§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
Sir, I am sure the House will not permit its attention to be distracted from this important discussion by the painful scene which has just taken place; and I will commence by expressing my regret that I am called on to follow the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman) without any intimation from Her Majesty's Government as to the course which they intend to take on this question; because, although I, being personally acquainted with the eminent individual who is the object of the hon. Gentleman's charge, have 275 made it my study to inform myself on the subject of his conduct, yet as this is, after all, mainly a legal question, and, as such, cannot be discussed without the application of legal knowledge and authority, I had hoped and expected to hear from the Government, or from one of the law advisers of the Government, their views on the distinct legal issues which have been raised—and I must say not unfairly raised, but broadly and visibly raised, by the hon. Gentleman on a question on which we might expect that the Government would be prepared, with the authority of a Government, to offer their advice, to the House as to the course which we should take. The hon. Gentleman has raised this question as a legal question; but I regret he did not strictly confine himself to its legal bearings, and that the hon. Gentleman, in his desire to attain the truth, which I do not at all question, has allowed his oratorical powers and the warmth of his own feelings to mix themselves with the facts of the case to a degree that with the ability which the hon. Gentleman ever displays, may prove most dangerous, unless we endeavour to bring ourselves back from whatever warmth of feeling has been infused into the consideration of the case, and to take, in discussing a legal question, a strict and dry view of the merits of the case. I will not follow the hon. Gentleman through all the points of his speech. The hon. Gentleman in the concluding portion tells you that you must adopt his Motion, or that your Protestantism is a pretence, and your loyalty a sham. Now, Sir, it appears to me that this issue is to strong—it appears to me that we may on this subject exercise a discretion—that we are entitled to test the statement of the hon. Gentleman, and to see whether he is borne out by authority in the doctrine he has laid down—to test whether the hon. Gentleman has adhered to his own doctrines—to see that he has not overturned one portion of his speech by what he advanced in another—in short, that we are entitled to say "yes" or "no" on this question, regardless of the threat that if we say "no" our "Protestantism is a pretence, and our loyalty a sham." I will first give the House an example of the magnifying powers by which the hon. Gentleman no doubt deceives himself. The hon. Gentleman said that the Government, in arguing this question, intimated their objection to a Commission, on the ground 276 that they might not be able to procure answers to their inquiries. That is a fact; but all the rest of the hon. Gentleman's statement on this subject is inference. Let us see what are his facts, and on what he builds his inferences, and with what modesty he applies them to the whole episcopal bench. The hon. Gentleman having inferred that the Bishop of Bath and Wells would refuse to answer any questions put to him, applies this inference to the whole bench of bishops, and on this inference founds a tirade against the whole episcopal bench, and says that there is no other class in England that would be guilty of such conduct. I am not here to defend the Bishop of Bath and Wells, or anybody else, if they do not do their duty; but I say that bishops, like other people, are entitled to justice, and to some decency of treatment, and I am bound to say that the hon. Gentleman does not show them that justice or treat them with that decency to which they are entitled. I have heard the hon. Gentleman before this bold in his denunciations against them; I have heard him build up fabrics of accusation against particular prelates on account of acts which, when they came to be examined, turned out to be acts of splendid munificence. I allude, as the House no doubt understand me, to the Horfield Manor. The hon. Gentleman was subsequently bound to admit that his accusations were unjust, that his charges were unfounded. He found that every material charge he made was perfectly untrue, and that the facts upon which he relied utterly failed to sustain him. The hon. Gentleman has taken the function of a public censor upon him. The character is not new to him. I remember, in 1838, when the hon. Member was an Elder of the Presbyterian Church—(A laugh)—I do not state it as a reproach, that he then made a charge against a most eminent man, Dr. Chalmers. [Mr. HORSMAN: Hear, hear!] I admire the cheer of the hon. Gentleman; he surely does not deny the fact. But Dr. Chalmers was obliged to speak and publish for the purpose of demonstrating what he called the "aerial nature" of the accusation. However, as the hon. Gentleman has taken upon himself the character of a public accuser, he is bound to take care of the language he uses, and, while I am sure he never wilfully deviates from the real facts of the case, he is bound to be careful that the views which he presents can be brought to the standard and 277 criterion of fact; and if he goes into disquisitions requiring the aid of legal knowledge, he is bound to inform himself what is the true state of the law before he charges any person with its infraction. The hon. Gentleman should moreover avoid launching charges against bishops or eminent men, not that they should be protected more than any body else, but he should, avoid launching charges against any person whatever unless he is sure that the principles on which he proceeds are sound, and capable of bearing investigation. This is the dilemma which the hon. Gentleman has put to the House—which, however, I should be sorry to accept—either this House is fit for debates like the present, or else you ought not to have an Established Church at all. I am in fear and trembling to differ with the hon. Gentleman; but it does appear to me just possible that we ought to have an Established Church, and yet that this House is not the fitting arena for discussions like the present. Sir, I do not scruple to say that this House is not a fitting arena for these discussions. I do not say that it is possible to avoid them altogether. When I speak of the warmth with which statements are coloured, I admit that there is much provocation-—that there have been many imprudencies—that much blame has been found justly, and I will admit that the Church of England is rent and torn from head to foot with her dissensions—but I put it to the House solemnly and sincerely, and I ask, Do you think that religious divisions are likely to be mitigated—do you think that the sores and wounds of the Church of England are likely to be healed—by rhetorical declamation, by the misrepresentations of occurrences, and the misstatement and exaggeration of facts? I do not know whether I shall offend in the same way; but if I do, I say my guilt will be double, because I have the deepest sense of the injury and the mischief which is wrought by these discussions. The hon. Gentleman, surely, does not imagine that by means of these oratorical parades made in this House, and received with cheers, the dangerous influence of the men whom he wishes to put down will be overcome? If he knows anything of the nature of religious partisanship, he must know that heat and violence on one side, engender heat and violence on the other. If the question at issue were the maintenance of sectarian spirit and feelings in the Church—if the influence 278 of Mr. Bennett were in question before that House, I know no better method of maintaining and propagating that influence than by singling him out as the object of attack, if it should appear that these attacks were not founded in justice. Now, I think that the first question the House has to consider—and is the idea they must endeavour to carry along with them in the present discussion, if they wish to neutralise its evils and bring it to good—the first question which they must clear up for themselves is this—Was the country to be governed, whether in ecclesiastical or civil matters, by the private opinion of particular men, according to the popularity which they may possess at the moment, or by a system of fixed law? If it is to be governed by the private opinions of popular men, then I say representative institutions would become little better than a nuisance, and ecclesiastical discussions would become the bane and pestilence of this House. Sir, we have not on the present occasion to decide what would have been in the abstract right. We have to decide one of two questions: first of all, have the laws been obeyed? secondly, are the laws good? If they are good, obey them; if they are not good, alter them:—but you have no right to establish an extra-legal system of influence or jurisdiction, by which you are to operate on the regular administration of the laws. The law must move in its fixed course, irrespective of the opinion of the day, irrespective of the opinion of the hon. Member for Cocker-mouth. That is the first principle I set out with. And now I wish the House to keep clearly before them who is the person who is brought in question before them? The speech of the hon. Gentleman has a good deal cleared up that question, and I thank him for it. Who is the person? As I understand, the person whose conduct is before the House is the Bishop of Bath and Wells. The Bishop of Bath and Wells is a great officer of the State. I have long held the opinion—and I do not shrink from avowing it—that it is a great absurdity that our law should afford no ready means of correcting a delinquent bishop; and I frankly own that I would view with the greatest favour any judicious proposal to effect such an object. The point I shall, however, put is, that the Bishop of Bath and Wells is not a delinquent bishop; that there is not a prima facie case of delinquency of any sort or kind, or in any manner or degree, against 279 him. It is the conduct of the Bishop of Bath and Wells which is questioned, and is in dispute; let us therefore put aside all other parties. We have nothing to do with the patron in this case. I say this, because the hon. Gentleman has adopted words so large in his Motion that it might appear that they included all persons in the case; but the hon. Member has disclaimed any intention of bringing any accusation against the conduct of the patron, who as he admits had acted not only according to law, but according to conscience. There is another important element in this case, to which I beg great attention. I allude to the feelings of the people over whom a particular presentee is appointed to preside. But the hon. Gentleman is bound to admit, and indeed he has admitted, that in this particular case, through whatsoever peculiarity, and through whatsoever delusion, the people of Frome are perfectly satisfied with what the patron has done. [Mr. HORSMAN: Hear, hear!] Then the hon. Gentleman does not admit that the people of Frome are satisfied? Now I do not believe it was an intentional misstatement upon the part of the hon. Gentleman, but it was a misstatement when he represented that the objectors to Mr. Bennett's preferment were the parishioners and clergy of Frome. I do not want to give more value to this fact than it deserves, but I can state that the parishioners of Frome are not dissatisfied, but are satisfied and gratified with this appointment. I hold in my hand a letter from Mr. Miller, a churchwarden of Frome; it is dated the 17th of April, and is addressed to the Marquess of Bath:—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordship's letter of yesterday's date, and will proceed to answer the inquiries therein contained, fully, fairly, and impartially. The appointment of Mr. Bennett is not unacceptable to the body of the parishioners. This I boldly assert—this I am prepared boldly to maintain. The inhabitants of Frome are under many and great obligations to the house of Thynne, but there is none they more cheerfully recognise or more gratefully appreciate than the blessing bestowed on them in the regard manifested by that noble family for their spiritual good in nominating Mr. Bennett vicar of Frome. I assert, and without the slightest fear of contradiction, that since Mr. Bennett commenced his ministry the morning congregations have increased at least one-third, and that as to the evening services, there never were so many persons assembled within the walls of St. Peter's Church. The lowest calculation last Sunday evening was 2,000. At the commencement many may have been attracted by curiosity and the love of novelty; but at the end of three months there is not only no diminu- 280 tion, but the congregation is increased and increasing.Now, whatever opinion hon. Gentlemen may hold of the sentiments in that letter, the question is not the propriety or justice of the sentiments of these people with regard to Mr. Bennett; it is whether these are or are not the sentiments of the people of Frome; and had the parishioners been overridden in this matter? I understand the hon. Gentleman to deny that Mr. Miller represents the opinion of the people of Frome. I find in a postscript to his letter, that at a vestry meeting held last Thursday he was unanimously re-elected churchwarden. I do not deny that the movement was originally got up by some clergymen in Frome. I think that nothing could be more indiscreet than the proceedings of these gentlemen. But under their influence fifty-four parishioners protested against his appointment—out of these only sixteen belonged to the parish church—and more than one-half in the space of a few weeks returned to Mr. Bennett. And here I may state a fact which is of a solemn character. One of the fifty-four who signed the protest was taken alarmingly ill; he sent for Mr. Bennett, and he died receiving his ministration. But here were fifty odd persons protesting out of a congregation, while more than 1,100 persons in an address bore testimony to the soundness of Mr. Bennett's doctrine. Now the hon. Gentleman will no doubt say this only proves the depth of blind delusion into which the parishioners of Frome have sunk. I say, however, that the hon. Gentleman, instead of taking these inflated and extravagant views, and instead of assuming that every one of his charges were established truths, ought to have weighed these facts carefully before he appealed to the House; and I say that this address of the parishioners of Frome leads me to the encouraging hope that he has been conducting himself wisely, and—whether, like other men, he may have been rocked and shaken in the ecclesiastical troubles which have disturbed the Church—that he is now settled in his allegiance to her. Sir, I say that this is the rational inference which we ought to draw when we see the parishioners of Frome expressing their delight at his appointment. Well, but Mr. Bennett is not properly before the House. I think there is good reason why he should not be so. The accusations against Mr. Bennett divide themselves into two classes: his proceedings at Kissengen, and his public 281 ministration in this country. The latter is summed up in what the Bishop of London has done. With respect to the proceedings at Kissengen, I am not sure of the state of the facts, except in one important particular. The hon. Gentleman assumed that as Mr. Bennett did not appear at the English Church at Kissengen, he had proved unfaithful to the Church of England. I think the hon. Gentleman forgot that Mr. Bennett was travelling as a chaplain to a private family. Now, in the eye of the Church and the law, a chaplain and a family constitute as complete a congregation as you can under your defective ecclesiastical arrangements have the means of calling together in Kissengen. And I say this because in Italy, as well as other places on the Continent, these congregations are in many cases only another name for anarchy. The allegation then that he was not discharging his duty as a clergyman of the Church of England, by absenting himself, therefore utterly fails. As to the story about the altar stone which he carried about with him, and which every Roman Catholic priest is bound to carry with him, it entirely passes my powers of belief. The hon. Gentleman may be able to make it good, but it will greatly surprise me if he is. But we have only to do with Mr. Bennett's proceedings in so far as they affect the conduct of the Bishop of Bath and Wells. I do not think that the Bishop of Bath and Wells could have taken notice of these proceedings at Kissengen, inasmuch as they took place out of the purview of our ecclesiastical law. The case of the Rev. Baptist Noel is in point. When that gentleman went to Scotland he officiated in Presbyterian chapels in Inverness-shire, and preached in Presbyterian pulpits. His conduct was made the subject of comment; but it was decided that the Bishop had no power, as the offence was committed out of the jurisdiction of the English Church. The accusations against the Bishop of Bath and Wells resolve themselves into three distinct charges. First of all, undue haste, that haste not being needed, but being founded on a set and corrupt purpose