HC Deb 03 August 1874 vol 221 cc1152-77

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(Mr. Russell Gurney.)


Sir, I think it will be for the convenience of the House if I read a letter which I have just received with reference to the office of Judge under the Bill. It is as follows— House of Lords, S.W., August 3, 1874. Sir,—We have the honour to inform you that we intend to submit to the Crown, through you, the name of Lord Penzance for the office of Judge under the 'Public Worship Regulation Bill,' in case that measure shall become law. Lord Penzance has consented to undertake the office, subject to the provisions as to salary and emoluments which are embodied in the Bill, and which may hereafter be made by Parliament. We think that it may be convenient to the Government to be made aware of this, even before the passing of the Bill, and we feel confident that the name of Lord Penzance will have the approval of the Crown. We believe that we shall be able to submit to the Government a plan by which a salary might be provided for the Judge by a rearrangement of ecclcsiastical fees.—We are, Sir, your faithful servants, A. C. CANTUAR. W. EBOR. Right Hon. Benjamin Disraeli, M.P. The House will observe that the statement of the conditions under which Lord Penzance has agreed to accept the office vary from the explanation I made on a previous occasion with reference to the disposition of the Judge in regard to it, and Lord Penzance has very properly called my attention to the apparent inconsistency between the views which he has always held and the statement I made in the House two or three days ago. The fact is, the misconception that bas arisen has been occasioned by a peculiar, but a very simple cause. When I referred to a Judge, and the condition on which I had reason to hope he would accept the office, I really did not refer to Lord Penzance, but to another eminent and distinguished Judge. Therefore, Lord Penzance is under an erroneous impression in supposing that I made, on his part, a statement to the House to which he had not given his adhesion. I, therefore, wish to take this opportunity of explaining the apparent inconsistency, and to express my conviction that the conditions under which Lord Penzance has stated his readiness to take this office are not only just, but reasonable and liberal.


Sir, I wish also to say a word to remove a misapprehension. I should be very sorry that there should be any misconception about the expectations of the Archbishops in regard to the payment of the salary of the Judge out of ecclesiastical fees. I think it may be perfectly possible that these fees may be available and entirely sufficient for the purpose, but in speaking of fees in the recent debate as being entirely unreal, it was my intention to signify a different opinion, and to state that if the salary had been fixed upon the Common Fund of the Ecclesiastical Commission, all prospect of the readjustment of the fees for the purpose of recouping the money would be quite out of the question. I shall be very happy, however, if the expectations formed by their Graces the Archbishops are realized by the result.


Sir, before this Bill is read a third time, I desire to say a few words upon it, the more especially since I have taken no part in the discussion during its progress through Committee. Perhaps, in so doing, I may be permitted to sot myself right with the House with respect to certain words of mine upon a previous stage of the Bill. I am told that I am supposed to have threatened what is called "factious opposition" to the Bill, and it is possible that words hastily spoken may have borne that construction. Nothing, however, could have been further from my intention. That which I intended to convey was this—that if the Bill was to pass during the present Session, the House must be prepared to sit for a longer period than was at that time contemplated, inasmuch as every detail of the Bill would have to be closely scrutinized before such a Bill could become law. Well, Sir, I think that has been done, and, moreover, the passing of the Bill has been purchased on the part of the Government by the sacrifice of more than one of the most valuable and generally popular measures upon which they had staked their legislative credit for the Session. The alterations which have been made in the Bill are considerable, and I propose to enumerate three of them. First, the delay for which I earnestly pleaded upon the second reading, has been so far granted, that the Bill is not to come into operation until July in next year; Secondly, the Judge is no longer to be paid out of funds heretofore appropriated to the augmentation of poor benefices, against which I was the first to protest upon the second reading; and thirdly, sins of omission, as well as commission, are to be included within the offences with which the Bill is to deal. However, speaking only of details, there are at least two great blots left in the Bill. In the first place the Bishops themselves are not to be amenable to the law which is to govern their clergy, so that the officers and soldiers of the Army are to be subject to different rules of discipline, I doubt whether this will promote the efficiency of the service. But the second is, in my opinion, a still greater blot. When it was proposed to make the Bishops amenable to this law, we were told that it would be an insult to them, and that their discretion might be trusted to keep them within the law. And, in the matter of initiating proceedings under this Bill, a discretion was in the first instance given to the Bishops. But, as the Bill advanced, the opinion of its authors as to the discretion of the Bishops seems to have changed, and this discretion has been taken away, or, at least, left only onesided. It has been said that a Bishop is in this instance to discharge the functions of a grand jury. Well, if a grand jury finds "a true Bill," the prisoner is tried; if a grand jury finds "not a true Bill," the prisoner goes free without an appeal. But here you entirely reverse the process. The clergyman complained of is indeed to be tried, if the Bishop finds "a true Bill," and no appeal is given to him; but if the Bishop finds "not a true Bill," the prosecution has an appeal which is denied to the clergyman; and this you call fair play! Surely, there ought either to be no appeal, or an appeal for both sides. I can only hope—and I confidently expect—that this unfairness will even yet be remedied in "another place," before this Bill becomes law, and that the maturer consideration of this House will confirm the alteration. But, Sir, whatever improvements have been, or may be made, I cannot pretend to regard the Bill with satisfaction. In the debate upon the second reading, I ventured to make a prophecy, which was received, as prophecies usually are received in this House, with some laughter and more incredulity. The Bill had been described as a simple Bill, dealing only with forms and excesses in Ritual observance. I ventured to say that there was a power behind, urging forward this Bill, which would not allow its promoters to stop at the point at which they professed to wish to stop. I humbly submitted that from dealing with symbols of doctrine, the step was very short to dealing with doctrine itself, and that this would infallibly follow. Well, Sir, what has happened? Even before this Bill went into Committee, an Instruction was moved, with a view to bring within its scope offences of substance as well as form. This Instruction was only withdrawn upon the promise of the right hon. and learned Recorder—somewhat hastily given—to introduce some such measure next Session; and the House will, perhaps, now perceive that in passing this Bill, we have only entered upon a course of ecclesiastical legislation of which the end is not yet apparent. Sir, I am not going to enter into any lengthened criticism of the Bill. The House has determined that it shall pass, and no doubt it will pass. But I would call attention to the different aspects under which it has appeared before us. At first it was called a small Bill, a little Bill, a mere Bill of procedure, which would not alter the law. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister gave it a new title. The right hon. Gentleman said nothing upon the Bill for some time. His Secretary of War had spoken against the second reading, and his Chancellor of the Exchequer and Postmaster General had given votes indicative of their opposition to the Bill. But when the feeling of the House had been declared unmistakeably in its favour, the right hon. Gentleman not only rose and supported it in this House, but, speaking at a civic festival, he actually took credit to his Government for having, as a Government, supported the Bill; and—as he called it—"grappled with the mysterious disturbance "which had arisen among us. The action of the right hon. Gentleman appears to me to merit a somewhat different description; it has been rather that of a man watching two others fighting, without interfering with them, and then, when one has knocked the other over, jumping upon the man that is down. But, Sir, I said that the Prime Minister gave this Bill a new title; he called it a "Bill to put down Ritualism." I will venture to give it a title which I believe the result will show to be still more appropriate. I will term it "a Bill to expedite the Disestablishment of the Church of England." Sir, for opposing this Bill I have been called a" Ritualist." I do not much care what I am called, but no accusation could be more untrue. It is not because it attacks "Ritualists" that I have opposed this Bill; but because I believe it tends directly to the disestablishment of the Church of England, and that disestablishment I do not desire. Why, Sir, what is the Church of England? My hon. and learned Friend near me (Sir William Harcourt) says it is a Protestant Church. Well, Sir, I am not going to quarrel with my hon. and learned Friend over that designation. My hon. and learned Friend is a formidable person to contend with; he argues against you at night, and writes against you in the morning. But here, at least, I am happy to be able to agree with him. We are a Protestant Church, in that we protest against what we believe to be the errors of the Church of Rome. But the Church of England has not only a religion of negation. We have a positive Catholic faith as well as a negative Protestant disbelief; and if we had not, we should be unworthy of the name of Church. But we call ourselves a National Church. What does that mean? It means that we desire to represent the nation, and we take nationality as our bond of union. To maintain that bond, it is necessary to keep the basis of the Church as broad and comprehensive as possible, and to tolerate within it as wide a divergence of opinion upon points of doctrine, as is compatible with the maintenance of the fundamental truths of Christianity. The moment you encourage one party in the Church to war against the other—the moment you facilitate and stimulate attacks, first upon the symbols of doctrine, and then upon doctrine itself, that moment you strike a blow at the comprehensiveness, and so at the nationality, of the Church, and you enter upon a course which can only end in its disestablishment as a national institution. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister says this is a Bill to put down Ritualism. Put down Ritualism? Why, you could not do more to encourage Ritualism than by making martyrs of Ritualists. And what are you going to do? You are not only going into country parishes, to liberate congregations upon whom innovations have been thrust by their clergymen against their will, and in opposition to their feelings. You are going to deal with churches in London and other towns where the clergymen who delight in Ritualistic practices are supported by large and enthusiastic congregations, and you will put it into the power of a few individuals who never attend the church, and who have nothing to do with the congregation, to stir up strife and create schism and dissension. Why, Sir, no Church can stand the perpetual blister which this Bill will impose upon it; it can result in nothing else than disestablishment. The one hope we may have, is that the Bill will be so little acted upon as to become a dead letter; but if the contrary be the case, and if, as I fear, disestablishment follow, the persons responsible will be first, in the Upper House, the two Archbishops of the Church; and secondly, in the Lower House, the Conservative Prime Minister. Sir, I have made these observations with the greatest respect for the majority of the House, who are in favour of this Bill. But, with equal respect, I would remind them that majorities are not always right. Little more than 20 years ago, an enormous majority passed the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill. And yet that Bill has remained a dead letter ever since, and has only recently been repealed by common consent. ["No, no!"] At least, then, it has been repealed, and I believe that, with perhaps one or two exceptions, English statesmen of the present day think the less said about the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill the better. Sir, I hope the Bill now before us may work no greater evil. I object as much as any one to the fantastic excrescences of Ritualism, and if I thought this Bill would only deal with such cases, I would have readily supported it. My fear is that instead of merely cutting off a diseased limb, this measure will inflict mortal wounds upon the whole body. I fear that it will be used against a valuable body of clergy who have done, and are doing, good work which ought not to be interfered with. Since, however, the will of the House has been emphatically pronounced in favour of the Bill, I have been unwilling to delay it by moving small Amendments in opposition to the general feeling, and I have thought that such abstinence was at once wiser and more respectful to the House than taking part in any factious opposition to the measure which the majority has resolved to pass.


