduct of the Bishop of London. Looking to the inconvenience of making this question the subject of a Parliamentary discussion—looking also to the shape in which the hon. Gentleman had drawn the Resolution—and looking likewise to the fact that it went only to impugn the conduct of the Bishop of Bath and Wells for instituting the gentleman under circumstances different from those now before the House, he felt the right course for the House to take was, to say the question should not be put. He hoped what had passed in the House on that occasion would be the means of causing an inquiry, and that the statement that had been made respecting the conduct of the Rev. Mr. Bennett at Kissengen would be fully investigated.


Sir, I trust that the statement that has been just made by the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary may be the means of relieving, if not the whole House, certainly some Members of the House, from very considerable embarassment. It is impossible to deny that this a subject on which the House has a right to demand explanation. I do not agree in the observation of my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. Inglis), for it appears to me he would exclude the House from any right to make inquiry with respect to matters of this kind. The House of Commons was a party to the passing the Act of Uniformity; and I believe that was passed when Protestant Dissenters were Members of the House, and, if I mistake not, at a time when Roman Catholics might sit in the House, and the Act of Uniformity being an Act of Parliament, the House has a right to inquire whether clergymen appointed to benefices are faithful Members of the Church of England, and whether, in fact, they don't belong to some other Christian community. Having thus, as I conceive, established the right of the House to interfere, I own I feel the greatest difficulty in exercising that right, I feel the greatest difficulty, both as to the mode in which that right may be exercised, and the consequences to which its exercise may lead. I cannot but feel that if a Commission is appointed that has not in fact greater powers than are allowed to be conferred by the Crown, and which cannot be had without an Act of Parliament, you may only provoke hostility and refusals to answer, and thus may create great dissensions between this branch of the Legislature, and a portion of the clergy of the Church of England. I cannot but feel also that if the House does interfere, it would be most unfortunate if the remedy they adopted, should be insufficient. I feel likewise with regard to this case, the want of those lights which we had at former times from Members of this House, who were peculiarly qualified to give opinions on a subject of this nature. I allude particularly to a right hon. Friend of mine, a Member of this House, and another learned Gentleman, a Member of the House, now absent, who might, if they were present, inform us with respect to the point on which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer naturally expressed himself with doubt and hesitation, namely, whether there could he an appeal on the part of the inhabitants of Frome from the Bishop of Bath and Wells to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and how far the law is able to deal with the question at present. I feel with regard to this particular case, that in a great degree we are uninformed as to the fact that has been last mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington), namely, the terms in which the Bishop of London expressed his opinion in the testimonial or letters dimissory to the Bishop of Bath and Wells. The House is without the means of judging on that point, because, with respect to the facts that came before the Bishop of Bath and Wells when he was asked to induct the Rev. Mr. Bennett, the circumstances are unknown to us. It might be said by the hon. Gentleman who brought forward the subject with so much ability, that that is a reason for inquiry. I am ready to admit it is a reason for inquiry, but still I feel the greatest hesitation in giving a vote for an Address to the Crown, thus beginning the inquiry on the part of the House of Commons. If I understand the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies, he thinks it is a proper subject for an inquiry, and that there ought to be inquiry. I feel the better course is, that we should wait until some of the Ministers of the Crown are able to ascertain better the facts of the case, when they with due authority, and looking to such questions as they may think fit to be put, may ask such explanations as they may seek in a most friendly spirit, and not with a view to anything like accusation or impeachment. That is the mode in which they should make the inquiry, and we would then be better able to decide what should be done. I cannot but think that it may finally be the duty of the Ministers of the Crown, not to make new laws, but to provide for the more easy operation of the laws that are at present existing. Those who are most learned on the subject, and whom I have consulted, have always informed me that, with respect to some points, there is the greatest difficulty in obtaining the means of redress which the law provides. The whole subject being one of such transcendent importance, and fraught with consequences so serious, I shall feel for my own part—and I hope the House will be inclined to agree with me—that before we deal with it, we should rather leave it to the Ministers of the Crown to consider what steps they should take. Let them at some further day declare whether they have found any mode of inquiry that is satisfactory, and let them lay any facts they may ascertain before the House. Until that period arrives, I cannot consent to be a party to an Address to the Crown.