to prevent the parishioners of Frome from having a fair opportunity of objecting to his appointment. The second charge is that he instituted Mr. Bennett without requiring the proper certificate from his former Bishop; and the third charge is that he instituted him without a due examination into his doctrine and teaching. Now, it appears to me that each and every 282 one of these charges is without the slightest shadow of a foundation. The hon. Gentleman has to-night amended his first statement. His first statement led the House to believe that when a bishop received a presentee he was invested with a large discretionary power either to accept or reject him. The case of a presentee is not like that of a curate, or like that of a man who makes application to be ordained. If objection can be made against the moral conduct of an applicant, under these circumstances the Bishop is bound to reject him. But is that the nature of the Bishop's power and functions with regard to a presentee? What is the genius of your laws upon this subject? Perhaps the hon. Member imported his knowledge upon this subject from Scotland. Perhaps his familiarity with the Scottish customs may account for his ideas upon this point. In Scotland a better system prevails. The law of Scotland gives to the parishioners free power of objecting to a presentee; but, although it looks with jealousy on such objections, still there is a machinery by which free scope is allowed to the party-objecting. But that is not the genius of the law of England. The inherent spirit of the English law is to guard with every imaginable security and jealousy the advowson of the patron, to shield and secure his civil rights, and to protect the inchoate rights of the presentee. The spirit of the Constitution soon becomes the spirit of all your courts. So it has been with regard to the law of mortmain. Gathering the spirit of your legislation, they have given a rigid construction to the statute. Well, then, the spirit and feeling of your courts is to view with the utmost jealousy any infringement of the civil rights of the patron. The powers of the bishop are accordingly narrowed, in order to give effect to that which the law favours. Could the Bishop of Bath and Wells say to the presentee, "You have written passages with regard to Scripture which do not meet my views, and therefore I refuse to institute you;" or could he, when the presentee took the oath of supremacy, also refuse him institution because he interpreted it differently to him? Or because the Bishop of London virtually, as the hon. Gentleman says, but not legally, expelled him from his diocese, could the Bishop of Bath and Wells say, "You were expelled by the Bishop of London, and therefore I cannot admit you?" Or because three or four clergymen of Frome, and fifty 283 parishioners, present objections to Mr. Bennett, and request him not to grant institution, could the Bishop of Bath and Wells accede to that request? Why, he would be forthwith called on to render an account of his conduct in the Court of Queen's Bench, and it would not be enough to tell the Court that the Bishop of London and fifty parishioners of Frome disapproved of Mr. Bennett's conduct. He would be obliged to show, absolutely and positively, drily and legally, that he was not bound to institute Mr. Bennett; and it would not be enough to show him indifference: he must show that he either taught heretical doctrines, or failed in his moral conduct, or that he was deficient in his learning. If he did not do one of these things, he had no locus standi in the Court, which would be no trifle. One would suppose, from the statements of the hon. Gentleman, and the favour with which they were received in this House, that this matter of a strict examination by the bishop of presentees is very popular in this country. But, as far back as 1624 the House appointed a Committee to inquire into certain grievances complained of against Dr. Harsnet, the Bishop of Norwich; and on the 7th of May Sir Edward Coke reported from the Committee of Grievances several complaints against the Bishop, and one of those complaints was that he did not institute presentees, to the prejudice of patrons. Much later there is the case of the Bishop of Exeter and the vicarage of Bamford Speke. The hon. Gentleman supposed that the Bishop was endowed with large powers of rejection. But the Bishop of Exeter knew to the contrary by a somewhat hard experience—by a bill of costs, amounting to somewhat over 3,000l. And this, again, is a point to be observed. The ruinous and destructive—the crushing—costs of these ecclesiastical suits are enough to paralyse any episcopacy, however anxious to discharge their duties. Really you can hardly expect men to face such tremendous difficulties. There was one case which I may mention: it occurred to a friend of the hon. Member for Cocker-mouth—the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol. That prelate had a prosecution against a clergyman for immoral conduct, which cost him no less a sum than 4,200l. On the principle that justice ought to be done, even to bishops, these facts ought to be remembered when they spoke of the extravagant amount of revenues which they received: they ought to be recollected, not 284 indeed to be preserved, but in order to be mitigated. Again, so zealous is the law to shield the patrons and their presentees, and to baffle the episcopacy, that it has provided two remedies, both founded on the same principle—the one by a quare impedit in the Queen's Bench, and the other by duplex querela. I have already stated that the bishop would be liable to a writ of quare impedit if he refused to institute. He would then be called upon by the Court to show reasons for his conduct, and if he failed in any of the necessary proofs he would be cast and condemned in costs. The Gorham Case was illustrative of the spirit of the law, which provided the clerk with two complete and entire systems of remedy, founded on the same principle of defence of the civil rights of the patron, and the inchoate rights of the presentee. In the duplex querela it was open to the clerk, if the bishop refused to institute him, to refer to the court of the Archbishop, and from him to the Committee of Privy Council. That was the course taken by Mr. Gorham against the Bishop of Exeter. Now, it is absolutely of vital importance to any fair view of the case, to bear in mind that in every step he took, the Bishop of Bath and Wells should keep within the range of his legal powers. The moment he got upon doubtful or beyond legal grounds, he would have been sconced to a fearful extent. The hon. Gentleman says the Bishop of Bath and Wells proceeded with undue haste, and for that he ascribes an unfair motive—the motive of bearing down the parishioners of Frome; but he (Mr. Gladstone) said the Bishop's conduct led in his mind to an opposite conclusion. I must apologise to the House for trespassing upon them so long; but the accusation of the hon. Gentleman was two and a half hours long, and it was very easy to listen to it, decked out as it was with all the embellishments that could make it agreeable to an audience; I, however, ask the House to take a strict and impartial view of this case, to assume a judicial character, and to give to Mr. Bennett the benefit of that character. Well, then, as to the parishioners of Frome. If the parishioners of Frome were anxious to interrupt these proceedings, they were bound to place the Bishop in a legal position to do what they required. They were bound to enter a caveat. If they had done so, they would have furnished the Bishop of Bath and Wells with a solid ground for delay; but they did not do so. Why did they not do so in the first instance? Why 285 did they wait till the last moment? They knew that this was a legal matter, and they had legal advice at their disposal. It was known on the 30th of December that Mr. Bennett was to be instituted, but the institution did not take place until the 24th of January. A caveat could have been entered in twenty-four hours. This showed that there was plenty of time. But was this all? The caveat was ready on the 23rd of January, when Dr. Twiss advised its being entered, and Mr. Bennett was not instituted until the 24th. What was the conduct of the parties, although they did not enter a caveat? They presented petitions. By entering a caveat they would have assumed a forensic: position, and would have been bound to have proceeded with their objection, but they did not wish to do so; they would so have made themselves liable to costs. It was a much more convenient course to present petitions, which were totally informal, and which, if the Bishop of Bath and Wells had alleged in the Court of Queen's Bench, they would have laughed in his face. They would have told him, "You are acting as a judicial officer, and, as such, are bound to proceed according to the forms of legal process." Why, there was not an attorney in Frorne who would not have told them that if they were in earnest, the only way to testify it was by entering a caveat. That was the only regular and legitimate mode of enabling the Bishop to accede to their request. What was the position of the Bishop when he received their addresses? Would he have been entitled to stay proceedings on account of them? The duty of the Bishop on receiving their addresses was perfectly plain and straight- I forward. It was his duty only to see whether they contained any judicial matter, and if they did, whether it was to be supported judicially. The hon. Gentleman may think that the petitions did supply judicial matter; but what I want to know is this—if these parties believed that a legal offence had been committed, why did they not adopt the open and straightforward course of entering a caveat with the Bishop's secretary? As they did not do this, I say the Bishop could not have been justified in delaying institution. A Judge cannot delay justice, any more than he can refuse it. If the Bishop of Bath and Wells had delayed to institute Mr. Bennett into a valuable preferment, he would have done him a legal wrong. As regards the question of delay, there were twenty-six days between 286 the time when the people of Frome became aware of the intention to present Mr. Bennett, and the time when he was instituted. I put it to the House, if these parties were in earnest, it was their duty to do one of two things: either to consult the Bishop, and ask whether he thought there was ground for legal proceedings against Mr. Bennett—in which case, of course they would have been bound by his opinion; the other course was, not to consult the Bishop at all, but to enter a caveat and commence legal proceedings. Neither of those courses did they choose; but their demand was this:—"We find Mr. Bennett does not hold opinions acceptable to us; therefore we ask you, not only to undertake the costs and risk of legal proceedings, but to take a course which you in your own mind believe to be bad and untenable." I leave that fact fresh in your minds—that on the 23rd of January they sought advice, twenty-five days after they ought to have done it, and when Mr. Bennett was on the point of being instituted. The hon. Gentleman says his second charge against the Bishop of Bath and Wells is, that the Bishop instituted Mr. Bennett without the proper certificate:—and here I think the hon. Gentleman falls into error in supposing that one of the canons he has quoted, namely, the forty-eighth, has anything to do with this matter. I believe I am beyond all risk of being contradicted by any one acquainted with ecclesiastical law when I state that for a long series of years the thirty-ninth canon has exclusively regulated the institution of clergymen into benefices. The hon. Gentleman thinks the Bishop of Bath and Wells has been guilty of a legal offence in instituting Mr. Bennett without the certificate of the Bishop of London. On that question I meet the hon. Gentleman by stating that the Bishop of Bath and Wells received from Mr. Bennett a, full certificate with regard to his life and doctrine, which, if he had refused to entertain, would have entitled Mr. Bennett, or the patron, to prosecute him in the courts, and compel him to grant institution. The hon. Gentleman has admitted that the Bishop received the ordinary testimonial signed by three incumbents; and he asks who are the incumbents, and seems to suppose I have the testimonial. I have it not, and cannot state the names of the incumbents; but this I can state, that it was the usual testimonial. The hon. Gentleman has misstated the form of 287 the testimonial, that Mr. Bennett had never done anything contrary to the doctrine or discipline of the Church of England. The language of the testimonial is, that he had never held, written, nor taught anything contrary to the doctrine of the Church of England. I wish to mention this, because it is very difficult to know all that a man has done within three years in his private actions; his teaching is more or less public, and is more properly made the subject of a testimonial. Then, Sir, thus far the Bishop received precisely the ordinary testimonial, so far as the incumbents are concerned, but not the usual testimonial so far as the dismissing Bishop is concerned. The Bishop of London, the hon. Gentleman says, annexed a statement with regard to Mr. Bennett, calling attention to the fact that Mr. Bennett had been dismissed from his diocese, or rather that the Bishop had availed himself of Mr. Bennett's voluntary offer of resignation—on account of unfaithfulness? No; he did not use that word—but because his continuing in the diocese of London would have prejudiced its peace and good order; and he called the attention of the Bishop of Bath and Wells to a correspondence in the Times newspaper between himself and Mr. Bennett. The testimonial is the usual testimonial, which compels the Bishop to admit, so far as the incumbents are concerned; but this is an unusual testimonial, having an extraneous comment appended by the Bishop of London. I think the House will agree with me that the question is to ascertain what is the effect—the legal value and effect—of this explanatory note by the Bishop of London—what duty did it impose on the Bishop of Bath and Wells? I have made that my study; and I understand notes of that kind are not unfrequently appended by bishops to the testimonials they sign. It is quite plain that if the meaning of the signature is fixed by law and usage, its legal effect cannot be altered or varied by any gratuitous comment of the bishop. If I or the hon. Member take an oath, it is not in our power to vary the legal effect of it by adding any observations of our own. The meaning of the Bishop of London's signature remained the same in point of law, whatever he appended to it. What, then, is the value of this explanation? The hon. Member says it made it the duty of the Bishop of Bath and Wells to ascertain for himself the doctrine of Mr. Bennett; it made it the duty of the Bishop to satisfy 288 himself with the soundness of Mr. Bennett's doctrine. That is the third head of the charges brought forward by the hon. Member, which I must not anticipate. I want to show that the Bishop of Bath and Wells, so far as the second charge, stands manifestly clear; because the testimonial he received, and which compelled him to institute Mr. Bennett, differed from other testimonials only in the point that the Bishop of London had added an explanation which could have no other effect than to impose on the Bishop of Bath and Wells the duty of examining Mr. Bennett. So far, therefore, the second head could not form a separate head of charge against Mr. Bennett. The certificate from the Bishop of London, the hon. Gentleman admitted, was not necessary; the practice did not require it; the canon did not require it; nothing was wanted but Mr. Bennett's qualification, and the question was, whether upon the qualification the Bishop of Bath and Wells did admit him. Well, then, we come to the third charge—-that the Bishop of Bath and Wells instituted Mr. Bennett without due examination; and I am bound to say, in the sense of the hon. Gentleman, he did institute without due examination, for such a construction as the hon. Gentleman has given to the phrase "due examination" may really suit the House of Commons; but I am confident there is no Gentleman who has ever looked at the legal question who would not at once repudiate it. I see lawyers present who are entirely with the hon. Gentleman on this subject, and I make my appeal with just as much confidence as to those who are in feeling against the Motion. The hon. Gentleman laid down this doctrine, that a Judge—for the bishop acts in the strictest 3ense as a Judge, in admitting presentees—he laid down the doctrine that the examination by this Judge was not to be an examination of such a nature and carried to such an extent as to satisfy him, the Judge, and his conscience, on whom and whose conscience the law laid the burden of decision, but so as to satisfy other individuals to satisfy the public, to satisfy the Member for Cockermouth. I wish I could get the hon. Gentleman to look in cool blood at the consequence—I do not mean to use exaggerated terms—the frightful and odious consequence of such a doctrine of the judicial duty, and such a conception of the judicial character—that the Judge, looking at the evidence prepared in a 289 solemn matter, is not to look at what will satisfy himself and his own conscience, but at what will satisfy the public, and the conscience of the public. I am repeating the words of the hon. Member. If I am not—if I have misunderstood the hon. Gentleman—if he admits the duty of the Judge is one of solemn responsibility to institute such an examination as shall satisfy and conclude his own judgment and his own conscience before God and man in a matter so serious as this, then we are agreed. Did the Bishop of Bath and Wells do this? I say he did. He did examine Mr. Bennett; he examined him—-not in the Greek Testament, not upon matters of form, not upon matters of the ritual—-he would not say ritual—not upon matters of ecclesiastical history, but he examined Mr. Bennett, not of former or other times, but Mr. Bennett of January last. The Bishop of Bath and Wells, suffering from great illness—from torturing and crushing illness, but in the possession of his powers, and not (as the Secretary for the Colonies had stated) in extreme old age, but perfectly competent to discharge his duties—he seriously and carefully examined Mr. Bennett upon all those points on which he thought an examination was called for—the points in difference between the Church of England and the Church of Rome—and not until he had examined Mr. Bennett upon all those points, and not until he was satisfied that Mr. Bennett upon all those points held with the Church of England, did he take the step of granting institution to Mr. Bennett; because, of course, if Mr. Bennett had held the opinions of the Church of Borne with regard to the Thirty-nine Articles, his course was clear—it was his duty to refuse institution. Finding, in his judgment, there was no ground for agreeing with the parishioners of Frome, or the hon. Gentleman, he proceeded to grant it. The Bishop did subject Mr. Bennett to due examination, and I ought to say this—that he did it, not from fear of compulsion by any movement of the parishioners, but before any movement of the discontented clergy or laymen took place at all. It was done by the Bishop because he saw and felt the circumstances of Mr. Bennett's former career were such as to call on him without being urged on by any one, and because he knew well he must take the responsibility of rejecting him. Upon his own responsibility, then, and with his own mouth, he examined Mr. Bennett, and with full satisfaction, on all those points. 