§ Order for Second Reading read.
MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, it was perhaps unnecessary that he should remind the House that by the laws of England—unlike, in this respect, the laws of either Scotland or Ireland—the parish churchyard, although the property of every parishioner in this sense—that every parishioner, whatever might be his religious opinions, had an indefeasible right to be interred there, was absolutely closed against the ministrations of Nonconformist clergymen, and against the services of any other Church than the Church of England. And this exclusion was not, as was often supposed, a matter of privilege upon which the incumbent might or might not insist as he pleased; it was a matter of obligation which the law compelled him to enforce. Again, the same law which excluded the Dissenting minister from the churchyards compelled the incumbent to read the same form of Burial Service over every baptized parishioner—not being a felo de se,or an excommunicate person—whatever might have been the tenour of his life, the circumstances of his death, or the nature of his religious opinions. And when he spoke off unbaptized persons, he did not mean merely those who had been admitted by baptism into the pale of the Church of England; for the law as now clearly settled—with some inconsistency, he admitted—recognized for this purpose the validity of baptisms administered by Dissenting clergymen, by laymen, and even by women. He used the word "inconsistency" deliberately, for could anything be more inconsistent than that a man should be required, on one day of the week, to devote a heretical parishioner to everlasting perdition, and, on another day of the week, to commit the same man's body to the ground in the sure and certain hope of a blessed resurrection? On the other hand, in the case of unbaptized persons—from whatever cause or accident the omission to celebrate the rite might have arisen—the law absolutely prohibited any 514 funeral service whatsoever—in fact, it treated the unconscious infant who died before the rite could be administered, and the conscientious Dissenter, who from religious scruples objected to its administration, with less tenderness than the malefactor who perished by the hand of justice, or the reprobate who had lived and died in avowed defiance of all laws of God and man. In this respect this country stood almost alone among civilized nations, for in countries long the strongholds of priestly intolerance—the Legislature had lately sanctioned, nay, enjoined, the performance of certain religious ceremonies over the graves of unbaptized persons; so that, in this respect at least, it would seem that even Italy—benighted and Catholic Italy—was more tolerant than enlightened and Protestant England. That such a state of things should have continued down to the present day was mainly due to the fact that a considerable proportion of our population was practically unaffected by it. In most towns of England the parish churchyard had long given way to the parochial cemetery, in the unconsecrated portions of which Dissenters might be, and, of course, constantly were, buried by their own ministers and with their own religious rites. But in rural parishes where the parish churchyard was still and was long likely to be the sole place of interment, the pressure of the present law was felt in all its severity; and lest it should be thought that the area of the grievance of which he complained was but limited, and its operation but slight, he might, perhaps, usefully remind the House that the parishes unprovided with parochial cemeteries were to those so provided in the proportion of 16,000 to 600, or about twenty-five to one. It was far, indeed, from his wish to say one single word in disparagement of that beautiful Burial Service of the Church of England, which few Churchmen could listen to without emotion; but it must be borne in mind that these things were matter of association and temperament, and that language which to himself, a Churchman, appeared all but inspired, to a Dissenter might appear cold, meaningless, and conventional. And putting these considerations quite out of the question, there was surely something very natural in the desire, so common in every age and in every country, and 515 which was so largely shared by the Dissenters of this country, that the religious ceremony performed over a man's grave should be performed by the minister who instructed him in health, who advised him in tribulation, and consoled him in death, and that the closing scene of his career on earth should be in harmony and in keeping with the dearest and most cherished associations of his life. He never knew how strong and how deep this feeling was among Dissenters until it was brought home to him by a very painful incident which occurred at a funeral in his own neighbourhood about a year ago—that of the Rev. Henry Rees, one of the brightest ornaments of the Welsh Calvinistic community, who died, as he had lived, respected—venerated—not only by the members of his own communion, but by good men who knew him of every communion. His funeral presented one of those remarkable spectacles rarely seen out of Wales, The funeral procession was swelled by thousands of poor country people, many of whom had walked twenty, and oven thirty miles to pay this last tribute to his memory. But when the procession arrived at Llandysilio Churchyard, the rector of the parish—standing, no doubt, on his strict rights—positively refused to allow any expression of feeling on the part of the vast multitude assembled, except the singing of a hymn selected by himself, and this being declined, the body was deposited in the grave amid that enforced silence. It was impossible to describe the painful impression created by this incident, not only in the neighbourhood where it occurred, but throughout the whole of Wales—no single circumstance which had occurred within the last ninety years had done more to widen the gulf already wide enough between Churchmen and Dissenters in that locality, or to shake the already weakened and tottering fabric of the Church in Wales. In this case, at least, there was no actual breach of the peace, or other unseemly demonstration. But such scenes might and did occur under the present law. The hon. and learned Member then read from a local newspaper an account of what occurred in the case of John Alcock, a parishioner of Cauldon, a rural parish in the centre of England. This man, who was a Dissenter, died on the 25th September, 1863, of age and paralysis. On 516 the following Sunday the corpse was taken to the parish church for interment, in the usual way; but the incumbent, the Rev. Rowland Henniker, refused to perform the service—conduct for which he assigned no reason. Appeal being made to the Bishop of Lich-field, he wrote an expostulatory letter to Mr. Henniker; who thereon gave permission to the parish clerk to put the body in the grave, but refusing himself to read the burial service. This was communicated to the Bishop, who wrote requesting the parish clerk and churchwarden to get the nearest clergyman to bury the body, and promising to indemnify him. The Rev. Mr. Ward undertook the duty; but Mr. Henniker got; possession of the keys of the church, and refused to permit him to do so. The relatives of the deceased, fearing that the corpse might be clandestinely put into a grave by night, kept watch and ward; and for some time the churchyard was more like the scene of a not than consecrated ground. At length Mr. Ward determined to perform the service without the incumbent's consent; they accordingly proceeded to the church with the relatives, and took possession of the corpse; but Mr. Henniker quickly arrived, stripped the surplice off Mr. Ward, and looked himself into the church. Mr. Ward then performed the service in the churchyard, and the poor man was buried, having been kept above ground fourteen days. Here was another case. At the petty sessions, at Smallburgh, Norfolk, the Rev. E. P. Neale, vicar of Horsey, charged Joseph Fish and Ann Nockolds, two of his parishioners, with having, on the 29th August, 1860, been—Guilty of indecent behaviour in the church, yard of the said parish of Horsey, by then and there singing on the way to and at the grave of an unbaptized child, by which singing the said E. P. Neale was then and there vexed and troubled."The act of indecency," which vexed and troubled the sensitive soul of this reverend gentleman, was thus described. The defendants, who "were religious, God-serving people," without wishing to annoy the vicar—Carried the child to the churchyard, and feeling it hard that they should not be allowed to go in, not understanding Mr. Neale's reasons, knelt down outside in the road, and there offered up prayer. They then rose, and in orderly procession walked to the grave, where they sang the hymn commencing 'Alas! how soon the body dies!'517 The Bench held that "an act of indecency" had clearly been committed, and thought they acted, leniently in inflicting a fine of Is. only, and 26s. costs, or in default three days' imprisonment! He would quote another case, because it showed to what a shocking length the law might be strained without being broken. At Hinderwell, near Guisborough, a woman was delivered of twins. One of them died in a few minutes, and the doctor, seeing that the other would not live, baptized it. It also died in a few hours, and then both the little ones were placed in the same coffin. The fact, unfortunately, came to the knowledge of the clergyman, and he insisted that the body of the un-baptized should be placed in one, and of the lay-baptized infant in a second coffin. When the interment took place, the person carrying the coffin containing the unbaptized infant was ordered to stand at a little distance from the grave, and when the service had been read over the other child, and the clergyman had got a proper distance, the other child was placed in its last resting-place! And this ghastly exhibition of clerical intolerance occurred not in the 15th century, but in the year of grace 1860, in one of the wealthiest and most highly favoured counties of England. In these cases the clergyman had the law on his side; but very often the case was reversed—the tables were turned, and it was the clergyman who violated the law. He referred to those cases—unfortunately not uncommon—where incumbents, in direct defiance of the law, have refused to read the funeral service of the Church over baptized Dissenters. No doubt in these cases the aggrieved relatives—like all other aggrieved persons in this country—have their remedy. No doubt they might cite the offending incumbent before the Court of Arches—they might appeal from thence to the Privy Council—they might spend some thousand pounds, and several years of their lives in that useful and exhilarating process—and, by that means, they might obtain a decision of two Archbishop's, throe or four Law Lords, and any number of Privy Councillors in their favour, and they have the satisfaction of going down to posterity as the plaintiffs in a leading case. But it could hardly be wondered at that poor ignorant people, without friends and without funds, should shrink 518 from invoking so terrible a remedy as that. Or they might write to the Bishop, in which case they would probably get the stereotyped answer, that "his Lordship is very sorry, but that it is not in his power to interfere." Or lastly, they might write to the newspapers, and invoke the aid of the Press. And what were they likely to gain by that? Why everybody who had the misfortune to know a clergyman of that stamp, knew that he did not care a rush for public opinion. He held it to be part of his duty to defy public opinion, and he revelled in doing so—and as for making him amenable to public opinion, they might as well try to wound a rhinoceros with a pea-shooter. Therefore, he said, that a clergyman who chose to defy the law in that respect, practically did so with impunity. In a pamphlet entitled A Plea for Free Churchyards,Mr. Williams, who had taken a great interest in this subject, had given several remarkable instances of this practice, which, as they had not been contradicted, he presumed to be true. The hon, and learned Member read several of these cases—among them one in which the incumbent refused to bury a baptized Unitarian, on the ground that "Unitarians are not Christians;" and another in which, the body of a child being at the side of the grave, the certificate was declared to be informal; and while the father went away to obtain advice, the clerk was instructed to put the child in the grave, on the ground, that, as the body had been left in his freehold, it had become the clergyman's property. He thought, then, it was apparent from what he had stated that, whatever might be the merits or demerits of any Bill, the law which it sought to amend was not only unsatisfactory, but intolerable. And this had been expressly admitted in this House in former debates, by speakers on both sides of the House. In 1863, in particular, a speech was made on the second reading of Sir Morton Peto's Burial Bill—a Bill similar in purpose to that which he had introduced—which, both from the position and authority of the speaker, and the value of the sentiments it contained, deserved the attention of the House. He would quote a short extract from it—If the Dissenter has access to the churchyard, it is subject to the condition of having the service of the Church read over his remains; and I must 519 confess that that is not a state of the law which is consistent with those principles of civil and religious freedom on which, for a series of years, our legislation has been based. I do not see that there is sufficient reason why, after having agreed most properly that the entire community should have the power of professing and practising what