Mr. Speaker—I, like my right hon. Friend opposite, endeavoured to facilitate and not to oppose the passing of the Bill in Committee, as soon as I realized that it was the wish of the House, mistaken as I own I think that wish to have been.

I felt it my duty not to attempt to defeat it by delay; while, in Committee, I took my part in mitigating its unfair and oppressive character with respect to one section of the Church. It is on behalf of that section of the Church that I now desire to address a few words to this House, and they shall be plain and honest words. I am not speaking as a Ritualist. I am not a Ritualist, but an old-fashioned and a moderate High Churchman; a High Churchman of that school which has come into active prominence within the last 40 years; and my opinions on Ritual and Ceremonial were formed before the modern school of so-called Ritualists came into existence. I hold them independently of that school; and whatever may be its fate, I shall continue to hold them still. On behalf, then, of the great body of High Churchmen, I protested and still protest against the unfair manner in which the word "Ritualism" has been handled in these debates, so far as that word has boon used to define what may be against the letter or the spirit of our Reformation, and the letter and the spirit of the Prayer Book in which that Reformation is enshrined. I protest against it. I am a Churchman of the Church of England. I am a Reformer, just so far as the Church of England is reformed. I am a Protestant, just so far as the Prayer Rook makes me a Protestant. I am an anti-Roman, thoroughly and entirely. Against everything that is adverse to the letter and the spirit of the Prayer Book, whether smelling of Rome or of Geneva, I protest; and anything which, without being strictly illegal, is unwise or extravagant, and forced upon ignorant or unwilling congregations by the fancy, the caprice, or the illguided zeal of hot young men, I stigmatize as folly. Why then, you may say, do I oppose this Bill? The Bill was first introduced in "another place" by those who, I contend, ought to have been at once more guarded and more sympathetic in their words—being the pastors and the rulers of the entire Church, of the Ritualist as much as of the Evangelical or the Broad Churchman—words which tended rather to promote than to allay popular discontent by inflating vague suspicions and yet refusing to point them to any definite object. And when it was brought in here, as we know, it was recommended by an authority, to which we looked for guidance and moderation, as a Bill to "put down Ritualism." Again I ask, what is Ritualism? Say it is to put down unlawful practices in the Church, that it is to regulate the relations between Bishops, parish priests, and congregations; do that, and invite us to consider it on its merits, and on its merits we should consider it; but begin by giving a bad name to a set of men in the Church, devise a tyrannical and one sided use to put your Bill to, and of course you raise suspicious opposition, and the common feeling of fair play begets a spirit of the strongest antagonism. So has it been since that unlucky day in March, when, for the first time, all the other clergy and laity, and some even of the Bishops, saw the draft of a scheme, not brought out in a formal shape, not reduced to heads, but in a jaunty, airy way played over in a leading article of a leading newspaper. In short, the thing was ill-started, ill-launched, ill-contrived from the beginning; and it is only through the exercise of unrelaxing moderation, and the determined effort of self-abnegation on the part of its opponents, who have shown themselves more ready to mend the badly constructed scheme, than to try conclusions with its authors, that the measure has reached its present stage. I am thankful to say that the Bill came down to us from the House of Lords in a better and more satisfactory shape than that in which it was brought in there, though, still, as I think, it is in a very unsatisfactory condition. In this House it has certainly been improved; and while all along opposing the Bill and protesting against the heat and vehemence of those who forced it on, we have readily acknowledged those improvements. The first is the postponement of the date at which the Bill is to come into operation, whereby time will be given for matters to settle down, feelings to become cool, and the voice of the Church to be heard. The next improvement carried, let me note, by a narrow majority, was the one moved by my hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Hubbard) to make the defect of ornament or vesture as cognizable as its excess. That has made it a fair Bill in the sense of converting it into a two-edged sword instead of a one-edged knife, sent into the field of the Church to cut down the too obtrusive poppy-heads on the left hand not less than the right. Now, I thank the House for these two concessions, and for the first, the promoters likewise. But this brings me to that which I think, and have always thought, and never hesitated to say, was the great danger of the Bill. I claim for the High Church party in England for the last 40 years that they have done, and are doing, a great and good work in the Church of England. I claim for the High Church party in England that they, above all men, have placed the Church in that position of moral, of spiritual, and of material strength which she now holds. Very different, indeed, is that position from the one she filled in the reign, for example, of George IV. During that interval churches have been built in every quarter of the country; thousands of old churches have been restored; cathedrals have been raised to the level of their high functions; the House of God has been open on week days and holy days, as well as on Sundays, communions have been multiplied, confirmations brought home to the rural parishes; sermons are now preached in the naves of "Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral; and of our provincial minsters, works like that conducted by a Hook at Leeds, a Goulburn in Paddington, and a Wilkinson in Belgravia, have testified to the latent strength of the Church organization. The missionary at home and abroad has been carrying his life in his hand; delicately nurtured women have made selfsacrifice for their suffering fellow creatures; hospitals and schools have multiplied in direct subordination to the Church's laws of charity and order; and in particular the development of our national school system, has revealed a wide appreciation of the Church's method of education, and thereby fostered that opposition of other organizations to the 25th clause of the Elementary Education Act, which otherwise would be so unaccountable a caprice. All these things I unhesitatingly claim as visible results of the High Church movement of the last 40 years. I do not say that they are the work of the High Church party exclusively. I am ever ready and anxious to do all honour to the earlier movements of the Evangelicals—to the self-denial of those great men of 70 or 80 years ago, who developed and gave an impulse to the feeling of personal religion in a sceptical and material age. That was the foundation on which the superstructure of corporate church life had to be raised, and this was done by the High Church party, while pari passu other parties in the Church went on in the path of material improvement. I give them all credit for the work they have done and are doing; but the motive power which has impelled them to contend in a noble rivalry was the High Church movement. Having said that—and I should be a coward if I said less—let me add that none of us who have studied the literature of the day, and especially that most waspish literature, the complaints of the religious press, could fail to see that alongside of this Church movement there has been the growth of a bitter spirit, of what I must call, not offensively, but as the only term which can embody my meaning, Puritanism. This spirit has been as unfair as bitter, ever refusing to acknowledge the good done, and indefatigable in clogging the mistakes whether in word or deed of over zeal. There have been plenty of these, no doubt, for no great movement has ever gone on in this world without much to blame in it, much to regret, and much which had bettor never have been done; and the High Church movement is no exception to this general rule. It has accordingly been systematically misrepresented, and above all things it has been taunted with that hateful word which always makes the British public oblivious of logic and blind to fact—the word Popery. I saw, and others saw too, that this Bill, used as it might be, and in the way in which many persons designed to employ it, would not be one to regulate and prevent excesses and extravagances in public worship, still less one that would provide against deficiencies. Indeed, it was not until the division took place on the Motion of the hon. Member for the City of London that these deficiencies had any recognized place within it. It was a weapon ready to hand for that antagonistic party to put down that healthy development of corporate worship in the Church of England, of which I believe the great majority of hon. Members in this House would be very sorry to see the overthrow. I trust that may not now be its effect; but it would have been such an instrument, had it not been sharply criticized and opposed very strongly, although, I contend, in a legitimate and reasonable manner. Another reason which led me to look on the Bill as inopportune was the period which was selected for its introduction—namely, the very time when the Church itself, by the invitation of the Government, was engaged in reconsidering its ritual and rubrical law. The Ritual Commission was the offspring of the Conservative Government which was in office before the late one. It examined and considered the matters which were submitted to it with the greatest care; some of its recommendations have been embodied in two Acts of Parliament—the new Lectionary Act of 1871, and the Act of Uniformity Amendment Act, which legalized the shortened services in 1872, both of them measures with a scope beyond their formal titles. Whatever may be the constitutional relations of the Convocation to this House—a matter upon which I do not enter now—it is certainly, as an assembly of representative churchmen, as a Committee of learned men, worthy of all respect. The Convocation of the Province of Canterbury has maturely considered, and brought out in its Lower House, a body of amended rubrics, built upon the fourth Report of that Ritual Commission, of which I have the honour to be a Member, and it might have proceeded further with its task this year had the Letters of Business been granted to it earlier. But by the month of July next year I trust that more complete results from that work will be before the public. If a series of amended rubrics can be agreed on, there will then be an intelligible basis for the action of the present measure. Men's passions will have had time to cool down in the interval, so I trust that when the period of action is reached, it will prove to be a Bill not to put down Ritualism, nor one to put down Evangelicalism, Broad-churchism, or any other energy in the Church calculated to do good to men's souls and lead them to worship God according to their conscientious convictions; but an Act to regulate and keep all parties within the line of common sense and in sufficient conformity with the elastic law of our English Church; an Act to maintain that Church not only as an Establishment, but in its higher and more spiritual character, as the great guide and consoler of souls, and the beacon-light of Christ's Gospel throughout the land.