290 The hon. Gentleman fairly beats me when he leads this House into pure and direct theology. The hon. Gentleman was extremely ingenious in this process. The hon. Gentleman having quoted, for his own immediate purpose, some proposition or other from Mr. Bennett's writings or sermons on a theological point, forthwith suggests that it is not appropriate in that House to discuss the proposition; but the hon. Gentleman thinks it extremely appropriate in himself to decide and conclude upon the proposition without discussion. The hon. Gentleman made a great point of a passage in which he attributed to Mr. Bennett the proposition that the Bible was a fiction and an absurdity. Now I hold in my hand the pamphlet which contains the passage the hon. Gentleman has quoted; and Mr. Bennett has complained bitterly how altogether misrepresented this passage has been by being wrenched from its context, so that it bears a totally different meaning, so separated, from that which it bears with its context. The hon. Gentleman, however, wants to have it understood by the country—first, that Mr. Bennett has declared the Bible to be a fiction and an absurdity; and, secondly, that the Bishop of Bath and Wells, knowing that Mr. Bennett had made this declaration, deemed it a proposition not requiring his judicial and episcopal cognisance. When I turned to the passage, I saw the passage, in my humble opinion, was totally altered by being wrenched, cut, and carved. I could remedy this by reading the passage to the House, but I will not do so. It is really an affecting statement of the most solemn doctrines of religion, which I cannot profane by reading to the House of Commons assembled for the purpose of debate on this question. The hon. Gentleman shows that he is not in the least aware of the common history of the Church of England except during the years in which he has belonged to it. He shows that he is totally unaware of one of the greatest religious controversies of this century. The passage has reference to this question—whether in the work of propagating Christianity, spreading Christianity among those not Christian, the Bible should be used alone. Mr, Bennett says it is a fiction and a delusion to send the Bible alone among persons unacquainted with Christianity for the purpose of making them Christians. Mr. Bennett has never said anything against the use of the Bible by Christians for the edification of their souls. 291 The hon. Gentleman ought to know this, that many years after the foundation of the Bible Society, that institution was opposed by nearly the whole of the Bishops of the Church of England—he doubted if there was more than a single exception—and by the great mass of the clergy, because they contended—whether rightly or wrongly is not now the question—that even among Christians, particularly in foreign lands, the circulation of the Bible alone was not the use of it which our Saviour intended as a means for the propagation of Christianity. Therefore Mr. Bennett, whether right or wrong, held an opinion resting not on any such monstrous proposition as that the Bible was a fiction and an absurdity, but one commonly and most rigidly held by a very large mass of the bishops and clergy of the Church of England, that the Bible was not to be used as the sole means of propagating Christianity.
§ MR. HORSMAN
explained: I did not say Mr. Bennett used those words. I quoted the memorial of the parishioners of Frome, who put that passage before the Bishop. I gave no opinion upon it.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
I beg pardon, but the hon. Gentleman forgets he reverted to it in another part of his speech. I wish to be strictly accurate; and certainly the hon. Gentleman imputed either that Mr. Bennett, or the parishioners of Frome under Mr. Bennett's teaching, entertained the belief that the Bible was a fiction and absurdity, or words to that effect. What I want to put to the hon. Gentleman is this: with regard to a common opinion of the great mass of the bishops and clergy, no matter whether right or wrong, could the Bishop rationally hope, in suspending Mr. Bennett, that would be admitted as a valid reason by the courts of law to which the patron or presentee would appeal? I laid it down with emphasis at the commencement of these remarks, that we must be governed by the law, and not by private opinion. If we hold fast that doctrine, I shall not be afraid of any result at which we may arrive. What I am afraid of is, that, as the law represents the spirit of one period, and we represent the spirit of another period, having suffered the laws to continue unadapted to the purposes for which they were originally intended, we shall measure our judgment by our own opinions when called on to consider the conduct of a high judicial public officer, and not by the opinion of the law, by which standard alone he is bound to per- 292 form his duties, and for a departure from which he can only be blameable and liable to punishment. Coming to the second branch of this question—it seems that Mr. Bennett put a particular construction upon the oath of supremacy; and the hon. Gentleman says the construction is contrary to the meaning of that oath, and complains that the Bishop did not on that ground institute judicial proceedings against Mr. Bennett, or stay his institution. Now, in the first place, it was obvious that the Bishop himself had a different opinion of the matter from the hon. Gentleman, for he told the parishioners that he had given his best attention to the whole subject, and the manifest inference thence was, that, as to the oath of supremacy, his construction concurred with that of Mr. Bennett, since, having examined Mr. Bennett's opinions, he thought fit to institute him. It may he urged, perhaps, that the Bishop himself was wrong herein; but, if so, is that just matter of charge against him? If the law is not so clear but that bishops were liable to misconstrue it, let the law he made more clear; but, meanwhile, let it not be made matter of accusation against them, that they hold. opinions on particular doctrines differing from those of individual Members of this House. The hon. Gentleman ought to recollect this question is one which, in all seriousness and in all fairness, has been much debated and discussed in this House. I have heard the noble Lord the Member for the City of London give one construction, and other Members give other constructions of the oath of supremacy; and the hon. Gentleman must know that two Peers are precluded from taking their seats in this House because it is impossible to fix a clear and certain meaning to it, and they give so much weight to their scruples of conscience that they will not run the risk of violating them. But that is not what the hon. Gentleman says. If what he says be true, that the construction put on the oath of supremacy by Mr. Bennett is such as to constitute a specific offence, that Mr. Bennett is thereby guilty of false doctrine, why not try the question in the courts now? Why not raise the legal question? There is no limitation of two years to apply here. If I understood the hon. Gentleman, and if my memory serves me correctly, this offence was committed the latter end of 1850. Why not try that offence? Has the opinion of Dr. Twiss been taken on the point? Did he say any offence was committed by that construction? If he 293 did not say so, why make it part of the charge against the Bishop of Bath and Wells? If he did say so, why not institute proceedings thereon against Mr. Bennett in the Ecclesiastical Court? How can the hon. Gentleman escape from that dilemma? What I say is this. The Bishop has been acting all along, not upon the opinions of the hon. Gentleman, or the private opinions of any one, but upon grounds strictly judicial; considering what the law is, and considering, as he is bound to consider, what are the grounds of objection, and if stated in the Court of Queen's Bench, and such courts as are open for further appeal, whether the objections would warrant him in staying proceedings. It was not for the Bishop, from any fear of popular clamour, from any fear of the hon. Member for Cockermouth, to refuse to Mr. Bennett that which had been given him, though there was a popular case against him, which might draw forth a few rounds of cheers from the House of Commons, ill-informed of the particulars of the case. That, as it appears to me, is the substance of the case of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, in answer to these three charges. I have shown you on the first that twenty-six days elapsed between the presentation and the institution of Mr. Bennett, and if the recusant parishioners had minded to stay these proceedings, all they had to do was to have a caveat drawn in the course of a few hours, and lodged in the Bishop's Court, which would have enabled the Bishop to hold his hand. Without that caveat the Bishop was not able to hold his hand, and would subject himself to a very heavy legal consequences if he held his hand; and yet the hon. Member says your Protestantism will become a delusion and your loyalty a sham if you do not vote by implication a vote of censure upon a Judge for doing his duty towards an unpopular man under unpopular circumstances. As to the second charge, I have shown you that the evidence was precisely that which bishops take in every other case, and in no respect fell short of it. I have shown you that the comment by the Bishop of London had merely the effect to draw special attention to Mr. Bennett's doctrine, and make it the duty of the Bishop of Bath and Wells to inquire. When I come to the third point, I have shown you that, without waiting for any any such representation, the Bishop had already inquired, whether rightly or wrongly, had made up 294 his mind that Mr. Bennett could not he convicted of false doctrine under the laws of the Church of England—under the law* as they stand—and, therefore, it was his duty neither to delay or refuse justice demanded at his hands. And, lastly, I have shown you that the conduct of the Bishop of Bath and Wells is borne out by the conduct of others; that the declaration with regard to the Oath of Supremacy is signed by Mr. Bennett, in a printed paper, and that it does not require any one to go to the Bishop of Bath and Wells to try that question. Even now two years have not elapsed, and there is a perfectly legal remedy if they choose to try it. They did not choose to subject themselves to the responsibilities of legal process, but kindly asked the Bishop of Bath and Wells to do it for them, not in furtherance of his own opinions, but in furtherance of their opinions, from which he entirely differed. That I imagine to be the case of the Bishop of Bath and Wells. If it be found, when taken into a court of justice, that Mr. Bennett's doctrine is contrary to the Church of England, then the case against the Bishop of Bath and Wells will be changed, because he said, and does say, he examined into the doctrine and the questions contested between the Churches of England and Rome, and he found the doctrine of Mr. Bennett conformable to the Church of England. If the teaching of Mr. Bennett is found to be conformable to the Church of Rome, I fully grant there will be something like a presumptive case against the Bishop; but of such a case at present there is not the slightest shadow. I now come to the question, what are we to do with the Motion now before the House? It is not my duty to suggest any course to the House. I can understand why the Government wished to hear what I had to say on the part of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, but I shall now expect to hear from them what course they intend to take. I will not presume to submit any Motion to the House; but I will say a few words on the subject of the Motion itself. I confess I have great objections to the Motion as it stands, to inquire into the circumstances connected with the institution of Mr. Bennett to the vicarage of Frome. Those words are large and vague; the institution is the act of the Bishop, and any Member who votes for the Motion as it stands commits himself to the principle that prima facie a case has been made out against the Bishop of Bath and Wells—that he but not 295 acted accerding to the letter and the spirit of the law. Nothing can induce me to give such a vote, because a vote more contrary to fairness, truth, and justice, has never been given by any Member of this House. The hon. Gentleman anticipates that it will be urged that the inquiry cannot go on; and he refers to the objection to the Motion of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner). I was not aware before that the hon. Member for Cockermouth was willing to place himself in the same boat as the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. I do not think inquiry can take place this Session. My objection, however, is to inquiry sim pliciter, into the circumstances attending the institution of Mr. Bennett into the vicarage of Frome. I say, if we have inquiry we ought to have an inquiry not into the circumstances connected with the vicarage of Frome, but into the really great and important subject of the state, and spirit, and enactments of those laws, which seemed to have been studiously framed by a long succession of generations of legislators to discourage bishops—to render it almost impossible for bishops to do that which you find fault with the Bishop of Bath, and Wells for not doing. If you like to inquire into the subject of ecclesiastical appointments, those to bishoprics included, with a view, among other things, to facilitate well-grounded objections to such appointments, if you will patiently and impartially investigate the state of the law on these points, so as to bring the inquiry to a well-considered conclusion, you will indeed confer one of the greatest possible services on the country, and materially contribute to the stability of the Church of England. I am not sure that bishoprics should not be included in the inquiry, where the facilities of objection are less. I admit there is not sufficient scope to parishioners having canonical objections to pastors placed over them. I do not want to open the door to vexatious objections;—I think we ought resolutely to set our faces against them;—but so far as canonical objections are concerned, they ought not to be left to be thrown into the lap of the bishop, and to be maintained on his responsibility. Whether that inquiry should be made by a Commission or by a Committee, is another question. If we are to have immediate inquiry, it cannot be done by a Committee at this late period of the Session; because, although the hon. Gentleman will only require ten days to bring forward 296 his witnesses, other Gentlemen, who take different views, will wish to bring forward other witnesses. I wish for a thorough investigation into the state of the ecclesiastical law and the canonical method of dealing with objections to appointments; and if Her Majesty's Government are disposed to undertake that inquiry, I am quite satisfied it will be giving a useful turn to the discussion raised by the hon. Gentleman. If the Government for that purpose moves the appointment of a Commission or of a Committee, I shall be prepared to give it every favourable consideration; but as to the Motion now made for the purpose of holding up to implied censure a high judicial officer in the Church—one who has done his duty to the utmost—against such a Committee I have the gravest objections, because I think it not a straightforward but a dark implication, by which you cast censure on a man who has never disgraced the high position he holds, and who, instead of deserving blame in this matter, deserves your commendation.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
