§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ SIR MORTON PETO
in moving the Second Reading of the Bill said, that when he had the honour of moving for leave to introduce the Bill, he explained fully the object and scope of the measure, and cited a variety of cases to show the deep necessity that existed for some measure of the kind. Since then he had felt it his duty to make inquiries as to the regulations that 1022 existed in connection with burial grounds in other countries, and also in our colonies and dependencies, in order that he might be in a position to adduce to the House for their guidance any information to be derived therefrom. In the first place, he had applied to one or two friends, clergymen of the Church of England, and chaplains in India, who had forwarded to him the regulations concerning burials in that country. The regulation was dated the 27th Sept., 1848, and set forth—It is not optional with the clergyman to give or withhold any burial ground which must be opened whenever required for the purpose of interment of Europeans and Christians of whatever sect or denomination.The clergyman who had forwarded this regulation had written to him to say that it had never been attended with the slightest inconvenience. In the United States of America no disability existed in regard to burials; and he was informed that in the whole of the burial grounds the clergymen of every denomination were freely admitted to perform the service, and no difficulty had arisen there from. In Canada, also, no evil had resulted from the burial grounds being open to all denominations. In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick the public places of burial were open to all, and the performance of the burial service by a clergyman of a particular denomination had not been productive of the slightest evil in any respect. In the Bahamas the burial places, which were consecrated, were used by Episcopalians and Nonconformists alike. At the Cape of Good Hope the case was the same: the ministers of various denominations were permitted to perform the service they thought fittest, and no evil resulted from the practice. It would he known to the House that the practice in Scotland differed very much from that of almost any other country; but though it was not the custom of the Presbyterian population to have any service over the grave, yet there was no objection to allow an Episcopalian, who in that country was considered a Dissenter, to perform the burial service of the Church of England. If no evil whatever had resulted from this practice in Scotland it was a fair argument to adduce to the House, in order to show that no mischief need be apprehended to ensue from the adoption of the same practice in England. In Ireland, under the 5 Geo. IV., c. 25, application must be made to the minister, who gave permission to bury, and, in the event of his 1023 refusing permission, he was obliged to state his reasons to the Lord Lieutenant and to the Bishop of the diocese. But he found from his correspondence with the north of Ireland that there the working of the law was superior to the law itself; for nowhere in the north of Ireland was it customary to give notice, and all that was ever required was to inform the sexton that the clergyman of the Church of England would not be required, and that the friends of deceased wished the attendance of some other minister. Now, if in Scotland, Ireland, and the whole of our Colonies, this practice had worked so well, surely the House would at once feel with him that there should be no hesitation in giving to the Dissenters of this country that measure of justice which he now asked at their hands, and which he trusted they would concede. To illustrate how the law at present worked in England, he would mention one or two cases which had been communicated to him to show the grievances complained of. He had received a letter from a highly-respectable solicitor, a member of his own denomination, in which he stated that, in the parish in which he resided the church burial ground was found too small. Application was made to the parishioners for an extra piece of ground to enlarge it, which was cheerfully accorded and fenced in, the whole being done at the expense of the parish. Shortly after a child of this gentleman's died unbaptized, and although he was one of the parties moving for the enlargement of the burial ground, the clergyman acting, no doubt, from conscientious motives, and in accordance with his oath to obey the rubric, refused to allow the burial service to be performed over the corpse; and what this gentleman had to do was to obtain a minister to attend with his family, and hold a simple service by reading a portion of Scripture, a prayer, and a short address on the highway immediately outside the fencing round the burial ground. He asked the House whether such a proceeding could ever tend to benefit the Church of England, or tend to that end which he, as a Nonconformist, was most anxious to see—namely, the narrowing of all those differences between them all? It was not only in regard to children that died unbaptized that these difficulties occurred. In consequence of what were called High Church views some clergymen refused to bury the children of Dissenters on the ground that their baptizm was in- 1024 valid. One gentleman in a highly respect able position, having contributed largely to the erection of the parish church, had applied on the death of his child for interment. The curate made no objection; but on the morning of the burial, when the grave had been dug, when the mourners were in the house, he received a note from the curate stating that he was excessively sorry that the rector declined to allow the child to be buried in the churchyard on the ground that valid baptizm had not been administered to the child. The grave was filled up, and the child was buried in a cemetery nine miles distant. He mentioned this case to show to the House that he was not bringing before it any sentimental grievance, but one of a practical nature and severely felt. Though a Nonconformist, he had never been an enemy to the Church of England, and had never taken part in any agitation against her; she had made great progress, and deserved to do so, for she had exerted herself largely for the benefit of the people. No one deplored more than he did the existence of such societies as the Liberation Society and the Church Defence Society. He said, without fear of denial, that the existence of the Church Defence Society, and the feeling which it engendered in that House, had thrown back the progress of civil and religious liberty many years. His attention had been called to one or two matters in the Bill which might require alteration. He had been asked by some parties what he meant by the word "service." He meant the reading of a portion of the Holy Scripture, a prayer, and the singing of a hymn. He would have no objection in Committee to introduce any Amendment into the Bill which would define more particularly what this service should be. In introducing this Bill to the House he had no object in view to effect the achievement of any Nonconformist triumph. He asked hon. Gentlemen opposite to lay aside all feelings of irritation which might have been produced in their minds by any idea that this Bill emanated from the Liberation Society. He declared to the House that he had consulted no member of that Society; he had simply taken into his counsel certain gentlemen connected with the Nonconformist bodies, who, feeling they laboured under a certain grievance in the matter, were anxious to see that grievance redressed. He appealed to the House to consider the second reading of the Bill in a spirit of Christian charity. He should 1025 cheerfully abide by its verdict, but he sincerely hoped it would be to pass the second reading and allow the Bill to go into Committee.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ SIR WILLIAM HEATHCOTE
