MR. OSBORNE MORGAN,
in rising to move—That, in the opinion of this House, the time has arrived when the long-pending controversy as to interments in parish churchyards ought to be closed, by permitting such interments either without any burial service or with the services preferred by the relatives or friends of the deceased, and conducted by persons chosen by them,said: Mr. Speaker, I feel that I owe the House some apology for asking them at such a crisis as this to discuss the Resolution which, thanks to the kindness of my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock), I am enabled to move to-night. I can only say that if it had been possible to postpone it a second time I would have done so; as it is, I must throw myself upon your indulgence while I explain shortly the reasons why I have brought it forward 1737 at the present time and in its present shape. It is in the recollection of the House that early last Session I introduced a Bill to amend the Burial Laws. Subsequently, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary stated that the Government were prepared to deal with the question, and that pledge was in due course redeemed by the introduction into the other House, of a Bill called the Burials Acts Consolidation Bill. Now, of course, I am not going to discuss the details of a Bill which is not before the House, and is never likely to be before the House; but I hope I may be allowed to say in passing that I think the impression produced by that Bill, as soon as its provisions were understood, was one of general disappointment. It was felt, not merely by Liberals, but by many Conservatives, that a great opportunity of settling a vexed question had been missed, and it was felt too that the mode by which it was proposed to settle that question was not, to say the least of it, very felicitous. For the Bill mixed up two things which had nothing whatever to do with each other; I mean the sanitary and the religious parts of the question, and, as sometimes happens when people try to do two things at the same time, it succeeded in doing neither. The sanitary part of the Bill was loaded with a number of provisions, which certainly but for the intrusion of the religious difficulty would never have found their way into a Public Health Act, while the religious difficulty was met—I should rather say was evaded—by conferring upon Nonconformists an un-desired privilege, and by imposing upon Nonconformists and Churchmen alike an unnecessary burden. But although I could not hope much from the provisions of the Government Bill, I thought it would not be becoming in me to run my own measure as a sort of opposition Bill to that of the Government; nor did it seem to me very convenient that the House of Commons should be discussing one Burials Bill whilst the House of Lords was debating another, and consequently I withdrew my own Bill, promising that when the Government Bill came down to this House I would take take the opportunity to move the Resolution which I have now placed upon the Paper. Sir, that opportunity never came, for as the House knows, during the progress of the other Bill through 1738 the House of Lords, an Amendment, which, although being part of a Bill it was necessarily much more precise than my Resolution, yet did involve, and was on all sides admitted to involve, the very principle for which I am now contending, was carried by a substantial majority. Now, the author of that Amendment was not a political Dissenter; nor was he a professional agitator. On the contrary, he was a staunch Conservative, a firm friend of the Church, and the Father of one of the most popular and respected Members of the present Government. Sir, I will only say of that vote of the House of Lords that I think that in passing it, their Lordships gave an example of toleration, aye, and of courage, which I think and hope will not be thrown away upon us to-night.
As soon as that Amendment had been carried, the Government at once withdrew their Bill. Whether they were right or wrong in taking that course I, of course, cannot say; but I think it will be admitted that the withdrawal of the Bill left me no course open except to redeem the promise I gave last Session, and to bring forward the Resolution I have the honour to submit to the House to-night. And I think we may say that we are approaching the subject under circumstances more favourable to its settlement than any that have yet presented themselves. In the first place, we can appeal to the verdict of the House of Lords, a verdict the more valuable because it is that of men convinced in many cases against their own wishes. But besides that, I think I may say that since I last addressed the House on the subject two distinct steps have been gained in the controversy. In the first place, it is admitted on all sides— it is admitted by the Government—that the law cannot be allowed to remain in its present condition. That is one step. In the next place, the proposal of the Government—the only alternative proposal that has ever been seriously entertained—has proved—I do not want to say it offensively—a complete and conspicuous failure. But even that is not all. Since the subject was last before the House of Lords, a Return which I moved for of the population and burial-places in England and Wales has been presented to the House; and I think it will be found, upon analyzing that Return, that it completely cuts away from 1739 under the feet of my opponents the main ground upon which they relied— namely, that this was a small grievance, and one which, if left to itself, would rapidly disappear.
And now one word more before I come to the Resolution itself. I have been told that there are several hon. Gentlemen who would have voted for me if I had brought in a Bill; but who will not vote now, because they cannot vote for a Resolution—just as last year I was told that I should have secured many more votes if I had brought forward a Resolution instead of a Bill. Now, I will ask those hon. Members before they take that course to do me a simple act of justice. Let them look at the Order Book which lies upon the Table. Why, Sir, the Irish measures alone are quite sufficient to occupy all the time allotted to private Members. If I had brought in a Bill the chances are three or four to one that I should never have got to a second reading, and as for carrying it—why everyone knows that one single Member of this House can, if he likes, prevent any private Member from passing any private Bill, no matter how useful or how harmless it may be. Now, I want to know what chance I should have had if I had brought in a Bill against those serried ranks. But then it will be said—"If you cannot legislate practically upon the question, what is the use of bringing forward Resolutions which must prove abortive?" My answer to that shall be very short. Either this Resolution will be carried, or it will not. If it is not, then I can only bow to the decision of the House, as I have done before, and hon. Gentlemen opposite will have the somewhat questionable triumph of having adjourned for another year a contest which can only end in one way, and which I should have thought it would have been the interest of nobody, least of all of the Church of England, to prolong. On the other hand, if, as I hope and trust, it should be carried—for I cannot believe that the House of Commons will any longer consent to lag behind the House of Lords in this matter —we shall be in this position. Both Houses of Parliament will have solemnly affirmed their approval of a particular mode of settling the difficulty, and I think, under those circumstances, I should not be asking too much if I were to apply to 1740 so eminently Constitutional a Government as Her Majesty's and request them to afford out of the ample resources at their command—for we are no longer overburdened with domestic legislation—a few short hours for the discussion of a Bill founded upon this Resolution. I do not say that they are to give that time to me. I know that my connection with this subject has weighted it with a certain amount of unpopularity, and I should therefore prefer myself, and I think we all should prefer, that the Government should take up the question themselves, and should deal with it, not from a sanitary point of view, but in the only way in which it can be dealt with—namely, upon the basis of this Resolution. And I can assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will adopt that course, I shall be only too happy to hand over to him both the credit and the obloquy of the settlement.
And now I come to the Resolution itself. And if my grievance is a somewhat well-worn one, I have the consolation of knowing that at any rate it is a very simple one, and one that admits of the simplest possible remedy. I think I can state it in three sentences. The common law of England, which vesta the freehold of a churchyard in the incumbent and the churchwardens, gives to every parishioner the right to be interred in the churchyard quite irrespectively of his religious creed, quite irrespectively of his right to any religious service, and quite irrespectively of the permission of the incumbent. The ecclesiastical law of England in the case of baptized persons who are not labouring under certain civil or ecclesiastical bans has superadded to this right the right to be interred with a certain religious service —that is to say, the service of the Church of England, that being the only religious service which was known when the law was made. Is it right, is it reasonable, that you should continue to force that second privilege upon those who have long since ceased to desire it? Now, really that is the question which we shall probably be engaged for some seven or eight hours in discussing tonight. Both these propositions are propositions of law, and therefore are capable of being established to demonstration; and I do not observe that anybody ventures to deny, though it is sometimes 1741 convenient for my opponents to ignore, them.
Now, first, as to the first proposition—namely, the right of interment. That was decided 200 years ago in the ease of the King against Taylor. The Vicar of Daventry, in Northamptonshire, had refused to allow a parishioner to be buried in his churchyard because the deceased was not a Christian. Well, the Court of King's Bench made very short work of that. The presiding Judge, in delivering judgment, said—Every parishioner had a right to a burial-place in the churchyard, otherwise they cannot he buried anywhere if they have not land of their own, for other persons are not obliged to allow them to be buried in their own property.Thereupon it was objected, that in that case the vicar was bound to read the Burial Service; but the Court said the two matters were entirely distinct, and they refused to entertain that question as quite irrelevant to the matter they were trying. Well, I do not think I can put the case more clearly and strongly than it was put by one of the ablest Ecclesiastical Judges that has ever sat upon the Bench. Lord Stowell puts it thus—"All parishioners have a right to be buried in the churchyard without the leave of the incumbent." I do not think it can be put more strongly and clearly than that.
I pass, therefore, from the first to the second proposition. Now, I may remark that the right to the Burial Service is frequently spoken of as if it was the right of the incumbent, or that of the Church of England. That is a fallacy. The right is the right of the parishioner—and a very precious right it was in the days when it was believed that a man's soul could not be saved without it. And although, by a strange perversion of circumstances, it has come to be considered to be the right of the incumbent, I can assure the House that the position of the Clergy in this matter is, even as the law now stands, by no means as secure as they suppose it to be. Now, if the House will allow me, I will make that quite clear; and I am anxious to do so, because the amount of misconception that prevails on the subject amongst the Clergy is quite astounding. No doubt, under the Statute of Edward VI., all unauthorized services came within the offence known as brawl- 1742 ing; and as might have been expected from the nature of the times, the punishments imposed by the Statute were very severe, though probably some hon. Gentlemen might consider them somewhat disproportionate in the case of the first and second offence. For the first offence a brawler might be deprived of the privilege of going to church for the rest of his life; while for the second, he was liable to lose both his ears, and be branded in the face with a red-hot iron. This Act gave rise to great hardships; and one case, that of a poor old woman called Betty Jones, who was subjected to almost life-long imprisonment for some trivial ecclesiastical offence, made such a sensation, that two Statutes were passed to alter the law. One of them was introduced by Sir Bobert Phillimore, the present Judge in the Divorce and Admiralty Division, and the other by my hon. Friend, Mr. Pleydell Bouverie. That second Statute, Mr. Bouverie's Act, finally abolished the offence of brawling, and it enacted as follows:—Any person who shall be guilty of riotous, violent, or indecent behaviour, in England or Ireland, in any churchyard or burial-ground, or who shall molest, let, disturb, vex, or trouble, or by any other unlawful means, disquiet or misuse, any preacher duly authorized, or any clergyman in Holy Orders ministering or celebrating any divine service, rite, or office in any churchyard, shall, on conviction before two Justices of the Peace, be liable to a penalty of not more than £5 for every such offence, or for imprisonment for a term not exceeding two months.Well, Sir, that is the only Act I know of, now in force, which prohibits a Nonconformist from performing his own service in a churchyard; and, therefore, unless he is guilty of indecent or riotous behaviour, he may perform any such service without exposing himself to any penalty at all. Of course, it may be said—"If that be so, why do you want any change in the law?" To a lawyer the answer is obvious. It is quite true that the friends of a deceased person have a right to enter a churchyard for the purpose of interring the body; but if they enter for the purpose of celebrating any form of service which the law does not recognize, they would render themselves liable, not to a penalty, but to a civil action for trespass at the suit of the freeholders—that is to say, of the incumbent and churchwardens. And from what I know of these actions, 1743 I should say that, however profitable they may be to the lawyers, they would be most disastrous to those against whom they were brought, and probably, also, to those who brought them. I was talking on the subject to an eminent lawyer the other day, when he said—"For Heaven's sake, if that be law, do not alter it; for when it is once known what the law is, we lawyers shall make our fortunes out of it."
Well, but there is another reason for altering the law, and it is one which affects the Clergy more than the Nonconformists. Probably few persons are aware that until a very recent time there was no law whatever which prevented a clergyman, if he chose, from allowing a Nonconformist to perform any service he liked in his churchyard. Now, I make that statement upon the authority of one of the greatest lawyers— in fact, I may say, one of the greatest men who ever sat in this House—a man who bore a name which is still honoured in this House—the great Lord Chancellor Plunket. Mr. Plunket, when he was Attorney General for Ireland, in a speech which he made in 1824 on the Irish Burials Acts, says this—Suppose that the Protestant parson performs the rites of the Protestant Church, or that he waives their performance, there is no law in existence which in either case prohibits the performance of Dissenting rites in a Protestant churchyard.Well, so things went on till the first year of the present Parliament, when an Act passed which some hon. Gentlemen may remember. It was called the Public Worship Regulation Act. It was a highly penal Act, though I may say of its provisions what Lord Bolingbroke said about our laws generally—namely, that they are nets which catch the small fish, but which the great fish break through with impunity. Now, Sub-section 8 of the 3rd clause of that Act imposes very heavy penalties upon the incumbent—Who within the preceding twelve months has failed to observe, or to cause to be observed, the directions contained in the Book of Common Prayer relating to the performance in such churchyard or burial ground of the services, rites, and ceremonies ordered by the said book, or has made or permitted to be made any unlawful addition to, alteration of, or omission from such services, rites, and ceremonies.And I have the high authority of my 1744 hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for saying that under that clause a clergyman who has offered to allow a Nonconformist to perform a funeral service in his churchyard can be prosecuted. And to show that the Act is no mere blunt weapon, I may mention that last year the Bishop of Lincoln actually threatened an incumbent in his diocese with prosecution if he gave that permission; and the consequence was that the incumbent was obliged to withdraw the permission, and to apologize to the Bishop for an intended violation of the law. So that the law is in this absurd—this ridiculous—state, that a clergyman can be prosecuted and punished for permitting that which he cannot prevent except by, and at the cost of, an action for trespass. Well, after that, I think I am not far wrong in saying that the law requires to be changed in the interests of the Clergy themselves quite as much as in the interests of Nonconformists. In fact, nothing throughout this long and painful controversy has struck me more than the tenacity with which clergymen cling to the present state of the law. Certainly, if I were a clergyman, I could not conceive anything more painful—I might say more odious—than the duty which compelled me to read over the body of a man whom the accident of death had thrown into my power, a service which I knew that the man would object to if he could hear it, and which I know his friends and relatives who hear it do object to. Talk about desecration and profanation; if that is not desecration, I should very much like to know what is. And yet I am told that a memorial which I hold in my hand, against any change in the law, has been signed by 15,000 of the Clergy, or about three-fourths of the whole of the Clergy of England. Well, I hope I should be as ready as anybody to attribute the greatest weight to a memorial coming from such a large number of ministers of religion and educated men; but I think that the fact that this memorial has been signed by so many of such persons is itself a proof that there does exist amongst the Clergy an astounding misconception as to their present rights; because I cannot conceive that so large a body of educated men would, under any other circumstances, commit themselves to so utterly untenable a posi- 1745 tion. However, there is one remarkable fact connected with this memorial, and it is this—that although no pains have been spared to circulate and obtain signatures for it, it has been signed by only 30,000 laymen. And, considering that there are 15,000 parishes in England, each of which has two churchwardens, that only gives two signatures to each parish. So that this memorial, though it represents an overwhelming proportion of the clerical opinion, only represents numerically the opinions of the churchwardens of England and Wales! Or to put it in another way, every clergyman has only been able to induce two laymen to sign the memorial, and as there must be in England several millions of laymen in the Church, that does seem to me a remarkable disproportion.
Now, that memorial is in these words—We, the undersigned Clergy of the Church, of England, being averse to the introduction of such services into the churchyards as would be sanctioned by the Earl of Harrowby's proposed Amendment to the Burials Acts Consolidation Bill, hereby declare that we consider the churchyards (subject to the legal rights of the parishioners to interment) to be the property of the Church of England.Well, now, you cannot make a thing your property by asserting that it is so. If you could, the accumulation of wealth would be a very simple and easy process. But what does this statement mean? It cannot mean literally what it says, because we all know that the Church of England, not being a corporation, cannot hold property at all. What it probably does mean, and what no doubt in a certain sense is true, is this—that the freehold of the churchyard is vested in the incumbent and the churchwardens. Well, but so is the freehold of the Thames Embankment vested in my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Truro (Sir James M'Garel-Hogg), and his colleagues of the Metropolitan Board of Works; but that does not enable him to say to me that because I am a Liberal I shall not ride over the Embankment of a morning on my way to Chambers. Sir, let us get rid of these legal fictions, for until we do we shall not get to the bottom of this question. Believe me, the churchyards are not in any real sense the property of the Church or the incumbent.
1746 If the churchyards were the property of the incumbent, then the incumbent would be entitled to say—"I won't allow any man to enter here who is not a member of my flock, or whom the law does not compel me to acknowledge as a member of my flock." But that is the very thing which the incumbent, according to every lawyer from Fortescue down to Lord Selborne, cannot say. No doubt the freehold of the churchyard is vested in the clergyman and the churchwardens, and for a very good reason; because the law of England requires that the freehold of every inch of land shall be vested in somebody, and when churchyards were constructed, the vicar and churchwardens were the only persons in whom it could be vested. But it is vested in him in trust, not for the Church of England, or for the members of the Church of England. It is vested in trust for all the parishioners, be they members of the Church of England, or Nonconformists, or Roman Catholics, or Secularists, or Jews, or even Mahom-medans—if any such are to be found. And it is surely too much to say that land so vested is to be held for purely ecclesiastical uses. Why the very contention sounds like a voice from the Middle Ages. And that really, I think, is the answer to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Balfour), which purposes to limit the operation of my proposal to 30 years. Now, let me ask, in passing, does my hon. Friend mean that limitation to apply to lands given by Nonconformists, or to lands which have not been given at all; but which have been purchased under the Act of George IV., at the cost of the rates, levied, of course, upon Churchmen and Nonconformists alike? But there is a further answer to the Amendment, which is this—that the law of England does not recognize any arriére pensée of this sort on the part of donors of land to public purposes. If a man dedicates land to a public purpose, whether that purpose be a road or a churchyard, he must give it out and out, and he cannot reserve to himself any rights over it.
But it has been said that if you apply this principle to the churchyard, it must apply to the church also. Well, allow me to say that this is a very dangerous argument, for it is an argument which, some day or other, may be used as a 1747 weapon against you. Of one tiling I am sure. The Liberationists will not quarrel with you for using it. They know very well that to say the surrender of the churchyard involves the surrender of the church itself is the very way to make it so. But I wish to examine it in the most unprejudiced and unimpassioned way, as a mere abstract question. Does the surrender of the churchyard as a matter of fact involve the surrender of the church itself? It is said, no doubt, and truly said, that both are vested in the incumbent, but they are vested for entirely different purposes. The church is intended for religious services; the churchyard for the interment of the parishioners, not necessarily with any religious service at all. No doubt, as things are at present, the churchyard is an appanage of the church; but as I pointed out when I last addressed the House on the subject, that is quite a modern innovation. Some hundreds of years ago, the graveyards, as they were then called, were outside the walls of the city; and it was only shortly before the Reformation, when the monks and priests became too fat or too lazy to go outside the walls of the city to recite prayers for the dead, that they began to establish graveyards around the church, in spite of several Statutes, which denounced such churchyards as a subtle device of the Bishop of Rome, and within the compass of the Statutes of Mortmain.
But besides this, surely there is a practical difference between the two cases. As I have often said, the use of the church is optional; the use of the churchyard is compulsory. I do not suppose there is a single parish in England in which a man can honestly say that he is compelled to enter the parish church; but alas! we allAwait alike the inevitable hour;and, as I shall show you presently, in nine parishes out of ten, every man must sooner or later enter the parish churchyard. And if that be so, does not the law as it now stands compel Nonconformists indirectly—just as it compelled them 30 or 40 years ago to be married with ceremonies to which they objected—to be buried with rights of which they disapprove? Is that a right state of things? Just let me bring it home to you, by an illustration drawn 1748 from what lately occurred in Spain, the only European country where the English law of burial prevails. Last autumn, the wife of an Englishman, who was settled in an out-of-the-way parish in Spain, was confined of a child. As soon as the Alcalde and the parish priest heard of it, they came and entered the house of the Englishman, and insisted upon it that, under some old law of Spain, the child must at once be baptized according to the Spanish law; and accordingly, notwithstanding the tears of the mother and the protestations of the father, who was a staunch Protestant, they carried off the poor little baby to the parish church, and baptized it. Well, the thing created a great sensation even in Spain. All the Liberal papers took it up, and there was a general feeling of indignation that any nation however bigoted, or however backward, could tolerate such a practice. But now let me ask you to shift the scene. Instead of a child of English parents, born in a rural parish in Spain, let me put the case of a child of Irish parents dying in a rural parish of England. The English law, like the law of every civilized country, provides that child with a decent place of burial. But then it says to the parents of the child—"As the price of your child being buried in the churchyard, which is the only place of interment—that is to say, as the price of its buried at all, we insist that it shall be buried according to the rites of the English Church." What is the difference between the two cases? To the poor little child I do not suppose it matters what the rites are. But to the survivors, I venture to think that the insult—I may say the outrage—is equally gross.
Now, I put it to any man, is that a state of law which you can possibly defend? I am quite certain no one will defend it. The Government do not defend it, for they say—"We will offer you two remedies. In the first place, we will permit you to be buried, as our ancestors would have said, 'without bell or book'—that is to say, without any religious service." In other words, they will allow Nonconformists to be buried in a manner which, although I believe it is common enough in Scotland, in this country is generally believed to be reserved for unbaptized persons, excommunicated persons, suicides, and 1749 murderers. And then you turn round upon my noble Friend, Lord Granville, and myself, and say—"That is your own proposal." So it was our own proposal, but we proposed it as one of a number of alternatives, and you propose it as the only alternative. We proposed it to meet the case of Scotchmen. It is surely one thing to say to Englishmen—"We won't allow you to have a service which you do want;" and it is another thing to say to Scotchmen—"We won't compel you to have a service which you do not want." If I were to ask a mixed party of Englishmen and Scotchmen to dinner, I suppose I should take care to provide some of those dishes and beverages, which are believed to be dear to Scotchmen; but that is quite a different thing from saying to my guests —"Because some. of you are Scotchmen, therefore I insist that you shall all drink Scotch whiskey and eat oatmeal porridge."