The hon. Member for Cockermouth, who has brought this subject forward, referred in the course of his opening speech to some language which I held when he first brought this subject before the House; and, although it is not my intention now to detain the House by going into the subject at any length, I should, in consequence of that reference, have risen when he sat down to state—which I am now prepared to do distinctly—the feeling I entertain upon the specific Motion which he has proposed to the House, had it not been for the announcement made some time ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), that whenever the subject was again brought before the House he should feel it his duty to take that opportunity to vindicate the conduct of the Bishop of Bath and Wells. The right hon. Gentleman has done so with his usual ability; and he certainly has gone very far to justify the course which the Bishop of Bath and Wells took in this case, acting, as he has very truly said, judicially, and bound judicially to decide—ay or no—whether, after the patron of this living had presented Mr. Bennett to it, he would have been justified in refusing to institute that gentleman. The manner in which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman) has twice brought this subject before the House, and the deep attention the House has on both occasions paid to it, 297 is, I think, a proof how strongly the feelings of the people of this country, and of this House as representing those feelings, are excited by those unhappy dissensions which unfortunately exist in the Church of England, and to which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) has referred with painful truth, when he says the Church is now rent and torn by these unhappy dissensions. And I am sorry to say that we must in a great degree trace those unhappy dissensions to that portion of the clergy of the Church of England who have taken that line of conduct which Mr. Bennett has pursued: a line which in his case has led to virtual expulsion from one diocese, and which it is impossible to deny has led to most grave and serious questions whether clergymen conducting themselves as he has unhappily done, can be considered as being really and truly sincere ministers of the Church of England. Sir, I use the expression with the most extreme grief. I believe that in many respects—in many most essential respects—there never was a more exemplary parochial minister than Mr. Bennett. It would be injustice to deny that—I am quite willing to admit that it is so. But we must not look only to those parochial ministrations. The same thing may unquestionably be said of a very large portion of the priests of the Romish Church. They are men of the most exemplary lives. But I know no more dangerous error than to confound personal piety, personal virtue, or the exemplary discharge of ministrations, with the profession and maintenance of those vital principles and doctrines which form the great line of demarcation between the Protestant and the Roman Catholic Churches. No man can be ignorant of, no man can shut his eyes to, the unhappy dissensions that have arisen in our Church. It is not for mo to say that a large portion of those gentlemen who, like Mr. Bennett, have been remarkable for what has been called by a high authority "their histrionic love of form," and for constantly taking a line as close as they possibly can to Romanism while keeping within the forms of the Church of England—I do not mean to say that they may not be exemplary men, and animated by most sincere and conscientious feelings; but I do say that we cannot shut our eyes to the unhappy effects that have resulted from that course of conduct. We see the line of distinction between the Protestant faith and the doctrines of the Romish Church drawn finer 298 and finer by this conduct. We see numbers of our fellow Protestants first drawn away from their own simple Protestant faith into these extremes, and finally led away into the Church of Rome. Looking at these unquestionable facts—looking at the unhappy results which have taken place in our own Church—I cannot but regard it as a great misfortune that any patron of a living in the Church of England should have been led by feelings—conscientious, I have no doubt, but, in my humble judgment, most injudicious—to give a living so important as that of Frome to a person so situated as Mr. Bennett. This is my conscientious opinion, and I will not, shrink from the avowal of it. To this extent I go with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman). I cannot blame him for bringing these remarkable facts before the House of Commons. But neverthless I so far agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, that I seriously doubt how far the House of Commons is a proper arena for such discussions. But of this I feel sure, that it is only under remarkable circumstances, it is only at a moment when the public mind is strongly excited by such circumstances as these, that it can be justifiable to make the House of Commons an arena for such discussions. The importance of them cannot be overrated; the anxiety of the public mind cannot be overrated; nevertheless, it is a grave and serious question whether such topics can be with advantage discussed in Parliament, The hon. Member for Cockermouth thought it his duty to bring this matter before the House on a former occasion. He then adverted in terms of strong censure to the conduct of the Bishop of Bath and Wells in having instituted Mr. Bennett to the living of Frome under all the circumstances that had occurred. On the other branch of the subject, he adverted to the allegations which he made against Mr. Bennett's conduct at Kissingen; and upon a subsequent occasion he alluded to another remarkable fact, that Mr. Bennett's name had appeared as a convert to the Church of Rome in a book of recognised authority in that Church, Battersby's Catholic Directory. The hon. Gentleman has alluded to my having, on the occasion of the last debate, stated my strong opinion that a subject of this kind, once raised, must be dealt with, and that an inquiry of the nature proposed ought to take place. That opinion in substance I expressed; and 299 from that opinion I have no opinion whatever to recede. The Government on that occasion undertook to institute an inquiry; and the hon. Gentleman has rather made it a matter of charge against the Government—at least I understood him to say—that we had not given the inquiry we promised, and had kept him waiting four weeks before we gave an answer on the subject of that inquiry. In fact, if he did not directly charge it against us, I inferred from what he said, both on this and on the former evening, that he thought the Government had not redeemed the pledge they had given. Now, as I was one of those who were willing to give that pledge, as far as it went, I must beg distinctly to express my opinion that we are not open to this imputation. I wish to say distinctly for the Government—every Member of it will support me in saying so—and I might also appeal to my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General—whether we did not exhaust every means in our power in endeavouring to ascertain to what extent we could legally institute an inquiry. The first step we took was to draw up questions which, in our judgment, embraced the whole matter at issue. We submitted those questions to the law officers of the Crown. We received from them the most distinct opinion that, in the facts of the institution of Mr. Bennett by the Bishop of Bath and Wells there was no irregularity; that with regard to the transactions at Kissengen, as they had taken place in a foreign land, no legal inquiry—I believe I am right in saying, no inquiry, even by the Bishop—Could take place; and that, in fact, as the matter stood, there was no way in which the Government could legally recommend or point out how an inquiry could take place. The questions which we put to the law officers embraced the whole subject; and the answers of the law officers were marked with that ability which might be expected. Still the Government could not rest content with those answers; and this is the reason why the time elapsed of which the hon. Gentleman has complained. A second time we submitted questions—questions of a more comprehensive character—to the law officers of the Crown; and upon the fullest inquiry—after the questions we first put had been reconsidered, after they had been made more wide and comprehensive than they were at first—we returned to the same conclusion—a conclusion announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the 300 House—that there was no legal mode by which the circumstances, as they stood, could be made the subject of direct and immediate inquiry; but that, if there were legal modes of instituting that inquiry (because we were not conversant, of course, with all the circumstances), that legal mode would be open to the parishioners under the Church Discipline Act. I believe I am right in stating the facts; and I wish to make it distinctly known to the hon. Gentleman and the House that there was no unwillingness on the part of the Government; that we addressed to the inquiry the most anxious attention; that the lapse of time was occasioned by our repeated references to the law officers; and that the result of our consideration was, that there was no legal mode in which the inquiry could be made. After this explanation I hope the hon. Gentleman will see that in a matter of this kind, involving points of law of the greatest delicacy, difficulty, and importance, we as a Government had no power to institute proceedings and inquiries; we could only proceed in a legal manner, and we found that there was no legal manner in which those inquiries could be made. Then I come to the transaction at Kissengen, and to the insertion of the name to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred. The latter is a question of fact. It is undoubtedly an extraordinary fact, a fact calculated to create great anxiety and suspicion—nevertheless it is a fact that, if you turn to the indicated page of Battersby's Catholic Directory, there you find the name of Mr. Bennett as a convert to the Romish Church; and then that that gentleman should be represented as attending at the Roman Catholic chapel at Kissengen, I confess it does appear to me that there are questions for the Bishop to inquire into, but it is not one into which the Government could institute an inquiry. It is a matter now of public notoriety. I may say the same thing as to the transaction at Kissengen. When the hon. Gentleman first brought this subject before the House, I expressed a strong opinion with regard to the conduct of Mr. Bennett. I retain that opinion now; and I listened with astonishment, I confess, this evening to the language held by my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford. When alluding to the transactions at Kissengen, the allegation is that a clergyman of the Church of England passes many weeks at a place where there is an English clergyman, where there is an English 301 church, where there is an English congregation, and that he never goes near it. I say it is a subject to excite the greatest anxiety, and to inspire the deepest regret, that, whether he was conscientiously right or wrong, a clergyman so conducting himself should now be at the head of a most important parish in the Church of England. I cannot conceal my astonishment when I heard the right hon. Gentleman, vindicate—I was going to say, this conduct; and if he did not vindicate it, he said this—that a clergyman, acting as a chaplain, and his family, formed a congregation—
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
I understood my right hon. Friend to say—a chaplain with the family—not his family—but the family to which be was attached, formed a congregation. If my right hon. Friend meant anything by that, I presume he meant that the Rev. Mr. Bennett was in propriety, as a minister of the Church, exempted from attending the Protestant worship of our own Church in the place where he was, because he was acting as the chaplain of a family. And what was the family? Why, the family was Sir John Harrington's—the churchwarden of the rev. gentleman at St. Paul's, Knights-bridge—a gentleman who distinguished himself, perhaps with more zeal than discretion, in the correspondence connected with Mr. Bennett's dismissal from that church. I must protest, as far as my opinion goes, against the propriety of any chaplain so situate being thereby exempted, in foro conscientiw, from attending the ministrations of his own Church, which were to be had at the place where he then resided, on such a plea. These, I again say, are matters of public notoriety; they must be known to the Bishop of the diocese where Frome is situate; and I can hardly believe that they have gone up to this time without inquiry by that Bishop. It seems to me that they are matters into which any bishop in this country would be bound to call for inquiry. I have never heard anything of the Bishop of Bath and Wells inconsistent with his character as a prelate; and as a bishop holding a high office in our Church, I think it hardly possible that he has not already inquired into these remarkable allegations. If he has not done so, I cannot but believe that be will feel it his duty shortly to institute such an inquiry. Here, again, I think the hon. Gentleman will 302 feel that we as a Government have no power to direct the proceedings of the Bishop, and to compel him to institute an inquiry. Then I am to consider what is the Motion of the hon. Gentleman. It is, "That a Select Committee he appointed to inquire into the circumstances connected with the institution of the Rev. Mr. Bennett to the vicarage of Frome." I have made no concealment of the opinions I entertain on this subject. As a sincere member of the Church of England, I have stated frankly to the House the opinion I entertain on these unhappy differences. I. have stated what I believe to be the cause of the difficulties in which we are involved; and I have stated without reservation my opinion of the clergyman whose conduct is now in question. I come then to the question whether, after the inquiries we have made into the state of the law, and into the power of proceeding and instituting legal inquiries, whether or not I can, even with these strong views on my own part, consent to making the judicial conduct of a bishop of the Church of England the subject of an inquiry by a Committee of the House of Commons. Whatever the views of hon. Gentlemen may he as to the presentation of Mr. Bennett to this living, as to the conduct of the Bishop in instituting him, or as to the general merits of Mr. Bennett as a clergyman, I really cannot bring myself to believe that any large number of Gentlemen in this House will think that a Committee of the House of Commons is a proper tribunal to enter upon the trial of a bishop of the Church of England for his official conduct in the discharge of his ministerial duty. The law may be defective. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr, Gladstone), at the close of his speech, threw out some suggestions which may be well worthy our consideration. It may be a question whether parishioners situate as were the parishioners of Frome, ought to be left without a more ready and easy remedy than they had. That may be a great question. I am not sure whether the circumstances every day passing around us do not tend to make it more and more a serious question, whether the state of the law in this respect ought not to become a subject of inquiry. But whatever may be the risk—though under such circumstances I cannot believe there is any risk—having honestly and distinctly avowed my opinion on the subject—1 must say that I never felt a deeper conviction, a stronger opinion, than that we should be 303 taking a course unworthy of the House of Commons, and most dangerous as a precedent, were we to make the House of Commons a tribunal for bringing to trial a bishop in respect of the discharge of his ministerial duties.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
begged to say, in explanation, that he never meant to vindicate the conduct of Mr. Bennett at Kissengen; and he wished to add that the Bishop of Bath and Wells never became acquainted with the proceedings at Kissengen till long after the institution of Mr. Bennett. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] He presumed, by the noise that was made, that some hon. Member took upon himself to doubt his assertion, and he trusted that, whoever he was, he would rise by and by and explain the reasons for his doubts.