, in moving the rejection of the Bill said, Sir, the hon. Baronet (Sir Morton Peto) has rested his case very much on what he represents as a cruel infliction made by operation of law on certain Nonconformists on whose behalf he urges the adoption of the Bill under consideration. To statements of alleged grievance, made by persons presenting themselves in the character of mourners, who attribute to a particular state of the law an aggravation of their sorrow, I should listen with respect and sympathy. If under the influence of irritation they brought unfounded accusations I should not be eager to resent, nor should I desire to lay bare with too curious or too rough a hand the insufficiency of their foundation. I should trust to time to enlighten and to soothe, and should submit to some misapprehension and some groundless obloquy rather than enter upon contentious argument, which, although justified by self defence, might wear the appearance of harshness. But if a Member of this House proceeds on such allegations to a practical issue—if be recommends legislation and produces a specific measure, the matter is transferred from the region of feeling to that of fact and reason. It becomes necessary to apply a more severe test to see whether there is any real case for interference, and, if there is, whether the mode suggested will not produce worse evils than any which are alleged as the ground for interference. In this case the main grievance (for I will not dwell upon the inconvenience said to arise in some places from the distance between the several burial grounds which are not under Church law, but will only say in passing that in such cases those burial grounds should be increased in number, if needful, by compulsory legislation, and at the cost of parishes united for the purpose); but the main grievance, and the only one in which principle is involved, is, as stated, not that Nonconformists are, as such, excluded from the burial service of the Church, to which it is notorious that they are continually admitted; but that, among Non- 1026 conformists, the small number who cannot satisfy those rules to which Churchmen themselves are hound to submit in this matter, are excluded by force of those rules, as are Churchmen also who fail to satisfy them. In other words, that the rules of the Church, excluding from the burial service all unbaptized persons, by necessary consequence exclude, in the case of all Nonconformists, as in the case of Churchmen, all infants dying before baptizm; and further, in the case of some Nonconformists—namely, those among whom infant baptism is not in use, such older children also and young persons as have not lived to receive baptizm. This being the grievance—a grievance which on the face of it, and in the statement of those who urge it, consists only in this—namely, that persons not in communion with the Church, but for whom on a special occasion the benefit of Church service is desired, are admitted to it under restrictions, being the same restrictions, and no other, as are applied to members of the Church itself—this being the grievance, the remedy proposed is in the Bill under discussion to-day, in which the knot is cut shortly enough by provisions which simply hand over to all mankind, provided that they are not of the Church of England, unlimited and unconditional power over the use of the burial grounds belonging to that Church, and which admit within their precincts the practice of any ceremonies of any religion, be it Mahommedan or Hindoo, or Mormonite; and equally the abnegation of all religion in an infidel oration. But the hon. Gentleman tells us that he has founded himself on precedent; that he has taken his measure from an Act passed in reference to Ireland about thirty-seven years ago, the success of which has been complete. When the hon. Member makes this statement he must intend us to understand that the grievance in the Irish case was the same as that which is now alleged, that the circumstances attending were similar, and that the provisions of that Act were identical with his own. Unless all these conditions concur, his precedent is of no worth, and bis argument will fail. But, Sir, I will show the House that the grievance in Ireland was of a character entirely different; that all the attendant circumstances were different; and, above all, that the enactments were, I will not say different, for that would be too feeble a word, but essentially opposed to those 1027 which are embodied in the Bill before us. Whether that Act was wise I do not presume to assert, though I see no reason to doubt it; whether it has been successful I cannot pretend to judge from personal observation; but, if it has been both wise and successful, it will not raise a presumption in favour even of the same provisions under different circumstances, while to claim its authority, not only under different circumstances, but in favour of enactments wisely discordant, nay, actually antagonistic in form, spirit, and intention, appears to me to be a mode of reasoning remarkable, if I may so say without offence to the hon. Baronet, rather for its hardihood than its logic. Now, let us see what was the Irish grievance, and what was the manner of dealing with it. In the first place, there was a highly penal enactment in force by which all persons were prohibited from burying in the grounds of suppressed abbeys and other religious houses. In fact, such burials did take place, and no one wished to prevent them; but all who were concerned in them ran the risk of heavy penalties. The first section of the Irish Act is devoled to the repeal of this prohibition—an object wholly foreign to the circumstances of England. The Act then proceeds in the subsequent sections to deal with a state of circumstances which I will describe to the House. In Ireland there had been for many years an invariable usage by which Roman Catholics had been buried in the parochial churchyards, but with no religious ceremony at the grave. The rights of their own Church were always performed previously; partly, I believe, in their own chapels, and partly in the houses of the deceased persons; and the rites of the Church of Ireland were neither desired by them nor tendered to them. A little time before the Act in question was introduced by Mr. Plunket, then Attorney General, and afterwards Lord Plunket, doubts had arisen in the minds of the clergy of some of the Irish dioceses—well-founded doubts as it turned out—respecting the legality of their own conduct in this matter. They apprehended—and, as it appears by the recitals of Lord Plunket's Act, they apprehended correctly—that they were bound by law to read the burial service over every person not disqualified by that law from being the subject of such service who should be buried in their churchyards; and that in forbearing to perform this duty, and in permitting Roman Catholic burials 1028 without the service of the Church of Ireland, they were infringing the law. But to tender this service to the Roman Catholic as a condition of burial would have been to exclude him, and this by a condition which was practically though not legally new, from an easement which had been practically though not legally free to him, without question, for many years. The Church service would have excluded him, because the Irish Roman Catholics looked at this matter from a point of view precisely opposite to that of the English Dissenters. In Ireland they did not make it a grievance that they were not admitted to participate in the ceremonies of the Church of Ireland, much less that they were not admitted more freely than the members of that Church, and in defiance of regulations to which Churchmen were themselves subject; but, on the contrary, they deprecated the application to them, for the first time in practice, of a ritual the sanctity of which they did not recognize. Accordingly the Irish Roman Catholics in 1824 did not ask for a violent innovation, offensive in its form and dangerous in its consequences, but only that things should remain as they were; that an existing usage, already sanctioned by custom, should also be sanctioned by law; and that they should not be suddenly deprived of nearly all facilities for burial. For, be it observed, they were not in the condition in which we find the English Dissenters now—namely, that of being provided to a very great, even if it be, as has been said to-day, not an entirely sufficient, extent, with burial grounds on all sides of them, specially devoted to their purposes, and freed from the necessity of adherence to Church rules. Such being the facts of the Irish case, how did Lord Plunket deal with them in his Act? He confirmed to the clergymen of the Church of Ireland the liberty which for a long time had been practically but illegally assumed, of refraining from the employment of the burial service of the Church over those persons who were not of her communion, and rendered legal that which also had been for a long time the established usage—namely, the burial of those who belonged to other communions by their own ministers in the parochial churchyards. But all this was done under restrictions, and with careful precautions against abuse. It was made lawful only after a written application addressed by a minister of another communion, duly au- 1029 thorized by law, to the parochial clergyman, followed by a written permission, if he thought fit to grant it, under the hand of such clergyman, in whom also was vested the power of appointing the time of the funeral. Lord Plunket laid great stress on the necessity of this restriction, and of preserving to the clergyman the power of infusing his consent. He dwelt upon the necessity of guarding against the abuse of the indulgence by the employment of ceremonies or language offensive to the Church; upon the importance of ascertaining in each case the bond fides of the assertion of Nonconformity; and the status of the person who applied, as a Nonconforming minister, for permission to conduct the ceremony; and, above all, he urged that to give an absolute instead of a permissive right, would be to give to Nonconformists more than is possessed by the members of the Church itself, who enjoy the right of burial in consecrated ground only in accordance with ecclesiastical rules and orders. That strangers to any institution should be admitted to its benefits on terms less stringent than those to which its own members are subjected, appeared to Lord Plunket to be an absurd and untenable proposition, and accordingly he set himself by anticipation against the very principle on which the whole of this Bill is framed. In these days we have become familiar with claims