HC Deb 31 July 1857 vol 147 cc825-95

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [30th July], "That the Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words, "upon this day three months."

Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.


Sir, in justification of the course which was adopted last week, when a considerable portion of this House demanded further time for the consideration of the marriage question, I could not appeal to anything more conclusive than the course which the present debate had taken. Last week my noble Friend at the head of the Government, when he was told that the subject could not be properly considered by the House in the present period and circumstances of the Session, said, on the contrary, that there was no reason why the debate should not be conducted with the same earnestness, force, and effect as at any other time, adding that if necessary the duration of the Session might be extended for an unlimited period. Now, last night what did we witness? No unkindness, undoubtedly, on the part of the House, but such a degree of lassitude as was entirely unconquerable, and such as made it scarcely possible for any hon. Gentleman to state his opinions to the House. After the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, with the single exception of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire (Mr. Puller), eight hon. Gentlemen in succession—a circumstance unparalleled in my experience—spoke on the same side of this question, not wanting certainly—if I may presume to say so; and I will not speak of their ability—in earnestness in expressing their views upon the subject. Its magnitude was admitted—its novelty not denied, and yet on one side of the House it remained wholly undebated. This extraordinary course of proceeding was at length consummated into a climax, when the Secretary of State for the Home Department actually complained that a division did not take place last night, and spoke of premeditation as having been evinced to invole the debate in difficulties. [Sir G. GREY: I never saw clearer signs of predetermination]. My right hon. Friend, as I understand, adheres to the expression, and is not sorry that he used it. He says he never saw clearer signs of predetermination. But were the signs on the part of those who under circumstances so discouraging were discharging their conscientious obligations, or were they on the part of those who, with this great, this new subject before them, remained systematically silent in order that the House might arrive at a division? I do not want to make any charge, or to lay any blame upon any one. This is too serious and too sad a subject to be connected with the recriminations of party, or to be made the occasion of an attack upon any Government. It is not a subject on which to make concessions to party, and what I have said I have said not to throw censure upon any one, but to show the justice of the appeal of those who have urged that it was impossible to do justice to this subject in this Session and under the circumstances in which it is pressed upon our attention. It may be said that the debate was all on one side, because the speeches of those who were opposed to the Bill of the Government contained nothing which deserved an answer. That is language which may be applied to any debate, but it is enough to say that that is not the view taken by many hon. Members not the least entitled to attention in this House. We are not attended to when we say that the circumstances under which this Bill is pressed forward are unprecedented and unusual; nor when we urge that those who oppose the Bill do so in deference not only to their own sense of duty, but also to the strong feeling which is entertained upon the subject by the great mass of their fellow subjects, and that we are required to discuss one of the most difficult of all propositions at a period of the year when no such proposal has ever before been made to Parliament, We are not attended to when we say that there has not been time to lay before the House the ordinary information in the shape of facts and statistics with which it is usual to furnish it, when called upon to legislate on important matters, but I hope we shall be attended to when we urge that the House is proceeding in entire ignorance of the strong feeling upon this subject which exists among the people wherever it has been brought before them. It is vain to say that they ought to have known of this Bill before. The circulation of intelligence is not very rapid after all the accelerations of modern days, if we mean by that the bringing home of any subject to the minds of the people; but still a strong feeling has been excited, and I must take up the attention of the House for a few moments in showing how very recently the people out of doors have been made acquainted with the action of the Legislature on this Bill. I have received letters from different parts of the country, stating that it would have been easy to obtain very numerously signed petitions against this Bill, but that seeing the manner in which the Government were determined to press it forward it was deemed useless. One gentleman writes from Cornwall that if it were not for the shortness of the time he could get his petition signed by eight-tenths of the population of the parish. He says that the labouring classes are against the Bill to a man, and also a large proportion of the middle classes. Another writes from Lincolnshire, that the Bill, as it came down from the Lords, is thoroughly hateful in the eyes of the great mass of the middle classes and the poor, eminently so amongst all Church people, but very markedly so amongst religious Dissenters. From Suffolk I learn that all classes are against the Bill, one poor man making the remark, that instead of the marriage vow running "until death do us part," it should be, "until we two quarrel." The writer who forwards a petition, adds, that the signatures would be trebled if a little more time were allowed. Another writes from Wantage that it would be impossible to exaggerate the state of feeling in his district. In short, I am certain that neither the Government nor the Parliament has any conception of the danger that exists of tampering with this law, or of the number of honest men, fathers of families, who are hostile to the change proposed. I dare say that you will tell me that these people do not understand the nature of the provisions of this Bill; but can there possibly be a stronger reason for asking for time to consider them? I do not doubt that such is the case. I have seen signs in the petitions that even some among the best educated classes do not understand the provisions of this Bill. Surely, then, it is inconsistent with the general policy of Parliament, with prudence, and I may almost say with decency, that such a measure should be forced on. And what is the reason for forcing it on? It is not, surely, the importance of settling a question by the delay of which one or two or three individuals may be affected? My noble Friend the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), who seemed to know a great deal more about our motives than we know ourselves, told us most ingenuously that his reason for not wishing to delay the Bill was, we might be able to show that we had done something, that we should not be compelled to present a blank roll of legislation to the country. That is my noble Friend's reason for pressing forward the Bill, under the present unfavourable circumstances. But we have no right, I maintain, to make a character and reputation for the House by passing a most important measure without the full consideration and importance it demands, simply because it is pressed upon us by the Government. We are not to hurry on an important subject lest it should be said out of doors that we are idle, and lest in the estimation of the public we should lose caste. Are we likely to recover or preserve our estimation in the country by such an attempt to keep up appearances? No! Believe me, our estimation in the country depends not on the quantity and rapidity, but on the quality and wisdom and stability of our legislation. We are told that we cannot approach this question, more particularly considering the position in which we are placed by the previous practice of Parliament, without considering the alternatives. As has been stated by my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, we have been in the habit of passing private divorce Acts, and those private Acts for a, long period have passed without objection. I do not at all dissemble that this constitutes a real and serious difficulty in the matter; but this I do say, that of the three alternatives before us,—the passing of this Bill, continuing to pass private Acts as before until we see our way better before us, or the stopping of these private Acts altogether, the alternative of passing this Bill is immeasurably the most dangerous. I frankly own I have never seen greater signs—and I mean to adduce some of those signs—of what may be called a crude state of the Parliamentary mind upon this subject. I plead guilty to it myself. It is only during the present year that I have found leisure to inquire into this subject, and I do not feel prepared to pass a deliberate opinion upon it until we have had more time for consideration. We are told in the public journals that ten minutes', some say half an hour's, consideration will suffice to settle the question. Such suggestions as these may prove the rashness with which some men would undertake to decide the most sacred and solemn questions, but they do not tend to diminish the real difficulties of the case, nor do they avail to guard us from the future embarrassment into which such rashness would most assuredly lead us. It has been said, why have you not objected to the private Bills?—and the inference sought to be drawn from our not objecting to those Bills is, that we ought not to oppose the Bill now before us. My answer to that argument is, that when Parliament has entered into a course of passing private Bills in the nature of privilegia for individuals, it ceases to be competent, morally competent at least, to take an effectual objection to any one of those private Bills. We had a strong instance of this the other day in the case of Shepherd's Disabilities Bill, for which there had been but four or five precedents; but it was argued that by passing previous Bills of the sort, Parliament had constituted to this individual a right of expecting that, the same Bill should be passed in his instance; and it was said that, however much we objected, we must be content to pass this Bill and afterwards to raise the general question. There is nothing more certain in the history of this question—and this is one of the many inaccuracies in what I must call the very inaccurate speech of the Attorney General, to which I shall have to draw the attention of the House—than that this fixed system has been so little fixed that, whenever the practice of passing divorce Bills has at any period shown a tendency to grow frequent, there has been a strong Parliamentary reaction with a view to check the pressure. Twice during the last century and once towards the close of the last century attempts were made to limit the practice. I grant that they were defeated, and that the practice attained a certain extension; but, surely, the very fact that private persons never could come before Parliament and claim these divorces ex debito justitiœ ought to be a sufficient proof of the absolute necessity for a full discussion of the case before entering on a new course of proceeding. When, instead of repeating to-day what was done yesterday, we enter upon a now system and take a new starting point, then it is that, by every consideration of justice and propriety, you are not only entitled but bound to examine into the whole matter, and to entreat the House to consider the people upon which it is about to act. Now, it may be said that the two statements, that there is great danger in precipitancy, and that there is a strong feeling in the country against this measure and no strong feeling in its favour, are antagonistic, because it may be urged that if we legislate hastily, still if the public are not blindly in favour of the measure, if they are strongly opposed to it, it will be easy to retrace our steps. In my opinion, to rely upon such a representation would be to trust to a very gross fallacy. The feeling of the country may be, as I believe from the very imperfect evidence which we have been allowed to collect it is, against this measure; but if the Bill be passed, although an overwhelming majority of Christian husbands and wives may be against it, you will have constituted an interest in behalf of certain parties who will become, as it were, an entire sect in favour of such laws, both for their maintenance and for their extension, and the prescriptive right which they will have acquired in consequence of your legislation, will make it impossible for you to correct the results of any hasty and precipitate decision. Now, Sir, what is the effect of the Bill before us?—because it is sometimes said, and in a certain sense it is said with truth, that it is a Bill of moderate scope and extent, the operation of which is to deal with marriage as a whole and in all its characters. But what are the characters of marriage? They are admirably described in a passage by Lord Stowell, an authority whom we need never apologize for quoting in this House, because there is no passage in his works which I have seen which will not repay any attention that may be bestowed upon it. Lord Stowell admirably discriminates the threefold character of marriage. He says:— As the law of nature, it was antecedent to the formation of society, and an important but a mere personal contract between the two parties. When society was formed it became not only a personal but a civil contract, connected with civil privileges and obligations. When religious principles were received in a State the marriage became also a religious contract, accompanied with plighted vows, and calling upon Heaven to witness them. The idea that the marriage contract was indissoluble was taken from the construction put upon certain texts of Scripture."—Hansard, Parl. History, xxxv. 306. Thus Lord Stowell clearly distinguishes between marriage as a personal engagement between individuals antecedent to and independent of political society, the civil sanction which the laws and institutions of society give to it, and the religious character which it acquires in virtue of the institutions of the Christian religion. A good deal of the difficulty with which we have to contend arises from the circumstance that this House, not, so far as I can judge, sufficiently qualified for the purpose, undertakes to deal with marriage in all these three characters. By this Bill it undertakes not only to deal with the civil consequences and obligations of marriage, which I believe we should find matter of comparatively easy solution, but also to determine the effect of and to cancel solemn vows between two individuals upon which a union for life has been stipulated to depend; and lastly, not being to my knowledge invested with any theological authority, it sets itself up as a square and measure of the consciences of men. It undertakes to determine the religious obligations of marriage and to say when the rite solemnized in the face of the congregation and of God shall cease to have effect, when it shall be repealed, and when that, which the Apostle declared to be a great mystery of Christianity, shall be dealt with by the House of Commons; and it also asserts that it rests with that House to say what view is to be taken of that mystery by the intelligence and the consciences of men. A great deal of our difficulty arises from the undue scope of the measure in that respect, and great would be not only the relief to my own mind, but the mitigation of the practical evils connected with this measure, if we were content to legislate simply with regard to the civil consequences and the civil responsibilities of marriage. Because, if a man is to fancy himself in the unhappy position of those who are included in this Bill, is there one of us who really thinks that the vows which we have taken in the face of our God are affected in their force by the legislation of this House. I must confess that there is no legend, there is no fiction, there is no speculation, however wild, that I should not deem it rational to admit into my mind rather than allow what I conceive to be one of the most degrading doctrines that can be propounded to civilized men—namely, that the Legislature has power to absolve a man from spiritual vows taken before God. Having thus generally described the great defect of the Bill, I will touch upon some of the assertions of my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General. He says that although technically there is no code of law upon this subject of marriage, yet, in point of fact, the proceedings of the Legislature with regard to it are really judicial, and are founded upon rules which practically constitute a code, which is as well ascertained as that of any other branch of the law, and which has been in operation in that form for 200 years. That is, to say the least of it, a very loose and inaccurate statement. This system has not been in operation, as a system, for 200 years. It has been in a state of growth from its earliest seeds for something like that time, but it is not 100 years since it grew to its present state. Nay, is it a system yet? My hon. and learned Friend says that it is a code as well ascertained as are the rules of any other branch of the law. Is that true? What says the Standing Order of the House of Lords, to which, if it be a code, we must look to discover its provisions? The Standing Order of the Lords says:— Ordered by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled that no Bill grounded on a petition to this House to dissolve a marriage for the cause of Adultery, and to enable the petitioner to marry again, shall be received by this House unless a provision be inserted in such Bill that it shall not be lawful for the person, whose marriage with the petitioner shall be dissolved, to intermarry with any offending party on account of whose adultery with such person it shall be therein enacted that such marriage shall be so dissolved. Exception is made in cases in which the other offending party is dead, and it is ordered,— That such Order be declared a Standing Order, and entered on the roll of the Standing Orders of this House, printed and published, so that all persons may the better take notice of the same. That is the Standing Order of the House of Lords. Every Divorce Bill is introduced into that House with a clause of this description, and from every such Bill that clause has, for a number of years, been struck out. Thus the Standing Order and the practice of the House of Lords are at variance upon this vital point, as many persons regard it, of the intermarriage or remarriage of the guilty parties, and yet my hon. and learned Friend tells us that the code of procedure in these matters is as well established as that of any other branch of the law. My hon. and learned Friend says that divorce is a principle of the Reformation. I will come to that by and by but he also said, I think, that the indissolubility of marriage depended upon its being a sacrament. [The ATTORNEY GENERAL: No!] My hon. and learned Friend was not so distinct upon that subject as he was in most parts of his speech. I am glad that he contradicts me. He at least abandons—[The ATTORNEY GENERAL: No!] I was not going to say that my hon. and learned Friend abandons any thing which he said, but he disclaims the doctrine that the indissolubility of marriage depends upon its being a sacrament, and therefore abandons the doctrine upon which most of the promoters of the Bill have taken their principal stand.


The indissolubility of marriage was certainly the rule long before the Council of Trent, but that Council enunciated the doctrine for the first time in 1561. [Mr. BOWYER: No!] So we Protestants say.