form of faith they pleased during life, we should say to their relatives, after they are dead, we will at last lay hands upon yon, and not permit you to enjoy the privilege of being buried in the churchyard where the remains, perhaps, of your ancestors repose—at all events where you are parishioners—unless yon appear there as a member of the Church of England, and have the service of the Church of England read over your remains. That appears to be an inconsistency and an anomaly in the present state of the law, and is in the nature of a grievance.Those were the words of the right hon. Gentleman the present Prime Minister of England. He was glad to see his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in his place. He hoped he came there to endorse the sentiments of his Chief. As he had already stated to the House, the law of England differed in this respect from the law of Ireland. The burial laws of Ireland, as the House was aware, had recently been altered; but, even before that alteration, the burial laws of Ireland were far more favourable to Nonconformists than the burial laws of England; for by an Act passed in 1824 (Lord Plunket's Act), Roman Catholic priests and Dissenting ministers were admitted to officiate in parish churchyards, provided they obtained the permission of the incumbent—a permission which, as a general rule, was readily granted. But, because, at a time when religious feeling ran high, a few clergymen in Ulster refused this permission, the Legislature thought a grievance had been made out, and it passed only two years ago an Irish Act exactly similar in principle to this Bill; so that, in fact, in asking the House to assent to this Bill, he was only asking the House to assimilate the burial laws of England to those which already prevailed in Ireland. The first six clauses of the Bill were intended to put an end to the unseemly conflicts and collisions which sometimes occurred in churchyards, and on which he had already sufficiently dwelt. These were matters of detail which might, if necessary, be altered in Committee. The 7th clause, for which he had been severely attacked where he expected support, secured the burial fees to the incumbent—it simply left existing rights untouched. It might be thought that if they relieved the in- 520 cumbent from performing the service they ought not to pay him for the work which he no longer did. But the fee was paid him—not for the performance of the burial service—but for the right of breaking open the ground, which, undoubtedly, was his freehold. But there was a more serious argument in favour of retaining the clause; for it was obvious that if they took away the incumbent's burial fees, they did to a limited extent, and by a side-wind, disendow the Church, and however anxious many of his hon. Friends might be to see the question of the disendowment and disestablishment of the Church raised at the proper time, and in the proper shape, few, he apprehended, would care to see so great a question raised in so piecemeal and fragmentary a manner. He came now to the 8th clause, which required a little more detailed consideration. This clause threw upon the poor rates the expense of maintaining the parish churchyards—putting them, in fact, entirely upon the same footing in this respect as parochial cemeteries. Now, it seemed to him that this clause met the only valid objection which he had heard urged against the Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield), that it was not just that Dissenters should use the ground for which they did not pay, and that if all enjoyed a common benefit, all might fairly be expected to bear the burden of this benefit. And, accordingly, when he obtained leave to bring in the Bill, he stated, somewhat rashly, as the event showed, that he thought this was a clause to which no one on either side of the House could object. But he had no sooner done so than his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope), who was too honest a foeman to accept even a gift from an enemy, rose in his place, and avowed his objection to the clause upon the ground that it revived the obsolete and exploded question of church rates. Now, he had not the honour of a seat in that House during the period of the church-rate agitation; but if he remembered rightly, the main objection to church rates was grounded upon this—that it was unjust to compel a Dissenter to contribute to the cost of a building, which he not only never entered, but could not conscientiously enter. But how did this reasoning apply if church- 521 yards were thrown open to Dissenters upon equal terms with Churchmen, and how could parish churchyards so thrown open be put, logically, upon a different footing from parochial cemeteries? How ever, as the clause seemed to be as unpalatable to his Nonconformist supporters as it was to hon. Gentlemen opposite, and as it in no way affected the principle of the Bill, he should certainly not think of pressing it, if the Bill went into Committee. But, in that case, it would be necessary to provide some other means for keeping churchyards in repair; for since the abolition of church rates, he was told that, in many places, they had fallen into a state which was a positive scandal to the country, and which no Dissenter who was admitted to the benefits of this Bill would wish to see perpetuated. That was the whole of the Bill; for the other two clauses were only formal. He did not say that it was a perfect Bill. He did not say that it was not a Bill which might not be usefully amended in Committee; but he did say that it was an honest attempt to settle a vexed question upon a just basis. He must now say a word about a proposal which he understood was about to be made by several hon. Gentlemen who were friends to the principles of the Bill, that it should be referred to a Select Committee. He frankly avowed that he had no faith in Select Committees, as a means of dealing with such Bills as these. In cases where intricate legal rights were involved, as in the case of the Bill which stood next on the Paper—the Married Women's Property Bill—Select Committees might do much good; but for that purpose its members must have a common stand-point, and must be able to meet upon a common ground. Now, that was exactly what, he feared, no Select Committee could do in this case, and, unfortunately, they had a precedent which was not at all favourable to such a course. In 1862 Sir Morton Peto's Bill, which was similar in principle to the present Bill, was referred to a Select Committee, and it came out of that ordeal so changed that its best friends hardly know it again, and those who did scarcely cared to recognize its features. Nor did he see anything which a Select Committee could do for this Bill which could not be done in a Committee of the Whole House. If objections were brought against the Bill, he would endeavour to meet them, and if he could 522 not meet them, he would yield them; but let the matter be fought out here, in open day, and let them not be sent upstairs to be slaughtered in the dark. The objections which might be taken to the Bill were, as he conceived, four in number. First, there was the old argument about the Bill being an invasion of the rights of the incumbent, in whom, no doubt, the freehold of the churchyard, was vested; but that argument was founded upon an entire fallacy. It was quite true that the freehold of the churchyard was vested in the incumbent; but for whose benefit? Not for his own. Nobody contended that he was entitled to a monopoly of the whole churchyard. Nor was it for the purpose of the Church generally. The churchyard was vested in the rector for the use and be-hoof of all his parishioners, irrespectively of their religious opinions; and that trust, being a public trust, might, of course, be varied and modified by the Legislature as they thought fit. The incumbent had, indeed, certain rights of his own in the churchyard—he had a right to receive his accustomed burial fees, which right the Bill carefully preserved to him; and he had also the right, if they could call it a right, the barren—he had almost said the odious right—of insisting upon reading over the grave of a Dissenter a form of service which was, perhaps, the most touching message of peace and consolation ever composed by man, when it fell upon softened and sympathetic hearts, but which became a cold and cruel mockery when addressed to unwilling ears. But beyond that he had no interest whatever in the churchyard, except what the lawyers called the dry legal estate. Then it was said that Dissenters ought to provide themselves with graveyards of their own; but, surely, such a suggestion was, upon the face of it, unpractical. Would it be a seemly thing—would it be desirable upon sanitary or pecuniary grounds, that every thinly - populated rural parish should be furnished with two or more graveyards? In town districts, perhaps, such a proposal would be feasible; but, in town districts, the Bill would have no operation. Again, it was said, that if the Bill was passed there would be no safeguard against the occurrence of riotous and unseemly scenes at funerals; but the 5th clause provided such a safeguard—and, what was more, he did not 523 believe such a safeguard would ever be needed. As he had already pointed out, Dissenting ministers officiated both in Irish churchyards and in parochial cemeteries, and in no case had it ever been suggested that anything of the kind had occurred; and even, if the case were otherwise, he thought some of the scenes he had described as happening at Hinderwell and Cauldon, and other places, might fairly be set off against any consequences which the most timid imagination might conjure up as likely to flow from the passing of that Bill. The last objection was one with which he found it somewhat difficult to deal. It was said that the churchyard was ground consecrated by the Bishop, and that all loyal Churchmen would resent as a desecration its invasion by the minister of any Disssenting connection. If that argument were worth anything at all, one would think it might be used against the burial of a Dissenter in a churchyard, to which, however, no reasonable man thought of objecting. But instead of bandying these kind of arguments, which were scarcely becoming the importance of the subject, he thought it best to rest his answer to the objection upon the feeling which was growing up in favour of such a measure as this—not only among Churchmen, but among a considerable portion of the English clergy themselves—not such as those whose conduct he had described, but earnest and hard-working clergymen, who, for the most part, were as tolerant as they were hard-working—for, depend upon it, the same cause which nerved a man to his work also softened and enlarged his heart—those earnest and hardworking clergymen who were the heart and the brain of the Church of England; and but for whom the Church of England would, long ere this, have been swept into the sea. And what were the facts? In June, 1851, 3,814 clergymen memorialized the Episcopal Bench for a change in the burial laws, delaring them to be "the occasion of a grievous scandal to many Christian people." Again, on the 1st of April, 1863, 3,014 clergymen petitioned the other House for the same purpose, and Lord Ebury moved for the appointment of a Royal Commission to consider the subject. These men, no doubt, felt that the law placed them in a false and cruel position—that they were blamed where the law ought to be blamed—and they 524 demanded a change in the law, not only as an act of justice to Dissenters, but as an act of justice to themselves; and since this Bill was printed he had. received several letters from clergymen written in the same spirit, and he was convinced that these sentiments were gradually gaining ground in this country. He was persuaded that the time was rapidly coming—nay, he believed it had already come—when good and earnest men of all religions were beginning to look rather to that which unites them than to that which divided them—rather to the spirit which made them one, than to the letter which kept them asunder. And if there was a moment in life which ought to be identified and bound up with those higher and nobler feelings—surelyit was that solemn moment when, standing as it were on the border-land of life and death, they were met together over the newly-opened grave of one whom they loved, in life and mourned in death, to forget for a while the bitterness of a common loss in the consolations of a common hope. It was to that better, that higher—that more Christian spirit that he appealed on behalf of that Bill—the spirit which bade the petty discords, and the jealousies, and the animosities of fleeting life be hushed in the presence of death—the spirit which prompted that noble epitaph which, in their great national mausoleum, marked the spot where, side by side, repose the two greatest of England's statesmen—Hi motus animorum atque hæc certamina tanta Pulveris exigui jactu composta quiescunt.He left the Bill in the hands of the House. It was certainly not a measure like those they had lately been discussing—a measure fraught with political significance—or big with social reforms. And yet he thought it a measure not unworthy the attention of legislators and statesmen. For it was a measure which had for its object to soothe the severity of sorrows which, God knows, were hard enough to bear without being aggravated by cruel laws—to minister peace and consolation at times and in places where peace and consolation were most grateful and most needed, and to make the parish churchyard once more that which their forefathers in their homely but expressive language loved to call it—"the acre of God." The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the second reading of the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Osborne Morgan.)