§ SIR WILLIAM PAGE WOOD
believed that the question now before the House was a grave constitutional question. It was because he felt most deeply the vast importance of the general subject, and the mode in which the feelings of the people of England had been justly excited upon it, that he was the more jealous of being led away into any departure from the strict constitutional mode of dealing with it. He said, the feelings of the people of England were justly excited—for what had occurred? Those who had sworn to be the pastors of our Church had been found to have availed themselves of their high position to corrupt the principles of the members of that Church. In one case, in particular, the clergyman had acted with such baseness as to have gone over to the Church of Rome on the very Sunday after he had performed the morning service in a Protestant church, taking with him the two children of the organist, who had been intrusted to his care. He had heard of other cases equal to this in baseness. The unfortunate man who had taken the lead, in this secession to the Church of Rome, commenced by writing a work by which he taught that a person might hold all the doctrines of the Church of Rome, and yet continue to hold preferment in the Church of England. That tract, which had led to so much of this miserable hypocrisy, he should be as ready to denounce as he should be to denounce the conduct of those who had pursued this course, or adopted any portion of the Articles or Liturgy in what they called a non-natural sense. Unfortunately, the adoption of the non-natural sense was not confined to one side. He was afraid, amongst the various divisions which had disturbed 304 the Church, others might have taken a mode of expounding her doctrines or liturgy in a manner which they considered more wide and liberal than had hitherto been the case; and that, as on the one side the non-natural sense might lead to Rome, so the other, by a natural declension, might lead to another phase of the religious world. He respected those men who avowed their principles at once, and did not wait to mislead others when they had changed their own sentiments; and he could admire the Hon. Baptist Noel for leaving the Church, when he considered the opinions he held to be inconsistent with the natural sense of her Liturgy, much more than the conduct of those who, holding with him, had held preferment in the Church, whilst their doctrines were opposed to the Liturgy and Articles which they were sworn to maintain. He objected to all kinds of non-natural interpretation. Every clergyman was bound, when he gave his unfeigned assent and consent to everything in the Book of Common Prayer, to take every word in its natural, straightforward, and legitimate meaning, according to the mode in which it had been recognised in the Church of England from the time it was adopted in the Book of Common Prayer. But feeling that most deeply, and feeling that our safeguards were not adequate to the purposes for which they were required, he was confident they would not advance the cause of the reform of the ecclesiastical law by taking up these isolated cases, by making martyrs of individuals, by holding them up to so much public observation, and still less by making a party matter of Church discipline—a question which ought to involve the most deep, and serious, and grave considerations, with a view to a remedy which might satisfy the minds of all thinking members of the Reformed and Protestant branch of the Church. With regard to the Motion before the House, how did the matter stand? On the former occasion the House was asked to address Her Majesty, praying Her to issue a Commission to inquire into this subject. Every one was aware that an inquiry by the Crown must be by Commission, and every lawyer in the House knew that it was impossible to issue a Commission to ascertain whether a bishop had or had not transgressed the law—that such a Commission was precisely such a Commission as was condemned by the Bill of Rights. But now the question took another shape, and 305 the House was asked to institute an inquiry. But surely the principle of the objection was the same. The principle was this—not to inquire into anything behind a man's back, or bring charges against him, except for the sole purpose of bringing him to trial, because otherwise a stigma might be left upon him without his having had the opportunity to controvert or meet the charge. An inquiry might be instituted before a Committee, with a view to impeachment;—but he did not understand that the hon. Member for Cockermouth intended to go to that extent. He did not dispute the power of the House of Commons, nor did he dispute that it was the grand inquest of the nation; but if so, it behoved the House to act with a judicial mind, with a strictly legal form of inquiry, and not to come to a hasty or ill-considered resolution. He was glad that the former resolution was not agreed to. He was glad also that the Government undertook to make the inquiry, the result of which had been that there was no possible mode of taking steps which could alter the position of Mr. Bennett as instituted at Frome. But the question before the House was this: had the Bishop of Bath and Wells, according to the facts stated by the hon. Member for Cockermouth, been guilty of such a breach of the law that it was absolutely necessary for the House to inquire into his conduct in instituting Mr. Bennett to the vicarage of Frome? He was bound to say, having listened most patiently to the statement of the hon. Member, that he had not made out the slightest infringement of the law on the part of the bishop even on his own data. He did not mean to go into the question as to whether the law should be altered; but he contended that as the law now stood there were no legal means of introducing such an inquiry as could lead to a satisfactory result upon the question of whether or not Mr. Bennett was a sound member of the Church of England. He thought the hon. Member for the University of Oxford had somewhat understated the case of the Bishop. The Bishop was in this position. The law watched most jealously over the rights of patrons. And why? Not merely because the Bishop was in a judicial position, but because he was entitled to present in the event of a lapse if the living should not be filled up within six months; and the civil tribunals, therefore, would not spare him on a quareimpedit. The point on which the Bishop's case rested was this. 306 Formerly Bishops had two months allowed to inquire into the fitness of the clerk—that was a large portion of the six months—but according to the canons as they now stood, the Bishop had only twenty-eight days allowed for inquiry, and after that time he might be proceeded against by the patron for the non-institution of the clerk. Now what were the facts in this case? The Bishop of Bath and Wells did not institute until the twenty-sixth or twenty-seventh day after the presentation—just within the time when he was bound to finish the inquiry. Then what became of the charge of indecent haste? If the Bishop waited until the last day but one in which, by law, he could delay the institution of the clerk, he would ask the House if there was any ground for the charge of wilful haste or wilful anxiety to stop inquiry, by refusing to enter into the question with the parishioners, and then preventing them from entering their caveat? So strict was the law with regard to what a bishop might or might not do in refusing to institute a clerk, that a case had been decided on this point, in which the Bishop of Peterborough was the defendant. The Bishop pleaded that he had asked for the letters of orders, that he had asked for the testimonials, and the clerk had them not; that he gave the clerk a week to bring them, and that he brought them not; and that on his not bringing them he instituted another clerk. By the canon law the Bishop was bound to have the letters of orders and the testimonials. The Court of Common Law said, "We know nothing of that; you might have put the clerk on oath whether he had the letters; but we do hold you were bound to institute;" and the Bishop had to pay the costs of the proceeding. This showed the extreme jealousy of the courts in these matters. The Bishop who refused a clerk was bound to have such a ground of refusal as he could prove to the satisfaction of a jury; and if he failed in making out that proof, he was mulcted in costs. And what must the defect be? It must be a defect in learning, in morals, or in doctrine. He would ask the House if any case had been brought before the Bishop of Bath and Wells in respect of Mr. Bennett which he could establish in a court of law as a defence to a quare impedit; and that was the question before the House. The Bishop had no materials before him. Had the hon. Member for Cockermouth furnished any materials which 307 would have satisfied the requisition of the law, and proved the disqualification of the party? Let it be remembered also that the Bishop had not the choice whether he would go to a jury or not. Although it was possible a jury might be got to condemn some of the doctrines stated, yet the patron might proceed in the Ecclesiastical Court, and then the question was, what would the Ecclesiastical Court say with regard to these reasons? Further than that, the' Judge, as a matter of law, would not allow the jury to wander away from the causes that would be sufficient to prevent institution, and those causes ought to be such as would justify deprivation. The Kissengen part of the case must be put out of the question; because the Bishop would not have been allowed to prove that in his defence, even if he had known of it; but the hon. Member for Cockermouth did not even aver that the Bishop was aware of it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford denied that the Bishop had any knowledge of the matter; and he (Sir W. Page Wood) confessed that he himself never heard of it until it was mentioned by the hon. Member. That point must, therefore, be entirely put out of consideration. The next point was, that Mr. Bennett had been obliged to give up his church in the diocese of London. But that would be no answer to a quare impedit If the Bishop of London had deprived Mr. Bennett, that would have been a case to go before a jury. But the fact was otherwise; Mr. Bennett had resigned the living at the Bishop's request, and had not been deprived. The next point was, the quotation from Mr. Bennett's book. Standing alone it appeared to him to be a most objectionable passage; but he could easily understand that the context might have explained away a great deal of it. According to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, the quotation stated, but in objectionable language, that Mr. Bennett did not like to circulate the Bible alone of itself; it, perhaps, might have suggested that he wished it to be circulated with the Prayer Book. But no one could urge that as a defence on a quare impedit for not instituting. Then came the question about the testimonials. The question first raised was, that the Bishop ought to have had the testimonials, and ought to have examined them. Now Mr. Bennett produced his testimonials, signed by three 308 clerks, and countersigned by the Bishop of London. But it was said there was a note from the Bishop of London which ought to have put the Bishop of Bath and Wells on his guard. He granted this. But it seemed that the Bishop did inquire into the matter. Now, what difference could this letter have made to the Bishop of Bath and Wells if a quare impedit had been brought against him, or if any other proceeding had been taken? The Court would not have looked at the letter of the Bishop of London as a defence to an actio of quare impedit, or a duplex querela. He did not wish to say anything disrespectful of the Bishop of London, but he (Sir W. P. Wood) must say that he did not approve of the practice of writing private letters on these subjects. He believed that the object of the Bishop's signature was to testify that these three clergymen held office in his diocese; but he thought if the Bishop wished to make any observations he had better have placed them at the foot of the instrument. But even if that had been the case, the Court could not have looked at the note for the purpose of saying that the Bishop ought not to institute Mr. Bennett because the Bishop of London was not satisfied. The hon. Member for Cockermouth said the Bishop should have examined Mr. Bennett. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) said the Bishop did examine him; and the right hon. Gentleman having made that assertion on his personal knowledge, the House was bound to consider there had been an examination. The Bishop could only take the examination offered. He could not call witnesses to contradict Mr. Bennett. All he could do was to put Mr. Bennett's book into his hand and say, "Do you admit you wrote that book? I find such and such statements in that book. I consider them suspicious. I wish to have a full explanation of your view on the subject." That course could be pursued to a great length, and had been pursued to a great length in one case;—and what was the result? Was there any temptation to any other Bishop to pursue the same course? Was it to be supposed that the Privy Council would take a less wide view of the one case than they had done of the other; and might they not have condemned the Bishop in the costs, which costs would probably have amounted to 3,000l.; for that, as they were aware, was the result of the proceedings in the Bishop of Exeter's case? If Mr. Bennett, when examined by the 309 Bishop, had answered that he was an attached and sincere member of the Church of England, and explained away the documents complained of in that sense, the Bishop would have had no alternative but to institute him. The hon. Member for Cockermouth had completely misunderstood the case tried before Lord Ellen-borough from beginning to end, and had unwittingly given a reverse interpretation of the case. Povah's case was the case of the licensing of a preacher, in which the words of the Act were entirely different from the words of the canon; and Lord Ellenborough in his judgment proceeded on that distinction. The words of the Act of Uniformity as to licensing were, that he must be "approved by the bishop;" but there were no such words in the canon or in the law with reference to institution to a benefice. It was discretionary with the bishop whether he would license the preacher or not; and accordingly in that case the Bishop of London put in an affidavit, and said, "I examined the party, and on my conscience could not approve him;" and that was held a sufficient answer. But would that be any sufficient answer to a quare impedit? Lord Ellenborough said—The distinction between that case and the case of a clerk is this, that in the institution of a clerk the bishop has only to follow the direction of the canon—he has no discretion whatever, but is bound by the law to institute or to make good by testimony any reason he gives for not instituting a clerk—and that is a totally different case from the present.Lord Ellenborough did not say that the bishop was not to examine, but that when he had examined and got the answers, he could not stir a step, unless he had testimony to prove the clerk's schismatical or heretical opinions. The position of the bishop was extremely painful. It was laid down by Hobart, that if a bishop refused to present for light reasons, the law presumed he wished to present by lapse, and he said—The best advice I can give a bishop is this—to stand perfectly quiet, and take no part either the one way or the other; but simply to institute the party who is presented to him, unless on examination he find cause to which he can make answer in a quare impedit"Now, what would have been the position of the Bishop of Bath and Wells if he had attended to the letter of the parishioners of Frome? He could not have said to them, "Enter a caveat." It would not have been consistent with his judicial position, nor with his duties to the par- 310 ties, to instigate litigation, or to tell them the course they were to adopt. He could do nothing but say that it was an informal document, and that he could not attend to it. If they had entered a caveat, at first, the Bishop's course would have been clear. Was it reasonable to expect the Bishop to refuse to institute on no further information than was afforded by the parishioners? Up to this moment, no materials had been produced which would satisfy a Court that Mr. Bennett was unfit to be instituted. The Bishop's position was a painful one; but he maintained that he could not, consistently with his duty, have done anything else than what he did do. If, then, that was the state of things, he was glad to be delivered from the consideration of Mr. Bennett's case. He had formed his own opinion upon that case, and he admitted that it was a considerable grievance that in the case of a clergyman lying under such suspicion as Mr. Bennett did, from the things which were said to have occurred abroad, and from admitted circumstances, which had not been cited there—he admitted, he said, that it was a grave thing that, under the existing state of the law, there was no power on the part of a bishop to investigate such matters at a moderate cost; and he confessed he looked to a reform of the law of the Ecclesiastical Courts in that respect both in principle and practice; for the present House of Commons, having shown itself so anxious about the reform of the Court of Chancery, he felt certain that the next House of Commons would not allow the ecclesiastical courts to pass unscathed. The present debate might tend to promote that result, and, if so, it would be a useful result; and, perhaps, it was the only result it would have. He could not quite agree with the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Pakington), when he said that this was a proper time to introduce this discussion, because there was a strong feeling in the public mind respecting it. He (Sir W. P. Wood) sympathised with those who had strong feelings on this subject, and it was because he did so, that he said that they ought not to take one step in the matter beyond the limits of legitimate inquiry. He believed that in a case which rested upon such weak grounds, an inquiry such as was proposed could lead to no desirable results, further than that he thought they would find it to be contrary to the spirit of the Constitution to grant a Committee of Inquiry 311 where no pledge was given that that inquiry should be carried forward to a proper issue. He begged to thank the House for the attention with which they had listened to him upon a subject in which he felt so deep an interest that he had felt constrained to offer some remarks upon it.
