§ MR. LEATHAM,
in rising to call attention to the traffic in Church livings, and to move—That it is desirable to adopt measures for preventing simoniacal evasion' of the Law, and checking abuses in the sale of livings in private patronage,said: Mr. Speaker, I have purposely adhered to the words of the Resolution passed last year, with the full concurrence of the Government, and by the unanimous vote of this House. I have done so, because I am desirous of securing the same unanimity to-day, which, with the assistance of my hon. Friend the Member for South - east Lancashire (Mr. Hardcastle), I was fortunate in securing last year; not because I do not think that the scandals and abuses in connection with the disposal of private patronage are not great enough, and patent enough, to have warranted a far stronger expression of opinion on the part of this House, and one which I shall not hesitate to embody in a Resolution at some future time, if it shall please the House to pass this Motion to-night; and if this reiterated expression of opinion on the part of the House shall meet with no further recognition on the part of the Government than that which they have bestowed upon the Motion of last year. And I express myself a little strongly, Sir, because I never remember, since I have had the honour of a seat in this House, that when a Resolution has received the unanimous assent of the House, and has been passed with the full concurrence of Her Majesty's Ministers, the Government of the day has thought itself entitled to pass such a Resolution by—I do not say with contempt—but in absolute silence. Let me remind my right hon. Friend, who has the chief charge of domestic legislation in this House, of what fell from him during the debate last year. My right hon. Friend stated that—He felt bound to say that in this case there was proof of abuse, and he hoped, on whichever side of the House he might be sitting, he should never be found standing up for that which he believed to be an abuse,1541 He said further—This was a matter with which he had endeavoured to deal by a Bill which he introduced, as a private Member, in 1870, and he did not desire to shrink from a single word which he used on that occasion."—[3 Hansard, ccxxxv. 315.]Now, what were the words which he used on that occasion?—When they loved an institution," he said, "as they all loved the Church, they ought to scrutinize every abuse; and the moment they found one they should sweep it away."—[3 Hansard, cci. 538.]He then asked the House to put an end to what he justly called "a great scandal to the Church, and an absolute insult to parishioners;" and the House appeared to be perfectly willing to do so, for it read a second time, without a single dissentient voice, my right hon. Friend's Bill on the 11th of May; but, for some reason which I think my right hon. Friend has yet to explain, that was positively the very last which we heard of his Bill. He loved the Church so well that he thought such an abuse as this should be swept away in a moment. Many moments have since elapsed, yet my right hon. Friend has never renewed his attempt; and, to judge from the Answer which he made to a Question of mine at the commencement of the Session, there is no longer much of the ambition of a sweep, in the feeling with which he regards this "scandal" and this "insult." But when this question came up again last year, my right hon. Friend's love of the Church blazed forth afresh. He not only confirmed everything which had fallen from him before, but he added the important declaration that—In his opinion, the taking of money for the sale of a next presentation was in the same category as the taking of money for giving a vote for a Member of that House. He could not see the distinction."—[3 Hansard, ccxxxv. 315.]And yet, though he thinks the sale of a next presentation as bad as bribery, though he thinks that such an abuse should be swept away in a moment, and though he is now armed with a unanimous Resolution of this House empowering him to deal with the question, he meets Parliament with his mind so fascinated by the roads and bridges of Scotland, that he has no leisure to deal with it at all, And it cannot be because 1542 my right hon. Friend stands alone in the Cabinet in his detestation of these abuses; for I remember that another right hon. Friend of mine, who, for a great Chief of warriors, I have always regarded as the most ecclesiastically-minded person in the House, stood manfully by him in his support of his Bill. I mean the Secretary of State for War. What he said was that—The Church of England did not consist of patrons and clergy alone, but of the flock also; and by this Bill the position of the flock was properly recognized."-—[3 Hansard, cci. 547.]And yet this proper position of the flock remains as completely unrecognized now as when the proper position of these two right hon. Gentlemen was still unrecognized by the country. Now, I cannot see the advantage which the public derives from the expression of these admirable sentiments on the part of right hon. Gentlemen, if, when they have the opportunity of bringing them into practice, and when they are further encouraged to do so by that unanimous vote of this House, which used to be considered as a command, they entirely refrain from moving in the matter. Why is it, I should like to know, that everyone who puts his hand to this plough turns back? Is it because it is supposed that this question touches upon the rights of property? I remember that one voice was raised in this sense last year, that of my hon. Friend the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means (Mr. Raikes). I wish that my hon. Friend had gone to a division. I should like the country to know precisely who they are in this House who regard the right of presentation less as a matter of trust than a matter of property. What said my hon. Friend?—The recommendations of the Committee of the other House, that the right of appointment should be considered as a trust, appeared to him to be begging the whole question. The point to be determined was not whether the right of presentation was a matter of trust, but a matter of property—a right, no doubt, to be governed and controlled in the interests of decency and propriety, but yet a right which was a matter of property."—[3 Hansard, ccxxxv. 317.]Now, my hon. Friend spoke at so late an hour that he had scarcely time to develop his argument. If he had done so, I think that he would have added another proposition which I find in- 1543 variably coupled with it, in the reasoning of those who take this particular line, and it is this—that when a man is ordained by the Bishop, something happens which makes him an elegible presentee to any living in the Kingdom. Proceeding upon these two propositions, why should we not go on to say—and I am quoting now from an able defence of the existing system which was published when it was attacked by the Bishop of Peterborough—why should we not go on to say thatthe best thing which could happen to the Church would he to sweep away the Simony Laws into the waste-paper basket?"Laws," which we are told, "were enacted when witches bestrode a broomstick;" and, further—That any person, with the sanction of the Ordinary, should have the right of purchasing any benefice, vacant or full;and that, sincefathers have bequeathed to their sons advowsons as their sole patrimony, women have gone to the altar, settlements have been made,and so forth; all "on the faith of the inviolable sanction of English law," any changes in the law which may have the effect of cheapening this vast property in the market would be just so much confiscation and robbery; and the Bishop of Peterborough's