The point upon which my hon. and learned Friend is a issue with the hon. Member for Dundalk does not touch that with which I am dealing. If you look to the Report of the Commission upon which this Bill is mainly founded you will find that there the question is made to hang essentially upon the sacramental character of marriage. It is there contended that in Roman Catholic times marriage was indissoluble because it was a sacrament, and that ceasing to be held as a sacrament at the Reformation, it therefore ceased to be considered indissoluble. That doctrine has been repeated by great authorities elsewhere. It is a doctrine entirely void of foundation. The Council of Trent has declared that, so far as the opinion of the Church of Rome is concerned, marriage is indissoluble independently of its sacramental character; and, upon the other hand, the whole Eastern Church, by which marriage is held to be a sacrament, hold it to be dissoluble. So much for the connection between the indissolubility of marriage and its sacramental character. I think my hon. and earned Friend cannot say that I paid him a bad compliment in congratulating him upon having embarked no part of his fortunes in so crazy a craft as a theory of that description. My hon. and learned Friend says that this Bill makes no change in the law, but that it reduces to legislative form that which has had a legislative effect for a long series of years. I do not want to enter upon verbal controversies when we have so much substantial matter to debate, and therefore I will not trouble the House by quoting the authority not only of persons who have questioned this Bill, but that of the Commission which reported in 1853, and which declared that the dissolution of marriage is unknown to the law of England. But let me grant for argument sake to my hon. and learned Friend that the principles upon which Divorce Bills have hitherto been based are likewise the principles of the present measure, does it follow that he is justified in. asserting that he is introducing no new law? To my mind, Sir, it is impossible there can be a grosser fallacy. If I grant to him that the Bill has Parliamentary precedent, yet I say it introduces entirely a new law for the purposes to which it is addressed. What does it contemplate? Does it merely propose a continuance of the precedents upon which my hon. and learned Friend rests his case? Is not this the very groundwork of the Bill—that heretofore we have limited the power of obtaining divorces to the wealthiest classes in the country? And that is true. I believe there is on record the case of a Mr. Chippendale, or some such name, who was allowed to sue in formâ pauperis; but, speaking generally, your Law (if you like to call it a law) was strictly limited to the highest classes of this country—such as could afford to pay a large sum to set it in operation. But what is my hon. and learned Friend going to do? He is going to give you a law under which divorce is to be made accessible to all classes of the community. Is not that a new law? You have got upon your Statute-book an Act which provides that the members of the Royal Family shall not be permitted to marry except after a certain time and without the consent of the Sovereign. But that is not a principle of the British law for the whole community; it is a principle of one law for the Royal Family and for them alone; and so also this code about which my hon. and learned Friend speaks, and under which he says a principle of law has been established, is a code as entirely foreign to the British nation as the Act regulating the marriages of the Royal Family. Your middle classes, your lower classes, care no more for it than if, instead of being a code for the use of the nobility and high gentry of England, it had been established for the use of the inhabitants of the planet Jupiter. Multitudes of them do not even know of its existence—nay, there are many clergymen even who are ignorant of its existence. The fact of the occurrence every year of one or two of these Divorce Bills limited to particular classes of Society has had no more effect upon the mass of the British people than if no Divorce Bill had ever passed. I am most anxious. Sir, to make this assertion broadly, because it is vital to the whole case. The hon. and learned Gentleman says he is bringing forward no new law. Well, I won't argue with him whether it is a new law as regards that infinitesimal part of England to which it applies, but I say the present Bill pledges him to carry divorce to the door of all men of all classes, and his law, therefore, is as completely novel to all intents and purposes as if the first Bill of divorce, passed in the case of Lord Roos, in the reign of Charles II., had never been introduced into Parliament, and had never been followed up by others to pander to the passions of society. My hon. and learned Friend has gone at some length into a Scripture argument. He felt it, and justly so, to be a necessity of his position, because, as he is dealing with the highest spiritual matters, and is calling upon us to say under what law the clergy are to act in future, I am not surprised that he did not follow the example of the Commission of 1853, and leave the question of Scripture in the background, dealing simply with the abstract question of divorce. Sir, I shall enter into that theological argument under protest. It is impossible to conduct it in this House as it should be conducted. We are not competent to do so. I am obliged to say, with great respect, that my hon. and learned Friend is not competent; and a fortiori, therefore, I myself am much less so. I think it very hard that we should be called upon to pass Bills in such a form that we are incompetent to deal with the reasons upon which they are founded. The patience of this House could not possibly allow time or opportunity for the discussion of a Scripture argument. That is a matter for the closet of divines or a synod of theologians; it is not a discussion which can be entered into by a popular assembly. Under compulsion, however, I am obliged to touch that argument—rudely, inadequately, and unsatisfactorily to myself, as I must needs touch it. My hon. and learned Friend pointed out with great exultation, and I must ask his attention here. [The ATTORNEY GENERAL (who was conversing with his neighbour on the Treasury bench)—I am listening.] Oh, I do not doubt my hon. and learned Friend's ability to do two things at once, or, indeed, any number of things at once. My hon. and learned Friend, then, pointed with great exultation to what he seemed to consider fundamental discrepancies among certain authorities who are opposed to this Bill. He laboured to show, with respect to the single Greek word imported into this debate, that Mr. Keble had given it one construction, Mr. Baddeley a second, and a writer in the Quarterly Review a third construction, considering it as "idolatry or apostasy." [The ATTORNEY GENERAL: I quoted a fourth from old authorities.] Yes, but I am dealing with new authorities, and with the newest of all—namely, my hon. and learned Friend in his speech of yesterday. He quoted those three writers, and said they gave three different constructions. Now, in the first place, as regards the Quarterly Review, which I hold in my hand, my hon. and learned Friend is totally inaccurate. The reviewer does not give the meaning of "apostasy or idolatry" to the term ; he discusses the various meanings assigned by other persons without giving his judg- ment in favour either of one or the other. My hon. and learned Friend told us yesterday that unfortunately an Attorney General could only devote now and then a stray half hour, stolen from his other laborious duties, to the study of this question. Undoubtedly, that is a great misfortune to my hon. and learned Friend, and a still greater one to the House, because the natural consequence is that even when he refers to such a work as this my hon. and learned Friend is unable to quote it accurately. If he will look at the Review he will find a passage where certainly the interpretation which he brought forward is treated of, but if he had read any other parts of the article he would have found that other interpretations are also discussed, and that, as I have said, no decision is given between one or the other. What I want to point out, however, is this: My hon. and learned Friend quoted these three constructions as if they had been mutually destructive of one another, whereas the fact is that all agree in the one essential point, namely, whether the words of exception in St. Matthew refer to a peculiar law of the Jews which was transitory in its character, and which, therefore, does not apply to Christians. Now, I challenge my hon. and learned Friend to contradict me when I say that accepting all those constructions whether of "idolatry and apostasy," "adultery," or "marriage with a foreign woman," in each of these respects the Jews had peculiar laws, and whichever interpretation of the term you adopt it is susceptible of reference to the peculiar law of the Jews, and is, therefore, equally capable of proving that the words of St. Matthew concerned the Jews only and had no bearing upon the case of Christians. My hon. and learned Friend spoke of discrepancies among those who hold that the best interpretation of Scripture is that which makes marriage indissoluble, mid every one must admit the extreme difficulty of Considering those terms which it has now become a matter of very nice criticism to elucidate. But what is his case? Here is a Bill which rests on the ground of Scripture. Two Gentlemen have spoken in favour of it, the hon. and learned Attorney General and the hon. Member for Hertfordshire (Mr. Puller). How do their arguments agree? My hon. Friend bases his argument on the words in the fifth chapter of St. Matthew. The Attorney General throws that verse overboard. My hon. and learned Friend used words which are so remarkable—and they are as well worth listening to as those of Lord Stowell—that I must quote them to the House— The reasonable deduction was that our Saviour, in addressing those who were conversant with and were bound by the Jewish law, thought it requisite in one place to say that he excepted the case which was provided for by the Jewish law, but thought it unnecessary in another place to introduce the exceptional case, because adultery in the Jewish law was not a case of divorce, but was subject to criminal punishment. Our Saviour was condemning those things which were divorces among the Jews, and adultery was not a case for divorce, according to the Jewish law, but for criminal punishment. My hon. Friend (Mr. Puller), agreeing with the vast majority of those who support this Bill, says that that verse does constitute a real exception—that the adultery mentioned in that verse did constitute a ground of divorce applicable to us as a precedent. The Attorney General, on the other hand—acting, I think, quite rightly and wisely, but in contradiction to my hon. Friend—throws overboard that verse, and shows you that it could have no bearing upon the question, because the punishment of adultery, according to the law of the Jews, was not by divorce, but by the severer method of capital punishment. So much for the harmony in the Scriptural interpretations of the only two Gentlemen who in this House have as yet undertaken to show us Scriptural warrant—or, indeed, any warrant at all—for the present Bill. Now, Sir, it is not to be dissembled that a very great diversity of opinion prevails with respect to the true construction to be put on Scripture in this matter. There are, in the first place, those who think that the prohibition of divorce—that is, divorce carrying with it the power of remarriage—is absolute. There are those who think that there is in Scripture permission to marry after divorce in case of adultery alone, but that the permission is limited to the innocent man, and that there is not given to the women under any circumstances liberty to marry. That I believe to be the most ancient opinion of the Christian Church after the old law, as I shall call it, of indissolubility. There are others who go one step further. They give liberty of divorce and remarriage both to the innocent man and to the innocent woman. There are others who give liberty of divorce after adultery to both parties if they are innocent, and to the man although he is guilty. There are others, and that is the description of the Scotch law at the present moment, who give it to both whether innocent or guilty, provided there is no intermarriage between the guilty parties. There is another class that permits the intermarriage of the guilty parties, and there is another which considers that divorce may be permitted, not only for adultery, but for other causes. Now, the great peculiarity of this Bill is this: I have given seven different constructions of Scripture on the point, all of them having some champions and advocates. I do not say they are supported by sound argument; but the peculiarity of the present Bill is that it does not agree with any of these different interpretations of the Scripture on this subject. There is, I believe, a feeling amongst certain religious people that our marriage law was drawn too tight; that by relaxing it in the manner here proposed they will make it square with Scripture; and that if that point could be established it is felt that it would be a conclusive argument for the Bill. But no one could show that it squares with Scripture by any construction that can be put upon it. What did the Bill do? It relieves—I must so speak of it, I suppose, though the relief is more than doubtful—it gives relief to the man in case of the woman's adultery, and it gives relief, not in case of the man's adultery, but of the man's adultery under very rare and peculiar circumstances. The Attorney General has invited us to force his construction upon the consciences of 17,000 clergymen. Let us see how my hon. and learned Friend's construction agrees with his Bill. My hon. and learned Friend throws over the verse in St. Matthew, but finds another for his purpose—that in which our Lord said, "They twain shall be one flesh, whereupon they are no more twain but one flesh." And my hon. and learned Friend said that by the fact of adultery the bond is broken. Now, is that the sense of the Scripture? No, it is an arbitrary sense put on the words by my hon. and learned Friend—a construction put upon them perhaps by Archbishop Cranmer, but which is not supported by any weight of authority, and which it is impossible to defend against those who would press upon his hon. and learned Friend for further changes in the law of marriage if this Bill passed. It is a most arbitrary rule, founded on the notion that the bond of marriage is so affected by adultery that it exists no longer. We have many causes far more fatal to the great obligations of marriage, as disease, idiocy, crime involving imprisonment for life, and which, if the bond be dissoluble, might be urged as a reason for divorce; but that is not what I wish to dwell upon at present. My hon. and learned Friend said by the fact of the adultery the marriage bond is destroyed, and then he asked the House to pass a Bill under which nineteen out of every twenty adulterers in the land would be covered with perfect immunity. I repeat, the enormous majority of adulteries are adulteries of men; and having shown that adultery destroyed the marriage bond, my hon. and learned Friend immediately demanded a licence to destroy nineteen-twentieths of the propositions he laid down. My hon. and learned Friend commenced at once child murder upon his own Bill—for he justified it from Scripture that marriage could not exist after adultery, and then he proceeds to pass a law to compel cohabitation, when according to his own showing, in nineteen out of twenty cases the parties are no longer married. Such is the mode in which Scripture is handled by Attorney Generals, and in which they invite the House to repose in them confidence so implicit that you are to force their construction on the consciences of the clergy, who, if they say it is contrary to their vows, are to be humanely told to go and obey. I have, however, yet to learn if marriage is destroyed ipso facto by the adultery of the husband; but granting it to be so, how they could say to the wife, "you have ceased to be married to your adulterous husband, but we nevertheless compel you to live with him." There is this difference between my mode of construing Scripture and the Attorney General's—that I do not ask the House to stand upon any argument, ingenious or not ingenious, I may be able to construct from any text. The lights of history, the records of antiquity, the lives of those who followed our blessed Lord have immense weight, in my view, in determining the true sense of scriptural authority. With respect to the great question of the indissolubility of marriage, let me observe that we had too much dogmatism, but the length to which I should push the argument is this—That the Gospel was intended to work out a certain great and provident result; and the mode of attaining this result, the most precious and blessed for mankind at large, was, in the wisdom of God, not by means of commands and forms in a rigid shape, but rather by the infusion of a new spirit into the precepts of the law, a spirit that pervaded every artery and vein of society, raised its tone from the degradation of heathenism, abolished the cruel sacrifice of human life, abolished the exposure of children, abolished polygamy, abolished slavery. I was rather struck last night by the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dundalk (Mr. Bowyer). The Attorney General in his speech ventured to predict that the hon. and learned Member was about to deluge us with extracts from the Council of Trent. I suppose, however, that my hon. and learned Friend was so awed by this warning that, from beginning to end of his speech, he did not make a single reference to the Council of Trent. At the same time I must own that my hon. and learned Friend has given an interpretation of the text of Scripture bearing upon this subject which it will be found extremely difficult to dispute. With regard, however, to the main point in the case, we had with us the authority of his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General—and he was a host in himself. Those who approved the lax interpretations of the verse of St. Matthew the Attorney General throws overboard. I will, however, venture to point out this: that if we take the text of St. Matthew as giving a licence of marriage after adultery, we place St. Matthew in conflict on the point with the other Evangelists and St. Paul: and here I may remark that the supporters of the Bill appear to consider that the Bible all through had been, as it were, a volume bound up in calf—yet that was not so. The Bible had been produced piecemeal. The Gospel of St. Matthew was written for the Jews and probably in He brew; the Gospels of St. Mark and St. Luke were written for foreigners and Gentiles. You have no right to say that the Gospel of St. Matthew was known to the Gentiles, for whom the other gospels were written, for many generations. And yet, by the construction of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire (Mr. Puller) this essential and vital point in the Christian law of marriage—namely, that it migat be dissolved by adultery—a most important provision in the application of Christianity to the diseased state of society in Rome, where the relations between the sexes were most polluted at that time—was kept a perfect secret from the Gentiles and never was proclaimed! But, on the other hand, take the Attorney General's more reasonable interpretation, and suppose that our Saviour spoke of the Jewish law relating to adultery, which required the guilty parties to be put to death, and then you at once have St. Matthew in complete harmony with the rest of the Scripture. St. Matthew wrote for the Jews, to whom this exception had a meaning and St. Mark and St. Luke addressed the Gentiles, for whom an exception, referring to the Mosaic law, had no manner of application. The hon. Member for Hertfordshire, in his most ingenious, able, and candid speech, told us there were two Mosaic laws for adultery; that the one required the parties to be caught in the fact; the other spoke generally; yet both appeared to denounce the punishment of death. But that in construeing these laws the one which was stricter and narrower in its terms would naturally be chosen, and therefore the hon. Member inferred that the punishment of death was not inflicted by the Jewish code, except in cases where the adulterers were detected in flagrante delicto. My answer to that is plain. I believe that the hon. Gentleman is the first man who made this discovery. For 1,800 years the Gospel has been in the world, and I never heard of any one, although I have made some inquires on the subject, to whom that construction has ever occurred before. After all, therefore, this is not likely to be the true interpretation, or an interpretation on which it would be safe for us to build the great law of marriage. But I think I can point to a solution of the hon. Gentleman's doubts on this head. He questions whether the punishment of death was inflicted except in the case of flagrans delictum. Now, if he looks to the same chapter of Deuteronomy, which touches the cases of adultery properly so called, he will find that so rigid is the law in regard to the infliction of the sentence of death that it is provided that this sentence should be visited not upon the incontinence of a married person only, but even upon the incontinence of a person betrothed to be married. And does the hon. Member think that a person who was merely betrothed would be liable to a heavier punishment than one who was actually married? I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman's acute mind will for a moment embrace such a proposition. Without presuming to trouble the House further on that subject, I venture to say that in my opinion historical testimony, and particularly the primitive and early testimony of the Christian Church, is vital to this matter. I humbly propound this construction of the verse from St. Matthew, commonly quoted as an authority for divorce and remarriage in cases of adultery:—As our Lord was speaking to Jews, as the Jewish law,—of which alone He took cognizance, and not of the practices of the Jewish people—as that law provided the punishment of death for adultery, it is quite plain that the whole case before us is about remarriage during the lifetime of the divorced parties; and the Mosaic code inflicting death upon the person guilty of adultery, it is impossible to bring in that passage for the solution of a problem to which it obviously has no reference. At the same time I do not think, without historical testimony properly so called, that we ought to give in to any mere construction put upon that text. In respect to history, then, I make this proposition boldly, in the face of the learned Attorney General and of Her Majesty's Government, that for the first 300 years after Christ you have not a shred or a vestige of divorce with remarriage for any cause whatever. The remains of that time are not so very bulky; yet, although I may not have been able to examined them so perfectly as I would wish, I make this assertion with confidence. If that assertion is good, your position is very weak, when you tell me that out of the fifth, or even out of the fourth century, you can get some authority for these divorces. I am not now speaking of the power of ingenious criticism, but of historical testimony to the meaning and practice of Christianity; and as far as that testimony is concerned it is upon the writers of the three first ages of the Church, above all others, that you are entitled to rely with confidence. I do not like to weary the House with citing the names of them. Among them are some very curious cases. There is a reference of Hermas to the subject, and others well worth attention, if we were now at liberty to enter into these details. But the House is well aware that there are circumstances patent on the face of history which tend to show us pretty clearly what the meaning of the very earliest Christian Church was. The tendency of the very earliest Christian Church was not actually to forbid—I do not say they ever absolutely came up to that point—but towards the prohibition of second marriages altogether, and in any case even after the death of one of the parties. And if these marriages—at all other periods regarded as perfectly innocent and honourable—were, I will not say prohibited, but looked upon with suspicion at this particular period, we have the strongest reason to infer that this was the time of the very greatest strictness ever known, and in which you are not likely to find the permission of second marriages during the life of both the parties. I will not quote particular passages from particular authors, but this I will quote, because it is so precisely to the purpose and so irrefragable that I do not see how it can be disputed. I refer you to the authority of the laws of the Church. You have now in existence a code—namely, the Apostolical Canons, of which it is not in your power to fix the date with the same exactness as though it were an Act of Parliament, but you can fix its date with absolute exactitude up to this point, that you know by the references made to this code that it existed and was in full force prior to a certain epoch. I am safe, then, in asserting that the Apostolical Canons belong to the third century of Christianity. They are anterior to those Councils of the Church which were held in the fourth century. These canons form, not a local law, but the general law of the Church at that time, as far as it was known when they were promulgated, and afterwards when they were adopted by a Council. Well, the canon says in a few words, "If a layman divorce his wife and marry another, or marry a wife divorced by another, let him be separated from the Church." If that position of mine be contested I shall be prepared to return to the charge. If it be not, I take it with the greatest confidence as laid down for the present before this House, subject to challenge, that we find no trace of the practice of divorce for remarriage in Christendom for the first three centuries of our era, with this single exception, that in the writings of Origen you find a statement, not of what existed either in authority or in action, but of an individual opinion on his part. This opinion expressed by Origen is, I think, the first sign we have of a tendency to greater laxity of ideas on this subject. The ground on which I believe he goes is, that the innocent husband whose wife has been divorced for adultery might be permitted to marry again during the lifetime of the divorced woman. After the lapse of the first three centuries you begin to find a change. That change appears at the outset in a very limited form, because, after the reference by Origen to which I have just alluded, in the writings of Lactantius you first find a distinct opinion that the innocent husband of a divorced wife ought to be allowed to remarry. From that time forward down through the fourth and fifth centuries you discover a tendency setting in towards latitude. And why was that, Sir? Because the Church, having now come into contact with the great mass of the people, was unable perfectly and entirely to impregnate them with the spirit of Christianity, but, on the contrary, bore on her shining garment, so to speak, some portion of the impurity necessarily contracted from an extensive admixture with a corrupt state of society. Could anything be more natural than that during those ages in which the Christians formed an isolated and self-governed community marriage was held to be indissoluble; but that when they found their way into high places, and had to do with Prefects, with Emperors, and almost with Attorney Generals, arguments drawn from human law, from the common practice of the world, from heathen usage and tradition, should, to a certain extent, leave their marks upon the rules of Christianity—happily, indeed, not so as to affect its life, but undoubtedly so as in some degree to lower its tone? This subject is extremely curious and interesting. Take the division of the Church into the East and the West. In which was the Church more powerful? In the West. What do we find accordingly? That the Eastern Church gives the greater liberty of divorce, and the Western Church less. The Eastern Church has never extirpated divorce down to the present century. In the West, on the contrary, the law of the Church, after some struggles, remained unbroken, and it was triumphantly established that a Christian marriage, once validly contracted, ought to be indissoluble. We, I then, after a long period, come to the Reformation; and here we have to encounter a natural and legitimate attempt to array on the side of innovation the Protestant feelings of this country. My hon. and learned Friend led the way in this attempt. He gave us to understand that this doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage was a Popish principle, that with the Reformation came in new principles, and that since the Reformation the necessity of a change herein has been universally recognized. And while I am mentioning my hon. and learned Friend it would be ungrateful in me not to take notice of the undeservedly kind language in which he thanked Heaven that I had not lived and died in the middle ages. My hon. and learned Friend complimented me upon the subtlety of my understanding, and it is a compliment of which I feel the more the force since it comes from a gentleman who possesses such a plain, straightforward, John-Bull-like character of mind. Rusticus, abnormis, sapiens, crasséque Minervâ. Therefore, and by the force of contrast, I feel the compliment to be ten times more valuable. But I must say, if I am guilty of that subtlety of mind of which he accuses me, I think that there is no one cause in the history of my life to which it can be so properly attributed as to my having been for two or three pleasant years the colleague and co-operator with my hon. and learned Friend. And if there were a class of those subtilissimi doctores which was open to competition, and if I were a candidate for admission and heard that my hon. and learned Friend was so likewise, I assure him that I would not stand against him for a moment on any account. However, my hon. and learned Friend spoke of the principles of the Reformation, and he read a very long passage which the House, no doubt, understood to have been quoted from the Reformatio Legum. But that was not the case, as my hon. and learned Friend knows. The case was not quoted from the Reformatio Legum at all. The Reformatio Legum, I must say, opens the floodgates, and lets in divorce by wholesale. My hon. and learned Friend should abstain from quoting Reformatio Legum. It is easy to say that divorce is a Protestant principle because it is established in the Reformatio Legum, but when the House hears what was established in the Reformatio Legum it will be more cautious than my hon. and learned Friend in admitting that divorce is a Protestant principle; because the Reformatio Legum not only admits divorce for adultery, but admits it for desertion, for violence, and for long-continued strife. There are not less than five or six heads for which divorce a vinculo is admitted by the Reformatio Legum. In that sense no doubt the Reformatio Legum is worse than my hon. and learned Friend, because it contains more of the instalments of which his Bill only gives us the first fruits. But in some respects it is much better, because it does not violate the cardinal Christian principle of the equality of the sexes and the identity of rights between them, and because it manifests a bonâ fide intention to treat adultery as a criminal offence. It does not propose to inflict the capital punishment upon the adulterer, but it does recommend a punishment which, although not capital, is of the next degree of severity. My hon. and learned Friend says he founds his Bill upon the principles of the Reformation, and he has got a case in which Archbishop Cranmer took part. I have a great reverence for Archbishop Cranmer. He had his weaknesses, and the memory of his six recantations cannot be effaced. But his faults were nobly redeemed, and on the whole he must be deemed to be not only a good man, but a wise man. But I must say that if my hon. and learned Friend tells us that the personal opinion of Archbishop Cranmer is to govern our consciences contrary to the general law of Christendom and to the opinion of the Reformed Church of England itself for 300 years, such a claim is so extravagant that he ought not to attempt to force it upon us. Now, my hon. and learned Friend in his speech of last night, to which we all listened with the greatest interest, surpassed himself in liberality, for he gave us a ninth beatitude. He said, "Blessed is the man who trusts the received version." Now, surely that doctrine is much more in keeping with the middle ages—with those subtilissimi doctores—than with the opinion of an Attorney General of a liberal Government in a Parliament of the nineteenth century. "Blessed is he who trusts the received version!" That is, blessed is he who shuts his eyes; blessed is he who does not attempt to discover historical truth; blessed is he who discards the aid of legitimate criticism; blessed is he who, in order to save himself trouble and pass an important Bill without exertion, determines not to make use of the faculties that God has given him and throws discredit upon scholarship and upon the University of which he is a conspicuous ornament by refusing to recognise anything but the received version. Certainly, the eight beatitudes are very fine, they stand very high in our estimation; but the ninth is more than worthy to take its place beside them. But the hon. and learned Gentleman went further and gave us a new article of faith, for he said in another portion of his speech that the Protestant Churches, when they all go together, cannot possibly be wrong. [The Attorney General was understood to dissent.] I was much struck by the assertion, but whether he said or not that the Protestant Churches cannot go wrong all together, the fact is that they have not gone together, and, what is more, not one of the Protestant Churches has gone with my hon. and learned Friend. Not a single Church can he find. The Church of England has not gone with him, and I will grapple with him on that point. He says that after the Reformation the law was that marriages were dissoluble until the end of the sixteenth century. What is his authority for that assertion? If he replies, "The Report of the Commission," let any one read that Report and see on what trumpery evidence that assertion is founded. I do not think that the Commissioners adopted that opinion. But my hon. and learned Friend gave us to understand that, in his opinion, until the case of Foljambe occurred, at the end of the sixteenth century, marriage was dissoluble by divorce a vinculo in the Ecclesiastical Courts all through the reign of Elizabeth. This matter is of importance, because it determines the character and spirit of the English Reformation. My hon. and learned Friend cannot find the proof of his assertion in the Reformatio Legum, because that was compiled in the reign of Edward VI. If it had received the Royal sanction in that reign it would have been repealed by Queen Maw, and would have been re-examined by Queen Elizabeth. But the Reformatio Legum never received the sanction of law, and something more ought to have been quoted to show that the Church of England was in favour of divorce for adultery in the reign of Elizabeth. There is not, indeed, a shred of authority for that assertion. There is a passage from Mr. Sergeant Salkeld which, without giving any authority for the assertion, says:— Divorce for adultery was anciently a vinculo matrimonii, and therefore in the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth the opinion of the Church of England was that after a divorce for adultery the parties might marry again. I speak in the presence of many lawyers, and I say that such loose and random words are not entitled to the slightest weight until we know the sources upon which that opinion is founded. I assert the contrary, and I maintain that the practice during the reign of Elizabeth was not to recognise divorce a vinculo at all, and that the rules of the Ecclesiastical Courts were the same after the Reformation as before on this subject. I will give my hon. and learned Friend conclusive proof of this assertion, and I will thus give the coup de grace to the assertion that divorce was a Protestant principle of the English Reformation. I am about to quote from a work written by Francis Clarke in the year 1596. He was at that time senior proctor of Doctors'-commons, and he was brought up in the study of the ecclesiastical law from his youth, ab incunabulis educatus, as he says of himself. He had practised thirty-six years in the Ecclesiastical Court:— Exercitatum me per triginta jam et sex annos stetisse in Arcubus Procuratorem, cæteris etiam omnibus seniorem esse, in eâdem curiâ. Francis Clarke is a competent authority upon the practice of Queen Elizabeth's reign, because he was senior proctor in Doctors'-commons. He began to practise in 1560, two years after Elizabeth came to the throne, and he practised until 1596, one year before the canons of Whitgift. Now, the House will pardon me if I read a little Latin—not more than a tenth part of what my hon. and learned Friend read—but the House will see the historical importance of this passage:— Quamvis in titulo Quod causes tangentes Matrimonium (§ Si Maritus et § Si Mulier) dicitur in casibus in cisdem specificatis agendum esse in causâ divortii sive separationis è thoro et mensâ, tamen de jure canonico legibus hujus regni in hâc parte approbate, non licet personis in his casibus (viz.) nee propter adulterium nee propter sævitiam divortiatis aut separatis, ad secundas convolare nuptias viventibus prioribus maritis vel conjugibus, quia vinculum matrimonii semel perfecti non potest ab homine dissolvi nisi morte naturali. Ideo in omni sententia in his casibus latâ inseritur hæc clausula:—' dictos N. et M.' (scilicit partes illas qui cupiunt divortium ratione adulterii si causa fuit instituta propter adulterium vel ratione sævitiæ allegatæ et probatæ) 'a thoro, mensâ, ac mutuâ cohabitatione et obsequiorum conjugalium impensione donec et quousque duxerint invicem rcconciliandos et non aliter neque alio modo separamus et divortiamus' (plerumque vero admittitur (omittitur?) hoc verbum divortiamus). Solent etiam judices moderni ad evitandas secundas has nuptias viventibus prioribus conjugibus (quod est admodum commune), expressè inhibere personis separatis, ne convolent ad alia vota durante vitâ separatorum cum admonitione etiam, quod innupti nisi fuerint reconciliati, mancant. Et quotics de hujusmodi nuptiis secundis coram summis Com-missariis Regiis in Causis Ecclesiasticis vel coram Judicibus Revcrendissimi Cantuariensis Archiepis-copi quærelatur delinqucntcs in his casibus puni-untur et corriguntur atque ab hujusmodi secundis nuptiis (seu potius connubiis adulterinis) divortian-tur et separantur. I will venture to say that more clear and conclusive testimony than this was never placed before the House. So much, then, for the spirit of the English Reformation and the practice of the reign of Queen Elizabeth. With regard to later history there is not much dispute. In a bad time a bad precedent was made. The bishops of the Church did their duty in resisting it. In spite of courtly favour and influence they stoutly opposed the Bill introduced on behalf of Lord De Roos, who was a cat'spaw of Charles II., although the House of Lords had to discuss the various stages of that Bill under the evil and malign influence exercised by the unconstitutional presence of the Sovereign. A hundred and eighty-seven years have elapsed since that time, and with thankfulness for my country I observe that the practice does not appear to have grown. I hope it is needless for me to say that I do not mean to cast any reproach upon those most blameless persons—and some most admirable persons—who have availed themselves of the facilities which were afforded them; but I may justly say of the practice that it has not shown a tendency to spread. On looking roughly through the list which has been laid on the table I find that, commencing with the reign of George III., in the thirty-four years between 1765 and 1799—there being some blank years in the return—ninety-five divorces took place—a considerable increase, certainly, upon the number of divorces previously granted. In the next thirty-one years, down to 1830, eighty-two divorces took place; and within the twenty-six years from that period to the present there have been ninety-nine divorces. Now, although there is a small increase, yet when you consider the immense extension of the wealthy class which profits by divorce, I may say it is matter of great congratulation that the practice has not spread more widely. Now, although I have already trespassed so largely on the patience of the House, I must still beg to be allowed to say a very few words upon the religious question involved in this measure, and also upon its social effects. The religious question is one which we shall probably have to discuss at great length in the future stages of the Bill. I feel strongly, in common with my noble Friend the Member for North Leicestershire (Lord J. Manners), the hardship which will be inflicted upon the clergy if this Bill should pass in its present form. I confess, notwithstanding the arguments of the hon. and learned Attorney General, and notwithstanding we are entering the month of August, I do not yet feel convinced that the House of Commons will back the hon. and learned Attorney General in his determina- tion to press this Bill. I do, however, feel convinced of this—that if the House of Commons should unfortunately back my learned friend in compelling the adoption of his construction of Scripture with reference to the sacred rite and great mystery of marriage by the Church of this country, farewell to peace in the relations between Church and State! My hon. and learned Friend, who conies forward enunciating his glib doctrines about submission to the law, and the free principle of the union of Church and State, will have done more to forward the projects of those who seek to destroy that union than if he had voted with the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield in every division that has taken place against the regium donum or grants to Dissenting ministers. I wish to say that in my opinion the religious question is not limited to the clergy. I protest against any such limitation. We of the laity have consciences and belong to the Church, as do the clergy. We look to the law of that Church as founded upon something else than the dicta of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. We look upon the Church as a society governed by laws which afford sufficient and adequate means, by the co-operation of the respective powers, for making such changes as are proved to be necessary; and I protest against the doctrine, as degrading, that the religion we profess is not only in external matters—which I grant are incident to the state of the Church as an establishment—but in spiritual matters, relating to what the apostles call "great mysteries," to be cut and carved at the pleasure of my hon. and learned Friend or any majority at his beck. We cannot have religion respected in the country unless we show that we respect it ourselves, and being a body assembled here for secular purposes, and composed of persons of various religious persuasions, I ask whether it is consistent, I do not say with the interests of the Church or of the clergy, for that is a narrow ground upon which to place the question—but with the respect and reverence which we feel in our inmost hearts to be due to the revelation of God, that we should call upon this House—so constituted for civil and secular purposes—to take upon itself by its sole authority to determine religious and spiritual matters. Why, we may learn a lesson from heathenism in this respect. Even in times outside the pale of Christianity so strong was the conviction of wise men that it was impossible to secure the respect of the people to a religion which was evidently the mere creature of statecraft, that in the great States of antiquity we invariably find an endeavour to maintain, in some form, however corrupt, the idea of divine communication, of divine revelation, of divine institutions, of divine offices, separated from the political offices of the State; because it was felt that it would be destructive of the very idea of religion, to allow the people to suppose that its concerns were regulated, like the concerns of this earth, by the pure will and pleasure of secular Governments. That is the principle upon which I trust this House will proceed. I do not deny the high functions of this House. I do not deny that this House ought to be a consenting party, and an authoritative party, with regard to whatever is introduced into the religion of the State; but neither our history, nor our constitution, nor our law—so far as I am acquainted with its scope and outline—nor the principles, as I think, of our religion itself, permit us to believe that we are acting otherwise than most unwisely, and even profanely, if we take into our own hands the remodelling of religious rites and usages. I should be sorry to offend the susceptibilities of my hon. and learned Friend; but he is a professor of free opinions, he likes free expressions, and I hope I have said nothing offensive to him. Now one word with regard to the social question. I think that he has committed an error in the mode in which he has shaped and directed the enactments of this Bill, but I think that the most vital error of all was in its principle. I greatly fear its effect upon the people of England. I do not undertake to say whether that effect will be slow or rapid. Prophecies of tins kind are frequently too confidently made, and are often disappointed. God grant it may be so! God grant that the prophecy may in this case be altogether unfilled! I did not quite understand the application of my hon. and learned Friend's quotation the other night— Iliacos intra muros peccatur, et extra. It was intended, I suppose, to have reference to something or other in his speech. I could not see what it did refer to, but I thought it might possibly refer to considerable immorality, resulting, both in town and country, from a lax law of divorce. The state of our country with respect to this matter is peculiar. I feel it very painful to be obliged to refer to such a subject, and I assure the House I do so with great reluctance; but we are forced into the discussion, and it cannot be avoided. I frankly own that I do not take a very sanguine view of the condition of the country with regard to this large and dangerous class of sins. I am afraid, as respects the gross evils of prostitution, that there is hardly any country in the world where they prevail to a greater extent than in our own. With regard to another most dangerous evil—namely, what is called antenuptial incontinence, its prevalence is so general in country as well as in town, that we must all feel humbled to the dust when we consider with how little strictness Christian obligations are in that respect observed. There is, however, a bright side of English society—I do not speak as to all classes of the community, for I cannot say it altogether of the upper classes; but with regard to the lower classes of society, where they are not, as is the case in London, brought into immediate contact with the incessant solicitations of temptation, I do say with joy and thankfulness that the observance of the marriage tie is faithful in the highest degree. If that be so, how singular it is that a great and deplorable laxity with respect to chastity before marriage should be coupled with extraordinary strictness in the observance of the marriage vow. The circumstance requires explanation, and my explanation—than which I think a more rational or probable one cannot be found—is that it is attributable to the indissolubility of marriage according to the English law. All Englishmen and all Englishwomen—all Irishmen and all Irishwomen—and in Ireland the observance of the marriage vow is still more exemplary than in this country—know that on entering into the marriage state they contract an indissoluble tie. And then you have the authority of philosophers—most impartial philosophers—of Gibbon, who condemns the licence of divorce, and of Hume, who speculating with his unequalled acuteness on this subject, says there is nothing so dangerous as to bring a man and woman into union, unless you bring them into absolute and total union. The union has been absolute and total. The whole course of desire, thought, purpose, will, and habit has adapted itself to the entireness of that union. The marriage state is a total and absolute change. You pass over a gulf which you know you cannot repass; you enter upon a new state, and you adopt all its obligations; but you are now going to make that gulf which has hitherto been impassable, passable; you are going to say to the woman who has sinned, although she may have sinned under the strongest temptation, "Your sins shall be unpardoned; you shall be divorced, and nothing shall reconcile you to the man from whom you have been divorced. You may marry again, and you may offend again, toties quoties; your sin shall be unpardonable by the person you have offended, though with his whole heart and soul he may be desirous to forgive you." That to me is a most doubtful state of things as regards the shutting the door to the penitent; but still more doubtful is the shaking the great idea of the marriage contract in the minds of the English people. Do not let us deal with humankind as if they were creatures of pure intellect, and as if life was governed by conviction. The traditions of past times, and the rules and customs of society, which a man inherits as it were from those who have gone before him, have more perhaps to do with the government of life than any other consideration. The indissolubility of English marriage is an idea which has never been shaken in the mind of England. At no time have the middle and lower classes of the English people known what it was to have marriage, dissoluble. Take care, then, how you damage the character of your countrymen. You know how apt the English nature is to escape from restraint and control; you know what passion dwells in the Englishman; but here is a great feeling of restraint observed among your population, and which has prevailed ever since England was England, that the marriage tie is indissoluble. And is there any adequate reason for giving a shape to this notion? Are you quite sure, when you have shaken the feelings of the people on this vital point that they will settle down again upon a basis defined for them by my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General or by Act of Parliament? As I have said, you are bringing in a system entirely novel—not novel, perhaps, as regards that small class of persons who have from time to time been divorced through the intervention of private Acts of Parliament, But perfectly novel as regards the great bulk of the community, and the great precedents of human history. No single age, or country, or period has ever known a law of divorce like this. None have ever gone so far, without going further. The great Jurist Schavoni states that at the Reformation all protestant States changed the law of marriage; but for 200 years after that there had been no change, because the reformers founded themselves on the clear view and sense of the Scriptures, and limited themselves to cases of divorce with remarriage for adultery and desertion, for it was the general opinion of the reformers that desertion as well as adultery was a ground of divorce; and this shows that it is most material that we should bear in mind the arbitrary and novel character of this plan, with respect to which I regret that I cannot regard it in any other light except one—namely, as the first instalment of change—the first stage on a road of which we know nothing, except that it is different from that of our forefathers, and that it is a road which leads from the point to which Christianity has brought us, and carries us back towards the state in which Christianity found the heathenism of man. I again repeat my thanks for the patience and attention with which you have listened to me. I resist this measure conscientiously, desirous, however, at the same time of avoiding all matters that would introduce angry feeling into this debate. If I have spoken warmly on the subject, it is because it has offended my own conscientious feelings. I resist this measure because I believe it to be a retrograde step, and pregnant with the most dangerous consequences to our social interests, in that it tends to bring us back again towards a state of laxity which Christianity does not recognise. I resist this measure because I believe it is not desired by the people of this country. I admit that the indications we have before us of the manner in which the Bill is regarded out of doors are imperfect, but they all go to prove that the feeling of the country is hostile towards it. I object to it because it contains a proposal harsh and unjust towards the ministers of religion, but still more so because the assumption of this function by the sole authority of Parliament involves an insult to what is far higher than the ministers of religion—namely, to religion itself. I object to it on all these several grounds, and, lastly, I must be permitted to renew the objection that it is pressed forward at a time when it is impossible to bring the general mind of the country and the House to an adequate consideration of its magnitude and importance and, although what I may do may be utterly powerless in arresting its progress at least I am determined, so far as it depends upon me, that I will be responsible for no part of the consequences that may result from a measure fraught, as I believe it to be, with danger to the highest interests of religion, and the morality of the people.


