§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time.—(Mr. Assheton Cross.)
§ MR. RICHARD
, in moving that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, said: Sir, I wish, at the outset of the observations I intend to address to the House, to refer to an objection which may probably, and not unnaturally, have occurred to the minds of many hon. Gentlemen on seeing the Amendment I am about to move standing in my name. It may be thought that, as a Nonconformist, I have no right to meddle in a matter that relates to the internal organization and government of the Church of England. But then, unfortunately, in the eye of the law, we are all members of the Church of England, whether we like it or no, and cannot shake ourselves free from that relation and the obligations it involves. Besides which, we must remember that Parliament is the supreme Governing Body of the Church of England, and we, upon whom this high function devolves, are bound to fulfil it according to the best exercise we can of our judgment and conscience. I acknowledge the anomaly. I confess that it appears to me a flagrant absurdity, that a Body constituted as this House is—and it cannot be otherwise constituted, if it is to be a fair representation of the people of this country—a House consisting of members of the Church of Rome, of the Greek Church, of Presbyterians of various denominations, of Independents, Baptists, Wesleyan and Calvinistic Methodists, members of the Society of Friends, Unitarians, Jews, and I know not how many other forms of religious faith or no faith, should have committed to it the duty of regulating everything pertaining to the 490 faith and practice, to the doctrine, discipline and worship of a Protestant Episcopal Church. With my conception of what a Christian Church is or ought to be, this is a condition of things which is to me inexpressibly painful and deplorable. And I have no doubt that there are many thoughtful and earnest members of the Church of England in this House who are deeply distressed by it, and would gladly, if they could, find some way of escape. I remember the right bon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. G. Hardy) some years ago, under the pressure of this difficulty, suggesting that the Roman Catholic and Nonconformist Members of the House might be asked to abstain from taking any part in discussing and voting on questions connected with the Church of England. But that, of course, was only a momentary thought, extorted by the sense of embarrassment which he felt, for the right hon. Gentleman could not have seriously meant that we should divide ourselves in this House into sections or large Committees, according to our religious belief, for in that case we should claim reciprocity. If Roman Catholics and Nonconformists are to abstain from taking part in discussing and deciding Church of England questions, then the members of the Church of England must in like manner abstain from interfering in questions affecting the rights and interests of Roman Catholics and Nonconformists. I remember, also, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), on the same or a similar occasion, saying that ecclesiastical legislation has become very difficult in this House, and that it may become impossible. But all this is inevitable so long as we have the Church connected with the State. For, as Bishop Warburton says—The Church has resigned her independency, and made the magistrate her supreme head, without whose approbation she can direct, order, and decree nothing.Such being the ease, what can we do when matters of this kind are thrust upon us—for thrust upon us they are—without any will of our own? I can say, with all sincerity, that it is no pleasure to me to have to discuss questions of this nature in this House; because I feel it is very difficult to do so without wounding the susceptibilities of hon. Gentle- 491 men, whose conscientious convictions differing from mine, I wish to treat with honour and respect, and between whom and myself there are, I have no doubt, many points of sympathy on matters of far greater importance than those pertaining to ecclesiastical polity and organization. I wish to say, that in opposing this Bill I have no special antipathy to Bishops. I may not look upon them in the same light as many hon. Members of this House probably do. I do not believe that diocesan Episcopacy was any part of primitive Christianity, but rather an excrescence that has grown upon it since. Neither do I believe—though I am far from wishing to treat with ridicule, or disrespect those who do—in those mystic spiritual powers which Bishops are supposed to possess, and to be able to communicate to others. Still, as Pope says—Even in a Bishop I can spy desert.There are many Bishops of the Church of England whose names and memories I hold in as deep veneration as anyone in this House. The names of such men as Hooper and Latimer, of Leighton and Usher, of Taylor and Beveridge, or Berkeley and Butler, and many others who, by their saintly lives, or their admirable writings, have rendered inestimable service to the cause of Christianity in this land. But I object to this Bill, because it asks this House to concur in perpetuating and extending the creation of a class of politico-ecclesiastical State officials, whose existence, in my opinion, is not to the advantage of either Church or State. That an Episcopal Church should have Bishops, and have them in sufficient number to meet all its requirements, is a position so obvious that it admits of no doubt, and needs no argument. And, perhaps, nothing more shows the utterly crippled and helpless condition of the Church of England, than the fact that, though it has been in existence for upwards of 300 years, it has made only one addition to its Episcopate in the whole of that time. Compare this with the state of things in the United States of America. There is an Episcopal Church in that country—and a vigorous and flourishing Episcopal Church—of which the venerable Dr. Pusey says that—Severed from the protection of the State, it first struck root when it was deprived of all human 492 support, and long ago it quadrupled, while the population doubled only.In 1830, the number of dioceses in the United States