§ Order for Committee (Supply) read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed—
§ "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
said, he rose to move an humble Address praying that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to take into Her Royal consideration the proclamation of the first year of Her Majesty's reign, commanding that forms of prayer and service made for the 5th day of November, the 30th day of January, and the 29th day of May should be annexed to the Book of Common Prayer of the United Church of England and Ireland, to be used yearly on the said days, with a view to the discontinuance of those forms of prayer and service. No doubt it would be very unbecoming of the House to enter unnecessarily into any criticism or discussion of services which, he might say, were of a very solemn character, but after the Address adopted by the House of Lords in reference to those forms of prayer, it would not be desirable for the House of Commons to remain silent. These services were intended to record great political events, but they rested upon the authority or a Proclamation made at the commencement of each reign, when the country was generally in a state of excitement. Therefore at the moment when a Sovereign first came to the Throne an Address of this kind could not well be brought forward; but a time like the present, when there was an absence of all such excitement, seemed peculiarly well fitted for such a proceeding. These services were generally unacceptable to the great body of the clergy and congregations of the Church of England; and so unwilling were they to use them on the days for which they were appointed, that it was only in certain educational institutions, and in a few churches where scrupulous regard was paid to the authority which had ordered them, that they were ever used. He thought, therefore, it was manifestly undesirable that there should be a Royal command in existence which was so generally disregarded. No doubt the services, at the time they were originated, were well calculated to express the feelings of those who used them; still the lapse of years must necessarily render expressions of thankfulness and humiliation which were suitable to the minds of a people who had just come freshly out of what they considered great danger, inappropriate to the 1393 sentiments and feelings of the present times. He held that it was not wise that special services, prepared to commemorate an event which was strongly felt at the time, should be continued perpetually, or used after the lapse of 200 years by a people who were in totally different circumstances, and consequently felt they could not use them conscientiously. Indeed it did not appear, with regard to the earliest of these political services, that there was any intention at the commencement of making it a permanent service, because more than five years elapsed, after it was first used, before it was incorporated in the Prayer Book. On this first day, the 5th of November, the last important event that occurred was the battle of Inkermann, which stirred up so much feeling throughout the land. That event, although comparatively less in its influence on the general destiny of the country than the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, was one much mere warmly and keenly felt by people of the present day, and yet it was not singled out and celebrated on the 5th of November when they were commemorating events which were so much more distant, and were looked upon rather as matters of history. Great wisdom had been shown by the compilers of the Liturgy when they adopted more general terms in which to commemorate all national subjects of thankfulness and humiliation without specifying or particularising them; and he thought it would be only following the wisdom of those who compiled the Liturgy if this House addressed their advice to Her Majesty that she would, in the exercise of her authority, reconsider the Proclamation under which alone these services were used, and that they should henceforth be discontinued.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to take into Her Royal consideration the Proclamation of the first year of Her Majesty's reign, commanding that Forms of Prayer and Service made for the 5th day of November, the 30th day of January, and the 29th day of May, should be annexed to the Book of Common Prayer of the United Church of England and Ireland, to be used yearly on the said days, with a view to the discontinuance of those forms of Prayer and Service," instead thereof.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, that after what 1394 had taken place in the other House, where a similar Address had been moved, assented to generally, and especially by the prelates of the church; and, as he knew, had received the gracious assent of Her Majesty, there could be no reason why the Motion should not be agreed to. The only doubt he had was whether it would not have been better originally, although it was too late now, to have effected the object in view by means of communication between the two Houses, so that the Address might have come from both of them, and the answer have been given to each of them at the same time. His own opinion was that occasional services were always to be deprecated, except at particular times; and it was now so many years since the occurrences which these services were intended to commemorate, and our own liturgy was so adapted to meet the whole wants of the people, whether for prayer or thanksgiving, that he thought it was detrimental to encumber the Prayer Book by the retention of these special services. He therefore gave his hearty assent to the Motion.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to take into Her Royal consideration the Proclamation of the first year of Her Majesty's reign, commanding that Forms of Prayer and Service made for the 5th day of November, the 30th day of January, and the 29th day of May, should be annexed to the Book of Common Prayer of the United Church of England and Ireland, to be used yearly on the said days, with a view to the discontinuance of those forms of Prayer and Service.