said, that his hon. Friend below him (Sir R. Inglis) had raised the question whether subjects of this nature were properly brought before that House. Now, there was one point upon which he thought it would be evident that that House alone was the proper tribunal, and that was in asserting the rights of the laity against the usurpations of the priesthood. He was contending against things, and not against persons, and he cared little whether a man called himself a Papist or a Protestant; but he was against those who said that the priests were the Church, and that the laity were not the Church. Whatever might, in the lapse of time, have come to be the practice, the original law was unquestionably this—and he believed it to be the law now, however long it might have been in abeyance—that no person could be appointed over any flock in the Church without that flock itself, by some means or another, testifying their acquiscence in such appointment. This was a system which ought to be again established.


thought that the case would be much worse, and the consequences most serious, if, when they were told the facts which were then disclosed, they, the Commons of England, were to say that these facts should not he entertained by them—they would meet the Motion at once with the Previous Question. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies that the inquiry was one that ought to be raised, and must be disposed of. But was it disposing of it to say that they would not entertain it? He said fearlessly that that was not the way the country would consent to have such an important question treated. The turn which the discussion had taken exhibited a tendency to leave out the main points submitted to them. The facts of the case, which, according to the statement of the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Horsman), could be easily proved, were these—that a professed cleryman of the Church of England, who was dismissed by his bishop, or rather whose resignation was obtained upon certain terms, which conveyed the opinion of the Bishop of London of his being unfaithful to his Church, had been subsequently living abroad for several months in the same year, during which time he was in the daily habit of attending the Roman Catholic mass; that that man was now acting as a Protestant clergyman, having been instituted by a Protestant bishop to preside over a Protestant congregation. He asked whether such a statement as that made in the House of Commons by an hon. Member in his place, who stated that he was prepared to prove it, was sufficient to justify them in voting for the Previous Question? He, for one, could do no such thing; neither could he absent himself from such a division, as he believed others were about to do; that was not his habit. His constituents had a right to know his opinions, and their opinions should be represented by him in that House. If the question were pressed to a division, he (Mr. Spooner) must vote with the hon. Member for Cockermouth; but it was yet in the power of the Government to avert a great evil; they had gone half-way, and he wished they would go the whole, and adopt the hint thrown out by the noble Lord the Member for London. He wished them to admit that the hon. Gentleman had made out a strong primâ facie case—that he had stated facts into which the Commons of England were hound to inquire—and then they might ask them to pause before they passed the Resolution, because the means proposed by it were not effectual for the purpose, and might be productive of very great inconvenience. Let the Government say that they would themselves enter into the inquiry; that on consultation they would recommend the Crown to adopt such steps as they should think necessary; and that they would come to Parliament for authority, if need be, to carry out those measures, and for the remedying of that which was a great and crying evil. They would be dreadfully negligent of their duty if they met this Motion with the Previous Question, and he hoped some Member of the Government would give the House the assurance he had demanded from them.


said, he considered, that the House of Commons was the proper tribunal before which such grievances as that now complained of should be brought; and the object of his hon. Friend (Mr. Horsman) was to induce the House respectfully to entreat Her Majesty, as head of the Church, to investigate the allegations which had been made, and ascertain how the case really stood. It seemed to be thought that inquiries of this nature were injurious to the Church; but he believed it was far more dangerous to the Church that such matters should be concealed, than that they should be inquired into, for he believed the real weakness of the Church consisted in concealment. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) had expressed his opinion that the main point at issue was the conduct of Mr. Bennett at Kissingen; but he (Mr. Mangles) thought the most important question was whether the Bishop of Bath and Wells had instituted Mr. Bennett to the living of Frome, knowing that he had been dismissed from the diocese of London for recorded unfaithfulness. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had objected to the weakness of the instrumentality proposed, and said that the bishop and the parties implicated might refuse to answer if there was a Commission of Inquiry. ["No!"] Well, it was so objected by some Gentleman on the opposite (the Ministerial) side of the House. But was that their notion of the loyalty of the bishops, that when called upon by the Queen, the temporal head of the Church, they would give no answer to charges such as these? He (Mr. Mangles) would not believe it till he saw it; but, if it were so, an Act of Parliament ought to be passed compelling them to answer. He would join in requesting his hon. Friend (Mr. Horsman) to withdraw the Motion, if the House had a plain, explicit, unmistakeable pledge from the Government that they would institute a real, bonâ fide, searching inquiry, and lay the results of it before the House; but he would say, if they did not give such a pledge, let there be a division, and let the result be before the country. This was no party question, and it would be no discredit to them to withdraw from their proposition to move the Previous Question. It would be a triumph to none but the sincere friends of the Church of England, among whom they ranked very high.