§ MR. ASSHETON CROSS
, in moving an Amendment that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, said, he would endeavour to say nothing that could wound the most sensitive feelings of Members on the other side of the House. He was, and he always had been, ready to remove every real grievance under which Dissenters laboured; and no one who remembered the course he took in conjunction with the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Viscount Enfield) in the matter of church rates, would accuse him of not appreciating their complaints. In endeavouring to remove one grievance, however, and to remove that which jarred with the feelings and consciences of some members of the community, we ought to be careful that we; did not, at the same time, inflict a greater injury upon the rest of the community, and that we did not carry our remedy very much further than was necessary to accomplish our purpose. He took it to be the common law of the land, that every parishioner had a right to be buried in the graveyard of the parish church, and, subject to certain exceptions—such as the case of those who laid violent hands upon themselves, persons excommunicate, and the unbaptized—to have the Burial Service of the Church of England read over him. The construction placed by law upon these restrictions showed the spirit in which they ought to be regarded by the clergy of the Church in the performance of their duties. It was laid down by Cripps, in his Laws of the Church and the Clergy,that—The clergyman cannot constitute himself a judge of what is or what is not baptism, because that is determined by the law, which he is bound to obey; and no person is to be considered unbaptized, so as to be refused Christian burial, who has been baptized according to the essentials of baptisms already defined, by whomsoever, whether priest or layman, that ceremony has been performed.Again, the exception of those who had laid violent hands on themselves did not include all who had committed suicide—those who had done so when they were not responsible for their own acts were entitled to Christian burial, and the exception applied only to those who committed suicide knowing full well what 526 they were about. Further, the exception of those who were excommunicate did not apply to a man simply professing unbelief, however openly; he must have been actually and positively excommunicated, or he did not come within the exception. If the spirit in which the law regarded these restrictions had been generally accepted by the clergy there would have been, he thought, very little ground of complaint. Now this being the state of the law, what was the actual extent of the grievance for the removal of which persons had a right to ask this House? It might be said that if anyone were aggrieved, it was the clergyman himself, who would say—"I feel that in certain cases the beautiful words of the Burial Service are inapplicable." But the removal of this grievance was not the question before the House, it was rather—what were the grievances of the parishioners themselves? They were, he thought, two in number. First, the man who differed from the Church of England might complain that, while he had been free not to avail himself of her services during life, the moment his breath was out of his body, if according to the law of England he was buried in his parish churchyard, the clergy might insist upon reading the Burial Service of the Church of England over him. This was, he was willing to admit, a grievance which existed to a certain extent, in the cases of Dissenters. It might, however, be easily remedied without so extreme a measure as that now submitted. The second grievance existed in a small degree, and affected a very small number of persons in the whole kingdom—in the cases of Baptists, and, perhaps, of Quakers. The children of Baptists were not baptized until they had arrived at a responsible age, and by the law as it stood the children of Baptists were not in such a condition that a clegyman was bound to bury them, because they were practically unbaptized; and Quakers rejected baptism altogether. Practically, this grievance, restricted to Baptists and Quakers, existed only in rural parishes, because in all towns their cases was met by the cemeteries, which were provided for their use; and, further, the grievance existed only in those rural parishes where, unfortunately, there happened to be a clergyman who thought it proper to insist upon his rights more than he ought 527 to do and than he was bound to do. The actual grievance, was therefore a very small one, and one which hardly called upon the House to make such a vast alteration in the ecclesiastical law as was proposed by this Bill. This question was no new one. It was brought before the House in 1861, by a Gentleman in whom Members opposite would have the greatest confidence—Sir Morton Peto—who, in a spirit of the greatest moderation, introduced a Bill having reference only to the two grievances he had stated. In 1862 the Bill of the hon. Baronet was reintroduced, in a very moderate speech, was read a second time, and referred to a Select Committee. It was again introduced in 1863, but was refused a second reading. That Bill, besides, was a moderate measure—very different from the one now before the House. The first clause of that Bill made it imperative that a clergyman should allow a Dissenter to be buried in the churchyard without any service being read over him. To that proposal he (Mr. Cross) had a great objection, because he should be sorry to see the law positively recognizing interment without any service. The second clause provided that the clergyman, without being compelled, might allow ministers of other denominations to read their service over the body of the dead in the churchyard, subject to notice being given to the clergyman of the funeral, of the denomination to which the deceased belonged, and of the nature of the service to be read; and in default of such a service, another clause provided that what was done should be confined to the reading of the Scriptures, prayers, and the singing of hymns. The provisions of that Bill were deemed perfectly satisfactory by the Nonconformists when it was proposed. But what a difference there was between them and the provisions of this Bill. This measure proposed that the relatives of any one, whether a member of the Church or not, might claim to bury him in the churchyard, and bring any minister of any denomination to read any service over him, or might dispense with one altogether. Such proceedings as these would disturb the discipline of the Church of England and inflict an injury on the Church which he was sure was not intended; for under such provisions anything might be done without the slightest regard to the feel- 528 ings of the parishioners or to the possibility of a breach of the peace. Suppose a man had died in communion with the Church of Rome in one of those parishes where the feeling against it was intense—what would be the effect of a Catholic funeral with all the rites of that Church and a procession in the parish churchyard? Would it not be likely to lead to a disturbance? At all events, it would grate most harshly upon the feelings of the inhabitants, and would produce more ill-feeling than existed before. There would be nothing to prevent the friends of a man who had lived in open infidelity taking him to the parish churchyard and having an infidel lecture delivered there; and such a proceeding would certainly not promote peace and unity in a parish. Another question arose in considering this Bill—how it was proposed to draw the line between the church and the churchyard. If admission were given to the churchyard, would not the next demand be that the church door should be opened? The hon. Member in introducing the Bill had chosen to refer to the acts of three or four clergymen, whom he was not there to defend, and who had unquestionably shown themselves wanting in discretion, prudence, and temperate judgment. But while he admitted this, the hon. and learned Gentleman must allow him (Mr. Cross) to add that he could not himself rely implicitly upon the discretion, wisdom, and prudence of the members of other denominations anymore than on the ministers of his own; and he was sure they would have cases where the ministers of different denominations would take advantage of the Bill and would go to the churchyard for the purpose of making an oration over the dead person simply for the purpose of bearding the clergyman in his own parish. ["Oh, oh!"] This was not simply his view—but it was that of a great number of people outside the House, and it was the view taken in 1861 by a journal of great weight and eminence as an exponent of public opinion, and whose leading articles upon matters affecting public feeling and interests deserved the greatest possible attention. On the 25th of April, the day after a debate in this House, The Timessaid—We are too great lovers of peace in ecclesiastical affairs to think of converting every parish church into a bear-garden, where every man who 529 takes out a licence to preach may beard the parson on his own ground.And when the subject again came before the House, in April, 1863, The Timeshad an article upon the debate, in which it said—The Church is justly alarmed at a measure which proposes to bring congregations of Dissenters, headed by their ministers, and bringing their own worship into the churchyard, to the very door of the church, where it is in vain to expect they will be content to stop.… Nor is it unimportant that while the Church Service only reads and prays, the Dissenters will preach even while they pray, and will thus be tempted to a sort of conflict with a rival tied to a form of words.He believed that the ministers of these denominations, however good and religious they might be, would sometimes be tempted—as clergymen had been in the cases named—to use their power without that, discretion which they ought to use, and that indiscretion would be likely to result in a breach of the peace. But where would his hon, and learned Friend stop? It was idle to suppose that those who brought forward this Bill would rest content there. If, on a wet, stormy, or wintry day the clergyman refused to open the church door as a matter of charity, what would be said? It would be said that the clergyman had committed an outrage against decency, common sense, and common feeling, and that he ought to have admitted the funeral party into the church; and then it Bill would be brought in to open the church doors. If a Dissenting service must sometimes be read in the church, the funeral oration or the "preaching in the praying" would be spoken from the pulpit; practically, the Dissenters would have a service in the church:—and this would not be doing things "decently and in order." If it once became a recognized thing that these services should be held within the church, it would next be demanded that Dissenters should perform their marriage service by their own ministers in the church; and next they might claim the right to hold services in the building when it was not occupied by the clergyman:—indeed, there was no principle in the measure which limited its application—nothing upon which they could take their stand and tell the Dissenters that thus far they might go and no further. The Bill related to all churchyards and graveyards belonging to the Church of England; and Returns obtained by the Marquis of Salisbury a 530 few years ago showed that a large number of churchyards had been given to the Church by private members of the Church of England within the thirty or forty years immediately preceding. He apprehended that in these cases the donors never contemplated that they were giving churchyards in which any service other than that of the Church of England was to be read. Moreover, there was no reciprocity in what was proposed; and on this point he must again refer to the article which appeared in The Timesin 1861. It said—In these matters, as in all matters of difference, the conflicting parties ought to put themselves in one another's position, and act for the other side as well as for their own. How would Dissenters regard a law which laid their chapels and burial grounds at the mercy of any clergyman who might choose to improve the occasion for a mediæval ceremony, with symbolical ornaments and rites, and a vigorous protest against the sin of dissent from the Holy Catholic Church? … Would the cause of peace and spiritual unity be furthered thereby?If hon. Members opposite would consider this matter they would see that they had carried their remedy further than the grievance. The Irish Act of 1824 was passed to relieve Irish clergymen from the imputation of illegality in permitting Presbyterian and Roman Catholic interments in the parish churchyards without their reading the Church of England Service; previously the denominational service had been read at the chapel or the house of the deceased, the body was interred in the churchyard quietly and without offence, and no clergyman ever thought of refusing his consent; but after the passing of the Act denominational services were read in the churchyards, and it then became necessary to make the practice compulsory, instead of permissive, which was done in 1868, and thenceforth the distinctive services were held in the churchyards. But he must say that, whether looking to earlier or more recent times, he would hardly go to Ireland for a precedent for English Church legislation. How then would he meet the real grievances of the Dissenters in this matter? It seemed that the two real grievances felt in this country could be met fairly by saying to Dissenters—"You may bury in the churchyard, and we will relieve you from having the service of the Church of England read over you, provided you will show us you have had a 531 religious service read over yon before you come." This would correspond to what was done in cemeteries where service was read in the chapel; and where would the hardship be? What he would have the Church say was—"Go to the chapel and have the service read; only show us you mean to have it read before you bring the body to be buried, and we will admit it. We would rather you brought it here than took it elsewhere; but we do not want to legalize burials without any religious service at all; we do not want to have human creatures buried like dogs, and, therefore, we wish to take care, if we do not read our own service, that you go to your own chapel and have a service read there." Considering that the grievance was that in many places there were no burial grounds belonging to Dissenters, while as a matter of fact there was hardly a place in England where there was not a Dissenting chapel, he believed his proposal would meet the justice of the case without giving offence to anyone. He would move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