bearing the character which he thought so unreasonable, and why? Because in all that class of Bills of which this is an example, the moving principle is evidently not a simple desire to redress grievances, real or supposed—it is the desire to initiate aggression. And, without doubt, it is an aggressive character which is impressed on every line of this Bill. It is not permissive but compulsory. It enables the representative of the deceased not only to silence the parochial clergyman and to prohibit the service of the Church, but to appoint any other person whatever to celebrate any service which may approve itself to the religion—or the irreligion, as the case may be—of him who is to perform it. It professes, indeed, to guard against unseemly interruptions of other funerals, or of congregational worship, by requiring, not an application for permission, but a bare notice to be sent to the clergyman. But this enactment is so framed as though it was intended to be inoperative. The notice may be sent by post, and if within twenty-four hours of its deposit in a post-office, 1030 however distant, the clergyman, who may never have received it, shall not have appointed a time for the funeral, it may take place at any time, without his appointment. If such notices had been put into the post-office on Saturday morning, it might easily happen that the clergyman and his congregation, as they entered their church on Sunday morning, might see the approach of more funerals than one brought at that unseemly hour, perhaps through thoughtlessness, perhaps through malice, each to be conducted under the powers of this Bill at the very time of divine service, with ceremonies perhaps distressing to the Church congregation—perhaps abhorrent to the whole Christian world. Does the House perceive, has the hon. mover himself considered, what effect all this will have upon religious peace in this country? Let me first suggest a case in which nothing like irreligion shall be attributed to any one concerned. In some parish where Protestant feeling is deeply seated, and vehemently, or if you will, violently, expressed, let a Roman Catholic funeral enter the churchyard at some such unseasonable time as I have indicated, and let the service be performed with all the display and circumstance of a gorgeous ceremonial. Do you think that charity and forbearance are precisely the virtues of which you will have promoted the growth in that parish? Turn your eyes next to some adjoining parish where you shall see a darker vision. Some rich atheist leaves money wherewith to fee an infidel lecturer who shall deliver at his funeral within the consecrated ground—perhaps within hearing of the congregation assembled in the church itself—an eloquent harangue, not specially against the Church, but against all that every Christian man within the borders of this land has been taught from his infancy to venerate. Will the hon. Baronet then congratulate himself on the success of his work? I know that he will not. I know that the hon. Gentleman would witness such an attack with deep sorrow, of which the sharpest pang would be in the recollection that it was his own hand by which the weapon employed in it had been forged. Sir, this is no light matter. It ought not to have been left to me, nor to any man not invested with the authority of the Queen's service, to arrest its progress. The action of the Government in such a case as this ought to have been prompt and decisive. If there is real hardship 1031 caused by the distance from each other of such burial-grounds as are free from the regulation of Church law, their number should be increased for the benefit of the Dissenters, if needful, by compulsory legislation. But it should be distinctly and firmly announced that we will not, under colour of supplying a need which is wholly collateral and subordinate, give up principles which are in no way necessarily connected with it. The hon. Baronet has disclaimed, and even denounced, the Liberation Society, and I rejoiced to hear what he said. Nevertheless, his Bill is of the same character as those which that society has promoted, and wears the appearance of serving to complete the systematic series, of which parts have been already discussed in this House. The previous discussions have shown the real meaning of the measures already produced, and have also shown that there are more behind. Does any one believe that, when the churchyards have been dealt with as is proposed in this Bill, the churches themselves will long remain free from a similar invasion? It may be that such an invasion is the result at which we are to arrive. I see that the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) gives signs of rejoicing in the prospect. Be it so; but proceed in that direction with your eyes open; do not flatter yourselves that, if you pass this Bill, you will not have already advanced very far and very fast. It will be difficult to draw a distinction on principle between the two cases. For my part, I am not prepared to go one stop on that road. I invite the House to concur' with me in my refusal; and in order to give them the opportunity, I move, Sir, by way of Amendment oh the hon. Baronet's Motion, that this Bill be read a second time this day six months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now,' stand part of the Question."
said, he confessed that at first he had regarded this Bill with some fear. He thought it was but another of those aggressive Bills which had lately been brought forward by hon. Members in connection with the Liberation Society. That was his first view, and he confessed the fact of the Bill coming from the Liberation Society was no recommendation for 1032 him. He did not sympathize with that Society in its principal object, which he believed was to bring about a separation of the Church of England from the State. He felt it, however, his duty to examine the Bill, in order to see whether, as a member of the Church of England, and as representing also a large body of Dissenters, he ought to support it; and as the result of that examination he now gave his hearty approval to the measure. The first thing to establish in advocating it was that a grievance did exist. That had been shown; but it must be borne in mind that that grievance was not found in large cities, but in country parishes. It seemed to him that the proposal of the Bill was one to which members of the Church of England ought readily to agree; for in point of fact by it Dissenters asked to a certain extent to be allowed to come into the bosom of the Church. As to what had been said by the hon. Baronet (Sir William Heathcote) as to the Bill opening the door for Hindoo or Mahommedan ceremonies, that was absurd and impossible, because in the country parishes there were no Mahommedans and no infidels. But the two prevalent sects were the Baptists and Wesleyans, and he had made inquiries as to what were the ceremonies which they would wish to perform in the churchyards. He had a letter from the Dissenting minister of a parish in Northamptonshire, in which he was informed that, at the burial of their dead, the Wesleyans usually read part of the Church of England burial service; while Baptists generally read a portion of Holy Scripture, delivered a short appropriate address to the mourners, and offered up a prayer. Surely there was nothing very dreadful in these. For his part he should be glad to see Dissenters coming with these proper and decent rites into the place set apart for burial by the Church. One thing had been hinted at by the hon. Baronet which had occurred to his (Lord Henley's) own mind. It was the notion of a law to compel ground to be set apart in the various country parishes, as in large towns, for the burial of those who differed from the Church. But the answer to that was that already there was sufficient ground for the burial of all, and that the appropriation of any more land for the purpose was unnecessary. What the Dissenters asked was for power to come into the churchyards and perform decent and proper rites in portions set apart for that purpose by the vicar or 1033 curate of the parish. The ease of his own parish, he thought, bore very strongly on the matter of the Bill. He was inquiring as to how the present system acted upon the Church in that parish, and was told that it acted exceedingly well, because the Dissenters had been very much frightened by a particular case that had occurred there, and ever since had brought their children to baptism very well. That case was one of a labourer who was a Dissenter, and had several children, none of whom had been baptized. He brought one of these to be buried, and was told that no service could be read over it; and it was buried by the sexton at night without any service being performed or a word said. Now he (Lord Henley) did not suppose that any educated Protestant imagined that the words said over a dead body would produce the slightest effect on the future state of the person buried; but he was not so sure that the same impression prevailed with uneducated persons. On the contrary, he thought, in the particular case to which he bad alluded, it was the fear which had arisen from the non reading of those words which had driven them into baptizm. Was that a desirable state of affairs? It seemed to him that