said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had denounced to a certain extent, extravagant forms and ceremonies which he described as "the more prominent poppy heads." He argued from that remark that his hon. Friend would like to cut off the heads of those "more prominent poppies." At all events, it was to be hoped that it might be done by this Bill. He would not, like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sandwich (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) go into the question whether that was "a little Bill, or a small Bill." In his (Colonel Barttelot's) opinion, it was an exceedingly important Bill, the most important the House had had before it during this Session. It was a Bill which had commended itself to the vast majority of the people of this country. It had been supported by overwhelming majorities in that House, and those majorities only reflected the feeling of the country from one end to the other. He wished now for a moment to thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Recorder for the tact, courtesy, and kindness with which he had dealt with the difficulties and varying circumstances of this Bill. He would also like to express his thanks to his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt), who in his clear and plain Saxon-English had swept away those canonical cobwebs and rubbish with which it was sought to envelope and obscure the measure, and put in plain language that the law should be obeyed by all parties. One word with regard to the appeal to the Archbishop. In the Bill, as amended in the House of Lords, the provision was contained, though no doubt it did not come down to the House of Commons. But when his hon. Friend the Member for North East Lancashire (Mr. Holt) proposed the appeal, it was carried by a majority of 103 to 37. It was perfectly true when the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Greenwich, moved to omit that provision on the Report the majority was not quite so large, but he would say it with every respect to the Home Secretary, that without having convinced them as usual, many hon. Members did follow the right hon. Gentleman, and some of them afterwards told him (Colonel Barttelot) that they were ashamed of themselves for having run away from a principle which they had before supported. Therefore, without meaning to say anything offensive to the other House, he hoped that a proposal which the majority of this House who had consistently supported the Bill had placed in it, would receive that consideration in "another place" to which it was so justly entitled. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had extolled in the highest degree the great body of the clergy. He echoed that sentiment. He believed no body of men had ever done their duty more conscientiously, untiringly, or with greater zeal or liberality, poor as many of them were. And when the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that that appeal to the Archbishop would not be known to many of the clergy throughout the length and breadth of the land, he would go still further, and say that he hoped many throughout the length and breadth of the land would know nothing of the provisions of this Bill. There were thousands of the clergy who would do their duty, and would not have anything to suffer under this Bill. But, no doubt, there were many who would suffer. There were many who had written to hon. Members of this House in a strain for which he was sorry; but he had received letters from clergymen of all parties, stating that their unvarying wish was, that the matter should be left to be dealt with fairly by the House. The hon. Member for Cambridge University had said that the putting off the operation of this measure to next July would be a great boon to many with whom he was associated. He (Colonel Barttelot) agreed in that belief, and would only venture to hope in the meantime that Convocation might do that which they had never yet done—namely, revise the rubrics so as to reconcile them to the consciences as well as the wishes and feelings of the large majority of Churchmen. Parliament was giving Convocation an opportunity of doing so; but if they failed to do their duty, Parliament would not fail to do it. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman who had so eloquently pleaded for certain things, whether it was right that rural congregations, where these things were thought of and talked of more than would be supposed, should be compelled to leave their parish churches in consequence of the introduction of practices repugnant to their feelings; or did the right hon. Gentleman think it desirable that people of the middle and lower classes should suffer the same penalty, because they understood neither the Ritual nor the ceremonies of the persons who had been sent down to them. That was a position in which the right hon. Gentleman would not wish the people to be placed, and yet that might have been the result of his Resolutions, had they been adopted. For his own part, he (Colonel Barttelot) had supported the Bill throughout, because he believed it would bring peace and harmony to the Church, that it would prevent the disestablishment which the right hon. Gentleman apprehended, and would maintain that union between Church and State from which all hoped so much. It was a fortunate circumstance that in this happy country, they were able to maintain that union, for the right hon. Gentleman had said that Churches when disestablished, were less free than those which were established. He therefore being anxious that Church and State should remain united and that peace should be maintained in the Church, had conscientiously and consistently supported the Bill.