§ MR. TIPPING
seconded the Amendment, and he did so because he had no faith that the measure, if adopted, would be productive of that peace and goodwill which were promised as its result. He had always remarked that every concession to the Dissenters was urged on the ground that on its being made harmony and good-will would immediately ensue; and immediately it was granted, it was seized upon as a vantage ground for some further demand. Personally, he occupied upon this question peculiarly neutral ground, corresponding to that taken on education by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council, who said with so much dignity the other night that he was neither a Dissenter nor a Churchman; but he had a strong affinity to the Church of England, and was anxious to maintain her dignity and independence. The hon. and learned Member opposite wished to introduce a moderate Bill, but there was a pressure behind him which carried him further than he intended to go. What was the use of so much talk about tolerance and moderation when they all knew the object of the Bill was to undermine the Church of England through the graveyards? That was the plain object of the Dissenters—and he did not 532 blame them for it; he only desired they would attack the Church in front—meet the bull face to face, and not bring fireworks round its neck merely to goad and irritate it. He admitted there were grievances, and that some clergymen acted without common sense and discretion; but surely this could be remedied without selecting the tenderest of all the corns the Church of England had got in order that Dissenters might have the luxury of treading upon it. Nothing would produce such internecine war as the introduction of varied forms of service into the churchyard. The object in getting there was to get into the church, and it would be better to say so at once. The hon. and learned Member (Mr. O. Morgan) had made great complaint of the conduct of a Welsh clergyman on the occasion of the funeral of an eminent Welsh minister, when a minister of his own denomination was not allowed to say a few words over his grave. But the hon. and learned Member forgot the incumbent would have been obliged to refuse the privilege sought if the deceased had been an eminent Churchman. The service of the Church of England was a written and prescribed service; if such an address were permitted they could not stop at eloges—and he did not want to see the exhibitions of Pére la Chaise introduced into the English churchyards. It was very remarkable, by the way, that the demand for this measure should have emanated from Wales—for if he needed a lesson in toleration—which he very possibly did—Wales would be the last place to which he should go to look for it. It was objected to the English Church Burial Service that it was "cold." To this he could only answer that it was chiefly based upon the writings of St. Paul, and that the most impassioned passages of his Epistles were embodied in it. According to M. Renan, St. Paul was the first of Protestants. But he did not wonder at the Dissenters raising this objection to our Burial Service, for they sought to give the lie to St. Paul upon occasion of every funeral by proving that, after all, there was a sting in death and a victory in the grave—there would be a sting for the unfortunate parson, and there would be a victory for the Dissenting minister, who would pray at the parson beside the grave, and enjoy the victory of his discomfiture in his own churchyard. The Church of England had 533 better be preserved in its full dignity or put an end to as a State Church; the respect in which it was now held should not be sapped by attempts of this kind. No doubt, men like the senior Member for Sheffield did not care for the dignity of the Church, and as to Bishops and Archbishops, the hon. Member (Mr. Hadfield) would be ready to dig a big grave and bury them all, perhaps bringing his own Dissenting minister to perform the service over them afterwards. He was anxious, however, to know the course which would be pursued by the Government. The Nonconformists looked upon the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister as a chosen vessel to carry out the voluntary principle, while he considered himself as a devoted son of the Church. When, for instance, it was imputed to him in the Irish Church debates that disestablishment in Ireland would lead to the same result here, the right hon. Gentleman shook his head with the utmost apparent dislike that his Irish Church policy should cross the Channel. But then the right hon. Gentleman seemed to hold peculiar views of the Darwinian theory of development, and it would be interesting to know how far the English vine, typified by the Church, was passing into the Upas tree which would at last be marked out for destruction by the right hon. Gentleman. Allusion had been made to the Quakers; but being of Quaker origin himself, he could say that this was no Quaker grievance. The Quakers generally had graveyards of their own, and honour for his forefathers led him to ask that they should not be associated with this attack upon the Church. He believed that the passing of the Bill would conduce to anything but peace; and it was most important that the House should not, for the mere sake of carrying out a certain principle based upon jealousy of the Church by those who were outside the Church, introduce in villages and country parishes a permanent seton, the irritation arising from which it would be difficult to allay. If | this system were pursued, we should establish the most peculiar form of Christianity ever known—the disunity of the faith in the bonds of war.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Cross.)534
§ MR. CANDLISH
said, it was admitted on all hands that the Dissenters had a real grievance to complain of. The Baptists alone numbered more than 1,000,000 persons, and the grievance was felt by all Nonconformist denominations. It was, therefore, no inconsiderable portion of the community who were aggrieved by the present state of the law. In outlying districts the grievance was often severely felt, and he could not see why either Baptists or Quakers should be placed in such a position. All that the Bill proposed was to allow a religious teacher of any particular creed to enter the churchyard, and repeat any prayer or religious ceremonial over the body. It was idle to say that, if this claim were granted, Dissenters would claim to use the churches; all they desired was that their feelings should not be outraged. It was said that if they were let within the churchyard, Dissenting ministers would next want to preach and marry inside the church. It would be time enough to deal with that question when it arose. In no scheme that had yet been brought forward was it proposed so to use the parish churches, and the Irish Church Bill of last year was a proof of this. There was not the slightest pretence for saying that, if the Bill were passed, unseemly harangues would be delivered over the graves of Dissenters. The burial of a near relative was not an occasion likely to be used for such a purpose; and, if anything of the kind occurred, Parliament would no doubt soon put down such an evil. Clause 5 was confined to religious observances only, and did not authorize speeches or declamations at the grave. He did not see any reason why the opponents of the Bill should be scandalized at the idea of Roman Catholic ceremonies taking place if the deceased held that faith, and saw no reason to apprehend that the conduct of those who witnessed them would not be perfectly decorous. How, it was asked, would Dissenters like to admit the burials of Churchmen by clergymen in their denominational cemeteries? His answer was, not at all; but were the cases analogous? The cemeteries belonged to the particular denomination; it was their private freehold. But in the parochial churchyard, every parishioner had a right of burial; and as the public churchyards were the property of the 535 public, Dissenters asked nothing but what was consistent with good feeling and justice in asking leave to have their own religious ceremonial in such churchyards over their own dead. On what ground was a Dissenter to be refused Christian burial, while a Churchman was allowed such burial; all were entitled to the same privileges. On what ground could the Mover of the Amendment claim Christian burial for his relatives, any more than he (Mr. Candlish) was entitled to claim it for his relatives? He obeyed the law, and was entitled to the privileges of a citizen no less than the hon. Gentleman. Cases of refusal of Christian burial were by no means uncommon. In March, 1869, a case occurred near Ipswich, in which the Rev. W. Potter refused to perform the burial service over the remains of a member of his own Church—not because he lived a dissipated life, but simply because he had not been christened, or, as Mr. Potter said, because "he had not been made a Christian." In this case, a funeral cortégehad to stop under the shadow of the church, and a Dissenting minister performed some service, in order that the friends of the deceased might be spared the pain of seeing their relative buried like a dog. Was it essential to the Christian character that a man must be baptized according to the rites of the Church of England, or the Church of Rome? But there lay all the obstacle in the way of the use of the Burial Service. If the principle was conceded that in social matters all ought to stand on one common basis, where was the justice of refusing the rite of Christian burial in public churchyards, which belonged to all? He earnestly hoped the House would pass the second reading of this Bill, and that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government would not frustrate the object of those who had laboured in the cause for years, by proposing that the Bill should be referred, to a Select Committee.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
I must begin by observing that, without any fault of their own, or of the other side, but by the nature of things, the supporters of the Bill stand at an advantage, and its opponents at a correlative disadvantage. The former are enabled to take up a Utopian position, and to argue that while there may be conceited and wrongheaded men among the clergy of 536 the Established Church, those who seek the remedy now proposed will accept and use what is given to them with the utmost propriety and decorum, and adorn their new privileges, not only with the highest gifts of piety, but with the special qualities of tact and common sense. The promoters of the change have, cut and dry, their little schedules of clerical aggravation, while we are driven to argue hypothetically, from considerations of human nature, as to the behaviour of those whom this measure would enfranchise. Now, it may be true that certain clergymen have acted unwisely, and in an irritating, indefensible way. I do not defend these men. Among the 15,000 clergymen of the Established Church there must occasionally be found ignorance and bigotry, and an undue disposition to stand upon a personal dignity. They are, as a body, necessarily imperfect, or they would be angels, not men. But can it be shown that the men whom this Bill would let into our churchyards will be a striking contrast to the clergy in moderation, Christian feeling, love of unity and concord, zeal for the common Gospel, and a dislike to sectarian bigotry? It is impossible to believe that such will be the case; and, therefore, we, the opponents, whose business it is to urge the consideration, are forced into the position of having apparently to take the uncharitable side of the argument. What we say further is, that any advantages the Bill might possess will be more than compensated by the long series of quarrels and heart burnings to which it must give rise if the permission now sought for is not much more limited than is proposed by the Bill. I do not stand up for the discretion of the gentlemen from whose letters extracts have been read by the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Osborne Morgan); but I must protest against arguments built up on a series of cuttings from