it was not desirable. That persons should be brought to baptizm was excellent; hut that they should be frightened into it by the nonperformance of certain rites he could not think was good. Another case was that of a Baptist minister named Capern, who was not allowed to go into a churchyard to read a few prayers over the corpse of one of his own flock, but who had to stand outside the wall and read them while the body was put into the grave prepared for it. He (Lord Henley) thought it most desirable to put an end to these fruitful sources of difference between Churchmen and Dissenters, and he thought this was not to be done by throwing difficulties in the way of Dissenters. He thought the House would agree in a remark made by a Dissenting minister, that if there was less of separation between the bodies of Dissenters and Churchmen after death, there would probably be more of agreement and good-will between them during life. The hon. Baronet (Sir William Heathcote) had said that this Bill was to enable Roman Catholics to go into our churchyards and there to perform ceremonies which were most repugnant to our feelings as Protestants. This had at first alarmed him (Lord Henley), but when he came to look into it he found 1034 it was baseless. Roman Catholics attached even more importance to the consecration of burial grounds than members of the Church of England; and as they did not recognize the validity of the orders of the clergy of the Church of England, they did not recognize the validity of the consecration of the different churchyards throughout the country. This, he believed, would always be a bar to the realization of that which the hon. Baronet feared; for it was not probable they would ever make use of any but their own burial grounds for the interment of their friends. One more point he would urge on the attention of the House. He did not believe that Dissenters in rural parishes would be relieved from the payment of church rates for some time to come; and the least return we could make them for their involuntary contributions was to allow of their making a proper and devout use of that to the maintenance of which we compelled them to contribute. For these reasons he hoped the House would agree to the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. HUBBARD
said, that if a Bill had been introduced for turning the monarchy into a republic, or for enabling Cardinal Wiseman to officiate in Westminster Abbey, it could not be more inimical to the constitution of Church and State than this measure. In every way the Bill was objectionable. It invaded the freehold of the parish clergyman, encroached on the rights of the Church as an ecclesiastical corporation, infringed on her rules and discipline, and affronted the doctrines which she held. The hon. Baronet (Sir Morton Peto) said he brought forward this Bill on behalf of the Nonconformist bodies who, according to the last published census, constituted the majority of Her Majesty's subjects. He should like to know on what pretence the hon. Baronet made that assertion. To what census did he refer? No religious census had been taken in this country. One was, indeed, proposed last year by the Government, but it was refused by the Dissenters themselves. No doubt there existed what purported to be a statistical return of the accommodation afforded for public worship in England, but that document was not sanctioned by the Census Bill passed in 1851 by this House, and it had no Parliamentary authority whatever. The Registrar General said it was prepared in obedience to the instructions of the Government; but on inquiry the Home Secretary had stated 1035 that there were no instructions of which a copy could be found. The religious statistical returns which had been referred to were wholly unreliable, and were not to be accepted as proving that the Noncomformists were in a majority in Great Britain. But he thought he could show a very different result by the evidence of the Registrar General himself. By the latest returns of the Registrar General it appeared that the marriages celebrated in churches of the Establishment in one year amounted to 128,000, while the marriages celebrated in other places amounted to 28,000, or 82 and 18 per cent respectively. The scholars in Church of England schools were 1,187,000, against 362,000 in schools of all other denominations, or in the proportions of 77 and 23 per cent. In workhouses it appeared that 60,000 of the inmates were members of the Church of England, against 12,000 of all other denominations, or 84 per cent of Churchmen to 16 per cent of other persuasions. With such evidence before them it was preposterous to come forward and represent the Nonconformists as the majority of the people, when they did not exceed one-fourth of it at the utmost. But even of the minority all were not clients of the hon. Baronet. The Wesleyans were not, for their baptism was admitted by the Church, and their dead were received for burial in the churchyard. Even of the particular body with which the hon. Baronet was connected only the unbaptized were excluded. Assuming there to be a grievance which affected a few, was that grievance to be redressed in a manner that would cause pain and regret to the consciences and feelings of many? The argument of the hon. Baronet that the Bill was intended only to assimilate the law with that of Ireland had been disposed of by the right hon. Member for Oxford University; and he (Mr. Hubbard) denied that there was any affinity between the cases. The Irish Bill, moreover, was merely a permissive Bill. The noble Lord (Lord Henley) had spoken as though the Wesleyans and Baptists were the only bodies affected by the Bill; but the Bill did not contain any such limitation, and if it had, an outcry would soon be raised by those whom it did not comprehend. Indeed, he (Mr. Hubbard) principally objected to the Bill, that if it gave any licence to infringe on the exclusive rights of the Church, that licence must be practically unlimited. Under its provisions there might be ceremonials in our churchyards 1036 which would not only be offensive to the feelings of Churchmen, but be provocative of riots and disorders. At St. George's-in-the-East there was buried a short time since the body of an unfortunate woman who committed suicide. The burial, of course, as in all such cases, took place without the Church service, but it was attended by about one hundred of the frail sisterhood to which the deceased had belonged, who were dressed all in white, and who graced by the expression of their sympathy what they considered to be the fitting end of such a life. Under this Bill any churchyard might be the scene of similar events, but accompanied with speeches in honour of the deceased. The Bill, he thought, too, was unconstitutional, as it would interfere with the discipline of the Church of England, which was the sole legal representative of Christianity in this kingdom. No man had affirmed this truth in clearer terms than one who was himself an ardent advocate of civil and religious liberty. Lord Brougham had stated in a speech delivered in the House of Lords on the 1st of August, 1833—That which has been said to be part of the law of the land, because that which the law protects and cherishes, that with which many parts of the law are blended, that upon which part of the Constitution rests is the Christianity, not of the Presbyterians, Unitarians, Baptists or Papists, but the Christianity of the Church of England as by law established.That is what the law of England has recognized and established. It tolerates the other systems of belief and discipline, and gives their professors the civil rights and civil privileges of all citizens, but that which as a system of faith and discipline the law patronizes and establishes is the doctrine and ceremonial of the Church."—[See 3 Hansard, xx., 29.]But what would be the real effect and consequences of passing such a Bill as this? Although the hon. Baronet had taken up this Bill upon his own responsibility, yet it must be remembered that it had been approved by the Liberation Society, whose objects were too well known to need repetition. He did not mean to say that this Bill was their immediate production, for the hon. Baronet had disclaimed that idea, and had stated that he did not bring it forward in a spirit of hostility to the Church; but he (Mr. Hubbard) must say that the hon. Baronet totally misconceived the subject with which he proposed to deal. The Church of England did not spring up in 1630, or in 1530, but traces its origin from the Great Founder of our religion; it cannot deny the doctrines, it cannot tamper with the 1037 order and discipline which are essential to its integrity, and without which it would cease to be a Church. Its members had faith to animate and conscience to guide them; they believed in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. They looked upon the graves of their friends with affectionate reverence, for they knew that their bodies would rise again at the last day; and they viewed with horror and dismay the idea of their resting-places being trodden over by unholy feet. There were cemeteries which were open to all; if they were insufficient let their number be increased; but he protested against an attempt, supported on false and inadequate pretences, to violate the rights and affront the reverent and conscientious feelings of Churchmen. He should give his entire opposition to the second reading.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