§ LIEUT.-COLONEL BOYLE
said, that, having the honour to represent the borough of Frome, he was anxious to address a few words to the House upon this most painful question. He could have wished that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Mr. Gladstone) had been a little more charitable to the persons who signed the protest against their rector, Mr. Bennett; for, if he mistook not, the right hon. Gentleman did not think it out of place to insinuate that they were actuated by unworthy and selfish motives. Now, he (Colonel Boyle) was acquainted with almost every one of the fifty persons who had signed that protest, and he believed that not one of them had been actuated by the motives which the right hon. Gentleman had attributed to them. He had heard it said that one of the protesters had applied for the living, and being disappointed in not getting it, had therefore protested against the appointment of Mr. Bennett. Now he knew not to whom the right hon. Gentleman alluded—he knew not whether it was true or false—it was not unlikely that there was a party in the town of Frome connected with a clergyman living in the neighbourhood, a most respectable party in that town, a family which had long exercised a great and deserved influence there, who might have applied to the noble patroness in favour of a very deserving clergyman—probably they did apply to the noble patroness, and were refused; but even if they did so, he would venture to say that it was not that circumstance which had induced them to sign the protest, and that they were not more actuated by unworthy motives in signing that protest, than the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) himself was actuated by unworthy motives in appearing in that House as the advocate of Mr. Bennett. With regard to the popularity of Mr. Bennett's doctrines in the town of Frome, he (Colonel Boyle) had received a letter from a gentleman residing there, which stated that he did not believe there was any change in the feeling amongst the inhabitants relating to the appointment of Mr. Bennett, unless it was a more decided resolve on the part of the intelligent, and those representing the property of the 312 town, to discountenance both Mr. Bennett and his doctrines; that there was, in fact, but one feeling of disappointment and regret expressed throughout the circle of the writer's acquaintance, with the exception of one of the churchwardens; that the vicar's churchwarden had resigned, and left the church; that it was only by the greatest efforts that a successor had been found; that many persons had been solicited, who refused, and at length they had been driven to appoint the clerk of the board of guardians to the office; that the churchwarden to whom Mr. Gladstone alluded was the chairman of the board of guardians; and it might, therefore, be easily understood how it was that the clerk to the board was induced to become the vicar's churchwarden. He (Colonel Boyle) had other evidence bearing upon the same point; but he felt that, after all, the question of popularity was not the sole question; and that, even if the rev. gentleman were popular, but all the while unsound in his doctrines, the mischief which was likely to accrue from the appointment of Mr. Bennett would be all the greater and more extensive. One word as to the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Bath and Wells. Knowing what had been the state of his health for some time past, he (Colonel Boyle) wished to speak with forbearance and charity concerning him; but in justice to his constituents, he must state that they had no confidence in an appeal to this right rev. Prelate. The parishioners of Frome remembered that when Dr. Bagot was Bishop of Oxford, Ward and Newman found shelter and encouragement; they remembered also, that within the last few years a rev. gentleman who had either been refused a license in the diocese of Ripon, or, having held preferment there, was forced to leave, in consequence of what occurred at St. Saviour's in Leeds, found refuge in the diocese of Bath and Wells; was licensed to a curacy at Wells in the neighbourhood of Frome; remained there nearly two years, and then rewarded the confidence reposed in him by the right rev. Prelate, by going over to Rome. What confidence could his constituents, the parishioners of Frome, have in an appeal to such a tribunal as this? and then as to the expense, was it not well known that in the Gorham case, it cost the winning party thousands? He could not resume his seat without expressing to his hon. Friend the Member for Cockermouth the thanks of the inhabitants of Frome, for the able, 313 temperate, and moderate manner in which he had introduced this question to the House. He hoped that in the course of the next Session something might be done to alter the Church Discipline Act; and he also hoped Mr. Bennett would feel it incumbent upon him to restore peace to the town by resigning the living.
§ MR. YORKE
wished to justify himself with regard to the proceedings which had taken place respecting the petition presented from Frome. The address in reply had been drawn up by Mr. Cruttwell from first to last—one of Mr. Bennett's uncompromising foes. That gentleman stated—That the churchwardens and other persons canvassed for and obtained signatures to the address at tables placed for the purpose within the church itself when it was open for divine service; that it was signed by many persons who did not belong to the congregation, nor even to the parish, nor even to the diocese; that it was signed by little boys and little girls, and by persons who did not know what they were signing; that it purported to be signed by persons whose names were affixed without their knowledge; and, lastly, that it was taken to public-houses, where signatures were obtained thereto. The mode in which the address was got up would have disgraced the proceedings at a contested election. It carries no weight with it here, where these things are known, but it may be otherwise at a distance. I pledge myself to prove all this, and more, if the signatures be produced.Now, he had counted the number of signatures, and had looked at them all particularly, and he would undertake to say that they were not the signatures of boys and girls, but of persons accustomed to write their names in ordinary running-hand. But Mr. Miller, the churchwarden, gave a rejoinder to Mr. Cruttwell, and stated that—The whole proceedings were honest and open as the day; and that all the signatures were obtained by the churchwardens and five of the congregation, who were prepared to substantiate all he (Mr. Miller) stated. He declined submitting them to Mr. Bennett's opponents, not from the slightest fear of the result, but to shield the persons who had signed from the persecution that would certainly follow.Mr. Cruttwell had since published a statement, in which he said—He was glad to have the opportunity of disclaiming any participation in Mr. Horsman's proceedings in the House of Commons, which to his (Mr. Cruttwell's) certain knowledge, were not instigated by any party in the town.[Mr. HORSMAN: Hear, hear!] Why, was not the House led to believe the parishioners of Frome all agreed with the hon. Member, and that he had taken up their cause? Mr, Cruttwell concluded with 314 the expression of a hope that this controversy would be ended, and that they would show themselves as friends, though they could not agree in Mr. Bennett's doctrines or ministration; and Mr. Miller, at the close of his letter, offered up the same prayer. That appeared to be the wish of the parishioners of Frome. He could assure the right hon. Baronet the Colonial Secretary, if it was any satisfaction to him, that whatever the reasons of Mr. Bennett's going to the Roman church at Kissengen—if go he did—Mr. Bennett was as good a churchman as be (Sir J. Pakington) was; or as the Bishop of London was, when he made his celebrated charge in 1842; or as the hon. Member for Cockermouth himself.
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
expressed his surprise that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had not come forward on an earlier occasion to defend the conduct and proceedings of Mr. Bennett; for he (Sir B. Hall) understood that the hon. Gentleman had been Mr. Bennett's cimrchwarden. The document to which the hon. Member referred bad been signed at Frome by 1,000 or 1,100 persons sitting in public-houses, smoking and drinking, who considered themselves such admirable judges of points of doctrine, that they expressed their conviction of the soundness of Mr. Bennett's principles. That was the way in which the document had been got up. [Mr. YORKE: I deny it.] The fact was asserted by Mr. Cruttwell, and denied by Mr. Miller. The former gentleman had written a letter, dated the 4th of June—[Mr. YORKE: Mine from Mr. Miller is dated the 7th of June]—in which he proposed that an inquiry should be instituted into the manner in which the signatures to the address had been obtained. His suggestion was that two gentlemen should be nominated, one by Mr. Miller and the other by himself—that the original signatures should be produced before them, and he pledged himself then to substantiate the truth of what he had stated. The hon. Member stated that his letter was dated June 7th; that was true enough, but the contents of that letter had nothing whatever to do with the manner in which the address was concocted. He (Sir B. Hall) had corroborative proof (if proof were wanting) in another letter, from which he would read an extract:—I cannot conclude without a remark on the absurd address lately got up in favour of Mr. Bennett. Mr. Cruttwell lately sent an explanation respecting it to the Times. But this does 315 not adequately describe the absurdity. The signatures greatly outnumber the congregation of the church at any time, which holds, I believe, 800. The streets were canvassed, and persons and children of all grades of ignorance and poverty were pressed to sign, and have their names written for them—the tap-rooms of public-houses were visited at night for the same purpose. The market day was also used to serve the end, and persons casually coming on business from twenty and even thirty miles distance also signed; and yet such a wretched affair is permitted by Mr. Bennett to be used in public.The hon. Gentleman had laid great stress on the point that his hon. Friend (Mr. Horsman) had not been requested to take up this case by the inhabitants of Frome. That might or might not be; but it was at all events of no importance as regards the merits of the case; and most assuredly every true friend of the Protestant Church must feel indebted to his hon. Friend for bringing forward this matter. But he (Sir B. Hall) would not take up the time of the House with matters like these. The real question at issue was this—what were they to do under these lamentable circumstances; and the House must consider that Mr. Bennett and the Bishop of Bath and Wells were not the only delinquents. There were many others. Let them take a single case. An instance had been brought forward of a clergyman in this metropolis performing divine service in one of our churches, who had been seen attending Roman Catholic worship regularly Sunday after Sunday. The case had been submitted to the Bishop by a layman of the Church, who had witnessed this conduct. No notice of the communication was taken for thirteen days. At last the Bishop expressed himself satisfied with the submission of the clergyman. This clergyman was seen to go into a Roman Catholic chapel, where he crossed himself, and performed the usual genuflections, and where he subsequently remained during the whole of divine service, not on one Sunday only, but on consecutive Sundays. Yet that man was now performing the service in the church of St. Andrew's, Wells-street. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford had asked, why did not the parishioners of Frome go into the Episcopal Court at Wells? What would be the use of going into that Court when the Bishop had only just appointed his own son to preside over it? If he were to quote the words of the Bishop of London in the letter depriving Mr. Bennett of the living of St. Barnabas, it would show that he had been the cause of persons leaving the 316 Protestant Church; and he (Sir B. Hall) believed that Mr. Bennett had sent more converts to the Church of Rome than any other clergyman of the present day. But did not the hon. Gentleman the former churchwarden of Mr. Bennett know that there was a conventual establishment in connexion with the church of St. Barnabas, and that a daughter of a right hon. and learned Gentleman—with whom many hon. Members had the pleasure of being acquainted—was placed at the head of this establishment? Did he not also know that the father of that lady begged and prayed and entreated Mr. Bennett to use all the influence which he possessed, and to exercise any power which he possessed over the mind of that unfortunate young lady, in order to induce her to reverse her steps, and not continue a course which caused so much misery to her family? Did he not know that the rev. gentleman, now the pastor of Frome, refused to listen to the prayer of the parent, and that the daughter, and all associated with her, had now gone over to the Church of Rome? and yet, notwithstanding all this, Mr. Bennett found advocates in that House. But passing from this painful subject, let them look at the position in which the House now stood. The Motion of the hon. Member, though open to grave and serious objections, was, he believed, the best which, under the circumstances of the case, could have been brought forward. In what other way were they to act? They found a person placed as vicar of a parish who by his conduct and example from the time of his entry into St. Paul's to his ejectment from St. Barnabas, had induced large numbers of persons to go over to the Church of Rome; who, while travelling with Sir J. Harrington, had never attended a Protestant Church; and who, according to the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford, was perfectly justified in doing so because he had a congregation of his own.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
explained that he had never said that, and had already contradicted a similar statement.