But the Government in their liberality do not stop here. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Hubbard), says that Nonconformists shall be free to provide cemeteries for themselves. Well, but they knew that before. The Government are more liberal. The Government say —"Not only will we allow you to build cemeteries at your own expense, but we will allow you to provide them at the expense of the rates, and that whether they are wanted or not." Now, my Motion does not deal in any way with cemeteries, and I do not want to enter upon the question; but still I cannot help saying in passing, that it does seem to me that this cemetery system, with its divisions into Roman Catholic ground, and consecrated ground, and unconsecrated ground, does not commend itself to me as a very edifying spectacle, or as one very worthy of a Christian country. I believe we are the only Protestant country in Europe where such divisions exist, and I know of cases in which they have produced the greatest distress of mind by separating those who in death ought not to have been divided. Will the House allow me to read a letter I cut out of The Times, a letter which shows to what an absurd extent this state of things has gone? It is signed "A Sufferer," and the writer says—My first wife, a member of the Church of England, died and was buried in the consecrated 1750 portion of our public cemetery. My second wife was a Roman Catholic, and of course I laid her remains in the Roman Catholic portion. I am neither a Churchman nor a Romanist, but I had hoped that one of those two graves at least might be made available for myself. Our local authorities, however, say no, unless I agree to the religious service, and when I complain of the hardship of having to pay for a third grave in a cemetery in which I have already purchased two, I am told that it is my own fault for not marrying a Nonconformist.But I find that these arguments in favour of the cemetery system are generally accompanied by allegations, that the grievance is a very small one, which if left to itself will soon disappear. Now, I always have protested, and shall continue to protest, against that way of getting rid of the difficulty. To my mind all these comparisons as to there being only 30 per cent buried in the unconsecrated portion, and 70 per cent, in the consecrated, are quite beside the mark. Because if a thing is wrong or unjust, it does not become less wrong or less unjust because those who suffer from it can be counted by hundreds or thousands instead of by millions. Surely to say to a Nonconformist living in Denbighshire, that if he can only make up his mind to come and die in Stoke Newington he can be buried with any service he likes at Abney Park, is very like a cruel mockery. Yet, that is what hon. Gentlemen opposite really offer to us. But I will show you that this argument is not only unsound in point of logic, but that it is quite unfounded in point of fact. Now the way in which the Home Secretary in his speech dealt with this question is this—"He said that the population of England and Wales was 22,000,000—I suppose it is now 23,000,000—and he said that of those 22,000,000, 14,000,000 were provided with cemeteries under the present law, and that left only 8,000,000 who suffered from this grievance." Another hon. Member carried it still further, and by some process known only to himself, arrived at the fact that only one quarter of the Home Secretary's 8,000,000 were Nonconformists; and so he said triumphantly that there were only 2,000,000 suffering from this grievance, and therefore it was an infinitesimal grievance! Two millions an infinitesimal grievance! Why the whole population of Wales is not much more than half 2,000,000. The population of Scotland is not more than 1751 double 2,000,000. Indeed, the population of our whole Australian Empire, including New Zealand, does not amount to 2,000,000. But I wonder what any Queenslander, or New Zealander, or resident in New South Wales, would say if he were told that a grievance affecting the whole of the population of that great Empire was an infinitesimal grievance. But I will show you that this grievance not only affects millions of persons, but that it is spread over the whole of England and Wales; and for this purpose I turn to the Return which I moved for in June, 1875, but which I only got last July. I think its disclosures will be found to be very startling.
According to this Return, there are in England and Wales church and graveyards, which would be affected by my Motion, to the number of not less than 14,066. Of these only 1,476, or only 1 in 10, have been closed, leaving 12,590 open. Well, in order to meet the case of these 1,476 closed graveyards 639 cemeteries have been opened; in other words, one cemetery supplies the place of more than two churchyards. It will be seen from this that the churchyards open in England and Wales are to the cemeteries in the proportion of 20 to 1. As regards Wales, the statistics are even more striking. The number of churchyards in Wales is 1,016. Of these 48, or only 1 in 20, have been closed, leaving still open 968. To supply the place of these churchyards only 26 cemeteries have been opened, so that the churchyards are to the cemeteries in the proportion of 40 to 1. But that is not all; of these cemeteries, 14 are situated in two counties, leaving 10 counties, having among them a population of not less than 800,000, with only 12 cemeteries among them. Well, now, these people are almost all Nonconformists living in rural districts; and if you were to tell them that their churchyards on the mountain sides ought to be closed on sanitary grounds they would not understand you. That is the difficulty I have found in arguing the question with Members who represent populous cities and boroughs. But then they say—"There are burial-grounds round your chapels." I have no doubt there are; but it is an entire fallacy to say that these burial-places supply the want, and for two reasons. In the first place, they are all collected 1752 in populous districts, and not distributed over the rural districts, where people are not rich enough to pay for them. For instance, in Flintshire, where there are 55 parishes, there are not more than six with burial-places. But besides, these burial-places are very small, sometimes not covering more than two or three roods; and if they were used to any extent, they would have to be closed immediately. Moreover, they are not open to Nonconformists generally. They are as much private property as my garden. They are vested in trustees for the communicants of one particular denomination; and if those trustees were to throw them open, of course the Court of Chancery would restrain them from committing so gross an infringement of the rights of private property, Well, hon. Gentlemen say—"Why don't you treat the churchyards in the same way?" Simply, because churchyards are not private property. The Church of England cannot be denominational and national at the same time. The Clergy cannot say, as they do at the present time—"We are trustees for the nation, and also trustees for one religious denomination." That argument takes you straight into Disestablishment without hope of escape. Well, now, I hope I have said enough to show that it would cost an enormous sum to carry out the Government proposal. The lowest sum at which I have heard it put has been £2,452,000, and that is only reckoning £300 for each cemetery; and as the only cemetery I know anything about cost something more like £5,000, I think it would be more likely to take nearly the whole of the £6,000,000 which we voted the other night. I do not know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer can see his way to spare any of the sum for that purpose; but perhaps a worse use might be made of it. And I should like to give the House one example of the impression produced by the Bill in a part of the country where its operation would be felt. Shortly after its introduction there was an election for the Montgomery Boroughs. I am told that the Government Bill created quite a panic, not so much among the Nonconformists, as among the ratepayers there. At any rate, I do know this—that the very first pledge exacted from the Conservative candidate by his own supporters, was that he—the Government candidate— 1753 should vote against the Government Bill. Well, of course, the amount of money which would be required to carry out the Government scheme is a matter more or less of conjecture; but one thing is a matter of arithmetical calculation, and that is—the time it would take to close all the churchyards at the rate at which they have been closed lately. I have taken the period of the last 20 years—between 1855 and 1876— and to make the case as strong against myself as possible, I have included the partially-closed churchyards as well as the wholly-closed; and I find that, according to the rate at which the churchyards have been closed during the last 20 years—and the rate is growing slower and slower every day—it would take, to close all the churchyards in England and Wales, exactly 304 years 10 months and several days. So that this grievance, which according to some hon. Gentlemen opposite would disappear in a few years if left to itself, will, it seems, go on until the close of the 22nd century of the Christian era—if the world lasts so long!
But then it is said that this, if not an infinitesimal grievance, is a sentimental grievance, and, therefore, you ought not to regard it. Sir, I am afraid that in this country, men, and women too, have faced the faggot and the scaffold rather than submit to sentimental grievances. The poor Puritan who went to the stake rather than go to Mass—the Scotch Covenanter who laid his head on the bare bleak rock rather than worship his God in a new-fangled fashion, were, no doubt, in a certain sense, the victims of a sentimental grievance. A man must be a very shallow observer of human nature who comes to the conclusion that a grievance is unsubstantial because it is sentimental. But there is one very good way of testing whether this is a substantial grievance, and it is this—bring it home to yourselves. Let every man who intends to vote against me to-night ask himself, first—"How should I like to be obliged to bury my wife or my child with, say, Jewish rites, or Roman Catholic rites, with the alternative of a silent interment?" I venture to think that if hon. Gentlemen would honestly ask themselves this question, we should very soon arrive at a satisfactory solution of this question. And I am glad to think that I can quote, on this part of the subject, a man who 1754 is one of my most honest, as he is one of my most eloquent, opponents, the Bishop of Peterborough. That right reverend Prelate, referring to the subject at a late diocesan conference, said—But he did see that, though there was not a shadow of a grievance, there was the reality of a great grief; and, asking himself the question how he would like, in France or Austria, to have to bury a child with a service he disliked or silently, he owned that he should like to see the Church retaining her own rights and resisting all high-handed attempts of legislation to deprive her of them, devising in her charity some means of providing a remedy. As a trustee, he could only oppose the surrender which was persistently demanded.Well, now, I am glad to see that while the Bishop feels compelled to resist my Motion, looking at it as a trustee, as a man he admits the force of it; and, bearing in mind the first golden principle of Christianity, he does shrink from doing to others that which he certainly admits he would not like to be done to him. All I can say is, that before he approaches the question again, I hope he will see a way to reconcile his feelings as a man with his sense of duty as a Bishop; because if he cannot harmonize the two, it does not speak very highly for the efficacy of Apostolic succession.
But then it is said—"Yes, but you ought to apply that rule to yourselves, and, if we respect the prejudices and feelings of Nonconformists, you ought also to respect the feelings of clergymen who will be insulted by this invasion of what they consider their property." Well, I really think the answer to that was well given in a previous debate by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), whom we are so glad to see back in his place. My hon. and learned Friend said there were two kinds of sentiments—namely, good sentiments and bad sentiments; that the sentiments that induced a man to lay those whom he loved in the ground in the manner most consonant to their and his own feelings was a natural, a human, and a Christian sentiment; but that the sentiment which led men to grudge the gratification of that very natural feeling was a sentiment which ought to be reprobated by all right-minded men. And do you really mean to compare the grievance of the poor mother, who stands by the open grave 1755 of her dead child, and in that supreme hour of her grief is not allowed even the consolation of hearing one of her own hymns sung by her own people, who is not even allowed the consolation of hearing one word of hope or comfort from the lips of her own minister—do you mean to compare that grievance with the grievance of the man who chooses that time and that place to handy words about what he calls his freehold? Sir, the Home Secretary, in a remarkable speech which he made on this subject two years ago, charged me with having shown no regard or respect for the feelings of the Clergy. That is a very serious charge, and if I am arraigned upon it again I hope the House will allow me to show them what those feelings are, and how they are expressed. Here is a specimen. It is from the pen of one of the most distinguished dignitaries of the Church, the principal of a well-known theological College. Canon Curteis, in a paper read before the Church Congress, at Croydon, says—We do find it hard to forget the reiterated falsehoods with which week after week things and persons dear to us are aspersed by the liberation Press; we do find it hard to put any true Christian construction on the attempt now being made, not to reform, not even to confiscate our time-honoured churches and their tranquil, lovely, burial-grounds, but simply to spoil them for our religious use, to desecrate them to our religious sentiments, and to make them hateful in our eyes as Babels of confusion and discord where once all was order and peace.Are those the sentiments which I am to be called upon to honour and respect? I am far from saying that this language expresses the feelings of all the Clergy on this question. I wish publicly and unreservedly to thank the many liberal-minded Clergy who, at some sacrifice of personal popularity, have supported me in this Resolution; and I wish also to thank those who, while opposing me, have at least given me credit for common honesty. But sentiments such as those which I have quoted are far too common among the Clergy, and they are to be heard even from the Episcopal Bench.
Well, I think I had better not quote any more such passages, because by so doing I might embitter still further a controversy which, Heaven knows, is bitter enough already. Therefore, I pass on to a different question. It is sometimes said that my Motion is a one sided one, because it leaves the clergy- 1756 man bound and sets the Dissenter free. That may be a very good argument for loosening the yoke from the neck of the clergyman, but is no argument at all for leaving it riveted on the necks of the Nonconformists. The Nonconformists are not responsible for the Church Burial Service any more than they are responsible for the Church Commination Service, or the Thirty-nine Articles. Surely, it is not reasonable to say that the Nonconformists must wait for their own deliverance until such time as it please the Clergy to emancipate themselves.
But I come to a graver objection, which I feel some difficulty in dealing with, because it involves a libel on my countrymen, to which, I am sure, no other nation in Europe would submit. It has been said—it is still said—that the Nonconformists of England and Wales are not fit to be trusted with this liberty, because they would be sure to use it for the purpose of political demonstrations, or personal attacks upon the clergyman and his Church. Have hon. Gentlemen opposite so low an opinion of human nature as to suppose that even the worst of men would select the open grave for a display of party spite? Have they so low an opinion of their own countrymen as to think that they alone of all the nations of Europe would abuse a privilege which so far as I know is not abused anywhere else? Why, there is not a foreigner in London who will not be amazed to learn that England—Protestant, free, enlightened England— England, whose Prime Minister goes down once a-year to the Guildhall to thank God that Englishmen are not as other men are—dares not entrust to her Nonconformist citizens a privilege which despotic Russia, which priest-ridden Austria, aye, even poor despised, and proscribed Turkey has conceded long ago. The Members for Scotland and Ireland, who have for years enjoyed this privilege, cry shame upon our English intolerance. But I will not take you to Russia, or to Austria, or even to Scotland or Ireland, in order to show you that these apprehensions are as unfounded as they are ungenerous. I believe that if I could call before you every member of every Burial Board in England, they would tell you the same story—namely, that these disgraceful scenes are unknown in cemeteries, and that the services in the unconsecrated parts of the 1757 cemeteries are conducted with at least as much solemnity and decorum as in the consecrated portions—some say even more so. And now I want to know why, if no cause for this alarm exists in crowded urban districts, where Party feeling necessarily runs high, you should anticipate such a danger in quiet rural districts? And that brings me to the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford, which, adopting Lord Harrowby's clause, restricts the services to Christian and orderly services. I hope my hon. Friend does not think I am in favour of irreligious or disorderly services. Indeed, when I put my Resolution on the Paper last year, I, too, adopted those same words. But upon weighing the matter since, I came to the conclusion that it is not the province of a Resolution to define, either the precise nature of the services which are to be performed, or the persons who shall conduct them. These are questions to be discussed in Committee on a Bill. And I do think the burden of proof lies on those who say that a safeguard which 25 years' experience has shown not to be necessary in the case of cemeteries is required in the case of churchyards. Moreover, if, as I have shown, the privilege is that of the parishioner—that is, the citizen—why should there be any restriction at all? Indeed, I have somewhat lost my faith in the sincerity of those who say that they require safeguards; for when, in the last Parliament, I adopted in the Bill which I introduced a suggestion of the hon. Member for West Kent (Mr. J. G. Talbot), limiting the service to "prayers, hymns, and portions of Scripture," I did not gain a single vote by that concession; not even that of the author of the proposal. And when Lord Harrowby brought forward his clause last year in the House of Lords, speaker after speaker got up from the Ministerial benches and said that the words "Christian and religious" meant nothing at all. Nay, more, the clerical memorial which I have read was directed, not against my Resolution, but against Lord Harrowby's clause, and therefore against my hon. Friend's Amendment; so that I do not feel the least security that if I were bodily to adopt the words proposed by my hon. Friend, he might not turn round and, like the hon. Member for West Kent, vote against his own Amendment. I do 1758 not, however, want to enter upon the question in an unconciliatory spirit; and if this Resolution is carried, as I hope, with the help of my hon. Friend, it will be—and, indeed, unless my Resolution is carried his Amendment cannot be put —and legislation in the spirit of my proposal should ensue, I should not, if it be the general feeling of the House were in favour of it, take upon myself the responsibility of wrecking the measure for the sake of those words, though I do not think them right or necessary myself. The fact is, that we have now an opportunity of settling this question such as has never before offered itself. If you reject this Resolution, I shall despair of anything being settled in this matter for years. But, on the other hand, if you pass this Resolution, and a Bill is brought in embodying it, adding, if it should be thought desirable, Lord Harrowby's words, with a clause throwing on the rates the burden of keeping up the churchyards, I venture to think you will never hear of the Burials Question again. Pass such a measure, and I believe that in a very short time men will wonder that so small a matter should have occupied so large a space in the annals of the House of Commons. It will be the old story over again—Hi motus animorum, atque hœc certamina tantaPulveria exigui jaotu compressa quiescent.Sir, I honestly believe that the great majority of hon. Gentlemen opposite would gladly embrace this solution of the difficulty if they were not haunted by that old bugbear about this being the thin end of the Disestablishment wedge. I have already dealt with that argument, and I only recur to it for the purpose of pointing out that whatever weight it might have carried seven or eight years ago, it cannot be expected to carry the same weight now, and for this reason—While the Nonconformists have been endeavouring to get in the thin end of the Disestablishment wedge, a large and influential party in the Church itself have managed to get in not only the thin end of the wedge, but the thick end too. Surely, it would be well if hon. Gentlemen opposite could only bring themselves to see that the real danger to the Church of England at this moment comes not so much from the way in which it is attacked as from the way 1759 in which it is defended. For my part— and I have the authority of more than one English Bishop for what I say—I cannot conceive anything more calculated to precipitate Disestablishment than this rampant sacerdotalism which combines the maximum of pretension with the minimum of concession, which displays the most unrelenting hostility to the Nonconformist, and claims the most unbridled licence for the priest. Why, there are hundreds—I may say thousands—of men in the Church who claim a privilege hitherto, thank God, unknown to Englishmen—the privilege of being above the law—and who would yet strain the law to the utmost against those whom they call their Nonconformist brethren—men who, if they could, would turn the church into a milliner's shop, and yet bar the churchyard against the widow and the orphan. I know I am treading on somewhat delicate ground; but might it not be well if these zealous champions of the Church were to turn their attention from this Burials Question to the internal scandals which afflict and distract the Church, and endeavour to cast the beam out of their own eye? The sale of ecclesiastical benefices, the practice of auricular confession, the "Priest in Absolution"—surely these are matters which might fitly demand the attention of your Church Defence Associations. But be this as it may, of one thing I am perfectly certain, that deeply interested as every religious Body in the country is in the settlement of this question, the religious Body most deeply interested in that settlement is the Church of England herself. That, perhaps, is an argument which you may scarcely care to hear from me, though we know that there are times when it is not wise to disregard even the counsels of an adversary. But I will read to you the counsels of one who is no adversary of the Church —one to whom, from his great position and high character, you are bound to listen. He says—My opinion is that the time has come when this matter, for the sake and in the interests of the Church of England, should undoubtedly be settled. My reason is my belief that it will be dangerous to the Church of England to leave the matter open any longer. I do not say that it is desirable in the abstract to make the concession, but I do say that it is inevitable. If, then, it must be made, surely it would be better to make it with a good grace.1760 Now, Sir, these are not my words— they are the words of one whose courageous action in this matter I shall always remember with gratitude and respect— they are the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury. And now, before I sit down, let me make an appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite, and particularly to the Treasury Bench, and I hope —indeed I am sure—it will be met in the spirit in which it is made. Of course the Government, by putting out their full strength, can defeat this Resolution. But I would ask them, would it be wise, even at the present juncture, to keep open for another year a question which inflicts a wound on the tenderest feelings of thousands and thousands of our fellow-countrymen—the depth and poignancy of which no man here can probe or measure? I am sure you will not say that we, on this side, have, during the last two years, at least, shown any undue haste, or impatience, in dealing with this question. During the whole of last Session, for 15 weeks and more, we were content to await in silence the fate of the Government Bill. Is it our fault that we can wait no longer?" Why, the subject is literally worn to rags. Parliament has debated it over and over again. Two Select Committees have reported upon it. Every parish in England has been ransacked for evidence. Every argument has been exhausted, every fact has been sifted, every fallacy has been exposed. In the interests of justice, in the interests of peace, above all, in the interests of religion itself, it is time that the question should be settled at once and for ever. And do you really believe—does anyone in or out of this House really believe, that it can be upon any other terms than on the lines of this Resolution? You have done your best. Animated by the best intentions, backed by commanding majorities in both Houses of Parliament, the Government have tried to settle it in their own way. And they have failed. They have failed because their plan—the only alternative proposed which has been seriously suggested—would have saddled the rural districts of the country with a burden which was felt to be intolerable because it was felt to be unnecessary. Surely, that was an argument which ought to carry weight with men like my hon. Friends the Members for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) and South 1761 Norfolk (Mr. Clare Bead), and the hon. Baronet the Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes), and the other Conservative Members of the House who— at least when in Opposition—so honourably distinguished themselves by their efforts to reduce the burden of local taxation. But legitimate and weighty as these arguments undoubtedly are, I prefer in making what I trust may be my last appeal to the House on this question, to rest that appeal upon higher and broader grounds. Sir, for eight years and more I have struggled to pass this small measure of justice through the House of Commons. I am fully conscious, not only of the difficulties of the task which I have undertaken, but of the mistakes which I have made in endeavouring to discharge it. I should be the first to admit that the work might have been sooner accomplished if, as I have often wished, it could have been entrusted to other and stronger hands. But this I hope I may be allowed to say, that, from first to last, I have striven to the best of my ability to rest my case on the only grounds on which such a case ought to be rested—on the grounds of humanity and justice. And now that the closing act of the controversy seems to have arrived, now that from the least expected quarters—from noble Lords and most rev. Prelates, there has come a cry for its settlement which can no longer be stifled, I would end as I begun, and, in the name of that humanity and that justice—aye, and by the first golden rule of that Christianity which has been so often invoked against me— I ask of you to affirm this Resolution, not because you fear that its acceptance has become an unwelcome necessity, but because you know that its rejection would be a cruel wrong. Sir, I beg to move the Resolution of which I have given Notice.