was only 12. Now it is 41, besides 9 missionary Bishops, the sphere of whose operations is also, I believe, in their native country; while, as I have already said, with one exception, no addition has been made to the number of English Bishops for more than 300 years. Why is this difference? The reason is perfectly simple. One is a free Church, and can expand and adapt itself to the growth of population and the changing circumstances of the times; while the other is a Church in bondage to the State; and in this—as in a hundred other matters, is "cabbined, cribbed, confined" by that relation. I have been told by some hon. Members since my Notice has appeared on the Paper, that this is only an act of the Episcopal Church to extend and perfect its own organization. If it had been that, not one word would have fallen from my lips in opposition to it. But it is as far as possible from being that. In fact, the Church has nothing to do with it. It has no part or lot in this matter. It has no voice in the new adjustment of dioceses, no voice in the re-distribution of patronage, no voice in the election of the new Bishop. The new Bishop will be a State official, and although not sitting for the present in the House of Lords, he will have the right to do so in rotation, and that gives a political character to the appointment, which will, no doubt, be influenced—as most such appointments are—by political motives. For, how are Bishops appointed? Of course, by the Prime Minister, and very generally for political reasons. One of the Ecclesiastical journals says—A Bishop is a mere nominee of the Crown or Prime Minister: comes to his flock as a governor appointed over them without their concurrence or consent. What amount of cordial sympathy can he expected to exist between pastor or people in this state of mutual relationship? The pastor, only too naturally, fails to feel any responsibility towards those who have not reposed their confidence in him hy choosing him as their leader and guide, or even by consenting to his appointment. But he does feel—and the less fervent his piety the more keenly does he feel—a sense of the responsibility towards the power that did nominate him for consecration. Hence we ever find, with rare and noble exceptions, Bishops siding with the Crown or Parliament against the real spiritual needs 493 their flocks, sympathizing with Acts of Parliament, out of sympathy with zeal.And although for the present the appointment is to be made by Her Majesty the Queen, by Letters Patent, yet as the Bill evidently contemplates the ultimate creation of a Dean and Chapter, we shall then have the shocking profanation of an election by the congé d'elire, when the Dean and Chapter solemnly meet to invoke the Divine guidance to enable them to choose a chief pastor of the diocese, when the choice has been already made for them by the Prime Minister, and that choice is imposed on them in so peremptory a fashion that, in ease of refusal, they are liable to heavy penalties—such as forfeiture of land and imprisonment. But there is another objection I have to this Bill, and there I have a distinct. locus standi as a Nonconformist—that is, that it proceeds on the assumption that practically, as well as theoretically, the whole population of this country are members of the Church of England. The promoters of an increased Episcopate always quite coolly take this for granted. They point to a particular district or country, which has so many hundreds of thousands of souls, and they say, there is only one Bishop to take care of all these souls, while it is perfectly well known to everybody that there are millions of people in this country—I am sure it is no exaggeration to say more than one-half of the church and chapel-going population—who have renounced their allegiance to the Church, and who, therefore, do not require, and will not accept, Episcopal supervision. Now, as a Nonconformist, I protest against keeping up this fiction. Take, for instance, the case of Cornwall. Much was made in "another place" of the destitution of Cornwall, when a similar Bill to this was under discussion. It was said that another Bishop was imperatively demanded for that part of the country. And immediately the Lord Lieutenant of the county got up in his place and declared that they did not want any Bishop, as the great bulk of the people were Nonconformists. This view of the matter has been so forcibly put in an article which appeared a few weeks ago in The Times, that I ask permission of the House to read a few sentences from it. After referring to some objections made 494 by Lord Shaftesbury to Lord Lyttelton's Bill, the article proceeds—But if Lord Shaftesbury seems to go a little further than becomes a professed Churchman, the great majority of the inhabitants of these Isles, for one reason or another, go a good deal further in their objection to any functionary who assumes to combine in his own person spiritual with political power and authority. They do not like being any wise committed to it, even if themselves be absolutely protected against it, and their body, soul, and estate, be in no wise threatened. The feeling of a Nonconformist, a Presbyterian, or a Roman Catholic is that if a man choose to call himself the Bishop of Colchester, we will say, and is so called by his co-religionists, they have no objection; but they do object to their representatives in Parliament giving any national sanction to the exclusive assumption of that character. If we suppose any town or district where one form of Dissent or any other now seems in full possession, it may very consistently object to Parliament permitting anybody to claim, by his very title, authority over the souls whose lot is cast within those boundaries.But does anybody want more Bishops of the same type as those now existing? I fail to see any evidence of that. Who wants them? Certainly, not the Nonconformists, who refuse to acknowledge their authority or to accept their services. But do members of the Church of England ask for more? I believe that considerable machinery has been set in operation to get up Petitions in favour of an increased Episcopate. But in the last Report of the Committee on Public Petitions it would appear that the Petitions hitherto