I cannot agree with the hon. Member who has just spoken in thinking that the comparative number of members of the Church of England and of Dissenters has any material bearing upon this question. Neither can I admit that there is any constitutional objection to the second reading of this Bill, seeing that there is upon the statute book the Act called Lord Plunkett's Act, which, although differing in details, is essentially the same in spirit. But I think it is most important, before the House comes to any decision, that we should understand the precise nature of the grievance complained of, and that is only to be found by ascertaining the precise state of the law. I find in Burn's Ecclesiastical Law it is laid down that by the 68th Canon no minister shall refuse to bury any corpse that is brought to the church or churchyard in such manner and form as is provided in the Book of Common Prayer, and that the soil of the churchyard being enclosed and laid out at the expense of the parish, there is a common law right in all the parishioners to interment there; that the corpse may be brought to the churchyard, and that the clergyman is bound to allow it to be interred there, and is also bound to perform the service, with three exceptions; first, if the person should be excommunicate; secondly, if he should have laid violent hands upon himself; or, again, if he should be unbaptized. I believe that if a person died with expressions of unbelief, yet that, if not excommunicate, he would still he entitled to burial by the Church. What was laid down in the Ru- 1038 bric, which was part of the Book of Common Prayer, and which had the force of an Act of Parliament? That no clergyman was bound to read the burial service over the body of any person who had not been baptized. That exclusion was not confined to, or in any way directed against, Nonconformists. If the parents of a child who are themselves members of the Church of England should neglect to have it baptized, and that child should die, the clergyman is entitled to refuse to read the Burial Service. But as to the majority of Dissenters, their baptismal rites are as valid as if performed by a clergyman of the Church of England, and if the hon. Member for Finsbury had not stated it I should have been unwilling to believe that any clergyman of the Church was so ignorant, so little versed in the divinity of his own Church, as not to know that the Church of England recognizes lay baptism. It is entirely immaterial whther the person who baptises is in orders or not. Sir John Nicholl laid it down that a child baptized with water in the name of the Holy Trinity was entitled to Christian burial; and by the 68th Canon the burial of such child is obligatory upon the clergyman. In later times there has been a decision of the Privy Council, in the case of Bestow v. Martin, affirming the decision of Sir John Nicholl. Therefore the grievance complained of now is one that is common to both Churchmen and Dissenters whose children are not baptized, and it is not peculiarly a Dissenters' grievance. No doubt there is one class of Dissenters who by their tenets are peculiarly liable to be brought within the operation of this exclusion—I mean the Baptist body, who do not bold infant baptizm, and any child who died before reaching the age at which according to them it is right to grant baptism would not be entitled to have the Burial Service read over it. That class does, undoubtedly, labour under a hardship from the existing law. But I do not think it is wise in any clergyman of the Established Church to be too exact in scrutinizing the fact whether baptism has been duly administered or not. If greater strictness upon that point has been observed of late, it seems to me to be very unfortunate, because when such questions are raised the minds of relatives and friends of the deceased become naturally excited, and unpleasant reflections follow. I think clergymen would be more discreet, and would not fail in their duty, if they were not to be over nice in raising these un- 1039 pleasant, not to say scandalous, discussions. But I must say I feel a difficulty as to the extensive measure which is proposed, and which goes much beyond the provisions of the Irish Act, allowing the representative of any deceased person to call in any one, not being a clergyman of the Church of England, to celebrate a funeral service. There is no restriction at all. Roman Catholics perform the religious portion of their burial services in their chapels, and in Scotland, where consecration is not regarded, the same course is followed. The case of the Church of England seems to be peculiar in attaching importance to the performance of the Burial Service in the churchyard. Looking at the law and the practice, I must say that I am not prepared to give my assent to so extensive a change, as it appears to me that the grievance complained of is not limited to Dissenters. Although I deplore that clergymen should refuse to read the Burial Service when it is desired, yet this Bill would establish a principle with respect to the use of churches and churchyards which would be inconsistent with our law; for it must be remembered that although there is a common law right in all parishioners to be buried in the churchyard, yet the performance of the Burial Service is a matter of the ecclesiastical law. The result of passing this Bill would be to throw open the churchyards indiscriminately to all classes of religionists, and to make churchyards what the cemeteries are under the Burial Acts. Those Acts provide consecrated ground for Churchmen, and unconsecrated ground for those who do not conform to the usages of the Church. Under those Acts all large towns are provided for, and although this question may occasionally arise in rural districts, still the instances are not frequent. This Bill would make an universal alteration, and would go far beyond the requirements of the case, and, therefore, I feel it my duty to vote against the second reading.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
said, the Baptists and the Quakers alone had a grievance to complain of, and he agreed with the right hon. Baronet that in dealing with the case of Baptists' children, clergymen acted unwisely in scrutinizing too minutely the fact of baptism. But what, did this Bill do? It threw open all churchyards to all kinds of persons, some of whom adopted ceremonies with which the public generally were not acquainted. What was the mode of celebrating a Jumper's funeral 1040 or a Quaker's funeral? He believed that there were Parsees in London, and the custom of those people was to bury their dead by burning. The quaint practices of some of the sects were most offensive to a Christian people. If the Bill were passed, it was not impossible that Cardinal Wiseman might walk into Westminster Abbey and celebrate mass there. It might, to be sure, be said that Westminster Abbey was not a parish church, nevertheless the provisions of the measure were wide enough in their meaning to justify such a use being made of Westminster Abbey. A right was given by the Bill to any one to celebrate a funeral service; but the place where it was to be performed was not expressed, and it was known to all that the chief portion of the Roman Catholic funeral service took place within the church before proceeding to the grave. It should be recollected that that magnificent cathedral was originally consecrated by the Roman Catholics, and the record of its consecration was still held good by the Roman Catholics for all purposes of their religion. Now, such a result would infallibly lead to breaches of the public peace, and possibly to bloodshed and disorders of every kind. This Bill was one of the attempts of the Dissenters to destroy the Church of England. Two modes had been adopted for that end. One was to destroy entirely the temporalities of the Church, but the second was a more insidious one. It was a demand, not for depriving the Church of its temporalities, but that those temporalities should be shared between the Nonconformists and the Established Church. Now if the House passsd this Bill its direct tendency would be, after admitting the Dissenters into the churchyards, to pass them on into the church itself. Dissenters might, no doubt, go through the outward ceremony of reading the Bible and singing hymns in the churchyard, but if a rain or hail storm came on, it would be considered the height of bigotry to prevent them entering the church and reading their service there. And if they had the power of selecting any time they pleased for a funeral, they might select Sunday; and thus, step by step, they would obtain possession of the church. He knew that in Germany and Switzerland the services of different religious denominations were celebrated beneath the same roof. He would not inquire what was the general effect of this practice—that question was not before the House; and his objection to the measure 1041 was precisely this—that it did not lay down clearly the direction in which they were going. If they were going in that direction, it should be done by a distinct proposal, and then he was prepared to discuss the question fairly. But so long as the attacks upon the Church were insidiously disguised under the appearance of a more innocent proposal, such as the one before the House, he should unhesitatingly resist them from the outset.