§ MR. KNATCHBULL - HUGESSEN
would not have addressed the House had he not been specially requested to second the Resolution of his hon. and learned Friend. It embraced two distinct and separate propositions. In the first place, it affirmed that it was high time this question should be settled; and, next, that it should be settled in a particular manner. With regard to the first proposition, he thought there would be no great disposition on either side of the House to disagree. It 1762 was time the question should be settled, for it was one which excited and inflamed religious animosities, which created heart-burnings and ill-feeling among neighbours, and militated against that charity which they all regarded as the greatest of Christian virtues. But when they came to the second part of the Resolution the difficulty began. Granted that the question should be settled, in what manner could it be best and most effectually settled? He desired to approach the subject in a most conciliatory spirit. Speaking as a Churchman, he knew he had the misfortune to differ from a great many of the best and the most earnest members of his own communion, and this alone would induce him to approach the subject with deep humility as regarded his own opinions, and with a sincere desire not to offend the feelings and susceptibilities of other people. The present condition of the question might be concisely stated. The Nonconformists said that in every parish a parishioner, irrespective of his creed, had a right to burial in the churchyard. "That is true," it was said; "but you have to add certain conditions, one of which is that the service of the Church must be read over the dead, and that service must be read by a clergyman of the Church of England." What the Nonconformists asked was that they should be allowed to exercise the right unclogged with the condition. Many of the objections to the exercise of that right were very weak, and might be brushed away like cobwebs from a window-pane. Among these he feared he must include one which appeared formidable at first sight, and which had been made by certain gentlemen who had given sites for new churches or for additions to old churchyards. He had that morning received a protest which contained the names of many of his personal friends, of many good and worthy persons; but no more preposterous document had ever issued from the pen of man than their protest. They had given certain lands for national purposes, and, having done so, they came and wanted to attach certain conditions which were not attached in their deed of gift. They cut the ground from under their own feet. For what were their own words?— that they had made these gifts "under the Laws of the Realm." Precisely so. Under the laws of this realm they had 1763 given property to the Church of England, not as a private corporation, hut as the Church Established, subject to the law of the country, subject to any widening of its basis, and to be held, as all other national property, subject to the will of Parliament, and to the laws passed by Parliament. It was the old story of the "pious founders" over again, only these were "pious founders" still living amongst us who already repented of their generosity. Such a plea would, if allowed, shake the claim of the Church to property which she had, and which was originally given for Roman Catholic purposes. If they once permitted property thus given to be subject to conditions not in the mind of the donor at the time of the gift, they would be entering upon a course which would involve them in endless difficulty. Another argument which had been used out-of-doors was that the Nonconformists desired the right of being buried in churchyards without reciprocating by giving Churchmen the right to be buried in Nonconformist cemeteries. That argument, however, was not for a moment tenable; for it meant either that the Church of England was on all-fours with the Nonconformist Body, or that they were willing to put Nonconformists on all-fours with the Church of England and endow their Clergy also. Otherwise Nonconformists had only private ground, while the Church of England was in possession of the national churchyards, and stood on a different footing. In regard to the argument that the Clergy were the freeholders of the churchyards, he would not attempt to give a lawyer's opinion on the matter; but he should not be surprised if, on a full and fair investigation, it turned out that the freehold was originally vested in the clergyman, because he really represented the parish. If the Clergy pushed the claim too far they might find that it would be used against them. Then, again, it was said that the proposal might be productive of improper services and unseemly brawls in the churchyards; but he considered the suggestion that disturbances would take place was not a reflection solely on the character of Nonconformists, or Nonconformist ministers, but upon the character of the English people. They were a sober and orderly people, and if there was any moment when they were more so than another, it 1764 was when they were following their dead to the grave. No doubt there had been such things as brawls and unseemly disturbances in and outside churches, as St. George's-in-the-East and other places could testify; but these were not caused by wicked Nonconformists who went there to attack the Church, but they arose from the conduct of certain of the Clergy themselves who had attempted to introduce unwelcome doctrine and ritual. But, after all, what was the great objection to this Resolution? It was this—that such a concession to the Nonconformists as it advocated would militate against the spirit of an Establishment; that if they gave up the churchyards they would have to give up the churches. That was a question on which there would always be great difference of opinion. One man would contend that if they gave up this outwork they would imperil their inner defences, whilst another would maintain that the outwork was indefensible, and that they would be far stronger if they fell back at once upon their main position. But these objections respecting the Establishment principally came from the Clergy of the Church of England. He desired to guard himself against saying anything against the Clergy of the Church of England. Take them as a whole, there was no more exemplary and excellent body of men than the Clergy. They laboured earnestly in their Master's vineyard; they devoted their lives to the welfare of their fellow-men; and many of them spent far more than they could really afford in relieving the bodily necessities of those to whose spiritual wants they were sent to minister. Still, he could not help feeling that the reason of the clerical opposition to this measure and to the views of his hon. and learned Friend was this— that they feared their own position and status would be affected by the change he advocated. Let it not be supposed for a moment that he (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) was imputing any selfish motive to the Clergy. What he meant was that they were of opinion that a position and status were conferred upon them as ministers of the Established Church which were superior to the position and status of the Nonconformist ministers; and they could not bear the idea that a minister of any other Christian Church than their own should 1765 be placed on an equality with them in the churchyards of the country. The law did give to the Clergy of the Establishment a status and position which it did not confer upon any other person; but if the privileges of that position were pressed too far—if they were pressed so far as to run counter to public opinion, to cause irritation, and to produce hardship, or a sense of hardship, to many members of the community, he could only say those privileges, and together with those privileges, the position, and the very law itself, would inevitably be imperilled. Let them try and take an impartial view of this question—not the view of a Churchman, or the view of a Nonconformist. There would be a parish in which, say, two-thirds of the people attended church and one-third the Nonconformist chapel. They did not interfere with the Nonconformist as long as he lived. He might go to church or to chapel as he pleased. One would suppose that if the doctrines he would hear in chapel were injurious to the State or to religion, it was during the lifetime of the hearer that they would do harm. But, this being a free country, he might hear what he pleased whilst he lived. But the moment the breath was out of his body, when no harm could possibly be done him, if his body was brought to be buried in the parish—the national— burying-ground, they would not allow to be said over his dead body words of comfort and consolation from the only person who could speak those words. Could any impartial looker-on justify such a state of things? He questioned whether anyone was benefited by these restrictions, and he did not apprehend that any harm would be done to anyone if they were abolished to-morrow. Then let them regard the matter from a Nonconformist point of view. What must render all this state of things the more bitter to Nonconformists was that they saw in the Church men, not teaching an uniform doctrine, but differing as widely from one another as they themselves differed from the Church. They need not go out of the metropolis to see men from Church pulpits denouncing their ecclesiastical superiors, and refusing to acknowledge the decisions of the very law which upheld them in their places. He had promised the House to be brief, and would endeavour to keep his word; 1766 but, before sitting down, he wished to place before the House what he conceived to be a practical view of this question. They all wanted it to be settled. Well, did hon. Gentlemen opposite think that it was possible to settle it permanently in any other way than that which had been suggested that night? They could not expect the Nonconformists of England and Wales to abate one jot of their demand, because all they were asking was to be put on an equality in this respect with their brethren in Scotland, Ireland, and the Colonies, and in every other country of Europe. Then did they think they could settle the question by forbidding altogether the burial of Nonconformists in the parish churchyards? They did not wish to do so. Yet that was the logical sequence of the argument by which they contended that the clergyman alone should read the service; for, if so, surely those over whose bodies he did so should be those only who during their lives had admitted his pastoral authority. But if this was done, they would be degrading the Church of England to the level of a sect, and, moreover, they could not go back, and deprive the Nonconformist of a right which, as a parishioner, he already possessed. Then what valid reason was there for denying his present claim? He would not make any fervent or ardent appeal, because he did not think that such appeals, from whatever quarter they came, carried with them very great weight. But he had seen on the previous day in a newspaper, under the heading, "The Churchyards Question," a strong appeal, signed by two gentlemen from Torquay, to the Conservative Party, who were told that they were invited now by "timid friends and designing opponents" to renounce their principles. [Cheers.] He did not know whether the hon. Gentlemen who cheered considered that he was a "timid friend or a designing opponent." He made no appeal either to the Conservative or the Liberal Party, for he recognized no Party upon this question; but he would appeal to his brother Churchmen, and he could tell them very earnestly and sincerely that it was as a friend to the Church of England that he counselled the concession of this demand. They might rely upon it that they would ultimately have to yield, and let them do so 1767 whilst there would still be some grace in the concession. Was he asking anything which would damage the Established Church? He said emphatically no. He (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) bad said before in that House, and he would repeat it, that an Established Church was only possible under two conditions—the first, which was impossible in free England, was that a submissive people must accept their religion from their Government, and obey their creed as they obeyed their code of law; and the next, and the only other condition on which an Established Church could exist, was that it was the religion of the people, and that it had its ramifications in the hearts and feelings of the people from one end of the country to the other. Now, this could not be said to be more than very partially true of the Church of England as she existed at present. To what, then, should they look? He maintained that the true policy for the Church was to extend and widen her basis, and not to rely on the enforcement of restrictions which were contrary to the spirit of the age, and in marked contrast with the enlightened principles of Christianity itself. Let them consider for a moment the millions of human beings throughout the world who approached their Creator through different creeds and various forms of religious worship. How infinitesimally small did these petty disputes seem between different schools of Christianity in this island! Who was there who would dare stand up and affirm that his own particular Church was indubitably the best in the sight of Heaven, and that his own creed was assuredly the most acceptable to the Supreme Being? Would he not be deemed an arrogant and presumptuous man? Was there, then, nothing of arrogance and presumption in the superiority which members of the Church of England seemed to claim over their Nonconformist brethren in this matter? He ventured to think it had somewhat of that appearance; but, in his humble judgment, the Church of England should look upon the Nonconformists, not as opponents and enemies, but as fellow-workers in the same vineyard, and as fellow-soldiers in the battle which Christianity was ever waging against the sin and ignorance which beset mankind. It was time that this question should be settled. Let them 1768 look round upon the Nonconformity of England. Whence did it arise? The large majority of Nonconformists had been driven out of the fold of the Church of England by her persecution and neglect in times gone by, rather than by any bitter hostility to her doctrines. He would say nothing of persecutions at that moment; but could anyone deny the neglect? In hundreds of localities new villages had arisen, new hamlets sprung up, new populations been called into existence, which, owing to the defective parochial organization of the Church of England, would never have heard the name of either Creator or Redeemer but for the efforts of those Nonconformists whose children were asking us to alter our law to-day. Should we not treat these men with tenderness and consideration? Were we to try and make the burial-grounds of the country the private property of the Church? He objected to this being done, not in the interest of the Nonconformists, but in that of the Church of England herself, and in that of true religion. Whatever might be our religious differences on earth, they should be brought to an end when the grave closed over us. He supported the Resolution, not from any Party feeling, but from a sincere belief that this concession would be for the good of the Church and of the community at large; that it was profoundly in consonance with the highest teachings of Christianity; and would, moreover, tend very greatly to the advantage and unity of Christian England.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "in the opinion of this House, the time has arrived when the long pending controversy as to interments in parish churchyards ought to he closed, by permitting such interments either without any burial service or with the burial services preferred by the relatives or friends of the deceased, and conducted by persons chosen by them,"—(Mr. Osborne Morgan,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. J. G. HUBBARD,
in rising to call attention to the Amendment which he had placed on the Paper, said, there could be no doubt as to the immense importance of the question 1769 which the Resolution of the hon. and learned Member for Denbigh raised; and it was not because the alleged grievance was what was termed a sentimental one that it was less worthy of the most careful consideration by the House. The proposal of the hon. and learned Member had been presented to the House with great moderation and in a conciliatory spirit, and it was supported with skill and eloquence; but it behaved them to consider how great the innovation suggested by the Resolution would be. That proposal involved a change in a law of great antiquity and of great importance—a law not only of the Church, but of the State also, which dated from the earliest ages in our national history. Both churches and churchyards had passed into the possession of the Church of England, not in the form of gifts from the State, but through the private munificence and piety of individual landowners, who provided the churches wherein to worship, and the churchyards wherein the remains of the worshippers might be laid. He was not afraid to acknowledge that parochial churchyards were properly called national. It was, indeed, deemed safer by some to contend that the churchyards belonged to the Church of England rather than to the nation; but he knew no force in the distinction. Churchyards, like churches, were national because religious. They were altogether national in the truest sense, because they were given and instituted for religious purposes, and the moment they ceased to be appropriated to religious purposes they would cease to be national. Accepting them, however, as national property in that sense, he would ask why this assault had been directed against those who were the legalized guardians of both the churches and of the churchyards? He was anxious to separate the consideration of the charges brought against the Clergy in their regulation of the churchyards from the demand for a change in those regulations by law. The Clergy had been charged with intolerance, tyranny, and bigotry because they had, on the one hand, refused to bury with the stipulated services of the Church those who had not been baptized; and, on the other hand, had insisted upon using the Burial Service at the interment of persons who had been baptized. The child of a 1770 Baptist was brought to the parish churchyard, and the clergyman refusing to use the Burial Service was reviled as bigoted and uncharitable. On another occasion the child of a Roman Catholic was brought for burial, and as the clergyman would read the Burial Service at its grave, a disturbance was created, and his conduct was branded as intolerant and tyrannical. In neither case had the clergyman a pretence for hesitation in his conduct. If he had taken upon himself to make a deviation in either respect from the direction of the law, he would have been subject to trial and punishment, not in virtue of any old canon law or antiquated Statute, but of a law passed only three or four years ago—the Public Worship Regulation Act—for the purpose of introducing order and uniformity into the services of the Church. Clearly in those cases the responsibility rested not with the Clergy, but with the law which they administered. [Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN: Hear, hear!] The number of difficulties arising from the refusal of the Burial Service were comparatively few; for there were only two sects in England —the Quakers and the Baptists—that did not baptize their children; and the Society of Friends were generally provided with burial - grounds of their own. It was to an alleged Baptist grievance that great prominence was given in the discussion on this question in an august Assembly last year, when a noble Earl cited the case of Sir Morton Peto, who, having created and endowed a church and churchyard, was, on the death of a beloved child, obliged to carry her corpse to a strange cemetery; because only a silent burial would have been permitted to her in the churchyard which he had presented to the Establishment. The story was almost wholly untrue, and this Lord Granville subsequently acknowledged; and he alluded to it, therefore, solely as an introduction to two remarks. The first was, that the list of grievances must be very scant when the grievance paraded as the most cruel and most effective never existed. The second remark was one of amazement at the use made by a most accomplished Liberal Peer of this apocryphal history. For the argument founded upon it amounted to this—that an opulent Nonconformist, contributing many thousand pounds to the provision of a church or churchyard, was entitled to demand, on behalf of his 1771 own family, that the ritual discipline and doctrine of the national Church should be set at naught. Surely this argument implied a most degraded view, both of the character of the person assumed to make such a claim, and of the Church which could accept benefactions upon such terms? In this hypothetical grievance, sympathy had been challenged for a Baptist—would sympathy have been claimed as eagerly for a Roman Catholic proprietor, who, having for his tenants' sake re-built the church of the parish he possessed, claimed the right to have a celebration of the Mass at the interment of his child in the sepulchre of his ancestors? There was a great difference between grief and grievance. Grief was a pain occasioned by circumstances for which nobody was immediately responsible; grievance was a pain involving a sense of wrong against some person who was supposed, rightly or wrongly, to have originated the cause of complaint. In the days when the whole community were of one mind as to religious profession in this country, there could not have existed any grievance so far as the use of the churchyards was regulated by the Laws in which Church and State concurred. Since then certain persons had separated themselves from the Church and formed Nonconformist sects; but they claimed, so far as the churchyards were concerned, the removal of the inconvenience they had incurred by their secession. He failed to see that this inconvenience was a matter of which they had any just ground for complaint. No one denied their right to secede; but he did not think anyone could maintain their right to claim, after secession, the privilege of being provided with services in harmony with their own convictions, to the detriment of the Church. The proposal made by the hon. and learned Member last year was very different from that which he now brought forward. Last year he proposed that provision should be made for having in the churchyards "Christian, religious, and orderly services." These were the qualifying words which gained the assent of the venerable Earl of Harrowby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and many other Peers. But those words were gone. The hon. and learned Member now made an entirely different proposal, and would admit every deceased person to the church- 1772 yard for burial without any service at all, or with such service as his surviving relatives might desire. They should not, therefore, confine their view of the future ministrations in the churchyard to those of the typical evangelical Nonconformist minister; the churchyard was to be thrown open to all. He asked the House to consider what was involved in that view. According to the organs of the Nonconformist party, what they demanded for their own ministers should be extended to Jews, Positivists, Secularists — in short, to all—the interment to be carried out with such service as the relatives of the deceased thought proper, or without any service whatever. To use the words of one eminent Nonconformist minister, they insisted on the rights, not of the ministers of their own churches only, but "on the rights of every Englishman, whether believer or unbeliever." Were the churchyards so thrown open, there would be no restraint whatever, so far as ceremonial was concerned. It was said that they might safely trust to the feelings of reverence which animated people on those occasions; but he was sorry to say there were a great many persons whose expressed opinions on the subject of life and of death caused great pain to those who held different views, and who would not scruple to ridicule at the grave the doctrine of the Resurrection, which was the very foundation of the Christian faith. To the remark that the argument for the admission of Dissenters to the churchyard would have equal force in favour of their admission to the church, it had been replied—"The cases are not analogous—a man need not enter the church, but he must enter the churchyard when he dies." True, a man must die; but it is no question as to his admission to either church or churchyard—he was entitled to the use of either upon the terms of their foundation. The question was not as to the right of interment for the deceased, but as to a right in the survivors to abrogate the legal provision of minister and of service within the Church's precincts. And whom were the services for? He did not suppose the hon. and learned Member would say they were for the dead. The services were for the living —words of consolation and instruction for the living, given to them at the particular moment when, they were most 1773 calculated to do good. Many a man and woman had been turned from thoughtlessness and sin by the Burial Service and the prayers which accompanied that very solemn ceremonial. The Burial Service was but one of the services imposed by the law upon the Clergy of the Church of England. The series began with the Baptismal Service; it concluded with the service at the burial of the dead; but it, as well as the other services were for, and only for, the living. The meaning of the whole movement — the motive of the whole matter—could be clearly traced. He saw by the newspapers that some few months since the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire was presented with an address by his constituents, which they concluded by saying that their special gratitude and devotion were due to him because his agitation of the Burial Question had caused a great advance to be made towards religious equality; or, in other words, the disestablishment of the Church of England. He did not find that the hon. and learned Member had disclaimed the soft impeachment. Well, disestablishment meant robbing the poor man of his Church, and the poor man would not suffer that; he knew his own interest too well. The Church of England was the property of the poor man; it was founded for him; its ministers were paid for him; and if it were taken from him he had not, as the wealthier classes, the means of providing himself with religious teachers and places for religious worship. The demand for a free use of the churchyard led logically to a demand for the free use of the church, and should the churchyard be surrendered and the church be asked for, and should those who now voted with the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire shrink from a further aggression upon the Church, they would be told—and be told with truth—that they had surrendered the principle at stake by their vote on this occasion. Statesmen surely should be logical, and abstain from voting for changes grounded on arguments which would justify consequences they now eagerly deprecated. In the obligatory use of the Church Service, and in the occasional disability of Nonconformists to obtain the performance of a burial service by a minister of their own community, he frankly recognized a disadvantage—a distress— 1774 a grief—which he would gladly mitigate or remove; but he could not admit as expedient the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire, which, with the view of relieving a few Nonconformists, would inflict severe injury and pain upon the great national Church of England. Might he remind the House what had been already attempted in the way of relief. A few years since, the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire brought in a Bill in which he specially provided for the correction of the hardship involved in "forcing the Burial Service of the Church upon reluctant ears," and he supported the claim of the Nonconformists to the option of a silent burial with his accustomed earnestness. Well, in the Government Bill of last Session, the 74th clause was prepared for securing the omission of the Church Service to those who so desired; and how was that clause welcomed? It was denounced by Nonconformists as an insult, and was consequently withdrawn. Such a reception was not encouraging. Yet an adjustment of the law of burial, combining the alternatives of (1) the Church Service, (2) an abridged service, and (3) a silent burial, could, he believed, be effected in relation to the existing churchyards. The provision of additional graveyards, either in connection with such religious communities as desired them, or as public cemeteries, would complete whatever measure of relief could reasonably be required. The Resolution before the House invited it to declare that the long-pending controversy on this subject should be closed. That event was one for the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire and his Friends to ensure by ceasing their contention; it would not be attained by Churchmen surrendering the inviolability of the sacred resting places of their beloved dead. He regarded this controversy as one of the instruments through which the political Parties acting with the Nonconformists of this country were endeavouring to make their existence felt, aiming at the ultimate consummation of their hopes in the destruction of the Church of England. That was the policy Nonconformists had in view when they, year after year, laboured for the abolition of the church rates. They succeeded then, and he wondered they did not now blush for the result. Having disburthened themselves of the 1775 care of churchyards, they new asked to use them for nothing. He would tell hon. Gentlemen opposite that they would fight this question as often as they chose to challenge them, and that they had not the slightest idea of giving in. They believed that, the more the question was before the country, the better it would be understood in its right light, and it would then be seen that this attack upon the parochial churchyards was a violation of the principle of religious liberty —a blessing not to be confined to those who were dissentients from the national Church. His reply to the Motion before the House, he begged to express in the words of his Amendment—That Englishmen exercising their religious liberty in separating from the Established Church are justly free to provide themselves with places for worship and for burial with such ceremonial as they approve; but have no right to require changes in the regulation of parochial churchyards which would impair the legal security for their orderly and religious use agreeably with the purposes of their foundation.