Bill, because it threatened to do so, was "a crimson sin." Now, if we are to grant the premises, it is perhaps difficult to point out a flaw in this argument; but if so, what are we compelled to infer? Why, that the Church of England is hopelessly saddled with a burthen which must weigh her to the earth. For if we are to be logical, if we are to sweep the Laws of Simony into the waste-paper basket, if we are to have free trade in benefices, vacant or full, how will the Church appear to the people, if not as a vast commercial organization for the profitable preaching of the Gospel? And I should like to know what Church has ever existed, which has dared to present so brazen a front to the world as that? Why, such a Church could not exist in this country for an hour! But if this be not the true notion of the rights of patrons, what is? There is only one other notion possible, and it is this—a notion sustained by all the laws and canons which have been passed upon the subject—that this kind 1544 of property carries a solemn trust, that the right of the patron to derive benefit from this property is strictly limited by the right of the congregation to enjoy the ministrations of a fit and proper person; therefore, that all methods of dealing with this property which defraud the congregation of that right ought to be prohibited by law, and that a law which does so prohibit them is no law of confiscation and robbery, but a measure of justice. Now, before I leave this point, let me quote a few words from a very powerful Pastoral delivered by the Bishop of Peterborough upon this subject a year or two ago; and I cannot help saying, in passing, that I think the highest praise is due to that right rev. Prelate for the courageous and unsparing censure which he has poured upon those who not only perpetrate these abuses, but defend them. Indeed, almost single-handed, I may say, he stood up in the House of Lords for the rights of religion against the claims of property—My answer to such a claim," he said, "is simply this. You are asking compensation for the loss of an immoral increment, and your claim is as immoral as the gain which you say will be lost to you. I ask you, if you have the courage to do so, to state plainly the items for which you claim compensation—for the privilege of forcing on a parish a paralytic pastor, so much; for the right to appoint a clergyman so scandalous that he cannot bring sufficient testimonials to his character, so much; for the right to appoint an octogenarian clergyman, in order to sell the living over his head, so much; and for the right generally to hurt the souls of parishioners for the sake of our private gain, so much.And now, Sir, let me turn to quite another kind of objection—that which comes from hon. Friends of mine who think that the terms of this Motion are not nearly broad enough. I was almost startled, when this subject was under discussion last year, by the attitude of hon. Friends of mine, who rose, in midnight wrath, and denounced the very innocent verbal compromise into which I entered with the view of securing unanimity. That happy oblivion which overtakes so much of the eloquence of the small hours, prevents my re-producing the terms in which my hon. Friends condemned my apostacy; but I remember that my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley) spoke of many clergymen of the Church of Eng- 1545 land as "atrocious and abominable Sepoys"—whatever that might mean— and that, with almost equal vivacity, my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) declared that not for a moment could he agree that there was any difference between the sale of a next presentation and the sale of an advowson; and that what he condemned in toto was the sale of a spiritual charge at all. Now, I am prepared to go almost all lengths with my hon. Friend in his condemnation, not only of the sale of next presentations, but of the sale of advowsons in gross; but what I would venture to point out to him is, that it is quite unnecessary for us to enter at all into this controversy to-night. This Resolution simply affirms that these scandals and abuses exist, and that it is desirable to take legislative measures to prevent them; and surely the Radicalism of my hon. Friend does not carry him so far as to make him prefer no bread to half-a-loaf. If I were framing a grand declaration of opinion upon this whole subject, I should introduce many things into this Resolution which I have purposely omitted. But what chance would there be that such a Resolution should pass the present House of Commons, or that it should lead to future legislation? We are practical men here; and to refuse all reforms because we cannot obtain every reform is a concession to abstract theory to which I, for one, will never stoop. Now, Sir, what are the scandals and abuses at which this Motion is chiefly aimed? I do not know that I can do better than to quote a paragraph from the evidence which the Bishop of Exeter gave before the Bishop of Peterborough's Committee; for, with great clearness, and at the same time with great moderation, that right rev. Prelate stated what the chief of those evils are—I think the worst evil of all, "he said," is the shock to the religious feeling of a great number of people, especially of the artizan class, and the lower middle class, who, I think, find it a very great hindrance to them, and a stumbling-block, greater than it is quite easy for more educated people to measure. I think the evil is so great, that it cuts as it were, at the very reason for the existence of a Church at all, because a Church only exists to help people to he Christians, and to he better Christians; and this, I think, is a positive hindrance in their way. I have constantly found, in conversation with them, that they look upon it as a personal humiliation when the advowson of the parish in which they live is sold; and I have no doubt at all that in 1546 that class a considerable number of quiet, religious people become Nonconformists simply from their hatred of what seems to them so exceedingly wrong in principle. That, I think, is the worst evil. But, then, I think, in the second place, there is a very great evil in the demoralization of the Clergy. In respect to this matter, I find constantly that the artificial character of the Law of Simony has the effect of making clergymen insensible to the evils of Simoniacal transactions altogether. I have known of very good men who were mixed up with transactions of this kind, who seemed not to be at all aware of the evil to which they were lending themselves.And he proceeds to give an instance—Then, in the third place," he goes on to say, "I think it is a very serious evil that there should be the scandal of such sales; that it should be constantly in the mouths of the enemies of the Church of England that positions in the Church are matters of barter and sale; and everybody is aware that it is constantly used by Nonconformists as an argument against the Church, and used with very considerable effect, to my knowledge. Then, in the fourth place, I think that the practice of sales has, to a very great degree, demoralized the patrons. The patrons very generally take a much lower view of their duty in the matter than they would take if there were no such thing as the sale of a living, and if a man felt only that he was a trustee, bound to find the best clergyman he could for the parish that was thus entrusted to his charge. I have not any doubt at all that the market-value of livings is higher in consequence of this general idea that a patron is not bound to find the best man that he can, and, indeed, that he is barely bound to find oven a fit man—that is to say, he is bound to find a man who is legally fit, a man who could not be proved to be unfit; but that he is not bound to take any very great pains to find a man who certainly is fit. Then, lastly, there can be no question at all that the present practice of the sale of advowsons and next presentations gives great facilities for abuse, and I have known instances of very serious abuse."