I have listened to the speech of my right hon. Friend, in common with every hon. Member of this House, with all the interest and attention which his brilliant orations and his subtle and ingenious arguments always excite and sustain in every assembly he addresses. I will at once say that I do not rise for the purpose of entering into the theological arguments employed in this debate either by my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, on the one hand, or by my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford on the other. With regard to the authority of Scripture, I may be permitted to say that I think those ingenious exercitations of the human mind on doubtful passages of Scripture rather tend to obscure their direct meaning, or to give them a meaning which they were not intended to convey, and so to weaken and impair rather than to establish the just authority of Scripture. It is at the same time the bounden duty of every man to avail himself of all the lights within his reach to assist his judgment in the interpretation of Scripture, and to adopt implicitly the conclusions at which he may arrive. But when my right hon. Friend says the authority of Scripture is doubtful in this matter, we are left in incertitude, and I feel that we are at liberty to adopt such rules with regard to this matter for the benefit of society as we may think most conducive to human interests and most in accordance with the general precepts of the Gospel. I cannot agree with the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) that from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Malachi the rule is invariably laid down that marriage is indissoluble. I will only say I have read Scripture differently from him. I would ask those hon. Members who hold that text of Scripture to be absolutely binding which says, "Those whom God has joined together man shall not put asunder," how they reconcile the interpretation which they put upon those words with the fact that divorces a mensâ et thoro, by means of which a separation between man and wife takes place, are constantly granted in the Ecclesiastical Courts in this country? There is, I admit, a practical distinction between that class of divorces and divorces a vinculo; but I should like to know how it is that the putting asunder of husband and wife, which is the result of the former class, can justly be said to be in accordance with the law of God, while the more complete separation which takes place as a consequence of the latter is maintained to be in direct opposition to that law? But, passing from that point, I shall briefly advert to the charge of a desire to legislate with precipitation with reference to the important subject of this Bill which has been brought against the Government. In so doing I shall not repeat the arguments which I but a few evenings ago submitted to the House when the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) for the postponement of the measure was under discussion. I then stated that the question with which the Bill proposes to deal was one which had undergone the consideration of various Commissions and Committees, which had been much debated in the other House of Parliament, and which had come down to us from that assembly after having been subjected to mature deliberation. It has received in addition a great deal of public attention, has been commented on in various publications, and we thought the time had arrived when the opportunity should be taken of effecting what we considered a great improvement of the law on this subject. But my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford has told us to-night that he received a letter from a correspondent in Cornwall which shows that the people of the country do not quite understand the nature of the Bill; that many of them are under the impressior that it contains provisions the operation of which would be to alter the marriage service; and my right hon. Friend urges that fact as a reason why time for further consideration of the details of the measure should be afforded, Now, if any views so absurd as those to which my right hon. Friend has referred prevail throughout the country, I can only say that I am more than ever rejoiced that the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire—which if carried would have prevented that discussion by means of which I hope all delusions as to the effect of this Bill will be dispelled—was not successful. But, to return to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, I may observe that I listened to that speech with pleasure and admiration, but at the same time with the most unfeigned astonishment. My right hon. Friend has treated the proposition contained in the Bill before us ns an innovation upon the law of England never heard of until the present time; and has sought to establish the complete indissolubility of the marriage vow. But my right hon. Friend is not satisfied with opposing the principle of the Bill; he objects to its details. He says it is a partial Bill, inasmuch as it excludes the members of the female sex from the enjoyment of those advantages which it purports to confer. Now, upon the statement that this Bill proposes an innovation on the existing law I wish to make a few remarks. My right hon. Friend more than once alluded in the course of his speech to the fact that a Commission was, in 1850, appointed to investigate the justice of the complaints which were then made of the scandals and abuses connected with the present law of divorce; and I may venture to remind the House that that Commission was composed of men of the greatest learning and experience, who in entering upon their investigation proceeded entirely upon the assumption that divorces were notoriously obtained in this country, and were sanctioned by Parliament; and their duty was to inquire into and suggest a method by which that end could be better obtained. The Report of that Commission was presented in 1853 to the notice of the Government of the day, and in 1854 the Administration of the Earl of Aberdeen, of which my right hon. Friend was a distinguished member, speaking in the House of Lords through its Lord Chancellor, laid before that assembly a Bill which I now hold in my hand, and which is entitled "A Bill to transfer the Jurisdiction in Matrimonial Causes to the Court of Chancery, and to establish a Court of Divorce." That Bill was discussed in the House of Lords; it was read a second time, was committed, reported, and was abandoned in the middle of the month of July, simply because" it was deemed expedient that it should be passed in conjunction with the Testamentary Jurisdiction Bill, which it had been found necessary to postpone. It was, I repeat, abandoned for that reason only, and not because the Government entertained the slightest doubt as to the soundness of the principle which it had been framed to carry into effect. Now, will the House believe that the measure to which I have been referring is in principle identically the same, and in many of its most important provisions perfectly corresponds with the Bill which is now under discussion, and which my right hon. Friend has so vehemently opposed this evening? The measure of 1854 proposed to establish a Court of Divorce, and the 26th Clause was meant to empower the Judges of that Court, in case the act of adultery had been satisfactorily proved, and that there had been no connivance or other fault upon the part of the husband, to grant a dissolution of the marriage tie. That is precisely the course which we have adopted in the present Bill, the only difference between it and the Bill of 1854 being that it tends to afford a cheaper and more effectual mode of obtaining that remedy which the Bill of 1854 was meant to provide than would have been provided under the operation of the latter measure. Now, a great deal has been said in the course of this debate with respect to the intolerable hardship which this Bill is calculated to inflict upon the clergy by compelling them to marry persons who happened to have been divorced. Upon that point I can only say that the Bill contains no clause by which a clergyman would be compelled to marry persons so circumstanced. The only clause which can be supposed to have that effect is one which is also to be found in the Bill which was introduced by the Government of which my right hon. Friend was a member, and which says that it shall be lawful for the divorced parties to marry again as if there had been no prior marriage, or as if the marriage tie had been dissolved by death. But I am afraid my right hon. Friend's memory is not quite so good as his imagination is vivid and his eloquence is brilliant. We heard nothing, at all events, in 1854 of those inflexible rules of Scripture upon which he has to-night laid so much stress, and I can only infer from that fact that he did not in 1854 entertain those conscientious scruples to which he has in the course of this debate given expression; for, if he did entertain them, I know him too well to suppose for a moment that he would have assented to the introduction of the Bill to which I have called the attention of the House. But, descending, from the high theological grounds which have been taken on this question, let us deal with the measure before us with reference to the dictates of reason, the demands of society, and the feelings of human nature. Looking upon it in that light, I cannot help thinking that there prevails among hon. Members generally a disposition to attach to the Bill an exaggerated importance. It would seem to be regarded as a complete innovation upon our social system as introducing an entirely new law of divorce—and, indeed, the noble Lord the Member for Leicestershire (Lord J. Manners) prophecies all sorts of evils as the necessary consequence of its enactment. He threatens us with a renewal of a state of things such as that which prevailed in France owing to the decree of the Convention, at the time of the Revolution, abolishing marriage. He goes on to refer to the results of the law of divorce as established in Prussia, and seems to be of opinion that similar results will follow the passing of the present measure, entirely forgetting that its operation will by no means be to place the law of divorce in this country on the same footing as it is in Prussia. My right hon. Friend, though he does not go so far as the noble Lord, impugns the statement of my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General that this Bill is to substitute a general law for what has been for years the practice of Parliament. Let me call the attention of the House to two or three passages in the Report of the Commission presented in 1853. My right hon. Friend quoted part of a passage in that Report:— By the law of England that contract is indissoluble, and when once it has been constituted in a legal manner there are no means of putting an end to it in any of our courts. But he omitted what follows, which is most material in considering what has been the practice of Parliament— Nevertheless, the mutual dissolution of such a contract, where adultery has been committed, is so consonant to reason and religion, that where the general law has failed to give a remedy, Parliament has stepped in to provide one specially, by passing a particular law in favour of those who can make out a case which will warrant its interference. And in a subsequent passage, after tracing the course of Parliament for the last two centuries, the Commissioners, referring to the commencement of the last century, say— By these means, the right to obtain a divorce a vinculo was definitively established. The regulations of the House of Lords were alluded to last night, as showing a desire on the part of Parliament to restrict these privileges. What Lord Loughborough did in 1798 was, to lay down regulations, which were adopted by the House of Lords, and which bound the persons who came to Parliament for private Acts; but in laying down those rules, the House of Lords gave a more direct sanction to the proceedings, and made it impossible for them to turn round and say, "Having invited you to come to our doors with a view to obtain a remedy for the wrong you have suffered, and knowing that you have complied with the rules we have made, because by the law of England marriage is indissoluble, we will not violate the law by granting any of these privileges." The noble Lord the Member for North Leicestershire (Lord J. Manners), feeling that the practice pressed rather hardly upon his case, said, "It is true two or three Bills for divorce have annually crept through Parliament." Crept through Parliament! Does the noble Lord mean that these Bills have passed with his silent consent, simply because he never heard till now that there were any such Bills before the House? Does not the noble Lord know that in 1840, upon the Motion of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, this House, adopting the same course with the other House of Parliament, also laid down certain rules by which proceedings in Bills of divorce were to be regulated? Does he not know that this House proclaimed those rules, and, by so doing, invited persons to come and seek a remedy by Act of Parliament which the general law did not give? But more than that: it was not long ago that a Standing Order was made which requires that, at the commencement of every Session, a Divorce Committee of nine Members shall be appointed; and the noble Lord must be the most ignorant and innocent man in the House, if he does not know that, in conformity with notice placed on the paper for the appointment of that Committee, with the names of the nine Members to be appointed, the question has been put from the Chair, Session by Session, which appoints that Committee for the purpose of granting proper facilities, with proper checks, no doubt, for obtaining divorces, and of avoiding the scandal from the repeated publications of those details which must necessarily be gone into by some court of inquiry before divorce Bills are granted. I would remind the noble Lord that there are, at the present moment, on the table of the House, four of those divorce Bills waiting progress, and if, hitherto, he has abstained from opposing divorce Bills, because he I did not know they were "creeping" through the House, I tell him there are such Bills. I invite his opposition to them, and I hope he will take the sense of the House whether they shall be proceeded with or not. If you are to reject this Bill upon the ground stated, that marriage is indissoluble, and if you believe that upon Scriptural rules, you are not at liberty to support the second reading, you will act with the grossest inconsistency; you will violate your duty to God, you will violate your consciences, (which you allege, and I dare say honestly allege, to be the obstacle to passing this Bill), in consenting to pass those private Bills which embody identically the same principle. With regard to the question, whether the course adopted for so many years by Parliament does not amount to a judicial proceeding; whether, in fact, Parliament is not acting as a court for the consideration of these subjects, any doubt will be at once removed by reference to the evidence given before the Commission by men whose opinions are entitled to respect. Sir J. Stoddart, the eminent canonist, and Dr. Lushington, who has had long acquaintance with courts of this nature, give their opinion in the strongest form that Parliament has constituted itself a court—more expensive and inconvenient than other courts, no doubt—but Parliament has constituted itself a court by which, on certain facts being proved, and in the absence of proof of other facts which debar the person seeking the remedy from obtaining it, as a matter of course, and as a matter of right a remedy has been granted to suitors equally as if the law had authorized the ordinary courts to entertain these suits. Assuming, of course, that there is no Scriptural prohibition binding on our consciences, I think it idle to discuss whether marriage is dissoluble or not. We have the authority of the whole human race in opposition to this alleged indissolubility of marriage. It is said that in the Roman Catholic Church it is indissoluble, and that over the greater part of the Continent, where the people are Roman Catholics, it is indissoluble. But is marriage indissoluble in Roman Catholic countreis? The Council of Trent may hold that it is indissoluble, but—I speak with all respect of the Roman Catholic religion—is there not avery convenient mode of dispensing with the doctrine of the Church by a supreme authority? Have we never heard of dispensation? It may be a tribute to human nature, to human frailty, to human weakness, if you will, but the exercise of that power is an admission that it is impossible, inany state of civilized society, to maintain the doctrine in all its strictness that marriage is indissoluble, and that in no case and for no cause the bond shall be dissolved. The question which we have to decide is, not whether there shall be a new law of divorce, because this Bill, with the slight exception that it allows a woman to sue for a divorce on the ground of adultery on the part of her husband, accompanied with desertion, does not alter the grounds and causes for which divorce is now granted; it simply alters the court in which the suit is brought for the dissolution, of the marriage. Is not that an improvement? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford says, "You tell me you are not altering the law, but the law now only grants divorces to those who are rich enough to pay large sums for them. You are altering the law because you admit other persons to that remedy. Although equally entitled, equally suffering from the intolerable grievance of broken marriage vows by those to whom they were bound for life, if those vows had not been broken, they ought still to be debarred from a remedy by the enormous expense which you impose on those who come to Parliament for relief." The right hon. Gentleman seems to think it an advantage that this privilege should be confined to those who are rich enough to obtain it if they choose, while they know there are others suffering from the same grievance who, from deficiency of means cannot obtain it. Does he mean to say that if the fees of a court were reduced to enable suitors to come to it who were before excluded, not by law, but by not having the means to pay the expense, that would be a great innovation, and the law would be changed, simply because redress, instead of being nominally was really open to all? I am afraid the only objection to the Bill is that it does not go far enough in that direction. It is no alteration of the law of divorce, but only removes, in a certain degree, a glaring injustice. According to the statement of some hon. Members, whereas there are now ten persons asking for divorce there will be 100. But if so, we must come to the conclusion that there are now ninety persons who suffer the same grievance as the ten, and are not debarred by law but by the expense of proceedings in Parliament, Parliament being a judicial court in these matters, and shutting its doors to all but those who have the means to defray the expenses. I will not go into the details of this Bill. I have stated generally the object which it has in view, and I have said some things which I hope may tend to dispel the alarm of the noble Lord the Member for Leicestershire as to the fearful results likely to result from this Bill. I shall only advert to one provision in the Bill, and very shortly to that, because it can more properly be considered in Committee, namely: the clause which is to be found also in the Bill introduced by Lord Aberdeen's Government, which allows the party divorced to marry again after the time for appeal against the decree granting the divorce a vinculo has expired. I myself have seen many addresses complaining that a clause of the Bill imposes upon the clergy an obligation which they cannot conscientiously discharge. Now, with regard to that subject, I must say that in this House the question has been most incorrectly stated. It has been said, that all that the clergy desire is, that they should not be placed under the obligation of reading the marriage service and performing the ceremony of marriage between the person who has been divorced and the person who has been the cause of that divorce,—in other words, between the guilty parties. Now, I admit, that a matter of detail would be best discussed in Committee, but I wish to point out to the House that the statement to which I have referred as to the objection of the clergy is entirely incorrect. Why, Sir, the objection to the measure which is attributed to the clergy has no reference to the guilt or innocence of the parties, but is founded upon the alleged indissolubility of the marriage tie. It is not a question of the marriage of guilty parties at all, but it is the question whether you hold that when a husband, without any collusion or participation on his part, has suffered the greatest wrong which a man can suffer by the breach of the marriage vow on the part of his wife, a clergyman may say, "You are a married man, and being so I am not bound to recognize the law of man or to admit the validity of the divorce which you have obtained." [A gesture of dissent from Mr. HENLEY.] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire shakes his head, but let me remind the House that this subject has been fully discussed elsewhere, and a right rev. Prelate, speaking on behalf of the clergy, has dealt with it with all that eloquence and force which he so eminently possesses, and what were the terms of the proviso which he moved upon the very subject of the obligation of the clergy to marry persons who had been divorced? Why, they were as follows:— Provided, nevertheless, that, inasmuch as by the law of this Realm and Church the bond of marriage hath hitherto been indissoluble, no clerk in holy orders of the Church of England shall, after the passing of this Act, be liable to any censure, penalty, or punishment whatever, in any court, ecclesiastical or civil, for refusing to perform the marriage service over any person or persons who, having been married and divorced, shall seek to be married again during the lifetime of the husband and wife, from whom they have been divorced under the provisions of this Act, It is quite clear, therefore, that the Amendment of the right rev. Prelate did not apply only to the marriage of the guilty parties, but that it included the case of remarriage of the innocent persons, whether husband or wife. My only object in making these observations is to place the matter before the House in its true light. When we get into Committee we shall be able to discuss this particular question more fully and more conveniently, and I hope and trust that the House will then be convinced that the position taken up by the opponents of this measure, on the ground to which I have referred, is utterly untenable. It is said that this Bill will impose a new obligation upon the clergy. Now, that I utterly deny. The system of legislation upon the subject hitherto has been, that Parliament has been, to a limited extent, a court of divorce, and in all cases where a divorce has been granted the obligation of the clergy to remarry the divorced parties has existed to the fullest extent to which it will exist under this measure, which I hope and confidently believe will in a very short time become law. It may be true that when this Bill is passed into law clergymen may be called upon to pronounce the blessing of the Church upon the marriage of persons who have been divorced more frequently than they have at present; but that is only a question of degree—not of principle. At present, any person who has been divorced may present himself before a clergyman to be married according to the forms of the Church, and therefore I say that the obligation upon the clergy to perform the marriage ceremony already exists, and is not in any way created by this Bill. I do not wish to say more upon this subject. I have only been anxious to bring back the House to the region of common sense and reason, and to persuade them that the alarm which has been expressed as to the altera- tion of the law of marriage and divorce is entirely a fiction of the imagination; and I certainly hope that this House and the country will be disabused upon this subject, and that the House will assent to the second reading to the Bill.