Sir, I can assure the House that if they give me their atten- tion for a short period, I shall not further trespass upon them, because I am not now going to enter at large into the discussion of this question. We have heard the long series of allegations of the hon. Member for Cockertnouth, stated by him with great ability, as I am bound to confess; but it is not, in my opinion, at this moment those allegations are to be examined. I am far from pretending to a complete knowledge of the case, but I am bound to say, from the partial knowledge of it which I possess, that I am ready to confute in important parts the allegations of the hon. Gentleman, and to show the hon. Gentleman that he has not even cited correctly the documents he laid before the House. That course I am ready at the proper time to adopt. [Mr. HORSMAN: Do it now.] The hon. Gentleman tells me to do it now, and I will do it in one instance. The hon. Gentleman has stated that the prayer of the memorial to the Bishop of Bath and Wells was a humble and modest prayer that the case should be considered and inquired into. The hon. Gentleman has distinctly stated that in the memorial presented to the Bishop of Bath and Wells the prayer was that he would consider and inquire into the statements; and the hon. Gentleman said, to this moderate prayer this haughty prelate, with a spirit savouring too much of Laud's, would not accede. Now I happen to hold a pamphlet in my hand, published by a gentleman named Crutwell—who was adverse to the Rev. Mr. Bennett at Frome—in the appendix to which I find the memorial to the Bishop of Bath and Wells; and the prayer of that memorial is not "to consider and inquire," but "We earnestly pray your Lordship not to grant institution to the Rev. Mr. Bennett." [Mr. HORSMAN: I beg your pardon; they had asked the bishop not to grant institution for a fortnight.] I want to know if a demand to make an inquiry is the same thing as a demand to refuse institution to the Rev. Mr. Bennett. I should have confined myself to entering my protest against being bound hereafter, by my silence at the present time, to all the allegations of the hon. Gentleman, if I had not been drawn forth by the challenge of the hon. Gentleman. I fully agree with him that some of those allegations are material, if those allegations can be proved. If a man pretending to be a clergyman of the Church of England, appears to be by his actions, or is in his heart, a member of the Church of Rome, I grant that such a man merits condign punishment. Such a case is a case so grievous, that however inexpedient it may be to introduce theological discussions into this House, it cannot be passed over or excluded from their attention. I object, however, to all indefinite pledges, and I think it right we should know to what issue we are proceeding. The noble Lord the Member for London has, I think, wisely and judiciously suggested that the Government might beneficially intervene in this matter. Nothing should induce me to agree to a Motion that the Crown should do in a formal manner that which, if done in a formal manner, it must fail in effecting, because it has no legal or constitutional power to do so; but I grant that a most serious question is raised, and it is whether the Bishop of Bath and Wells, in proceeding to institute Mr. Bennett into the living of Frome, has proceeded according to the letter and the spirit of the law. If that be the question before the House, and so I understand it, of course all the conduct of the bishop is relevant to that question. If that be the question before the House, it appears to me that under the difficulties of the case, the Government might—not in consequence of an Address from the Throne from this House—but might in a friendly spirit make such an investigation of the facts as would enable them to judge whether any and what further steps ought to be taken in the matter. Because I confess that I, for one, long have felt that our ecclesiastical law (I am not now giving an opinion adverse to any party) is in a very defective and imperfect condition with respect to the case, which I grant may be a rare case, but which is certainly a possible case, namely, the case in which it may be necessary to put the law in motion against a bishop for the purpose of tying him up to his duty. Therefore, I would recommend, if I may presume to do so, the adoption of the suggestion of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), and I shall go further and suggest, that in addition to an inquiry into the matter of fact in the case, there shall also be an inquiry to ascertain whether the Bishop of Bath and Wells has or has not proceeded according to the spirit and letter of the law. I feel satisfied that if the Government undertake that inquiry in the discreet manner in which they address themselves to this discussion, beneficial results must proceed from it—that they will be in a position to form a judgment on them, and to acquaint the House if the state of the law is such as to require, or admit of, beneficial alteration.