presented had an aggregate number of signatures not amounting to quite 3,000. But the best proof that there is no demand for more Bishops is the Universal dissatisfaction expressed by all parties in the Church with the present Bishops. And what renders this the more striking is the fact that no one pretends to deny that the Gentlemen who occupy the Bench are not only gentlemen of irreproachable personal character, but of most exemplary diligence in the discharge of their laborious duties. And yet how are they spoken of by the organs of the various parties in the Church? I will take first The Standard, which is understood to be the organ of the Conservative Party generally. In 1864, that journal said—The Bench of Bishops is filled with the Ministers' creatures who openly avow, with an elasticity of conscience to which only Episcopacy can attain, that they are bound to vote even for a falsehood, rather than not magnify their makers.495 Then take the organs of the High Church Party generally. I find in The Church Times these words—There is probably no body of men in the world who, so far as outward evidence goes, care less for the furtherance of religion than the English Bishops.The same journal in April, 1868, said—A sad and lengthened experience has taught us that there is little to be hoped for from the present Bench of Bishops, when cowardice and unfaithfulness prompt the evasion of a plain duty.The Church Herald again, the organ of another section of the High Church party, says—There never was a time when the members of the Episcopal body were held in less respect and repute than at present, or when their power to control the clergy except by legal process was so weak.And what makes the fact of the existence of this feeling among the class represented by The Church Times and The Church Herald more significant and remarkable is the fact that they regard the Episcopal office with an almost idolatrous veneration. I remember when the Oxford Tracts first appeared, they spoke of the Bishops in language that seemed to me, I own, to be extravagant. They said—The Bishops stand in the place of the Apostles so far as the office of ruling is concerned; and whatever we ought to do, had we lived when the Apostles were alive, the same ought we to do for the Bishops. He that despiseth them despiseth the Apostles.Again, addressing the clergy—Exalt our holy Fathers, the Bishops, as the representatives of the Apostles and the Angels of the Churches, and magnify your office as being ordained by them to take part in their ministry.And yet, in spite of this profound reverence for the office, such as I have quoted is the language they use in reference to those who now fill that office. There is another powerful Party in the Church, the Evangelical Party. The judgment pronounced by the organs of that Party is no less emphatic. Thus I find The Rock speaking in 1869—Do our Bishops sit in the House of Lords to maintain the rights of their Order? If so, they have betrayed them. Do they sit there to maintain the cause of the Established religion which they profess? This, too, they have betrayed with the spirit of a craven, and with a baseness that has no parallel in the annals even of Paganism. Do they sit there as the guardians of the Protestant interest, of a Protestant Empire? These, too, they have betrayed, and not only 496 betrayed, but have thrown the full weight of their position and power into the opposing scale of Popery.The same unfortunate journal, on another occasion, speaks in the following accents of despair:—The life of a Protestant journalist, always one of constant labour and anxiety, is rendered doubly harassing by the action of the Bishops. One or other member of the Episcopal Bench is for ever doing something that he, if faithful to his Ordination vows, ought not to have done, or leaving undone something that, as the overseer of a Protestant Church, he ought to do. And all this while there be some amongst us who raise the cry of 'More Bishops,' to which the nation's response will shortly be, 'Save us from those we have.'The Record, another important organ of the same party, said in 1869—The Prelates have acted in direct opposition to the cause of Protestantism, and instead of maintaining', like their forefathers, a firm protest against 'the Man of Sin,' they have invited the bitter gibes of Liberationists, who have said that the 'almighty dollar,' and not Christian Protestantism, is now the watchword of the Bishops.And in regard to the latest act of the Bishops—the issue of their allocution on the state of the Church—I find one of the Church journals, The Church Herald, giving a sort of résumé or summary of the judgment pronounced by the whole Ecclesiastical Press of the country on this act, which is represented as one of universal dissatisfaction. It gives extracts from The Guardian, Record, John Bull, Church Times, Church Review, Church News of Scotland, and Literary Churchman, and then sums up the whole in the following words:—Whatever this response may reveal as to the relations between the clergy and the laity, it leaves no doubt upon another matter which is hardly of less importance. It makes it unmistakably clear that the great alienation under which we are suffering is that of the whole Church, clergy, and laity alike, from the Bishops. It is manifest that all confidence in them is gone—happily not as Bishops, but only as men. Their office was never so highly esteemed as at present, and it may be added that their inherent claims as Catholic Bishops were never so firmly established. But no one trusts them. The all but universal judgment upon them (and of course as we are all compromised by their proceedings, we are all entitled to form one) is that their rule is not equitable and impartial, that their speeches and letters are not straightforward and truthful, and that, being the Church's highest officers, they are, unhappily, too ready to sacrifice her rights and claims, and even her doctrine, to popular clamour or for the sake of standing well with the world.Now, I offer no opinion as to the cor- 497 rectness or justice of these opinions. I merely refer to them as indications of the state of feeling that exists in the Church itself in regard to the existing Bishops, and