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that the noble Lord who had just sat down seemed to him to he so filled with a fear with regard to the Established Church that he was not able to take a reasonable view of any measure affecting it that might be brought before the House. When any measure of this kind was under discussion he endeavoured to frighten the House with the old hobgoblin argument; and now he asked the House to believe that his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury had some dark design of overthrowing the Established Church. He (Mr. Bright) did not believe in the least in the success of any attempts on the part of Nonconformists to overthrow the Established Church. If it were any consolation to the noble Lord, he was free to say to him, that if the Established Church should be overthrown it would be overthrown from the growth of religious zeal within its own bosom, and the differences of opinion coming to a crisis, which differences of opinion now they knew greatly to prevail. He thought the promoters of the Bill ought to feel indebted to the right hon. Gentleman, the Home Secretary, for his speech, though they were not to congratulate themselves on his vote. He had stated exactly the state of the law and the grievance that had existed; but he had not estimated the full magnitude of the grievance if confined only to the Baptist body. He (Mr. Bright) should state to the House that he believed there were about three thousand congregations of that body in this country, and, therefore, though the grievance in respect to terms might be mitigated, yet they must all know it was spread over almost all the parishes of England and Wales. He thought the hon. Baronet, the Member for the University (Sir William Heathcote) was hardly fair in the way in which he treated this Bill as compared with the Irish Act. He (Mr. Bright) admitted there was a considerable difference between the two, but the object to be attained was in each case precisely the same; and were he one of the promoters of the Bill, if the House 1042 would go into Committee he would have no objection to give all the securities to clergymen of the Established Church by this Bill which were given in Ireland. If the House would permit he would read the clause in the Irish Act, which would help to come to a thorough understanding on this question. The clause stated that from and after the passing of that Act it should be lawful for the officiating minister of the Church of Ireland as by law established, upon application made to him in writing by any clergyman or minister of any church or congregation not being the Established Church in Ireland, duly authorized by law to officiate in such church, stating the death of any member of such church or congregation, for permission to perform the burial service at the grave of such person according to the rights of such church or congregation, to grant permission accordingly; provided always that such permission should be in writing, and that, in order to prevent any interruption or interference with the celebration of any rites of the Church of Ireland by law established, such interment and service should be celebrated at such time as should be appointed by such officiating minister. The Bill went on further to state in the next clause that if the minister of the Church of England withheld that permission, the same should be specially and distinctly declared in writing by the officiating minister, one copy of the declaration to be delivered to the person making the application, and another to be transmitted to the Bishop of the diocese, and afterwards sent to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. With regard to the latter part he did not mean to discuss it. But the permission having been obtained, ministers of any religious body other than the Established Church could perform the funeral service in the churchyard, with the further condition that the funeral should not be held at a time inconvenient to the ordinary services of the Church. The object of furnishing a copy of the refusal of the clergyman to allow the performance of the funeral service was that no frivolous objections should be raised. But this mode of application and refusal had now fallen for the most part into desuetude. No one found the least inconvenience from the funeral taking place in the parish church of the bodies of those who belonged to sects not connected with the Established Church, and whose ministers performed services such as those concerned thought it most desirable to have. That being the case in Ireland he wanted 1043 to know what was the objection felt to allow it to be done in England? An hon. Gentleman opposite moved the other day an Amendment to a Bill that was rejected by the House, in which he declared that it was essential with regard to the marriage law that there should be one uniform practice throughout the United Kingdom. Here they had with regard to burial a practice existing in Ireland which did not exist in England; and his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury proposed to establish in spirit the same state of things in England which existed in Ireland. But, moreover, he (Mr. Bright) appealed to Gentlemen from Scotland what was the practice in their country. In Scotland, as many hon. Members must know, in the Presbyterian Church, there was no regular settled and ordered burial service; but he (Mr. Bright) believed that it was customary now for members of the Episcopalian Church of England, or any of the well-known dissenting bodies in Scotland, to be buried in the parish church yards just as freely as those in connection with the Established Church in Scotland. In that country and in Ireland there had not followed from this course any of those great disasters which the noble Lord (Lord R. Cecil) pictured as likely to arise, should the House agree to this Bill. If that be so, he wished to know whether the House would not agree to read this Bill a second time, for the purpose of making it in Committee more like that Act which the House passed some years ago with regard to Ireland? The object of his hon. Friend was that they should give to all their parishioners—it was a common name, they were all parishioners—whatever their peculiar condition with respect to religious belief, or to the particular religious body in communion with which they might happen to die, their parish, and what might be called their citizen and national, right of being buried in their parish churchyard. There was no intention of doing anything that would sap the Church of England by a Bill of this nature. Was the Church of England an institution so tottering and insecure that they could not permit a Baptist to be buried in one of its churchyards with a Baptist prayer without its being threatened with destruction. He agreed with the noble Lord that by consenting to a Bill in the spirit of the Irish Act they would remove one of those things which was a disgrace—he would not say—to their Church, but to religion, when it happened, as in several parishes it had hap- 1044 pened within a recent period. He believed they might do many little things of this nature to lessen the asperity which unfortunately existed among different sects; and he felt that it would be infinitely better for the Church of England itself that the House should consent to such a measure, with the alteration which he had suggested—should consent to what he should term a healing measure, not injurious to the Church, but beneficial to the harmony of parishes, and of advantage to religion itself.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, it seemed to him that this measure was not applicable to the grievance alleged to exist. The right hon. Gentleman, the Home Secretary, referred to the ignorance of the law amongst certain clergymen of the Church of England. He (Mr. Newdegate) felt much indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for exposition of the law which he had given; it was a lamentable fact, that there did exist this ignorance, and a want of uniformity in the practice of clergymen of the Church of England, which was much to be deplored. He had sometimes observed what he considered a grievous want of charity manifested by clergymen, who, by reason of some technicality, refused to read the burial service of the Church of England over the bodies of their departed brethren. There was another indication of a great want. The Church needed that her internal jurisdiction should be revived. There were really no legal means, under certain circumstances, by which Churchmen were enabled to vindicate their neighbours whether Churchmen or Dissenters or themselves against imputations cast upon them by ministers and priests of the Church. This he looked upon as a great and growing want in the Church of England. Her internal jurisdiction had lapsed. This evil was the result of the policy of Parliament which had unduly reduced the incomes of their Prelates, so that the Bishops were justified in refusing to incur