§ MR. RICHARD
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, tells the House that the proposal of my hon. and learned Friend is an innovation. No doubt it is. But all reform is innovation. He seems to think that because the law he defends is one of great antiquity, it must, therefore, be right and just. But the plea of antiquity can be urged on behalf of some very queer things in the history of the world. Slavery is a practice of great antiquity, and so is religious persecution. The right hon. Gentleman misunderstands, to some extent, the character of the complaint by the Nonconformists. He says that they censure the Clergy because they observe the law. That is not the ground of censure. When a clergyman refuses to bury an unbaptized person, or insists on reading the Church Service over a baptized person, no fault can be found with him, because he is doing that which he is bound by the law to do. But the Clergy are blamed because they so resolutely resist such a change in the law as would absolve them from the necessity of doing that which is so repugnant and offensive to so many of their fellow-countrymen. Nor was the right hon. Gentleman quite fair in the reference he made to the case of Sir Morton Peto, mentioned by Earl Granville. Sir Morton 1776 Peto, so far as I know, never made any complaint of any peculiar hardship in his own case, or imagined that he was entitled to have the doctrine and discipline of the Church set aside for his special behoof. The case was cited merely to show the unjust and ungenerous character of the law as it exists, when a liberal Nonconformist having presented to the Church, at his own expense, a burial-ground, was not permitted, because he was a Baptist, to inter his own child with any religious service whatever, in the ground that he had given. It is not necessary for me to follow the right hon. Gentleman through the rest of his speech, as all his arguments have been really answered by anticipation in the able and exhaustive speech of my hon. and learned Friend. I am anxious, in the few observations I shall address to the House, not to say one word that shall wound the susceptibilities or give just cause of offence to any member of the Church of England. Whenever on former occasions I have spoken on this subject I have endeavoured to avoid all injurious and irritating language. And I am more than ever desirous to do so to-night; because I am bound to admit—and I do so with very sincere pleasure—that the liberal spirit in which we have been met by the Earl of Harrow by and the two Archbishops, and by very many of the lay members of the Church of England, deserve our warmest acknowledgments. Indeed, all the debates in the House of Lords were conducted in a generous and honourable temper. Even the Marquess of Salisbury, who stated with his customary force the objections of the Clergy to this measure, was careful to guard against being supposed to adopt or identify himself with those objections. He treated the feelings of the Clergy on this subject as "a social phenomenon" which they could not ignore, and with which they had to account. But surely the time will come—and is probably not far distant—when this controversy will be quoted as a far more extraordinary instance of the pertinacity of religious prejudice than any of those struggles for religious freedom in the last generation to which we now look back with mingled wonder and shame. Anyone who has marked the extent to which the ecclesiastical world—or rather the clerical world—has been convulsed and agitated by this question for the last two or three 1777 years—the hot discussions in Convocation, at Diocesan Boards, in Church Congresses, and all assemblies where the Clergy most do congregate; the pamphlets and the articles in Church journals, the declarations, clerical and lay, the baiting of the Archbishop, and other signs of feverish and extraordinary excitement—might have thought that the matter at issue was one which touched in a vital manner some essential point of religious truth or social morality. And yet what does it amount to? What is it we ask for? We ask that a large body of our fellow-countrymen who are acknowledged to be good citizens of the State—as loyal to the Throne and Constitution, as obedient to the laws, and fulfilling all their civil, social, and political obligations in as exemplary a manner as any class of the community, who already possess an unquestionable and unquestioned legal right of interment in the parochial churchyards—should be permitted to exercise that right by burying their dead with such services or no service as shall be most in accordance with their own principles and preferences. But to evade this small concession to common sense and Christian charity, we find what Sydney Smith used to call "the forty-parson power," called forth to throw the whole country into agitation and tumult, to prevent that being done which is already done in Scotland, in Ireland, in the British Colonies, in the United States, in France, in Germany, in Austria, in Hungary, in Russia—I believe, in every civilized country in the world excepting Spain, and not excepting Turkey. And thus the Church of England, which its adherents are wont to boast, is the most tolerant Church in the world, is found, in this point at least, to be the most intolerant Church in the world. I have said excepting Spain. It would seem, indeed, that our Government has had frequent communications with the Government of Spain on this very question. The Earl of Kimberley, speaking in the House of Lords in 1876, said—When he was at the Foreign Office several unpleasant eases in regard to burials arose between Her Majesty's Government and that of Spain; we felt aggrieved because certain of our countrymen who were Protestants were denied burial in their own churchyards in Spain with any funeral rites at the time the body was laid in the grave. Surely it was perfectly natural that Nonconformists should feel aggrieved 1778 under similar circumstances?"—[3 Hansard, ccxxix. 630.]And so you alone have the questionable honour of being associated in this war with the dead, with that country which has always been the stronghold of bigotry and intolerance. But what is the reply to our claims? Some, indeed, go to the root of the matter by saying that there is no grievance. But is there any instance on record in the history of this country when anyone has come down to this House to demand that some injustice should be remedied, or some wrong redressed, but some one has been ready confidently to deny the existence of the injustice or wrong? I remember quite well, when we were agitating for the abolition of slavery'— in which in my young days I had the honour of bearing some humble part— there were people to be found, and to be found in this House of Commons, who denied that there was any grievance; or if there were, that it was a purely sentimental grievance; that the slaves were perfectly contented and happy if only the English agitators would let them alone; that they were well clothed, well fed, well lodged, and cared for, and only subjected occasionally to a little fatherly correction for their own good. And so has it been with regard to all the efforts made by the Nonconformists to remove other disabilities under which they so long laboured. When they were trying to procure the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts—-which excluded them from the right to serve their country in any office except on the condition of perjuring their own consciences and forsaking the faith of their fathers—they were told that there was no grievance.
"Where is the grievance?" it was said. "Let them conform to the Church and take the oaths, and all offices will be open to them at once." This was precisely the argument of the right hon. Gentleman opposite to-night. He said —"You leave the Church in order to enjoy your freedom, why should you complain of this inability?" That is really the argument of the persecutor. It might have been applied—and probably was applied—to the Protestant confessors when they were led to the stake. You choose to forsake the Catholic Church and take your own liberty, why should you complain of 1779 being burnt? So, again, when we were striving to gain access to the Universities, we were told there was no grievance. The Dissenters have their own Colleges. They have the London University, established especially for their behoof; there are the Scotch Universities, where they can go and take their degrees; why should they intrude into our Universities, which are the especial preserves of the Established Church? But is there no grievance? Let us suppose the conditions were changed— that the churchyards were in the hands of the Dissenters, and that in thousands of parishes in this country members of the Church of England had no means of being buried except with the ministrations of Dissenting ministers. Does anyone believe that they would tolerate that for a year—that they would not move heaven and earth to get it changed, as they would have a perfect right to do? I am happy to say, however, that there are many members of the Church of England who do frankly admit the grievance. The Archbishop of York said—"Speaking for myself I am obliged to come to the conclusion that a grievance has been proved to exist." Bishop Wilberforce in 1871 said—"The Dissenters have a real grievance which it was the duty of Parliament to redress." And what is that grievance? I do not know that I can express it more clearly or tersely than in the language of a Church journal—The Nonconformist grievance is tangible enough. Sects which do not use baptism, or which delay it, often can have no service at all; sects which object to forms must submit to the Anglican rite; all sects see their pastors refused access for ministerial purposes to the graves of such of their flocks as are interred in an ordinary parish churchyard. It is clear that this state of things is intolerable to devout people on both sides, and that a remedy needs to be found.These are the words of The Church Review. But I am bound in candour to admit that that paper does not approve of the proposal of my hon. and learned Friend. But what are the objections to our proposal? We are obliged to notice them, for though they have been often refuted, they are constantly reproduced. There is the apprehension that it would lead to scenes of disorder and scandal in the churchyard. We are told that Dissenting ministers would take advantage of the occasion to deliver 1780 political and polemical harangues. I feel ashamed to refer to such an argument, and find it hard to believe that it is urged with sincerity. Do hon. Gentlemen really believe that Nonconformists are so devoid of common sense and common feeling that they would take the opportunity while standing at the side of the grave, surrounded by a crowd of mourners, whose eyes are heavy with tears and whose hearts are breaking with grief, to launch forth into controversy with the Church or an attack on the clergyman? But we may be told without going so far as that—we may hear things in Dissenting services which we do not like. My answer is, first, you are not obliged to hear; and, secondly, you are not obliged to like if you do hear it. It is not likely, I suppose, that members of the Church of England would voluntarily attend a Dissenting funeral unless it were for the pleasure of seeing a Dissenter buried, as I once heard an hon. Member say in this House—"As for the burials of Dissenters, I should like to see them all buried!" But I say you are not obliged to like the Dissenting services. They are not designed for your pleasure and edification. I can imagine a Primitive Methodist preacher pouring out his heart in prayer or exhortation at the grave with perhaps no more grammatical accuracy or more elegant rhetoric than mark some of our speeches in this House, which might nevertheless go straight to the hearts of the poor people that are standing around him with streaming eyes and swelling bosoms, though his vehement and unlettered eloquence might make the right hon. Gentleman the Member for London, like Quintilian, "stare and gasp." But we are told that we may have infidels in the churchyard proclaiming their unbelief. But surely I may appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite that it is not the appearance but the existence of such people that is matter for sorrow and lamentation. I know no persons on the face of the earth more to be compassionated than those who have persuaded themselves into the dreary belief that the grave is the be-all and end-all of human existence, and if they proclaimed their dismal creed or no creed over the grave, they could do no harm to anyone but themselves. But there is another side of this question at which I want hon. Gentlemen to look.
1781 Imagine—what I am afraid has sometimes happened, and may happen again —the body of a person brought to be buried, who through life has denied, has assailed, has vilified the Christian religion, has held up to scorn its most cherished doctrines, its most sacred hopes. But over that man you insist upon reading the beautiful service of the Church of England, every line of which is saturated with the fulness of Christian faith and hope. Around the grave stand the friends and associates of the deceased, who perhaps have been leagued with him in enmity to Christianity, listening with ill-concealed repugnance and with muttered sneers to the words of the service you compel them to hear. Talk of profanity and desecration! To my feeling such a spectacle—such a ghastly mockery of religious service—would be more of profanity and desecration than the wildest utterances of unbelief spoken over the grave. But the truth is that the whole question is simply one of clerical ascendency. The other objections are pretexts, and this is the reality. The hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) openly avowed this while on the deputation to the Archbishop. "It would be," he said, "a virtual recognition of Dissenting preachers as ministers of the Gospel."[Mr. BERESFORD HOPE: I said as such —that is, officially.] Now I have great respect for the hon. Gentleman. But I am afraid I must tell him that I believe that the humblest Methodist or Baptist preacher in the United Kingdom would not give a brass farthing to be recognized as a minister of the Gospel by him or by the whole Bench of Bishops. These men believe—to use a phrase of Lord Macaulay—that they are priests by the imposition of a mightier hand than that of any Bishop, and that they have proofs of their ministry, in the thousands and tens of thousands whom they have reclaimed from ignorance and sin, and trained and disciplined to Christian service, far more satisfactory than any recognition which it is in the power of him or his friends to give or to withhold. I repeat, this is a matter which is purely connected with clerical exclusiveness, and the question is whether the time has not come when the Laity of the Church of England should—and not on this question only— 1782 interfere to save the Church from the obstinacy and fanaticism of the Clergy. The Clergy are putting themselves in conflict with forces and influences which will prove too strong for them. They are fighting against the spirit of the age, which is not favourable to exorbitant priestly pretensions. I venture to believe that this feeling is growing among the laity of the Church of England. As a proof of this, I commend to the attention of the House the words of one whose character was more honoured and whose authority carried more weight than almost any man whom I remember having a seat in this Assembly, and whose attachment to the Church of England cannot be doubted; I mean Lord Selborne. He says—The feelings of those who have no professional view of the matter—the feelings of the great majority of the laity—when it is brought home to them that there is this violation of the estahlished principle of religious liberty in dealing with interments, will go more and more with those who complain of this grievance."— [3 Hansard, ccxxix. 657.]
§ MR. FORSYTH
said, that it could not be denied that the advocates of the principle embodied in the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Denbighshire stood in a stronger position now owing to the change of front in the House of Lords, and the fact that a majority of that body, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and three Bishops, had agreed to the Earl of Harrowby's Amendment, which was in effect the same as the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend. It, therefore, was incumbent upon those who were opposed it to consider well and carefully their position. Now, if he (Mr. Forsyth) thought that there was a real and substantial grievance on the part of the Dissenters, he should be disposed to waive his own scruples and vote for the Motion. If, for instance, it was true that the Dissenters generally were unable to possess or procure burial-places of their own, and were compelled to be buried in churchyards with rites of which they disapproved, the case would be different. But what was the fact? Of late years there had been established a great number of cemeteries, and there was no town in England of any importance which had not a cemetery attached to it, in which Dissenters and Churchmen could be buried side by side without 1783 the slightest difficulty arising; and the number of villages and rural districts where Dissenters had not yet places of burial or a means of obtaining them was very small indeed. In almost any rural parish in the country they could obtain land for a burying-ground for less than £100; and were the Dissenters so poor that they could not find £ 100 to relieve themselves from a grievance of this kind? Referring to the Blue Book quoted by his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Osborne Morgan) he found that in Wales, upon which the case of the Dissenters chiefly rested, there were 1,005 parish churchyards and not fewer than 937 chapel yards belonging to Dissenters. This was talked of as a national grievance, but where was the evidence of it? There had only been two Petitions presented in favour of this Motion, and one of those had only three signatures. As a general rule, the Dissenters did not feel any grievance at all; it was not a genuine grievance, but a manufactured one. It had been said that the Church of England was a national Church, and the churchyard was national property; but in these expressions there was a great fallacy. In one sense the Church of England was a national Church. It was the national Church of those who were members of its own communion; but it was a contradiction of terms to say that it was a national Church with regard to the members of other denominations. It could not be said to be the Church of the Socinians, the Jews, and the Society of Friends. And in what sense could it be said that the churchyards of the Church of England were national property? In point of law they were nothing of the kind. They were not national property in the sense in which the British Museum was national property. In point of law they were vested in the incumbent for the time being, during the tenure of his incumbency, subject to certain obligations with regard to the rites of the Church of England. The churchyard of the Church of England was as much the property of the incumbent for the time being as the chapel yard of the Dissenters was the property of the trustees for the time being. But there were other considerations which had to be kept in view. He admitted that we had no right to deny a thing which was right and just in itself because unjust demands might be 1784 made hereafter. On the contrary, the sooner we yielded to just demands the better should we be able to resist unjust demands. But there was a distinction. If he found that the logical consequence of conceding what was asked for must be to involve the granting of something to which he had a decided objection, then he had a right to say—"I will not grant you that, because I have no power logically to deny that which you may ask afterwards." He should like to have this question answered candidly—was it intended, after this Motion was carried, and a Bill was passed embodying its principles, to ask that the Church of England should be opened to Dissenting preachers? Most distinctly, he maintained, it was so, even according to the language which had been held by Nonconformists themselves. Dr. Landels, an eminent Baptist minister, spoke a short time ago as follows:—Again, let me say finally, in spite of Government and in spite of Clergy, we will carry our Burials Bill, which is the next thing we have in hand, and that done, we shall he a step nearer the ultimate goal. There will not he much between us and the citadel then. Having taken possession of all the outworks, the fortress itself will soon fall into our hands; for we do not conceal the fact that this is our final aim, and that we cannot rest satisfied until that aim has been realized. Our clerical friends, in arguing against the Burials Bill, tells us, with refreshing simplicity, that if we get into the churchyards we will want to get into the churches next. What charming innocents they must be to put it thus! I think that if by getting into the churches they mean that we shall demand to have national property employed for national purposes, and not reserved for the exclusive use of a sect, why then, of course, we mean to get into the churches. And, what is more, if our right to the churches be as good as our right to the churchyards, we will succeed in gaining what we demand.And the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) said—Well, but I will be honest. I do not say, 'let us get rid of this and the Church will be stronger.' No. I admit fully—let me be honest about it—that if you let the Nonconformist into the churchyard it is only a step towards letting him into the church. It is far better to be honest about the thing.Was the House prepared to concede that? He did not see why, upon exactly the same kind of principle, the disestablishment of the Church of England should not be carried also. Precisely the same kind of arguments were used 1785 with regard to the disestablishment of a Church as were used with regard to the admission of Dissenters to the churchyard and the church itself. He was not prepared to vote for disestablishment, which he believed would prove a most serious injury to the Church, and not less to the Dissenters themselves. He did not at all sympathize with the objection which some urged, that the Dissenters would abuse the liberty asked for for the purpose of rioting or indecorum. He had the most perfect confidence that they would observe orderly conduct at the grave of the deceased relative. This country owed a great deal to the Dissenters. But for their efforts he did not believe that the Church of England would have exerted herself to obtain the strong hold she had at this moment upon the people of England. He admired their sincerity and zeal which had lighted the lamp of religion in dark places in England, and he wished them God speed; but unless he was satisfied that they were suffering under a real and substantial grievance, that they had not and could not get land to enable them to have the rites of burial according to their own persuasion in their own churchyards, he could not see why the Church of England should not have the exclusive right to her own churchyards, as the Dissenters had the exclusive right to their own chapel yards. For these reasons, at the risk of being thought illiberal by the other side, he should feel bound to resist the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire.
§ MR. A. M'ARTHUR
The hon. and learned Member for Marylebone, who has just sat down, has given us, as might be expected from him, an argumentative, moderate, and, to a considerable extent, liberal speech; but it is not to be expected that we on this side of the House will agree with all he has said. The hon. and learned Member has asked several questions, to which he has requested an answer, and he has made some statements to which I must refer. He asks whether Dissenters are so poor that they cannot pay £100 for a cemetery of their own when one is wanted? There is no want of money; but Dissenters do not feel there is any necessity for them to spend their money in that way. They believe they have a perfect right to inter in the national 1786 burial-grounds. The small number of Petitions alluded to by the hon. and learned Member is easily accounted for by the fact that the public regard the matter as practically settled after the decision of the House of Lords last Session." Were it not for that, Petitions could have been obtained in hundreds, or even in thousands. Reference has been made to the fact that the Bishop of Lincoln had stated in his speech that he had not heard a word of complaint from any Dissenters in his diocese. Sir, I have no desire to say a disrespectful word respecting the right rev. Prelate; but it will not, I hope, be regarded as offensive if I say that he is one of the last Bishops to whom any Nonconformist would appeal on the subject. The hon. and learned Member has read an extract from a speech of a Nonconformist minister, intimating that not only the churchyards but also the churches would be wanted next. It is impossible to prevent individuals from expressing whatever views they please upon the question; but I do not believe the great bulk of the Nonconformists of this country have any such wish or intention. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for London (Mr. J. G. Hubbard) said he was surprised—and I think he added amused—at some statements made respecting the Liberal Party. Well, Sir, if it were not too serious a matter to treat with levity, it would be rather amusing to listen to some of the fears expressed and the evils predicted by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and by rev. gentlemen at Diocesan Conferences, and on other public occasions, in the event of this terrible Resolution being carried. In the opinion of some of the opponents of the Motion of my hon. and learned Friend, to grant this boon, or, more properly speaking, to concede the right to Nonconformists to bury their dead in churchyards or parish graveyards, and to have the option of requesting whatever clergyman or minister they wish to conduct the service, would be an act of great injustice, an outrage on all propriety, an injury to the Church, and would be a long step in the direction of disestablishment. Sir, I take a different and directly opposite view of the question. I do not believe it would be an act of injustice; I do not believe it would be an outrage on all propriety, or on any propriety; nor do I believe it would be 1787 favourable to disestablishment, or accelerate that consummation so devoutly-wished for by many, and so dreaded and deprecated by others. On the contrary, my conviction is that those who advocate the disestablishment of the Church have their hands greatly strengthened by the determination of hon. Members opposite, and their friends, to fight this battle out to the bitter end, by the continued agitation which is thus rendered necessary, and, above all, by the harsh, unjust, uncharitable, and, I fear I must add, in some cases, un-Christian language frequently used by those who oppose the policy indicated in the Resolution of my hon. and learned Friend. I am aware that hard words have been used by both parties; but when Nonconformists are spoken of contemptuously, when the worst construction is put upon their motives and actions; when it is asserted that what Dissenters are asking for is that the churchyards should be desecrated by rant, rhapsody, and the blasphemy of infidelity — the desecration being the right of Nonconformists to inter with their own services; when it is asserted that if Dissenters have a grievance at all, which some deny, it is only a sentimental one, and that this attack upon the churchyards is characteristically dishonest; I say when such language is used, and such statements are made, it is not very surprising if some of those who are thus calumniated should feel more disposed to answer a fool according to his folly, than to obey the higher precept that when smitten upon the right cheek they should turn the other also. Will the House permit me, in confirmation of what I have said, to give a few examples of the language used, and the sentiments expressed, by some of the opponents of my hon. and learned Friend's Motion—Mr. Morgan's 'Burials Bill' is a 'Dissenting Ministers' Bill;' its real source is Dissenting pride and ambition; its great object is to impair the influence and prestige of the Clergy by artificially forcing up the social status and pretensions of those who have taken upon themselves to be ministers of Christ without having received that ordination which Christ appointed. The secret fount and origin of this 'Burials Bill' is envy of, and ill-will to, the Church of England and her Clergy …. Once let this wise restriction be removed, and Dissenters of all kinds will be permitted to use their own services by their own ministers or agents, and the churchyard is thrown open to every desecration, every form of false doctrine, even 1788 to blasphemy—and some false doctrine is blasphemy. It is impossible the Church can submit to this.Again—Such is the Bill with which we have to do. It contains no restrictions or safeguards whatever. But let me emphasize the fact that it is impossible to invent safeguards of the proper kind. You may have such as will prevent openly riotous and indecorous conduct; such as will prevent any breach of the peace. But you cannot put restrictions upon men's political and religious opinions; nor, in England, padlock the utterance of them. Especially, you could not prevent the covert, subtle, ill-intentioned utterance of bilious and disappointed Dissenting ministers against the Church of England. If Dissenters of all kinds be permitted to officiate in our churchyards, those churchyards may, and will, become arenas for the utterance of all kinds of heretical, seditious, and even blasphemous opinions; of all kinds of false doctrine, unbelief, and heresy—especially of such as are most offensive to the Church and her Clergy; and, therefore, again, this 'Burials Bill' must be opposed uncompromisingly, no matter what safeguards may be proposed.Now, Sir, I think it is much to be regretted that such language has been used; and I believe the House will agree with me that this is not well calculated to promote kindly feeling, or to pour oil upon the troubled waters. These extracts are from a paper upon the Burials Question, written by a rev. vicar, and published by request. I might read other extracts in which still stronger language is used, but I do not like to detain the House by doing so. I wish, however, just for a minute or two, to refer to a speech delivered a few weeks ago by an eloquent Bishop, who, when addressing his Clergy at a Diocesan Conference, is reported to have said—He had never yet heard anything even approaching an argument to show that Dissenters had a real grievance. But he felt that while there was no grievance there was a real grief; and, therefore, while he did protest and would protest against any high-handed attempt on the part of the State to take from the Church of England the custody of our own graveyards, and to intrude into those graveyards, under protection of the law, revolting and desecrating services, he had also wished, and did still earnestly wish, that the Church, distinctly maintaining her rights—her ownership of the graveyards—could by some device of Christian charity and kindness, meet the real grief without surrendering what he believed to be a real right and a real duty.Now, Sir, it is quite possible the right rev. Prelate does entertain feelings of Christian charity and kindliness towards his Dissenting brethren; but if he means 1789 to describe their services as revolting and desecrating—which I hope he does not—I think it must be admitted he adopts a strange method of manifesting his Christian charity. We have heard a great deal about consecration and consecrated ground. Well, Sir, if by consecration is simply meant setting apart for sacred purposes, I can understand and approve of the term; but if it means —as I believe it does in the estimation of many—that some special virtue is imparted to the ground by the act of consecration, then I have only to say that I regard it as a relic of the dark ages, and as savouring more of Rome than of Protestant England. The decencies and properties of sepulture should be observed, and I am far from being disposed to sneer at anything that may properly be regarded as sacred; but it is fortunate for the world that to be buried in consecrated ground is not essential to future happiness, and there are many who consider it of little importance whether they are buried in such ground or not. Many die at sea, and their remains are committed to the deep; many die in the wilds of Australia, Africa, or America, far away from graveyards. Multitudes have been slaughtered by the inhuman butchery of war; and many have died in so-called Christian lands, where the same spirit of narrow-minded bigotry and intolerance of which we now complain, only in a more intensified degree, rendered it difficult for a Protestant to find a grave either in consecrated or unconsecrated ground, as was the case in Spain a few years ago, and I fear is still to a considerable extent. For my own part, if you will pardon a personal allusion, although not a member of the Church of England, nothing could be more grateful to my feelings than to be worthy of having her funeral service truthfully read over me when my remains are committed to the tomb. But why insist upon having it read over the remains of those who conscientiously object to it? My principal object, however, in troubling the House on this occasion is to refer to Ireland. It has been said that one fact is worth a thousand arguments; and it is a fact that in Scotland and Ireland the privilege now asked for has been enjoyed for many years past, and I am not aware of a single instance in which any violation of propriety has occurred. I agree with 1790 my hon. and learned Friend who has moved this Resolution that it is a very bad compliment to the people of this country to contend that they would not conduct themselves as properly at the grave, and that they are not so civilized as the people of Ireland. I have attended funerals in a cathedral churchyard in Ireland when the service was conducted by Wesleyan, Presbyterian, and other ministers, with the greatest propriety, and there was no objection made by the clergy. The same thing would, I believe, occur here. Formerly all marriages had to be celebrated in the Church of England. This is no longer the case; but a large proportion of the people of this country are still married in the Church; and if the Burials Bill were passed I believe a similar result would follow, and that a great many Nonconformists would be willing to have the Church of England service read who now object to it, because they will not be compelled to use it. Before I sit down let me say I willingly admit, and gratefully acknowledge, that a large number of clergymen, and a still greater number of Church of England laymen, feel that we have a grievance, and recognize the justness of our claim for redress. I believe those who resolutely refuse or oppose all reform are not the best friends of the Church; and I am fully convinced that the sooner this vexed question is satisfactorily settled the better it will be for both the Church and the nation.