as a strong presumption that at least there is no desire for an increase of the same class of Bishops. But I think I have proof that there is not merely indifference, but positive hostility against the present projects for an increased Episcopate. Some one has sent me a paper containing an account of a remarkable meeting lately held in Exeter, and Exeter is a sort of Mecca of Episcopacy. We are told that it was called by a circular largely signed by laymen and clerics belonging to all schools and parties in the Church. After long consultation the conclusion in thus stated—In the discussion which followed the greatest unanimity was evinced as to the scandalous injustice involved in the present mode of appointing Bishops, and as to the particular injustice contemplated in Lord Lyttelton's Bill by denying to Churchmen any voice in the election of the Bishops of the new Sees for which Churchmen are expected to provide funds. The meeting was also unanimous in considering that now or never was the time for the Church to assert her right in this matter. Indeed, the only difference of opinion was as to whether the demand should not he made applicable to the whole system of appointing Bishops, instead of being confined to the new Sees to be created under the Bills of Lord Lyttelton and Mr. Cross, and ultimately an Amendment, placing the demand on the broad and general basis, was carried by a large majority.With regard to the particular arrangements made under the Bill, I have not much to say. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, in introducing the measure, was eloquent as to the generosity of the Bishops of Winchester and Rochester, the one for giving up his country, and the other his town residence to form the nucleus of a fund for the endowment of the new Bishopric. He said that it was really a gift offered to the Church by the Bishops. With all respect this does not appear a very accurate description of the matter. These Bishops at most had only surrendered their interest in two residences during their term of office. Beyond that, they were merely liberal with other people's property. Why, Danbury, the residence of the Bishop of Rochester, was bought for him or his predecessor some 30 years ago by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for £28,157. And with regard to the great sacrifice made in re- 498 gard to these houses, one of the clerical journals says—Great praise has been bestowed upon Dr. Harold Browne and Dr. Claughton for their very generous and most noble offers; but the truth seems to be that the palaces which they have offered to give up are of the nature of white elephants—that is to say, of possessions which, in the present state of Episcopal incomes, are rather an embarrassment than a benefit.Besides which, each of them gives up £500 a-year, not from his own salary but from the salary of his successor to augment the income of the new Bishopric. So that their generosity rather reminds one of the inscription which some wag placed on a bridge built by a Mr. Brown—Mr. Brown, of his great bounty,Built this bridge at the expense of the county!Some years ago, an attempt was made to increase the Episcopate. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Horsman) opposed it in so powerful and convincing a speech that he seems for the time to have defeated theproject. That, like the present project, did not propose to ask any money direct from the coffers of the State for endowing the new Bishoprics, but to do so by manipulating existing ecclesiastical funds. The ground taken by the right hon. Gentleman on that occasion was ground which I think may be fitly taken by conscientious Churchmen on the present occasion. He contended that if they had funds at their disposal by the better administration of ecclesiastical property, the money could be turned to better account in the augmentation of small livings, than in the creation and endowment of new Bishops. He stated some most startling facts as to the condition of the working clergy; and although, no doubt, much improvement has taken place since then, there is still ample room for further improvement in this matter. Canon Gregory, at a meeting of the Curates' Augmentation Fund, lately held at Willis's Rooms, stated that there are 1,742 beneficed clergy who receive only £100 a-year; 2,035 who receive between £100 to £150; and 1,796 between £150 and £200. So that there are 5,573 beneficed clergy whose income is below, or only £200 a-year. The condition of the curates is still worse, and this being so, if you can economize anything out of the revenues of the Church, is not this 499 a better direction for its use than in the multiplication of Bishops? When I consider the formidable assaults that are made in these days upon the foundations, I will not say, of the Christian religion, but of all religious faith, so that men's minds are filled with trouble and anxiety on the most important of all questions, and then see how those who are, or who claim to be, the official representatives of the national Christianity, omitting the weightier matters of the law, are busying themselves with what I call the "mint and anise and cummin" of religion, with questions of postures, and gestures, and garments—when I think of the masses of our population that are lying outside the pale, I will not say of the Church of England, but, unhappily, of all our Churches—and I could quote an eloquent passage to this effect from a book lately published by the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope), a book in the views of which I do not agree, but which I have read with admiration of its ability, learning, and temper; and when I further think of the hundreds—nay, thousands—of the working clergy of the Church of England—godly, learned, and laborious men, who are leading a life of pinching penury which it is most painful to contemplate, and then hear the cry for more Bishops, more Bishops for the House of Lords, more Bishops for whom large salaries and sumptuous palaces must be provided, and who have to be clothed in purple and fine linen, I feel inclined to say—Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istia Tempus eget.I have no wish to put any obstacle in the way of the increased efficiency of the Church as a spiritual institution. On the contrary, I can with my whole heart wish it God-speed in all work of this nature that it is doing. But if the Church of England wishes really to develop its forces—and I believe there are great forces capable of development in that Church—it can only be on one condition, and that is freedom—freedom from that entangling alliance with the State which cripples its energies, sullies its purity, compromises its dignity, impairs its efficiency, and gives rise to many occasions of scandals, which bring reproach, not on the Church only, but on our common Christianity.