said, he had great pleasure in expressing his appreciation of the generous and wise concessions made by the promoters in postponing the date at which the Bill was to come into operation, as he never liked to give persons the credit of being martyrs. He regretted the appeal to the Archbishop, and he objected to it on two grounds. In the first place, by the old rule, an appeal lay against a conviction, but here there was to be an appeal against an acquittal. In the next place, as there was no higher authority than the Archbishop, it was clear that in the archiepiscopal diocese there would be no appeal from his decision. At least, he knew of no greater authority to appeal to unless it were the Archbishop's wife. That Amendment he considered to be a great defect in the measure.


said, that, being one of those who did not as a matter of speculation and philosophy believe that Church Establishments could be indefinitely maintained, but who nevertheless hoped, till a few weeks ago, that any serious movement for the disestablishment of the Church of England would be postponed until the days of their grandchildren, he had carefully abstained from taking any part with reference to this Bill. Before, however, it passed from that House, he wished to say that he had witnessed the un-Conservative action of a Conservative Government on this and the Scotch Patronage Bill with more surprise than he had witnessed anything in that House. It seemed to him that the two Bills might fitly have been introduced on the same evening, and in a single speech, and that speech might have consisted of just one sentence from Holy Writ in the Vulgate Version. "Et quid volo nisi at?" "And what will I but that it be kindled?"


wished to say that with regard to the part he had taken in the discussion of the Bill in Committee, he had not been actuated by any desire to obstruct the progress of the measure, his sole object being to make it as good a Bill as possible. He believed that no party in the Church, and certainly not the High Church party, desired to defy legitimate authority. There was, no doubt, an excrescence of that party which had indulged in extravagant observance of ritual; but that extravagance had arisen, partly from the dubious state of the law, and the difficulty of enforcing it when unsatisfactorily ascertained. He trusted the Bill would clear up any misapprehension which might exist as to the state of the law, and that those who now constituted themselves the sole judges of what was right, would render it the obedience which was due from them.