country newspapers. Everybody knows how ignorant and petty country newspapers occasionally are, and how those little paragraphs, headed with the name of some obscure parish, may be provided by some discontented retailer of local gossip. To base such a measure on the tittle-tattle of a country paper is a weak way of propping up any cause. I have heard something of a clergyman on whom the hon. and learned Gentleman commented, and the hon. and 537 learned Gentleman is not doing justice to the Church if he adduces such a man as a fair specimen of its clergy. Granting, however, that the village retailer of gossip has told the truth in all those cases, is it so certain that the gentlemen who under the Bill would officiate in the churchyards would shine by comparison in the laudable discretion with which they would conduct their services? What is the worst the Church of England can do? Force upon persons a form of words which, though beautiful in itself, may not, for the time being, be acceptable to that particular audience. But among bodies of Christians which possess no form of Burial Service, what may a man not do? Under the influence of the most laudable feelings, and guided by enthusiasm rather than discretion, he may, under the form of prayers over the dead, launch out into painful denunciations of the Christianity of living men. A zealous Nonconformist, for example, might convert his service into a solemn offering of thanks that the members of his communion, and in particular the one over whom he was then praying, were not interred with the vain and superstitious form of words of the Church Service; and the second clause of the Bill would not touch such a man, for, in the legal acceptation of the word, there would be nothing indecent in what he said. My hon, and learned Friend has quoted certain cases from the newspapers, and perhaps the House will permit me to quote another story which has appeared uncontradicted in a good many papers last year or the year before. The story has reference to a contested election in a certain county in North Wales, at which there were three candidates, one being a Conservative, and the other two Liberals. In the course of that election a minister of the Gospel, preaching from his pulpit, and carried away, no doubt, by the honest earnestness of his deep political convictions, is reported to have expressed his desire to turn the head of the Conservative candidate into a football. So far as I am aware, that statement has never been contradicted; and I would ask my hon. and learned Friend whether, in the event of the present Bill becoming law, the gentleman who used such language would be likely to carry out a Burial Service within a churchyard—perhaps the very churchyard of the parish 538 where the hon. Baronet resided—in the spirit of Christian conciliation? The question is really this—Granting the disturbed and distempered condition of things, and the religious differences that most unhappily divide us, is or is not the narrow limit of the parish churchyard the place in which free and full scope should be allowed for their display? As to the question of the common law right of all parishioners to interment within the parish churchyard, that is quite another matter. I am glad that both sides recognize it as a fact; and, at the same time, I am free to admit that the promoters of this Bill have a grievance in the obscurity with which the question is still invested in some minds. I would make that clear, and I would further recognize the right of the friends of the deceased to dispense with the Church Service. In this respect I go beyond my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South-West Lancashire, who would make the interment contingent on a certificate that a Christian service had been said elsewhere over the body. I do not think such a condition could be enforced. For we must not forget that in this country, circumstanced as it is, it is merely playing with words to talk of Christian services as the only possible form of ceremonious interment. There are religious persuasions not calling themselves Christians, which have the same civil and political claims to the consideration of Parliament as any form of Christianity possesses. There is the obvious case of the Jews. The Jews are a most respected body of our fellow-citizens; they are men of high position socially, and of great charity and benevolence, and yet the law of their existence is the negation of Christianity; still they must necessarily possess the same privileges in regard to the churchyards as any other body of Nonconformists. I am not aware what the rules of interment may be in the Jewish community; but I wish to point out to the House, if funeral discourses are to be allowed, it is simply absurd to talk of common Christian privileges, when one of the socially most influential bodies of Nonconformists is a body the reason of whoso existence is a rejection of the very names of Christian. There is another body of Nonconformists who are also influential and strong, both in this House and in their position in the country—I 539 mean the Unitarians, who hold views on the most vital and cardinal point of Christianity which are widely discrepant, not only from the doctrines of the Church of England, but from those of every other body of Nonconformists. That community must, of course, enjoy the same privileges for interment as any other Nonconformists; and there are, besides, other phases of religious belief, apart from Christianity, of which some are already crystallizing into formal communities. Some of them are forming new schools of religionists, such as the Comptists, the Mormons, and the Spiritualists; for even the Spiritualists are fast consolidating into something like an organized body. It is with repugnance that I enter into these matters; but as we have been challenged to the conflict, it would be cowardly not to go into all the practical bearings of the question. We should have to admit Spiritualists, Mormons, and the so-called "Church of the Future"—the disciples of progressive humanity. Each and every one of these would possess the same claims, as the most orthodox Dissenter or the staunchest Roman Catholic, to speak, and to be heard, and to gather their congregations together in the churchyard, in the face of the Christian majority of the other parishioners, for the preaching of doctrines which might be as repugnant to the general body of Nonconformists as they would be to the members of the Established Church.
The hon. Member for Sunderland has spoken of the refusal of clergymen of the Church of England to read the Burial Service over the bodies of the unbaptized as if it were a grievance, and one which this House was competent to redress. I was very sorry to hear him diverge into that topic, and I must point out that the refusal is a Church grievance—if it be a grievance at all—and the grievance of nobody else. It is not a grievance of which Parliament can take cognizance. I will fairly and freely state that I have no sympathy whatever with those clergymen who refuse to read the Burial Service over the bodies of those who have been baptized by Dissenters. As a matter of ecclesiastical law, those clergymen are, I am convinced, absolutely and. entirely in the wrong, for baptism is interpreted by all except a small and narrow school of thinkers to depend not on the ordination of the baptizer, but on the 540 performance of the ceremony itself—namely, in the use of the right words, and in the due application of water. The clergyman who declines to read the Burial Service over a person thus baptized, flies, in my opinion, in the face of the law of his own and of the Universal Church. But having given expression to my strong feeling on that point, I must say that I entirely dissent from the views which have been advanced by the hon. Gentleman opposite. What, I would ask, is the Burial Service? Is it a passport of salvation to the person buried? Of course not. Is it simply a ceremony which is gone through for the comfort and consolation of the survivors? That would be a poor interpretation of that most solemn form of words, of which the true force and import is that it conveys the formal and appointed "goodbye" of the Church to one of her members. Then comes in the commonplace idea which must dominate the question, that the matter is simply one of contract. The Church of England does not pronounce on the state of salvation of those who are not baptized. It does, however, unhesitatingly pronounce one thing. It may be right or wrong in so doing—I think it is quite right—but about the fact, there can be no question. The Church pronounces that, in searching the Scriptures, and in investigating the earliest records of Christianity, it can only discover one appointed method of admission into the visible Christian fold—namely, baptism. A child is admitted into the Christian fold by baptism, just as a man is admitted to the franchise by having his name put upon the register. Among the privileges which attach in the Church of England to that baptism, whether by a clergyman or otherwise, is that of having that very touching form of scriptural prayer which is contained in the Burial Service read over the person when dead. If a person dies, not happening to be baptized, the Church does not go into the unseen region of the eternal condition of the soul, but within the limits of that world in which it has a right to work and act; it says that a defect exists at the very beginning, as it were, whereby the ceremony of the funeral service is estopped. That is the simple state of the case. The grievance is nothing; it may be a misfortune or a loss; it may involve the deprivation of religious privileges to the 541 friends of the deceased; but, rightly considered, it is purely and simply a lapse of contract, and to have it now brought forward as a grievance is a proof of the confusion of ideas which prevails on the subject. In fact, a council of the Church is as little fitted to deal with a Bill concerning the Mercantile Marine as the House of Commons is to deal with a purely theological question like that of baptism. I admit that a grievance does exist to some extent as far as the burial rights of Nonconformists are concerned, and I am willing to assist in curing it within safe limits; but I do not think it would be cured by the provisions of this Bill, which I also oppose on the further ground, that if we once lot the Dissenters into the churchyard to celebrate their services there, we should, in the next place, have to let them carry on their services in the very churches themselves. I do not see how the two concessions could long be separated. Church and churchyard have gone together from time immemorial as two elements of the one same property, and if Dissent be admitted to the churchyard, that is but a step towards admitting it to a co-partnership in the church itself. That would be the greatest revolution in the condition of religious life that could possibly occur in this land, and would, indeed, be much greater than the disestablishment of the Church in Ireland. The Church in Ireland lost temporal prestige and influence and large endowments; but it preserved its property in, and its rights over, the churches and the services therein conducted. I was glad to hoar my hon, and learned Friend state that he intended to abandon his proposal to keep the churchyards in repair out of the poor rates. This announcement will relieve many apprehensions. Churchmen know very well that if they were to accept the sustentation of the churchyards from the poor rates the Church would altogether lose any freehold right in the churchyard, and God's acre would simply become the vestry's acre, for the yard would be reckoned as national property. I hope the Church of England will never consent to such a bargain; and I learn with great pleasure that the clause which proposes that plan will not be pressed in Committee. My hon, and learned Friend, in making the announcement, challenged the observation which I threw out upon the 542 introduction of the Bill, that this provision would be a revival of the now discarded system of compulsory church rates. If he will look at his own Bill he will see that I had good grounds for my statement. His Bill, as it stands, still recognizes the regulating power of the clergyman; it requires his leave for interments, and it saves his fees. Put the property, in regard to which the rights of the Church are so respected, upon the poor rate, and you revive the church-rate grievance; while the result assuredly will be a fresh agitation, which will end in ousting the clergyman altogether. Foreseeing this danger, I decline the boon—Timeo Daneos ot dona ferentes.During the long church-rate fights the question seemed often on the point of being compromised by the concession of a fabric rate, and the abandonment of any claim on the rate for the conduct of the worship; but, happily, the longer-seeing section of Churchmen perceived that in closing with this arrangement they would risk, the loss of the buildings, with no compensating advantage, for of course the Dissenters, who agreed to pay the fabric rate, would have a fair right to say—We have consented to ease your burden, and to help you in maintaining the buildings; let us share in the advantage as well as in the outlay, and give us in return the periodical use of the fabrics. So the idea was happily discredited, discarded, and finally abandoned. Forewarned by this, I will not risk the revival through the churchyard rate of the fabric-rate delusion.