§ 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. Richard.)
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, no doubt, the hon. Gentleman, from his own point of view, was right in his general argument at first; but he strayed away from the points with which he had a right to deal when he brought forward trumpery rubbish from old articles in The Rock and The Church Herald, as if they were the voice of the real parties in the Church of England. As a High Churchman he repudiated The Church Herald, and he would like to see any member of the great Low Church party get up and say he was not ashamed of The Rock. If he had cared to come down with his pockets stuffed with all the little contemptible so-called religious organs of the various sects of Nonconformists, he could easily have capped any of those quotations which the hon. Member had given, or could give, from the most flimsy utterances of any little section in the Church of England, by language even more outrageous from those foolish periodicals, and equally written to sell and not to convince. If they wanted the real opinion of the English Church they must look elsewhere. The question must be treated on a broader ground; and in occupying it, the hon. Gentleman had, in fact, destroyed his own argument by his candour in appealing to them to look upon the Church as a spiritual organization. His contention answered itself, because he failed to disprove that this Bill was intended to develop in the truest sense the spiritual organization of the Church of England. The Church of England was an Episcopal Church, by which was meant that it considered Bishops to be an integral portion of the Christian ministry: working ministers with definite religious duties as much as the pastors of any congregation. So by the essential principles of that Church, a Bill to increase the Episcopate was a Bill to strengthen the Christian ministry. The hon. Gentleman rode off by denouncing Bishops as pompous worldlings, and tried to derogate from the unselfish generosity shown by two of that body in respectively offering to give up a town and a country house, on the score that those were only official residences, as if the abandonment of an official residence was not a personal sa- 501 crifiee to an office holder who was living in it. The hon. Member had no right to bring such charges against the Episcopate, before he could prove that the Bishops of our Church had not largely and habitually contributed out of their own means, and even sacrificed their own private fortunes for the good of the Church. He had found much comfort for his opinions in some spasmodic resolutions passed at a meeting at Exeter. Now, no Bishop had in his lifetime the character of being more prelatic than the late Bishop of Exeter, but whatever might have been thought of the theological opinions of Bishop Phillpotts, of his splendid munificence there could be no doubt; and when he remembered the gigantic, unresting work of a Wilber-force, and the deep learning of a Thirlwall, he could not patiently listen to comparisons between the general body of the clergy and the Bishops, as if the latter were rich drones and the parish clergy the only people who sacrificed life, health, time, and comfort to the service of their Lord and Master. It could not be denied that this Bill was a private re-arrangement within the lines of the Church of England of its own resources, and in that character it ought to be safe from such opposition as had been offered to it. He (Mr. Beresford Hope) took the present Bill as it stood, and he thanked all who had been concerned in bringing it forward. He said that with the more feeling, because he had himself charge of another measure which had been carried through the House of Lords by his noble Friend Lord Lyttelton, and which he hoped would be accepted in that House also. He saw no discrepancy between the two Bills, which had the same object of increasing the efficiency of the Episcopate. They were drawn on different lines; but the lines were parallel, not clashing. This measure provided for a peculiar and exceptional want, which there were peculiar and exceptional means to meet; and the other provided for no new Sees by name, while it supplied a general machinery for the creation of new dioceses when means were forthcoming from private sources. The ancient See of Rochester, having by the growth of London been brought close to the metropolis, it was an eminently practical step to make a Bishopric of South London attached to Rochester. Surrey was 502 now partly a rural and partly an urban county, and wherever the great community of London had surged over and spread itself, those old county distinctions had disappeared, and the Capital only remained to be treated in its great unity by all the special appliances needed to provide for the spiritual necessities of the population. Rural Surrey still remained attached to the old princely See of Winchester, and he thought it well that, for the present, at least, that famous diocese should retain so much of its former amplitude. Rochester, too, had a magnificent Cathedral and great traditions, and there was already a teeming Kentish London under its administration, and these considerations justified placing urban Surrey under the charge of the Bishop of Rochester. He had ventured to make these remarks because he believed that a feeling natural in itself, though, he thought, overstrained, had shown itself in some Surrey quarters against any dismemberment of the county. Essex and Hertfordshire, which had been by the strange management of Church reformers in the bygone generation, joined to the diocese of