said, he rose with some diffidence to address the House, after the very powerful speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University—a speech which for eloquence he had never heard surpassed within those walls; but as one of those who still entertained a lingering regard for the rules and practices of the Christian church from its foundation to the present time, it was impossible for him to let the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department pass without some comment. It might be quite true that the right, hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford might have been a Member of the Government which had introduced a Bill similar to the present, and therefore inconsistent; but not one of the arguments of that right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had been touched by the right hon. Baronet, who had carefully avoided all allusion to antiquity, and had not ventured to refer to any of the authorities quoted in proof of the position that the Church had invariably held the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage. The right hon. Baronet had descanted freely upon the instances in which divorces had been granted in violation of the law of the Church, and had charged those who opposed the Bill with hypocrisy, because, while professing to maintain that marriage was indissoluble, they had allowed private divorce Bills to pass without opposition. He could only say in reply to that statement, that it had been the invariable rule of the House of Commons to pass such Bills sub silentio, but it did not follow that every hon. Member who allowed a Bill to pass without opposition thereby signified his approval of its principle or its object. He (Lord Lovaine) might retort on the right hon. Baronet by saying, that the Government did not by this Bill attempt to extend divorces to all classes. Even if this Bill was passed divorces would still be restricted to the wealthy. The Government, in fact, proposed to still leave marriage indissoluble to nine-tenths of the people. The right hon. Baronet had made some severe remarks upon the remonstrance of the clergy. It should be recollected, however, that the clergy had now for the first time awakened to a knowledge of the fact that henceforth the power of obtaining divorces would be possessed by a numerous class who had not hitherto enjoyed it; and that an adultress would be allowed to marry in the same way as the person whom she had wronged; and that they themselves would be obliged to pronounce the blessings of the Church upon parties convicted of a heinous sin. To perform the marriage ceremony in such cases would be nothing less than rank blasphemy; and he did not suppose that anybody would attempt to inflict so great a hardship upon the clergy. He trusted, therefore, that the clause providing for the marriage of the adultress would not be persevered in; and he should emphatically deny that the opponents of the measure wished to preserve the privilege of divorce for the rich. They were altogether opposed to the practice of dissolving marriage; and they were, therefore opposed to increasing the facilities for divorce, and for the marriage of divorced parties, which would be afforded by the measure now before the House.