Sir, I beg to say a few words on what I cannot but term a very painful discussion. In my opinion all those questions which make the House of Commons an arena for theological discussion, are, except where there is an unavoidable necessity, very much to be regretted; at the same time I concur entirely in what the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has said, that a case has been made which not only invites but requires inquiry. If any individual professing to be a minister of the Church of England has obtained an institution to any benefice in that Church, when he is in fact, or is likely to become, a member of some other Christian communion, that is a state of things that ought not to be allowed; and if the law is not strong enough to meet his case, it ought to be made strong enough for that purpose. The hon. Gentlemen the Members for North Warwickshire have said that by moving the Previous Question we are shelving the discussion; but allow me to remind the hon. Gentlemen that such is not the case. If you adopt the Amendment of the Previous Question, you are simply stating that the question ought not now to be put. Now, that is a very important consideration. In reference to the Motion of the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Horsman), which he has now brought forward, let me call the attention of the House to a fact connected with it. The Motion stood on the Notice-book for a fortnight in this form, namely, that the hon. Member was going to call the attention of the House to the circumstances attending the presentation and "institution of the Rev. Mr. Bennett to the vicarage of Frome;" but until yesterday evening the House was not really aware of the way in which the Motion was going to be put. I have asked the question of several of my hon. Friends in the House, and we were not aware that the discussion would take the turn which it has taken in consequence of the manner in which the notice has been brought forward. I mention this fact, in common fairness and justice, for the purpose of showing that those individuals who are referred to in the very able speech of the hon. Gentleman, should have a proper opportunity of explaining the circumstances of the case as far as relates to them: I mean the Bishop of London, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and the patroness of the living. The subject has never been brought to their attention, nor could it have been brought to their, attention in such a manner that an answer could be made in the House on their behalf by some Gentleman properly instructed and authorised for that purpose. I put it to the House whether, under those circumstances, moving the Previous Question is not the proper course to be taken? The noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell) has suggested that the Government should institute an inquiry; and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) has supported that suggestion. They have recommended that such inquiry should be made in a friendly spirit, and should have reference to the presentation of the Rev. Mr. Bennett to the vicarage of Frome, and to the state of the law on the subject; and also as to whether the law should in future be altered. Further than that I don't think the House could ask the Government to undertake—that the House may require us to do. That is the proper way to consider the question, so that justice may be done to all parties, and not to move an Address on what may be uncertain information. That is the course to take in order that the question may be thoroughly sifted and investigated before any imputations are passed upon any persons. That is the way in which a remedy may be applied in a friendly spirit; and it is our wish to proceed in that spirit, if we are permitted to do so.


said, that but for the promise which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole) on behalf of the Government, he should have felt it to be his duty to vote for the Motion of the hon. Member far Cockermouth (Mr. Horsman); but after the promise had been made that the subject which had to-night been brought before the House should be thoroughly investigated, and in a friendly manner, by the Government, and that they would then come forward and state whether or not it was desirable that the law should be altered, he trusted the hon. Member would not press his Motion to a division.


hoped the opinions of those hon. Members who agreed, with his hon. Colleague (Mr. Horsman) in thinking that an inquiry was demanded in this matter, which was one certainly of great importance to the nation, would be shown to the public by a division upon the subject. He could not concur with the noble Lord who spoke last, when he said he was satisfied with the speech of the right hon. Home Secretary. For his part, he should like to know, first, when the inquiry was to be made, by whom it was to be made, what power the Government had to make that inquiry, and when the House would have aft opportunity of considering and deciding upon the report of such an inquiry. So far from being satisfied, then, his previous dissatisfaction was only increased by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. From the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer he heard not a word about the concession of an inquiry. On the contrary, the right hon. Gentleman said the House of Commons was not a fit place for theological controversy, and that it was inconvenient to discuss these questions there. True, it was not the place for theological controversy; but, in his opinion, it was the place of all others in which an appeal ought to be made for an inquiry; and he (Mr. Aglionby) thought the House would not be doing its duty to the country if it did not express its wish and determination that an inquiry should be made. He hoped, therefore, that his hon. Colleague would divide.