It is an undoubted grievance that the right of all parishioners to bury their dead in the parish churchyard is not more freely and fully recognized. I would make that more clear, and give to it the force of a statute. I would not require any certificate of service read over the body elsewhere, for the question of the interment and the question of the religious service said over the body are entirely and absolutely independent of each other. Of course to a Churchman the Burial Service is important, because the Church is, by its nature, more ceremonious than Protestant Dissent. But a Dissenter may have any service which he prefers said over the body at his own place of worship, or in his own house, and then take the body to the churchyard—as, indeed, is often done at pre- 543 sent in the case of Churchmen who are buried in cemeteries, and whose bodies are first taken to the parish church to have a portion of the service said over them. In the Roman Catholic Church abroad, I believe, the Burial Service is said in the church, and the body is afterwards interred either with no ceremony at all, or with the more civil and secular ceremony of a funeral oration. I would clear away by enactment any doubt as to the compulsion of the clergy to put all bodies in the churchyard, leaving to each community to provide the religious ceremony, either in the house of the deceased, or in their own place of worship. That practice, as I have just stated, exists in Trance; and when the remains of deceased persons reach Pére la Chaise or Mont-martre they are interred there without any ceremony beyond that connected with the funeral oration. Again, not only would I remove by statute any doubt which might prevail as to the compulsion to admit bodies into the churchyards, but I would also give increased facilities for the enlargement of existing burial places, and the creation of fresh ones, with, in each case, the provision that a certain portion should be left unconsecrated, within which each denomination might perform its rites. I would also facilitate the power of any religious body to make its own sectional burial ground. By such means the real grievance in the ease might be met; while all those scandalous scenes in the churchyards, which would inevitably result from passing the Bill as it stands, would be avoided.
§ MR. M'ARTHUR
said, he had hoped, as the Bill was a moderate and a reasonable proposition, that it might have had the approval of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and in the interests of the Church of England itself he regretted the opposition that had been made to it. Experience had shown that since the Irish Burials Bill had been passed a few years ago it had worked well; that it had allayed the jealousies and animosities that had previously existed; and there had been an absence of all that unpleasant feeling with regard to interments that had before prevailed; and he felt persuaded that the passing of the Bill before the House would have an equally beneficial effect. The entire body of Nonconformists throughout the country 544 were in. favour of this legislation. It was all very well to say that Dissenters had no grievance to complain of in this matter. Such was not, in reality, the case. He himself knew of a case in which a clergyman of the Established Church refused burial rites to a Nonconformist, and the minister of that persuasion had to perform the ceremony at the churchyard gate. He had also a letter from a gentleman (which he read to the House), stating that his brother had remained without burial for three days, owing to his being refused burial because he had been baptized by a Wesleyan minister. "We would have buried him in the garden," added his informant, "had not the clergyman of a neighbouring parish agreed to perform the rites." There had been also recently a case near Cheltenham where the Burial Service had to be performed at the churchyard gates over the body of a child, in consequence of the vicar of the parish having refused to allow the ceremony of Christian burial to be gone through in the churchyard, on the ground that the child had not been baptized. That certainly was not a spirit to be cultivated either by the Church of England or by hon. Gentlemen opposite. A Congregational minister, commenting upon the fact, stated that it was a strange and discreditable fact, that while drunkards and persons who led disreputable lives could, if they belonged to the Church of England, be buried, Quakers, who did not believe in baptism by water, were refused that ceremony. He hoped this Bill would be passed. All the Nonconformists desired was to be placed upon an equality with their brethren of the Church of England, and he hoped the House would not refuse to comply with their reasonable wishes. He was convinced that if this Bill were passed it would help to promote harmony and good feeling among the various religious denominations in the country.
§ MR. COLLINS
, as the only member of the Burial Committee of 1862 who at present occupied a seat on that side of the House, wished to offer a few remarks on the question under discussion. He must, in the first place, observe that so long as the law continued to be what it was, it was very unreasonable to complain of clergymen for not breaking it; but then so far as the refusal of a clergyman to bury a Nonconformist who had been 545 baptized was concerned, he must observe that the ignorance of such a man must be extreme; for he ought to know that baptism administered by a layman in the absence of a clergyman was as efficacious as if it had been administered by a person in Holy Orders. The conduct of a clergyman who acted in that way could not therefore, in his opinion, be too strongly censured. As to the Bill before the House, it went a great deal further than the Bill of 1861, which was based on the Irish Bill. The law of England could not, however, be practically made analogous to that which existed in Ireland, where the law did not, in reality, establish the rival services in the same burial ground. There were two great distinctions between the custom in Ireland and the custom in England; and they were that in Ireland, as regards the great majority of Nonconformists, no funeral service was performed at the grave; and even when the funeral service was celebrated at the grave of a Nonconformist, the part of the church assigned for that purpose was generally separated from the other portion where the Episcopalians celebrated their services. He should not object to the second reading of the Bill if he thought there was a reasonable probability of the House coming to some agreement in the matter which would be satisfactory to all parties, for he thought it would be disadvantageous to be discussing a question like the present year after year. Delay would only make the ultimate settlement more difficult. The question, then, was, what ought they to do under the circumstances? The present Bill went further than the Bill of 1861, which gave to the clergyman the power of consenting or not consenting. The Select Committee of 1862 proposed that the Bill should not apply in places where cemeteries were open to Nonconformists; but no provision of that nature was inserted in the present measure. The former Bill limited the initiative to the relatives of the deceased having the conduct of the funeral; but the present Bill gave the power of acting to any person. He should be glad if the Bill were sent to a Select Committee, in the hope that it would emerge from it in a shape that would meet the approbation of both sides of the House; But, as it was, he could not support the second reading, because the hon. Pro- 546 moter of it had gone much beyond the recommendations of the Select Committee of 1862.
had no hesitation in saying that he should vote for the second reading of the Bill. He thought a very clear and palpable grievance had been made out, and it was their duty to strive to find a remedy for it. He had listened very attentively to the speeches of the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) and for Boston (Mr. Collins), and judging from the general tenor of their remarks, he believed he had a right to ask also their support to the second reading of the Bill. The latter hon. Gentleman, while admitting his readiness to travel a considerable way in the same path as the promoters of this measure, objected to it because, he said, it went further than the Bill of 1862; but, so far as he (Mr. Bruce) could see, his objections were not so serious as to preclude him from reading this Bill a second time. Some of the points to which he took exception were, he thought, fair matters for consideration, and might very easily be dealt with in Committee. The promoters of the Bill had shown themselves, he thought, anxious, so far as was consistent with the main principles of their measure, to meet the wishes of the members of the Church of England. What they had chiefly to consider in this matter was, what was the abstract justice of the case? Members of the Established Church were too liable to consider every demand for mere justice on the part of others to be an attack upon their Church. But they must recollect how the Church stood. The laws of the Church were made at a time when every inhabitant of the kingdom was a member of the established religious persuasion. Partly, however, from the force of circumstances, and partly through the neglect of the Church itself, vast numbers of the population had seceded from the Church. Now, what were the objections to the present Bill? It was admitted on all sides that every parishioner had the right to be buried in the churchyard. But it was stipulated that certain persons should not have the services of the denomination of which they had been members. Now, he asked whether such a stipulation was consistent with the general law of this country, and especially with 547 the spirit of the legislation they had been busy with for some years past? He would ask hon. Gentlemen opposite whether the effect of that legislation had not been to strengthen rather than to weaken the Church—whether the abolition of unfair and unjust privileges had not produced the effect of removing sentiments of hostility on the part of the Dissenters towards the Church—and whether, within the memory of any person now living, the Church of England had stood so high in the respect of the people, and won so much of their sympathy as at the present moment? He (Mr. Bruce), living in a country of Dissenters, was happy to observe the decrease of the spirit of mutual dislike and distrust, between Churchmen and Dissenters, which was so prevalent twenty or thirty years ago; and he was satisfied, that the passing of this Bill, or a Bill founded on the same principles, would be a healing measure which, so far from weakening, would strengthen the Church. He saw no reason why they should not look forward to see, as in education so in other matters, a sort of federal union between Protestants, whether belonging to the Church of England or to any of the various Dissenting bodies. Every day was bringing all Christian bodies in the country closer together, and hardly any measure could have a greater effect in that way than the Bill before the House, which would permit the last religious service to be performed in one common churchyard over the bodies of the members of all communions without distinction. Therefore, he could have no hesitation in voting for the second reading. He did not comprehend the objections to it. The funerals of Dissenters were now conducted in public cemeteries with as much order and regard to decency, and with as much deep feeling, as those of members of the Church of England. Why that should be less so if performed within the church yard attached to the Church he was at a loss to understand. If it was said that under a Bill like the present scenes might occur in a churchyard which would shock all Christian feeling, he would appeal to the examples of the United States and the Colonies, and he asked, did anyone ever hear of such scenes occurring in those countries? Indeed, it might be assumed that even those who did not concur with Christians 548 would yet be actuated by a desire to regard the feelings of those who constituted the majority of the people. An hon. Member had referred to what took place in Ireland to show that religious services might be performed in the manner proposed without the evils anticipated; and it seemed to him to be a reproach to the people of England to suppose that they could not conduct their services in a common churchyard without taking advantage of the opportunity to insult the feelings of those differing from them in opinion. At the same time, he must say it seemed to him that if this Bill was to deal once and for all with the subject, there were various matters to be considered which were not included in the clauses. He knew it was considered by a vast number of the clergymen of the Church of England a great grievance that they were subjected to be called upon to perform the service of the Church over those who were avowedly of a different faith, or over those who had notoriously led scandalous lives. As the Bill now stood they would still be liable to that obligation, for there was nothing in it to deprive any person of the right to call upon the clergyman of the parish to perform a service over the dead. This and similar questions ought to be considered, and he doubted whether they could be adequately dealt with in a Committee of the Whole House. He was anxious, therefore, that after the second reading the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee; and he would appeal to those who were opposed to such a course, whether they ought not to do everything in their power to promote the fullest inquiry into the best method of dealing with a matter which closely and deeply touched members of the Church of England. They were now in the middle of March, and although questions of some delicacy and difficulty might come before the Select Committee, there would be no difficulty in bringing the measure again before the House soon after Easter, and going into Committee upon the Bill. The delay would not obstruct the real progress of the Bill; and he trusted that hon. Gentlemen opposite, having made such large admissions, would not oppose the second reading of the Bill; though they would, of course, reserve to themselves the power to resist its further progress if it should be brought before the House again in a form to which they could 549 not assent. He hoped also that his hon. and learned Friend who had charge of the Bill, and to whose very able and eloquent speech the House had listened with so much pleasure, would show that he was possessed of the quality of moderation and a desire to conciliate, and would meet the wishes of a considerable number of hon. Members on this side of the House. Under any circumstances he should vote cordially for the second reading; but he should do so with infinitely more satisfaction if they could agree, after affirming the principle of the Bill, to refer it to a Select Committee.