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
had not understood the right hon. Gentleman to have done so, or he would not have made the statement; but the right hon. Gentleman certainly did say that Mr. Bennett was travelling as a chaplain to a private family; and that, in the eye of the law, a chaplain and a family constitute a congregation—but in this instance Mr. Bennett was not a chaplain, and the supposed congregation 317 consisted of two persons, one of whom was Mr. Bennett's former churchwarden. But admitting it to be a fact, or supposing for the sake of argument that Mr. Bennett did not attend the Protestant Church, was there any justification for his going to the Roman Catholic service, as he had done over and over again? The right hon. Member held an important and responsible position as Member for the University of Oxford, and he would ask him who were the persons who ought to be most anxious to reform the ecclesiastical law? Was it not the Bishops of the Church of England? They were Peers of Parliament, and he was told that it was necessary they should be so in order that they might watch over ecclesiastical affairs. It was clearly the duty of the prelates to inquire into the state of the law; and he hoped that no long time would be suffered to elapse before some step was taken in that direction. The proposed inquiry by Committee was the best course which could be taken under the present circumstances, and he hoped the House would accede to the Motion. When the Committee was appointed, it could summon, the highest dignitaries of the Church before it to afford information on the subject, and if they refused to come forward let the reponsibility fall upon themselves.
wished to explain. He had ceased to be churchwarden of St. Barnabas in 1848, and was not aware of the circumstances of the case of the daughter of the late Recorder; but his impression was that the young lady herself had always been restrained by Mr. Bennett from going her own way to the Church of Rome. [Laughter, and "Oh, oh!"] It was all very well for the hon. Baronet to laugh, and cry "Oh, oh!" in that popular manner. What he had heard was that she had a strong inclination to go to Rome, but that she had been restrained by Mr. Bennett, and that as soon as he left St. Barnabas she went over to Rome with her uncle.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he begged to return his thanks to the hon. Member for Cockermouth for the very able statement he had made in bringing this case before the House. The hon. Member's principal allegations against Mr. Bennett remained unrefuted; they were in fact further corroborated by what had passed. It had, however, been stated, on high authority, that the Bishop of Bath and Wells had no power legally to do otherwise than as he had done, and he should regret anything 318 being done which might he held to manifest a disposition on the part of the House to attack a venerable Prelate for not having done that which the law would not permit him to do. The result of the present Motion was this—that the law as it existed stood condemned. After the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies, and the admissions made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, whose bent was certainly towards attempting an exculpation of all the parties implicated in this transaction, including Mr. Bennett, and the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the city of Oxford, who was admitted to be a high legal authority, he hoped that they would receive an assurance from the Government that whatever might be the result of this Motion, the law would not be permitted to remain in its present embarrassing state of inefficiency. The facts were admitted. What need, then, was there of any further inquiry into them? Under these circumstances, it was a question for the hon. Member for Cocker-mouth whether he would divide the House upon his Motion. Such a course might look like a desire to persecute the Bishop of Bath and Wells, but could add no confirmation to the facts of the case, because they wore already admitted. He hoped that they should, before the question was dropped or decided, receive an assurance from the Government that such an alteration should be made in the law as would have the effect of preventing men from acting as clergymen in the Church of England who were guilty for so doing while holding unsound doctrines.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I did not rise after the statement made by the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Horsman), because it was understood to be the wish of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) to make a statement on behalf of the Bishop of Bath and Wells; and I felt it was better, both for the convenience of the House and of the Government, that we should be favoured with that statement on the part of the right hon. Gentleman. This discussion has, I think, very much cleared the case since the period when it was first brought under the notice of the House. To-night I think we have very completely investigated the position of the Bishop of Bath and Wells with respect to these circumstances, and I be- 319 lieve I do not misinterpret the general feeling of the House if I designate it as one which it would he extremely reluctant, by any vote it could arrive at, to throw any censure upon the conduct of that Prelate. ["Hear!"] It may be, certainly, very easy for Gentlemen to sneer at that statement; but I think, after the calm and ample discussion, so ably conducted as it has been this evening, we must arrive at this conclusion, that however many of us may regret the institution of the individual who has become vicar of Frome, it is impossible for us to decide by a vote of this House that it was the duty of the Bishop of the diocese to prevent that institution. Nay, more, I think we have most of us arrived at this conclusion, that had the Bishop of the diocese thrown any difficulties in the way of Mr. Bennett's institution, he might, and probably would, have incurred very perilous consequences. In such a state of the law I think it is quite impossible for the House of Commons to come to a vote or arrive at a judgment which should, in fact, cast upon a bishop of the Church the condemnation of this assembly, because he has done that which all must admit to have been strictly his legal duty, and which, if he had not fulfilled, would probably have entailed upon himself most serious consequences. I consider the question of the conduct of the Bishop of Bath and Wells to be one perfectly distinct from the circumstances which occurred in another diocese in relation to Mr. Bennett; but, at the same time, at this moment I cannot but remember that it is only on the conduct of the Bishop of Bath and Wells that we are called upon to make an inquiry. When this question was first brought under the notice of the House, in a manner which (though I am quite sure it was altogether unintentional on the part of the hon. Member for Cockermouth) was very unexpected to the Government, I took the liberty of stating then, with regard to the ability which parishioners should have of challenging the institution of one who is to become their vicar—I then stated that if the law did not offer a remedy, I thought it was our duty to supply a remedy; and, Sir, generally speaking, that is the opinion which now influences me, and that is the principle which I think ought to guide us in the present (I must describe them so) painful circumstances. I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for the city of Oxford (Sir W. P. 320 Wood) in the statement which he has made to-night, that all lawyers anticipated, and all the gentlemen of the long robe were prepared to find, that there was no remedy for the parishioners. I must still repeat, acting on the opinions given me as to the state of the law, that there is a remedy for parishioners under the circumstances in which the parish of Frome is placed, and that that is a remedy for which they need not go to the Ecclesiastical Court, nor have recourse to ecclesiastical law. But, Sir, I will not enter into that question again, which we have before argued, because I am perfectly willing to admit that there is not in my mind sufficient facility, or sufficient opportunity, for parishioners placed in the position of the parishioners of Frome to obtain that relief and redress which they have a right to expect and demand. As far, however, as the present Motion is concerned, it is merely the institution of Mr. Bennett to the vicarage of Frome which is at issue, and it is therefore the act of the diocesan which is before us, and which we are called upon to inquire into. I must repeat my opinion that the conduct of the Bishop of Bath and Wells cannot be fairly called into question on this occasion. But, if we were to appoint a Committee, let the House for a moment consider what would be the duties of that Committee. They would not be appointed, I apprehend, to rake up evidence or to institute proceedings against the Bishop. That is out of the question. Well, then, what would they be appointed for? Is it to be a Committee to consider the state of the law on the subject? Then, in my opinion, this is hardly the moment in which we should appoint a Committee to consider the whole state of the laws connected with the institution to benefices—a subject of the utmost difficulty and importance, and which I do not think the House of Commons would be the best instrument to carry on with effect and with satisfaction. I have been asked by my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) to give something like a pledge from the Government that they would take into consideration that important subject, the state of the law with respect to the institution to benefices. I am sure my hon. Friend will not press me for a pledge on this subject, which is one of too great importance, and one of too great and difficult a character, for me to give a pledge upon now. But that it is a subject which must engage, sooner or later, the consideration of any 321 Government that exists; that the state of our ecclesiastical courts is one which cannot much longer he tolerated; that with respect to our ecclesiastical courts we should follow the same course of, I trust, temperate and efficient reform which we have applied to all other kinds of judicature in the country—these, I think, are opinions which few of us do not share, and certainly they are sentiments upon which Her Majesty's Government are prepared to act. I trust the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cockermouth will not ask the House to come to a decision upon this Motion. If, indeed, he persists in so doing, although I myself most sincerely regret much that has occurred at the vicarage of Frome, although I would not at this moment go out of my way to offer criticisms on the conduct of other individuals concerned in these transactions, because it is unnecessary to do so now, especially when the conduct of one individual alone is called into question (though I do not believe the conduct of that individual can be successfully impugned)—if he asks me to support this resolution to appoint a Committee to investigate the conduct of the Bishop of Bath and Wells with respect to his accomplishment of an act which I do not think he could have refused to perform, I shall be compelled to offer to this Motion my decided opposition.
saw all the difficulties and objections to the course which was proposed, but he perceived no other remedy for the evil complained of except an inquiry by a Committee, which was not, as the right hon. Gentleman had stated, an inquiry directed against the personal conduct of the Bishop—which was not so much either into the personal conduct and character of Mr. Bennett, but which was intended to be an inquiry into all the facts of the case, in order to ground upon them further proceedings with respect to the state of the law, which gave no relief to parishioners suffering from these grievances. Upon these grounds he should vote in favour of the Motion of his hon. Friend (Mr. Horsman).
§ MR. MOODY
said, he did not conceive the law was open to the parishioners of Frome. It was not possible that a Commission could issue from the Bishop of Bath and Wells, or from the Bishop of London, against Mr. Bennett—not from the Bishop of Bath and Wells, because it was clear that before Mr. Bennett's induction, and perhaps not since, he had committed no 322 offence in that diocese; and it would be impossible to issue a Commission founded on what had taken place in the diocese of London before his resignation, for that would be trying him twice over; because, if he had not resigned his preferment, it would have been competent for the Bishop then to have issued a Commission under which Mr. Bennett might have been suspended or deprived, and he had taken the shorter course at once of resigning. And he contended, moreover, that it was not competent for the parishioners of Frome to go back into the practices which had taken place in reference to Mr. Bennett in the diocese of London. The question, however, now concerned the Church at large; and it was this- -whether a clergyman, after resigning his living upon one charge, might go abroad and commit any delinquencies, and then come home and be inducted into a living in another diocese, without there being any means of inquiry into his conduct on the Continent. There could be no difficulty in devising a remedy for this, and giving the power of inquiry into delinquent cies committed abroad; and as the object of this inquiry was to afford the means of doing so, he should, if the Motion went to a division, certainly vote for it.
The SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, it behoved the House to consider what was the real nature of this Motion, and how it affected the law which unquestionably existed. Let him remind the House that there was nothing in this Motion which at all involved the conduct of Mr. Bennett—the Motion applied in terms to the circumstances attending the institution of that gentleman to the vicarage of Frome. It was directed against the conduct of the Bishop of Bath and Wells; but after the luminous and able statement of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), and the discussion which this question had undergone, he should not say one word in reference to that right rev. Prelate, except to state that that right rev. Prelate had done an act as to which he had no choice, in which he was bound to do according to the law of the country, and that if he had not so acted he might have exposed himself to serious consequences. It had been stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that a remedy existed by the law of this country for the grievances of which complaint had been made by the hon. Member for Cocker-mouth; and he (the Solicitor General) repeated without any fear of contradiction from any learned Gentleman in that House, 323 or from any hon. Member acquainted with the law, that if it was true that Mr. Bennett, either by the way in which he discharged his duty as vicar of Frome, in preaching or teaching, or in the general parochial offices which devolved upon him, had been guilty of unsound doctrine or unsound teaching of the doctrines of the Church of England, it was competent for any parishioner to put the law in motion, and under the Church Discipline Act to proceed to punishment by the sentence of deprivation of Mr. Bennett. But the law did not stop there. It was competent to any parishioner of the parish of Frome, aggrieved by any unsound doctrine or teaching on the part of Mr. Bennett, to proceed against him in that way, provided only that the acts complained of had been committed in this country within the space of two years from the time of the prosecution. Looking to the state of the ecclesiastical courts in this country, he was free to admit that as to the practice of those courts, and the incalculable expense attending the most simple proceedings there, a remedy was loudly called for; and he ventured to join in the hope entertained by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that those who had directed their energies to a reform of the courts of common law and equity would extend the benefit of their exertions to the ecclesiastical courts of this country.