—[Minutes of Evidence, pp. 61–62.]It will be observed that the Bishop divides those evils under five heads, and, with the permission of the House, I should like to say a few words upon two or three of them. And first, as to the shock to religious feeling. The Bishops themselves are all valuable witnesses to this fact—The sale of livings, "says the Bishop of Manchester," is a scandal, an evil, an abuse of a high and solemn trust, so pernicious in its influence, that every well-wisher of the Church ought to desire its removal. There was no scandal in the Church of England that so alienated, and kept alienated, the great Nonconformist bodies from them — bodies whom it should be the desire of every Churchman to bring back to the fold—so much as the sight of such things as he had mentioned.1547 Take an authority from quite another school of opinion in the Church—Shall any man," said the Bishop of Lincoln in his Pastoral for 1874,"treat Christian congregations, the sheep and lambs of Christ, as if they were only like the beasts that perish, to he carried from pens in market-places to slaughterhouses in the shambles? This is what is done by those Christian priests who, like the shepherds denounced in Ezekiel, undertake the pastoral office in order to eat the fat and clothe themselves with the wool.Now I have only quoted from three right rev. Prelates; but I might have quoted from the whole Bench, for this is an evil so great and glaring, and so entirely indefensible, that if we hold our peace even the Bishops cry out. And now, Sir, just to show how frequently these next presentations change hands, when the system of sales has free play, and the odd uses which are made of them, let me take the history of one living, the presentation to which is uniformly sold. I will take that of Wilmslow in Cheshire, a living worth some £1,600 a-year, in the gift of the Roman Catholic family of Dr. Trafford, and therefore invariably sold—at least, it has been for 217 years. Let us go back, say, to the life-time of the existing generation. In 1814 the Rev. Mr. Clowes bought it for his sister who had married the Rev. Joseph Bradshaw. The Rev. Joseph Bradshaw was duly instituted; and when, in 1824, he was upon his deathbed, the next presentation was sold in a great hurry in the hunting field for £6,000 to Mr. E. Vijor Fox. As the incumbent was in articulo mortis when the sale was made, the Bishop refused to institute the presentee of the new patron; whereupon the latter brought three actions against the Bishop, in the last of which he was successful. The litigation, however, lasted during several years, and in the meantime the Crown twice presented to the living. Immediately before the promotion to a Bishopric of the second presentee of the Crown, Mr. Fox, who had by this time won his action, sold the living to a Mr. Chambers, who bought it for his daughter. The daughter married a Mr. Brownlow, and made him rector in 1829. This poor Mr. Brownlow had a great deal to answer for. He was one of those extremely delicate men who are always dying yet never die. For 43 years he acted as a perfect decoy to the spiritual 1548 speculators of the district; and no less than three gentlemen in succession purchased the living for their sons, and finally threw up their bargains in despair, all through Mr. Brownlow's unreasonable attachment to life. Finally, Mr. Cope, the last of them, two years before Mr. Brownlow died for the last time, sold the presentation to a gentleman, who bought it for his daughter; and I am glad to say that that lady now reigns happily at the rectory. Now, the House will observe that the presentation to this living has been made thrice by a lady—indeed, it is wonderful how eager ladies are to buy next presentations, or rather it would be wonderful if we did not see how much they managed to purchase at the same time. I am told that it is quite a common thing in Cheshire for next presentations to be bought for ladies. There are Wilmslow and Ashton—of which I spoke last year— and Cheadle, which possesses the farther distinction of having its religious aspirations ministered to by a gentleman who, I believe, beyond all controversy, is the very best judge of dogs in England. Well, but, Sir, as to that demoralization of the Clergy, of which the Bishop of Exeter speaks. If anyone has any doubt of that, he has only to turn to a letter which appeared in the leading journal a few days after our last debate upon this subject, and which was signed "An Essex Rector." This poor man is in great alarm about his spiritual property; indeed, I doubt whether Alexander the Coppersmith was in a greater panic. With reference to that debate, he says—There was no allusion made to the Clerical patrons. There are many men, like myself, with most of their property invested in Church livings. The majority of such advowsons were either purchased by their fathers for them, or left them by will. To stop the sale of advowsons would be starvation to their widows and children. In Essex alone we have something like £15,000 a-year, or £150,000, in such property; and for the sake of our children, we, the Clerical patrons, must defend the sale of Church property, which we hold to be justice in its truest sense.He concludes his letter thus—It is impossible that any clergyman presented for life, or as a step in promotion, can take the same interest in a parish as one who is patron as well as rector and who trusts to be succeeded by his own son. Should any remedy be sought for stopping the sale of Church property, the son—however unfitted—of the rector must be ordained, if only for saving property 1549 to his family. Far better to do away with the oath of Simony, and allow the sale honestly, which would he for the good of the Church generally.So that it has come to this—the cure of souls is regarded as so much family property to be handed down from father to son. I do not know that I have often come across so barefaced an expression of clerical opinion as this is; but it has one kind of value. It accounts for a great deal in the evidence contained in the Blue Book, which would otherwise be incomprehensible, if not incredible. For example, there is a complete consensus of opinion among witnesses as to the low view which appears to be taken by many clergymen of the binding nature of the declaration against Simony. And let the House bear in mind that the witnesses are none of them inimical to the Church or unfriendly to the Clergy. They are all either dignitaries of the Church, or men whom dignitaries delight to honour. We may accept, therefore, what they say as the literal truth, coloured, if it be coloured at all, by a natural tenderness for the system which they are describing, and under the shadow of which they have passed their lives. Now, Mr. Few, whose experience must have been enormous, speaks most strongly of what he calls the "density" of the Clergy in this respect. He says that their "density is quite remarkable." But what says Mr. Bridges? Who is Mr. Bridges? He is a solicitor in large practice in London, who has been concerned professionally for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, for the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy, for the Clergy Orphan Corporation, and for a body of Church Patronage Trustees; and he was asked these questions with regard to the Oath, and gave these answers—You think, it being a legal oath, persons not of a legal mind may not quite understand it?