said, he had listened to the right hon. Member for Oxford University with pleasure and admiration, but did not think that his speech, able and eloquent as he admitted it to be, touched the practical bearings of the question before the House. He agreed with him that the House of Commons was not a fit arena for the discussion of religious questions, and, notwithstanding the able speeches they had heard from his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General on one side, and from the right hon. Gentleman, and the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. Bowyer) on the other, he thought that the minute criticism of Scriptural texts was a task more appropriate to the study of the divine, or the library of the scholar, than to the popular branch of the Legislature. But the Bill, with all the theological, legal, and social considerations which it involved, had been discussed elsewhere; the opinion of the heads of the Church had been expressed upon it, and while, undoubtedly, there was a difference of opinion upon the question, the weight of authority was in favour of the marriage tic being dissoluble in certain cases; and the right hon. Gentleman was obliged to allow that even in the early ages of the Church this doctrine was held. Undoubtedly, however, that doctrine at the present day was held by at least a great portion of the Church, Any hon. Gentleman who wished for it might find much valuable information in the Report of the Committee, and the Committee recommended the adoption of the measure now under the consideration of the House. But assuming that they satisfied themselves that there was nothing contrary to religion in the course they proposed, then came the practical question with reference to the effect of the measure on the social condition of the people, and certainly he was rather surprised at the noble Lord the Member for Leicestershire (Lord J. Manners) who last night descanted in terms of much indignation at the idea of introducing a change which, according to him, would produce almost universal immorality. He spoke as if the measure would dissolve the framework of society; and he based his opinion on the result of the facilitating of divorces in Germany, by the law of that country. The noble Lord referred to the speech of Baron Gerlach, showing the frequency of divorce in Prussia; but he did not tell them that in Prussia divorce was allowed for a great number of causes, some of them very trifling in their nature, while by this Bill the right of divorce was confined to cases of adultery. They had, however, an illustration nearer home, much more apposite, for the purpose of testing whether any danger to morality was likely to follow the adoption of this measure—that of Scotland, where the law of divorce went much further than was proposed by this Bill, although stopping short of that of Prussia. In Scotland divorce was allowed in cases of adultery or continuous desertion; and it did not appear that this facility produced those frightful consequences which were apprehended by the opponents of the Bill; nor were all the people running after divorces in the way some hon. Members seemed to suppose. It appeared that in five years there were only ninety-five cases, and he had yet to learn that the people were more immoral than those of this country. So that, although the expenses of obtaining a divorce in Scotland was only £20 or £30, the evil results which were anticipated by some hon. Members as likely to flow from the Bill were not justified by the experience of the operation of a somewhat similar law in that country. Looking at the matter in a practical point of view, the question for the House was, whether the present state was desirable or not—whether they were prepared to stay where they were, to retrograde, or to go forward. They who contended that marriage was indissoluble, could not with consistency consent to a legislative divorce; for if to grant it at all was contrary to the Divine law, they ought never to consent to pass a Divorce Bill. Would they go back, and abolish divorce altogether, or retain the present law, Which gave a remedy to the rich but not to the poor? It was objected that the new court would be very expensive, that it would lead to all sorts of collusion, and that dissolution of marriage would be very frequent. It was true the Bill did not go as far or bring divorce as low as it might; what it did accomplish was to substitute a judicial legal tribunal for an anomalous, expensive, extraordinary and legislative one. As it stood the Bill went sufficiently far, for it was easier to extend the provisions of such a measure than to abridge them. He could not coincide in the extravagant ideas of the expense entertained by some Members, but he believed the Bill would afford a much more extensive remedy than the present, at an expense not too great. If that were so, what was the real objection to the second reading? Then it was said, this was a coercive measure upon the clergy with respect to the re-marriage of divorced persons; but as his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary had remarked, it made no change in the law with regard to the clergy, but left them in exactly the same position as they were at present. The clergy had no more right to complain of this Bill than of the system which had existed for the last one hundred and fifty years. If a greater number of such marriages should be solemnised it would only show the more extensive operation of the Bill; but, if, as some supposed, that there really would be no such increase, then the grievance upon the clergy would not exist even in degree. He submitted that if they were satisfied, as he thought they would be, that the Bill was no violation of religion—that there was a sufficient necessity for additional legislation—the House would agree to the second reading of a Bill which would be just to individuals, and advantageous to society, and would supply the deficiencies in the present law.