Sir, as one of the majority who rejoice in the passing of the Bill, I am quite ready to concede to the minority, its opponents, that on the whole, they have let us off easily. I would not say anything so disrespectful to those right hon. and hon. Gentlemen as to imply that they have not manifested their usual ability in conducting their opposition; but the truth is, that this is not a Government measure, so much as it is a measure of the whole Parliament. This House was asked to pass the Bill, and the House has done so, and I claim for the Bill that it is as much a measure of the House of Commons as it is of the House of Lords. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Elgin (Mr. Grant Duff) says he is surprised that a Conservative Government should ever countenance such a Bill as this. By saying that, the right hon. Gentleman has explained why he is a Liberal. He seems to think that the function of a Conservative Government is simply to preserve abuses. If I believed that Conservatism meant merely the preservation of abuse, I could not be a Conservative. The hon. Gentleman also alluded to the Church Patronage (Scotland) Bill. I own I felt myself some difficulty about that Bill, and have not voted for it, and for this reason—that I thought it calculated to separate the heritors of Scotland still further from the great body of the people. But when the hon. Gentleman declares that the Bill will lead to the disestablishment of the Kirk, he will allow me to remind him that those who are avowedly in favour of the disestablishment of that Church have petitioned against the Patronage Bill. Whatever I may apprehend the effect of the Church Patronage Bill will be upon the social condition of Scotland by further separating the landowners from the people, I, nevertholess, fully admit I firmly believe that the Bill is strictly consistent with the spirit of Presbyterian Christianity. With respect to the Bill now before the House, and the reasons for its introduction, it is idle to say that there is nothing to correct. We all know that there are excesses on the part of clergymen in carrying on public worship in the rural districts. That these excesses have reached to a great extent we know. I have known firm Churchmen, who have subscribed in many instances towards the erection of Dissenting places of worship, that they might escape from those violations of their feelings which were constantly practised in too many parishes. Nay, I am acquainted with a town—I will not name the town—where such was the apprehension excited among the people by the accession of a new incumbent that a large Dissenting chapel sprung up, and was literally in use before the new incumbent had entered upon his duties, and had an opportunity of openly manifesting his opinions. Do not tell me, then, that the danger of disestablishment from the passing of this Bill is greater than the danger arising from circumstances such as I have now described. My firm conviction is, that, if nothing had boon done to correct these abuses, to bring the Broad Church clergy a little more within the compass of the law, and to prevent the adoption by the Ritualistic clergy of those symbols which indicate a decided Romish tendency; that although this feeling has not manifested itself in the usual form of agitation, there is yet a feeling rapidly spreading throughout the country that must have terminated the existence of the Church as a National Establishment. I deprecate the idea of disestablishment as much as any hon. Member can deprecate it; because I am convinced that if disestablished—the Church would be loss tolerant than she has been during her connection with the State.


said, that it was evident from the observations of the hon. Member for Elgin, and from the speeches of right hon. Gentlemen below, that if the occupants of the front Opposition bench had been in office, this Bill would never have boon passed. As an independent Liberal Member, he desired to thank the Prime Minister for the plain and unvarnished way in which he had dealt with the measure, and also the hon. and learned Member for Oxford for the cordial assistance he had rendered the Government in passing a Bill which he believed would have a most peaceful and healing effect upon the Church. It was most satisfactory that a question of that nature, so calculated to arouse feeling, should have been discussed with so little excitement. That circumstance was due to two causes—in the first place to the wise discernment which had placed the conduct of the measure in the hands of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Recorder; and, secondly, to the good sense of the opponents of the measure, who, seeing what was the feeling of the House with regard to it, did not persist in opposing the Bill altogether, but confined themselves to amending it in Committee. But, what was to him the greatest source of satisfaction and an occasion for the highest congratulation was, the strong, unmistakeable, and irresistible determination displayed by the House to uphold the principles of the Reformation, and to insist that the Church of England should continue a Protestant Church. The hon. Member for Cambridge University had thought it necessary to enlarge on High Churchism and Ritualism. What the Bill really proposed to deal with, was the practices of those who, as had been well said, combined the pay of one Church with teaching the doctrines of another. It was that scandal and immorality which had roused public feeling and compelled the action of Parliament. The question was not as to High Church or Low Church, but, whether these men were Protestants or Roman Catholics—whether they were loyal members of the Church of England or disguised emissaries of another Church. He did not agree with those who thought that this was the commencement of the disestablishment of the Church. In his own opinion the measure had an opposite tendency.


said, it must be a great satisfaction to the House to find that a measure of that character had approached its last stage without exciting those animosities and heats which so frequently attended the discussion of kindred subjects. He attributed that, in the first place, to the judicious selection of the right hon. and learned Gentleman by whom the measure was introduced into that House. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Recorder had exhibited a perfect mastery of the subject, and had treated it in a way which had secured sympathy and confidence from all parts of the House. He must add, in justice to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope) and of those who acted with him, that that result was partly due to the good sense and judgment they had evinced in yielding to the feeling of the House of Commons, and endeavouring to amend, rather than oppose, the Bill. The greatest source of satisfaction, however, was the unmistakable and irresistible determination displayed by the House to uphold the principles of the Reformation and to insist that the Church of England should be a Protestant Church. The Bill was directed against that section of the clergy who were not Ritualists so much as Romanists. They were best described in the words used in that House many years ago by Lord Macaulay, who said he objected to clergymen of the Church of England combining the pay of one Church with teaching the doctrines of another. Beyond that, a feeling existed in the country that there were clergymen of the Church of England, who in virtue of their sacred office, had access to homes in the most confidential character, and who, under a system of concealment and deceit, had in many instances destroyed the peace and harmony of families. Those clergymen had carried more people over to Borne than all the Popes, Cardinals, and priests in the Church of Rome. It was that scandal which had aroused the indignation of the country and caused the intervention of Parliament. The question was, whether these clergymen were Protestants or Romanists. Did they uphold the doctrines of the Church of England or were they disguised emissaries of another Church? Work was promised to the House next Session of a more serious character, but it would be very much facilitated because the strength of parties had been so clearly ascertained. He believed the work of this year would be carried out more successfully in the coming Session. The right hon. Gentleman below him (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) had said, that was the commencement of the disestablishment of the Church. He hoped, however, and believed it would be very much the reverse. Indeed, his only doubt was, whether that action had not been taken too late. If it had been taken 20 years earlier it would have been better. No one could say whether it would be effectual now, but certainly it was the necessity of the case and the opinion of the country which had compelled this action. The motive was good, and he hoped the results would be effectual and advantageous.


said, that speaking for himself, he thought he might congratulate the House and the country that they had now arrived at the last stage of the Bill, and that all these discussions, which had no doubt seriously touched the matters men had most at heart, had been conducted with the greatest possible moderation. He should not have risen but for a remark which fell from his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Sussex (Colonel Barttelot). It was true that he differed from his hon. and gallant Friend on one of the minor details of the Bill; but he believed that no one who had taken part in these discussions had spoken more strongly than he had done in favour of the principle of the measure. He took, an early opportunity of speaking on the second reading, and had always been anxious to see the Bill passed. He did not at all believe, that was the first step to-wards the disestablishment of the Church, for he could not imagine how such a result could be brought about by enacting that clergymen should obey the law which they had undertaken to obey. There would, in his judgment, have been far greater danger of disestablishment if this Bill had not been introduced. He hoped that the Bill, sharp and sudden remedy as it was, would be taken throughout the country in the sense of—as it was—a protest that, though in the Church of England, Parliament was perfectly willing to give all the liberty that was consistent with her rights and liberties, yet beyond that limit it would not allow the Establishment to go, either on the one side or on the other. The passing of the Bill would show that the law was to be upheld; and he was in great hopes that many clergymen would be perfectly willing and content to abide by that law, and that the measure would establish more permanently than ever peace in the Church.