§ SIR JOHN KENNAWAY
said, that since this question was before the House two years ago events had happened which ought to make them look upon it with all the consideration they could command. The Government had recognized the necessity of dealing with this question by themselves bringing in a Bill, as they did last year; and further than this, the House was bound to take notice of the very unexpected action of the House of Lords in the way in which they dealt with the Resolution of the Earl of Harrowby. He thought what had been done pointed to this conclusion—that the opinion of educated Englishmen was that the question ought to be settled if it could be fairly settled; and that it was dangerous and injurious to the Church of England that it should be kept open as it now was—dangerous to her existence politically, and also injurious to her 1791 spiritually. He believed it was the Liberation Society which had the chief interest in keeping the matter open. He could not but think if a fair solution were proposed they would carry moderate men of the opposite Party with them and the question would be settled. But with reference to this Resolution, he must say he thought they had no choice but to vote against it; because the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. OsborneMorgan) and'his Friends wenton the assumption that Dissenters had the same right to the churchyard as Churchmen, and they claimed to enter the churchyards free from the restrictions imposed by law on Churchmen, and they would thus be put in a better position than members of the Church. Now, as a matter of right, he did not think the hon. and learned Gentleman had a leg to stand upon. This was a question of sentiment which did not take any account of argument or logic; but sentiment, he was convinced, would in the end prevail, particularly when the question was one which had to be argued before an open grave. He thought, therefore, it was wise for Churchmen to endeavour to meet the question, and not to raise the flag of no surrender; for, as the Archbishop of Canterbury had said, no surrender often led to total surrender. It was so in the matter of church rates. Compromises were offered and refused, and in the end they lost everything. This grievance—he did not say it was an infinitesimal one—was of recent growth, and, put before the country as it had been, had excited a bitter feeling against the Church, which they all deplored. With regard to the remedy which had been so often proposed, of creating cemeteries, he did not think the people of this country were prepared to give up their churchyards, with all their old associations, for cemeteries. The expense would also be very considerable. They would much rather add to existing churchyards than form cemeteries in another place. If a settlement was to be arrived at it must be by concession on both sides; and the question was, if Nonconformists were to be admitted, on what terms and under what restrictions should that be done? That had been partly indicated by two Amendments— one by the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Balfour), which proposed that churchyards given within the last 50 1792 years should be exempt from the operation of any Act, and the other was the proposition of the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Grantham), which proposed that a certain time should be given in all parishes supposed to be affected—two or three years—in which to provide cemeteries for others than Churchmen, such parishes then to be exempted from the operation of any Act which might be proposed. But there was another point which was not dealt with by any Amendment to which he attached importance. That arose from the contiguity of the church to the churchyard. Nothing had so much aroused the opposition of Churchmen to proposals of this character as the suggestion made in various quarters—to which expression had been given in the quotation from Dr. Landels—that the concession of entrance into the churchyard would be made use of by Dissenters for effecting an entrance into the church. That had been denied by the hon. Member who spoke last; but as it had been prominently put forward, they could not complain if Churchmen placed some value on this restriction. It would be necessary, therefore, that a line of demarcation should be drawn between the church and the churchyard. That might be drawn by placing the charge for the maintenance of the churchyard upon the public. It would not then be possible any longer to argue that entrance into the churchyard was the first step to entrance into the church. With safeguards of that character it would not be necessary to insist on any other, such as a special service, to be laid down by those who used the churchyards. He had faith in his countrymen, and believed they might fairly and safely be trusted to do nothing contrary to decorum and propriety in the churchyard. He was convinced if they did it would recoil on their own heads, and that any indecent performance in a churchyard would do more for the cause of morality than the best sermon that had ever been preached. With regard to the conduct of the Clergy in their opposition to this proposal, he believed they were not actuated by opposition to all reform, or want of consideration for what was due to the feelings of Nonconformists; but what they did feel was that they had a solemn trust placed in their hands, and their great fear was 1793 that by any action of theirs they might be unfaithful to that trust, and might seem to relinquish what they had been appointed to carry out as guardians of the churchyard. It was necessary, however, for hon. Gentlemen in that House to look at the question from a wider point of view than the Clergy were able to do, and not to lose opportunities when they presented themselves. It was fair to argue that the present Parliament afforded a favourable opportunity of settling this question upon some such basis as that he had sketched. If ever a lesson of lost opportunities was brought home to them, he thought it was brought home to them on the first day of this Session, when their eyes turned to the Gallery and could not fail to be arrested by the sight of a man wearing the national costume of Turkey; one who hardly a year ago controlled the destinies of that great and powerful Empire, but was now a sorrowing exile, lamenting the overthrow of his country, brought about by the advice which he felt it his duty to give to his Sovereign to resist the demands made by the Powers of Europe. What would not Midhat Pasha now give if he had the opportunity of accepting the terms which he formerly rejected? This question would press for a settlement. Let them see if they could not effect such an arrangement as he had suggested, which would disappoint the members of the Liberation Society, but would carry with it moderate men whose desire was to have fairness and justice done to all. The fact of a compromise having been offered would place the Church in a better position for having made the offer.
§ MR. WALTER
said, he thought from the tone which the hon. Baronet who had just sat down adopted in a few of the sentences at the commencement of his speech that he would have concluded by saying he intended to vote for the Resolution. Though the hon. Baronet had taken exception to the Motion before the House, he had been unable to gather from his hon. Friend's remarks any definite plan which he recommended as a substitute for the Resolution. He (Mr. Walter) had paid attention to this subject for a good many years, and the more he had considered it the more he came to the conclusion that it lay in a very small compass, and that there was only one practical solution of it. If they would 1794 only admit a few principles which appeared to him to be elementary, he thought they must necessarily lead to that conclusion. He supposed they all admitted that one of the first civil rights that could appertain to any being in a civilized country was the right to be buried. People might doubt whether a man had a right to be born. Nobody could doubt that a man had a right to die. That being granted, it seemed to him that as a natural course he had a right to be buried, and the only question was, where and by whom ? The whole question really lay in the answer which was to be given to that question—Where was the man to be buried, and by whom? By the law of this country we knew as an admitted fact that the churchyard, in the absence of any other cemetery, was the national cemetery. So far they were all agreed. He believed his right hon. Friend the Member for London (Mr. Hubbard) would go further, and say a man had a right to be buried in a churchyard, and had a right to a private burial. He recollected some years ago when this question first began, a good deal was made of the argument that the Presbyterians in general contended for private funerals; that their whole principles were opposed to any demonstration at the grave, and that their principle was private funerals. It was thought there should be a compromise. It was doubted at the time whether there was any right to be buried in a churchyard; but, at all events, if there was a right to be buried at all, it must be with a silent funeral. He should like to remind hon. Members what a very great authority in the Church of England—a name respected by all—had to say on this subject—The greatest thing above all others about the duty of Christian burial is an outward testification of the hope which we have touching the resurrection of the dead. For which purpose let any man of reasonable judgment examine whether it be more convenient for a company of men, as it were in a dumb show, to bring a corpse to the place of burial, there to leave it covered with earth, and so end; or else to have the exequies duly performed with solemn recital of such lectures, psalms, and prayers as arc purposely framed for the stirring up of men's minds into a careful consideration of their estate both here and hereafter.These were the words of Hooker, and he supposed no higher authority in the Church of England could be cited in favour of burials accompanied with 1795 funeral rites. Granting, then, that a man had a right to be buried in the only available place-—the churchyard—ought not his friends to have some right of choice as to the religious rights with which his funeral should be accompanied? Who was to deprive them of that right? The onus was on those who objected to furnish some reason why they should not have it; and he had heard none save the one that outrageous doctrines might be preached and outrageous ceremonies performed at the grave of some infidel. That argument had been urged ad invidiam and almost ad nauseam. He was sure no man in that House believed that any large body of Dissenters in this country would be guilty of performing outrageous ceremonies at a funeral. He should like to hear an answer to the proposition that it was a natural right or a charitable act of grace that the friends of a deceased person should have some right of determining what ceremonies should accompany his burial. He confessed that he had not the slightest objection, if he believed the privilege would very seldom be used, to a service being conducted in a churchyard over the body of a person who was not a member of the Church of England. Nay, he would go further. He would suppose the case of a couple of Chinese labourers, whom we might see some of these days. Well, one of them died. Was he to be buried in the churchyard? He could not be buried with Christian rites; but was he (Mr. Walter) to deny his friend the right to the utterance of some words which would convey comfort to his soul over the body of that man? People talked about desecration. He was surprised they did not better measure their words. The Bishop of Lincoln, if he was rightly reported, had said, it would be derogatory to God's truth if ground consecrated to His service should be desecrated by false doctrines, &c. Now he (Mr. Walter) wanted to know by what process a piece of ground set apart for burial could be said to be desecrated by language used at a funeral. They might desecrate air; but how ground could be desecrated he could not understand. He should like to hear that explained. Then the Bishop of Peterborough drew a distinction between a concession made by the Church out of Christian charity and a concession made by means of an Act of Parliament. He 1796 wanted to know what that meant. The whole of the difficulties surrounding this question arose from the fact that the Clergy could never seem to get it out of their heads that the Church was not the State. Every Constitutional lawyer knew that Church and State were merely two aspects of one and the same body. It was on that ground that Edmund Burke said it was a delusion to talk even of an alliance between Church and State—the Church being the State in its religious aspect, and the State being the Church in its temporal aspect. That he took to be the great Constitutional view of this point which was held by every high authority on the subject. The Primate, he was happy to say, seemed to have spoken with a greater sense of the responsibility of his position, and he appeared to be in favour of a general revision of the Burial Laws; but he fell back upon the proposal—involving a doctrine which lay at the root of this controversy—that some concession should be made to the demands of the Dissenters as a matter of privilege, and not of right. He was one of those who thought that if this question had been properly dealt with at the beginning, and if the Clergy had been willing to make some concession—if it had not been for the acts of some among them who were more remarkable for zeal than for discretion, that which was now asked for by the Dissenters as a right might have been granted, and would have been accepted, as a boon. He thought that the Dissenters would now look upon the redress of this grievance, not as a concession on the part of the Church of England, but as a matter of natural right, and he looked upon the matter from no other point of view himself. He took it to be the fact that the state of society at which we had arrived had simply outgrown the provision which the State had made for burial; and that, therefore, we must make some further provision in order to meet the present condition of things. And he must confess that regarding, as he did, the right of interment as a civil right, and the right of having that interment accompanied by a religious service as a civil right, he could not see any other way out of the difficulty in which we were placed than by recognizing, for the time being, at all events, the churchyards as being cemeteries common to all until other ceme- 1797 teries were provided. As an illustration of the hardship upon Dissenters of what he might he might call the clerical view of this subject, he might mention that a few days ago he had received a letter from a clergyman of the Church of England, telling him that his great-grandfather was a Quaker, and that when his father, who was a member of the Church of England,' died, he was desirous of being buried in the Quaker burial-ground with his ancestors, but that permission to be buried with them was refused unless he consented that the Quaker rites should be performed over the body. His friend had argued from that that when permission to bury his father in a Quaker burial-ground was refused unless he consented to the Quaker service being performed over the body, it was hard that he should himself be compelled to permit Dissenters to be buried in his churchyard, and to have their own service performed over them. His friend, however, appeared to forget that the Quaker burial-ground belonged to a private sect; whereas the churchyards were the property of the nation. The only question in this matter was as to the machinery for throwing open the churchyards as common cemeteries until they were filled, or until other cemeteries were provided in their place. The best course to pursue, in his opinion, would be simply to pass an Act of Parliament declaring that for the time being the churchyards should be open for the burial of all persons, subject, of course, to the necessary supervision and regulations. There was one other point connected with this controversy which he thought should not be lost sight of. Without wishing to commit himself to any definite opinion in reference to it, he thought the proposal that the Clergy should be relieved from the compulsory duty of performing the Church of England Burial Service over infidels or notoriously immoral persons, if accepted, would in some degree reconcile the Clergy themselves to the change demanded. That was a question worth while considering, and it was a pity that the Clergy themselves had not directed their attention to it. This was a point to which he desired to call the attention of the House, in order that, whenever a measure on this subject was brought in, the matter might meet with the attention of the Government,
who had the following Notice on the Paper—as an Amendment to Mr. Osborne Morgan's Resolution—to move, to leave out all the words after the word "closed," in order to insert the words—And it is therefore expedient that such interments should he permitted to take place without the burial service of the Church of England, and with such other Christian and orderly-religious service as the friends or relatives of the deceased may think fit, in parish churchyards of older date than fifty years, until such time as other burial ground shall have been provided for the parish, and except in those cases when such other burial ground has been provided already,said, that, as he understood the argument of the hon. Member who had just sat down, his object was to show that no other solution of this question could be satisfactory, except that embodied in the Resolution of the hon. and learned. Member. The Amendment which he (Mr. Balfour) had placed upon the Paper appeared to him to satisfactorily meet the requirements of the case. As the hon. Member who had last spoken had never alluded to his Amendment, and had not attempted to show that it did not offer a satisfactory solution of the difficulty, he presumed that he had not satisfactorily considered its effect. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had moved the Resolution had made several strictures upon his Amendment; but they related rather to its details than to its principles, and therefore he should reserve any observations in reply to them until his Amendment came before the House as a substantive Motion. He had heard a great many speeches, and he had read a great many more upon this question, and he supposed that all hon. Members in that House were familiar with every argument that could be brought forward on either side of this question. There were portions of the speeches on each side that were equally unanswerable. The main strength of the case of hon. Members opposite was this—they said that when a man was buried it was fair and it was right that he should be buried with such religious service as he himself in his lifetime would have preferred, and which his friends desired should be used. If that demand were granted, this agitation would at once cease, and he fully approved its being granted. He readily admitted that the Nonconformists were 1799 at present labouring under a grievance; but the question was whether the removal of that grievance in the way suggested by the hon. and learned Member's Resolution would not create an equal grievance on the part of the Church of England. Hon. Gentlemen opposite must admit that it would be a great hardship upon the Church of England if the churchyards, which had been consecrated from time immemorial, and in which no burial service except her own had ever been used since she became a Church, were to be thrown open to all. The hon. and learned Member who introduced the Motion had argued that legally the churchyards were not the property of the Church, but were only held in trust by the clergyman for the use of the parish. He could not dispute with him on a question of turmicology. But he supposed that when hon. Members opposite spoke of the disendowment of the Church, they attached some meaning to the terms they used, and that it involved the admission that she possessed property; and he contended that she had the same property in the churchyards as she had in the churches, and to turn the former to secular uses would be a great hardship upon her. But she was further asked to give up this particular property on grounds which made her title to her other property altogether illusory. He did not see how any Churchman could accept the proposal of his hon. and learned Friend in its present form, because of the position in which it would place them when the question of disestablishment came before Parliament for discussion and decision. On the one hand, therefore, they had the grievance—a real grievance, he admitted—of the Nonconformists who were buried with services which in some cases they did not approve; and on the other, they had the grievance of the Churchmen, who objected to ministers of Nonconformist denominations, or persons who were not ministers of religion at all, being admitted into the churchyards in order to perform any sort of service or ceremony over the graves of their dead fellows or friends. There was also involved the question of Church property, which could not in any sense of the phrase be described as a sentimental grievance. The solution he proposed was that the Church should admit to the full the whole sentimental grievance of the Nonconformists, but 1800 should not yield at all on the principle of ecclesiastical property. If his proposal were adopted, it would admit to the full the right claimed by Dissenters to bury their dead with any religious service they might prefer. His reason for asking Churchmen to submit to what, he admitted, would be a grievance, was that it would be a prudent and generous course to take—generosity and prudence in a case like this being synonymous terms. It must be allowed that on the face of it the present state of the law appeared to exist chiefly for the benefit of the Clergy—a great and most dangerous evil. He thought that in recent years there had been a division between the Clergy and the Laity, and that it was upon the increase. It was not a matter for congratulation, as hon. Gentlemen opposite by their cheers seemed to think; but, on the contrary, it was something to be deplored. The fact was chiefly owing to the rash and noisy section who were supposed to represent the High Church party in the Church, and they were responsible to a very great extent for the disunion which existed. The maintenance of the present law tended to increase that disunion. For that reason every man who wished well to the Church, whether he belonged to it or not, would desire to see the cause removed. Further, he could not see how it could be denied that the existing law savoured of intolerance. He did not admit that it actually was intolerant, because by an intolerant law he understood one which offered to men an inducement either to change or to conceal their opinions, and the existing law did neither of these things. The refusal of the right to a man, or a particular set of men, to use what form of religious service they chose on the occasion of burials was the chief strength of the agitation which was led by his hon. and learned Friend who had moved the Resolution. This suspicion of intolerance was a burden which no institution could bear in a struggle for existence; and it must be borne in mind that the Motion was supported by two classes of persons—those who desired simply to injure the Church and those others who were acting solely with a view to benefit the Nonconformists. The battlefield of the question had been so skilfully chosen that both of these parties were united, and in this fact lay the strength of the position taken up by 1801 his hon. and learned Friend. Defeat was, to his mind, almost certain in the long run. He did not believe one of the 15,000 clergymen who signed the Memorial thought otherwise than that in this Parliament or the next the question would be settled in a way to which he would strongly object. He therefore asked the House to consider whether his proposal did not afford a way out of the difficulty which, while it might involve a sacrifice on the part of the Clergy, would not amount to a sacrifice of principle, and would probably afford a permanent and satisfactory solution to the question without calling upon the Clergy to surrender any of their cherished principles.