— Yet, such persons may be very much embarrassed, or else they may come to the conclusion, which I have often seen arrived at by clergymen, that the whole thing is an absurdity, and that they may get through the matter in the best way they can. That I know to be a very common state of mind.—Have you known instances of that kind? Yes; there have been many instances in which I have been fortunate enough to stop proceedings of this kind, and there have been other cases in which I have not been so fortunate, but in which the proceedings have gone on in spite of every remonstrance.—Have you had clergymen of really good repute and 1550 character come to you, and propose to carry out a transaction which you knew to be Simoniacal, although they did not? Undoubtedly; clergymen have frequently come to me in this kind of way: some clerical agent whom they have consulted has introduced them to some other clergyman, or to some patron, with whom the transaction was to be carried out, and they have got into correspondence with that other clergyman direct; and the letters which have been shown to me have frequently constituted what, in my judgment, was a Simoniacal contract. I have then pointed out the fact, and gone into the matter; but in spite of that I have known that the transaction has been carried out, although not through my instrumentality.—You have known that to occur in the case of clergymen who were patrons, and who were selling benefices, as well as in the case of clergymen who were buying benefices?—Undoubtedly. I have put it in this way, and it shows the state of conscience which prevails upon the subject. A patron, who was also an incumbent, has made an arrangement with some clergyman to purchase his living, and on its being pointed out, as I did, that the purchasing clergyman would have a difficulty in taking the oath, the remark was made, 'that is, of course, his affair,' which I ventured to point out was not entirely the case."—[Minutes of Evidence, pp. 37, 38.]Well, Sir, after that evidence we are not surprised at the statement which is categorically made by Mr. Lee, secretary to many Bishops, that "evasions of the Law are almost universal."-—[Ibid. p. 31.] But the examination of Mr. Bridges proceeded as follows:—Are you also of opinion that the secrecy connected with transactions of this kind is mischievous in its effects? I think it is very mischievous, practically, as a moral question. When you are consulted upon these matters, you hardly venture to put the thing down in writing in the first instance, for fear you may commit, you do not know to what extent, the person who consults you? I have frequently had to go to counsel for a conference, without having anything put on paper, wishing to see whether the transaction is Simoniacal or not, before venturing to go any further.—As I understand it, secrecy is specially observed by clerical agents; they announce in their circulars and advertisements that the transaction will be strictly private? That appears to be the case with a certain class of clerical agents who advertise very freely. For instance, they advertise that they consider strict privacy vital to arrangements of this kind.—You have seen such advertisements, have you not? Yes; I see them constantly. You cannot road The Ecclesiastical Gazette without seeing them; the last number was full of them."—[Ibid. p. 39.]And in this connection I may remind the House of the result of the calculation into which I entered minutely last year—as to the number of livings which are at this moment in the hands of these advertising agents for barter or sale. 1551 Making allowance for duplicate advertisements, I found that upwards of 2,000 livings, or one-fourth of the whole saleable patronage of the Church, were in the market at the same moment. Any hon. Gentleman may suit himself with a living by consulting these registers. Does he desire an active living? He may select, for example, St. Philip's, Liverpool, income £450, butwith prospect of an increase, since this church possesses the privilege of marrying from all parts of the town.Does he wish for a sinecure? He may take Trehaverock, in Cornwall, where there is no service, no residence, and the parsonage appears to be licensed for the sale of ardent spirits. He has only to glance at these advertisements to see how completely the system has secularized that portion of the Clergy which has mixed itself up with it. Much is constantly made of the amenities of the situation—the bracing air, the fine scenery, the good society, the hunting, fishing, and shooting, down to rooks, the hot-houses and ice-houses, the lawns, and avenues, and shrubberies, and so forth—and nothing whatever of the solemn duties which are attached to the office, except that hey are desirably light and few in number. If we did not know how many excellent and devoted men there are in the Church, we might readily infer that the whole Priesthood was a thing of purple and fine linen, or that these labourers in the Vineyard were intent upon nothing but the juice. But, to return to Mr. Bridges. He was asked—In these negotiations for sale, the Law of Simony is sometimes evaded in order to secure an immediate resignation, is it not?—Frequently. In what way do you suppose that might be done; by a deposit of money? What has been done, I know, in a case that came under my own cognizance, was this. A clergyman who was patron, and had been incumbent of a living, wishing to sell it, and knowing that the Bishop of that diocese had a particular objection to accepting the resignation of a clergyman who was also patron when there had been a sale, vacated the living and put in an intimate friend of his own, who undertook, as a matter of friendly feeling, to resign whenever he wished. He sold the living, of course with the understanding on the part of the purchaser of the surrounding circumstances. The purchaser was not absolutely satisfied to pay money down until he saw what he was going to get for it, and the arrangement which I understood was made was this, the money was deposited in the names of two persons who were supposed to be capable of being trusted, and as 1552 soon as the living was vacant and the clergyman instituted, the money was paid down."— [Ibid. p. 39.]I may add here, that although there can be no moral distinction between the purchase of a vacant living and of one "with immediate possession"—"immediate possession" is continually advertised. I have a monthly Register of "Church Preferments for Sale," published last year by one of the best-known of these agents, in which there are 94 advertisements, and in 57 of them immediate possession is guaranteed. Mr. Bridges was asked again—Some of the clerical agents of whom he had just been speaking are, I believe, owners of donatives?—Yes; I know a case in which a a donative was used for the purpose of evasion; but how far it is a prevalent practice, I do not know.I may mention that Lord S. G. Osborne tell us—[Ibid. p. 108.]—that donatives are used for another purpose—that of whitewashing black sheep. He gives an instance in which the same donative was thus used thrice in succession; but the sheep were all so black that the whitewash would not stick. But Mr. Bridges goes on to explain how useful a donative may be made. He says—A clergyman called upon me one day, a few years ago, and requested me to carry out the sale of an advowson. He was an old family client; he was the patron and incumbent of a living; he knew perfectly well that his Bishop objected to accept a resignation in cases where the patron was also the incumbent, and had made a sale; and he told me that he had arranged with a particular clerical agent, who kept two or three of those donatives in his pocket, to purchase one of those donatives for £100; he was then, having sold his own living, to appoint himself to this donative; and then, when the living thereby became vacated, and the purchaser was presented to the living which was sold, he was to sell back the donative to the clerical agent for the same price that he gave for it… He was a thorough gentleman by position; he was a man of good family, and there was nothing whatever against his character; he did not belong to any very earnest school in the Church.—For all these reasons which you have stated, you think the oath as well as the substituted declaration against Simony are really of little practical use? I think they are constantly in the habit of being evaded, and I do not think that they practically prevent Simoniacal transactions; we know that a great many transactions of this kind are being carried out, and I believe I am right in stating that there has been no prosecution for Simony for a great many years in any of the Courts."—[Ibid. p. 40.]And Sir, a method of evasion equally 1553 objectionable with any mentioned by Mr. Bridges, is when a living which it is desired to sell falls vacant, and a venerable clergyman is presented, a clergyman the most venerable who can be found—so venerable sometimes, that, as in the case mentioned by Lord S. G. Osborne, "he is barely able to sit up in a chair."—[Ibid. p. 106.] Now, why is this sort of thing done? In order that the living may be sold by auction, and that the auctioneer may be in a position to announce that the incumbent is positively upon his last legs. I will give the House one instance, not because it is at all the worst which could be cited —far otherwise—but because I have had the opportunity of watching what was done with this living. I refer to Hilgay, in Norfolk. In 1870 the then incumbent, who was also patron, began to advertise his living for sale. This gentleman laboured under the disadvantage that he had not as yet reached the age when livings become attractive; so he availed himself of the only extenuating circumstances within his reach. He advertised himself—the incumbent—as"56 years of age, but he is, it is believed, in a very precarious state of health." Now, the precarious health of a man of 56 is not always to be trusted; so he advertised for two years in vain—and then died; with the consolation, no doubt, that, although he had not sold his living, he had abundantly justified the terms of his advertisement. Well, what did they do then? They put in the most charitable canon in all England, a man whose charitable construction of the motives of others exceeds almost anything of which I have ever read—the Rev. Canon St. Vincent Beechey. When he took leave of his old parishioners, this gentleman spoke ofthe kindly hearts and generous impulses of patrons to seek the best spiritual superintendence for the people they were called upon to provide for;and of his own preferment as comingfrom the spontaneous desire of a faithful widowed patron to carry out her husband's own desire, that his people be ministered to by a successor in his curate.The husband being the advertising patron to whom I have alluded, and the curate being himself—and what an aroma of usefulness that curate must have left behind him to hang about the spot for 40 years! Now the living 1554 —which is a very valuable one—fell vacant in September; Canon Beechey was instituted in October; and in the May following, I saw the living put up to auction at the Auction Mart, Token-house Yard. I do not know whether Canon Beechey went there, too, to see the living sold over his head. If he did, he must have been surprised to find how little the auctioneer had to say about "the generous impulses of patrons." What he would have heard was an eloquent peroration about his own advanced age, coupled with the value of the living, the size of the dining-room and cellars, and the noble accommodation which had been provided for the pigs. Now, I do not wish to dwell upon these auctions—they are constantly occurring. There were two last Friday—an advowson with an incumbent aged 76, who was only instituted last year; and a next presentation, with an incumbent whose certificate of baptism, we are informed, is dated November 23rd, 1804. I do not wish, I say, to dwell upon these auctions. I know that the majority of this House are zealous and conscientious Churchmen, and I would not raise an unnecessary blush to any cheek. But I will say this—that if I were a Churchman, and if I happened to wander into Tokenhouse Yard at a time when the Church was disposing of her spiritual bargains, I should feel a pang of shame which would send me straight, I think, to the Archbishop of Canterbury, to ask his Grace what he meant when the other day, at Croydon, he made broad his phylacteries, and almost hugged himself upon the fact that his Church was not as other Churches are? Now, I ask all zealous Churchmen in this House to aid me in forcing the consideration of these scandals upon the notice of what, I fear, is a reluctant Administration. And yet, if it were only to efface the memory of the last public jobbery in livings, I should have thought that the Government would have said something definite to-night. For his condemnation of the sale of next presentations was scarcely out of the lips of my right hon. Friend, when, looking into the newspaper, I saw that his Colleague the First Lord of the Admiralty was offering for sale by private tender the living of Humshaugh and seven others in a bunch. I do not know 1555 whether my right hon. Friend has still this tempting lot upon his hands. Probably he has, because the market just now is flat. There is a cloud resting upon every trade, and the trade in souls shares the common despondency. But when the market is alive again—when white shirtings once more are active— since Government livings can be sold— why not turn over the patronage of the Crown? What a field for the enterprize of a Chancellor of the Exchequer who is bent upon raising £6,000,000 sterling! Sir, when the Bishop of Peterborough was moving for his Committee in "another place," he said—This reform, which I ask at your Lordships' hands, I ask in the name of the entire Church, which pleads for it earnestly and anxiously.—[3 Hansard, ccxviii. 921.]When the same right rev. Prelate, a few months afterwards, was taking off his harness in disgust and despair, he stated that his reason for doing so was—Simply the utter want of such support from the Church at largo as alone could ensure the success of any measure of reform on this subject.And he went on to say—The enemies of the Church now possess a new weapon in the fact that the Church either cannot or will not free herself from evils which no honest Churchman ventures to defend.Now, how long is the Church to lie under this imputation—an imputation which is cast upon her, not by her enemies, but by one of the most gifted of her Prelates? Is the imputation true, or is it false? If it be false, I trust that we shall hear something more from Her Majesty's Government than words of barren sympathy with this Motion, or one of the common-places which are resorted to in order to postpone the consideration of an unwelcome question. But if it be true—if it be true that "the Church either cannot, or will not, free herself from evils which no honest Churchman ventures to defend," I must be permitted to ask this question — How long is an institution so hopelessly crippled and so incurably corrupt to continue to exercise the whole religious authority of the nation? The hon. Member concluded by moving the Resolution.
§ MR. HIBBERT
seconded the Motion. As a Churchman he was much distressed with the account which the hon. Mem- 1556 ber had given, and he hoped it would have the effect of making the House do all they possibly could to prevent this dreadful scandal. His hon. Friend had found considerable fault with the Government for not taking in hand this question. When one considered the number of measures which the Government had before the House last year, and which they were unable, even with the greatest efforts, to place on the Statute Book, he was not surprised that they had not carried out the wish of his hon. Friend. They were indebted to his hon. Friend who had brought forward this Motion for keeping the subject before the country, the Church, and the Government; and he trusted that the Government, when they had more time—either in this Session or the next—would try to remedy what was one of the greatest scandals in the Church of England. Last year he referred his right hon. Friend to a Bill which he himself brought forward in 1870 to abolish the sale of next presentations, and that Bill passed through the House of Commons with very little opposition, and was carried to the House of Lords where it was comfortably lost sight of. But it was not only in the House of Commons he found difficulty in dealing with this question; but it was in the House of Lords, also, a difficulty existed. The Bishop of Peterborough, in a most eloquent and able speech, moved the House of Lords to appoint a Committee to consider the purchase system in our Church, and the evidence quoted by the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken was taken before that Committee. A Bill was prepared in the House of Lord with excellent clauses to take away some of these scandals; but that Bill when it left the House of Lords was so much cut down that it was scarcely worthy the consideration of this House on so important a question. They also knew that in almost every Congress which had been held of late years, in every diocesan meeting of the Church, this question of patronage was discussed, and the general opinion was in favour of doing certain things that would deal with the question. He wanted to know how it was with the Bishops, this House, and everybody else in favour of a great reform, the question could not be dealt with and the evils done away? Even the Bishop of Peterborough spoke of the 1557 great evils and the great necessity of dealing with the matter at once. That right rev. Prelate said—The evils resulting from the defects of our present system are so patent and so serious, and the demand for their reform is so strong and universal, that if it he not met, and met speedily, by wise and temperate reform, it may end in changes that will he neither wise nor temperate."—[3 Hansard, ccxviii. 900–1.]He (Mr. Hibbert) thought the House ought to approach this question in a very temperate and moderate manner; and he felt quite sure that if they considered it in. that way they might do very much to reduce the evils of this system. One of its great evils was the mode in which the declaration against Simony was drawn up, and had to be taken by the presentee of a living. The presentee was called upon to solemnly declare that he had not by himself or any other person on his behalf made any payment, contract, or promise of any kind whatsoever which to the best of his knowledge or belief was simoniacal. He was sorry to think—and he believed it was really the case—that very few men knew what Simony really was—that neither the Clergy, nor the patron, nor even the Bishop knew exactly what a man might do or might not do. A clergyman might buy his next presentation, but he could not present himself. A layman might buy his presentation. They could not buy an advowson or a presentation when the benefice was void; but the sale of an advowson was legal when the incumbent was moribund, or in articulo mortis. His hon. Friend had referred to a case in which the incumbent was almost dead when the advowson was purchased. Then, a clergyman, though he might not buy the next presentation to a living, might buy the advowson within half-an-hour of the death of the incumbent and present himself. If there were so many difficulties connected with the question that even the patrons of presentations were unable to understand exactly what Simony was, and what they could do and could not do, what was wanted was that there should be some new form of declaration, in direct language, in which the presentee should be called upon to state what he had done and what he had not done as far as regarded the law against Simony. Sir Robert Phillimore, who had been examined before the Lords' Committee, expressed an opinion that 1558 the present declaration would be a snare to some people and a temptation to others, and he thought it would be desirable that the law should be stated in a clearer manner—that the presentee might know distinctly what he was declaring against. Well, he thought that this might be made clearer in the Act of Parliament. He also thought that the presentor, as well as the presentee, should make the declaration. That would be one more protection against Simony. Then came the question, were they to prevent the sale of next presentations and of advowsons? Many hon. Members at that side of the House were, as he knew, in favour of the abolition of Church patronage altogether; but, for his part, he thought there would be considerable difficulty in saying that they ought not to permit the sale of advowsons at all. He should not object to private patronage being abolished; but, at the same time, it seemed to him that private patronage in which there was no abuse had given the Church its best men. Nevertheless, there was an abuse in the system, and they were bound to see how that abuse could be best guarded against. As to advowsons, they were now held in two ways—they were connected with property and they were held separately from property; and where the advowson belonged to a person who was a lunatic, or almost a pauper, or was unfitted in any way to deal with it, a very great difficulty arose, and one which required much consideration with a view to its removal. The Committee which sat in the House of Lords on this subject did not go so far as to recommend the prohibition of the sale of next presentments; but while they represented themselves in favour of continuing the privilege of selling advowsons, they made recommendations as to the rights of parishioners, which were too little thought of, he regretted to say, in the sale of advowsons or next presentments, to which, he trusted, due regard would be had when the subject came to be dealt with. Notice of the sale of advowsons ought certainly to be given to the Bishop of the diocese, so that the sale should be made openly and not secretly. Then, as to donatives, he regarded them as the principal means of leading to scandal and abuses, and thought that they ought to be abolished. He did not see on what grounds they 1559 could be maintained, even in the interests of the Church. Then, as to the age of incumbents to be appointed, there ought, in his opinion, to be a limit. No incumbent ought to be appointed after the age of 70, except with the consent of the Bishop; because it was notorious that the bringing of aged men into those livings for particular purposes gave rise to the chance of carrying on the sales and abuses against which the Resolution of his hon. Friend was directed. While he could not go so far as his hon. Friend, he could not but think that the system had become so great a scandal in the Church to which he belonged that in the interest of the Church he hoped the whole question would be grappled with before many months were over by Her Majesty's Government. If those who did not belong to the Church were to be attracted to it, the abuses to which they objected must be got rid of. If they were, the strength of the feeling against the Church would be very much diminished, and the result would be to bring within its pale many who were now outside it.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That it is desirable to adopt measures for preventing simoniacal evasion of the Law, and checking abuses in the sale of livings in private patronage."—(Mr Leatham.)
§ MR. GOLDNEY
moved, as as Amendment, thatThe better to enable the adoption of measures for preventing simoniacal evasion of the Law and checking abuses in the sale of livings in private patronage, it is expedient that the Law of Simony and the circumstances under which the sale of livings in private patronage are by Law allowed, should be defined by Parliament.His object in doing so was not so much opposing the Motion of the hon. Member for Huddersfield as the absolute necessity there was that there should be some means of dealing honestly and fairly with the subject. The Resolution as it stood was a mere truism and platitude. All admitted that something ought to be done if there was evasion or abuse of the law; it did not need a Resolution to affirm that. The subject was a matter so indistinct and indefinite that it was absolutely necessary, before taking measures of repression, that they should clearly define what was Simony, and under what circumstances a living might or might not be sold. There was too 1560 much tendency to confuse the recognized distinction between the sale of a living which might be considered as a trust, and the sale of an advowson which was a mere right of patronage. One of the most freely discussed provisions of the Municipal Reform Act was that relating to the sale by Corporations of their Ecclesiastical property. Every advowson was to be sold by auction, and the proceeds applied to municipal purposes. A question arising whether the direction to sell applied to certain rights of presentation, it was settled by an affirmative Act in 1835; so that the law on these matters directed the doing of the very things that were now derided. The remedy suggested by the hon. Member for Huddersfield and by the hon. Member for Oldham was to vest the choice in the parishioners whose spiritual wants were to be cared for; but in 1856 there were large complaints of very disgraceful scenes occurring where the parishioners had the right of electing their clergymen, and these complaints culminated in the election of the rector of Bilston. That election lasted five days. It cost the unsuccessful candidate £1,600 and the successful candidate £5,000, and more disturbance and riot occurred than was known to have happened at the election of a Member of Parliament or any other person. The consequence was that an Act was passed in 1856, whereby it was enacted that where the right of presentation was vested in the parishioners, or a portion of the parishioners, or in trustees for the inhabitants, the advowson should be sold, and, subject to certain special circumstances, the produce should be applied to the relief of the poor of the parish. In 1863 the then Lord Chancellor (Lord West-bury) passed a Bill to transfer the Lord Chancellor's patronage in 320 livings to private persons, urging, among other reasons, the incidental benefit of private patronage where the patron looked after the schools and the interest of the parish. So that, within 40 years, directions had been positively given by Acts of Parliament to dispose of by public sale of at least one-twelfth of the whole of the advowsons in the Kingdom. There were 12,000 benefices, of which half were public patronage, and of these 1,000 had been sold by the direct intervention of Parliament in the 40 years. Nearly 7,000 were under £300 a-year; 400 1561 under £50; 1,600 under £100; and between 1,600 and 1,700 were worth from £100 to £150 a-year. He did not dispute that there were many cases which might be looked upon as a scandal; but he failed to see that this had operated to the detriment of any parish that he had heard of. He had known very few cases where anything like a charge of corruption had been stated, or where the parishioners had been injured or the ministrations of the Church neglected by the existing state of things, or the operation of the Acts he had referred to; and he hoped, if the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary brought in a Bill on this subject, a clear and well-defined distinction would be drawn between the sale of presentations and the right of patronage; and the Amendment he now moved had that object in view.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the better to enable the adoption of measures for preventing simoniacal evasion of the Law and checking abuses in the sale of livings in private patronage, it is expedient that the Law of Simony, and the circumstances under which the sale of livings in private patronage are by Law allowed, should be denned by Parliament,"— (Mr. Goldney,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. RICHARD
It is very difficult to argue such a question as this, because, as it seems to me, it has only one side. At least, I find it difficult to conceive what can be said in defence of the practices condemned by the Resolution of my hon. Friend. The only wonder is that a scandal so flagrant should have been permitted to exist so long. I can only account for it by the fact that in past generations the Church itself had fallen into a state of spiritual lethargy and indifference, and during those evil times all kinds of abuses flourished with a rank and luxuriant growth. But with the revival of spiritual life, which I gladly and gratefully acknowledge has taken place in the Church of England within the last 50 years, I am not surprised that it should have become more sensitive to such evils, and that it is making some effort to throw off this incubus which is 1562 lying so heavily on its heart. There is a ludicrous aspect to this question, and indeed it is impossible to state such facts as my hon. Friend has cited without provoking some merriment. But it has also, in my opinion, a very serious aspect, especially to those who have been taught to regard the Christian ministry as a very sacred calling. Theoretically no Church has a higher ideal of the clerical office than the Church of England. Entrance into its ministry is protected by safeguards of singular stringency. All candidates for ordination have exacted of them vows and professions, and have committed to them powers and obligations, that appear to me, I own, of almost appalling solemnity. Even in regard to this particular matter, the Church cannot be accused of any levity or laxity in its general declarations. By the canons of 1603, every clergyman before his admission, institution, or confirmation to his living, is required to take the following oath:—I do swear that I have made no Simoniacal payment, contract, or promise, directly or indirectly, by myself, or any other, to my knowledge, or with my consent, to any person or persons whatsoever, for, or concerning the procuring and obtaining of the—of—, in the county of—, and diocese of—, nor will at any time hereafter perform or satisfy any such kind of payment, contract, or promise made by any other without my knowledge or consent. So help me God, through Jesus Christ.Nothing could be more solemn than that, and nothing could be more minute and stringent to guard against Simony. And yet in the face of all this, it is notorious that sale and barter in the cure of souls is constantly going on day by day. I am quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary and many other earnest Churchmen in this House will acknowledge that the present system is utterly evil, and injures everybody concerned in it. It dishonours the Church, it degrades the Clergy, it demoralizes the patrons, it insults the parishes, and, worse than all, it brings religion itself into contempt. If I were the enemy of the Church of England I should say to my hon. Friend—"Leave this matter alone." No weapon can be so effective and formidable in the hands of the enemies of the Church as the perpetuation of such scandals as these. But I am not an enemy of the Church of England. I wish, indeed, to see it sepa- 1563 rated from the State, as in my belief likely to conduce to its own freedom, purity, and efficiency. But as a religious society, as a spiritual institution, I can, with the utmost sincerity, say that I wish it all possible prosperity. It has done, and is still doing, inestimable service to the cause of Christian civilization in this country; and God forbid that I should be moved by any sectarian jealousy to desire the continuance of anything that tends to impair its usefulness or to mar its glory as a Christian Church. I must do the Episcopal Bench the justice to say that they have set their face against these scandals with a unanimity and earnestness that leave no doubt of their sincerity. My hon. Friend has already quoted the sentiments of several of the Bishops. I only ask permission to add two more. The Bishop of Oxford says—Nowhere, I believe, and at no time—not even in the corrupt days of mediaeval Rome—-has the traffic in advowsons and presentations been more largely, more systematically, and more unscrupulously carried on than amongst ourselves at this hour.…It is impossible to believe that any religious society, having full control of its own affairs, would endure the continuance of such a system without energetic protest, and without some strenuous endeavours to remedy the wrong.The Bishop of Peterborough, speaking of one kind of transaction of frequent occurrence—that of putting an old and decrepit man into an incumbency, in order to sell the living over his head, says—I say there are men now serving their term of penal servitude far fraud and conspiracy, who are guilty of less deliberate fraud and less odious conspiracy than the fraud and conspiracy of those who thus make a corrupt merchandise of the cure of souls.…This is a practice which makes the Church stink in the nostrils of many who might otherwise come within her fold.The Bishop of Lincoln uses language, if possible, still stronger. Now the question is, if the evil be so great, if it be acknowledged and stigmatized in such terms as we have heard by the heads of the Church, why is it that no remedy is found? Here, again, we must do the Bishops the justice to say that they have made some efforts to provide a remedy. In 1874 the Bishop of Peterborough brought the subject forward in the House of Lords with all that incisive eloquence of which he is so great a master. He 1564 moved the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire and report. In 1875 he brought in a Bill founded on the Report of that Committee. It was a very mild and modest Bill, and as he himself, I think, acknowledged, only touched the fringe of the evil. And yet it was too strong for the House of Lords. After much hostile criticism it was referred to a Select Committee, where it was so watered down, that when it came down to this House, the Gentleman who had charge of it, I suppose, thought it of so little value, that he did not attempt to carry it to a second reading. The Bishop of Manchester has since said that the author of the Bill is so disheartened that he doubts if he will have courage to introduce it again; while the Bishop of Gloucester sorrowfully admits that there is no likelihood the evil will be effectually remedied. Now, why is this? Why is it that when there is a scandal so grievous as is admitted by the friends of the Church, all hands are paralyzed in the attempt to deal with it? I believe the explanation is found in a sentence I have already quoted from the Bishop of Oxford, who says it is impossible to believe that any religious society "having full control of its own affairs" could endure the continuance of such a system. But, unhappily, the Church of England has not the control of its own affairs. The control of its affairs is in the hands of Parliament, and there are too many Members in both Houses of Parliament who are themselves interested in this evil system of patronage to admit of the hope, that they will deal with it effectually. I wish, therefore, that the members of the Church of England could see that there is no way by which they can remedy these and other abuses except by acquiring control of their own affairs, and there is no way of acquiring control over their own affairs except by relinquishing the protection and patronage of the State.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
thanked the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Richard) for his acknowledgment of the growth of spirituality in the Church of England. To that happy and silent revolution, he believed, the delay in dealing with this question might be ascribed. In all human institutions, if there happened to be ant internal reformation and a strengthening of the healthy elements of any system, the common law of pro- 1565 gress facilitated, if it did not favour and counsel, postponing the amendment and removal of external anomalies. Such delay was, in fact, helpful to permanent reform, for it left the body politic in a more healthy state for that remedial treatment which might he too severe if applied to a morbid subject. As to the present debate, the fundamental agreement of all speakers could not be taken for granted, as behind its incidental subject-matter lay the deeper question to be faced—how far patronage in itself was a laudable feature "in the Christian Church? As to the Motion under discussion, however, there could be no theoretical difference of opinion. The delay in providing a remedy for the evil had occurred both for the reason he had indicated, and in consequence of the variety of conflicting interests which must be compared, set against each other, and co-ordinately dealt with in any practical settlement. He thought that the Bishop of Peterborough, with all his earnestness, had been too easily discouraged. Had the right rev. Prelate been a better Parliamentary tactician, he would have seen that the failure of his Bill was merely the normal fate of nearly all new measures. There had been a great improvement in the character of the Clergy, and the men for whom livings were now bought were, as a rule, better than the men for whom they were bought in the last century, or even 50 years ago; so that—granting the evil of commerce in patronage—the results of that commerce were of a far preferable material. In those days a living was frequently bought for a younger son, who showed himself to be a port-wine-drinking, hunting, dancing, lazy fellow. They had not only the disgusting pictures in Fielding and Smollett to remind them what once a parson might be; but they had the more refined and gentlemanly clergyman in Miss Austen's novels, an excellent and fashionable young man, but with an absolute blank on the spiritual side of his character. Now, he might be, and often was, a devoted parish priest, working early and late in his sacred calling for the salvation of souls. It was no wonder, therefore, that reform in such a case as this should work slowly; for though the theoretic evil might be patent, its practical results for bad were neither so solid nor so obvious now as they were formerly. The real remedy, in his opinion, con- 1566 sisted not so much in altering the form of law in the first stages, as in producing a machinery by which a man who was unfit for the cure of souls might, after he had been presented to a living, be called to account and his appointment be challenged and cancelled. Of course, the Bishop, in some way legally advised and supported by his Chapter and by his Chancellor, so as not to act despotically, but as a constitutional father of his flock, must be the judge, and, if need be, the doomster of improper nominees. Eight years ago the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary passed through that House a Bill for the abolition of the sale of next presentations. No one had any wish to divide against the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman; only two voices were raised to point out that the measure might not be so satisfactory in all its details as was expected by his right hon. Friend and the House. One of those voices was that of Mr. Henley, whom he was sorry he could name by the forms of the House, and the other was his own. Why make a Jonah of the sale of next presentations? If they abolished the open sale of next presentations, he feared they would only produce their clandestine huxtering. These sales were pestilent when vendor and purchaser were unprincipled and unscrupulous, and of course these were the very people who would, when driven into a corner, devise a worse form of illegitimate traffic. If the authorized sale were prevented, the business of a sacred "man in the moon" would soon grow up in some quiet back street of the West End. The impecuniosity which prompted the alienation remaining the same, the temptation would continue. Besides, take the case of a living which had been in a family for centuries—it might now be in the hands, he would not say of a black sheep, but only of a needy and desperate owner. As the law stood, he might only care to turn the next chance into money. He had probably remaining vestiges of conscience, and might reflect with satisfaction that, after his time, the old hereditary link would be re-fastened. But abolish all means of parting with the next presentation, and in his despair, he would have under stress of debt for ever to destroy the old and happy connection of parson and squire. The other alternative to which he might be driven would be that of a 1567 clandestine and illegal, and therefore deeply criminal, sale of that turn. His right hon. Friend's measure was an admirably intended attempt; but he hoped that when the question was next taken up, it would not be as a Bill merely to abolish the sale of next presentations, but with the intention of dealing with the matter from top to bottom. There was one custom which was a cause of great scandal in some populous midland as well as metropolitan districts, and which had troubled earnest Churchmen, who were anxious to bring the subject before the House; but it was an evil not only to be confessed, but to be remedied—he meant the method of presentation by way of popular election. An election had been held in a parish in London two or three years ago which had provoked a great many unedifying comments in the newspapers, and ultimately made its appearance in the Courts at Westminster. Then there was another practice which seemed to himself the least defensible of anomalies, involving as it did the gift of a freehold under conditions which secretly brought it down to a leasehold— that of presentation to a living combined with a bond of resignation. Why not allow the patron, with some future nominee in his sight, to go to the Bishop and empower him to appoint a clergyman as locum tenens for a specified term, and with full enjoyment of endowment, patronage, and glebe? The choice might be limited to those who had been a certain time in the diocese, the appointment to specify that to hold the living for a certain number of years. This would be one more casual prize in the Bishop's hand to reward conscientious work, while resort to the arrangement would be a searching test of a patron's sincerity. It would show that his reason for desiring to keep the living open for a given person was so strong as to reconcile them, in the interval, to the ministrations of a stranger. If the question of patronage was to be taken up as of public interest, it ought to be dealt with all round, honestly, considerately, and reverently.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present,
§ House adjourned at half after Eight o'clock,