said, he should not have risen to address the House had it not been for one or two remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department (Sir G. Grey). He thought the speech of that right hon. Gentleman was an exceedingly clever and able one after the fashion of that House, for while affecting to answer the speech of the right hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. Gladstone) he had, with singular adroitness, avoided answering or attempting to answer any one of the arguments contained in that speech. In common fairness he should have noticed what the right hon. Member for Oxford University stated at the commencement of his address, that, until within the last few months he had not been able to look deeply into the subject. If that had been done, the remarks that had been made about a difference of opinion expressed now and two or three years back would have been out of place. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department apparently wished to put before the country in a true light the opinions of the clergy upon this subject; and in what manner did he do it? Not by referring to the best expressed opinions of the clergy, not by referring to the petitions against the Bill, signed by 80,000 or 90,000 persons, many of them clergymen, nor to the declaration signed by about 8,000 of the clergy of all shades of opinion. And when the right hon. Gentleman stated that the clergy who complained of a grievance rested that complaint upon an opinion that marriage was indissoluble, he was not acting with fairness in so misrepresenting those clergymen. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir G. Grey) quoted the opinion of a single prelate, and represented it as that of the whole clergy, though it was in the direct teeth of the declaration which had been signed by 8,000 of their number. A more complete misrepresentation of the views of the clergy could not have been given, and he would ask whether it was fair or candid on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to set forth the declaration of a single prelate in the way he had done? The declaration stated their earnest desire that facilities unauthorised by Scripture and by the law and ritual of the Church should not be given for the dissolution of holy matrimony. They did not say that marriage was indissoluble, but they prayed that, as marriage with a divorced woman was declared to be adulterous, they might not be compelled to celebrate such a marriage. He (Mr. Henley) agreed with the clergymen who had signed the declaration in thinking that marriage was not indissoluble. [Sir G. GREY: I read the declaration otherwise.] He (Mr. Henley) knew the clergyman who drew it up, and that was his opinion. The Attorney General had very adroitly put the point of indissolubility as if it were the whole question at issue. But even if they held marriage to be dissoluble, the question still arose whether was wise or prudent to bring it home to the doors of the people at large. It was clear from the language of the hon. and learned Attorney General and the right hon. Baronet that the present Bill was only an instalment, and indeed it would be impossible long to withhold from every class o the people that which was within the reach of a limited portion of them. It therefore became an important question whether they would best consult the interests of morality and religion by depriving the limited number who could now obtain a dissolution of marriage of that supposed benefit, or by bringing it within the reach of all classes of the community. The example of Prussia had been referred to, and no one could say that the law of divorce in that country had worked well. The Solicitor General alluded to Scotland, and spoke of the small number of divorces that took place there; but if the numbers in England were to be in the same ratio to our population the increase would be very considerable. The hon. and learned Gentleman did not, however, tell the House that in Scotland the divorcee parties could not marry again, a circumstance which made all the difference in the case. A mere separation was not likely to have the same effect on the morality of the country as giving the parties who had committed the sin permission to enter into a contract of marriage with each other. That feature of the Scotch law to which he had referred formed an essential safeguard against the moral evils which were likely to arise, and one of which the present Bill took no notice. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General called the present system a blot on our laws and a scandal. The blot consisted in people who were aggrieved not having a remedy unless they were rich. But this was not to be done away with by the Bill. The Solicitor General said that they must go still further, step by step; so that the blot was only half rubbed out. Then as to the scandal, which consisted of the crim. con. action—a very discreditable kind of action, no doubt,—in what way was it proposed to remove it? It was said there was a fine proposed by the Bill, but no appropriation of the money; and a suggestion was thrown out that it might be applied in the shape of compensation to the injured husband. Then what became of the scandal? What was a crim. con. action but an action for compensation to the husband! At present the action was decided by a jury; but his hon. and learned Friend would take it out of the hands of the jury, leave the Court to fix the fine, and, he supposed, appropriate the money, though that was not in the Bill. This was straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Herefordshire (Mr. Puller) acknowledged that this Bill had created great alarm in the country, but he could not understand why. It was for this reason that people felt that though this might not be a new law, yet it was a law which was going to be brought within the reach of the great mass of the population, and they thought, whether rightly or wrongly, that it would therefore have a tendency to shake the sanctity of the marriage tie. That was not an unnatural apprehension, for it was impossible that this innovation could stop here. Nobody could say exactly what the cost of obtaining a divorce under the new law would be, but the House might depend upon it, that if it were large that would be a "blot" which would be struck at immediately. Again, the argument would be urged, that there ought to be one law for the rich and another for the poor. There must be smaller courts for the poor man, it would be said, and he could not see how that demand was to be resisted, for additional facilities for the poor man was the only ground on which the Bill rested. It could not be pretended that the measure was called for by the country, for not one single petition had come up in favour of this Bill, or praying for an alteration in the law. The history of this change was this. Parliament was about to sweep away the testamentary jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts, and then it was thought that if matrimonial causes—the first idea did not include cases of dissolution of marriage—could be transferred to an independent tribunal the Ecclesiastical Courts might be got rid of altogether. This led to the appointment of a Commission, for it was by a Commission that the first steps were usually taken in these matters. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had referred with great complacency to the evidence taken by the Commissioners, and had pointed out to the House the manner in which the Commissioners had cross-examined the witnesses. But none of these witnesses had ever come near the Commission. The Commissioners, lawyer-like, wishing to shorten this business, sent for the evidence taken before the Committee of the House of Lords, and printed it bodily in their Report. He (Mr. Henley) had given his best attention to the Bill, and his unfeigned desire was for more time; nor could there be a better proof of the necessity of giving more time for the consideration of this matter than the confusion in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman both as to this point and as to the real opinion of the clergy, to which he bad before adverted. Time would also have allayed the misapprehensions which existed on the subject. If this Bill were passed now it would be passed against the feelings of the majority of the country. The people of England were not unreasonable. If the arguments in favour of this Bill were right, and they had time to consider them, they would be assenting parties to the Bill; but if it were passed now, the universal opinion would be that it had been forced through Parliament with indecent haste, and without giving an opportunity to the representatives of the people to communicate with their constituents. It would have been a much wiser course to lay aside the Bill until the new Testamentary Courts had got into fair working order, instead of hurrying on a Bill, which, as it stood, would tend to multiply divorce, and be prejudicial to the best interests of the country.


As one of the Commissioners who signed the Report on which this Bill is said to be founded, I trust the House will grant me its indulgence while I explain the reasons which induce me to support its second reading. I cannot help thinking with my learned Friend the Attorney General, that the nature of the Bill has been much misunderstood and much misinterpreted; and when I hear my right hon. Friend who has just sat down acknowledge that if it had been longer before the public it would have been accepted by them ns a wise settlement of the question—[Mr. HENLEY: If the arguments in its favour were right.] I cannot help regretting that those who take au interest in the subject should not have endeavoured, at least in Parliament, to instruct the people as to the real nature and bearings of the measure. But that this has not been clone is palpable from one of the letters read to-night by my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, showing that the people in the parish referred to were under the impression that by this Bill any husband and wife who quarrelled might have their marriage dissolved. Moreover, if a stranger had come into the House to-night, ignorant of the laws and history of our country, and had heard the splendid language in which this Bill has been denounced, he would have run away with the idea that some strange fatuity had taken possession of Parliament; that the sacred relations of marriage were about to be broken; that we were going to introduce the most lax insecurity into our English homes; that the position of woman, which has been raised so high by the influence of Christianity, was about to be lowered, and that the whole state of the morals of the country was to be degraded by the passing of a measure which would facilitate divorces to an undue extent and in a manner unsanctioned either by reason or by Scripture. But if the same stranger had waited until the first effect of that magnificent eloquence had passed away, if he had taken time to recall his thoughts or had appealed for information to some one who possessed more accurate knowledge of the law as it now is, and also as it will be under this Bill, he would have learnt with astonishment after such denunciations that the relations of marriage are in no degree loosened or unsettled by this measure; he would—he must have been—told that no woman would be placed in a degraded position as compared with that which she occupied before; he would, he must, have been told that the nuptial bond could not be dissolved for any cause but that for which a dissolution can now take place; nay more, be would, and must, have been told that the only object and purport of this Bill is to substitute one good judicial tribunal for three bad ones—in one of which the proceedings are admitted to be a scandal and a disgrace to the country; in another of which, for the same offence, you go through the same proof and the same trial; and in regard to the third of which we have introduced the monstrous absurdity that the Legislature of the country is to try a question which of all questions most requires judicial thought, judicial habits, judicial patience, and judicial impartiality. I do hope that the House and the country will see what is the nature and effect of this measure by comparing the existing law, or at least the existing practice which has become law, with that which will be law, when this Bill is passed; and for that purpose I trust that the House will bear with me while I bring these points as clearly and as shortly as I can before them. By the law and by the Bill there are two kinds of divorce—one of which is permanent and the other temporary. The permanent divorce is the divorce, a vinculo matrimonii, and the temporary divorce called by this Bill a "judicial separation," is called by the law, a divorce a mensâ et thoro; the causes of these two kinds of divorce are by the Bill and by the present law substantially the same. The causes which justify a judicial separation are adultery and cruelty, and to these the Bill adds wilful desertion. The causes, or rather I should say the only cause, of divorce a vinculo—for it ought to go from one end of the country to the other that there is but one ground for that kind of divorce—is the same in this Bill and under the existing law—and that is adultery. This kind of divorce can be obtained by the husband where adultery is proved on the part of the wife, but it can be obtained by the wife only in certain cases in which there is proof of aggravated adultery on the part of the husband. The Bill and the law are therefore concurrent as to the causes for which divorces are to be allowed. Nor do they differ as to the consequences which are to follow them. The consequences of a temporary divorce or judicial separation are, that the parties are legally separated, with the power of reconciliation and of meeting again, but while they are separated a suitable provision is made for the wife under the name of alimony. The consequence of the divorce a vinculo undoubtedly is since the marriage vow is broken by that act, that the tie which held the parties together is gone, and—whether rightly or wrongly I will presently inquire—both by the Bill and by the law the parties are remitted to their single state, and being remitted to the single state, they are both allowed to marry again. Now, Sir, I think I have shown that there is really and substantially not one iota of difference between the law and the Bill, either as to the divorces intended to be allowed, or as to the causes for which they may be promoted, or as to the consequences which are to follow from them. That being so, I put it to the House, and through the House I put it to the country, whether there is in this measure anything calculated to lead to that profligate dissolution of manners with which we have been threatened if we pass this measure. And now let me grapple, and grapple fairly, with the objections which have been raised and urged against it. These objections, coming as they do from the same persons strike me as not a little remarkable, because they appear to arise from the most opposite quarters and certainly they lead to the most opposite results. According to one argument the Bill goes much too far, and according to another it does not go far enough. According to one you ought to have no divorces at all, because marriage should in all cases be indissoluble; according to another you ought to extend if not the causes of divorce, at least the remedies to the parties applying for them, by allowing to the woman the same facilities that you allow to the man. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone), in that splendid address which he delivered this evening, pointed out forcibly in his own glowing language the corruption of manners to which he thought this Bill would lead. But I must remind him of his own statement, that for one adultery committed by a wife there were twenty committed by husbands. Now the force of his argument, if fairly traced to its logical consequences, was that, if you allow divorce to a husband on the ground of adultery, you must concede it to the wife also on the same ground; but then if his other statement be true, that for one adultery committed by wives, there were twenty committed by husbands, he would multiply by twenty the number of divorces which may take place under this Bill. If we look to the reasons upon which these objections rest we shall find them to be very different. One is founded upon the opinion that in all cases and under all circumstances marriage is or ought to be indissoluble except by death. Another rests on the idea that marriage, even though it is sanctioned by a religious ceremony, partakes more or less of the nature of a civil contract, and can, like other contracts, be modified or destroyed. A third objection is taken by the clergy, and it seems to me to have more justice in it than any of the others. The first of these objections, namely, that the Bill goes too far, proceeds upon the assumption—that marriage is or ought to be indissoluble; and, even if it be not, still it is unadvisable on moral grounds, and for the good of society, to prevent divorced persons from marrying again. In considering this subject I bear in mind the Scriptural allowance of divorce and the Scriptural permission of remarriage. No doubt these two things are essentially distinct in themselves, but I believe it will be found that the latter resulted in reason and religion directly from the former. It is painful to enter into a religious argument, and I shall do so only so far as to show that I am upon religious grounds justified in stating that marriage is dissoluble for the one great offence, the sin of adultery, and that when that happens there is nothing in Scripture prohibiting a recourse to second nuptials. My right hon. Friend, following the Attorney General, pointed out to the House the remarkable passages in St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke. Now, Sir, the view which I take of this case is that which has been taken by the great majority of divines, in the earliest ages of the Church, and also by the great mass of modern divines. Upon this subject I will use no words of my own, but will take the language of one to whom I need not say the Church has always looked up as one of the most judicious and the most learned of her divines. Dr. Hammond, in his Tract on Divorces, says:— That Matthew should be interpreted by the other two, the more explicit and larger by the shorter and less explicit, seems not reasonable; and, besides, it were not easily imaginable what should become of those verses of Matthew, both xix. 9 and v. 32 "except for fornication," if the full sense were expressed by Mark and Luke without them; for though it is easy to conceive such words to be meant when they are not expressed, yet it is not so easy to conceive them not to be meant since they are expressed. That is the view which I take of the subject. I make this quotation without arguing the case, because I don't wish to enter into a religious discussion. But I cannot help, by way of illustration, confirming the view thus taken by Dr. Hammond. Suppose three jurists in this country were writing treatises upon points of criminal jurisprudence. Suppose two of them said, "You shall not kill;" and the third said, "You shall not kill except in self-defence;" would there be any contradiction there; would not the three stand well together? and would not the exception mentioned by the third be imported into the general rule laid down by the others? Again, suppose the same two jurists said, "You shall not swear," and the third added, "You shall not swear except in a court of justice," would any one say that these dicta were not in perfect accordance? And so, when two of the Evangelists say, "You shall not put away your wife;" and by another Evangelist it is said, "You shall not put away your wife except for fornication," is not the expressed qualification of the third to be understood in the command conveyed more briefly by the other two? This view is confirmed by divines, both ancient and modern. The opinions of the ancient divines were all collected by Cranmer at the time when Parr's case was under consideration, and they will be found by anybody who wishes to refer to them in the second volume of Burnet's History of the Reformation. The opinions of the ancient divines were also collected by Bishop Cosin in the Duke of Norfolk's Case, and it may he found in the 30th volume of the State Trials. The modern divines, to some extent, differ as to the remarriage of the parties divorced. Bishop Hall, Bishop Taylor, and many others, all agree as to the divorce on the ground of adultery. From the time of the Duke of Norfolk's Case down to the present moment you have had, without exception, as far as I know, the Bench of Bishops concurring in this: they remonstrated, no doubt, against parts of these divorce Bills which are called privilegia, but they never objected, as far as I know, on the ground that divorce was not permitted by our Saviour for adultery. So much on that part of the case, which relates to the Scriptural permission of divorce for the one excepted cause. But, says my right hon. Friend, there are no authorities favourable to the remarriage. Now, I own there is a vast difference between the two propositions; but, according to the best judgment I can form of the case upon Scriptural grounds, I think the divorced woman alluded to in the New Testament as one whom it is not lawful to marry, is always referred to as one that has been put away for some of the lesser offences which the Jews insisted on, and not for the higher offence of fornication or adultery, which is in itself a complete disruption of the marriage bond. If I am right in that conclusion, it necessarily follows that Scripture is silent on the question of remarriage, and, being so silent, it is in the power of every State to deal with the subject in the way most conducive to public morals, and most beneficial to the community at large. There being no Scriptural prohibition of divorce on the ground of adultery, but, on the contrary, an allowance of it, and there being no prohibition of the remarriage of parties so divorced, the social question immediately arises—ought the State to allow or to prohibit these remarriages? That is one of the most important questions which can be agitated in any assembly. It is not very easy to grapple with all the difficulties which present themselves, but this, I think, one must admit—that divorce for adultery has at all events always been allowed to the innocent party; and the reason is obvious. If you do not confer upon him this privilege you make him suffer for the guilt of another, and throw upon him a load and a burden which neither reason nor religion justifies you in imposing. I do not wish to rest on my own opinion on such a matter as this, but there is a beautiful passage in one of the divines to whom I have referred which so entirely conveys my own views on this part of the question that I will venture to read it to the House:— Shortly, then, I doubt not but I may (notwithstanding great authorities to the contrary) safely resolve that in the case of divorce it is lawful for the innocent person to marry. But for that find the Church of England hitherto somewhat tender on the point, and this practice, where it rarely falls, generally held, though not sinful, yet of ill report, and obnoxious to various censures. I should therefore earnestly advise and exhort those whom it may concern carefully and effectually to apply themselves to the forementioned remedies; reconciliation, if it be possible to prevent a divorce; holy continence, if it may be obtained, after a divorce; but," and now mark these words, "if these prevail not, I dare not lay a load on any man's conscience which God hath not burdened; I dare not ensnare those whom God will have free. These are the words of no less an authority than Bishop Hall, and I will only add that if the marriage is so entirely dissolved as regards the innocent party that he may enter into second nuptials, it is difficult to conceive how the marriage of the guilty can be otherwise than put an end to after divorce, to all intents and purposes whatsoever. I arrive, therefore, at my first conclusion—namely, that the objection, that this Bill goes too far, is neither warranted by Scripture nor by reason, and that we are perfectly justified in recognising that which has been the practice of this country for so many centuries, namely, the dissolution of the marriage bond, when either of the parties has broken that bond by the act of adultery. The other objection taken is, that the measure does not go so far as it ought to go. Now, I am happy to say that this objection does not demand the extension of divorce to cases of ill-temper, disgust, impossibility of living together, voluntary separation, and so forth. Burke, in his own beautiful language, has described how much, by confining marriage to the pair, and making it indissoluble, Christianity has done to promote the happiness, the peace, and the civilization of the world. In using the word "indissoluble," however, Burke recognised the one exceptional ground of divorce; and I certainly think if you grant divorces for any other cause than adultery there would be immense danger of breaking up that which is the tenderest of all earthly ties, and that you would, in point of fact, degrade marriage into a mere transient connexion. Nobody has taken up this ground in the course of the debate, but the reasoning of my right hon. Friend went to show that the language of Scripture must be applicable to both sexes, and that if you allow divorce to the man you ought to allow it equally to the woman. Now, I think my right hon. Friend does not distinguish, as he ought, between the Scriptural permission of divorce and the social application of that permission to suit the exigencies of Society. I believe that Scripture allows divorce both to the man and the woman on the ground of adultery; but, examining the question socially, I find a broad distinction between the consequences of this sin as the same may be committed by the husband or the wife. On the one hand the adultery of the wife necessarily breaks asunder all family ties, and may introduce into the family circle a spurious offspring. On the other hand, the adultery of the husband has no such necessary consequences; and for these reasons, even if there were no others, I doubt whether we ought to allow the woman to obtain divorce, equally with the man. Besides these reasons, however, there is another and a stronger one, which has been pointed out by Chancellor Kent as the result of his observation in America, and which has been given also by Lord Brougham, as the result of his observations in that country. If, it is said, you allow adultery committed by the man to be a ground of divorce on the application of the woman, you will probably encourage collusion where the parties mutually desire a separation, and in fact, you will enable them to obtain divorces almost at their pleasure. No woman, or barely one, would, because she and her husband could not live happily together, commit adultery in order to obtain a divorce; but I fear there are many men who would not scruple to adopt this method of ridding themselves from the shackles which bind them to one whom they have ceased to care for. Hence by collusion their object might be obtained. These are the reasons which induce me to say that you must draw a distinction, not upon Scriptural, but upon social grounds, between the offence of the husband and that of the wife. I come now to that part of the Bill which proposes an extension of the means of obtaining divorce to the wife, which she does not possess under the existing law. The wife at present can only obtain a Parliamentary divorce when an enormous crime—such as incest or bigamy has been committed by the husband. In these and like cases divorce has been given by Parliament to the wife. This Bill extends her remedy to two other causes—namely, adultery coupled with wilful desertion or gross cruelty. This seems to me only a reasonable extension to be given to the wife. I know it is said that even this extension is a breaking up of what was well called the blessedness of the family home with all its charities; but the answer is that in such a case the home has nothing of a family character. It is a blighted, deserted, barbarous, and unchaste home. That cannot be called a home where the husband is guilty of brutal barbarity, where the voice of kindness is never heard, or where the woman is left in such a state of solitude that she may be considered as completely in a state of widowhood as if her husband were actually dead. I have therefore no fear of giving on these grounds to a deserted, betrayed, and insulted wife, the reasonable extension of the power of obtaining divorce contained in this Bill. Thus then would I deal with the great objections to this Bill made by two different parties—namely, that it goes too far, and that it does not go far enough. I will now advert to the objections made to it on the part of the clergy. With reference to this subject I am happy to agree entirely with the view taken by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone). I appeal to the Government to introduce into this Bill a clause which will save a clergyman from the oppression upon his conscience which would be inflicted by the measure as now it is drawn, inasmuch as it would compel him to solemnize a marriage according to rites which in his belief are no longer applicable to the parties who call for it. My hon. and learned Friend said that obedience to the law was the thing to be required. I agree with him, but I go further, and I think I may challenge my learned Friend to concur with me in saying that there is no class of people in this country who are more obedient to the law than the clergy of the Church of England. Therefore it is not against them that an argument of this kind should be addressed, nor should we take advantage of their ready obedience to the law for the purpose of straining their consciences unduly. But if you pass the Bill without a clause protecting the clergy you put them in a position in which no man ought to be put,—viz., that of finding himself bound to violate the law of the land, or to violate what he believes to be the law of God. This is a dilemma which you can avoid, because you can either say that marriage with adulterous parties shall, after the Bill is passed, be entirely a civil contract, or you can introduce a clause under which it might not be compulsory on the clergy to solemnize these marriages, leaving it to those who do not entertain any religious objection to them to solemnize such marriages, if they hold well. There is one illustration on this part of the case which, if the House will permit me, I should like to advert to, and it supports most justly the argument advanced on this branch of the subject by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford. In the year 1605 there was a clergyman in this country who actually solemnized a marriage between a divorced guilty person and another party. Two years before that the canons of 1603 had been made, and one year before the statute against bigamy had been passed. The canons of 1603 enjoined a prohibitory bond against a subsequent marriage, which implied, according to the opinion of Dr. Hammond, that except for that bond the parties might marry again. The statute against bigamy passed in 1604 contained a proviso implying a recognition by Parliament of the proposition, that the sentence of an Ecclesiastical Court did, in fact, work a dissolution of the marriage bond; for while it declared bigamy to be a felony it also declared that the Act should not extend to any person who was or should at the time of such marriage be divorced under a sentence of an Ecclesiastical Court: and if the sentence of such a court had not worked a dissolution of the marriage bond, it must have been bigamy to have married a woman who had been divorced from her husband while she was still alive. The clergyman to whom I have referred was no ordinary man. He was afterwards a prebendary of the very city in which we are now sitting. He was subsequently Bishop of this Metropolis and subsequently to that again he was Archbishop of Canterbury. As I have already intimated he solemnized a marriage between a divorced guilty party and another person. He thought he might do so, no doubt, in consequence of the statute and canons to which I have referred; but as time passed over him, and as he reflected more upon the subject, his conscience rebuked him, he conceived he was wrong, and there is hardly a circumstance more touching in the whole history of Archbishop Laud, for he was the clergyman to whom I refer, than that of his every year setting apart that day on which he had done that act, which he subsequently thought he was not allowed to do, as a day of penitence and self-humiliation. Nay, more, in the writer, which I have now before me, "Huyler's Life of Archbishop Laud," you will find a prayer which he composed upon the subject, which prayer must, I think, convince any one that the conscience of a clergyman, when it is like the conscience of that excellent man, ought to be respected by any Government, and that such clergymen ought not to be made, in obedience to what you are pleased to call the law of the land, to solemnize marriages which they believe to be contrary to the law of God. I do trust that the Government will take this subject into their serious consideration, and will not throw upon the clergy the grievous oppression which this Bill will inflict upon their consciences. And now, Sir, before I sit down, I wish to make, with the permission of the House, a few observations with reference to the concluding remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir W. Heathcote), echoed, as they have been, to a certain extent, by my right hon. friend the Member for the county of Oxford (Mr. Henley). My hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford said that there were only three courses to be taken with reference to the measure now proposed. He said, you must remain as you are, or you must go back and declare marriage never to be dissoluble, or you must go forward by making a great and permanent settlement of this question. I will consider these three courses, and show to the House which of them ought, in my opinion, to be adopted. Remember that the main object which this Bill professes to have is simply to point out a new mode in which these divorces are to be obtained, and not the causes for which they are to be granted. If you want any proof of this, you will find it in the preamble of the Bill, which says simply that it is expedient to amend the law relating to divorce, and to constitute a court with exclusive jurisdiction in matters matrimonial, and, in certain cases, to decree a dissolution of marriage. That being the principle of the Bill, the only question we have to determine upon the second reading of the Bill is, not whether a clause should be introduced to protect the clergy, nor whether you are to continue to permit divorce for the same causes as those for which they have been granted heretofore, but whether the tribunal you are proposing to establish is the best tribunal for obtaining the object which you have in view. Now, apply to the measure the three courses which my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford has pointed out. Take the first—that of remaining as we are. What would be the consequence of adopting such a course? Would it not be that you must retain that disgraceful blot upon the jurisprudence of this country—namely, the action for criminal conversation, which attempts to measure a husband's wrongs by such an amount of pecuniary damages as a jury may award—would it not be that you must also retain those proceedings in the Ecclesiastical Court which are now taken upon written evidence, and not upon evidence given in the presence of a jury, when the rights of such a case can alone be well examined, with a power of appeal to the Court of Arches in the first instance, and finally to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Would it not be that you must further retain the palpable anomaly of leaving with Parliament the decision of a most important judicial question? I cannot consent to this. The second course propounded to us is that we should go back to a certain extent, and, declaring marriage to be indissoluble, that we should prohibit divorce in any case whatsoever. I entreat the House to reflect much and long before they arrive at that conclusion. The soundest ethical writers, and the soundest jurists have always held that the absolute indissolubility of the marriage tie will only lead, as it has done in other countries, to a connivance at conjugal infidelity, and to a general laxity of morals. Nor is this unnatural. We cannot but expect that impunity for sin will lead to sin; and unless you put some restraint like that imposed by the law of divorce on human passions, I am afraid there is danger—infinite danger—that the other sex, when they feel that be their conduct ever so bad they will still retain their husband's name and their husband's rank, they may be tempted to commit these offences to a greater extent than when they know that the penalty which hangs over a guilty wife is degradation from her former honourable position. But, more than this, a general indissolubility of marriage would inflict a wrong on the injured husband which you have no right to entail upon him. In the words of Bishop Hall, to which. I have already referred, you are imposing "a load on a man's conscience which God bath not burthened;" you are "ensnaring those whom God hath made free." If, then, I cannot acquiesce cither in leaving things in their present anomalous state, or in establishing a general and avowed indissolubility of marriage, I have no other course open to me but to endeavour, as best I may, to settle this difficult and delicate question—not as my right hon. Friends would seem to imply, by giving an instalment of change which might be afterwards added to, but by avoiding the dangerous extreme of absolute indissolubility on the one hand, and the still more dangerous extreme of a too easy separation on the other. My belief is that this Bill will effect these objects—that it will tend to check that flood of pollution which must inevitably flow from the connivance at conjugal infidelity—that it will accomplish the great ends of all laws of marriage, namely, to protect the wife from the inconstancy of her husband, and the children from the inconstancy of their parents. I would not be thought insensible to the admirable reasoning, the beautiful diction, the glowing, the heartfelt eloquence of my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, which must have entranced all who listened to him; neither am I indifferent to the consequences of any step which might diminish, even by a hair's breadth, the sanctity of the marriage bond. But I accept this measure because I believe it will settle this most important and difficult question on a better foundation than that on which it now rests. I accept it because I believe its principle to be authorised by our holy religion, sanctioned by experience, and in the strictest conformity alike with sound morals and the highest policy. I accept it, above all, because I believe it will tend to uphold the sacredness of the marriage tie, to discourage the inducements to that sin, which of all other is the worst for the moral purity of society, and to preserve to us that blessed security and peace which now constitute— as God grant they may ever constitute— the charm, the happiness, and the unspeakable blessing which now surrounds an English home.