the expenses of Ecclesiastical trials, in one sense, which their incomes would not bear. He now wished to advert to another point. It was said that the Roman Catholics would not avail themselves of the opportunities to extend and to give undue publicity to their religious services which this measure would avail. He should think very lightly of the Roman Catholic hierarchy if they did not. They were told that, although, this Act was intended especially to open the parish 1045 churchyards, that the Roman Catholics were very sensitive on the point of burial-grounds being consecrated by their own Church and would not use them. But the old parish churchyards were all consecrated when England was Roman Catholic, and, consequently, the hierachy and priests of that Church would look upon their consecration as valid. The Roman Catholics looked upon the Church of England, however unjustly, as having usurped their rights and property in the fabrics of the Church; and unless the Legislature maintained the law which established the right of the Church of England to her churchyards, the Roman Catholics would he the very first parties to take advantage of our neglect. A case had not many years since occurred in his own neighbourhood which would show that the tendency of the Roman Catholics was to exaggerate upon the liberty afforded them. A procession had been formed in the burial-yard of a Roman Catholic chapel on a Sunday afternoon, and its destination was the house of a recently converted Roman Catholic gentleman about three miles thence. In its route it had to pass a churchyard and before a Dissenting chapel. The procession halted before the church, and then before this Dissenting chapel, and commenced in a loud voice singing," Ave Maria, pro his miseris peccatoribus ora." The result was a scene of great disorder. The services both of the Church and Dissenting chapel were disturbed; and on the return of the procesaion the population turned out and broke the procession up, the members composing it being compelled to walk away man by man. Similar results might be expected from the passing of the present Bill. He adverted to what had token place in his own neighbourhood. But need he remind the House that Lord Derby's first Government had been obliged to issue a proclamation against those religious processions? The laws of this country had already shown every consideration for the religious feelings of all classes and sects. They secured them in the exclusive possession of their places of worship, and in their rights to perform their respective services within their own precincts, and had provided them other burial grounds under the Cemeteries Acts. Surely, then, the Church of England alone, of all other sects, ought not to be denied the exclusive possession of her churches and her churchyards. He lamented that such a proposition as the one 1046 before the House should have come from the hon. Baronet opposite, whose honourable character he (Mr. Newdegate) fully appreciated. He should be glad if the hon. Baronet would reconsider the course he had taken, and would withdraw his Bill, which was unnecessarily offensive, and calculated to widen the breach between Dissenters and Churchmen which be (Mr. Newdegate) wished heartily to lessen.
§ MR. BUXTON
said, that there were very strong arguments in favour of the Bill. The Dissenters suffered a serious practical grievance under the present system; because, whereas, on the one hand, except in large towns, they were not generally in possession of burial grounds for themselves; on the other hand the law forbade clergymen to read a service over those who had not been baptised. That was no small grievance to the friends of the deceased. The noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil) fairly acknowledged the grievance, and said clergymen ought to wink with both eyes rather than inflict such an insult on Dissenters. But he (Mr. Buxton) hoped, in the words of Shakspere, that "their spirits were so finely touched" that, having taken an oath, they would feel bound to keep it. And yet without a breach of that oath they were not in a position to read the service for the unbaptized. It had been said that a grievance would he inflicted on members of the Church of England if a Jumper, or a Quaker, or a Hindoo, or a Mahommedan were buried in the churchyard. But that would not occur more than once in ten years, and surely it was not worth while to continue to inflict a serious grievance on Dissenters for so small a likelihood of grievance on Churchmen. As to collisions in churchyards they had the practical experience of Ireland and Scotland; and if collisions did not occur in Ireland they could hardly he expected to occur hero. He maintained that so long as Dissenters had to pay church rates, they were joint proprietors with Churchmen of the churchyards, and had a right to the privileges sought by this Bill. He did not think the measure was one which was a step towards taking possession of the property of the Church. On the contrary he was persuaded that, in removing a practical grievance of this sort, a more kindly feeling towards the Church would be produced, which would make her still more secure, which would root her still more deeply in the hearts of the people, and which would 1047 make her stand higher and better than she did now.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, it appeared to him that a minimum of grievance was sought to be redressed by a remedy which would produce a maximum of inconvenience; and he thought that instead of going into Committee on the Bill, this alone was a reason why the House should the rather press upon the promoters of the Bill to withdraw it, and to introduce another better adapted to carry out the object which they said they had in contemplation. The hon. Baronet, the Member for the University, who had moved the Amendment, in a speech which he must characterize as beautiful for tone, temper, feeling, and reasoning, had placed the subject in such a light that the hon. Member for Birmingham proposed, instead of taking the Bill itself, to substitute the Act of Parliament on the same subject relating to Ireland—in other words, to strike out all the clauses, and make an entirely new Bill. He objected to that kind of legislation. The House had been invited to the second reading of a Bill, and if clause after clause were in succession abandoned by its own supporters, that was a substantial reason for objecting to the second reading. The hon. Member who spoke last said the grievance proposed to be remedied by the Bill affected every Dissenter. But the hon. Member for the University of Oxford pointed out in a distinct manner that if it was a grievance to Dissenters it was a grievance to Churchmen also, for it applied to the burial of all unbaptized persons, whether Churchman or Dissenter, over whom the Clergyman could not perform the burial service of the Church of England. The House would have to determine two things: what were to be the regulations with regard to Churchmen, and what were to he the regulations with regard to Baptists. If the same law were applicable to both they would repeal the Act of Uniformity; if there was to be a different law as regarded Churchmen and Dissenters, there ought to he specified in the Bill what was the law applicable to each, and not confuse two things together which would really be distinct. Look also at the time chosen for the introduction of this measure. The grievance, small as it was, was daily diminishing. We were establishing cemeteries all over the kingdom with regard to which arrangements were made that the Nonconformists should not be aggrieved, for in every case a piece of 1048 unconsecrated ground was allotted to them for burial purposes. Then take the place where the ceremonies were to be performed. By the Bill it was to be not only the churchyard but any place substituted for the churchyard. It was to be extended, therefore, to any place endowed and consecrated for the purpose of sepulture by Churchmen, and Dissenters were to have a right to come there for funeral purposes. But there was not a Dissenter who might not have his own churchyard near his own place of worship. Then who were the persons in respect of whom this right was to be established? They were not to be members of the Church of England. Questions might arise, therefore, as to whether they were Churchmen or were not. Then as to the mode:—The permission was to be addressed only to the legal representatives of the deceased; but they might not be of his religion. The supporters of the measure were asking for the second reading of a Bill in order that the House might go into Committee upon it; not, however, to pass any one of the clauses, but, on the contrary, to strike them all out, and introduce an entirely new Bill. Under these circumstances he really hoped that the House would set its face against legislation of this kind. One word more. With regard to the natural desire which all must feel to lie in death near those to whom they had been attached in life, if any provision could be made for gratifying it, by all means let it be made, and he was sure that if a Bill were introduced for that purpose, properly drawn and under the sanction of the Government, it would meet with a ready acquiescence from that side of the House.