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, that in the few remarks which he wished to make upon the Bill he hoped he should not travel beyond the course which had been taken by every speaker hitherto in what had been a very fair and temperate discussion of the questions at issue. At the same time he could not but call attention for a moment to the facts which had been brought before the House by hon. Members. He regretted that many of them had been brought forward, because they would admit of an explanation different from that which was given to them by the newspaper Press at a time when probably a great deal had occurred to create hostile feeling. In some of the instances which had been quoted, he could at once discern that the clergyman had been acting under a law to which he was bound to give obedience, and that pressure had been put upon him, which, he thought as intolerant as the conduct of the clergyman was represented to have been. He concurred with his hon. Friend the Member for Boston (Mr. Collins) that with respect to an unbaptized person, where the clergyman is cognizant of the fact he has no option in the matter. An instance of a very extreme character was given by an hon. Member (Mr. Osborne Morgan) of the separation of twins, where one had been baptized and one had not; but a case had come within his own knowledge which was exactly the reverse, for although only one of the twins had been baptized, they were both put into the coffin, and the clergyman raised no scruple about burying them. Such matters were frequently open to explanation. He was sorry, therefore, they had been mentioned, because future controversy might arise upon them, and their attention might be called to them by letters in the newspapers or explanations in this House. 550 He (Mr. Hardy) thought it only fair in dealing with this question to say at once that the Bill contained things which were, as he believed, hostile both to the interests of the Church and to the interest of the Dissenters. He did not believe that it was for the interests of Dissenters that the question should be solved exactly in their view, or that there should be power to have any religious service they might think proper within the churchyard. The Bill gave absolute power to any person without reference to his creed, whether Conformist or Nonconformist, to conduct religious services in the churchyard. According to it the relative of a man who had died a Churchman—a constant attendant and a communicant of the Church—might preclude the clergyman from performing the service, and might either perform it himself or bring any other person to do it. That was surely stretching the authority of Parliament too far. There might be services which, though called religious by some persons, would give great offence and trouble to those who were compelled to witness them, and services which the great body of Nonconformists and the great denominations of this country would view with as much abhorrence as he should himself or any other member of the Church; and he did not think it reasonable that they should give liberty to any person, not a minister of a chapel or holding any position of authority, to perform any service he might think proper within the churchyard. But there were in this country, apart from Nonconforming or religious bodies, great social communities. He would refer to one or two, whoso names were well known, as examples—though he did not do so in any offensive sense. The great society of Foresters, for instance, or the Odd Fellows, might choose to set up some service of their own, and bring great bodies of people into the churchyard, and go through ceremonies which the clergyman or other persons would regard as mummeries unfit to such a place. They knew that at one time the Socialists took every opportunity, as they might do again, of displaying very peculiar opinions in public, and of showing that they were a quasireligious body—which meant that their irreligion had been exalted into a religion. Unless limits were imposed the churchyard might be opened to observances which 551 would have a tendency to provoke a breach of the peace, or, at all events, cause great dissatisfaction to those who lived in the neighbourhood. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Bruce) had asked if they could suppose that such things would be done? On looking back to the proceedings of the Committee which sat in 1862 to consider this subject, it was suggested, as a matter of great importance, that some securities should be provided against disturbances. He (Mr. Hardy) was not a Member of the Committee; but he saw that a division was taken on a Resolution providing that the application of a person to perform service in the churchyard should be supported by the certificate of at least one magistrate, to the effect that the applicant was not likely to cause public offence or danger to the peace. Who moved that Amendment? The right hon. Gentleman who was now at the head of the Government: yet he had been appealed to as having spoken words in favour of such a measure as this. The noble Lord the Member for Northampton (Lord Henley) also proposed a proviso that the clergyman might require from the applicant a certificate under the hand of a magistrate residing in the petty sessional division that no breach of the peace was to be apprehended through the performance of the service. So strongly did the present Prime Minister feel upon this question that when that Amendment was negatived he refused to support the clause, and he voted in a minority against it. And the right hon. Gentleman in a subsequent discussion used arguments which showed that he thought there was reason for some apprehension. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bruce) had called upon the House to send the Bill to a Select Committee. For his own part he (Mr. Hardy) was so anxious that anything like a grievance should be considered, that although he could not assent to the principle of the Bill, he would say his "No" very quietly, and would not force a division, sooner than prevent the thing being discussed. But he still felt bound to say "No" to the Bill. The Home Secretary had given them an account of how these affairs had got into their present state. He said that at one time everyone in the country was a member of the Church of England. At all events, they were all so recognized; 552 and so they were now—that was to say, it was assumed that all those who wished to avail themselves of the services of the Church of England had the fullest opportunity of doing so. They had access to her sacraments from the beginning. They might be brought for baptism to the Church, but they must submit to the service of the Church. They could be married in the Church. There was no resisting their application to be married as parishioners; but they must submit to the marriage service. And so also when they brought their dead to be buried. There was no objection to receive their dead; but here again they must submit for the present to the service of the Church. He found to his surprise that many who had been opposed to the Church all their lifetime choose to have the service read over their relatives' graves. It might be that they adopted it sooner than no service, or it might be that there was a superstition in the country that there should be a funeral service of some kind performed over the grave. But why should they force upon the parish churchyards a service different from that which was performed by their national Establishment? That national Establishment was founded upon the principle that it was bound to follow certain rules; and why should those who had withdrawn from it, and gone out from amongst them, seek to come back, but refuse to abide by that principle? The hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Candlish) said, and no doubt with great truth, that there was no attempt to attack the churches, and he pointed to what had taken place in Ireland to show that there was a tendency to give possession of the churches, though disestablished, to those who at present possessed them. But when laying down principles they were obliged to be cautious in accepting them, before they saw how far they would go. If they said that everyone had a right, because he was a parishioner, to go into the churchyard and use any service he pleased, upon what principle would they say that he should not bring his child to be baptized or his daughter to be married, and have what service he thought proper in the church? The churchyard, like the church itself, was consecrated to certain uses, and he did not think that the rule should be broken because in other countries something similar had 553 been done, though on a different footing. They forgot that for 300 years the clergy in this Establishment and the laity had looked upon the churchyard as devoted to this specific religious service, no other service had ever been used in it; and, therefore, when the Nonconformist bodies were pressing forward claims, they were bound to look that they were not acting intolerantly towards persons who—though in their opinion not so enlightened—had the same feelings as themselves. But further, he would call attention to the fact that there was hardly any churchyard in England that had not been added to by the private benefactions of members of the Church of England. Their donations were, he frankly admitted, intended for the benefit of the parishioners; but on the understanding that they took the religion and faith which was national. The name of the hon. Member for Sunderland was on the back of the Bill last year, and in one of the clauses those churchyards which had been recently given or which were attached to new churches were excepted as being in a position very different from that of the old churchyards. But it was only in the recent additions by private members of the Church to the old churchyards that they would find room for their dead. But he wanted to know why the Nonconformists should wish for admission to them? To their chapels almost all over the country they had added graveyards; and they had done wisely, because he believed there were few things which attached people so much to the denomination to which they belonged, as the fact that their dead rested under the shadow of the building where they worshipped. He believed such considerations affected not only Church people but Dissenters; and therefore it was that he asked why they should wish to introduce into the churchyards immediately around the churches observances different from those which had been celebrated there before? He did not dispute that the Nonconformists, as they paid to the rates, were entitled to have places for the burial of their dead. He, and many who thought with him, would be perfectly prepared to do all in their power to assist them in obtaining sites for graveyards where they could carry out their religious services without interfering with the consciences of others, 554 or of being deprived of any privileges to which they were entitled. This Bill had been so fully discussed that he did not like to detain the House longer upon the subject; but he did trust the House would not, because there might be a grievance, rush to a conclusion which would have the effect of raising further animosity. He believed that the Dissenting bodies would do wisely in standing steadfastly by their own opinions, and by their own religious services. That they were different from ours was cause of great regret, and they wished to see them back again in the Church of England. They had gone from that Church, but they would gladly hail them as Churchmen. If, however, they stood steadfastly by their own religious opinions and their own religious rites, he believed it was in the interests of charity and of true religion that, as they had built themselves chapels, which in many cases had graveyards attached to them, they should act upon a fair and just understanding, and not seek to insist upon a principle which trespassed upon the convictions and consciences of others.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, he had listened with great pleasure to the moderate speeches which had been made on both sides of the House with respect to this Bill. The grievance was admitted, and but a small portion of the Bill was disputed—whether Dissenters and those who did not belong to the Church of England should be allowed to hold a religious service in the parish churchyard. The practice at the different cemeteries throughout the country showed that the religious bodies who did not belong to the Church of England were not likely to introduce any objectionable service. If Dissenters were not allowed to have their service in the churchyard, but were compelled to have it in their chapels before the burial, a strong prejudice would be created against the Established Church; whereas, if the Bill came into operation, he could see nothing but the most friendly feeling likely to spring up between Churchmen and Dissenters. But there were points in the Bill which required great consideration, and he hoped it would be sent to a Select Committee. With reference to the 4th clause, he thought that when notice was given of a funeral the name should be mentioned of the person who was to take part in the re- 555 ligious service, otherwise complications might arise in the churchyard which it was most desirable to prevent. There should also be some provision against the carrying of religious emblems, or anything of that nature, into the churchyard.