said, he would endeavour to avoid even that partial reference to general topics of great breadth and importance which had been made by hon. Members who had taken part in the debate. Since the speech in which he endeavoured to open the broader aspects of the question, he had deliberately and advisedly confined himself to points of a strictly practical character, for he owned he was not so sanguine of the satisfactory effect of the great amount of ecclesiastical legislation by that House which some hon. Gentlemen, including his right hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Horsman), were looking forward to with eagerness and avidity. He confessed he thought that even the partial conversion of the House of Commons into an ecclesiastical Synod—constituted as it was, and appointed for other purposes—would be found to strain very severely not only the temper of the House, but its position and its working in the Constitution. As between the two opinions which had been expressed—one that the House, proceeding freely and readily in that direction, would greatly strengthen the National Establishment— and of the reason for which he quite understood the grounds—and the other that it would tend to shake and accelerate the day of the dissolution of the union between Church and State—he confessed he inclined to the latter and the more unfavourable rather than to the earlier and more sanguine view of the case. He had been compelled to rise in consequence of the speech of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Sussex (Colonel Barttelot). He was unwilling to be misunderstood; but from long experience he knew perfectly well that misapprehension and misrepresentation of an involuntary character were the fate of all those who declined to concur exactly with the prevailing sentiments of the majority in times when religious feeling was to a certain degree excited. He spent the Session of 1851 in voting in minorities of about 30 or 40 against majorities of 400 or 500 on the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill. The composition of those minorities was no more attractive, than their numbers were such as to invite anyone to appear among them. In fact, those minorities were made up of Members of another religious communion from the Sister Isle—he need not describe them more particularly. Along with 30 or 35 of those hon. Gentlemen there voted about half-a-dozen Members of a now extinct political sect, called Peelites, to which he had the honour to belong, and likewise three or four good, stout, sturdy English Radicals, one of whom was Sir William Molesworth, another was Mr. Cobden, and a third was still a Member of that House, his right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham. The reward he got for voting in those minorities was that in a religious newspaper, it was deliberately announced that he had been received into the Church of Home. Such was the reward he then obtained. But he eventually obtained another reward. He found that the counsels of the minority were in every point borne out by the result. Not a single attempt was made to put the law which had been inscribed in the Statute Book into operation against any Roman Catholic Prelate, while the aggressive spirit, which found perhaps freer scope in that communion now than at any former period, was encouraged and pampered by the legislation into which Parliament had been betrayed. Well, after about 22 years, that statute was repealed with an unanimity—[Mr. NEWDEGATE: No, no!]—or an approach to unanimity, more marked than that with which it had been enacted. Of course, he did not moan to say that his hon. Friend, if he might be allowed so to call him, the Member for North Warwickshire, concurred in that repeal; but if the hon. Gentleman alone opposed the repeal, there was a greater approach to unanimity than there had been when the Act was passed. On this occasion, if the two causes had been similar, he would have adopted a like course, though he was now a great deal older, and had much less fight in him; but the two causes were not similar. In 1851 the whole attempt to legislate was, in his judgment, a folly. In 1874, however. he, for one, never denied that there was a cause for legislation. It was true he had considerable doubts as to the form and manner of legislation; but he had never for a moment denied that there was a cause for legislation, and therefore, having endeavoured to lay his views in some degree before the House, he had willingly refrained from any persistent attempt to enforce them. At the same time, he must say it was little flattering to one's vanity to find that, in the opinion of an intelligent, upright, and experienced Member of Parliament like the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for West Sussex, he had been so unsuccessful in conveying his ideas that the hon. and gallant Gentleman quietly, calmly, and evidently with a perfectly good conscience, got up and saddled upon him opinions directly the reverse of those which he had endeavoured practically to enforce. The hon. and gallant Gentleman appealed to him (Mr. Gladstone) on behalf of rural congregations, and said it was hard that they should be driven away from the Church, by the introduction of changes at the will and discretion of the clergyman, contrary to their own feelings and religious convictions. Why did the hon. and gallant Gentleman address such an appeal to him? He would rather address it to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, who apparently had never done him the honour of reading his Resolutions. In them it was distinctly set forth that one great cause—perhaps the main cause of complaint against the Bill—was the insufficiency of the protection it afforded against precipitate and needless revivals and innovations by clergymen. There had been many revivals which ought not to have been allowed, and he should not be at all surprised if there were many more of these revivals under the Bill, contrary to the wishes of rural congregations. He lamented and regretted greatly that protection was not given to congregations, for during the last 40 years the greater part of the excitement which had existed in the country from time to time had been due, not to illegal, but to legal changes of Ritual, injudiciously made in defiance of local custom and feeling, and without any attempt to soothe or conciliate that feeling. He would refer the hon. and gallant Gentleman to the terms of one of his Resolutions in order to dissipate his delusion, and bring him to a correct historical view of the matter. It stated that the members of the Church should receive ample protection against precipitate and arbitrary changes by the sole will of the clergyman, which protection did not appear to be afforded by the provisions of the Bill. Therefore, it seemed that both the hon. and gallant Gentleman and himself had looked in the same direction, only he had gone a little further in that direction than the hon. and gallant Gentleman had, whilst he was now in the condition of being accused of having lagged behind. He understood the allusion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman as to the sweeping away of "ecclesiastical rubbish." The amount of his offence was, that he quoted a Statute of Henry VIII., and some other Acts of the period of the Reformation, to show what was the constitutional position of Metropolitan and Suffragan Bishops in this country; and he thought it no reproach, but the contrary, to our statute law that it was in accordance with the general voice of Christendom and of civilized mankind, which was embodied in a law which had stood the test of 15 centuries, in comparison with which our oldest constitutional law was but of yesterday. He concurred in the opinion that the vote of Friday night was a mistake, and he wished the Forms of the House had permitted another division on the subject. An examination of the Division List showed that the minority included a preponderance of Parliamentary years, and that it was made up mainly of superannuated Members, with whom he classed himself, while the majority embraced the youth and vigour of the House and the hope of the country. If the Forms of the House admitted of another discussion, he had no doubt the vote would be reversed. He earnestly joined, however, with those who had expressed their desire that the working of the Bill might be for peace, and he had never denied there had been just cause for drawing down the displeasure of the ecclesiastical authorities, of Parliament, and of the country; but he had been anxious that they should not confound and mix together those who were contumacious with many who were among the best and most valuable servants of the Church of England, and in whose minds the utmost alarm had been created by this Bill. He had been delighted to see that the Bishop of Ely at a diocesan meeting had endeavoured to prepare the minds of the clergy and laity for the reception of this Bill. It was not in their power to anticipate exactly what its operation might be, but he was sure it would require the utmost calmness, temperance, and discretion, to give a chance of effecting the beneficial objects its promoters had in view. He would appeal to hon. Members that each in his sphere should endeavour to avoid those dangerous regions of passion, misrepresentation, suspicion, and insinuation which it was so difficult to exclude from ecclesiastical controversy, and which, when they had found their way, whether within the walls of the Synod or of Parliament, so poisoned the atmosphere that even the upright might cease to be upright men for the business of the moment, and aims the most legitimate and beneficial were frequently defeated, simply because the temper in which they were sought was a temper rather of excitement than of judicial calmness, and because the desirableness of the thing was not always sufficiently associated with true scrupulousness as to the means by which it was to be gained.


said, that in reference to what had been said by his hon. Friend (Mr. Beresford Hope), he could assure him that the object of the Bill was to put down simply unlawful practices. It was not to put down any one particular party, but to put down disobedience to the law in the Church. It was on that ground alone that he had advocated the Bill. He knew perfectly well that at the same time, it would have particular effect upon one particular section of one particular party, because that one section had been particularly disobedient to the law; because, as they said, they thought that the law was not such as they thought they were bound to obey. It had been said that the giving an appeal from the Bishop to the Archbishop was contrary to all our practice, because it was what was called an appeal against an acquittal. It was, however, not at all an appeal against an acquittal; but it was an appeal against an objection to put the law in force, and it was an analogous case to that of a man brought before the magistrates, who refused to commit him, and who was not precluded on that account from being brought before a grand jury. He joined most heartily in the concluding appeal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich—that they should individually and collectively do all they could to prevent the measure from being viewed in an acrimonious manner, and to prevent the peace of the Church from being disturbed. He trusted that the Bill would receive the support of the House, and pass unscathed through any other tribunal.

Bill read the third time; verbal Amendments made.

Bill passed, with Amendments.