said, he had not the slightest difficulty in deciding as to the course which he felt it was his duty to pursue, though he had certainly some difficulty in reconciling the various reasons which had been urged upon him for adopting a different course. Before noticing them, however, he must be permitted to gay one word with regard to the extraordinary attack, he might call it, which had been made against him by the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone). That right hon. Gentleman set out by observing, that at the proper time he would be prepared to impugn and disprove some of his (Mr. Horsman's) most important statements. Now, considering that these statements had been made in the presence of the assembled House of Commons, he thought the proper time for confuting them was the time at which they were made, and in the presence of the same Member who had listened to those statements. But the right hon. Gentleman did not think it a convenient time, and wished to postpone his confutation to a more appropriate season. He (Mr. Horsman) invited the right hon. Gentleman while speaking to confute his statements. Oh! said the right hon. Gentleman, "I will do so now;" and he thereupon proceeded to notice one of these statements, but left all the others untouched. In endeavouring to show, however, how capable he (Mr. Horsman) was of misquoting, the right hon. Gentleman was himself guilty of one of the grossest misquotations he had ever heard in that House. ["No, no!"] He would prove it. The right hon. Gentleman said that he (Mr. Horsman) had stated that the memorialists called upon the Bishop of Bath and Wells to institute an inquiry, and that to that petition he gave the answer which he (Mr. Horsman) had characterised as a haughty answer—an answer which breathed the spirit of Laud. Now, it so happened that he did not apply these expressions to the answer which was returned to the memorial, but to the answer which was returned to the second letter addressed to the Bishop of Bath and Wells. He had stated that that second letter of the bishop well deserved to be characterised as he (Mr. Horsman) had characterised it. That letter was an answer to a reasonable request to give the parties fourteen days more delay, and it was that answer which he had designated as haughty, and as breathing the spirit of Laud. He asked the House then, whether the right hon. Gentleman had not made a charge which was totally unbecoming of him, and which the right hon. Gentleman himself must regard in that light. The right hon. Gentleman said that he (Mr. Horsman) must be aware that he had not fairly quoted the documents which he had brought before that House. What was the meaning of that expression? Did the right hon. Gentleman mean that holding a document in his hand, he (Mr. Horsman) had falsified its reading to the House; the right hon. Gentleman having a counterpart of that document in his own hand at the time, and being thus, if such had been the case, enabled to detect it? Was that the right hon. Gentleman's meaning? But he would not pursue the subject further. He would leave it to the right hon. Gentleman and the House to say whether, for the statement he had made, he deserved an accusation which he should be ashamed to make against the right hon. Gentleman, or any other Member of that House. Of the manner in which his Motion had been treated by other hon. Gentlemen who had taken part in the debate, he had not the smallest disposition to complain. He must admit, as the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had observed, that the Motion was an embarrassing one. It was equally true that everything con- nected with those questions which respected the Established Church, and which so much agitated the country, was most embarrassing. But what was that Church of England of which they had been speaking? Was it not a Church that had been established by Act of Parliament? Did it not rest upon an Act of Parliament? Did not its ministers receive their privileges and pay under an Act of Parliament? And if the Parliament of England had established a Church, with a staff of ministers for the propagation of a particular faith, and the teaching of certain doctrines, and if it were alleged that the men who were the agents and servants of that Church used their privileges and their power to teach very different doctrines, then he wanted to know whether the Parliament, which had established that Church for certain purposes, was not in reality the very tribunal to consider whether those purposes had been answered or not? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the Motion was very vague and indefinite in its character. Of course, he (Mr. Horsman) was quite prepared, in bringing forward an ecclesiastical question for the consideration of the House of Commons, to find it objected to as a question of great difficulty, delicacy, and embarrassment. He knew very well that the first objection that would be taken to his Motion would be one of a technical kind. He knew that if he had proposed a Commission it would have been objected to, and that the very fact of its being a definite course would have laid it open to difficulty. What did he do then? He proposed merely that Her Majesty, as head of the Church, should be petitioned by this House, graciously to institute an inquiry—that inquiry being, of course, carried on in the manner which had been suggested on that (the Opposition) side of the House, upon the advice, and under the responsibility and direction, of the Ministers of the Crown. He proposed that the House of Commons should address Her Majesty for an inquiry; but he left the mode of inquiry expressly open to the Government. It was not for him to suggest, nor was it for this House to dictate to them, what should be the mode of inquiry. If the Government agreed to an inquiry, the matter would be entirely in their own hands to advise the Crown to institute that inquiry in such a manner as they might deem most efficient and proper; and his Motion expressly and purposely left to the Government the very fullest powers and the largest discretion. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford stated that he could not agree to a Commission appointed by one branch of the Legislature. He (Mr. Horsman) had never heard the Queen of England designated as one branch of the Legislature; and the hon. Gentleman was well enough acquainted with Parliamentary Precedent Law to know that the coarse he (Mr. Horsman) had suggested in his Motion was strictly in accordance with it. He had not proposed that the House should legislate on this question. If, under all the circumstances, the Government would institute this inquiry, he would readily leave it in their hands, but it must not be what the right hon. Home Secretary had termed a friendly inquiry. He (Mr. Horsman) knew what those friendly inquiries meant. This must be a judicial inquiry. The House of Commons had a right to have a judicial inquiry on this question, and provided the Government would institute that judicial inquiry he would leave it in their hands. Nothing less than a judicial inquiry would satisfy him, especially after what had fallen from the Government, that- the matter ought not to rest where it was. Whether in reference to this matter, or in regard to the interests of the Church, he thought it was the duty of the Government to institute such an inquiry. Under these circumstances he did not think he should be doing his duty if he withdrew his Motion. The subject was of far too grave a character to be dealt with in that manner, and he had brought forward his Motion in the hope that it would lead to a substantial result.