said, he wished to draw the attention of the House to a very few points connected with the question before them. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole) had pointed out the distinction between Scriptural permission and social allowance in regard to divorce; and it was very essential in such a discussion to keep in view the difference between the religious and the civil aspects of marriage. No doubt, in its religious aspect, marriage was an indissoluble contract; but statesmen had to deal with the question when to grant or withhold human sanction. The cardinal blemish in this Bill, however, which his right hon. Friend had done nothing to vindicate, was the provision it contained for the remarriage of the adulterer and adultress. This provision involved a total alteration of the law of this country as at present administered; and whether they looked to the practice in Scotland, in Holland, in France, or in the United States, they would not find that the guilty party, by reason of his or her sinful act, acquired the privilege of contracting another Christian marriage. They had been told that Archbishop Land, having solemnized the remarriage of a divorced person, on subsequent reflection became convinced that he had done an unholy and unlawful act. Yet this measure called on them to make such unions not only legal but Christian marriages. This was not merely changing the whole of our law, but going in the very teeth of the Divine law. He had listened in vain to the powerful statement of the hon. and learned Attorney General for any defence of this proposal. His right hon. Friend, indeed, said, "If Scripture be silent on this point, the question becomes one of human policy." But was Scripture really silent upon it? Bishop Hall had certainly been quoted, but the passage in question was exclusively confined to the right of the innocent party. The authority of no eminent divine of our Church had been adduced to show that the remarriage of the guilty was allowable. Whatever might be the other merits of any measure which gave a religious sanction to the marriage of persons who had been convicted of adultery, he would say, "Perish any such measure rather than the Legislature should lend its sanction to so obnoxious a provision." He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman (Sir G. Grey) that hon. Members were bound to apply their own minds to this matter, and he, for one, preferred the simple light of plain Scripture to all the opinions of divines. He remembered the powerful argument of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole) upon, the question of the marriage of a deceased wife's sister. His right hon. Friend then, adopting the words of Bishop Butler, said, "Wherever a doubtful question arises on the Divine law, give the doubt to God." Was his right hon. Friend's mind now so clear of all doubt that he could give his sanction to the principle involved in this Bill, and say, that if a woman married her adulterer during the life of her husband, the guilty parties were as fully married as if the first marriage had been dissolved by death? Such a position was opposed to the universal voice of the Reformed Church. The present Archbishop of Canterbury—a man of so much meekness, of wisdom, experience, and moderation, that his opinion was entitled to the highest respect on this subject—said, during the debate in the other House, that he could neither reconcile it to reason nor to the Divine command to allow the marriage of the guilty parties during the life of the innocent husband or wife. In that opinion the Archbishop was supported by the whole of the Bishops, with one exception, by the late Speaker of the House of Commons, the Earl of Shaftesbury, and other lay peers of eminence. A great Nonconformist preacher, Richard Baxter, had enforced the same view. He had not heard a single authority in favour of such a permission. This question was debated in the House of Lords in 1800, on the Bill of Lord Auckland; and Bishop Horsley then maintained that the guilty parties ought not to be allowed to marry. The Bill passed the House of Lords with that provision, and also a provision making adultery a crime punishable by imprisonment; and the Bill in that form was supported in the Commons by Mr. Wilberforce, Mr. Romilly, and other eminent men. All this went to prove that it was never before contemplated to allow the marriage of the guilty parties. For himself he (Mr. Napier) had no objection whatever to the remarriage of the injured and unoffending party; but he would urge upon the House, when dealing with the religious part of the contract, that they had no right to stir one step beyond the point where they felt themselves safe upon Holy Scripture. To that length they were perfectly safe; but when they proceeded further, and said that the guilty party might, during the life of the wife or husband, intermarry with the partner of his or her guilt, see what confusion, what inconsistency, and running against the whole amount of authority and spirit of the divine text of Scripture they involved themselves in. The clergy held that such marriages ought not to be allowed; and he regretted that his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge should separate himself upon this question from those who, in other respects, he so honourably represented, and should give his sanction to a proposition unknown to the law of England. [Mr. WALPOLE intimated dissent.] Where, then, was the law to be found? In what statute or code could it be traced? Acts of Parliament granting divorces originated in the desire of peers, whose wives had been unfaithful, to obtain the opportunity of marrying again, and perpetuating their honours; but the private Acts by which such divorces were decreed were no part of the law of the land. They merely dissolved marriage, and enabled the husband, the injured party, to marry again. The right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) had said that, unless the House assented to this Bill, they would not discharge their duty to God if they did not reject all private Divorce Bills in future; but he (Mr. Napier) thought there was a material difference between this measure and Bills which enabled unoffending persons to marry again, while they gave no such permission to the guilty parties; and he would ask whether the right hon. Gentleman would consent that the analogous clause in this Bill be struck out? If this Bill were adopted in its present form, a clergyman who had married a woman, and made during the ceremony the declaration contained in one of the prayers in the office for the solemnization of matrimony, that it should never be lawful to put asunder those whom matrimony had made one, might, after that woman had committed adultery and been divorced, be called upon to marry her again, and to repeat the solemn declaration. The clergy would then, in his opinion, he subjected to a most intolerable tyranny; and he thought a clergyman ought rather to strip off his gown, and resign his living, than be the instrument of prostituting the holy service of the Church by converting an adultress into a bride. He thought one great defect of this Bill was, that it did not make adultery a crime. Under its provisions adultery could merely be punished by a fine; and it would, consequently, be regarded out of doors as a gentleman-like and aristocratic offence. The proper solution of the question would be to make adultery a misdemeanour, punishable at the suit of the injured party. This would be consonant with the law of Scripture, while the punishment of adultery by imprisonment would tend to repress the crime and to prevent collusion. The Attorney General had contended for a distinction between the man and the woman with respect to divorce; but he (Mr. Napier) did not understand how, consistently with the principle of common sense, the Legislature could refuse to the wife the remedy granted to the husband. The Bill, however, was intended only for the husband, although both Lord Stowell and Dr. Lushington had expressed very strong opinions in favour of both parties. There was, then, no help for the woman; and further, as the Bill would abolish civil actions for adultery, and did not make adultery an indictable offence, Roman Catholics, and those who held the indissolubility of marriage, would be deprived of any remedy whatever.


was understood to say, in reply, that the matter had been discussed on Scriptural grounds, on grounds of morality, and on the ground of affording relief to tender consciences. The hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) had, singularly enough, drawn his arguments against the Bill from the Old Testament, and challenged the House to point to a single passage from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Malachi, which countenanced the dissolubility of marriage. But he (the Attorney General) thought there were many instances of adultery followed by marriage to be drawn from that source. There was certainly a remarkable one of adultery and murder combined, followed by the marriage of the parties. His right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, who, like Aaron's rod, swallowed up all the rest of his (the Attorney General's) opponents, had transcended himself on this occasion. His right hon. Friend had come down to the House impressed with the high religious duty of opposing the Bill, on the grounds that it was anti-scriptural, pregnant with the most imminent danger to the highest moral interests of the community, and an instrument which would rend the Church of England in twain. And yet, notwithstanding, the right hon. Gentleman must vote for the Bill, or he must not vote at all. None that respected the right hon. Gentleman—and no one respected him more than he (the Attorney General)—could permit him to vote in conformity with his speech. Had the right hon. Gentleman no scruples, in 1854, as to the injury likely to ac crue to the morals of the community, and was he indifferent to the interests of the Church of England in that year? There was a saying, "O, that mine enemy had written a book." He (the Attorney General) might have wished that his antagonist had been a Cabinet Minister. Was not the duty of a Cabinet Minister plainly this, to be no party to any measure that was opposed to religious obligations, the duties of morality, or the interests of the Church of England? And yet, this very Bill now before the House, was a measure of the Cabinet of 1854, of which his right hon. Friend was a distinguished Member. Surely, his right hon. Friend could not have it said that he was such a creature of impulse that the opinions, sentiments, and principles of conduct adopted by him in 1854 were forgotten in 1857. And what reason had his right hon. Friend given for his conversion? Why, a treatise which he produced, and which turned out to be written by some obscure proctor in an Ecclesiastical Court in Ireland ["No, no!"], no doubt a Roman Catholic proctor, and published at Dublin.


said, the book was written in London; but the copy from which he quoted was published in Dublin seventy years afterwards.


resumed: He said, however that might be, his right hon. Friend was, in 1857, the eloquent denunciator of a measure framed by the very Cabinet of which he was a member in 1854— Who would not laugh if such a man there be; Who would not weep"— He would not finish the quotation. His right hon. Friend, however, had touched, in one respect, on dangerous ground, and was admirably answered by his (the Attorney General's) right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole) who reminded him of the language of the canons of 1603, which clearly and distinctly embodied the principle that there might be a divorce a vinculo. It was, therefore, correct to tell the House, as he (the Attorney General) had ventured to do, that the Reformers of England were uniform in their opinion on the subject, and that opinion was echoed by the general impression entertained by the reformed Churches throughout Europe. One-word as to the Scriptural argument. He was exceedingly happy to find the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. Bowyer), followed by others, accept readily the interpretation which he (the Attorney General) ventured to take of the disputed passages. What was the consequence of that interpretation? The moment they admitted that, in the passage of St. Matthew, the Saviour was excepting the case of adultery, as being provided for by the Jewish law, the practical result was this, that the divorces spoken of were divorces prohibited and condemned as divorces proceeding on grounds wholly independent of the ground of adultery. There was, in point of fact, no injunction contained in the Scriptures that divorce should take place upon the ground of adultery; but there was, at the same time, to be found in them no prohibition of any description of divorce except such as was founded upon grounds wholly exclusive of those in which adultery was involved. That was the real position in which the Scriptural argument stood, and he might, perhaps, before leaving that point, be allowed to protest against the course which had been adopted by his right hon. Friend, in seeking to reduce the Scriptures, as it were, down to a minimum. The Bible of the early Church was not, as at the present day, bound in calf or morocco, but consisted of different gospels, which were published and circulated in different countries; and if they were to strike out of any one of those gospels a passage which did not happen to be found in another, the consequence would be that the most important doctrines would be brought into peril. His right hon. friend had also stated that he (the Attorney General) had misquoted the passage taken from the Quarterly Review, to which he had referred upon a previous occasion, and had put upon that passage an interpretation which the writer had not put upon it. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No, no!] Surely his right hon. Friend had been a little too precipitate in finding fault with his knowledge of the author's meaning, for he found that in explaining that single word which had been so much tortured, the writer had put upon it a construction different from almost every one else, stating its true interpretation to be "apostasy or idolatry." He could not, therefore, understand how his right hon. Friend could accuse him of having put an erroneous interpretation upon the passage in question. But, to revert to the point which was more immediately the subject for their consideration, he should ask the House if they were that evening prepared to adopt the principle of the indissolubility of the marriage tie, and thereby to declare that no step should be taken to meet the wishes and the requirements of the community at large? Were they disposed to take that course, or to give "a local habitation and a name" to that principle which had, up to the present time, been acted upon and approved by the country; which was in conformity with the Scriptures, and in accordance with the true interests of society? Did hon. Members believe it to be desirable that two persons, in whose case the crime of adultery rendered the one loathsome to the other, should be bound to one another for life, or permitted to enjoy only such a state of separation as would prevent either from again entering upon the marriage contract? He felt assured that the House would hesitate long before they came to a conclusion such as that. As to the difficulty which was raised in the case of the clergy, that was a question which could be more properly dealt with in committee than upon the second reading of the Bill, and if the House felt satisfied that, in passing the measure into a law, they were doing that which was calculated to confer a benefit upon the community at large, he saw no reason why one particular class should be exempted from the obligations which that law involved. In conclusion, he had only to express a hope that the House would assent to substitute a convenient, expeditious, and economical tribunal, in cases of divorce, for that mockery in our system of judicial procedure which at present existed.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 208; Noes 97: Majority 111.

List of the AYES.
Adeane, H. J. Bethell, Sir R.
Anderson, Sir J. Biggs, J.
Antrobus, E. Black, A.
Archdall, Capt. M. Bonham-Carter, J.
Ashley, Lord Bouverie, rt. hn. E. P.
Ayrton, A. S. Bouverie, hon. P. P.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Bovill, W.
Baring, T. G. Brand, hon. II.
Barnard, T. Briscoe, J. I.
Baxter, W. E. Brocklehurst, J.
Beale, S. Bruce, Lord E.
Berkeley, hon. H. E. F. Bruce, H. A.
Berkeley, K. W. F. Buchanan, W.
Buckley, Gen. Hume, W. F.
Buller, J. W. Ingham, R.
Butler, C. S. Ingram, H.
Butt, I. Jermyn, Earl
Buxton, C. Jervoice, Sir J. C.
Buxton, Sir E. Keating, Sir H. S.
Byng, hon. G. Kendall, N.
Calcraft, J. H. Ker, R.
Campbell, R. J. R. Kershaw, J.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. King, hon. P. J. L.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Kinglake, A. W.
Cheetham, J. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Churchill, Lord A. S. Kirk, W.
Clay, J. Knatchbull-Hugessen, E
Clifford, C. C. Labonchere, rt. hon. H.
Clifford, H. M. Langton, J. H.
Clive, G. Langton, H. G.
Codrington, Gen. Legh, G. C.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Colvile, C. R. Lewis, rt. hon. Sir G. C.
Coningham, W. Locke, Jno.
Cowper, rt. hon. W. F. Lowe, rt. hon. R.
Cotterell, Sir H. G. Luce, T.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Mackinnon, W. A.
Crawford, R. W. Mangles, R. D.
Dashwood, Sir G. H. Mangles, C. E.
Davie, Sir R. H. F. Marjoribanks, D. C.
Denison, hon. W. H. F. Martin, C. W.
Dering, Sir E. Massey, W. N.
Dillwyn, L. L. Matheson, A.
Duncan, Visct. Melgund, Visct.
Ebrington, Visct. Miles, W.
Evans, T. W. Mills, T.
Ewart, W. Mitchell, T. A.
Farquhar, Sir M. Moncrieff, rt. hon. J.
Ferguson, Sir R. Morgan, O.
FitzRoy. rt. hon. H. Morris, D.
Foley, J. H. Mostyn, hn. T. E. M. L.
Foley, H. J. W. Napier, Sir C.
Forster, C. Nicoll, D.
Fortescue, hon. F. D. Nisbet, R. P.
Fortescue, C. S. Noel, hon. G. J.
Freestun, Col. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Gaskell, J. M. Norris, J. T.
Gifford, Earl of North, F.
Glyn, G. G. Ogilvy, Sir J.
Goddard, A. L. Osborne, R.
Goderich, Visct. Paget, Lord A.
Gordon, L. D. Pakenham, Col.
Greer, S. M'C. Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.
Grenfell, C. W. Palmerston, Visct.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Patten, Col. W.
Grey, R. W. Paull, H.
Griffith, C. D. Paxton, Sir J.
Grosvenor, Earl Pechell, Sir G. B.
Gurney, S. Philips, R. N.
Hackblock, W. Pigott, F.
Hadfield, G. Platt, J.
Hall, rt. hon. Sir B. Powell, F. S.
Hamilton, J. H. Pritchard, J.
Hanbury, R. Pugh, D.
Hankey, T. Puller, C. W.
Hardcastle, J. A. Ramsden, Sir J. W.
Harris, J. D. Ramsay, Sir A.
Hay, Lord J. Rebow, J. G.
Headlam, T. E. Ricardo, O.
Heathcote, hon. G. H. Ridley, G.
Heneage, G. F. Roebuck. J. A.
Henniker, Lord Russell, H.
Herbert, rt. hon. H. A. Russell, Sir W.
Hodgson, K. D. Rust, J.
Holland, E. Schneider, H. W.
Hudson, G. Scholefield, W.
Seymour, H. D. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Smith, J. B. Walter, J.
Smith, rt. hon. R. V. Watkins, Col. L.
Smith, A. Weguclin, T. M.
Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W. Western, S.
Stanley, Lord Westhead, J. P. B.
Stapleton, J. Williams, W.
Stephenson, R. Williams, Sir W. F.
Stuart, Lord J. Wilson, J.
Stuart, Col. Wise, J. A.
Sykes, Col. W. II. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Tempest, Lord A. V. Wood, W.
Thessiger, Sir F. Wood, B. T.
Thompson, Gen. Worsley, Lord
Thornely, T. Wyld, J.
Tite, W. Windham, Gen.
Trelawny, Sir J. S.
Trueman, C. TELLERS.
Turner, J. A. Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.
Villiers, rt. hon. C. P. Mulgrave, Earl of
List of the NOES.
Adams, W. H. Lovaine, Lord
Adderley, C. B. Lowther, hon. Col.
Bernard, T. T. Macarthy, A.
Beach, W. W. B. M'Cann, J.
Beecroft, G. S. Maguire, J. F.
Bowyer, G. Malins, R.
Bridges, Sir B. W. Manners, Lord J.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Martin, J.
Burghley, Lord Miller, S. B.
Cairns, H. M'C. Mills, A.
Garden, Sir R. W. Monsell, rt. hon. W.
Christy, S. Mowbray, J. R.
Cobbett, J. M. Naas, Lord
Cole, hon. H. A. Napier, rt. hon. J.
Collins, T. Newark, Visct.
Copeland, W. T. Newdegate, C. N.
Cross, R. A. North, Col.
Damer, L. D. O'Brien, P.
De Vere, S. E. O'Connell, Capt. D.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. O'Donaghoe, The
Dod, J. W. Packe, C. W.
Du Cane, C. Palmer, R.
Egerton, W. T. Pevensey, Visct.
Elmley, Visct. Pilkington, J.
Esmonde, J. Roupell, W.
Estcourt, T. H. S. Sandon, Visct.
Farnham, E. B. Scott, hon. F.
Foster, W. O. Smyth, Col.
Gard, R. S. Spooner, R.
Garnett, W. J. Stafford, A.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. Steuart, A.
Greville, Col. F. Taylor, Col.
Hamilton, Lord C. Tomline, G.
Hamilton, G. A. Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.
Hatchell, J. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Vansittart, W.
Hildyard, R. C. Waddington, H. S.
Holford, R. S. Walcott, Admiral
Hope, A. J. B. B. Waldron, L.
Hopwood, J. T. Walsh, Sir J.
Horsfall, T. B. Warren, S.
Howard, Lord E. Whiteside, J.
Ingestre, Viscount Whitmore, H.
Johnstone, hon. H. B. Wigram, L. T.
Kelly, Sir F. Wyndham, H.
King, J. K. Wynne, W. W. E.
Knox, Col.
Langton, W. G.
Laurie, J. TELLERS
Levinge, Sir R. Heathcote, Sir W.
Liddell, hon. H. G. Lygon, hon. F.

Main Question put and agreed to:—Bill read 2°, and committed for Tuesday next.