§ MR. WALTER
said, the question before the House appeared to have been reduced to a very narrow issue, and, as he conceived, there were no difficulties connected with it which could not be fairly dealt with by the Select Committee. The Home Secretary, in his speech, appeared to raise a far more difficult and delicate question for consideration than anything contained within the four corners of the Bill. The question which the right hon. Gentleman had thrown before the House was—whether or not, and, if at all, to what extent it was desirable to limit by law the obligation at present existing on the part of clergymen to read the funeral service. It was felt by many clergymen as a great grievance under certain circumstances. He was not prepared to say if he was a clergyman that he should not feel it a difficult and anxious duty to perform. It was proposed by some to alter the very language of the service. But however that question was to be settled, if it were settled at all, he was sure the House would agree with him that it would add very considerably to the responsibility of the Committee to which the Bill was referred. They were all agreed that there was a grievance, and that Dissenters had a right to be buried in the parish churchyard. The only question really before the House was whether they should be permitted to enjoy the right of performing in the churchyard some kind of service over the remains of their deceased friends. He must say it appeared to him that, having gone so far, it was difficult to refrain from acceding to the one remaining point. He would put before the House this case, which had not been referred to by any previous speaker—a case which must be considered by the Committee, and which might create some difficulty. There appeared to be some confusion in the minds of hon. Members, and probably of the ministers of some denominations, between being buried in consecrated ground and being buried with religious service. Now, he apprehended it would be necessary alto- 556 gether to separate the two elements of the question, which could only be solved by treating burials both in a civil and religious aspect—keeping the civil and religious features of them quite distinct in the eye of the law; and while investing our churchyards more with the character of cemeteries, to leave it to the ministers of different denominations to decide as to the character of the religious service to be performed within the grounds. He wished the House to consider the question, not only with reference to the rule of burial on land, but also the rule of burial at sea. He had no doubt some hon. and gallant Members present could give them useful information as to the practice of funerals at sea. He apprehended that in the case of a captain of a ship being a Nonconformist he could hardly be compelled to read the Burial Service of the Church of England over a member of his own communion dying at sea; and he took it for granted that the captain of a man-of-war or a merchant ship would permit the friends of any Dissenter dying at sea to use the particular form of service agreeable to their own creed. But when they spoke of consecrated ground—an important ingredient in this question—they should remember at least that there was no consecration of the sea. That vast element had not been made the subject of episcopal benediction; and yet the friends of those dying at sea did not the less feel that their burial was duly performed, notwithstanding any want of the consecration of that element. He would not further occupy the time of the House; but he thought these questions could all very well come before the Select Committee.
§ MR. CAWLEY
said, that he was surprised to hear the reference to recent legislation made by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, as the course of recent legislation had been in direct contravention of the principle contained in the 4th clause of this Bill. Allusion had been made to cemeteries; but separation occurred there. There was consecrated and unconsecrated ground. No such thing as a religious ceremony was performed in the consecrated portion of the ground by any but the clergy of the Church of England. If, therefore, Dissenters were allowed to conduct a religious service in the parish churchyard a marked difference would be made, 557 regard being had to the practice which prevailed in the public cemeteries. He was most desirous of removing any real grievance, and therefore he should be glad to see an extension of the cemetery system in all parishes. In the borough he represented the cemetery had been divided into three portions—one portion consecrated for persons belonging to the Church of England, another unconsecrated for Nonconformists, and a third for Roman Catholics. As the Bill stood, its principle was to admit others than the clergy of the Church of England to perform Burial Service in the parish churchyard, without any restriction as to what that service might be, and therefore he should give his vote against the second reading. If it were a mere question of permitting the interment of Dissenters in parish churchyards, he should be glad to go to a Select Committee to got rid of that difficulty.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
hoped his hon, and learned Friend (Mr. Osborne Morgan) would give his assent to refer the Bill to a Select Committee. He was quite sure, after the discussion which had taken place, and the desire which had been expressed to remedy the admitted grievance, that there were difficulties both of principle and detail involved in clauses of the Bill which made it desirable that it should undergo a very careful consideration and inquiry before a Select Committee. If the Bill were now read a second time with the view of going into Committee of the Whole House, his hon. and learned Friend would find himself involved in difficulties which might end in defeating the Bill; and he might avoid that result by consenting to refer it to a Select Committee. On that understanding he should certainly give his vote for the second reading; but he could not vote for it except on the distinct understanding that the Bill should go to a Select Committee.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he would warn the House against affirming such a dangerously wide principle as that involved in this Bill, which appeared to him to amount to a declaration that the members of the Church of England had no denominational rights—if he could properly use the word denominational here. No Church could be recognized except by its services. The performance of the Burial Service of the Church of 558 England in the churchyard was the practical recognition of the rights of the Church of England to that which was its own property. The tolerance of the Church of England, which was admitted in every country except our own, extended to this—any family might bury their dead within the precincts of the churchyard, provided only that the service of the Church of England should be performed. That was her title to the property. This Bill would deprive the Church of England of a right which they recognized in every other denomination. If they went to the Nonconformists or Roman Catholics and claimed to bury their dead in their cemeteries, performing the Burial Service of the Church of England, they would be immediately repulsed. He should give his vote against the second reading of the Bill, because he claimed for his own denomination equal rights in their peculiar property as those which were enjoyed by all other denominations.
MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
, in reply, said, he had been urged to refer this Bill to a Select Committee. When he took into consideration that a Bill of this kind had been referred to a Select Committee without any special result, he thought that might only be a decent way of shelving the Bill altogether, and he must ask to be allowed not to pledge himself to that course. He was charged with bringing forward a Bill considerably in advance of that which had been introduced by Sir Morton Peto in 1861. No doubt there was a great difference between the two Bills; but the nation itself had gone a great deal in advance with reference to questions of this kind. This Bill was certainly in advance of that which was brought forward in 1861; but if they threw out this Bill, hon. Members might rest assured that a Bill very much in advance of it would be brought forward. If on the one side of the House they cried "No surrender!" on his side of the House the cry should be "No quarter!"
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
thought it very important that they should exactly know in what position they were now placed. The Bill was objected to on several grounds. His hon. Friend the Member for South-west Lancashire (Mr. Cross) had moved its rejection. In the course of the discussion, the Home Secretary took notice that the 559 grievance of the Dissenters had been acknowledged by Gentlemen who opposed the Bill, and suggested that, under the circumstances, the proper course would be to allow the Bill to be read a second time and then be carefully considered by a Select Committee, and the right hon. Gentleman gave reasons for that course. His right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Mr. G. Hardy) immediately said, speaking for those who sat near him, that supposing that course was to be adopted, he should not call for a division against the second reading; and it was understood that the hon. and learned Gentleman who had charge of the Bill was going to express his assent to the proposition for a Select Committee. It was most desirable that if they were misinformed on this point the matter should be made clear. Many Members had gone away on the understanding that the Bill would be referred to a Select Committee. Did the hon. and learned Gentleman intend to oppose the reference of the Bill to a Select Committee?
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 233; Noes 122: Majority 111.
§ MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he had been anxious to explain, before the division, had the forms of the House allowed, that he should not have opposed the second reading had the hon. and learned Member, who was charged with the Bill, consented to the very reasonable proposition made by the Home Secretary. He now trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would give effect to his own recommendation, by causing the Bill to be considered, where it could best be considered, in Committee upstairs. He was quite sure that those who were interested in the removal of any real grievances would further the object which they had in view by assenting to that course.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time.560
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be committed for Wednesday the 18th day of May next."—(Mr. Osborne Morgan.)
said, he now rose to move that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee. ["No, no!"] He would assure his hon. Friends that he was satisfied the course he was now recommending was one that could not fail to promote the object they had in view, and would certainly not diminish the chances of the Bill being accepted in the other House. Every speech that had been made after he had offered that suggestion convinced him more and more that the question would be better treated in a Select Committee than it could be in that House. Accordingly, he hoped his hon. and learned Friend would not put the House to the trouble of dividing, but would withdraw his opposition, as he felt bound by the recommendation which he had given, and was satisfied that there was both wisdom and prudence in persevering in that course.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the words "for Wednesday the 18th day of May next," in order to add the words "to a Select Committee,"—(Mr. Secretary Bruce,)—instead thereof.
§ MR. MIALL
said, that he should be extremely sorry that the House should go to a division upon an unreasonable point; but he thought that if the Select Committee were to be appointed simply to arrange the machinery for carrying out the principle, that matter might as well be discussed in Committee of the Whole House. If, however, the Select Committee were to consider the large question touched upon by the Home Secretary, the little boat which was now launched would be probably swamped by so great a matter being introduced into it. Unless it was understood that no new question should be imported, he should vote against the Motion for a Select Committee.
said, that he should not have voted against the second reading if the Select Committee had been agreed to, because he was very anxious that the question should be effectually settled. He agreed that they could hardly hope to dispose of the larger question that had been referred to, and that that Select Committee should be confined to the subject of the Bill.
MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
regretted exceedingly that, for the reasons he had already stated, he could not accede to the Amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 135; Noes 226: Majority 91.
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Bill committedto a Select Committee.
And, on March 25, Committee nominatedas follows:—Mr. Secretary BRUCE, Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN, Mr. MOWBRAY, Mr. MIALL, Mr. JOHN TALBOT, Mr. RICHARD, Mr. BERESFORD HOPE, Mr. STONE, Mr. COLLINS, Mr. CROSS, Mr. HARD-CASTLE, Earl PERCY, Sir JOHN SIMEON, Mr. CUBITT, and Mr. MORLET:—Five to be the quorum.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Six o'clock.