§ MR. BAINES
acknowledged with gratitude that the question had been discussed on both sides of the House in a spirit which was fitting in dealing with a subject involving the great topics of religion and death. He believed, however, that there were considerable objections to the details of the measure; and as hon. Gentlemen opposite, and the Members of the Government, seemed disposed to agree to a well-considered Bill to effect a reasonable and temperate redress of the evil which undoubtedly existed, he ventured to follow up the recommendation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole) and would suggest to his hon. Friend (Sir Morton Peto) that he should withdraw the present 1049 Bill, and then, with the aid of the Government and of gentlemen representing the Church, and also with the Irish Burials Bill before him, introduce a Bill which might pass with general assent. He would say a word or two on some subjects connected with the proposal. In the first place a doubt had been expressed as to the decent solemnity and sacredness with which the burial service would be performed by Nonconformist ministers if this Bill passed. Let him say that he believed there was no body of Christians on earth who would perform the funeral ceremony with more entire solemnity and sacredness, and more in the true spirit of religion, than those in whose behalf this Bill was sought. The hon. Baronet (Sir Morton Peto) had an especial claim on the House in regard to this matter. On his own estate he had, at a cost of several thousand pounds, rebuilt the parish church, and yet, as the law stood, if one of his own children were to die it might be excluded from Christian burial in the churchyard. That certainly entitled him to some consideration. One other point he (Mr. Baines) would mention. The body to which the hon. Baronet (Sir Morton Peto) belonged—the Baptists—were exposed to much religious persecution in various countries of Europe—Catholic and Lutheran, in consequence of their peculiar tenet. Should the House of Commons refuse to give a relief to the grievance under which the body laboured here it would seem to give a sanction to their persecution in other countries. He concluded by urging Sir Morton Peto to withdraw the Bill and bring in another.
§ SIR MORTON PETO
said, that he should have no objection to withdraw the Bill with the view of introducing it in another shape, provided the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford University would withdraw his Amendment. If the hon. Baronet could not do so, then he (Sir Morton Peto) would be obliged to go to a division. The noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil) said that clergymen would he wise if they would wink hard with both eyes, and not create a grievance in these matters. But the fact was they did not wink with both eyes. He was prepared to say that, in the 3,000 or 4,000 Baptist congregations in the kingdom, cases such as he had complained of were occurring every day, and the same was true with regard to the Wesleyans. He called attention to a case that had occurred at Burnham Thorpe. While the 1050 clergyman was reading the service over the body of a woman he ascertained that she had not been baptized, and refused to continue the service. The corpse was left there during the whole of the following week, and the clergymen asked the churchwarden to have the church fumigated before the Sunday service.
§ MR. DUNLOP
was surprised to hear the hon. Baronet's determination. There was no doubt that a great grievance existed which called for a remedy at the hands of Parliament.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
I hope that on reconsideration the hon. Member for the University will adopt the suggestion that he should withdraw his Amendment; and that the Bill will be withdrawn to give the hon. Member (Sir Morton Peto) an opportunity of introducing another Bill which will meet the admitted grievance in an unobjectionable manner. Before the hon. Member for Leeds had risen to make that suggestion I had expressed to some Friends near me an opinion that this was the course which the hon. Member for Finsbury ought to take. I thought, after that suggestion, and after the appeal of the hon. Member (Sir Morton Peto), who is the avowed representative in this House of the body which it is sought by this Bill to relieve—I had thought that the proposal would be acceded to. If, however, the hon. Baronet persists in going to a division, I, who had intended to vote against the Bill, shall be compelled to take another course, and to leave this House without recording any vote upon this question.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I confess I never listened to observations in this House with more surprise than those which have fallen from the right hon. Baronet who has just resumed his seat. I thought the right hon. Gentleman had risen, not only to make his appeal to the hon. Member for the University, but to give as a reason for making that appeal that the Government were prepared to fulfil that duty which before this they ought, in my opinion, to have undertaken, and to make the proposal which the strong expression of feeling on both sides of the House may be considered to have sanctioned. But what does the right hon. Gentleman do? The right hon. Baronet requests my hon. Friend to assent to a proposition which, in my opinion, is most unreasonable. He makes no pro- 1051 position to perform the duty of Government to guide the House in the difficult situation in which it is placed; but he requires merely that the House should consent that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Finsbury should have another opportunity of proving how unskilfully and how unsatisfactorily he can deal with the question. Were my hon. Friend the Member for the University prepared to concede to the unreasonable proposition of the hon. Member for Leeds it would not affect the purpose. I cannot for a moment believe that the hon. Gentleman would be permitted to withdraw the Bill with no security to the House that the very same Bill might not be reintroduced—according to the forms of the House the hon. Gentleman would have that opportunity—or altered in so slight a manner that it would not meet the spirit of the settlement of the question which has been indicated. Therefore there can be no doubt that the hon. Gentleman will not be permitted to withdraw this Bill, but, of course, it will be negatived. It is proposed that the hon. Member for Finsbury should have an opportunity of withdrawing his Bill, and that my hon. Friend the Member for the University should not be allowed to take the opinion of the House on his Amendment. The Government does not come forward to play its part and perform its duty. If the Government would say, under the circumstances, that they would undertake to bring forward a measure which, on the whole, and according to their judgment, would carry out the general feeling of the country on this question, my hon. Friend might be reasonably called upon to withdraw his Amendment; but, under the circumstances of the case, and the Government not having taken that course, I hope my hon. Friend will insist on his proposition, and press it to the vote.
§ MR. H. BAILLIE
wished to say one word with regard to what had been stated in the course of the debate in relation to Scotland. In Scotland the churchyards were not consecrated; and, therefore, there was no analogy between the two cases.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: —Ayes 155; Noes 236: Majority 81.
§ Words added.
§ Main Question as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Bill put off f or six months.
§ House adjourned at a quarter after Five o'clock.