said, he thought the House would feel that some explanation was due from him after what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who had just resumed his seat. The hon. Gentleman said that he (Mr. Gladstone) charged him with not having honestly quoted a document to which he had referred. His (Mr. Gladstone's) memory might err, like that of others, but his recollection was strong that he had never used any word so improper or offensive. If he had used such a word, he would be the first to apologise for having done so; but he was quite certain that he did not use it. The hon. Gentleman charged him with using the word "honestly," and he (Mr. Gladstone) would appeal to the House whether he had used such a term?


said, he must say one word in explanation. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman) had very much mistaken what he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had said. He never denied for a moment the great importance of the subject which the hon. Gentleman had brought forward. On the contrary, he said it was impossible to exaggerate its importance. He said at the same time that he did not see that the proposition made by the hon. Gentleman would meet the difficulty with which they had to contend. The circumstances on which the hon. Gentleman dilated were but very imperfectly known to many hon. Gentlemen in that House; and listening to his statement with the greatest attention, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) acknowledged at once the vast importance of it. He said at the same time that the proposition the hon. Gentleman made was one which would not meet the difficulty; but he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) in no way intended to convey to the House that he himself did not feel the absolute necessity for inquiry. When the hon. Gentleman said a friendly inquiry had been offered, but that he wished a judicial inquiry, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) must say he did not see how, as at present advised, a judicial inquiry could be instituted. He would not talk of a friendly inquiry, nor could he promise a judicial inquiry, but he would promise that there should be a bonâ fide one. He thought that was all that the hon. Gentleman ought to ask the Government to do, considering that the important subject he had brought before the House was surrounded with so many difficulties. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) thought this was not a case for a judicial inquiry, as at present advised, and he could only state on the part of the Government that it should be a bonâ fide inquiry into the grave circumstances alleged, and he could say no more.

Whereupon the Previous Question was put, "That that Question be now put."

The House divided:—Ayes 80; Noes 100: Majority 20.