Rochester, were clearly marked out as fitting space for a Bishopric, even if the area had not contained a church so historical and artistic as the Abbey Church of St. Albans. There was there the largest church in the Realm, and one of the grandest, which marked the spot where the first Christian blood in the Island was shed. On that spot, the historical, the practical, and the sentimental met, and such a place was eminently fitted to become the head-quarters of a new diocese. If Surrey wanted a Bishop Lord Lyttelton's Bill showed the way to provide one. Let that Bill become law, and the Surrey people would then only have to find the means. Surrey could thus become a diocese with its cathedral at St. Saviour's, and West Kent would be quite a sufficient area for the pastoral care of the Bishop of Rochester. But in the meantime, let the friends of the Church take the good thing that was offered in the present measure, and seek to supplement it by the wider provisions of the pending enabling Bill. He thanked Her Majesty's Government for this good beginning, and he trusted to see further progress made in the same direction.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he was one of those who concurred in 503 the conclusions at which the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had arrived, although from different and almost opposite reasons. He had never been in favour of the disestablishment of the Church of England, which he had always thought had been a great advantage to the country, because the Church of England was regulated, governed, and, he might almost say, created by Parliament and the State. The reason why he should support this Bill was that, in the most distinct manner, it pointed out that situation of the Church of England. The reason that he approved of this Bill was that it was founded on what was sometimes attacked as Erastianism. But for this Bill there could be no Bishop of St. Albans. His appointment and authority were to be regulated by Act of Parliament, and the nomination was to be made by the Chief Officer of the State in this country. That might be a right or a wrong theory. He thought it a right theory, and he should approve the Bill. The Bill having proposed to create a Bishopric by Act of Parliament, and a Bishop by patent, proceeded to lay down other regulations which were to be made by the Queen in Council. Now anything more accurate than that constitutional view of the nature of a national Church, he thought, it would be impossible to conceive. The hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard) pointed out that the Church had nothing to say to the Bill; that neither Convocation nor the clergy generally had been asked their opinion as to whether there should be a new Bishop or not, or as to where the new Bishopric was to be situated. That very fact, however, furnished the strongest possible vindication of the argument of those who maintained that the assent of Convocation was not necessary in such cases. The Bill, in short, brought forth in the clearest way the principles on which Church legislation was really founded. It asserted the absolute authority of Parliament that it was the prerogative of Parliament to deal with the affairs of the Church on its own authority without consulting the clergy or anybody else. But for the very same reasons for which he should give his support to the present measure, he should certainly object to that roving Bill for the creation of impecunious and eleemosynary Bishoprics 504 throughout the country which the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. B. Hope) was about to bring under the notice of the House. The Bill under discussion seemed to him to be a practical proposal founded on sound principles, assuming the propriety—a question which ought not to be argued on that occasion—of the existence of an Establishment. Whether or not an establishment was capable of being defended, they ought not to argue the question on a Bill like that. This was not a question of whether they were to help a Bishopric by holding a bazaar, or handing the hat round. He agreed with the hon. Member (Mr. B. Hope) in his disapproval of the use which had been made of the extracts from newspapers. Prom his experience of the semi-religious and semi-ecclesiastical papers, he should think that they were among the most foolish to be found among the periodical press. Reference had been made to the language used in The Standard newspaper in the year 1864, and though he did not remember all the leading articles which for 20 years past had appeared in The Standard he should judge that the language referred to was used the morning after some Party division, in which the Bishops had voted on the wrong side. He should rather choose to refer to a more recent copy of that paper, and take the number which appeared the other day, in which that well-informed journal stated that the only two Bishops who voted were in favour of the Government Army Bill, and on that occasion The Standard expressed a more favourable opinion than it had set forth so many years previously, and therefore he did not think they ought to judge the authorities of the Church by extracts picked out of newspapers in such a manner. An objection had been made to the appointment of the Bishops being intrusted to the Minister of the day. But who was the Minister of the day? He was a person elected by a majority of the Representatives of the people, and the object of placing the appointment of the Bishops in his hands was that their election should be made in accordance with the national sentiment. He believed this plan would be likely to secure the nomination of sensible and temperate persons, while if the power was vested in the clergy themselves the ap- 505 pointment would represent nothing but the violent opinions of the majority which happened to be dominant in the Church at that particular time. For these reasons, he was not at all unfavourable to the political nomination of Bishops. This Bill had been framed strictly in accordance with the general principles, whether good or bad, on which the Church stood—namely, the right of Parliament to deal with the affairs of the Church absolutely and without control—and, therefore, it should have his support.