§ SIR ROBERT ANSTRUTHER
thought the House had been fortunate in hearing the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. Before he spoke they believed he would take a wise, comprehensive, and statesmanlike view of the question he handled; and he congratulated the House on having received from the hon. Gentleman advice which, indeed, it would be well for them and well for their Church, if it would be wise, to follow. In commenting upon the remarks of his hon. Friend he was obliged, first of all, to say that in his speech he conceded every principle for which his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Osborne Morgan) contended. It was a very remarkable fact that in every speech he had heard from the other side of the House, there was conceded the main root of every principle for which his hon. and learned Friend, contended in his able speech. ["No!"] He did not know which speech his hon. Friend who said "No" referred to. He had not heard in a speech, nor, indeed, in any of the Amendments—and there were three of them—in which the principle was not conceded. It was admitted by one hon. Gentleman (Sir John Kennaway) that circumstances had seriously changed, and that since this question was debated two years ago events had happened which it behaved the House to seriously consider. Like a wise man, he said, the circumstances being changed his views were altered; but he unfortunately still intended to go into the Lobby against the hon. and learned Gentleman(Mr. Osborne Morgan). He would remind the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Balfour) that if he wished his views, as embodied in 1802 an Amendment, to be passed, he must first support the Resolution of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire, for if the Resolution was lost, an Amendment could not be put. But let it be carried, and then the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hertford could be put as an Amendment on a substantive Motion. It was conceded that the present state of things could not remain as they now were. Some of the remarks of his hon. Friend were almost plaintive. His hon. Friend had admitted that the end was very near. He had admitted that defeat was almost certain, and he had spoken as a man who had wellnigh lost all hopes of obtaining success in an unequal contest. If the end was near, he (Sir Robert Anstruther), for the same reason given by his hon. Friend, rejoiced, from his love and respect for the Church of England, that the end was near. He rejoiced to think that what had been a serious stumbling-block to the Church was about to be removed—if it was to be removed—for if once it were removed, he knew that the Church would go about her holy duties with increased strength and vitality. One or two of the stock objections had been brought forward in the present discussion, and it was impossible to pass them over. It was feared that some evil consequences would ensue from freedom being allowed in the churchyard; but how often had it been demonstrated in the House that the practical experience of the last 300 years, confirmed by what hon. Gentlemen had said that night, showed the safety with which this freedom might be granted. In the last debate on this question he took upon himself to bring before the House the case of Scotland, and showed them, what no one had since attempted to controvert—that not one single instance of misconduct of the slightest kind had ever happened in the churchyards of Scotland—not under a system of restrictions, nor under the system indicated by the words "Christian and orderly service," in the Earl of Harrowby's Amendment last year. Let the House mark that fact. For his own part, he had no objection at all, neither had his hon. and learned Friend any objection, to see those words introduced; for he believed they would meet with a great support from the other side of the House. But he wished them to observe that in the absence of any such restric- 1803 tion, with perfect uncontrolled freedom of service in the churchyards of Scotland, no man could say that the very slightest misconduct or want of order had ever taken place in any of those churchyards. As to the freedom which was demanded being a source of weakness to the Church, far from that being the case, the feelings of the Scottish Clergy were in no way offended or hurt by clergymen of other denominations coming into their churchyards to officiate over the graves of the dead. If it was a grievance —and his hon. Friend had admitted that it was a sentimental grievance—it must be one of the most infinitesimal kind conceivable. He had never heard it argued that it was for a profession such as that of the Clergy to have such feelings. Without saying anything either disrespectful or hard, he would venture to state—the sooner they learned to get rid of that sort of feeling the better. They would find in the course of a short time that these old-fashioned notions would pass away, and they would see an orderly Christian service conducted in any of their churchyards—if they liked to call them so, though he maintained that they were the nation's churchyards —they would find that the service could be conducted without any feeling of envy or bitterness, whatever. With regard to the charge of assault upon the outwork of the citadel which had been alluded to by his hon. Friend, he did not think his hon. Friend shared the feeling, although it had been expressed in more than one quarter of the House that night; but he now referred to it because it was very generally shared. He agreed with his hon. Friend in every word he had said as to respect to the Church of England. He was himself deeply attached to the Church Establishment principle in this country, whether, it was North of the Tweed or South of the Tweed; but he was firmly convinced that no more fatal mistake could be made in maintaining the garrison of that citadel than attempting to defend the outworks which were mastered by the guns of the enemy. The moment these outworks were assailed and abandoned the defenders must retire into the citadel, after suffering serious loss in the foolish effort to support a hopeless position. That was the position in which hon. Members were placed with regard to this question on the other side of the 1804 House, and he would say respectfully a word to them, and it was this—abandon at once the position which they knew and which their best friends admitted was no longer tenable. It had been said let there be prudence; but he would rather say, without intending to be harsh to his hon. Friend, let this demand be granted from a sense not of prudence but of justice. If they would be just they would be safe, knowing that the claims advanced by the Nonconformists and other religious bodies in England were sound and just claims which had been conceded already by the House of Lords, conceded by the Archbishops, conceded by some of our best and wisest statesmen. He said to the opponents of this movement—No longer attempt to maintain a position which they knew they could not long stand in, but be wise in time; and for the sake of this just and reasonable demand, for the sake of those interests which they were right in endeavouring to uphold, concede that which was demanded, support this Resolution, and throw upon the Government the responsibility which, he hoped, they would not be unwilling to accept—the responsibility of finding at once a wide, well-founded, and statesmanlike solution of this great question.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, his hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) had begun his speech by asking a question, and answering it for himself by saying that he could find no answer to it. He would endeavour to help his hon. Friend to the answer. The subject-matter of it was the assertion of an old-fashioned theory not of a union so much as of an identification between Church and State; which two expressions, his hon. Friend said, really only described two phases, two phenomena, two aspects of one and the same thing. He granted that there was a time when the condition of the law could be quoted in favour of this theory, and, accordingly, when such a claim as that on the part of Nonconformists, and on the part of the school of Churchmen which his hon. Friend represented, had something to say for itself. He did not admit the truth either of the theory or the consequent claim, but he did admit the plausibility. In order, however, to test its present value, he would look back, not to antiquity, but to the Session of 1868; and 1805 what did he find? He made hon. Members opposite a present of the existence of a great deal of grievance up to that date, arising out of the compulsion of the rate for church and churchyard. But with the legislation of that year the grievance finally disappeared. Personally, he accepted, as a right settlement, as other Churchmen had done, the abolition of compulsory church rates in 1868. He had, previous to that date, himself incurred some obloquy for counselling the measure. So, he now asked, how could Nonconformists come forward with long faces to plead a grievance, user, and right in that very burial-ground of which they had divested themselves of any share by declining all responsibility for the maintenance of the churchyards.
MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
begged pardon. In his original Bill he introduced a clause placing the expense of keeping up the churchyards on the rates, and the hon. Member for Cambridge opposed it.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
was sorry that his hon. and learned Friend had given way to such an ebullition of youthful vivacity. He was coming, when he was interrupted, to that very point. Did the hon. and learned Member suppose that Churchmen could then have accepted, or could now accept, the dole offered by him of a little money in order to barter their rights and position in the churchyards which the Act of 1868 had established? Did he suppose that he could have persuaded Parliament to re-impose the burden? The chance tender by one hon. Member of a clause of that kind could not be compared to the deliberate action of the Dissenters, an action not spasmodic, but following a long agitation throughout the length and breadth of the land. That agitation had the same features as the present agitation— annual Motions, excited meetings, plethoric Petitions, letters in the newspapers, and leading articles to suit. The allegation on which it rested was a grievance, not of sentiment, but of pocket; and the Nonconformists then divested themselves of their grievance. More than that, they threw upon Churchmen the obligation—one which had been loyally and voluntarily discharged—of maintaining the churches and churchyards; and, having done so, how could they now come forward, and querulously 1806 plead the continuous existence of a grievance as found the state of things which they had themselves created, and use it to claim a right in those very churchyards? After years of agitation, they boasted that they had won their birthright. They came forward as contented men; they had crossed the Bed Sea, and they were in the Promised Land, where there were no church rates to be paid to keep up the "steeple-houses." Now, however, they demanded that they should have all those privileges which they had equitably relinquished 10 years ago, and leave to us the burdens which they then had saddled on us. What was called the policy of "no surrender" was thus forced upon Churchmen by every consideration of dignity, self-respect, and prudence. No doubt his hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. Balfour) thought that the way of prudence lay in a divergent direction. People had a strange idea now that cowardice and prudence were convertible terms; but very often the most heroic act was the most prudent. Well, they had been told—"Be prudent; give up in time; you are sure to be beaten." As to this, he simply answered that he would much rather be beaten openly in a division, and go out like a man with self-respect and consistency, than lose both dignity and the strength of a good cause by accepting an unworthy compromise. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were wise in their generation. They knew how strong the Church of England was, and how much stronger she would be if welded together under a sense of injury; and so they wanted to bamboozle her out of the accruing advantage of a common sense of wrong, which would be more than a compensation for the material advantage of which she would be deprived either by the plan of the hon. and learned Member or by one of the compromises which had been proposed in lieu of it. His hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. Balfour) had been eloquent on what he deemed a growing division between Clergy and Laity. It was well to speak plainly. He (Mr. Beresford Hope) fully and sorrowfully admitted that there were deep divisions between various sections in the Church, and no man lamented them more than he did. His hon. Friend made the dividing line to be one with the Clergy on one side and the Laity on the other. He (Mr. Beresford Hope) absolutely denied that assertion. 1807 It was a division not between Clergy and Laity, but between parties, each of them composed of Clergy and Laity, forward ministers and attached flocks, working on each other to prop up their sectional zeal, and encouraged by mistrust of other parties. He repeated, with his strongest emphasis, that each party was composed of Clergy and Laity, and that the most extravagant and foolish minister, be he High Church, or Low Church, or Broad Church, had his enthusiastic ring of followers, probably more extreme and intolerant than himself. As to the idea that there was less confidence in the Clergy now than formerly, he merely looked back to the days of his youth, and he confidently averred that so far from the Clergy being less influential now in their character of ministers of the Gospel—for that was in question—than they were then, they had now more influence and more respect shown to them in such capacity than was the case down even to the last years of what was called the Georgian era. At that time there might not have been active dislike to clergyman A B, and why not? Because A B was not earnest enough to get himself disliked. On the other hand, C D was very popular as a jolly fellow, and E F shunned as a curmudgeon. Now, clergymen were prominent as such, and not merely as members of society; and no doubt, as they had respectively their enthusiastic followers, they also had their strong and vehement opponents. He maintained, however, that, taking the average, there was a respect shown to the Clergy as ministers of religion all round by the members of all parties much larger than any consideration paid to their predecessors in the days to which he had referred. A clergyman must, indeed, be very useless now not to have his lay followers, on whose championship he could rely. The 15,000 Clergy, out of 20,000, who had signed the Memorial, comprised practically the whole Clergy of the Church—-excluding men who never signed anything, nominal Clergy, invalids, and Clergy without specific parochial cures; and if they analysed the signatures of the 30,000 Laity, instead of merely counting them, they would find that they were eminently representative, and including tradesmen, farmers, country gentlemen, distinguished artists, members of the Medical Profession, lawyers and magistrates. A larger, but 1808 not so influential a one, might have been produced. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Robert Anstruther) had suggested that the limitation "Christian and orderly" might be imported into the Resolution. For his part, he did not believe that the Resolution could be improved in words for its own most unlucky object; and much as he opposed it in its present form, he did not think the words suggested by the hon. Baronet would make it better. Rather, he would say, they added a just objection. The reason was, that he thought the words were a mockery, a delusion, and a snare. They were impossible of definition or of operation. Was the unfortunate gentleman who was to officiate to have the Rector on his right hand to see that the service was Christian, and the policeman on his left to see that it was orderly? This suggestion of Lord Harrowby's did not meet the cases of those Nonconformists who were non-Christians—the Jews, for instance— whose objection must be not only to the authorized service, but to any "Christian" service at all. They were then to be mocked by the proposal which was intended to sacrifice them—because they were fewer and morepeaceable—in favour of those Nonconformists who were both more numerous and more turbulent, and they would feel more aggrieved than before. In the name of justice, policy, and fair play, he must give his strongest opposition to the Resolution.
§ MR. STEVENSON
said, that at the Reformation in Scotland, 300 years ago, they had the great advantage of getting rid of the restriction now under notice in company with a great many questions which had given trouble in England, where the Reformation was of a less complete character. They had from time to time in that House been clearing away what he might call these relics of the Middle Ages; they had legalized marriages, although not celebrated by a priesthood, which claimed the Apostolical succession; they had only recently relieved men who had taken orders from the so-called indelibility of orders; and in this case a stop ought to be put to the sacerdotal pretensions of the Clergy. He could not help connecting the vote in the House of Lords last Session on the Burials Bill with the condemnation which their Lordships had passed on the abuses of the Confessional, 1809 which was the worst fruit of sacerdotal pretensions. Seeing that the establishment of cemeteries was so persistently pointed to as a remedy for this admitted grievance, he would ask whether they were to be cemeteries such as were now by law provided? If so, he objected in them to the line of demarcation between consecrated and unconsecrated ground, and thought in future years it would be looked back upon as an extraordinary illustration of the state of religious liberty of the 19th century, that we had our cemeteries divided into two portions. For his own part, he should not be satisfied until the pastors of Nonconformist Churches had equal right with the Clergy of the Church of England to perform their burial services even in the consecrated portions of our public cemeteries. Silent burial was offered as a concession, but this did not concede the principle he contended for; because a catechism, which was issued by a clergyman of the very highest order in regard to those sacerdotal pretensions of which he had spoken, contained questions and answers implying that it was presumptuous of those who were called Dissenters to address the Throne of Grace, and thereby usurp the ministerial office; and it was to pretensions such as these that sanction was given by the present state of the law in regard to churchyards. He contended that all parties had an equal right to bury in the churchyards, and to have read over the bodies of their friends the services of their respective Churches, and he thought it unworthy of a Protestant country that she should so long leave a reform of that kind unaccomplished.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
If the House will allow me, I should like to attempt a plain statement of the position of the Laity of the Church of England on this question. The hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Stevenson) need fear no sacerdotalism on my part. The position appears to me to be this—For years the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) has, with the greatest possible ingenuity, attempted to assail the Church's right of property in the churchyards. He has stated with perfect truth that, as an unofficial Member of the House, he could not hope to carry a Bill to effect his purpose, as in a former Session he attempted. What is to be thought of 1810 the difficulty of the question when, the hon. and learned Member having given up all hope of carrying such a measure, Her Majesty's Ministers last Session introduced a Bill into the House of Lords, and they also failed to carry through their measure? They seem this Session to have abandoned the attempt. The question is, no doubt, one of some difficulty. The claim, that their ministers shall be permitted to officiate in the churchyards, is advanced by several sections of Nonconformists, for whom I entertain the most sincere respect, and in whose intentions I have the most profound confidence; but the object they have in view cannot be attained without importing a vast mass of other persons in whom we have not the same confidence. The question is one of principle; and when the hon. Member for Fifeshire (Sir Robert Anstruther) and other Scotch Members hold up the example of Scotland, where no burial service is habitually performed, I cannot forget that, while the property in the graveyards of Scotland is not secured to the Church, as is that in England, the Established Church of Scotland has been once rent asunder, and at this moment stands in danger of disestablishment—position in which I should deeply regret to see the Church of England placed. Then, too, we have been referred to the example of Ireland, where a similar measure to that proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Denbigh for England, has for years been in operation. But we have before us this suggestive and striking fact, that the passing of that measure for Ireland was the forerunner of the disestablishment and disendowment of the Protestant Church in Ireland. Can the hon. and learned Member for Denbigh claim, with any show of reason, from those who are attached to the Established Church in England, that they should not look upon his proposal with deep suspicion, as an invasion of a valuable principle-—a principle that Churchmen highly value—the principle of an Established Church? To illustrate how the matter stands, I will state the case of the Church of England as a denomination. As a denomination it is the largest in England; and what we of the Laity claim is, that we should retain our property in the churchyards, upon the same security on which the property of 1811 every other denomination is retained to them. Then, take the case of the Dissenters. Their cemeteries are secured to them on the same principle as our parish churchyards are secured to us; so likewise their chapels are secured to them, just as the churchyards are secured on the same title as the church. There is a case in point. Lady Hewley left a large property to a Presbyterian church and congregation, and it happened, in the course of time, that the larger or more influential part of the congregation became Unitarians; but the Courts decided that that property could not be held, except in accordance with the religious doctrine and discipline of the denomination—namely, the Presbyterian—to whom the property was originally devised. I have just been turning to an abstract of that case, and I find that the law stands thus—In order to identify property for spiritual purposes—and property must be identified in order to identify the ownership of such property—the use of the property must be connected with a particular form of religion or a particular form of discipline, or both. And what is the common law title to the churchyards? Just the same. The old common law right of the Church, as a religious community, can be identified only through the services of the Church; the same proof of title under which every other denomination holds its denominational property applies to the churchyards. Yet the hon. and learned Member for Denbigh and his Friends come to Churchmen and say—"Abandon this, which is the essential and final proof of your title to the churchyards, by admitting other services to be conducted within those churchyards." They pretend that the property in the churchyards would be as safe as before the common law title was thus invalidated. Thus, the right and title to the fabric of the churches is, by common law, the same as the right or title, or proof of title, of each denomination to its chapels. Go to any denomination of Dissenters and ask them to acknowledge the right of others to the performance of other services than their own in their chapels or cemeteries, and they would rise against you in bevy, and would say at once, or their legal advisers would say —"We should sacrifice our title at common law, as defined by the decisions 1812 of the Court of Chancery." The Hewley case was nine years in litigation. It was commenced in the year 1833, and finally decided in the House of Lords in 1842; that decision settled the law as to the proof of title, and what Churchmen are now asked to do is to give up their common law title to that which is their property. We naturally resist you— resist you, at all events, until some Government introduces a measure which will give us a new title to this property, and ensure that we shall not be deprived of it. This, then, is the ground on which we defend our rights in the churchyards, and not in any selfish sense. Our danger arises from the fact that we are members of an Established Church, intended for the use of all who will accept her services, and which is for this purpose most tolerant. Our danger, in fact, lies in this very tolerance of our Church; for it is the duty of her ministers to perform the burial service over the body of a parishioner, whether Churchman or Nonconformist, when brought into a parish churchyard for interment, and to express "the humble hope" which our religion enjoins, that through the mercy of God the soul of the departed will share in "the resurrection unto eternal life." Than the Burial Service of the Church of England you could have nothing more tolerant, nothing more humane, nothing more charitable. But what do you now ask? You ask, on behalf, not of one or two denominations, but for all denominations, and for all whose sense of religion is undefined, that we should admit into the churchyards every and any person whom somebody may select to perform some unknown services; who, in pronouncing, perhaps, some undue and unwarrantable eulogiums on their departed friends, would cast reflections upon all those over whose remains the Church of England only ventures to express a confident but humble hope that they are saved. This is where you touch our feelings. We wish, as a denomination, to retain the same security for our property that others have for theirs, and not to be damaged by the fact that we belong to a national Church, through the toleration of which all your relatives, as Dissenters, if you do not object, may hear the voice of prayer and hope over your dead. I desire to put the case fairly, because, of all the Members in this House, perhaps I should be 1813 the most ungrateful if I did not acknowledge my debt for the support and kindness of Protestant Dissenters on many occasions. I believe this to be a sentimental grievance on their part; but if we agreed to this concession, it would not be to them alone. We should open the door to persons of a very different character. We should open it to the full-blown sacerdotalism of the Church of Rome, the most intolerant of all denominations, at once the most exclusive and the most aggressive. I ask, then, as a layman of the Church of England, whether I should not pause before taking such a step as is now proposed, until, at all events, some competent legal authority has framed a measure that shall give me some security that I shall not be deprived of my right in the churchyard during my lifetime; for within the last few years I have given land to increase the areas of two churchyards, and I ask, that I should not be deprived during my lifetime of my security in the appropriation of the property that I have given to the church in which I worship, and for the exclusive appropriation of which, and the sacred service to which it is by law devoted, I have the same feeling that actuates every member of a Dissenting sect towards his chapel; and we know that the Nonconformists generally would vigorously resist any attempt to throw open their chapels or graveyards in the manner in which it is now proposed to throw open the churchyards. Such, Sir, is the case of the Laity of the Church of England plainly stated. And here let me assure hon. Members on this side of the House, and especially some of the junior Members, that they will gain nothing by running away from this position. When the First Napoleon found his armies involved in difficulty, he used to send the Young Guard to the front, and the French Young Guard dashingly responded to his call. I am sorry to hear the Young Guard on this side of the House debating about compromises in the face of this attack; it seems as if the English Young Guard were about, instead of going to the front, to lead the rout. Depend upon it, there is no safety for the Church of England but by standing upon her ancient and honoured title—until, at all events, acting under competent legal advice, some Government, as I have already said, is able to devise a measure which will secure 1814 not only the churchyards, but the fabrics of the Church, against the danger of invasion which the adoption of such a proposal as that before us would entail.