List of the AYES.
Adair, R. A. S. Buxton, Sir E. N.
Aglionby, H. A. Carter, J. B.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Childers, J. W.
Bass, M. T. Clay, J.
Bell, J. Clay, Sir W.
Bernal, R. Cobden, R.
Boyle, hon. Col. Coke, hon. E. K.
Bright, J. Crowder, R. B.
Brotherton, J. D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T.
Brown, W. Duncan, G.
Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D. Morris, D.
Ellis, J. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Evans, W. Mowatt, F.
Ewart, W. Muntz, G. F.
Fergus, J. Ogle, S. C. H.
Foley, hon. J. H. H. Paget, Lord G.
Fox, W. J. Pechell, Sir G. B.
Freestun, Col. Perfect, R.
Frewen, C. H. Pigot, F.
Geach, C. Ricardo, O.
Glyn, G. C. Scholefield, W.
Grenfell, C. P. Scobell, Capt.
Hall, Sir B. Sheridan, R. B.
Hardcastle, J. A. Smith, J. A.
Harris, R. Stanford, J. F.
Headlam, T. E. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Henry, A. Stewart, Adm.
Heywood, J. Stuart, Lord D.
Hill, Lord M. Thompson, Col.
Hindley, C. Thornely, T.
Hobhouse, T. B. Tollemache, J.
Hume, J. Verney, Sir H.
Humphery, Ald. Wakley, T.
Jackson, W. Walmsley, Sir J.
Kershaw, J. Williams, W.
Loch, J. Wilson, M.
Loveden, P. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
M'Gregor, J. Wyvill, M.
Mangles, R. D.
Martin, J. TELLERS.
Mitchell, T. A. Horsman, E.
Molesworth, Sir W. Berkeley, G.
List of the NOES.
Adderley, C. B. Hall, Col.
Archdall, Capt. M. Hallewell, E. G.
Bagot, hon. W. Hamilton, G. A.
Bailey, J. Hamilton, Lord C.
Baillie, H. J. Heneage, G. H. W.
Bankes, rt. hon. G. Heneage, E.
Barrow, W. H. Henley, rt. hon. J. W.
Bentinck, Lord H. Herbert, H. A.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Hervey, Lord A.
Blandford, Marq. of Hope, Sir J.
Booker, T. W. Hotham, Lord
Booth, Sir R. G. Hudson, G.
Bowles, Adm. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Bridges, Sir B. W. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Broadwood, H. Jones, Capt.
Bruce, C. L. C. Knox, Col.
Castlereagh, Visct. Knox, hon. W. S.
Chandos, Marq. of Langton, W. H. P. G.
Christopher, rt. hn. R. A. Lennox, Lord A. G.
Collins, T. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Cotton, hon. W. H. S. Lewisham, Visct.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Lockhart, W.
Drumlanrig, Visct. Long, W.
Duncombe, hon. O. Lowther, hon. Col.
Dunne, Col. Lygon, hon. Gen.
East, Sir J. B. Manners, Lord C. S.
Evelyn, W. J. Manners, Lord G.
Forester, hon. G. C. W. Manners, Lord J.
Fox, S. W. L. Morgan, O.
Freshfield, J. W. Murphy, F. S.
Fuller, A. E. Naas, Lord
Gallwey, Sir W. P. Newdegate, C. N.
Gilpin, Col. Newport, Visct.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E. Ossulston, Lord
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Oswald, A.
Granby, Marq. of Packe, C. W.
Greenall, G. Pakington, rt. hon. Sir J.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Pigot, Sir R.
Halford, Sir H. Portal, M.
Prime, R. Verner, Sir W.
Reid, Gen. Vivian, J. E.
Richards, R. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Russell, Lord J. Wall, C. B.
Scott, hon. F. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Sibthorp, Col. Whiteside, J.
Sotheron, T. H. S. Wigram, L. T.
Spooner, R. Williams, T. P.
Stafford, A. Wood, Sir W. P.
Tennent, Sir J. E.
Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J. TELLERS.
Tyler, Sir G. Mackenzie, W. F.
Tyrell, Sir J. T. Bateson, T.