§ COLONEL MAKINS
reminded the hon. and learned Member for Oxford that though the Crown could nominate to a Bishopric the person nominated did not become a Bishop until he was consecrated, so that it was not correct to say that the Crown could make a Bishop. It was right enough that the Crown should make territorial arrangements for the Church; but dealing with faith and doctrine was altogether a different matter. The Bill of last year did not refer to these matters. With reference to the demand of a Bishopric for Cornwall he should say that the fact of there being so few Churchmen there, was owing to the want of a Bishop. He hoped the Government would meet the necessity in a practical manner. He desired to express the opinions of his constituents in Essex in favour of the Bill, and though they did not all approve the territorial arrangements in their details, they were in favour of the Bill as a step in the right direction.
§ MR. MONK
agreed very much with the views expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Oxford. He considered that it was better that a new Bishopric of St. Albans should be created than that a Suffragan Bishop should be appointed. He thought no one would deny that the Bishops of Winchester and Rochester had shown great consideration in depriving themselves of their residences and of part of their incomes in order to help to endow the diocese of St. Albans. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in this Bill had dispensed with the appointment of a Dean and Chapter for the election of the first Bishop—he had recurred to the practice of appointment by Letters Patent, which obtained in the reign of Edward VI., and had entirely given up the principle of election by congé d'élire. When the 506 Bill went into Committtee it was his intention to move that it was inexpedient that any Bishop of St. Albans should be appointed otherwise than by Letters Patent from the Crown.
§ MR. GRANTHAM
claimed for the large population of Surrey that it had a right to be heard in this matter. The hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard) urged that there was no strong feeling for the appointment of a Bishop, because Petitions had not been sent up; but the truth was, that most people who took an interest in such matters preferred to make their views known through their Representatives. If they analyzed the statistics in relation to the population of the districts to be effected by the change, they would find that the new Bishop of Rochester would be practically the Bishop of Surrey, for out of 1,250,000 souls which the diocese would contain, it would be found that 1,000,000 of them would live in two of the divisions of Surrey; and, as one of the Members for Surrey, he hoped the House would allow him to say a word or two upon the subject, because he must admit that most of his constituents, who felt interested in the matter, had been much opposed to this Bill, because they thought that the importance of the county, from population and position, was such that Surrey should have a Bishop to itself, and they were very much opposed to any division of their county, as well as to its being simply tacked on to Rochester. At first, he was inclined to agree with them, and to think also that that alteration of the dioceses was done simply for the benefit of the Bishops of St. Albans and of Winchester, and looking at it as a question of population only, there could be no doubt that it was a direct benefit to them, as they were relieved of the largest mass of their population without any practical reduction of their incomes, while the new diocese of Rochester would have a far larger population than either of the old bishoprics, but would only receive half the emoluments. Looking, however, to area, it would be found that the old bishoprics would still have far larger dioceses than the new one, and quite as large as they could properly work, and as to income, the new diocese of Rochester would, at the death of the present Bishop—who would, it was believed, exchange his Bishopric for the new see of St. Albans—receive the same income that 507 was assigned to the majority of the other bishoprics. While, if they did not accept the scheme which was undoubtedly a great improvement of the existing state of things, he could not see his way to any improvement being made for many years. They ought to look to the practical rather than the particular and sentimental result of the measure. The inhabitants of Surrey ought, therefore, he thought, to accept the Bill, and be thankful to the Home Secretary for the efforts he had made to meet their wants. With these views, he should support the Bill, but he would suggest that the name should be altered from the Bishopric of Rochester to that of Rochester and Southwark. There was in Southwark one of the finest churches (St. Saviour's) in the South of England, and the new Bishop would therefore find a suitable Cathedral church for his ministrations. The best answer that could be given to the hon. Member for Merthyr, that instead of creating bishoprics measures should be taken for increasing the incomes of the clergy, was to be found in the establishment of the Bishop of London's fund and a similar one in the diocese of Winchester, which funds were entirely owing to the work of the respective Bishops of those dioceses.