§ MR. JOHN BRIGHT
Mr. Speaker, I shall occupy the attention of the House for only a very short time, as I have said before nearly all I have to say, and what was on my mind with regard to this question. I am very glad to find that in this House, whatever may take place outside it, a question of this kind can be discussed with great calmness, and with a general sense that we are not, as some people seem to imagine out-of-doors, discussing a subject of tremendous national importance. Outside, the discussion of it has caused much heat and much temper; but I do not know exactly why the Clergy should be so very much annoyed and disturb themselves so much, except that generally they act in a position in which nobody is able to contradict them. Now I have read a good many things that the Clergy have said, and if any hon. Gentleman on this side of the House had chosen to make a collection of them, he might have amused the House for half-an-hour more than it is generally amused by the speeches which are delivered within these walls. They tell us—I judge by their speeches at the various Church meetings and by letters that have appeared in the newspapers written by clergymen —they tell us that this proposition is not only an attack on the Church, but they describe it in terms that are really uncivil. They say it is very unjust, and a very insolent attack, and they stand up as if they were about to defend one of the dearest privileges of their lives. They say that the claim is dishonest, and that even the persons who promote it have other intentions; and that, in point of fact, they do not care very much for this, only it is a step to something a good deal more, and, as they think, a great deal worse. They say, infact, that it is intended by this step to come a little nearer to the overthrow of the great partly political, partly ecclesiastical and religious Institution, with which they are mainly concerned. I have great sympathy with persons who are in fear and danger, even though the fear or danger be purely imaginary. It seems to me that almost everybody connected with the Established Church is now in a state of fear. There is no institution, so far as I know, 1815 in this country, that for so long a period has been in so great fear, and in such a condition of imminent danger, as the Church Establishment of England and Wales. The Nonconformist chapels are never in danger. Nonconformists never have any false panics. They go on their way, and do all the good they can. They do not rend the air with complaints of the dangers that beset them, and which to Churchmen, with regard to the Church, seem so dreadful and so appalling. I recollect one clergyman in the West of England—I forget his name, but I read his speech—-said, if this Re-solution passed, or a Bill founded on this Resolution, that "life itself to him would no longer be worth having." One cannot withhold one's sympathy from a man who is in that state of terror about what is, after all, such a trifling matter as that which is now before the House. What is the case? It is this—there are thousands of parishes in England and Wales in which there is only one graveyard, and that graveyard, according to law, belongs to the parish. According to law, it is much more the graveyard of the parish than the graveyard of the Church, and although a man may have been to church every Sunday for the last 40 years, he has no more right to that churchyard when he is living, or to be buried in it when he is dead, than a parishioner of the parish who has not been inside the church during the whole of that period. That is the state of the law, which nobody, I presume, will contradict. But it happens, unfortunately, that these parochial graveyards are in the possession practically of only one Church. That is a misfortune, because in the parish there are many Churches—that is, there are persons among the population belonging to many different Churches. The graveyard is in the possession of one Church, and the population is a population distributed among many Churches. The question, then, we have to solve is between the preference right, if it be one, of the Established Church, and the parochial and immemorial and absolutely undeniable right of the parishioners of the parish. Now, what the Church is able to do, having practically the command of these graveyards, is to force all its services upon everybody who comes there to inter the remains of any person who is dead, and not only to enforce 1816 certain services, but to enforce that the services shall be performed or conducted by one, and only one, minister. The claim of the parishioners is that as they have a right of interment in the churchyard, therefore, in a country where there is that kind of freedom that we boast of, every man coming there, although he is not a Churchman, yet being a parishioner, has undoubtedly a claim and a right that his funeral shall be conducted according to the service which he, when living, would have approved, and which his friends approve, now that he is dead, and by a minister that would have been more satisfactory to him, and is more satisfactory to his friends. That is the simple claim that is made. Now, the law gives to every parishioner the right to enter, and the right to bury; but the Church practically imposes a test, and the law permits it to be imposed. Now, why should there be a test of this kind— one minister and one service only—that is the test? We have abolished almost every other kind of test. We had a test a very short time ago against coming into this House, and a member of my sect could not have appeared at that box, and have been admitted into the House, unless he took an oath. There were many in this House that defended the practice—the taking of oaths and the taking of the particular oath. But the test was abolished, and members of the sect of which I am a member, and many others, of course, who were not then admitted, have since been admitted to this House, the test having been removed. Then there were tests with regard to the holding of office; and persons, I believe, could not hold office in the Army unless they could show that they belonged to the Church of England. But these tests have been gradually abolished, and, having been abolished, who is the worse for it? Why, then, should this test be continued? The Church had a preference in those days, but the Church has no preference now; there is greater freedom in the country, and she has in no way suffered by the change that has taken place. Among the speeches which were delivered to-night was one I listened to with much pleasure, and which appeared to me to go most directly and in the fewest words towards the settlement of this question—it was the speech of the 1817 hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter). I heard him explain the same view to the House two or three years ago. He touched the right principle on this question, and asked the House to agree to the principle as one that would settle the question with the least disturbance to anybody, and would give the greatest satisfaction to those on whose behalf this claim is made. I think the suggestion he threw out to be a really practical one, which the Church would do well to adopt. Now, we are accustomed to call the burial-ground of the parish the churchyard; but it is a mere geographical term. The churchyard is a graveyard, and it must be remembered that graveyards were not always in former times near the church, as they are at present. There were graveyards wherever it was convenient to establish them, as cemeteries are placed where convenient for the population. It was found convenient, also, in former times, that the graveyards should be near the church, and the more the people became superstitious, the more they would wish the graveyard to be near the church. So we are accustomed now to speak of the graveyard as a churchyard, and not as a graveyard; but we know now that there are in this country —as I suppose hon. Gentlemen know—a good many burial-grounds in connection with the Established Church which are not adjoining the church; and which are, therefore, in the condition of being Church cemeteries apart from the building of the church. Now, suppose we were to consider—and this was the view of the hon. Member for Berkshire— that all these churchyards are graveyards, as cemeteries are—at present the graveyards are almost entirely confined to members of the Established Church by this test which I have complained of —graveyards which belong really to the parish, and which all parishioners ought to be permitted to come and make use of, and. that the freedom which we have extended to all sects and classes in so many ways, should not be withheld from them in this matter of burial. Now, if the present graveyards are, as I suppose they all are, consecrated, it would make no difference with regard to Nonconformists. They probably do not believe that consecration is of any value. If it had the effect of preventing any interference with the graveyards and 1818 with the graves, of course to that extent it would be of some advantage; but as a religious ceremony, or as having any effect upon the ground, or upon the dead, or upon the living, the Nonconformists have no regard for that rite, and believe it to be—as many hon. Gentlemen believe it, and, no doubt, many Churchmen believe it to be—wholly a superstition. But Nonconformists, I believe, have no objection that I know of to be buried in consecrated ground. They are quite certain they will not be made any the worse, if they are none the better for it; and, therefore, if these graveyards were by Act of Parliament made cemeteries of parishes, and if all persons in the parish—as they can now where there are public cemeteries-—could come and bury their dead with the same rites, and the same ceremonies, and in the same manner as is now practised in the public cemeteries, why, then, the whole of this question would be settled. But then we come to a point which has been mentioned by several hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to-night—that is, the sort of grievance which the Clergy would have to suffer. Several hon. Members on that side of the House say that we who advocate this measure are not sufficiently considerate of the feelings of the Clergy. Well, I believe, in contests of this nature, feelings are often a little disregarded; and if, in consequence of the political character of the Church, these Church questions come into the political arena, it is almost certain they will be discussed very much with the same kind of freedom with which other political questions are discussed. But I can quite understand that the Clergy must feel in many cases averse to the proposition now before the House— [Mr. J. G. HUBBARD: And the Laity.] Well, as to the Laity, we have not much proof of that. The Laity, in no great numbers, have represented their views in accordance with that of the Clergy; but a very large number of the Clergy have protested strongly against it. In regard to the Laity, I think one might say that the view taken by a considerable majority in the other House of Parliament may be said to go a long way to prove the fact that the Laity of the Church are not strongly against the change which is proposed; and it is a very great satisfaction, no doubt, to all 1819 those who wish a reasonable and early settlement of this question that the highest dignitaries of the Church in the other House of Parliament have supported a proposition like that now before the House. Still, I admit the Clergy have that feeling; I believe it impossible that many of them should not have it; they live in a condition of ecclesiastical and almost of social supremacy. In many parishes the churchyard is very near the house or houses in which they live. They have considered it their freehold, which by law it is in a limited manner only, and they have been supreme in regard to everything concerned with that plot of ground; and they have been taught— not taught intentionally, but taught by the circumstances of their position—to look down upon the Nonconformist ministers and members of the various free Churches by whom they are surrounded. I think, therefore, it is quite likely that the Clergy may look upon this measure—even those who are just enough to feel that it is just—still I think it is likely that the great bulk of them would feel that it is a matter which they would much rather not have had stirred; but, having been stirred, and this great feeling and this movement having been created, I think many, and the most just of the Clergy, would be happy to have the question settled and taken out of the region of public discussion. There is one grievance the Clergy complain of very much. It has been complained of in the House of Lords and at many of the Church meetings. I have had it represented to main several letters from clergymen, particularly after the debates in Parliament on this question. They say—"If you are going to open our graveyards to Nonconformists—that is, to the parishioners to whom they belong—what would happen would be this—that we should have to bury everybody that the other people did not choose or were not asked to bury. We should have to bury all they refused to bury—the reprobate characters, the murderers, drunkards, and men of gross notorious immorality, men whose characters have been an utter discredit to a Christian country." Those men the Church Clergy would still have to bury, and have to bury them with a service which is so worded that now, I suppose, there- 1820 is scarcely a clergyman in the country who does not feel it would be a great relief to him if in some way it could be changed. ["No, no!"] I hope hon. Gentlemen who say "No" do not think I am stating it too broadly. It is impossible for anyone who reads the public papers not to know that such is the feeling of a great many of the Clergy. If any hon. Gentleman opposite has ever taken the trouble to read the Burial Service—I mean with a view of ascertaining what it means—he will see that the language of it is such as must, on many occasions, shock very much the sense of propriety of those who stand around the grave, as well as the sense of propriety of the person who has to read it over the grave. Well, I admit the Clergy have that grievance, and I think it is one that ought to be remedied; but I think the remedy proposed in the House of Lords last year was not one it was possible to entertain, because it would make the clergyman pronounce an opinion at certain funerals as to the character of the person whose burial was then in progress. That, I think, would be an intolerable state of things to the clergymen and to the parish, and what I should recommend—it is not before the House now, but as this is a grievance often represented to us, and as we are charged with caring for the grievances of Nonconformists and neglecting those of Churchmen, I may be pardoned for making the suggestion —what we require is that the Clergy should confess that, magnificent and solemn as is the Church of England Service, yet it is conceivable that that which was written and proclaimed 300 years ago may not be absolutely suitable to the opinions of our times. And, therefore, they should propose that certain changes should be made—changes which no persons, I suspect, would object to, and that everyone would applaud 12 months after they were made— changes that would entirely relieve the Clergy from the difficulty which they feel, and which I admit to be real, and at the same time would leave the Service quite as powerful for exhortation, instruction, and comfort to the friends of the persons who are being buried. I recommend that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. J. G. Hubbard), whom I take to be the greatest and most zealous Churchman in this House, whose speech 1821 I listened to with great pleasure, though I disagreed with nearly every part of it. I recommend to him, with his great influence with the Clergy, to propose to make that change. I make him the offer of it, and it will relieve them from the grievance so greatly and widely felt; but I hope they will not object to our doing what we can to relieve the grievance of our Nonconformist brethren. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, and especially the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hubbard) were very much afraid of what would happen to the Church, and he pronounced in anticipation what I might almost say was its epitaph; but I believe that before the close of his speech he came to the conclusion that nothing ever could touch the Church, because it was so firmly set in the affections of the people. Now, I ask him and hon. Gentlemen who sit near him, can he or any of them tell any single thing which has yet been done at the request of the Nonconformist Party in this country which has really injured or weakened the Established Church? I believe there is not one thing which has weakened it even politically; but I am certain that not one has injured it religiously and in regard to the highest purposes for which it exists. All tests have been abolished, but the Church is no weaker; Church rates have been abolished, but the Church is still no weaker; run over all the measures in this House with regard to education, but the Church is still no weaker. I believe that in all these matters the more generous, and liberal, and fair, and just is the Church of England established by law—I object wholly to Establishments of this kind by law, but the institution is here, and therefore we may judge of it and speak of it—I say the more it exhibits those great qualities, the more it shows that it is not a Church merely of monopoly and restriction, but in favour of all that beauty and breadth and freedom which belongs to the Christian religion—the more I am perfectly certain it will prolong its existence as an Establishment and the more useful it will be to the country. That which will weaken the Church, and unless removed will ultimately one day destroy it, is the narrow-minded animus which some men display, the superstitions which some men seem to crave for, as if they wished to bind them more closely round their Church, and the divisions— 1822 the growing, the melancholy divisions— which now prevail in the Church; and which, I am afraid, whilst you are fighting for small things like this, which are of no consequence whatever to its existence or usefulness, are sapping its strength, and are doing more to overthrow it as a political institution than ten times ten times all the efforts of the Nonconformists can possibly work against you. I believe that some hon. Member —I think it was the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Balfour), in a speech which everyone listened to with great pleasure—said to-night that all the arguments had been used over and over again. But there remains this one—Half the population of England and Wales are Nonconformist. Half the persons who on Sunday mornings will be found in the places of worship in England and Wales are not in connection with the Established Church. That half is of opinion that a great injustice is upheld by Parliament so long as this measure is refused; they discuss this question in the country; they come here, and they ask that this justice shall be rendered. You yourselves are divided upon it. The Government, I suspect, would rather willingly if you would allow them, go with us on this matter. The House of Lords, more than half of whom voted in the large division, representing in the main—as that House does represent in the main—that side of the House rather than this—that majority took the view which we take. Are you not able to see, therefore, that the question on our side is as good as won, and that the battle on your side is pretty nearly as good as lost. If you will come forward generously and freely to do this act of justice to the half of the nation who believe that they are injured, depend upon it the Church you love so much would not suffer, and the religion which on both sides of the House I hope we care for would be strengthened and advanced in the minds of the great majority of all sects and classes of the population of this country.
§ MR. GRANTHAM,
who had the following Notice on the Paper:—As an Amendment to Mr. Osborne Morgan's Resolution, to move—That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that in every parish or union in England and Wales provision should be made whereby interments may take place without the burial 1823 service of the Church of England, and with such other religious or orderly service as the friends or relatives of the deceased may think fit, to be conducted by such person or persons as may be chosen by them; and to enable such interments to take place, it is desirable in those parishes in which there is sufficient accommodation in the existing churchyards for the requirements of the said parishes, and there is no other public burial-ground providing sufficient accommodation in use in the said parishes, or which shall be provided in the said parishes, within such time as shall be thought fit by this House that provision should be made whereby interments may take place without the burial service of the Church of England, and with such other religious or orderly service as the friends or relatives of the deceased may think fit, to be conducted by such person or persons as may be chosen by them,said, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. John Bright) had asked how it was that Churchmen were always calling out that the Church was in danger, while no one ever heard Dissenters uttering similar complaints? The reason was, that while there were societies for disendowing and disestablishing the Church of England, there were no similar societies for attacking Dissenters' chapels. He (Mr. Grantham) on that occasion was sorry to say that, for the first time, he differed from most of his Friends around him, who felt bound to adopt the principle of "No surrender," for, to his mind, that was not a wise conclusion or one likely to lead to a satisfactory settlement of the question. It must be settled some day, and soon, and therefore it would be better for the Clergy and Laity to determine, first, if a grievance existed; and if it did, then freely to settle it. He thought the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) had proved his case as to the existence of a real grievance. Where a man's position was affected, and his liberties of burial were larger or smaller according to the district in which he lived or died, he must think that that man had a grievance which they, as Churchmen, were bound in duty to alter. With regard to Wales especially, he thought the grievance was a very extensive one, and he was only surprised that an attempt was not made years ago to settle the grievance, so far as Wales was concerned, in the same way that it was settled in Ireland, where Roman Catholics were in a majority; while in England it was much less extensive—only affecting, indeed, those rural parishes in which there were no cemeteries—and where in most cases the Dissenters pre- 1824 ferred to be buried by the parish clergyman. With regard to the merits of the question, all that had been proved was that every parishioner had a Common Law right to be buried in the churchyard subject to the service of the Church of England being performed over him. It was asked to be assumed that Dissenters as parishioners had the same right to have their own service read over them; but there he joined issue with the supporters of the Resolution. The churchyard, it was admitted, was vested in the clergyman, and all the probabilities of the case were against the argument of the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), and in favour of the view that it was vested in him for Church purposes. He thought, however, that a settlement might be discovered which should not harrow the feelings of the Clergy and of a great many of the Laity, and which, while not acceding to the demand as a right, would willingly give it as a favour. In the country districts the Dissenters were by no means so strongly and unanimously in favour of this proposal as those who resided in town and populous districts, and who, therefore, did not need the privilege. In most of the country districts where the Clergy did their duty it would be found that the parishioners, Churchmen and Dissenters, one and all, invariably preferred to look to the clergyman of the parish in their hour of trial, and to perform the last offices over their departed friends. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham had said he did not believe in consecration; but, so long as the Clergy and the Laity of the Church did, there was surely reason for treating their feelings with respect. Hon. Gentlemen opposite should remember this when they claimed to have such conscientious feelings on the subject themselves. Let them, then, see if there was no plan by which the conscientious feelings of Dissenters could be studied—if there was not some plan by which graveyards could be established in every moderate area throughout the country, in which Nonconformists and their friends could be buried. Let it be treated as a parochial matter, and not as a national one. The churchyards were the property of the parish, and not of the nation. He would suggest that an opportunity should be given to the Clergy and Laity of every parish where 1825 there was no cemetery to provide—by gift or subscription, free and open—a burial-ground for all persuasions. Then give a period of one or two years, as the House might decide, in which period Churchmen should decide whether they would provide public burial-grounds for every parish, or a union of parishes, where there were no cemeteries. If any declined to make this provision, then he thought arrangements must be made by which the churchyards in such cases should be treated as cemeteries, in which Dissenters ought to be allowed equal rights with Churchmen.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, he was glad to notice the moderate tone which had prevailed throughout the debate—a more moderate tone than had prevailed in previous years. Churchmen had, however, been challenged from the other side of the House, and it had been said that they had brought forward no proposition of their own. In answer to that assertion, he would point to a Bill which he introduced two years ago, which was at once opposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Osborne Morgan), and like many other measures instituted by private Members, was sacrificed for want of time to discuss it. He would also point to the Government Bill of last year, which certainly was treated with some amount of contumely from the other side. They had been told not to use acrimonious language, with which he quite agreed; but there ought to be a give-and-take in this matter, and he thought hard things had been said, especially of the Clergy. He would read a few words from a speech of the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, who always spoke in that House with moderation and conciliation towards his opponents. At a meeting in Edinburgh in November last the noble Lord, in the course of his speech, said—I need not detain you by speaking of the miserable failure of the attempt of the Conservative Party to parry the attack which has been made by English Liberals upon that most odious privilege claimed by the clergy of the Established Church in England in respect to burial-grounds.He did not stop to challenge the statement as to "the miserable attempt," but he thought it was rather hard language, and hardly fair to speak of what was merely an attempt to maintain a right which the Clergy of the Church of 1826 England were bound to maintain, as an "odious privilege." He thought hon. Members who talked so much of strong language would do well to exercise a little more moderation on their own side. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) had spoken of clergymen maintaining these rights as something personal to themselves. That was not the case. The Clergy maintained these rights, not for themselves, but as trustees; and it was an invidious thing to speak of them as if they were maintaining rights personal to themselves. There was only one other subject to which he would refer. A Return which he had moved for last summer had only just been presented; that Return was far from complete, but it yielded some remarkable results. It showed that in 13 dioceses in England and Wales of the additions made to churchyards since 1863, there had been purchased by the parish 178, by voluntary subscription 83, while no fewer than 510 had been made by free gift. During the 30 years before, according to a Return moved for by Lord Salisbury when he was in the House, the number purchased by the parish was 745, by voluntary subscription 239, while the free gifts were 1,593 — making a total, though only incomplete, of 923 purchased by the parish, 322 by voluntary subscription, and 2,103 proceeding from free gift. That showed that during the time to which the Return referred considerable additions had been made to the churchyards, and the main sources from which they had been derived were voluntary contributions and free gifts. These were not "national property," in the sense hon. Gentlemen opposite used the words. He could not understand how any property could be national which had not been acquired by the nation, or given or bequeathed to the nation. But these additions to the churchyard had been given as gifts to the Church itself, as was the land which had been given for the building of new or the enlargement of old churches, and the Church had as much right to say that none but the Church services should be performed thereon. If Nonconformists could not be satisfied with the rites of the Church, he thought they should do as all other people—they should pay for what they wanted out of their own 1827 pockets. He, however, did not believe that one Dissenter in 100 really objected to the services of the Church of England in the burial of the dead, and he trusted the House would not agree to this Resolution.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I have no intention to trespass much upon the attention of the House with any elaborate argument on the present occasion. I simply rise because I feel it would not be respectful to the House if this discussion were to conclude without some observations from a Member of the Government. At the same time, I feel that the debate has been so ably conducted, and that the arguments repeatedly put forward have been so forcibly urged to-night by various speakers, especially by my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Hubbard), that it would be presumption in me to take up time in trying to add force to what has been so well stated. However, it is my duty to say on behalf of the Government that we see nothing, either in the circumstances adverted to by the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan), or in the arguments which he has adduced to-night in his very able and temperate speech, that should in any way change the views we have taken of this question. We feel that the subject is one of great interest, and that it deserves to be discussed, as it has been discussed to-night and on other occasions, in a spirit of temperate and moderate argument. There is no occasion for heat or strife in the matter, for the question is one which ought to be discussed with a careful regard for the feelings of those who are interested in the subject on both sides. We have had a great deal said to us as to the necessity of having regard to the feelings of Nonconformists who are interested in the matter. I am always anxious on all occasions, and certainly in a matter of this kind, to exercise the most scrupulous regard for the feelings of a body of men for whom I have a sincere respect. But, at the same time, I would venture to suggest that a small share of the same spirit of consideration should be manifested to another body of men whose claims upon our consideration are certainly not the less entitled to our respect; and who, I think, in this debate, moderate and temperate 1828 as it has been, have been rather hardly treated — I mean the Clergy of the Church of England. I will not attempt to enter into the controversy which has been initiated by the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire, and which has been pursued by others, especially by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Surrey (Mr. Grantham), as to the legal rights of this question. I am not prepared to go into the discussion as to what may be the precise bearing of the Common Law and the Ecclesiastical Law in respect of this question. But whether you are to take the one or the other view of the origin of the position of the Church with relation to the churchyards, we must at least take it for certain that for many centuries, for all the time, in fact, that we can count back, if not almost from time immemorial, the position distinctly has been that the Church has been charged with the duty of conducting services which are performed in the churchyard, and unquestionably the churchyard is the freehold of the Clergy and the churchwardens. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Denbighshire told us that it was not until the Public Worship Regulation Act was passed two or three years ago, that the right and the hold of the Clergy was really fastened tightly on the churchyards; that it was not until this Act was passed that he was subject even by Ecclesiastical Law to the compulsion which now prevails against him. But it is certainly not since that time that the question has been raised, because the agitation of which this debate forms a part, and which has been going on for some time, dates long before the inception or the idea of the Public Worship Regulation Act. Therefore it is not the fact that new circumstances have arisen which render it necessary for us to enter into a new phase of the question. We have the old question before us, and I am afraid that the more we come to examine it we shall find that the principles on which we differ are principles on which it is not easy for us to come to any common understanding or agreement. You say the churchyard is the freehold of the incumbent and the churchwardens; but you say it is their freehold only for the sake of preserving it, and subject to a trust. Of course it is subject to a trust, and that is the very 1829 point that presses so much on those 14,000 or 15,000 of the Clergy who signed the memorial which has Been referred to to-night. They feel that they are charged with a trust which they dare not neglect. In this respect you cannot speak of them as if they were exercising some selfish or arbitrary privilege of their own. To say that they are insisting—to use the expression of the noble Marquess—on "an odious privilege" is not only to use language which is quite unfair and unwarrantable, but also to ignore the real grounds on which they raise their objection. It is not that this or that individual clergyman insists on the exclusive privilege of burying all his parishioners in the churchyard; it is that he feels himself bound, in the position in which he is placed, to maintain the rights and property of the Church, and to see that they do not suffer in his hands. And the Clergy feel that they are subject to a very unfair pressure when they are called upon to take steps which are in violation of their duty and their ordination vows. If that be the case, let us consider for a moment what are the arguments that are brought against them. We are told that their position differs altogether from that of other trustees— from the trustees of private cemeteries belonging to Nonconformists. Why is a similar demand not made upon the private trustees of cemeteries belonging to Nonconformists? The hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire says the difference is this—they are private, the others are public, institutions; the one class of trustees are exercising a private trust, the others a public trust. When we proceed in the argument, we see that hon. Gentlemen opposite mean to contend that because churchyards are in the nature of public institutions, therefore they are national in a sense which throws them open to every member of the nation, every parishioner, irrespective of their religious opinions. The hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) went even further; for a little while ago he contended that it was not a question of Churchmen or Nonconformists, or even of one description of Christianity or another—but that in the case of two Chinamen in a parish, and one dying, the survivor would have the right to go into the churchyard and bury his fellow-Chinaman with any service he might 1830 think fit. The hon. Member put it on that broad and extreme issue. He said we are not putting this as a question of sentiment; we are putting it as a matter of right—that every parishioner, whether Churchman or Dissenter, Christian or Chinaman, has an equal claim to be buried, and to have any burial service read over him in the churchyard which his relatives may prefer. Now; that is a very large demand to make, and I believe there are a large number of persons who, though they would be very glad to see some compromise in this matter, are not prepared to trust to the hope that a seemly and orderly service would in all cases be maintained. I am bound to say, if the argument of the hon. Gentleman is sound, I cannot see, if the question is to be treated as a matter of right, where the line is to be drawn—to say here is a class of persons who have' a right to any particular service, and there is another who have none. The position is simply this—every parishioner has a right to be interred in the churchyard—there is not the slightest doubt about that, subject to the condition that the service to be read over him is that prescribed to be used in the churchyard. And so with regard to the church, every parishioner has a right to go into the church; but when he goes into the church he has only a right to enjoy the service prescribed to he read in the church, and he has no right to insist on another. The argument of right is a dangerous one to use; but it is used on the other side—I am not using it. The Liberation Society have used it pretty broadly. I need not make quotations from speeches or pamphlets to show that it is the avowed intention of the members of the Liberation Society to use the arguments which are now to gain the free use of the burial grounds for any service in order to obtain on the same grounds the use of the church. All I can say is, if we consent to the argument put forward for the churchyards, we cut from our feet all the grounds on which we could resist the argument with regard to the churches. Gentlemen ought to take notice of the particular form in which this question is submitted. It is not submitted in the form of a Bill. A person might have various reasons for supporting a Bill, and might say there are changes which might be made in Committee which will render this Bill 1831 one not altogether unpalatable, and that we might make a concession here and another there for the sake of peace. But that is not the position in which the House is placed at the present moment. The House is not asked to pass a Bill, but to affirm a principle. If hon. Gentlemen will affirm that principle they will find it will be used against them. They will not have an opportunity of altering and changing it, as they would a Bill in Committee. The hon. and learned Gentleman's Resolution is that—The time has arrived when the long-pending controversy as to interments in parish churchyards ought to he closed, by permitting such interments either without any burial service or with the services preferred by the relatives or friends of the deceased, and conducted by persons chosen by them.That is a very particular laying down of the principle which is to be adopted. I was sometimes puzzled by the manner in which the hon. and learned Gentleman conducted himself with reference to Amendments and suggestions made to him. A suggestion was made that there should be such a restriction as "Christian and orderly service." He intimates that he is prepared to consider, and perhaps to accept, such proposals. Other suggestions are made, and he seems to hold out his hand to them or to offer a compromise. But in all that he is departing from the principle which he is himself laying down; and I do not see how it is possible, if he asks us to affirm that principle, to make the changes which have been suggested. We have never said that there is no grievance—-that there are no inconveniences or difficulties in this matter. On the contrary, we have admitted that there are inconveniences and that there are difficulties, and it would be a matter of very great satisfaction to us if we saw our way to a measure likely to be of use for the remedying of those grievances. But it must be a remedy, in our opinion, that must be looked for, not in the direction proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman, but in the opposite direction. We assume that it is perfectly right and reasonable that provision should be made to enable interments of Nonconformists to take place with such religious services as are suitable to the wishes and opinions of the deceased and of the friends of the deceased; but we say that that provision is not to be made by taking the church- 1832 yard forcibly and introducing into it other services than those of the Church to which it belongs. We say that, if a remedy is to be found, it must be found in the same way as a remedy was found in the case of marriage when it was a grievance that Dissenters should be called upon to be married in the Church. An Act was passed by which Dissenters were exempted from that necessity. So, with regard to burials, a similar provision could be made that would enable interments to take place, and in a manner that would be in harmony with the feelings of those who are to be interred and of their relatives. But I contend that we ought entirely to resist a proposal being made that a solution of this question is to be found in the direction of the hon. and learned Gentleman's Resolution. We made an attempt to solve the question in another direction by making provision, in a Bill last Session, for cemeteries. I do not say it was the best that could be found. If that Bill had come down to this House, we should have been perfectly willing to accept Amendments; but upon this point we take our stand—that a remedy is to be found, not in compelling the Clergy of the Church of England to abandon the churches they hold and throw open the churchyards, but rather in making provision of another kind. I will not trouble the House with any more observations. The question is one on which I should be very sorry to use any language that could impart bitterness. I think the question has been well debated to-night. It has been debated in a calm and temperate spirit. I hope that is the spirit which is to animate us in discussions with each other, and may induce a little more consideration for the feeling of the large body of the Clergy outside. I hope that in the proceedings we may hereafter take we may proceed in that spirit of charity which is, perhaps, more or less in danger of being set aside in favour of what I think a rather false sentiment. I am far from denying the importance of having regard to what are called sentimental grievances; but I think we are too apt to say that a sentiment which is satisfactory to ourselves, is good, and that a sentiment which makes against us, is bad. I trust we may not be regarded as wanting in our sense of what is due in charity or in point of considera- 1833 tion for the feelings of others, when we say it is impossible for us to give our assent to the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Sir, I hope that I shall find it necessary to delay the House for a very few minutes only, while I make one or two observations on the remarks which have fallen from the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. The right hon. Gentleman, while admitting that due respect ought to be paid to the feelings of our Nonconformist brethren, claimed that equal respect should be paid to the feelings of the Clergy in this matter. I think that that is the view of the hon. Members generally who have taken part in this debate, and I am sure that in the speeches which have been made on this side of the House there has been no disposition to disregard those feelings. The hon. Member for West Kent (Mr. J. G. Talbot) and the right hon. Gentleman have made use of expressions as if I was disposed to speak on this subject in an unbecoming manner; and I am reported to have spoken of the retention of this exclusive privilege of burial in the parish churchyards as an odious privilege. That adjective may possibly not have been well chosen; but I entirely repudiate the idea that in using it I intended to impute any improper act upon the part of the Clergy. It is perfectly possible that a privilege may be odious in itself, while no blame can be attachable to the person putting it in force, as he may be only strictly within his rights and within the law. I may, however, say, as has been already pointed out by the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), that by nearly half of our fellow-countrymen this privilege is regarded as an odious one. I am not surprised that a tone of great moderation has characterized most of the speeches delivered by hon. Members sitting on the other side of the House, because no less was to be expected after looking at the nature of the Amendments upon my hon. and learned Friend's Resolution which have been placed on the Notice Paper. Of the three Amendments which appear upon the Notice Paper two are in the direction of a compromise. I should be very happy if I thought that there was any prospect of a compromise on this question being arrived at. The right hon. Gentleman has 1834 just made some criticisms upon the terms of the Motion of my hon. and learned Friend, and he has pointed out that by that Motion we are asked to assent to a principle, and not to a Bill, which could be altered in Committee. But I have no doubt that, if the right hon. Gentleman will take measures to secure that the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend shall be brought forward as a substantive Motion, they will not find my hon. and learned Friend unwilling to co-operate with them in the settlement of this question. I may, at all events, claim the votes of the hon. Members who have placed those Amendments upon the Paper, inasmuch as they desire to amend and not to reject this Resolution. But I have no great hopes that any compromise on this subject will be arrived at, and for this reason. Compromise has been already attempted, and has been taken in hand by a body of Gentlemen who represented pretty accurately the feeling of hon. Members opposite, and the Government brought in a Bill last year which was intended to be a compromise, but which we know did not succeed. I therefore doubt very much whether any Gentleman or any body of Gentlemen who may take the matter in hand will be able to bring it to a more successful issue in the way of compromising it than did Her Majesty's Government. We have not heard as much as I expected about the Government Bill of last year; but it appears to me that the introduction of that measure has utterly and completely changed the whole aspect of this question. It seems almost a waste of time for us to go on arguing this matter over and over again in the old lines, because the whole of those old arguments have been swept away by the action of the Government in introducing the measure of last year with the consent of the Conservative Party. The right hon. Gentleman asked just now, if they agreed to this Resolution, where they were to stop? I should like to ask him, in reply, whether he thinks that it is possible for us to stop where we are now? It was evident that the Government did not think so last year when they introduced their Bill in order to get out of the difficulty. I should even like to know if it is a position in which the Government think we can remain much longer? The Government Bill of last year was intended to 1835 be a compromise, but it failed? How did it fail? By whom was it rejected? It was not rejected by the factious body of Liberals which is said to exist in this House, nor was it rejected by the so-called intolerant political Dissenters of whom we hear so much. No; the compromise came to an untimely end, owing to a majority in the House of Lords— a majority reinforced largely from the Episcopal Bench—and it was by that means the proposal for a compromise received its fatal blow. I do not know whether that majority in the House of Lords represents the Conservative feeling of the country as that feeling found expression at the last General Election; but I certainly think it reasonable to suppose that the House of Lords, as a body, represents in a very high degree the real Conservative feeling of the country, which, while not liking change in the abstract—on the contrary, disliking it—is not opposed to changes which it sees to be inevitable, and is indisposed to offer a rash resistance which would in the end bring about still wider changes. It is by such a body as this that the compromise proposed by the Government last year was rejected, and that is a consideration which ought to furnish matter for reflection to the Government and hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House. What was it that the majority of the House of Lords said last year? They not only said that they rejected the proposed, compromise; but they went further, and indicated the only mode in which, in their opinion, a settlement of the question could be brought about. That mode, if not identical with, was, at all events, very similar in principle to, that which is proposed to-night by my hon. and learned Friend. This may be the last opportunity which the House will have in the present Parliament of considering and settling this question; and for some reasons I am not unwilling if it be, politically speaking, the desire of hon. Gentlemen opposite that the settlement should be adjourned over another Election. I should be glad in the interest of peace and quiet, and in the interest of a cessation of religious strife, that the question should be settled quickly; but, in the interest of the political Party with which I am connected, I do not know that it is matter of very great desire it should be so settled. 1836 At all events, it must be recollected, when this question comes again to be discussed before the country, that it is no longer a question between Nonconformists and Churchmen, or between Liberals and Conservatives—the decision of the House of Lords last year settled that question, if it settled nothing else. It is now a question between the moderate, fair, and calm Conservatism which is represented in the House of Lords, and that other kind of Conservatism which it is not necessary to describe, but which finds its representation in some parts of this House. As I have said, I have no desire to shrink from having this issue once more placed before the country. I do not think it will be to our disadvantage that it should be so placed. All that I desire is—and I think the debate of this evening will greatly conduce to that end—that when the issue is raised and fairly placed before the country, it will he stated in such a manner as that it can be fully understood by the people before whom it will be laid, and by whom it will have to be decided.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 242; Noes 227: Majority 15.1839
|Adderley, rt. hon. Sir C.||Brooks, W. C.|
|Allen, Major||Bruen, H.|
|Allsopp, C.||Brymer, W. E.|
|Arkwright, A. P.||Bulwer, J. R.|
|Arkwright, F.||Burghley, Lord|
|Assheton, R.||Burrell, Sir W. W.|
|Astley, Sir J. D.||Butler- Johnstone, H. A.|
|Bagge, Sir W.||Buxton, Sir R. J.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Cart wright, F.|
|Balfour, A. J.||Cave, rt. hon. S.|
|Baring, T. C.||Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.|
|Barne, F. St. J. N.||Chaplin, H.|
|Barrington, Viscount||Charley, W. T.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Christie, W. L.|
|Bates, E.||Clive, Col. hon. G. W.|
|Bateson, Sir T.||Close, M. C.|
|Bathurst, A. A.||Clowes, S. W.|
|Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H.||Cohhold, T. C.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Cole, Col. hon. H. A.|
|Benett-Stanford, V. F.||Coope, O. E.|
|Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.||Cordes, T.|
|Bentinck, G. W. P.||Crichton, Viscount|
|Beresford, G. dela Poer||Cross, rt. hon. R. A.|
|Beresford, Colonel M.||Cuhitt, G.|
|Birley, H.||Davenport, W. B.|
|Blackburne, Col. J. I.||Deedes, W.|
|Boord, T. W.||Denison, C. B.|
|Bourke, hon. R.||Denison, W. B.|
|Bourne, Colonel||Denison, W. E.|
|Bright, R.||Dickson, Major A. G.|
|Brise, Colonel R.||Digby, Col. hon. E.|
|Broadley, W. H. H.||Duff, J.|
|Dyott, Colonel R.||Lee, Major V.|
|Eaton, H. W.||Legard, Sir C.|
|Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W.||Legh, W. J.|
|Leighton, Sir B.|
|Egerton, hon. A. F.||Leighton, S.|
|Egerton, hon. W.||Leslie, Sir J.|
|Elphinstone, Sir J. D. H.||Lindsay, Col. E. L.|
|Emlyn, Viscount||Lindsay, Lord|
|Eslington, Lord||Lloyd, S.|
|Estcourt, G. S.||Lloyd, T. E.|
|Fellowes, E.||Lopes, Sir M.|
|Finch, G. H.||Lowther, hon. W.|
|Floyer, J.||M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J.|
|Folkestone, Viscount||Majendie, L. A.|
|Forester, C. T. W.||Makins, Colonel|
|Forsyth, W.||Malcolm, J. W.|
|Fraser, Sir W. A.||Mandeville, Viscount|
|Fremantle, hon. T. F.||Manners, rt. hn.Lord J.|
|Galway, Viscount||March, Earl of|
|Gardner, J. T. Agg-||Marten, A. G.|
|Gardner, E. Richard-son-||Mellor, T. W.|
|Merewether, C. G.|
|Garnier, J. C.||Mills, A.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. E.||Mills, Sir C. H.|
|Giffard, Sir H. S.||Monckton, F.|
|Goddard, A. L.||Morgan, hon. F.|
|Goldney, G.||Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.|
|Gordon, W.||Naghten, Lt.-Col.|
|Grantham, W.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Greene, E.||Newport, Viscount|
|Gregory, G. B.||Noel, rt. hon. G. J.|
|Hall, A. W.||North, Colonel|
|Halsey, T. F.||Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J.|
|Hamilton, Lord G.||O'Donnell, F. H.|
|Hamond, C. F.||Onslow, D.|
|Hanbury, R. W.||Paget, E. H.|
|Harcourt, E. W.||Palk, Sir L.|
|Hardcastle, E.||Parker, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Hardy, rt. hon. G.||Peek, Sir H.|
|Hardy, S.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Hay, rt. hn. Sir J. C. D.||Pell, A.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||Pemberton, E. L.|
|Hermon, E.||Pennant, hon. G.|
|Heygate, W. U.||Peploe, Major|
|Hick, J.||Percy, Earl|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||Phipps, P.|
|Hill, A. S.||Plunkett, hon. R.|
|Holford, J. P. G.||Praed, H. B.|
|Holker, Sir J.||Price, Captain|
|Holland, Sir H. T.||Raikes, H. C.|
|Holmesdale, Viscount||Read, C. S.|
|Holt, J. M.||Rendlesham, Lord|
|Home, Captain||Repton, G. W.|
|Hood, Capt. hn. A. W. A. N.|
|Rodwell, B. B. H.|
|Hope, A. J. B. B.||Russell, Sir C.|
|Hubbard, E.||Ryder, G. R.|
|Hubbard, rt. hon. J.||Sackville, S. G. S.|
|Isaac, S.||Salt, T.|
|Jenkinson, Sir G. S.||Sanderson, T. K.|
|Johnson, J. G.||Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.|
|Johnstone, Sir F.||Scott, Lord H.|
|Jolliffe, hon. S.||Scott, M. D.|
|Kavanagh, A. MacM.||Selwin - Ibbetson, Sir H. J.|
|Kennaway, Sir J. H.||Severne, J. E.|
|Knight, F. W.||Shirley, S. E.|
|Knightley, Sir R.||Sidebottom, T. H.|
|Knowles, T.||Smith, A.|
|Lawrence, Sir T.||Smith, F. C.|
|Learmonth, A.||Smith, S. G.|
|Lechmere, Sir E. A. H||Smith, rt. hon. W. H|
|Smollett, P. B.||Walker, O.O.|
|Somerset, Lord H. R. C.||Walker, T. E.|
|Spinks, Mr. Serjeant||Wallace, Sir E.|
|Stanhope, hon. E.||Walpole, rt. hon. S.|
|Stanhope, W. T. W. S.||Waterhouse, S.|
|Stanley, Col. hon. F.||Watney, J.|
|Starkey, L. R.||Welby-Gregory, Sir W.|
|Starkie, J. P. C.||Wheelhouse, W. S. J.|
|Steere, L.||Wilmot, Sir H.|
|Storer, G.||Wilmot, Sir J. E.|
|Sykes, C.||Wolff, Sir H. D.|
|Talbot, J. G.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Taylor, rt. hon. Col.||Wroughton, P.|
|Thornhill, T.||Wynn, C. W. W.|
|Thynne, Lord H. F.||Yarmouth, Earl of|
|Torr, J.||Yorke, J. R.|
|Trevor,Lord A.E. Hill-||TELLERS.|
|Tumor, E.||Dyke, Sir W. H.|
|Twells, P.||Winn, E.|
|Verner, E. W.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Colman, J. J.|
|Adam, rt. hn. W. P.||Conyngham, Lord F.|
|Amory, Sir J. H.||Corbett, J.|
|Anderson, G.||Corry, J. P.|
|Anstruther, Sir R.||Cotes, C. C.|
|Ashley, hon. E. M.||Courtney, L. H.|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Cowan, J.|
|Barclay, A. C.||Cowen, J.|
|Barclay, J. W.||Cowper, hon. H. F.|
|Barran, J.||Cross, J. K.|
|Bass, A.||Dalrymple, C.|
|Baxter, rt. hn. W. E.||Davios, D.|
|Beaumont, Colonel F.||Davies, R.|
|Bell, I. L.||Delahunty, J.|
|Biddulph, M.||Dilke, Sir C. W.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Dillwyu, L. L.|
|Blake, T.||Dodds, J.|
|Blennerhassett, R. P.||Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.|
|Bowyer, Sir G.||Duff, M. E. G.|
|Brassey, H. A.||Duff, R. W.|
|Brassey, T.||Dunbar, J.|
|Briggs, W. E.||Dundas, J. C.|
|Bright, J. (Manchester)||Earp, T.|
|Bright, rt. hon. J.||Edwards, H.|
|Bristowe, S. B.||Egerton, Admiralhn. F.|
|Brocklehurst, W. C.||Ellice, E.|
|Brown, A. H.||Errington, G.|
|Brown, J. C.||Ewing, A. O.|
|Browne, G. E.||Eyton, P. E.|
|Bruce, Lord C.||Fawcett, H.|
|Cameron, C.||Ferguson, E.|
|Campbell, Sir G.||Fitzmaurice, Lord E.|
|Campbell -Bannerman, H.||Forster, Sir C.|
|Forster, rt. hon. W. E.|
|Carington, Col. hon. W.||Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E.|
|Cartwright, W. C.||Gladstone, W. H.|
|Cave, T.||Goldsmid, Sir F.|
|Cavendish, Lord F. C.||Goldsmid, J.|
|Cavendish, Lord G.||Gordon, Sir A.|
|Chad wick, D.||Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.|
|Chamberlain, J.||Gourley, E. T.|
|Chambers, Sir T.||Gower, hon. E. F. L.|
|Childers, rt. hon. H.||Grant, A.|
|Cholmeley, Sir H.||Grey, Earl de|
|Clarke, J. C.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Hamilton, Marquess of|
|Clive, G.||Hankey, T.|
|Cole, H. T.||Harcourt, Sir W. V.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Harrison, J. F.|
|Collins, E.||Hartington, Marq. of|
|Havelock, Sir H.||Peel, A. W.|
|Hayter, A. D.||Pender, J.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Pennington, F.|
|Herschell, F.||Perkins, Sir F.|
|Hibbert, J. T.||Playfair, rt. hon. L.|
|Hill, T. B.||Plimsoll, S.|
|Hincbingbrook, Visct.||Portman, hn. W. H. B.|
|Holland, S.||Potter, T. B.|
|Holms, J.||Powell, W.|
|Howard, hon. O.||Power, J. O'C.|
|Howard, E. S.||Price, W. E.|
|Hutchinson, J. D.||Ralli, P.|
|Ingram, W. J.||Ramsay, J.|
|Jackson, Sir H. M.||Rathbone, W.|
|James, W. H.||Reed, E. J.|
|James, Sir H.||Richard, H.|
|Jenkins, D. J.||Robertson, H.|
|Jenkins, E.||Russell, Lord A.|
|Johnstone, Sir H.||Rylands, P.|
|Kay - Shuttleworth, Sir U.||St. Aubyn, Sir J.|
|Samuda, J. D'A.|
|Kenealy, Dr.||Sanmelson, B.|
|Kensington, Lord||Sandford, G. M. W.|
|Kingscote, Colonel||Seely, C.|
|Kirk, G. H.||Sheil, E.|
|Laverton, A.||Sheridan, H. B.|
|Lawrence, Sir J. C.||Simon, Mr. Serjeant|
|Lawson, Sir W.||Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.|
|Leatham, E. A.||Smith, E.|
|Lefevre, G. J. S.||Smyth, P. J.|
|Leith, J. F.||Smyth, E.|
|Lewis, C. E.||Stacpoole, W.|
|Lloyd, M.||Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.|
|Locke, J.||Stevenson, J. C.|
|Lubbock, Sir J.||Stewart, J.|
|Lush, Dr.||Stewart, M. J.|
|Lusk, Sir A.||Stuart, Colonel|
|Macartney, J. W. E.||Sullivan, A. M.|
|Macdonald, A.||Tavistock, Marquess of|
|Macduff, Viscount||Taylor, P. A.|
|Mackintosh, C. P.||Temple, right hon. W. Cowper-|
|M'Arthur, W.||Torrens, W. T. M'C.|
|M'Lagan, P.||Tracy, hon. F. S. A. Hanbury-|
|Maitland, W. F.||Trevelyan, G. O.|
|Marjoribanks, Sir D. C.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Massey, rt. hon. W. N.||Vivian, A. P.|
|Meldon, C. H.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Middleton, Sir A. E.||Waddy, S. D.|
|Monk, C. J.||Wait, W. K.|
|Montagu. rt. hn. Lord R.||Walsh, hon. A.|
|Morley, S.||Walter, J.|
|Mundella, A. J.||Ward, M. F.|
|Muntz, P. H.||Waterlow, Sir S. H.|
|Mure, Colonel||Watkin, Sir E. W.|
|Murphy, N. D.||Weguelin. T. M.|
|Noel, E.||Whitbread, S.|
|Nolan, Major||Whitwell, J.|
|Norwood, C. M.||Whitworth, B.|
|O'Byrne, W. R.||Williams, W.|
|O'Clery, K.||Yeaman, J.|
|O'Conor, D. M.||Young, A. W.|
|O'Conor Don, The|
|O'Sullivan, W. H.||Knatchbull - Hugessen, rt. hon. E.|
|Parker, C. S.|
|Parnell, C. S.||Morgan, G. O.|
Bill read a second time, and committed for Friday, 15th March.
§ Main Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ Original Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Committee deferred till Monday next.