§ MR. DEEDES
was disappointed at the answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as to future legislation in respect to the ecclesiastical law, and the speech of the Solicitor General as to the state of the law, which had not encouraged any hope of something being done to place it in a more satisfactory condition. It was shown that the law was inaccessible to individuals, and that, therefore, snmething was necessary to be done. He regretted the state of things which had been disclosed as to the position of the Church. He was anxious to put an end to it, and at the same time was anxious not to impute blame to any party unjustly. But as there was no hope of any alteration of the law, he must, in order to promote this, object to vote for the Motion.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
Sir, I am one of those who think it necessary to provide a remedy for the evils of the present state of the Church. I cannot express the pain that I feel at the recurrence of these debates in this House; and every fresh instance of such matters being discussed 324 only strengthens my conviction of the crying necessity that the evils of the Church should be inquired into, and that her members should have the means of redressing those evils without coming to the House of Commons, which of all bodies by its constitution is the most unfit to sit as what would virtually amount to a court of heresy. I understood the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to give a distinct pledge that he would bring in a measure at a stated time, but that the Government would direct their early and anxious attention to the subject, with a view to the reform of the ecclesiastical courts. I would remind the House of what has happened heretofore with attempts at the reformation of our ecclesiastical courts. I am not certain how many Bills have been brought in with that object, and failed; but the Government of Sir Robert Peel introduced three separate measures of that kind, and they were received on their announcement with universal satisfaction; but when it came to the details, such was the strength of local interests, and of the local connexions of persons whose interests were involved in the continuance of the present system, that you found it utterly impossible to pass any measure that was really calculated to afford a remedy for existing evils. I say, therefore, when you ask the Government, and I am one of those who do ask the Government, to give their consideration to this subject, with the view of introducing a measure, that I likewise ask hon. Gentlemen, Members of the House of Commons, to make up their minds also to resist those external influences which prevent them from giving an honest verdict on a subject like this, and to render assistance to the Government to carry out in spite of those influences measures which I believe are essential to the safety of the Church and the purity of our institutions.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, he did not understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the same sense as that attributed to him by the hon. Member who had just sat down; but the more he (Mr. Gladstone) saw those subjects discussed, the more his convictions were strengthened that there was a crying and immediate necessity that the question should be placed on such a footing that the members of the Church of England should have the means of redressing grievances of this kind without coming to the House of Commons, which was, by its very constitution, a most unfitting 325 place for the consideration of such subjects.
§ MR. WALPOLE
begged to be permitted to say one word after what had fallen from the hon. Member for East Kent (Mr. Deedes), who had entirely misapprehended the purport and object of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer's answer to the appeal of the hon. Member for Cockermouth. He (Mr. Walpole) had looked most carefully into the words of the notice, to see whether the Government could accede to the inquiry asked for; and that inquiry he undertook to say would have been acceded to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if it had been instituted, as was suggested by the hon. Member for Coventry (Mr. Ellice), to discover what improvements could be made in the law to remedy the difficulty which it presented. But when they listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Cockermouth, and saw that he distinctly placed the issue upon the conduct of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the result of such an inquiry must either be a direct censure by Parliament of that conduct, or an impeachment to be instituted by a Member of that House against that right rev. Prelate; and seeing, as he did from all the arguments that had been addressed to the House, that it was totally impossible that the Bishop could have refused institution under the circumstances that had been stated to the House, without incurring the risk of a double action by Quare impedit in the Court of Queen's Bench, and by duplex gucerela in the ecclesiastical courts, a Motion likely to be attended with such results was not one, he thought, that ought to receive the sanction of the House of Commons. The question, therefore, was not, whether they would at a future period alter the law, which, he thought, involved a crying and grievous evil, but whether they should inquire into circumstances that could lead to no result but the one that he had pointed out, and which inquiry he undertook to say ought not to be granted, inasmuch as the Bishop had no opportunity of seeing what the law was, or of acting in a different way than he had done. For that reason he hoped the hon. Member would not press his Motion to a division, or, if he did, that the House of Commons would at any rate refuse to accede to a Motion involving consequences which he must consider unreasonable and unjust.
MR. DEEDES explained
He certainly had not understood the Chancellor of the 326 Exchequer to speak in as distinct terms about the necessity of altering the law as his right hon. Colleague seemed to have done. But it was owing to the want of that distinct understanding which ought to be given that he had made the observation he did, and to that observation he must adhere.
§ MR. GOULBURN
would not detain the House with any lengthened remarks; but he felt, in common with many hon. Members who had spoken in that debate, very considerable difficulty as to the course which it would be best for the House to pursue. From the manner in which the Motion had been introduced, it was clear that it was intended as an inquiry into the conduct of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and in the course of the debate he thought it had been satisfactorily established upon the best legal authority that, so far as the Bishop was concerned, there were no legal grounds for impeaching his conduct. He felt, at the same time, most strongly, that the state of the law as to the institution to benefices was extremely defective, and that it certainly ought to be amended in order to provide a remedy against the recurrence of abuses that would lead to discussions in that House calculated to inflame the public mind, and to occasion dangerous consequences to the Church of England. Feeling, therefore, that what was wanted was not an inquiry into a particular case, but into the state of the law, he would propose as an Amendment to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, that the inquiry, instead of being made into the circumstances of the institution of Mr. Bennett to the vicarage of Frome, should be made into the state of the law affecting the institution to benefices in the Church of England.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out from the first word "the" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "state of the Law affecting the institution to Benefices" instead thereof.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, it appeared to him that he could answer the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman in three words. It was as if certain parties are brought to the bar, accused of murder, and a friend of theirs comes forward to propose an inquiry into the state of the law on capital punishment. That was the ingenious device by which the experienced Member for the University of Cambridge attempted to lead the House away from an inquiry in which they were very much interested, and 327 into which it appeared that they thought it their duty to proceed. He felt it would be making all their proceedings that evening perfectly ludicrous, if they were to adopt so weak and so ridiculous an Amendment. It appeared to him to be a question, to some extent perhaps of law, but still more of common sense. He had already stated that he did not by choice propose a Parliamentary Committee upon the subject; but there was a maxim of law to the effect that there was no grievance without a remedy. Now, it was admitted that there was a serious grievance, and how was the remedy to be provided? Notwithstanding all that had been said by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, no suggestion had been made which he could accept as a means of remedy for the evil. Gentlemen learned in the law, experienced Members, Cabinet Ministers filling high and responsible positions, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford even, had addressed the House with great energy and ability, without, however, suggesting any remedy whatever. But, was this grievance to go unredressed? Were these facts to go uncorrected? Was the House of Commons, almost unanimously, to admit the existence of a serious grievance, and yet were they to sit still and do nothing? He need not tell the House he had no personal feeling or interest which had induced him to bring this subject before them. He was not acquainted with a single person in the parish of Frome when he brought it forward, nor had he had any communication with any one at Frome. He had always excused himself from bringing before the House mere local grievances. He had brought this forward as a general question, for he believed that Frome was but the type of what might take place in any other diocese in the kingdom. With all deference to the hon. and learned Gentlemen who had spoken upon the law of this subject, he must say that they had somewhat mystified the matter. About the facts there was no doubt. Upon that point he must offer his acknowledgments to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford. That right hon. Gentleman was a practised debater, a zealous theologian, a subtle reasoner, and he had shown himself that night to be by no means a contemptible casuist. The right hon. Gentleman had addressed the House as if he held a brief upon the question, and most ably did he play the advocate for the ac- 328 cused. But the right hon. Gentleman seemed to lose his temper. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for the city of Oxford had said that there was no case whatever against the Bishop, that he had conducted himself strictly according to law, and that no complaint could be made against him. Now, there were two points on which he (Mr. Horsman) made a complaint against the Bishop. It was said that a caveat was never lodged against the institution of Mr. Bennett. But what were the facts of the case? The day after the parishioners received notice of presentation, they forwarded an address to the Bishop; but having waited for an answer for a week, they addressed him a second time, and then there was another week's delay. The very day they got an answer from the Bishop, they set about lodging a caveat; but the delays which had occurred in the Bishop's answer prevented them from lodging it in time. Now, there was another point of law on which he wished to say a few words. He did not agree with the construction of the law which had been given by the hon. and learned Gentlemen who had addressed the House. They stated that the Bishop of Bath and Wells, if he had refused institution, would have been subject to a quare impedit; but, with all deference, he begged to dispute that assertion. Mr. Bennett was not legally qualified to be instituted until he produced from the Bishop of London his last diocesan letters of bene decessit. He would conclude by stating that he felt it his duty to press his Motion to a division, and he believed that the House would be disposed to give it their affirmation.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 156; Noes 111: Majority 45.
|List of the AYES.|
|Abdy, Sir T. N.||Berkeley, hon. H. F.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Berkeley, C. L. G.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Bernal, R.|
|Alcock, T.||Blackstone, W. S.|
|Anstey, T. C.||Booker, T. W.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Boyle, hon. Col.|
|Arkwright, G.||Bremridge, R.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Bridges, Sir B. W.|
|Bagge, W.||Bright, J.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Broadwood, H.|
|Baird, J.||Brockman, E. D.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Brotherton, J.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Brown, H.|
|Bass, M. T.||Buller, Sir J. Y.|
|Butler, P. S.||Long, W.|
|Butt, I.||Loveden, P.|
|Buxton, Sir E. N.||M 'Gregor, J.|
|Carter, S.||M'Taggart, Sir J.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Mangles, R. D.|
|Chaplin, W. J.||Marshall, W.|
|Childers, J. W.||Martin, J.|
|Clay, J.||Matheson, Col.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Melgund, Visct.|
|Clifford, H. M.||Milligan, R.|
|Cobden, R.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Collins, W.||Moffatt, G.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Moody, C. A.|
|Copeland, Ald.||Morris, D.|
|Corry, rt. hon H. L.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Cowan, C.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Crowder, R. B.||Noel, hon. G. J.|
|Dalrymple, J.||Paget, Lord G.|
|Dawes, E.||Parker, J.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Pechell, Sir G. B.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. T.||Pigott, F|
|Dod, J. W.||Pilkington, J.|
|Duff, J.||Pinney, W.|
|Duncan, G.||Ricardo, O.|
|Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.||Rice, E. R.|
|Edwards, H.||Rich, H.|
|Ellice, rt. hon. E.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Ellice, E.||Romilly, Col.|
|Ellis, J.||Rushout, Capt.|
|Elliott, hon. J. E.||Salwey, Col.|
|Ewart, W.||Scholefield, W.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Scobell, Capt.|
|Forbes, W.||Smith, J. A.|
|Forster, M.||Smyth, J. G.|
|Fox, W. J.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Freestun, Col.||Stanford, J. F.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Geach, C.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Goddard, A. L.||Staunton, Sir G. T.|
|Greene, J.||Strutt, rt. hon. E.|
|Greene, T.||Stewart, Adm.|
|Gronfell, C. P.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Grenfell, C. W.||Sutton, J. H. M.|
|Grey, R. W.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Tennent, R. J.|
|Hardcastle, J. A.||Thompson, Col.|
|Harris, R.||Thompson, G.|
|Hastie, A.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Headlam, T. E.||Tollemache, J.|
|Henry, A.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Heywood, J.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Heyworth, L.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Hindley, C.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Hodgson, W. N.||Welby, G. E.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Williams, J.|
|Hutt, W.||Williams, W.|
|Jackson, W.||Wilson, M.|
|Kershaw, J.||Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.|
|King, hon. P. J. L.||Wyld, J.|
|Kinnaird, hon. A. F.||Wyvill, M.|
|Langston, J. H.|
|Lennard, T. B.||Horsman, E.|
|Locke, J.||Hall, Sir B.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Bailey, C.||Benbow, J.|
|Bailey, J.||Bennet, P.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Boldero, H. G.|
|Bankes, rt. hon. G.||Bramston, T. W.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Brooke, Lord|
|Bell, J.||Bruce, C. L. C.|
|Cabbell, B. B.||Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Child, S.||Masterman, J.|
|Christopher, rt. hon. R. A.||Miles, W.|
|Christy, S.||Morgan, O.|
|Clive, H. B.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Cocks, T. S.||Naas, Lord|
|Collins, T.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Cotton, hon. W. H. S.||Oswald, A.|
|Damer, hon. Col.||Packe, C. W.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Pakington, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Deedes, W.||Palmer, R.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Patten, J. W.|
|Duncombe, hon. W. E.||Portal, M.|
|Dunne, Col.||Prime, R.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Renton, J. C.|
|Farrer, J.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Fellowes, E.||Richards, R.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Floyer, J.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Spooner, R.|
|Gilpin, Col.||Stafford, A|
|Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E.||Stanley, E.|
|Greenall, G.||Stanley, Lord|
|Guernsey, Lord||Stuart, J.|
|Gwyn, H.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Tennent, Sir J. E.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Henley, rt. hon. J. W.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Herries, rt. hon. J. C.||Tyler, Sir G.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Hope, Sir J.||Villiers, Visct.|
|Hope, A.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Howard, hon. E. G. G.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Hudson, G.||Walpoie, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Johnstone, Sir J.||Walter, J.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Jones, Capt.||Wegg-Prosser, F. R.|
|Kelly, Sir F.||West, F. R.|
|Kildare, Marq. of||Whiteside, J.|
|Knight, F. W.||Wigram, L. T.|
|Knox, Col.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Langton, W. G.||Wood, Sir W. P.|
|Legh, G. C.||Wynn, H. W. W.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Lewisham, Visct.||Young, Sir J.|
|Littleton, hon. E. R.||TELLERS.|
|Lygon, hon. Gen.||Goulburn, H.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||Herbert, S.|
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Select Committee appointed, "To inquire into the circumstances connected with the institution of the Rev. Mr. Bennett to the Vicarage of Frome."