§ SIR THOMAS CHAMBERS
said, that although he could not agree with the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. B. Hope), and the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt), in their very different reasons for supporting the measure, yet he should support the second reading of the Bill. He would first trouble the House with a brief chapter from his own ecclesiastical biography. He was born in the town of Hertford, where he lived for a time under the mild reign of Dr. Kaye, Hertford then forming part of the diocese of Lincoln. Before he was confirmed, and without his consent, he was transferred to the more vigorous administration of Dr. Bloomfield to the diocese of London, and again, without his consent, he was transferred to the diocese of Rochester. It was, however, obviously inconvenient to be governed by a Bishop so distant as the Bishop of Lincoln, and also equally inconvenient to be governed by a Bishop living on the other side of the Thames, and he therefore accepted the Bill as a mere re-arrange- 508 ment of dioceses, so that Hertford and Essex might be more efficiently governed under a resident Bishop. He thought the Home Secretary had done well to bring in this Bill.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he did not intend to enter into the broad question raised by the hon. Member (Mr. Richard) as to the existence or not of the Established Church. He fully agreed with those who held that the nation gained more from its connection with the Church than the Church gained from connection with the State. At the same time, he was fully alive to the advantages which the Church derived from its connection with the State. Persons of all denominations also gained much from the established existence of a Church celebrated for its moderate doctrine, and in which, in the main, every one was kept practically to that doctrine. He need not refer to the great benefits which the Church of England had conferred upon Christendom by the position it had taken in regard to the doctrines of the Reformation, and in setting an example to all other religious denominations in regard to the work of the poor. Assuming that the Church of England was to continue to exist, and that there were to be Bishops in it, then, if there were three large dioceses in it like London, Rochester, and Winchester, the Bishops of which had more work on their hands than they could possibly get through, and if they came to an arrangement beneficial to the Church by dividing those three dioceses into four, and by that means the work could be better carried out both with respect to the Church and the nation, then this Parliament would be wise to accept it. Upon that practical ground he based this Bill. His hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey (Mr. Grantham) had stated with perfect truth that there was at first considerable opposition in that county to the Bill because the inhabitants of that county had done a great deal towards providing a Bishop of Surrey; but he believed that now the common sense prevailing in the county and other parts of the diocese was that this was a practical measure for meeting the present purpose, and would be a great relief to the Bishop of Winchester, and insure due episcopal supervision for that part of Surrey which would be transferred to the diocese of Rochester. With regard 509 to his hon. Friend's proposal that the Bishop should he called the Bishop of Rochester and Southwark, there was, he was informed, a practical objection. He did not wish to create by this Bill a Bishopric of Southwark as well as Rochester. He knew of no precedent for a Bishopric being called by two names, unless there had been two Sees previously in existence. If he called the Bishopric by the two names, he would be creating practically a Bishopric of Southwark. He had met the people of Surrey so far that there was a clause in the Bill providing that the residence of the Bishop of Rochester should be in Southwark. That would be a position from which the diocese would be very easily worked, and it would give great satisfaction to that part of the country. He trusted the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) would not think it necessary to encumber the Bill by an abstract Resolution on the subject of the congé d'élire, because he had made no provision in the Bill for the establishment of a dean and chapter, having no funds for that purpose. The dean and chapter could not be created without an Act of Parliament, when the hon. Member could state his objections, and mean-while the Bishop of St. Albans would be created by the Crown by Letters Patent. These three Bishops deserved the thanks of the Church, and, above all, of the inhabitants of the diocese over which they presided, for the arrangements they had made for dividing the dioceses and for the sacrifices they had made. As the character of the Bishops generally had been somewhat impugned, he must say that he did not think there could be found a body of men of an equal amount of learning and intelligence who were animated by a more direct and single-minded wish to devote their lives to the performance of their duties or who worked harder than the Bishops of the Church of England.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 273; Noes 61: Majority 212.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday.